Chapter 5 – The Gala
It had been a full week since our last dinner and things were awkward between Logan and I, however, I resided myself to thinking that this is the way things should be. I was married, even if he was an almost invisible husband but what was unbearable about our discomfiture, was that Logan had begun to invade not just my nighttime delusions but my daytime fantasies as well.
“Say you’ll stay?” Logan’s arm snaked around my waist, his hot breath fanning my face, sending shivers rippling below my skin, “you never stay.” He whispers against my neck.
“Logan, I can’t stay,” he kneels in front of me raising my skirt, trailing gentle kisses up my left inner thigh.
“What if I refuse to let you go? I could tie you to my desk, leave you on the verge of your release for hours, crippling you under my control,” he bites my core with his teeth, causing an involuntary moan.
“I love the way you say my name,” I whisper.
“What?... Arabella… Bells?” My eyes fly open, wiping my drool with the back of my hand.
“Bells, you okay?” I look at a very close Pierre Taylor, scrupulously scrutinising me and slam my thighs shut.
“Huh, sorry yes… Mr Taylor… do you need something?”
“Yes, Loag’s ask me to collect you on the way through, we need to discuss the last of the Gala plans.” Realising my embarrassing mistake, I quickly grab the folder and follow Pierre. “You like the way I say your name huh?” My checks burn a deep scarlet as a wink is shot in my direction.
“No,” I state clearly.
“What took you so long?” Logan’s mood was less than favourable.
“Relax Loags, she likes the way I say her name.” My mouth drops open in horror before I regain my composure and send a deathly glare at Pierre only to receive wiggling eyebrows.
“Can we get to work?” My palm holds my forehead and I bite my lower lip before opening my folder.
“Are you alright Arabella?” My lids flutter at the sound of my name.
“Yes, Mr McCarlock,” he clenches his fists on his desk.
“Right, then let’s continue, here is the list of employees and associates that need to be sent the menu change…”
We spend the next 45 minutes going over the details, having Pierre continuously attempting to distract the thick tense atmosphere with bad jokes and sexist comments while I tried desperately to keep sweat from pouring out of my body.
Don’t think about him naked, I reprimanded myself.
“Pear, please close the door behind you, Arabella stay.” My gaze trained on the floor as my fingertips massaged my neck.
“Arabella, are you not sleeping?” He enquires.
“I’m fine Mr McCarlock,” I reply quietly.
“Logan, Jesus Arabella,” he snaps, coming around his desk and leaning against it in front of me. “Can we talk?”
“Sure, but I think we pretty much covered everything with Mr Taylor.”
“Look at me,” he orders to which I refuse to budge.
“Please, Arabella look at me?” My hazel eyes slowly make their way from his shining black shoes, up his grey business pants, across his black belt, along his white business shirt with grey tie, up his neck, chin, and nose and finally rest on his gold eyes.
“You look beautiful today... every day.”
I whimper, “Mr McCarlock, if that is all, I have work to attend too,” I rise from my seat, cursing my slip.
“That’s not all. Will your husband be attending the gala with you?” My mouth falls open and I cringe before looking to the side. “You have attended quite a few work functions and you are always solo?”
“No sir, he will not,” I say through gritted teeth.
“Why? You never mention him, there’s no photo on your desk of him and from our brief interactions, it seems like you are always alone?” Tears gather in the corner of my eyes, he had observed so much in the last four months, more than my own husband and quite frankly - I was tired of pretending.
“He doesn’t even know I work here.” I can hear the gasp escape his lips.
“Does he, work away? Perhaps we can change the date so he can attend?” Logan offers.
“Logan, you can have it any time you like, most nights he strolls in near midnight, if he comes home at all,” anger flairs within my response. I flop down on the chair feeling defeated, vulnerable and lonely, letting out a huff and palming my forehead. “Sorry, no I will be attending alone.”
“No, will you accompany me?” Logan asks.
“Sir, this is a marvellous achievement both personally and professionally, I feel a beautiful model may be better suited as your date than an awkward frumpy P.A.” Wow, today I could not keep my mouth shut!
“I will be walking in with the most beautiful, intelligent, witty and kindest woman, I’ve ever seen or met,” he states.
“Then why would you bother asking me if you already have a date?” I was irritated by his blatant disrespect of this unknown woman.
“I-I meant you, Arabella.” My widened eyes meet his fiery gaze.
“M-me?” I mumbled.
“I shall pick you up and accompany you to the Gala,” he moves back around and takes his position back in his seat.
“O-okay,” I manage before walking out on wobbly legs.
“I shall pick you up and accompany you to the Gala.”
I had spent a week trying to convince myself to leave her alone, she was married but from what it looked like, married to a man that did not deserve her. She was smart, unknowingly charismatic, her laughter was rare but infectious. She had become my obsession and the multitude of men that flocked around her desk every day had angered me - none of them should have been on this level anyway.
I was certain she did not see what I saw and was convinced that she did not even notice the subtle hints, the hungry men threw in her direction. I watched as their sinful eyes followed her around the different office levels, oblivious to the fact that a large portion of them had to continuously relieve themselves in the lavatories after she walked past or smiled in their direction.
I could not hold back anymore, Pierre was bidding for her attention too but from his history, he would destroy her without a second thought. I needed more than just the light skin touches, I needed to feel her, touch her, lips on lips and on something else… Jesus, that thought alone made me harder than a steel tent pole. I would not hold back… The Gala would be my chance to move things along.
