He has been awfully quiet the whole car ride from my office to the penthouse, speaking only when spoken to.
I shifted my gaze upon him and all I get was his silent stare ahead coupled with a tense shoulder. I scooted nearer to him taking his hand I intertwine with mine, the way it should always be.
This gesture catches his attention as he turns to face me.
I lend in closer to him and whispered against his lips,“Love you,” I gave a peck on his lips.
“I Love you,” His lips strain at the corner of his right trying to form a smile. But it was just a Passover as he went back to being stoic in his appearance.
“Is everything alright? You seem distant,” I voiced out my concern.
He looks on but his eyes held no emotion it was blank which made me feel slightly agitated. He sighed,” Sorry it was a hectic day. How was yours.”
“It was okay. I had lunch with Robin and Jemi, they informed me that they are planning on going down to New Orleans to attain the music festival this weekend.” I smiled.
He nodded and went back to staring upfront. I sighed and leaned my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes.
Was it too late to cancel on going to the merger party tonight? Or was Jemi right on telling me that I made the wrong decision on making him agree to the merger because after all, he was just being protective of me.
Jemi had me second guessing again. But when I think of the way how Dominic easily carries on in shutting down people unfairly that displeases him. It solidifies my decision on making him agree to the merger.
I am certainly not looking forward to seeing Richard again nor will I ever be. To me, tonight’s event will be just me attaining a purely business party with my boyfriend as his date that’s it.
I lifted my head from his shoulder and released my hand from his and tried to scoot near the door to my side but he pulled me closer towards him.
Hands circling around my waist, I felt his soft cold lips on my temple. I turned to face him,” You are brooding a lot.” I frowned kneading my brows.
His lips wrinkles at the right corner forming a small barely visible smile”Maybe a cold shower with you will help me relieve the tension don’t you think.”
I scoffed,” Hardly.” I looked away. He was dodging the topic.
He chuckled,” Trust me it will.” He leans in biting on my earlobe sending delicious sensation on my body. My body responds to his touch but I refused to sink deep without having a proper conversation with him.
Turning to face him, my reprimanding eyes meets him,“Babe I really don’t like it when you do this, dodging the topic. I know something is bothering you and you are not telling me.” I stressed my words as I rest my hands on his chest.
He sighs and gave a peck on my lips,” You are right. I’m sorry.” But before we could continue, the car comes to a halt indicating that we have reached the penthouse.
Stepping out of the car we walked hand and hand towards the elevator.
“Please tell me.” I turned to face him as soon as the elevator door closed.
He racks his hair with his fingers and held my gaze,” Arabella I cannot lose you.” His voice comes out tight with agitation.
I stepped closer to him hands circling around his waist,” why would you say that.”
“For God’s sake Arabella you will meet him. Don’t you think I have every right to be apprehensive? You guys had a history, yo..you loved him.” He stuttered his voice barely a whisper as he finishes the last sentences. If I weren’t standing this close to him I won’t have heard him.
“You answered and cleared all your doubts without me having to say it, Dominic.” I returned cautiously.
He raised his left brow a look of confusion masks his face.
“All the words you just spoke were all past tense. You see Dominic, he was my past someone I once loved; Past nothing more.” I stressed on the last words determinedly and lifted my hands and cupped his face with my palms pulling him down to meet my lips.
I kissed him passionately,” I have my present and my future here with me and I consider it a waste to ponder on the past. I love you Dominic not him. Tonight is me simply accompanying my boyfriend for his business party and nothing else.” I assured him giving his lips a gentle peck.
He closes his eyes and rests his forehead on mine,” I love you, sweetheart.” His breathing seemed more relaxed. He gives me a good bashful smile as he steps away from me and interlaces his hand with mine as the elevator door opens.
Walking in the middle of the bedroom, my back towards him I had butterflies in my stomach at the thought of what I was about to do.
I unzip my dress and purposely
slowly slide the dress down. With shoes still on I stepped out of the dress and gathered all the hair to the left of my shoulder.
“Arabella,” He called out his voice hoarse.
I smiled biting my lip and unclasped my bra dropping it on the floor and kick off my shoes turning my head to the left looking him over my shoulder.
