Chapter forty six
Leaning against the kitchen counter my eyes held the grey-blue, heart thumping violently against my chest. If I want things to go my way, I have to put up the best act.
“I’m sorry Dominic. I never meant for it to turn out this way between us, I thought I had moved on from him but.”
“Don’t you dare go there, Arabella.” He takes three long strikes grabbing my arms with his hands, desperation clear on his voice.
Since my encounter with Nicholas, I have been carefully devising numerous plans to get away from his trap unscathed. My interaction with Dominic over the phone was sparse and distant but he didn’t seem suspicious about it. It also helps that with the new launching of his space satellite he had been extremely busy, so his mind was committed and consumed by it.
“I don’t believe a word that is leaving your mouth right now. Tell me is he blackmailing you with something? because if it is I swear I will not rest until I bring him to his knees. You can tell me. Don’t be afraid.” He assures releasing his hold on my arms and gently cups my face. Gentle eyes caressing me making me want nothing but to let him wrap me around his secure arms.
Oh if only he knew the darkness behind all these chaos.
"You don’t get it, Dominic,” I let out a frustrated sigh brushing his hands away from my face and walked towards the living area standing a mere inch from the sofa. We’ve been going over this conversation for the past twenty minutes since he arrived.
Part of me is extremely happy that he refuses to lose his trust in me but this is dangerous for both of us because Nicholas will surely take it upon himself to cause irreplaceable damage if I don’t succeed to get Dominic to believe in my story.
“Then tell me. Make me understand as to why the hell would my girlfriend change her mind about us within a week of us being apart.” He growled, his tone no longer held the warmness. Grey-blue eyes blazing into mine with a challenge.
I bit my lower lip and tucked my hair behind my ears, nerves building up,” We met up after work the day you left. I refused at first to meet him but he insisted so we met at the central park and one thing led to another we.” I paused letting the words sink in and at the same time whispering in my mind please forgive me to him as I held the eyes which had nothing but pain.
“We ended up kissing.” I tore my gaze away looking down.
I was waiting for that temperamental explosion from him but I was caught off guard when I heard a chuckle. I drew my gaze up to meet his, the eyes no longer held pain. His facial expression was masked in amusement.
Shaking his head he chuckled again resting his hands on his waist,” Sweetheart are you paying me back for being extremely busy this week. I know I haven’t been able to keep in touch with you constantly like I wish to but I did explain the reason behind it.”
He walks closer towards me and wraps his hands around my waist,” I’ll make it up to you okay. But just one thing though don’t ever bring that fucker ex of yours in the conversation even if it’s just you trying to taunt me.” He admonished and placed a gentle kiss on my forehead.
I almost melted into his embrace but the task at hand to get both of us unscathed from Nicholas’s grip jolted me to my senses. With a determined strength I met his gaze.
“I am serious Dominic. I really am sorry but I need to be with Richard and give our relationship another chance.” I tried to break his hold around my waist but his steel grip was too strong for me to break free. But in a way, I relish this closeness to him because I don’t know for how long I’ll be without it.
“No, I vehemently oppose it, Arabella. You belong with me, we belong together.” The conviction was clear on his voice as he releases his hold around my waist and grabs my palms and places it on his chest.
“I love you damn it. Can’t you see how much I’m in love with you? I would never hurt you, Arabella.” There was a tremble to his voice as his lips quivers and my heart breaking along with his.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered as tears slight down my cheek involuntarily. I pulled my hands away from his grasp wiping the tears away and sat down on the sofa beside me.
He comes towards me and kneels in between my legs, intertwining my hands with his.
“Sweetheart I know I can be extremely overbearing, filled with possessiveness and jealousy which might often suffocate you and I’m sorry for that. I promise I’ll try my best to tone it down, it will be difficult but I am willing to try.” Pressure on my hand increases as he pulls to meet his warm caressing lips.
Tears slight down one after the other. I don’t know how long I can carry on with this farce but I had to will myself if I had to convince Nicholas that I’ve followed his instructions.
And also most importantly I needed Dominic’s acceptance of my actions, my words especially right now because only then I’ll be able to push forward with my next plan.
“It’s not about that Dominic. It’s about Richard being part of my life for six years, I can’t just let that go without giving it another chance. I’ll always be stuck in that what if! If I don’t give us a chance,” I pleaded capturing his eyes that were filled with doubt and pain.
“What about you admitting your love for me. Doesn’t it mean anything to you? How is it possible that you could replace me so quickly with him.” He demanded, eyes haunted and voice thick with doubt.
“I meant it. But I guess it was not as strong as I thought, because right now all I can think of is rebuilding my relationship with him.”
