After his encounter with the brown haired woman, Ethan went in his room, which was actually the one just next to hers. Wait, why was she in the guest room next to his anyway? No one had talked to him about someone staying here. Well, maybe he wasn’t in his house here but still. Besides, the girl was a cold bitch. She hadn’t said anything, just slammed the door in his face. No one slammed the door in Ethan’s face. It was a shame though because Ethan had to admit that she was gorgeous, the kind of beauty you see once in a life time.
Ethan stayed in his room a little longer and then decided to go downstairs and ask why the mysterious girl was here. And at the same time he would greet Jason and Emma because he hadn’t yet. Yes, Ethan always has been a polite man, it came naturally, he was born with this gene.
He went out of his room and started to walk toward the stairs. He stopped in front of the woman’s room and went closer to it to try and listen if she was still inside but he couldn’t hear anything. He didn’t want to cross paths with the mysterious brunette again, he had once and he already knew that he wouldn’t like her, except for her physical assets there was nothing interesting there.
Or maybe there was this part of him that wanted to cross paths with her again, because he could try to convince himself as much as he wanted, it wouldn’t change the fact that he had been intrigued by the way she was obviously trying to hide her feelings, her emotions. And he said trying because it obviously wasn’t working all that well with him, but he was sure that with the others it did. She had something to hide and he knew it, the problem was that Ethan always was intrigued by people who had things to hide. Let’s just say that this time this person being a magnificent woman, instead of a soldier he had to find information from, was a bonus.
Not hearing any noise coming from the room Ethan had no idea if she was just really quiet or if she wasn’t in her room anymore, but he gave up and started to walk toward the stairs once more. He quickly went downstairs and entered the living room where he knew Emma and Jason had been earlier, but they were obviously not here anymore, the room was empty.
Ethan heard noises coming from the kitchen and he could smell that something was being cooked, so he walked toward the kitchen and entered it to find Jason cooking and Emma just looking at him with a glass of wine in her hands, seated on the counter top.
“Why am I not surprised that you’re not doing anything useful?” Ethan asked with a smirk and they both turned toward him.
“Hello, Ethan. How was your day?” Jason asked politely extending a hand to shake as a greeting. Ethan shook it and nodded.
“I had a good day, thanks for asking,” Ethan answered.
“I’m not not doing anything useful,” Emma snapped annoyed.
“Then what are you doing exactly?” Ethan asked, because clearly she wasn’t doing anything useful.
“Well, I’m watching my lovely husband cook, of course,” she said with a smile before taking another sip of her wine.
Ethan frowned, “And in what way is it useful, exactly?” he wondered aloud.
“It’s useful for my eyes,” Emma snapped as if it was logical. “It’s useful for my mood.”
“Yeah, exactly what I thought, useless,” Ethan stated with an exasperated sigh.
“If you came here just to annoy me why don’t you go somewhere else to see if I’m there?” Emma said nonchalantly not even looking at him.
“Don’t flatter yourself, Emma. You’re not that important,” Ethan said with a smirk as she scoffed and Jason rolled his eyes from his spot. It wasn’t as if he wasn’t used to their banter already. “Why are you preparing that much for dinner anyway?”
“We invited a few friends over for dinner,” Emma explained.
“Well, then I guess I won’t be attending this dinner,” Ethan stated, let’s just say that he preferred to be alone, Ethan was a lone wolf, he didn’t really like to socialize.
“Of course you are attending this dinner,” Emma exclaimed. “Not that your absence would bother me, rather the contrary actually. But you are staying for dinner end of discussion.”
“Besides,” Jason added knowing it would help, “Lana and Ian are coming too.”
“That was a good try Jason. I have to admit you won some points when you said Lana would be attending but as soon as you mentioned Ian you lost them as fast as you’d won them,” Ethan said amused. “You know that it’s not good to keep the both of us in the same room for too long.”
