Beyond The Masque Part II

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Chapter 25

The week flies by quickly, and it’s already early Thursday evening. I’m sitting in my apartment, drinking a bottle of expensive wine by myself, and doing a little packing. Spence has a hired moving company, and they will be here tomorrow. I insisted that I pack my things myself; since I only have a few things that are coming with me to Spence’s. I also just wanted one last night in my place, soon to be Chris and Lena’s, before I move into Spence’s palace.

It’s been a busy week too. On Tuesday, Spence and I had met up with Les and started our wedding planning. Spence knew a little more than I did, but Les was terrific, answering every last annoying question that I had for him. Les’s ideas were excellent, and I loved almost every single one of them. Spence was just happy with whatever I wanted. Our venue will be a beautiful ranch, just outside of the city. Les wasn’t kidding when he said he had a lot of ideas. They practically poured out of him, and I’m happy that I hired him as our planner; I just know that he’ll make everything go smoothly with minimal stress.

Around eight, as I pour my third glass of wine, I hear my phone buzz. I take my wine and grab my phone before plopping down on the sofa. I open my message screen, and I am surprised when I see Seth’s name. Oh no, what could this be about?

*Hey Rox, I know you probably don’t want to talk to me, but do you think you could make an exception?

I don’t know what I should respond with. I don’t even know if I should or not, but I’m curious as to what Seth has to say, so I quickly type a reply.

*It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you Seth; it’s just that I really shouldn’t.

He responds immediately.

*So you don’t hate me then?

*No, of course not.

*Are you at home?

*Yes.

*Alone?

Huh? Why would this matter?

*Yes.

One minute after my last reply, I hear a knock on my door. What the hell? Oh, god, please don’t tell me.

I tentatively walk to my door and look through the peephole and see Seth’s face. Fuck! I open the door, and he stands there, his phone still in his hand, looking back at me cautiously.

“Seth, what the hell are you doing here? How’d you get into the building?” I ask him angrily.

“Someone let me in downstairs,” he replies, “I just wanted to talk to you.”

“You really shouldn’t be here,” I shake my head at him.

“I know, but I had to see you, Rox.”

As he says this, something occurs to me.

“Wait, how did you know where I live?” I ask him, crossing my arms.

“Lucas told me.”

“Lucas? What the fuck?”

“I badgered it out of him, so don’t be pissed at him. He was highly against me coming here,” Seth tells me, “can we talk about this inside?”

“Fine,” I snip and stand aside to let Seth in.

He walks past me into my apartment.

“Nice place you got here,” he comments, “bigger than your last place.”

“Yeah, well, it’s my last night here,” I tell him, closing the door behind me.

“I know, Lucas told me that too,” Seth comments as he heads towards my sofa and takes a seat.

“So, I guess that means that you and Lucas made up?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, that’s good then,” I say as I reach for my wine glass and take a long pull.

I stand nervously, unsure of what to do with myself with Seth sitting here in my living room. It feels weird and a little forbidden.

“You can relax, Rox,” Seth chuckles as I finish my wine and reach for the bottle to pour another glass.

“I’m not so sure about that,” I mutter.

“Why? It’s just me, Seth,” he smiles his dimpled smile, and I can’t help but smile slightly.

That smile used to do things to me, but now it just makes me nervous.

“Seth, what are you doing here?” I ask again.

Seth takes a deep breath and slumps back into the sofa, cushions, looking tired.

“Can you just sit down first?” he asks me, so I relent and take a seat on the opposite end of the sofa, leaving ample space between us.

“Okay, I’m sitting, now tell me what you're doing here,” I say, looking expectantly at him.

“Well, first of all, I just wanted to apologize for my behavior lately. I know I’ve been acting like a total ass.”

“Yeah, you’ve certainly made it onto Spence’s shit list,” I snort.

“I do feel pretty bad about that. Spence has always been good to me, and I know I shouldn’t fuck with him. It’s not his fault that I’m a total fuck up.”

“You’re not a total fuck-up Seth.”

“When it comes to you, I am. I’ve been a real prick to Spence, and all because he’s the one who dared to step forward and take what he wanted, while I just sat back and let him. It was the same thing with Lucas too. I don’t know why I do this, Roxanne.”

“I don’t know what to say, Seth.”

I look at him, and he stares back at me with his bright blue eyes, looking defeated.

“I’m sorry, too, you know. I know I hurt you, and you didn’t deserve that,” I offer.

Seth nods but doesn’t say anything right away. He glances around my living room, seemingly taking it all in. Finally, he speaks again.

“This is so fucked up. How much everything has changed in a year, how one crazy night at the Manfredi Masque has affected our lives. It pisses me off how one simple fucking phone call could have changed everything.”

“Coulda, shoulda, woulda,” I say rather insensitively, "I can’t keep having this conversation with you Seth, because as many times as you say this, it’s not going to change anything. It’s too late, and it just doesn't matter anymore."