He let out a bitter laugh and stood up walking towards the window his back facing me.
I stood up and walked towards him standing next to him looking out the darkness outside, a befitting visual for the situation we are at.
Desperation clinging to me in two ways; wanting to hold him and forget everything and say piss off Nicholas but that’s the most irrational move I would make, this would obviously end up in getting my loved ones hurt. And on the other hand, I want him to believe this false drama and walk out the door and never come back until I seek him out.
“Its always been him, Dominic.” I turned to face him and grabbed his arm so I could turn him to face me.
“I did love you and part of me will always love you but you are not my great love. It is him and will always be him and I want to be with him. He has been my pain, my joy, my everything and nothing you say or do is ever going to change my mind about him.” Lies after lies pour out so easily from my tongue, it disgusted me so much. I was disgusted with myself at the way I was lying and hurting this wonderful man before me.
The man I was brokenly and desperately in love with.
My eyes behold pure anguish before me, the visual display knocks the breath out of me. This was haunting.
And this only intensifies my hatred towards Nicholas.
There was complete dead silence between us as we stand here facing each other. When all is well I will spend the rest of my life making up to him at the amount of pain I was putting him through by my words even if it were all but fabricated lies.
He rubs his face with his palm and meets my gaze.
Just as he were about to speak the door of my bedroom opens and out walks out the vile person semi-naked just wearing his boxers.
“Ell, why don’t you join me in the shower.” He innocently puts it and acts dramatically surprised at finding Dominic. People would buy his acting but not me, he is intentionally doing it to goat Dominic. I instructed him that under no circumstances he should come out of my room and present himself in front of Dominic. But no this vile person just had to violate people’s feeling by doing what he thinks best.
Turning to face him I smiled through my teeth,” No sweetie you go ahead. I already showered.”
"Fuck!” Dominic cursed beside me.
“What the fuck are you doing here,” Dominic seethed coldly his hand brushing me behind as if he were shielding me.
A devious gleam lit Richard’s eyes and he smiled bright folding his hands against his chest,” Sorry I didn’t know we had company if I knew I would be dressed.”
As soon as Richard’s foul mouth opened Dominic took a long commanding stride towards him and landed a hard jab at Richard’s jaw staggering him backward.
I moved quickly to intercede pulling Dominic towards me grabbing the back of his blazer before he could do more damage to Richard.
I won’t mind another punch on his face but he had already warned me that if Dominic as much as raised his hands on him he would sue him.
“Dominic, please.” I pleaded.
I flinched at the coldness of his eyes as he turned to face me which he noticed and quickly composed himself.
“I’m sorry.” He said pulling me into his embrace.
“You have no right to touch her. Ell come here.” Richard demanded as we turned to face him.
I heaved a deep sigh and released myself from Dominic’s embrace reluctantly and moved towards Richard. He wasted no time in snaking his hand around my waist pulling me closer to him. It made me cringe from the inside.
Even though it was all an act, I didn’t have it in me to meet those grey-blue eyes standing in front of me, my eyes were downcast looking down at the floor. I nervously kept tucking my hair behind my ears, nerves hitting me hard as the silence continued to reign amongst us.
A movement quickly jolted me to look up and meet his eyes.
His eyes held no emotion as he continued staring at the unwanted hand around my waist. And finally, a flicker of unreadable emotion displayed as his eyes held mine.
“Say nothing sweetheart!” He cut me off giving me a warm loving smile and came closer to us completely ignoring Richard.
I felt Richard tense beside me as Dominic raised his hand only for it to untuck the hairs from my ears.
“You know you have a habit of tucking your hair behind your ears when you are nervous or when somethings bothering you.” He stated casually caressing my face with his thumb before shoving his hands inside his pant pockets.
I furrowed my brows in confusion as he stood towering over us in confidence. His eyes gleaming conspiratorially.
“I was trained since I was ten as the heir to the King empire and one thing my mentors taught me was I’d always face two kinds of enemies. One would roar like a lion and attack upfront aggressively and the other a coward, sly always acting from behind the scene, sometimes planning on its own or acting on behalf of others bait,” He shifts lifting one of his hand from the pocket and rubbed the perfectly groomed beard on his chin.
Steel cold eyes meet Richard’s,” Second. Right, Spencer? But the real question is are you alone or acting as someone’s bitch!” He stated as a matter of factly. His voice filled with malice I had never heard from him.
He chuckled as Richard stood in silence. I can see that Richard was nervous at the way his body stiffen beside me, this gives a deep sense of satisfaction in me.
“I’d be counting backward if I were you, Spencer.” The calm with which he spoke, the absolute certainty that Richard was done for, had my heart pounding so hard.