“I said that you would be attending this dinner so now you will do me the pleasure to shut your mouth and wait for dinner to be ready,” Emma said slowly and angrily in a threatening tone. “You’ll just sit far away from him at the table. He’ll surely sit next to Jessica anyway, since he met her at the wedding he has been drooling all over her,” she added her voice back to normal knowing that Ethan would be intrigued by his brother liking a girl, even if this interest was only to have a way to annoy Ian.
Ethan, knowing he had lost against Emma, decided to change the conversation. “Are you aware that there is a stranger occupying the guest room next to mine? Brown hair, brown eyes; I bet she is stupid this one, cold bitch and rude.”
“Ethan, please. Chloe is our guest and I won’t accept you treating her any less than with respect,” Jason, always the wise one, said. “She will be staying here from now on.”
“Well, as long as she’s rude with me and is being her bitchy self, there won’t be any respect from my part,” Ethan stated.
“Ethan!” Emma exclaimed. “She is my friend and I won’t let you talk about her like that. Chloe is everything but rude, bitchy and stupid. She is an amazing woman with an amazing heart but-” Ethan cut Emma off just when she was about to explain Chloe’s situation.
“Well, I don’t really care about her so if we could change the subject. I don’t care about her amazing heart or I don’t know what else. I’m just warning you that I won’t be polite with her if she’s not with me,” Ethan said before turning around and leaving the kitchen.
He had actually wanted information about Chloe but he didn’t want Jason or Emma to notice his interest in the brunette, so he acted the way he usually would have. At least now he knew that her name was Chloe and that maybe she was an amazing woman with an amazing heart. And as weird as it sounded, he believed Emma on that part and was sure that an amazing woman was hidden behind those perfect features.
Ethan always had the eye to recognize a genuine beauty when he saw one and Chloe was clearly one. His hands were aching for him to pick up his sketch pad and his pencil, to draw her on paper, even if he knew it would be difficult to give her beauty justice and to draw all the emotions in her eyes. But Ethan had always loved a good challenge.
Chloe stayed against the door a few minutes and heard Ethan say that she was bitchy and rude, she closed her eyes tightly. She knew that he was surely saying that because she pushed him out of the room and slammed the door in his face. But there was this part of her that couldn’t help but think that it was because she hadn’t said a word. And there was no way she was going to talk, she just couldn’t. She wasn’t mute or anything but there was this thing holding her back from letting the sounds come out of her mouth. Some sounds did come out of her mouth sometimes but it was so rare, and it wasn’t words, far from it. She couldn’t handle to hear her voice after what had happened, after the incident.
She hadn’t missed the way he had been looking at her though; he had been looking at her concerned at first, of course because of her panic attack. But then when it had passed and she had turned to find that he had followed her, she had found him looking at her with interest, his beautiful gray eyes had been transfixed on her. She had even seen admiration in his eyes. It had been so long since a man had looked at her like this; actually no man had ever looked at her with such intensity.
And it felt so good to be looked at that way. Since the incident people just kept looking at her with pity, compassion, cautiousness, they were looking at her as if they were looking at a baby and not at a woman anymore and it was so damn annoying. And now she was glad that Ethan didn’t know anything about what had happened, he didn’t even know that she didn’t talk and just thought she was a bitch and rude, well, she preferred it that way. Because at least he had been looking at a woman and not at a broken child.
But she knew that sooner rather than later he would know what had happened and would look at her just like all the others did, but that wasn’t what she wanted. And maybe he wouldn’t know about what had happened but he would at least notice that she didn’t talk and he would look at her with pity thinking she was mute. But all she wanted was to see in his eyes that he was looking at a woman. And she had to admit that she felt more like a woman under his eyes than she had ever felt under anyone’s eyes.
Anyway, now wasn’t the time to think about it because she had to get ready for dinner. To be honest, she didn’t really want to attend this dinner. Everyone would be there and she would just make them uncomfortable at some point during the evening, she knew it. She didn’t understand why they got so uncomfortable, she was just not talking anymore, barely smiled, didn’t show any emotion on her face, looked empty most of the time, so okay maybe they actually had a reason to be uncomfortable around her after all.
