When I woke the next morning I was alone. I sat up and glanced at the alarm clock on Tobias’ nightstand. It was 7am. Reluctantly I forced myself out of bed. I grabbed my robe from the black leather chair that sat in the corner of the room by the window and slipped it on over my naked body. Still half asleep I walked out of the bedroom and into the hallway. The smell of freshly brewed coffee wafted down toward me. I walked into the living area and glanced up at Tobias who was in the middle of pouring coffee into two cups.
“Morning.” I murmured as I sat down at the breakfast bar.
“Morning.” Tobias smiled as he lifted one of the cups and moved it toward me. He turned and placed the coffee pot down in the slot. “I arranged something… please don’t get mad,”
I felt my brow furrow. “Arranged what?”“I pushed all my meetings back. A week in fact and I booked us flights to your home town… for today.”
I bit my lip and shook my head. “I thought we were going to go after this weekend… Why the rush?”
“I couldn’t sleep last night, and I got to thinking that we don’t need to wait.”“You couldn’t sleep?” I whispered sadly.
“Don’t worry about that. Lets just pack and get out of here.”
But I was worried, Tobias was acting odd and I couldn’t figure out why. I nodded, maybe the break away would set whatever was bothering him at ease.
“Okay. Lets pack.”
After we’d finished our coffee Tobias and began to pack. We were halfway done when Tobias’ cellphone went off. He looked up at me, swallowed hard and then left the room. I was finishing up when he walked back into the room. He looked at me with apologetic eyes and a stony face and I knew it meant the trip was off.
“That was Ryan. He wants to meet tomorrow morning.” He replied. “To officially sign with Clarke industries.”
“We can go another time.” I smiled. “This is big.”
Tobias shook his head. “You go, I’ll catch a red eye tomorrow night and we can enjoy the rest of our holiday. The hotel is booked, everything is organised.”
I tilted my head and ran my fingers through my hair. “If you’re sure?”
Tobias nodded. “You can spend the day pampering yourself.”
My flight was at midday, so after I showered and at a small breakfast, Tobias and I headed to the airport.
We stood in front of the gate for my flight after checking my luggage. Tobias slipped is hands in mine.
“I’ll be there in a couple of days baby. I’m sorry I have to stay for work, especially when I was the one who wanted this holiday.” Tobias whispered, leaning into me. His lips pressed against my forehead and he reluctantly let go of my hands, only to engulf me in his arms.
“It’s okay Tobias. I understand. Work is important.” I smiled, curving into his chest.
“Not more important than you.” He said softly. “I should call and cancel this meeting.”
I looked around the bustling airport and shook my head. It was only a day, tomorrow night we’d be in each other’s arms and his mind would be at rest knowing he’d won the contract. It was a win-win.
“It’s okay Tobias. I’m going to meet up with a friend from school and we’re going to have a drink and do shopping. It’ll be nice.” I half lied. I hadn’t organised to meet anyone from school… yet. Truth was while I’d had a couple of friends in high school we drifted apart once I started at College and met Ben. They had warned me, and I hadn’t listened. Maybe it really was time to reconnect.
Tobias lifted my chin and pressed his lips against mine.
“I love you Ruby.” He murmured pulling back.
“I love you too.”
“You should go. Before you miss the flight.” he replied, reluctance heavy in his voice. I nodded and stepped back from him, unravelling myself from the safety of his arms. He had become my familiarity, and the peace I found now was within him. I was in deep, and was my forever.
I picked up my carry on bag before walking towards the gate. I turned to look back at a stony faced Tobias who raised his hand and waved slightly. I shot him a smile before handing my boarding pass to the attendant.
“Have a safe flight.” She said methodically before scanning my ticket.
I glanced back, one more time. Tobias was looking down, at his phone, he ran his hand through his hair and angrily shoved the phone away. He looked up at me, his expression dark.
“Bye.” He mouthed
“Bye” I mouthed back.
I hated walking away from him, even though I knew tomorrow was only a few hours away. I bit back the ball of emotion in my throat and turned back toward the gate, disappearing into it. I settled on the plane, relaxing into the seat with my eyes closed I let out a sigh. Only a few hours ago I’d been in bed, awake, ready to head to work for the day. Now I was headed to a place I hadn’t been in years.
“Miss, could you fasten your safety belt.” A hostess whispered softly. I opened my eyes and looked up at her. “Of course, sorry.”
