The beatles’ “All you need is love” played through the stereo speakers in Tobias’ study, as if the radio knew about my current loved up status. It had been four months and 11 days and to the surprise of almost everyone, we were still going strong. I’d read more than my fair share about how Tobias was using me to become more personable or how I was using him for money. Of course the stories hadn’t ended there, but I’d learned not to pay attention to words of people who didn’t even know us.
I looked up at Tobias who was focusing on his screen, working on something important. He was incredibly good at his job, a fact many didn’t give him enough credit for. Far from riding his father’s coattails, he’d worked hard and continued to work hard. It was one of the reasons I loved him. His dedication was admirable.
I looked back down at my book and read a few more lines before the words began to blur together. I folded the corner of the page over and closed the book before looking at my phone. It was almost midnight.
“I’m going to bed. I have work in the morning” I murmured standing up. “And I have a tyrant for a boss, really rides me hard.” I bit back a laugh.
Tobias stopped typing and turned to face me. His blue eyes shone with intense amusement as his lips curled into a playful smile. “You are a devil woman.” He replied. “How the hell am I meant to focus now.”
“You’re not.” I smiled. “It’s part of my wicked, wicked plan to seduce you.”
Tobias frowned and held out his hands, I slipped mine inside and he squeezed them gently. “I have to finish this before the meeting tomorrow.” He groaned.
I smiled. “And you said we’d never be boring.” I teased.
Tobias frowned, and I could almost see the guilt wash over him. I leaned closer and pressed my lips against his. “I was joking. I know how important this deal is to Clarke Industries.”
“Still, I asked you to stay knowing I had to focus on this. I guess I wanted to have my cake and eat it too.”
“Doesn’t everybody.” I chuckled. “Tobias, relax, I’d rather sit here in your company while you work than in my apartment alone anyway.”
Tobias licked his lips and chewed on his lower lip before letting out a strangled breath. Something was bothering him, but I couldn’t work out what. I felt my smile fall, his eyes widened and he shook his head. “I’m okay.” he murmured. “I was just thinking… You’d rather be here, and I’d rather you be here.” He paused and smiled widely. “It makes sense that you just move in here.”
For a moment the world stopped spinning, time stopped and Tobias’ offer silenced every other thought in my mind. Despite our love, despite the fact we were going stronger than ever… I was shocked.
“You want me to move in?” I whispered.
“Yes.” He breathed out. “Ruby. I want you to move in.”
I couldn’t speak, my voice was trapped in my throat and as much as I tried to vocalize my feelings I just couldn’t. My eyes began to water, and I nodded like an idiot. Tobias grinned, releasing my hands in favor of pulling me into a long embrace. Tobias nuzzled my neck, as his hands began to wander. I pulled back and shook my head, waggling my index finger.
“Uh uh” I said frowning. “You’ve got work to do.”
Tobias sighed and looked back at his laptop screen. The half finished proposal had to be completed by the morning. He hovered his fingers over the keyboard and wrote
Whatever you want to be my client I’ll give you. The end.
“There. Done.” He replied, reaching out for me again.
“Tobias.” I frowned. “You need to finish that… properly.”
“Now look who’s the boring one.” Tobias remarked with a wry smile before releasing me.
“If me being boring gets you this deal, then I think I can live with that.” I replied.
“God I love you Ruby.”
“And I love you, Tobias.” I replied standing up.
I undressed, grabbing one of Tobias’ shirts from his drawers before walking to the side of the bed I’d claimed as my own. I had my own drawer with my own clothes, but sleeping in his t-shirts had become somewhat of a thing. I pulled back the covers and climbed into bed, grabbing the ipad from the bedside drawer.
Once Tobias and I went public with our relationship I had learned very quickly not to google myself. In fact, I avoided tabloids completely.
Except for tonight. I had an email, from an anonymous sender.
You should check out the entertainment section of online magazine Masque. Great piece on you. Enjoy.
I should have left it alone. My instinct was already telling me that no good could come from listening to the menacing voice from an anonymous sender. Whoever was behind was stirring a pot, hoping for a bite… and I gave it to them.
I opened a new tab and typed in the name of the magazine and my name. A picture of me, heavily photoshopped to the point I was picture in a femme fatale outfit I’d never seen let alone actually worn. The heading screamed in bright red blocky font.
Sweet small town girl or Poison Ivy: The truth behind the girl who caught the uncatchable.
I skim read for a while, as it stated mostly correct details about my early life. But just as soon as hope that this wouldn’t be horrible began to wash over me, I was overcome by dread.
Given that her parents died so close together, the question has to be asked. Did Ruby have something to do with it. Stuck under the rule of strict older parents had she finally had enough. Did she fly into a murderous rage taking out her father, only to find out nothing changed when it was just her mother.
Nausea gripped me. They were assuming I’d killed my parents. Whose death certificates stated clearly the illnesses that had taken their lives. Who I loved and missed every day of my life, whose memories were never far from my mind. I swallowed hard and scrolled down the page.
An ex boyfriend, Benjamin Riley, who attended an Ivy league college fell under Ruby’s spell only for her to break his heart and run away. After moving to Worthington to declare his love, Ruby had him arrested for assault even though sources say nothing even happened.
I threw the iPad down on the bed and shook my head. I pulled my legs up to my chest and wrapped my arms tightly around them. The story was lies, it was full of untruths that were easily disproven. The fact it had made it passed an editor astounded me, but none of that changed the sickening feeling coursing through me, I’d worked to move on, I had been healing… and with one foul swoop it seemed the fabric had come undone.
Tears rolled down my cheeks, one after another after another until I couldn’t see properly anymore. I closed my eyes and rest my head on my knees, sobbing softly.
A few minutes later I heard the door fly open. I didn’t move, Tobias warmth engulfed me. He held me, like I was made of the most fragile china. But this time, even that was no consolation.
“I’ll fix this Ruby.” He whispered. “I swear to fucking god.”
“How did they know where to hit me?” I mumbled. “How did they know so much?”
“I don’t know… but I sure as hell plan to find out.”