Chloe walked toward the bathroom after choosing a deep blue sundress. She had to look good tonight. She had to make them believe that she was getting better and she would do her best, including giving as much smiles as she could even if they would obviously be fake ones.
She quickly put the sundress on and went toward the mirror to take care of her hair. She played with her natural curls for a few seconds and then, deciding her curls looked good today, she brought her hair in the back of her head for a loose but still elegant bun, letting a few loose curls fall around her face. Once it was done she realized that she had totally forgotten about the make-up, let’s just say that she wasn’t really used to it anymore. She quickly grabbed her usual lipstick, the one she was always wearing before the incident, and applied it to her lips before simply adding some mascara on her lashes and then she decided that she was ready.
She looked at herself in the mirror and smiled at herself to find the smile that looked more natural and once she settled for one, even if for her it still was obvious that it was a fake one, it didn’t reach her eyes at all, she went out of the bathroom. It was true, she had smiled since the incident but her smiles seemed to never reach her eyes even when she really wanted to be happy about something. She had had some genuine ones though, one for her mom, a few looking at pictures of Will, Emma had had one too to be honest, and that was all. Oh no, there was also Noah who had managed to make her smile a genuine smile. Actually, Ian wasn’t that bad at it too, he had never reached the genuine smile and she had only seen him once since the incident, but he had still managed to make her smile nonetheless even if it had more to do with his stupid jokes and perverted self.
She was about to walk out of her room when she realized that she was bare foot. At first she shrugged and decided that she didn’t care but then again, her old self would have never eaten dinner with guests bare foot. She quickly grabbed her white sandals that would be perfect with the blue sundress she was wearing and put them on before finally leaving the room.
Only once she was out of the door, could she smell that dinner was being cooked. It was probably Jason who was cooking, because Emma totally sucked at it. Chloe remembered a few times when she had tried to eat what Emma had cooked and said it was good, when in reality it was awful. But she wasn’t one to talk, because she was no better than Emma when it came to cooking.
Chloe arrived downstairs and entered the dining room to see that the table was already set, she was about to go to the kitchen when the doorbell rang. She became nervous all of a sudden at the idea of facing everyone, at the same time, and not once making them feel uncomfortable during the whole dinner. She started to walk toward the front door and heard Emma yell.
“I got it, and Ethan get your ass in here, now!” She said before literally running to open the door. Chloe saw Jason following, but he was walking, and then it was Ethan who arrived with an annoyed look on his face.
However, his annoyed look quickly disappeared when he saw Chloe standing there waiting for Emma to open the door. She was gorgeous, exquisite; there were no words to describe how beautiful this woman was. Her dress hugged her curves perfectly and the color made her eyes come out in a wonderful way. Ethan couldn’t help but notice her long legs that were impeccable; those legs could kill. He looked back up and ignored the cleavage, because if he didn’t he would soon start drooling, his eyes landed on her face once more and this time Chloe was looking back at him. He saw a slight blush reach her cheeks and smirked, but then she turned her head away from him and looked toward the door to see who the first ones to arrive were.
Chloe quickly looked away feeling her cheeks burning. How did Ethan manage to make her blush when the others didn’t even manage to make her smile? It was only the second time Chloe saw him and both times he had managed to make her lose control of her emotions, making them appear on her face. But once more he had looked at her with this intensity and she had clearly been a woman in his eyes, seeing the way he had looked at her body. Chloe’s thoughts were broken when she saw Lana and Ian entering the house.
They greeted Emma and Jason and then turned toward Chloe and Ethan. Lana’s smile grew when she saw Ethan and she hugged him tightly and Chloe guessed she hadn’t seen him in a long time and they appreciated each other a lot. Well, they probably knew each other since they were kids since Ian and Lana had been best friends since forever.
Lana pulled away from him and a smile was adorning both of their faces. Chloe couldn’t help but think about Will looking at her like this, but she quickly stopped the thought, not wanting to think about it tonight, it was really not the time.
Ian shook Ethan’s hand and Lana came toward Chloe, kissed both of her cheeks as a greeting and Chloe put her fake smile on. Not a fake smile because she didn’t like Lana, she actually appreciated the other woman.