“I’m going for a shower,” I walked towards the bathroom with a sly smile playing on my lips. His gaped mouth and piercing lustful eyes were priceless.
Stepping into the glass cubicle I turned on the shower and let the water slowly caress my body. Just as I stretched my hand to grab the shampoo I felt his bare skin on me from behind.
Strong masculine hands wrapped my waist from behind. I feel his hard want pointing above my bum, making my sex ache in want for the pleasure it would give me.
Caressing and loving each other.
Panting and heart palpitating rapidly with the intensity of our lovemaking I wrap my hands around his waist burying my head on his chest I inhale his natural scent loving the warmth the closeness of his body provides me. He kisses the top of my head which makes me look up and meet his gaze. He dips his head down and captures my mouth kissing me passionately,” I love you so much.” He whispers against my lips.
“I love you too,” placing a light feather kiss on his bare chest.
“We better shower and get ready before I get too greedy and take you again,” He smiles as he releases me and turns on the shower pulling me in to wash together.
Once showered we were inside the walk-in closet to get ready. For the party, I choose to wear a simple navy blue A-line scoop neck knee-length tulle cocktail dress with sequins that I bought a year back which I wear it only on fancy occasions.
“I took the liberty of purchasing a dress for you for the party.” He places a soft kiss on my bare shoulder, my body wrapped only in the white towel.
“You shouldn’t have. I already have a dress.” I said turning to face him. I couldn’t help but let my eyes roam around his toned body wrapped only in a white towel around his waist showcasing the V-line abs.
“Arabella I wanted to and besides its Micheal’s design.” My eyes shifting from his body as he hands me the white box with Mic’s design initials printed on it Michael Coban in gold.
“You really shouldn’t have Dominic.” I insisted again placing the box on top of the island dresser and opened the box and lifted the dress.
It was a stunning strapless black form-fitting evening gown with heavy embellishments. The dress was a master craft, Michael’s work brilliant as always.
“This is beautiful.”
“You will look absolutely gorgeous in that.” He wraps his arms around my waist hugging me from behind.
“Thank you.” I turned giving a peck on his lips.
We walked out of the elevator hands intertwined heading towards the car outside the penthouse where Arthur was already waiting for us.
Dominic looked dapper and handsome as always in his black tuxedo.
“Is your parent’s house in this part of the area,” I looked out the window, we were finally in the Hamptons after two hours of drive. The familiar road gave a queasy feeling in my stomach but I suppressed it.
“No, my parent’s house is in the Southampton this is east,” He returned holding me closer to him wrapping his hands around me. By now I am so used to sitting this way in the car with him, he would always hold me or make me sit on his lap.
The one thing I would never ever get used to is how Dominic makes me feel like I am the only one he sees and matters. It is overwhelming. It’s hard not to fall in love deeply when he makes feel and treats me this way.
“My mother wants to meet you, Arabella. She has invited us to dinner the next coming Sunday and I have accepted the invitation I hope you didn’t mind me doing that.” He politely informs me.
I turned to face him resting my hands on his thigh. Honestly, this was what I have been dreading a lot. No matter how solid relationship you share with your boyfriend meeting his parents especially the mother always tends to shake that sturdy boat of loving.
“I wish you would have asked my consent first before you agreed,” Nerves bringing out words I didn’t mean but it finds its way out anyhow. I’m agitated at the prospect of this meeting.
And now that he already accepted the invitation there was no backing out unless I’m terribly ill or something. But the meeting was inevitable it had to happen one day or the other. One way it was good he accepted because if it were up to me I would have come up with some excuse to delay the meeting.
“I’m sorry about that. My mother was growing quite curious about you always asking me about us so I just accepted the invitation without thinking,” Concern etched on his face as his eyes bore into me.
“It’s okay,” I whispered tearing my gaze away from his monetarily before holding his gaze again,“I hope she doesn’t hate me,” I let out a nervous laugh as if I were joking but if only it was a laughable joke. I meant every word I said.
Feather-light fingers trace my cheek making me close my eyes. Soft lips brush my chin and then my lips.
“Who would ever hate you, Arabella. She would love you trust me.” I open my eyes to meet his. I believe every word he says.