Upon arriving home to the empty house that played host to my loveless non-existent marriage, I was left with an unfamiliar sight in the bedroom - evidence of the fact, someone had been here and left.
Two drawers, socks and undies left open, both belonging to Caleb and coat hangers left on the bed. Clearly, I was a slave, put there to clean up the colossal mess left behind. To say I had become accustomed to his absence would have been an understatement, it was expected of him now to behave this way, was it welcomed… definitely not. We were so young when we wed, nineteen was not the age to be making such drastic decisions, obviously, because now we are left in this situation.
Another week had come and gone and tonight was the Gala evening. Assessing myself in the mirror, I had chosen a navy glitter eyeshadow which allowed my hazel eyes to pop - I was, after all, walking in with the boss, I could not permit myself to be a rag on the side of his arm.
I had chosen a very simple floor-length, capped sleeve, navy blue, mermaid style dress with a plunging neckline. It hugged my curvaceous body well, pairing it with white four-inch heels and white pearl earrings and bracelet. My large curls framed my face, foregoing my everyday bun and signature scarlet lips for loose flowing locks and glitter - I was finally ready.
I hadn’t heard from Caleb in over a week and the loss I felt was more due to no contact with Logan than with my own husband. I had given up dressing to attract the attention from the man who used to hold my affection long before he had stopped sleeping with me. Over the years, I had learnt that his withdrawn behaviour and months on end without touch, meant that I was ugly and unwanted and effort was not needed.
Hearing the knock at the door, the butterflies erupted deep within my stomach and I was anxious to see any fire of desire, that look in his eyes I had started to crave for.
Opening slowly, I can hear him on his phone. “Yes Pear, I’m just picking up Arabella, we should be there in twenty or so minutes...” He turns around and his mouth gapes. “Pear, I have to go,” he hangs up.
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting,” I say as I drink in his divine appearance. He was dressed in an all-black tuxedo, a white scarf Strawn across his massive shoulders, causing the gold in his eyes to glow.
“Arabella… I… you… wow,” was his response, my heart fluttered - it should, I shouldn’t react this way.
“Shall we go? You look dashing,” I push, trying to get past the lust that was boiling up inside of me.
“You look Incredible,” he breathes, the sound of a gulp hits my ears. “After you,” Logan motions with his hand.
The car ride there was intense, the butterflies in my stomach had me fidgeting nervously and our hands would brush against each other’s, every now and again, as they both came to rest upon the middle seat in between us, causing a ripple of heat to sweep through my body. Feeling his eyes on me, I nervously spoke.
“Are you excited?” I cursed my brain for not coming up with anything more intelligent to say.
“Nervous.” He replied while sliding closer to me causing my breath to hitch.
“W-why?” I mumbled.
“Because I don’t want to make a fool out of myself in front of you - you are breathtaking.”
I meet his intimidating inspection with crimson cheeks and an inability to calm my heart pounding tribal melodies within my chest.
“Please Logan, you shouldn’t say those things.”
“But, it’s the truth.”
My head falls forward as my ego soars at the continuous attention from this strong, alluring and seductive man. The attention I craved, yearned for, with every fibre of my being.
“I can see the sadness in your eyes, the adoration and longing when you see affectionate couples at lunch, I watch you check your phone with hope, for a text or call, that never comes.”
His right-hand slides along my right arm, intertwining our fingers. He leans into my neck causing heat to rise from my core as his soft juicy lips brush my earlobe.
“If you were mine, I would tell you every day how beautiful you are, how the way you palm your forehead when you’re thinking is adorable, how you scrunch your nose when you talk about things you dislike is endearing and how I love to watch your eyes sparkle when you talk about your werewolf books.”
The door flies open just as lips caress my cheek, I finally release the breath, I’d been unknowingly holding in.
“I will do it thank you, Blake,” he says as he exits the car quickly. Logan extends his hand for me to grasp and as we walk, I loop my arm in his as we enter the ballroom.
“Argh!” A plump blonde, instantly recognisable, comes hurtling towards us at lightning speed with a loud clickety-clack of her heels. “You two look amazing,” she squeals at an abnormally high pitch.
“Shh, Hilda.” I turn away in embarrassment as the eyes lock onto us.
“Let them look, honey, let them seethe in jealousy... like you said, you’re just friends right, they don’t need to know.”
I feel his sculptured muscles tense beneath my arm at the words ‘friends’.
“She’s right Arabella, let them talk, it will be our secret.” He whispers loud enough for my ears only.
Swallowing hard at the hidden meaning behind his words, I look toward an excited Hilda. “You look beautiful Hilda,” She smiles widely.
“I know honey, can you tell I’m wearing Spanx?” She twirls in front of us.
“If you ladies will excuse me, I have some people I must talk too and Hilda, you can’t tell a thing, you look wonderful.” She blushes ferociously and waves him off.
After watching him walk away, thoughts of darkened desire pool within my mind.
“God, what I wouldn’t give to be under him,” she swoons. “C’mon, let’s grab a drink and find somewhere to sit?” We wander over to the bar, “It’s a shame we can’t sit together during dinner,” she moans.
“Yes, but until then and after we can.” I offer a smile while rubbing her arm.