Dominic has menacingly reached his point of dangerous.
He leans in and gives a long soft peck on my lips and meets my gaze,” Take care sweetheart.”
Giving a last lingering look he walked out of the apartment slamming the door behind him.
I pulled myself away from Richard the moment the front door closed.
“Go get dressed and get the hell out of my apartment. The show is over.” I seethed through clenched teeth.
“Still affected?” He chuckles.
The anger in my throat pounded at my temple, testing my control.
“I’ve seen better.” I smugly smiled despite my anger.
“You’ve changed so much Ell. No more the docile woman I used to know. Wish you were this feisty when we were together, I won’t have gotten bored of you.” He laughed throwing his head back.
I ignored his words and instead asked him the question which I had been burning to know.
“How does your fiance fit into all this equation.”
“My Nicky? She is on a spa retreat with her mom in Bora Bora. She’ll be back only after a month so by the time she comes back I should be able to wrap this up for Nicholas and collect my price just in time for our wedding.” He casually spoke. No surprise there.
“I see.” I returned flatly.
“It is what it is Ell. If you have to survive in this world you have to always keep yourself first and even if it means using others to get to where you want. You do it unapologetically.” His tone held so much passion in the selfish thought he had it was almost laughable.
“I’ll get dress.” He mutters and goes inside my room closing the door behind him.
I heaved a deep sigh and walked towards the kitchen counter and poured myself a glass of red wine. Taking a sip I cradled the glass in my palms with elbows resting on top of the counter.
My mind began racing on the way Dominic reacted. The way he talked to Richard was so cryptic, I can’t help becoming convinced that he didn’t buy the act I put out.
It’s a relief if he hadn’t bought on the act. But then again I needed him to believe my act to blindside Nicholas as I strike. It is paramount that Dominic believes me but seeing how he behaved it sounds farfetched. I just hope he doesn’t do something that would alert Nicholas. I needed him to be ignorant and believe that everything is going according to his plan.
Which reminds me I needed to text him, walking away from the kitchen counter I grabbed my phone that was on the dining table. I messaged Nicholas letting him know everything was done.
His prompt reply was,” I knew you wouldn’t fail me my Carino. But just a reminder though a slight deception from you, not a second wasted from me to carry out my work.”
His threats still give me chill and also the word Carino has forever ruined for me by him. Nicholas is the perfect epitome of a vile person who misuses his power and intelligence to accomplish his own sadistic wants.
I hope everything goes according to plan and I get out of this mess once and for all. There are so many chances that I might fail and only a percent chance that I might succeed but I have to rely on that one percent and fight with all I’ve got.
My chain of thoughts was distracted by the opening and closing of my bedroom door.
“For all time sake why don’t we share a meal together. I could use a drink.” He smiles that toxic smile of his and walks towards me and grabs my glass of red wine and takes a sip that was placed on top of the dining table.
A chuckle passes my lips at his suggestion.
“Do me a favor, Richard just leave.” My tone bored as I sat down on the chair.
He nodded,” Fine. Anyway, I was on the phone with Nicholas, he wants us to put up with this act to make it more believable so I guess you’ll be seeing more of me.”
I ignored his words and continued browsing through my phone mindlessly only for it to get interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell.
As I stood up and opened the door it was Jemi on the other side holding big bags of our weekly groceries in both her hands. It was her turn to shop for the week.
“Curse me, Ell, for wearing these heels while grocery shopping. The Queue was freaking long on the payment counter. My feet are numb.” Jemi seethed quite oblivious of Richard’s presence as she kicks her shoe off her feet and I helped her by relieving her of the grocery bags.
“Jemi..” I began but was cut off by Richard.
“Long time no see Moretti.” He chuckled.
“Fucking shit!” As noted Jemi cursed the moment her eyes connect where Richard was standing at.
“Ell, what the hell is this spineless dick doing at our apartment?” Jemi’s eyes were hooded her tone dripping in condemn.
I met her gaze and then at Richard’s pompous face and walked in silence towards the kitchen and put the bags on top of the counter.
“Ell,” Jemi called again walking towards us.
I turned to face her leaning my back on the kitchen counter.
“Let me answer that. We decided to give our relationship another try.” Richard walked towards me and stood next to me putting his arm around me.
“Tell me he is lying Ell.” Jemi looks at me in disbelieve.
I cleared my throat and pretended to pull the selves of my top so I can push off the unwanted hand from me.
“He is not lying Jemi. We are back together.” I stated and balled my fist tightly as I saw the downward turn to her lips. Disappointment clear on her facial expression.
Silence loamed amongst us as Jemi stood there regarding me in judgment, disappointment, and anger.