“Yeah, I know that we’ve already discussed this, and I need to get over it,” Seth nods.

“You know that I heard about you and Casey sleeping together, right?” I suddenly blurt out, going off-topic.

Seth’s face falls, more so than before.

“You did? Who told you?”

“Well, first, Lucas told me that he saw you two making out at the masque before you guys disappeared into the VIP area, and that was all he knew. Casey filled me in on the rest of it,” I explain.

“Did that information bother you?” Seth asks, not hiding his hope.

“Not exactly,” I answer.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Well, at first, I thought it could be a good thing for you two to get together,” I start, and Seth looks shocked.

“Except,” I continue, “the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t such a good idea.”

“Why is that?” Seth asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Because I think you need to put some distance between you and me. If you were to get together with my best friend, I don’t see that happening. Could you imagine how awkward that would be for everybody?”

“You know, Lucas said something similar to me the other night,” Seth tells me, now looking suspicious.

“He’s the one who pointed it out to me actually,” I admit, and Seth nods.

“I suppose you’re right, although it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m not interested in getting together with Casey anyway, Rox. I never was. We were just drunk and got caught up in a moment of weakness. I also think it happened because a part of me wanted you to find out, and I guess I hoped you'd be jealous. I agree that I couldn’t be with her and be around you and Spence all the time. That would be torture.”

I breathe a sigh of relief.

“So, you didn’t feel even a little jealous?” Seth then adds, looking kind of hurt by this.

“Seth, I’m in love with Spence. As I said, you and I had a connection, but it’s been a long time, and I’ve moved on since then.”

“You looked upset that day at Victor’s party when you walked in on Anya and me,” he argues.

“I was just taken off guard. I wasn’t expecting to see that,” I retort.

I don’t need to tell him the part about how it had made me ill.

“Bullshit, I think it upset you,” Seth scoffs, moving closer to me on the sofa.

“Okay, maybe it upset me a little, but it was just because I hadn’t seen you in so long. Then all of a sudden, you were there, and with someone else."

"Understandable, I guess. We never really had any closure..." Seth says.

Seth slides farther down the sofa until he’s sitting right next to me, close enough that I can smell his cologne, a scent that is still surprisingly familiar. His proximity makes me nervous.

“Are you sure that you didn’t feel anything when Spence made you kiss me?” he then asks, his voice low and quiet.

“Yes, I'm sure,” I answer right away because it’s the truth.

“Maybe that’s just because it was forced upon you. Maybe if it were a choice you made, it’d be different.”

I meet Seth’s gaze then, and he’s leaning in closer to me.

“Seth, stop it,” I murmur, leaning away from him.

I can feel the warmth radiating off of his body, making me feel quite warm as well.

“You owe it to yourself to know for sure, Rox,” Seth says softly, and he puts a finger under my chin and turns my head to look at him.

“I do know for sure,” I whisper, losing my voice.

Seth’s face is so close to mine that I am suddenly frozen in place.

“Then why aren’t you pulling away from me?” Seth says, his voice smooth.

Before I can offer a reply, his lips are on mine. His lips are so soft and eager on mine. They coax my lips apart, giving Seth’s tongue access to my mouth. His tongue meets and gently twirls with mine. Seth’s hands reach up and grab my face between them, holding me in place as he kisses me. The kiss is good, but it’s still not the same. I put my hands on Seth’s shoulders and softly push him away from me.

“Seth, stop,” I whisper.

“Why?” he whispers back, his breathing has picked up, and he leans his forehead against mine.

“We’re not doing this.”

“Please, Rox, just one last time? We can call it closure.”

“No, Seth. I’d never do that to Spence. I love him.”

“I love you.”

“You just think you do, Seth.”

“I’ve never felt this way about somebody before, Rox.”

“Maybe it just means you’re ready for something more than meaningless sex all the time, with somebody serious. Not someone like Anya.”

“I’m ready for you.”

“I’m taken.”

“Fuck,” Seth lifts his forehead away from mine and buries his face in his hands.

“I thought I had a glimmer of hope just now.”

“I’m sorry, Seth. I don’t know what I can say to you.”

“Yeah, I know. I just fucking hate this.”

“Can I get you a drink or something?”

“A drink?” Seth laughs humorlessly.

“Maybe it’ll help.”

“Doubtful, but sure.”

I get up quickly and head into my kitchen and open the cabinet that houses the expensive bottle of whiskey Spence keeps here. I pull it off the shelf and grab a glass, then pour a double for Seth. I really should just make him leave, but that would seem cold. I bring the glass to Seth, and he takes it from me and takes a sip.

“Let me guess, Spence’s?” he asks, holding the glass up.

“Yeah.”

“Of course. Remember last year when I told you that if you let him take you out that I’d never have a chance? How right was I?”

“You had your chance after I had gone out with him the first time. Spence and I didn’t officially get together until much later, Seth,” I say, grabbing my wine and retaking a seat next to him.