I hope so; mind thinks it but never leaves my mouth instead it forms in an assuring smile at him. Eyes tear away from the grey-blue towards the snaking asphalt road passing through rows of pine trees standing tall on each side of the road.
The last I visited this place was a year back after my engagement with Richard meeting his parents to tell the news. A cold sneer from his mother and a disinterested formal congratulations from his father was all we got for what was supposed to be an occasion of joy and laughter. It hurt but what hurt me the most was the regret look on his face.
I knew that time that I was trying to revive something that was rotten but I just didn’t want to open my eyes and walk away. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and finally, only after tasting the humiliating way he ended our relationship and realized that he wasn’t good for me. That he was not worth fighting for.
The car came to a halt right outside the all too familiar gold and black metal gate. A buzzer goes off and the metal gate opens slowly for the car to drive up the open space where a huge architectural lit up mansion becomes visible.
“Let’s get this over with shall we,” He says holding my hand giving it a gentle squeeze.
“Okay,” I breathe out slowly trying to calm that rapid pounding in my chest.
“We won’t stay for long, will just get past the formal introductions and push off,” He informs looking out as the car parks in front of the grey stone rounded stairs that let up to the main door of the house.
“You are fine right?” Turning to face me his eyes assessing my face looking for any signs of agitation on my part.
" I’m fine.” I gave him a small smile as a sign of assurance.
He leans in giving a peck on my lips and steps out as Arthur opens the door.
The usher led us towards the room where the party was held and opened the door for us.
The moment we stepped into the huge room trapped in all its luxury to host tonight’s event heads began to turn our way. The chattering of the people slowly began to dwindle down and all eyes fixed on us.
From the corner of my eye to the left I saw Richard’s mother Claire pushing through the crowd with Richard and his father following behind her.
“Ah, Mr. King we are so delighted that you finally graced us with your presence,” Her enthusiasm was just too fake and unnecessary. But in spite of her poor personality, she looked gorgeous in a strapless marron velvet evening gown hugging her slender figure to the tea. Her hair tied in a chignon showcasing her neck adorned with a simple rough cut white diamond necklace.
She didn’t even give a glance towards me as expected.
“We are happy to be here,” was Dominic’s clipped reply.
“Welcome Mr.King,” Richard’s father stretched his hand for a handshake.
“Spencer,” Dominic shook his hand. Henry turned to face me, there was a surprised look on his face like he didn’t expect me to be here with Dominic.
“Arabella what a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know you were coming let alone as Mr.King’s date,” He stretched his hand for a handshake but his questioning eyes went towards his son and wife who had stoic expressions on their faces. It appears to me that they didn’t inform him about me.
“Hello Henry,“shaking his hand I gave him a genuine smile. During all these years I have dated Richard he was nothing but polite to me although his wife was just the opposite.
My eyes shifted towards Claire who just gave me a curt dismissal nod,” Welcome,” was all she said to which I just gave her a polite smile.
Richard stepped forward stretching his hand to shake Dominic’s hand. When he turned to face me, I felt Dominic loosening his hand from mine and instead circled his hand around my waist pulling me closer to him.
This gesture brought a smile to my face.
“Shall we get on with the program then,” Dominic commanded with steel authority making Richard drop his gaze from me.
Once seated at our table. The event started with the preview of both the companies, the objective of the joint venture and the near future plans. Formal introductions made by both the executives present, Richard spoke on behalf of his company and when it was time for Dominic to speak he placed a quick peck on his cheek before standing up from his seat which was not missed by the curious eyes at the party.
There was pin-drop silence when Dominic spoke all attention on him. Power, dominance, and confidence that’s the only thing he projected effortlessly.
Once all the formalities were done as well as dinner, we decided to leave. Just as we were about to stand up and leave then Janis approached our table.
“Hello, Arabella hope you are having a good time,” warm smile graces her lips as she meets my gaze.
“I am Janis thank you for asking,” I returned the smile.
Shifting her attention to Dominic, she rested a palm on the table dipping her head slightly down, in a lowered tone she spoke,” Mr.King I just met the acquaintance of Anderson and he really wants to have a talk with you in private about the deal you recently strike with the Cooper corporations. I believe he has some valuable information to pass on to you.”
