Clandestine Heart

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Chapter 10

I was unwise in all but the dear chance, which was my fortune

And the blind desire, which led my foolish steps to love’s abode

--Wilfred Scawen Blunt


On twenty-third, two days before Christmas, the taxi that Lara rode was struggling to exit the traffic in the city and as she looked out, surprisingly the droplets of snow started to fall against the window. New York was supposed reached its lowest temperature and there was no arguing the truth that brusque winter was apt to dawdle things down at the unforgiving and dreary street of the city. Although the sky was gray, on the contrary, the city glowed and was lit up by the magnificent lights. People still walked back and forth across the main street, carrying their Christmas shopping bags.

“Which terminal Miss?” The taxi driver who was an Indian native and mid fifty asked, once he managed to maneuver his taxi away from the traffic to the freeway.

“According to my friend, I’ll see them in Private terminal.” Lara said, turned her attention from outside view to look at the taxi driver from the passenger seat.

“Private terminal?” The taxi driver asked incredulously with his thick accent. “ I don’t think I can take you to Private terminal.” He added looking at her from the view mirror.

“I’m not sure.” She said doubtful, tapping her fingers on the leather seat of the taxi, she trawled her mobile phone in her bag. “Let me call her.” She said dialing Abby’s number.

Abby picked up on the second ring. “Lara, where are you? Are you close?”

“No, I think in about fifteen minutes.” She said. “But the taxi driver said that he can’t just drop me in the private terminal.”

“Don’t worry, just inform the security guard that you’re flying with us.” Abby said lightly. “I’ll inform them also. Just pass me the taxi number, please?”

“Give me a minute.” Lara said, leaning forward. “Excuse me, what’s your taxi number?”

“Eighteen five seven three and B for bravo.” The taxi driver informed her.

Lara repeated the number to Abby.

“Okay I got it.” Abby said.

“Great. See you later.”

“Yes, can’t wait!!” Abby replied cheerfully before she disconnected the call.

Lara smiled, putting her mobile phone back inside her bag. She slightly leaned forward and informed the taxi driver. “My friend said, it won’t be no problem.”

“Alright, Miss.” The taxi driver nodded.

Lara returned her attention again to the outside of the window, though without really looking at the view.

Lara still could not believe she had agreed to join them. It had been a ghastly idea. She had thought to inform Abby that she had changed her mind, but Abby had so persistent.

Within another ten minutes, the taxi she rode, arrived at the terminal without so much of hassle from the armed guards.

“Okay, Miss.” He said and pressed the fare-meter on dashboard that shown the amount of taxi service she had to pay. “That’ll be fifty three dollar.”

“Alright.” Lara dug her bag to take her wallet out. She then handed the exact amount of money to the taxi drive. “Here you go.”

“Thank you Miss.” He took the money and then opened the door to go out from his seat. “I’ll help you to carry out the luggage.”

“Oh thank you very much.” Lara told him with appreciative voice before she went out from the taxi. The cold breeze filled her lungs when she inhaled deeply as she opened the passenger door.

“Here’s your suitcase, Miss.” This kind taxi driver had lifted her hard-case black medium size suitcase from the trunk.

“Thank you, once again.” She said unconsciously flipped her long brown hair that was being ruffled by the wind.

“Have a nice holiday. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” He said before he went back inside to taxi and drove away.

Lara looked up see the terminal that was not crowded by many passengers though nothing was subtle about this luxurious building. She fixed unconsciously her Ivory cable knit and wool that was paired with black legging and black ankle boot. The only color that hued her face was the maroon cashmere scarf around her neck.

She took a deep breath before as if she would have gone to the death chamber instead of entering the opulent airport terminal before she took her steps in slow paces and dragged her suitcase.

Her troubled eyes skimmed through the empty terminal then she found Abby was waving her hand at her.

“Lara!” Abby called out her name and split second later she was approaching her. Abby looked absolutely stunning with the brown leather jacket that was pair with a beige colored sweater dress and brown leather high-boots. She looked nothing but a fashion model.

She smiled when she saw Abby, looking as if she had just run miles in a country race. Under the bright lights of the airport, she could see Abby’s flushed face.

“I’m sorry I’m late.” Lara apologized and added as she gave her reason. “There was a traffic jam at the junction of my area.”

“Don’t worry. You’re here.” Abby replied and flashed her smile.

“Where’s everybody?”

“Oh, they’re already in the suite. I’m just waiting for you here.” Abby explained.

“Where’s the suite?” Lara asked almost flabbergasted. “There’s a suite here? In the airport?” Before she got the reply, immediately there was a young man wearing a dark maroon uniform.

“May I help you with your bag, Miss?” He offered politely.