“You know, I’m wondering what happened to the old confident Seth that I first met. What happened to him?”

Seth sighs and takes a big gulp of his drink.

“I don’t fucking know. Maybe I wasn't as confident as I let on sometimes. Maybe I thought it was back until I ran into you at the yacht party and found out that you were getting married, to Spence fucking Manfredi, basically confirming every fear I had about it."

“And if I wasn't with Spence? What would you have done then?”

I don’t know why I ask this, or if I should have, but I’m morbidly curious. Seth looks up at me, his face serious.

“Well, after finding out that you never actually went home with Spence, I would have apologized profusely for being an idiot, then I would have taken you in my arms and kissed you, then I would have brought you back to my place and never let you go.”

“If you would have forgiven me so easily, then why didn’t you just answer the phone when I called you? Seth, that’s the problem, you only step up when it’s too late.”

“You don’t think I know that?”

“If you know it, then why do you do it? I tried calling you so many times, all those chances…” my voice cracks at the end, memories of all my failed attempts at contacting Seth when I came back from Italy.

I thought he hated me when, in reality, it was just the opposite — what a waste. Seth senses the emotion in my voice, and he reaches for my hand and squeezes it.

“We could’ve been so fucking great together, and you know it, don’t you?”

“It’s too late, Seth. I’ll admit that I thought a lot about how great it could have been, but it’s not going to be that way.”

“It’s not too late. Not until you say I do,” Seth argues, causing my mouth to drop open.

I gape at him wide-eyed. I make a move to stand up off the sofa, to move away from him, but he holds onto my hand even tighter and pulls me back down. I fall into the couch and Seth leans over me, trapping me in place.

“I love Spence, Seth,” I whisper, holding my hands out to stop him from getting any closer.

“I think that deep down, you love me too. I think you loved me even back when you chose Lucas over me. I think you knew that you made the wrong choice then, and I think you’re making the wrong choice now,” he says, voice husky.

“Lucas was the wrong choice, but Spence is not, and I think that you need to leave now, Seth.”

“Why? Are you afraid of what you might do? Do you not trust yourself around me? Shouldn’t that tell you something?”

“Stop trying to mess with my head, Seth, it isn’t fair,” I plead.

“I’m just trying to get you to admit what you’re denying, Rox,” Seth leans in even closer, my arms not strong enough to hold him back.

Seth’s face is now only inches from mine, and I can feel his hot breath on my skin, and his growing excitement on my hip.

“Seth, please stop,” I whisper.

Oh no, Oh, no!

I push on his chest, and as I do, one of the top buttons of his shirt pop open, revealing a glimpse of the wing tattoo on his chest, the one that used to do something to me. My eyes are glued to it, and Seth’s eyes travel down to see what I’m staring at. Without a word, Seth suddenly pulls his shirt completely off, then grabs my hand and places it on his chest, over his tattoo.

“It still affects you, doesn’t it?” he murmurs, holding my hand in place.

Fuck! It’s so damn sexy.

“Seth…” I start, but his lips cut me off.

He pushes his body against mine, his skin so hot it almost burns under my fingertips. His kiss is hard and unrelenting, and I’m trapped underneath him. My head is swimming; I need to stop him now.

“No, stop,” I manage to say against his lips.

I muster all the strength I have inside me and push on him one more time, and with greater force than I expected, I shove him right onto the floor.

Seth looks up at me with a look of utter shock.

“What the hell, Rox?”

“I told you to stop, Seth,” I shout and stand up.

I grab his shirt and toss it at him.

“You need to get the fuck out.”

“What?”

“You heard me, Seth. I’m sick of this bullshit, and I’m done with people trying to fuck up what Spence and I have. I just wish everyone would just leave us alone and let us be happy.”

Seth pulls on his shirt and gets to his feet.

“You’re right. I’m sorry, Rox. I just lose my control when it comes to you, I guess.”

“Well, learn to control yourself. This can never happen again. I don’t think I should see you anymore.”

“Come on, don’t say that. We can stay friends, can’t we?”

“Not if you try this shit again. I’m serious Seth, this can not and will not happen again.”

Seth runs his hands through his hair and nods his understanding.

“Well, you can’t blame me for giving it one last shot,” he says.

“Yeah, well, you are officially out of shots,” I mutter as I head towards my door.

Seth follows behind me closely. I reach for the door handle.

“Goodnight, Seth. I hope that you can just move on now because, you and me, it’s never going to happen.”

“Yeah, I think I get it now. It’s time for me to suck it up, grow some balls, and move on.”

“I want you to be happy, Seth, I truly do.”

“I want you to be happy too, Rox. I just wish it had been with me, that’s all.”

I smile kindly at him, and he leans in and gives me a quick hug just as I open the door. My heart drops to the floor when I see, standing on the other side of the door, is Spence.

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