“Hello, Chloe. You look good,” she said with a smile.
“You mean gorgeous,” Ian said coming closer to Chloe and taking her hand to put a small peck on the back of it. “As beautiful as I remember.” Chloe kept her smile on and felt herself becoming really comfortable with them, even if she didn’t really know them. She didn’t mind Ian, she knew that he wasn’t interested in her and that it was just the way he was. And Lana, even if she seemed to be a bitch at first sight, was really nice; at least she had been with Chloe so far.
They were all about to head to the dining room when the doorbell rang again. Emma sighed in annoyance because she had just started to walk away from the door. She turned back toward the door and everyone stayed there waiting for her to open the door even if they all knew who was on the other side of it now.
Emma opened the door and Chloe watched as everyone came inside greeting Emma and Jason first and then Ian, Ethan and Lana before turning toward her. The first person to reach Chloe was Jessica.
“Chloe, it’s so good to see you,” Jessica said before hugging her friend tightly. Chloe simply nodded and hugged her back. Then it was Naomi who reached her.
“You look fine,” she said before hugging her too, but Chloe could tell that it was all fake. Naomi had always been the center of the attention and now that Chloe wasn’t the same and people put a little more attention on her, obviously not for the good reasons, Naomi wasn’t the same with Chloe anymore, as if she was scared she would take her place.
The next person to reach her was Noah and this time she was the one throwing herself in his arms. She hadn’t seen him in over two weeks now and she had truly missed him. Noah hugged her back with a smile and kissed her cheek before pulling away from her and looking at her up and down.
“You look beautiful, Chloe,” he stated but just like Ian, it didn’t make her blush and the smile on her face wasn’t a genuine one. She knew he was saying that as a friend as they had been best friends since forever, just like with Emma. Naomi and Emma were sisters, actually, but they were as different as black and white mentally, but they looked a lot alike physically even though Chloe had always found Emma more beautiful than Naomi. They also had a little brother, Lucas, but he rarely showed up.
Noah had dirty blond hair and green eyes, he was very good-looking. Chloe looked away from Noah and toward Emma when she heard her almost yelling.
“I didn’t invite you,” Emma exclaimed looking at the brown haired man in front of her.
“I invited him along,” Peter explained as he reached Chloe and simply nodded as a greeting.
But Chloe’s attention wasn’t on Peter right now but on the man standing at the door. It was Steven. She hadn’t seen him once since he broke up with her and ended their engagement. Chloe looked down, uncomfortable, not wanting to look at him in the eyes. She heard Ethan and Lana whisper together.
“Who is it?” Ethan asked as he noticed the way Chloe had looked down when she saw him. He had been lost in his thoughts of Noah, wondering if he was her boyfriend or something and trying to ignore the little twinge of jealousy he had felt seeing Chloe hug him and him kissing her cheek when he had heard Emma.
“He is Chloe’s ex fiancé. He broke things off with her two months and a half ago,” Lana answered. Ethan didn’t answer anything and just nodded so Chloe brought her attention back on Steven who was now greeting the others.
However, when he reached her Chloe saw that he was about to bend down to kiss her cheek and she simply turned around ignoring him and walking into the dining room. He had broken her heart, actually not really, once he had left her she had realized that she hadn’t really been crazy in love with him and it would surely have been a mistake to marry him, but what broke her heart was that he had left her only two weeks after the incident. Two small weeks and he had said he couldn’t stay with her anymore. So much for a man in love. Chloe didn’t miss the smile appearing on Ethan’s lips when he saw her ignoring Steven and she acted as if she hadn’t seen it, but it made her want to smile too.
They all followed after Chloe and entered the dining room to sit at the table. Chloe was the first one to take a sit, Noah took the sit to her left, and next to Noah was Peter, Naomi’s boyfriend who looked like he was coming out of a magazine with his piercing blue eyes and blond hair. Jessica took the seat at Chloe’s right. Ethan sighed in annoyance when Ian almost ran to be seated in front of Jessica. Lana sat in front of Noah. Now he could be in front of Peter or in front of Chloe and his choice was easily made as he sat in front of the beautiful brunette. Naomi took the place in front of Peter and finally Emma and Jason took each a place on each side of the table, Emma next to Peter and Naomi and Jason next to Jessica and Ian.