I reached for the belt and clicked it into place. The empty seat beside me suddenly a stark reminder that I was alone. The plane started taxiing a short while later, and suddenly the only thing I wanted to do was get off and go home. I looked out the window, the plane began to move faster until it finally lifted off the ground. I watched the distance grow, the distance between me and the ground didn’t matter, it was the distance between Tobias and I that I didn’t like.
The three hour flight seemed to drag on, so when we landed I was grateful to get out into the fresh air. Once I’d collected my luggage I caught a cab to The Grand. The grand was a hotel I’d always noticed growing up, admiring it’s expensive beauty. The hotel was as full of opulence on the inside as it had always been on the outside. The deep red plush carpet felt like pillows beneath my feet as I followed the bell boy to my room. Various pieces of art adorned the wall. Pieces of art that reminded me of the stuff in my office at work. Tobias would appreciate it once her was here, more than I ever could.
“Here we are miss.” The bell boy exclaimed. “If you need anything, please call room service or the front desk.”
He opened my door and slid the case inside before handing me the key. I gave him a ten dollar tip and he smiled gratefully before leaving. I closed the door and walked into the exquisite room. The walls were stark white, but like the corridors had been, they were adorned with various works of art. I sat on the futon in the corner of the room by the large 50 inch tv. Instantly I relaxed into the cloud like plushness. I glanced around at my surroundings. All the expense in the world meant nothing on my own. It was beautiful, but I would’ve preferred falling asleep in his arms.I idly wished Tobias hadn’t had to work. I pulled my phone from my pocket and dialled his number.
He didn’t answer. I went to the spa and to the appointment Tobias had made for me before heading back to the room.
Too down to do anything else I spent the rest of the day in the room, watching trashy movies and eating all the junk food I could order.
The next morning I woke to a phone call from Tobias.
“Ruby.” He exclaimed. “I’m sorry I missed your call. I got very busy.”
“It’s okay. Have you booked on the red eye for tonight yet?” I murmured sitting up.
“About that.” He drawled.
I frowned, sensing bad news was coming. I climbed out of bed and walked into the living area.
“I can’t make it.”
“I’m really sorry Ruby. I thought this deal was in the bag, but he’s stalling, telling me his executives need to sign off on it.”
It had been a nice idea, but the timing wasn’t right. Being here felt weird. I wasn’t sure if it was because I hadn’t been back for a couple of years or if everything that had happened with Ben haunted me. But something was stopping me from enjoying being in my hometown, I wanted to return to where my heart was and that was with Tobias in Worthington.
“I’ll come home tomorrow.” I murmured.
“No, stay catch up with your friends.” he replied, crafting his words like an order almost.
I frowned and walked over to the sliding doors. Being here without him, felt a million kinds of wrong. I opened the door and stepped out onto the balcony.
“I’m not in the mood for mingling.” I whispered. “This place, while it fills me with memories, not all of them are good.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think.” He replied apologetically.
“It’s okay. I didn’t know how I’d feel until I was here. So how were you supposed to know?” I tried not to sound upset, but I wasn’t sure I’d pulled it off.
“I’ll book a flight for you tonight. I’ll email you the details.”
“I can book my own tickets.” I replied.
“I sent you there alone. I made this mess, let me fix it.”
“Tobias…” I began to speak, but Tobias deep sigh cut me off.
“Ruby, please. Don’t argue with me. I’ll see you in a few hours.”
We ended the call a short while later. Tobias had sounded different, the usual hint of softness had been wholly vacant from his voice. I walked inside and sat down on the futon. Something was brewing, but I wasn’t exactly sure what. 15 minutes later my phone bleeped. Tobias had booked my flight for in three hours, meaning I’d be home in time for dinner. I smiled and looked at my suitcase, once I was home this niggling feeling shadowing me was sure to dissipate.
I organised an uber, showered, repacked my case and left for the airport. Once I was back on the plane a little more than 24 hours after I’d arrived I felt almost relieved. The flight seemed shorter somehow. I exited the plane after it landed and almost ran for the gate. Only to find a stranger holding a sign with my name on it.
“Miss Moritz.” the man exclaimed, allowing the sign to fall with his hand. “Mr Clarke sent me.”
“I see.” I murmured.
We collected my things and the driver drove me to Tobias apartment complex, parking in the underground car park after we arrived.
He escorted me to the apartment, and didn’t leave my side until I unlocked the apartment door. Tobias was waiting. He glanced at the driver and nodded, which seemed to be the signal for him to leave. He then looked at me, but instead of love in his eyes all I could see was internal conflict.
“You sent a driver?” I whispered.
“I had to finish working on a new proposal.” He replied.
I sighed and shook my head.