“You are making a grave mistake Ell.” She spat her tone full of venom as her eyes glared at Richard in disgust.
But turned to concern as it held mine.
“Can you see the enormity of the situation you are putting yourself through again. I don’t understand why you would do this to yourself Ell. I get it’s your life and as your best friend I should support and respect whatever decisions you take but this.” She waved her hands at us.
“I cannot be part of this Ell, I won’t support this decision, a decision that will destroy your life. What about Dominic huh, did you tell him about this? That man loves you Ell, more than you love him. God! I..I this is not right Ell. Not right at all.” She shook her head.
“I have to go.” She mutters looking everywhere but us.
“Don’t Jemi. Richard was just about to leave.” I returned stiffly.
She snapped her gaze at me, I could feel it prick my skin at its sharpness.
“You think its because of this.” She pointed her finger at Richard giving him a disgusted look, “This pompous coward that I wanted to leave? No Ell I wouldn’t lose my comfort for this piece of dirt. I am leaving because I don’t want to say hurtful things I don’t mean when I am seething mad. I need to cool off and even then I will never be alright with this Ell. I’m sorry but I can’t support you on this. Anything but this.”
With that, she turned on her heels and marched towards the door grabbing her heels from the floor.
“Jemi I’m sorry. Let’s settle this over a plate of Tiramisu?” I smiled walking towards her.
She held my gaze a beat longer and just shook her head and walked out of the apartment closing the door with force.
I sighed in understanding and walked towards the sofa and sat down. Exhaustion kicking in with all the confrontations.
“Good try Ell.” Richard’s smug tone triggering my migraine.
“Just leave Richard.” I closed my eyes and leaned my head back on the sofa.
“Was Tiramisu the code word of you and Jemi to alert each other if the other was in trouble?” My heart took a giant leap the moment he spoke those words. How the hell did he find out and also given that this was the first time I ever used it.
In fact, we never had to use it, we just talked about it on a passing between our conversations that if we ever find ourselves in a blackmailed situation because of the nature of our work, we would alert each other through this word. Because threats and blackmail were part and parcel of our daily life, especially while handling sensitive cases.
I sat up straight and faced Richard who was sitting on one of the chairs at the dining table.
“I was in that same place you’re at right now but only I was lying down instead of sitting. And you guys were here sitting and chatting away quite oblivious that I was listening on your conversations. Shame! It was an excellent idea but now not so much. I wonder what Nicholas would say to this Ell.” He smiles and threads his finger through his hair.
I stood up and walked towards him and placed my palms on the table leaning closer to him.
“You wouldn’t dare.” I seethed through clenched teeth.
He laughed leaning his back on the chair.
“Oh, I would Ell. This will gain favor for me in his eyes.”
Stupid pathetic loser! Counting the eggs before it even hatches.
“Do it, Richard. And I’ll also do my part in gaining favor for me in his eyes by telling him that you and I should pretend to be engaged and have a press announcement about it so Dominic and everyone become absolutely convinced about us. I’ll tell him for the love and safety of my loved ones I am willing to publicly announce my fake relationship with you.” It was my turn to smile and take a seat beside him.
“Let’s see how your beloved fiance who is on a spa retreat in Bora Bora reads about it on the news. My that would be a sight to behold.” I couldn’t help letting a small laugh pass my lips. I was on a roll, I have let this man downgrade me and destroy my life for far too long. There won’t be any mercy from me this time.
“You Bitch!” He bangs his fist on the table as he glared at me.
“Thank you I humbly accept that title. Now run along and tell your master what you’ve uncovered.” Smugness gracing my face as I held his defeated gaze.
He stood up abruptly and looked down on me,” He is dangerous Ell. He will find out for sure..”
“Oh shut up, will you. I don’t need your consult. Get out Richard, let me enjoy the rest of the evening to myself.” I cut him off in a bored tone and placed my chin on my palm.
His mouth opens and closes for a second as if to say something and finally, he walks towards the door. I was waiting to hear the opening and closing of the door.
But instead, his voice graced my ears once again. A voice that’s now beginning to hold nothing but irritation.
“Just so know Ell. Every time I fucked you I imagined it was Nicky I was making love to, not you. She has class and is better than you will ever be.” With those last venomous words, he walked out closing the door with a loud bang.
Poor door. It has been at the receiving end of humans anger today.
Monotonously standing up from the chair I threw the glass that Richard used in the bin and fetched a new glass and poured the red wine up to the brim and walked towards the balcony and sat down on the small cane chair cradling the glass on my palms. Taking a sip I watched the dim yellow light from the street lamp glow over the dark asphalt road.