Lara frowned and turned to Abby to find the answer there.

“That’s okay. It’s part of the service.” Abby said and in the seconds, she took the grip of Lara’s suitcase and handled it to the young man. “Here it is. Thank you so much.”

The young man gave his another polite smile. “Certainly, Miss. I’ll see you inside.” Then he left two of them. One with confusion gaze and other one with satisfaction grin.

“What service?” Lara flummoxed, she tilted her head slightly to the side.

“Oh, you know being a privilege.” Abby said casually. “Or being with someone who’s privilege.” She added, tossing her hair in the wind. There was a slight of sarcasm in her tone. “Don’t worry I haven’t get used to. Or perhaps will never be.” She then hooked Lara’s good arm and dragged her to start walking. “Let’s go.”

“Privilege, huh?” Lara said, her voice now also sounding cynical even to her own ears.

“You know who they are.” Abby answered lazily. “Though I still don’t understand how I ended with Liam.”

“You fell in love with him.” Lara said neutrally. Just like I did with Tristan. She added inside her heart.

Abby shrugged and chuckled. “Not at first sight, though.”

Lara smiled understood. “What matters now is that both of you together and it’s just another six months until you two are married.”

Abby only nodded. “Yeah, well…”

“Good evening Miss.” This time an elegant lady suddenly approached them. She was wearing a black knee-length pencil skirt that matched perfectly with black panty hose and black jacket that enfolded her pristine white blouse. Her hairstyle was a neat bun tight up do with subtle but flawless make-up.

“Hello.” Lara and Abby turned around and greeted her simultaneously.

“Are you ready to go the lounge? Mr. Hannaford requested that once Ms. Harrington arrived, you’ll be escorted to the suite.”

Abby rolled her eyes disbelief and commented drily though there was a happy tone in her voice. “He can’t just stay away from me even for only fifteen minutes.”

Lara emitted a small grin. “I think you shouldn’t let him waiting any longer.”

A smile quirked Abby’s mouth while her eyes glinted as sparkling and clear as moonlight on the lake. The kind of expression of woman was in love. “Yeah, fine. Let’s go.”

“This way, please.” The lady ushered them and politely asked them to follow her steps to go inside the lounge.

Suddenly Lara felt her whole body leapt with almost painful tension. She knew in any minutes, she would see him again.

As she walked into another luxurious dimension of another area, that she presumed was the suite, her head twisted of its own volitions to retrace that visual sweep. Her eyes unerringly found and focused on a familiar strikingly noticeable man standing of the far side of the concourse of the room, having a conversation with a very beautiful woman.

She did not even know when the escort lady had left as she was congealed, paralyzed to the spot by that first glimpse of him. Her heartbeat thumped deafeningly in her ears. She simply faltered into a complete stillness. The compulsion to stare just like usual was as overwhelming as it was inexplicable. Her stomach somersaulted and a fevered pound of tension she had seconds ago had begun to build up pressure behind her temples.

A sharp, piercing pain felt in her chest when his beautiful shaped-head bent slightly, seemed amused with whatever his companion was saying. He looked really attentive and kind. It seemed it was only towards her that Tristan had always been cold and remote.

And he was stunningly handsome. A smooth dark overcoat hung negligently from his wide shoulders. He always looked super-sophisticated with that cool aura of razor-edged elegances that cloaked immense power.

Perspiration dampened her skin and she tasted bile rising in her throat. For a split second, she considered to turn around and run away from this place.

Simultaneously, his face that heaven had formed into a seeming embodiment of the old cliché perfect handsome turned around directly at her, only to freeze. The fierce intensity, with which those brilliant orbs zeroed in on her stilled figure, disconcerted her even more. The lurch of her heart appalled her, feeling that sensitive to dark, deep flashing eyes as chilly as outside temperature wasn’t really a good sign.

Suddenly Rosalie’s voice jostled her, springing her back into awareness again. She blinked rapidly and snatched in a shuddering breath to steady herself. Discomfited by her uncomfortably emotional frame of mind, she averted her head and shook it slightly

“Finally you’re here!” Rosalie had hugged her tightly. “What took you so long?” She demanded, releasing her embrace.

“The traffic was bad.” Lara replied and gave that chic woman an apologetic smile.

“You should’ve informed me, we could’ve come here together.” Rosalie said, flipping her white colored super-branded bag from one shoulder to another. Her winter outfit looked like as if it had come out from the fashion magazine. White halter-neck top with white pencil skirt, and blush pink trench really structured winter latest fashion.

“Well, I’m here now.” Lara murmured.

“She’s right, Rosalie.” A familiar calm voice belonged to nonetheless Blake joined the conversation. He strode passed Rosalie and slightly bent before he gave Lara a kiss on the right cheek with his lips. “Finally, you’re here.” He then said to Lara smiling gently, his unusual detached gaze lit with certain warmth.