“Whats going on.” I exclaimed. “You’re behaving strangely.”
“Nothing. Everything is fine Ruby.” He replied, his voice robotic. It was obvious he didn’t believe a word he was saying, so I was unsure why he expected me to either.
I needed to touch him, maybe that would soften his heart and melt the ice wall surrounding him. I let my hand slip off my case as I stepped forward and placed my hands against his chest.
“I missed you.” I said softly, sweeping my head up to lock eye contact with him. He tensed beneath me, and his arms raised until they rest on my shoulders.
I swallowed hard and shook his head.
“I was wrong.” He said, stepping back from me. He looked away from me, down at the ground. He couldn’t even look me in the eye. My heart began to race and nausea overcame me to the point I had to lean against the wall to steady myself. I tried to breath, but my lungs were constricted so tight the oxygen was like holy fire.
“What do you mean you were wrong?” I managed to splutter.
“I don’t love you… I don’t love anyone.” He said quietly.
The ground beneath me may as well have crumbled, because I felt so unsteady that I was afraid if I tried to move I’d fall. Where had this come from, why now?
“I don’t believe you.” I replied, unable to comprehend that the last five months had meant nothing to him. He looked up at me and shook his head.
“It’s the truth.” He replied. “I used you… as an experiment, to see if I could live like normal people do.”
“Tobias…” I whispered my voice tight with heartbreak.
“Turns out I can’t. I need you to go.” He exclaimed, ignoring my hurt. “I need you to move out.”
“I just got back. Can’t we talk about this?” What had happened in 24 hours, what had changed? He was shutting me out, pushing me away and I didn’t know why.
Tobias picked up his keys and jacket and brushed past me. “I’m going to the bar, I’ll be back in an hour. You need to be gone before I get back.” he replied, his voice cold.
Tobias left before I could say or do anything else. My body shook from heartache. Only a few days ago he’d told me he loved me more than anything, and then… and then he’d not been able to come on our trip. Maybe the time alone, even as short as it had been, had shown him what he really wanted… and it wasn’t me, not anymore.
I looked at my suitcase, pack by the door. At least I didn’t have to put myself through misery. I could leave right away and wallow in my sorrows. Tears rolled down my cheeks and fell onto my t-shirt. I grabbed my phone from my pocket and called Jimmy.
“Hey you back? I thought you were gone till Monday” He exclaimed, happiness in his voice. I tried to brush off my own emotion but it was futile.
“Uh… yeah.” I whispered. “Could I come stay at your place for a few days?”
“Wait? What?” He sounded confused.
“He…” I tried to vocalize what had just happened, but I couldn’t. “I just need a place to stay. Please.”
“Yeah.. No sweat. I’ll come get you.”
I looked over at my suitcase again and let out a staggered sigh. I couldn’t spend another second in Tobias’ apartment. I needed to get out… and now. I walked across the floor and slid my hand over the black handle
“No.. I’ll come there. I’ll see you soon.”
I ended the call and opened the door. Leaving the apartment and my shattered heart behind. I left the building and hailed a cab.
A few minutes later the cab pulled outside my old apartment. Jimmy was already waiting outside. He walked toward the cab as I got out. I looked at him, and tried to plaster a fake smile on my face, but I could tell he saw right through me. He shot me a pitying look before taking my case from the driver who was already out of the car.
“I don’t know what’s going on… but it’ll work out. The guy is crazy about you.” Jimmy offered. His words were all I needed to set me off. Tears rolled down my cheeks like torrential rain.
“Shit, I’m sorry.” Jimmy placed his hand on my back and led me toward the entrance. “Let’s go inside.”
I nodded and walked through the doors. Tears were still falling thick and fast when I heard a familiar voice from beside me. I looked up at a concerned Chris.
“You okay Ruby?” He asked gruffly.
“I’ve been better.” I admitted. “But I’ll survive.”
“Well if this is cos of Mr Clarke. I could rough him up a little next time he’s in.” Chris offered, half joking in an attempt to cheer me up.
“It’s okay Chris. He’s pretty good at beating himself up already though.”
Chris nodded knowingly as I turned to follow Jimmy into the elevator. We were inside my old apartment when Jimmy’s phone rang. He glanced up at me before he spoke.
“I gotta take this.” He exclaimed walking through the living area.
I walked over to the sofa, where Tobias and I had our first ‘date’ and lay down. Tears rolled thick and fast, my chest heaved with sorrow. I knew something was going on, Tobias wasn’t telling me something, but right now I was too hurt to try and break down his walls.