There was still a little problem though, Steven hadn’t been planned at the table and now he was standing alone looking at them hopefully, for a seat at the table. Emma looked at him as well and being in her house you would think she would propose a solution but she simply looked at him making him understand that he wasn’t welcome, which amused Chloe a lot but of course it didn’t show on her face.
“Steven, you can take my seat I’ll sit next to Emma.” Jason proposed standing up.
“But we’ll be tight, Jason,” Emma complained. She probably didn’t really mind Jason sitting next to her but if she could make Steven understand he shouldn’t have come, she wouldn’t pass the occasion.
“It’s not a problem, Emma,” Jason said before taking a chair and sitting next to Emma as Steven took the seat on the opposite side of the table.
An hour later they were about to eat the dessert. Everyone was smiling and laughing, telling each other stories. Ian had spent the whole evening looking at Jessica and trying to make her laugh and Ethan had to admit that he was being quite successful. Lana on the other hand, wasn’t the one making jokes, but she was laughing at everything Noah would say and it was seriously getting annoying, because what Noah said wasn’t that funny. Ethan had decided that he liked Noah though, and he wasn’t the kind of person to like others easily.
Peter and Naomi had been flirting all dinner and Ethan didn’t like them at all, he also didn’t like Steven for some unknown reason, because he hadn’t done anything wrong so far, he just didn’t like the man. And then there was Jessica, he didn’t really have an opinion on her for now to be honest. She was beautiful and had a pale skin with quite amazing green eyes and long straight red hair but she wasn’t really his type.
Emma and Jason had been talking with everyone during the evening, but Ethan didn’t miss the way Emma was harsh with Steven and the deadly looks she was throwing his way, he was impressed, he didn’t know it was possible for Emma to dislike someone more than she disliked him but well, he had been wrong. Steven seemed to be very self-centered, always talking about himself, his career and a lot of things Ethan didn’t care about at all.
But what Ethan had noticed the most during this dinner was Chloe. He could deny it as much as he wanted but he knew that it would be a lie to say that he hadn’t been looking at her a lot during this said dinner. He was actually sure that he had spent the whole dinner looking at her. And to be honest, he had been taken aback by the fact that she hadn’t said a single word the whole evening. She had just stayed quiet; when someone would talk to her she would simply nod or smile, a fake smile if he might add. He had also noticed that everyone seemed to act cautiously around her and they didn’t really seem comfortable around her. They talked to her as if they were talking to a baby sometimes, and she clearly seemed not to like it.
It seemed that her so called friends couldn’t even understand how she felt. Of course she was hiding her emotions pretty well and most of the time you couldn’t see anything on her face or body language, but when you looked into her eyes you could know, at least approximately, how she felt.
Ethan had understood during the dinner that Chloe was mute, at least it was what he thought, and it had been confirmed when Lana, noticing his stares, had whispered in his ear that Chloe didn’t talk. She hadn’t said that she was mute, but if she didn’t talk it was logical to admit that she was.
“Chloe, it’s still weird for me,” Steven said and everyone stopped talking and turned toward Chloe to see her reaction because it was the first time Steven talked to her since he broke things off.
Chloe turned toward Steven confused. What was weird for him? Of course she didn’t let the confusion show on her face not wanting him to think that she cared about what he said. She turned away from him and looked around to see that everyone was looking at her with pity at the fact that her ex fiancé was talking to her and they were obviously waiting for her to feel uncomfortable about it. Chloe also noticed that Ethan was the only one not looking at her with pity; he was just looking at her nonchalantly as if this conversation was the most annoying thing in the world and she couldn’t help but appreciate it. She didn’t need anyone’s pity.
“I mean, it’s weird to be in the same room and not be by your side, not to have you in my arms. And what’s the worst is to see you not wearing the ring,” Steven explained.