Dominic’s darted towards the room before meeting Janis’s,” Tell him to come to the office tomorrow. I want to leave now,” He ordered dismissively.
Janis sighed,” I’m afraid you have to meet him now, the information he has is much too important to be delayed until tomorrow.”
“Fine.” He replied flatly and turned to face me,” Sweetheart is it okay if I leave you for some time. It won’t take long,” I can’t help but smile at the way his tone changes into softness when he speaks to me.
“It’s alright Dominic. Go ahead I’ll be here when you are done.”
“Okay. I’ll see you soon.” He gives a peck on my lips and whispers in my ears,” Can’t wait to go home and peel that dress off of you.” He smirks at me as I swat his arm heat spreading on my face and then my ears. I was blushing deeply.
Sitting alone I took a sip of the champagne looking at the crowd. I didn’t see Richard which was good. The whole dinner time I could feel his eyes on me sitting at the table opposite us. He made me feel very uncomfortable.
“My you certainly did upgrade yourself haven’t you,” a sneer high pitched tone came towards my left. I have no trouble racking my brain who it was.
“Claire,” I eyed her coldly.
She gave a smug smile,” Oh let’s stop the pretense shall we. Tell me how did you manage to hook a billionaire, the richest and the most eligible one at that. By spreading your legs?” She took a seat beside me.
I chuckled shaking my head,” Somethings never change is it, Claire. Mind your own business and you know what I am not even going to dignify that with a response.” I stood up abruptly and walked away towards the door.
It felt good just to answer rudely towards her. All those years I just tolerated because of Richard but not anymore.
Walking down the long hallway I stepped outside the glass door that led to the balcony overlooking the vast nicely manicured garden. Looking at this met with a tight squeeze in my heart. This was where the wedding reception was supposed to be held.
“I knew I would find you here,” Richard’s voice call out from behind. I turned to face him reluctantly.
“Stay there,” I raised my palm as he stepped closer to me.
He stops in his tracks,” Ell please I need to talk to you.”
I huffed crossing my arms over my chest,” about what Richard.”
“About us,” with three long strikes, he stood just some inch away from me. I took a step back maintaining a comfortable distance between us.
“There is no Us Richard. If I remember correctly you have a fiance whom you have been dating for the past one year while still being involved with me,” I paused heaving a deep sigh,“You know what just live your life and let me live mine peacefully,” my voice holds nothing but indifference towards him.
I walked past him heading towards the door.
“It’s surprising how easily you moved on with him not long after we broke up. Didn’t you tell me once that you would never be able to love another?” Shameless accusations come out from his lying mouth.
I turned to face him letting out a cynical laugh,” You have some nerve to tell me these things after all the misery I went through all those years. Yes, of course, I moved on and fell in love why won’t I. Dominic loves me so much it is impossible not to love him as fiercely as he loves me.” I stated with the conviction I felt.
He looks away not being able to hold my gaze. Something he always does when he is lost for words or when he was wrong.
The next words that come out from his mouth surprise me,” I’m sorry Ell for all the hurt I caused you. I never deserved you and will never do. I hope he treats you better than I ever did. But I can’t seem to stop wishing if only you would give me a chance, just one chance.” He walks closer to me.
Inhaling and exhaling a shaky breath,” I love him so much, Richard. I have moved on and so should you.” My voice coming hard.
" Thank you for still loving me.” He smiled holding my cheeks firmly with his hands and kissing me on my lips, catching me completely off guard. I wigged trying to free myself from him. His words made no sense so was his actions.
Just when I thought I would stomp his feet with my heel he releases his hold on me. Without even a second thought I raised my hand and slapped him hard across his face,” don’t ever do that again.” I spatted coldly and walked out of the balcony.
I walked down the hall fuming. I better search for Dominic fast and move out from this God-forsaken place and the people in it. I had enough of it.
I stopped abruptly as I saw Dominic sitting on a single sofa down the red-carpeted hallway. His elbows resting on the arms of the chair, fingers making a steeple gesture.
“Dominic there you are. Shall we leave?” I stood in front of him.
Cold eyes met mine sending shiver down my spine.