Chloe suddenly felt like ripping him apart. How did he dare? What a jerk. It was weird not to see her with her engagement ring? What was wrong with him? She clearly couldn’t remember how she had ever loved that man, it hadn’t even been love and now she realized it. She hated him and he was clearly getting on her nerves. But of course none of those emotions showed on her face and she stayed as calm as ever. He wasn’t worth her showing any emotion.
Ethan however noticed the anger in her eyes at Steven’s words but he didn’t quite understand it until Emma snapped and talked for Chloe.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Emma exclaimed. “You are not seriously saying this are you?”
“Of course I’m seriously saying it,” Steven said offended.
“You little piece of shit! You are the one who broke things off with Chloe and you are the one who asked her to give you back the ring, because it was a ring that had been in your family for so long,” Emma snapped angrily.
“Well, maybe I’m regretting it now and I realized that I love her and I can’t live without her,” Steven said looking at Chloe, waiting for her reaction and he was met with no reaction at all, even if in the insides Chloe was boiling. He had no right.
“I want you to leave this house, now!” Emma announced and everyone looked at her shocked that she was kicking Steven out. “Two weeks Steven, you left her after two weeks. And now you say that you love her?”
“I do love her,” Steven stated. “I just want to take back what is mine.”
“What is yours? She is not yours Steven!” Emma yelled.
Ethan looked at the exchange not really understanding, since he wasn’t aware of the situation. He didn’t know what Emma meant when she said Steven had left Chloe after two weeks, but he guessed she meant two weeks after their engagement. Ethan couldn’t help but scoff when Steven said he loved Chloe and was regretting leaving her, and Chloe noticed it because she looked his way when he did. He had never loved a woman but he could tell that if he ever did he wouldn’t leave her that easily, he would never let her go.
He had to admit that Chloe was doing an amazing job at keeping her calm though, she appeared emotionless but Ethan could see in her eyes the anger boiling with every word that left Steven’s mouth.
When Steven said that he loved her, Chloe realized that it didn’t make her heart skip a beat, nor did it make it beat faster, it actually made her feel nothing but anger, any trace of love she might have had for him was completely and utterly gone, there was nothing left of it. She was glad that Emma was here because she was clearly talking for her and saying to Steven what she wanted to tell him herself, but couldn’t. But when Steven said that he wanted to take back what was his, Chloe couldn’t take it anymore, still with no emotion on her face she stood up and everyone turned their attention on her. She looked at Steven and showed him her middle finger making it sure he knew what she was thinking and walked out of the room, but of course before leaving she heard what Emma said and she decided to stay in the corridor to listen to what the others would say.
“Get out of the house now Steven,” Emma snapped angrily once more. Steven didn’t seem to make a move, showing he would leave, and it was an unexpected person who decided to talk.
“I think Chloe was pretty clear. She wants you to leave too, mate,” Ethan said and he was himself taken aback by the anger in his voice at the fact that Steven had made Chloe leave the room.
“And who are you exactly?” Steven asked standing up menacingly. Steven clearly didn’t know Ethan was in the military or he wouldn’t play bad boys right now. Ethan was one of the best soldiers you could find, it would be better to stay in good terms with him.
“I’m the person who will break your arm if you don’t leave this house, right now,” Ethan stated standing up as well.
“Steven, buddy. We should go; I was actually going to say my goodbyes,” Peter interrupted and saved the day. For once Peter did something good.
Hearing Ethan take her defense when he didn’t even know her and had said earlier that she was a bitch and rude, she couldn’t help the small smile appearing on her lips and she quickly realized that this one, was not fake. It wasn’t a big genuine smile that screamed happiness, but it was still a small sincere smile.
When she heard everyone standing up as they were all about to leave she lost her smile though. As usual she had made everyone uncomfortable and now they were all leaving. She quickly went toward the stairs and walked into her room to jump on her bed face first. This evening with everyone and with all her fake smiles had been tiresome and now all she wanted to do was sleep. And she thought she would actually be able to sleep not even caring about the fact that she was still dressed. But her hopes were quickly crushed when she heard a knock on her door.