“Well, kinda have to.” Lara return the smile then leered teasingly to Abby. “Otherwise this woman would’ve dragged me here.”

Blake squeezed Lara’s both hand briefly. “We all would.” He gave a lopsided smile as he took a step away, his eyes sweeping over her, assessing and measuring all in one glance. “You look beautiful, Lara.”

Lara’s cheeks pinkened hearing the surprising compliment from Blake’s mouth. She nodded. “Thank you.” She murmured shyly. “And you’re looking also very nice.” She said genuinely since it was the truth.

Blake was also very handsome, no one could have asked for a finer looking one with turtleneck gray sweater, jet-black wool pants and a black coat.

Blake shrugged and ran his fingers on his tousled hair in which the effect only made him devastatingly more handsome.

Why he did not date any pretty woman? Lara thought. With his look, his family background, wealth and title as neurosurgeon, Blake could get any woman.

“Come on let’s take our seats there.” Rosalie grabbed Lara’s hand and Lara only gave Blake apologetic smile as she let herself being dragged.

Blake only returned the smile briefly before he went to the food service buffet.

Rosalie and Abby led her to Phoenix and Liam who were still having conversation, sitting face to face on the beige leather one-armed chair.

“Sweety…” Rosalie announced, literally dragging Lara. “Finally, Lara’s here.”

Both of Phoenix and Liam turned their hands and immediately stood up.

“Hi, girl.” Phoenix came first and pressed Lara against the soft weave of his jacket. “You look good.” He said still holding her with his muscular tall body.

Lara who was only five inch three only could reach his hard chest. “You look nice also.” She said as she release the hug and took a briefly examine of Phoenix look with brown leather jacket and all black color sweater and pants.

“You know me…” He said with slight of arrogance teasing tone. “I always look good.”

“That’s bullshit, and you know it.” Liam remarked lightly. He was not any less than those men’s look. Navy blue coat with white sweater and black trousers, enhanced his already powerful face. He then hugged Lara who was still laughing. “It’s great you can finally come because if you don’t, Abby will sulk all the time and I’ll be her punching bag.”

“Well…”

“Hey! I’m not Amazon woman!” Abby protested before Lara replied. She glared at her fiancé though only for a second as she then grin. “But you’re right, babe. I definitely will sulk if Lara decided not to come.”

Lara laughed as she retreated to where she had stood, next to Rosalie. “I really don’t want to be the cause of your punching session.” She lifted both of her hands in front of her chest showing a suitably lighthearted response.

“Oh, don’t worry. You’re not the cause of any of our punching session. It’s just her habit.” Liam this time laughed so hard and immediately hauled Abby in his arms tightly. He then kissed her so passionately, did not care that there were audiences around. “And I love that habit as almost as much I as I love you.”

“Gosh!” Phoenix exclaimed pulling Lara and his girlfriend on each side of his arms. “Let’s take the seats ladies and leave this love bird alone.”

Lara laughed. “Yes, it’s better…”

“Hi Lara.”

Lara whirled around, she had been so occupied with her friends that tried to ignore the only person in this room, yet this person greeted her.

“Tristan…” She muttered under her breath.

“We’ll be right there.” Phoenix’s voice sounded so distance from her hearing span. She only nodded, did not even realize that Phoenix and Rosalie had left her, alone with Tristan.

“What took you so long?” Tristan drawled with measured cool, incisive dark eyes resting on her without any obvious expression.

“Well, this is holiday season.” She said as if her words explained everything. She really did not have the courage to talk to him right now. She also did not have the nerve to look into those beautiful pair of silvery eyes since she was terrified that he was registering just how much he could affect her. The wound in her heart still stayed and chilled, and now it seemed the freezing cold spreading rapidly through her entire body.

“Of course.” His voice was icy even formal as he continued still in the same tone as he looked at his expensive watch. “I think we can go very soon now.”

Lara nodded and her eyes caught a woman who was approaching Tristan from behind.

“Tristan.” She called out his name and Lara forcefully needed to look at her, for what, she did not know why.

At this close proximity, she could see that his companion was beautiful. Lara might not follow the latest fashion but this woman was wearing the finest clothes and accessories she had ever seen.

“Yes?” Tristan tilted his head to her who was already next to him and put her hand around Tristan’s arm. He then stretched a smile in his face as if her gesture pleased him.

Lara wanted to look away but she was not able to do so. It hurt to see him smiling like that to this woman. Tristan had never smiled at her the way he was smiling right now.

Well, what could she expect? This woman was beautiful and she was kind of a highflying socialite woman. Lara perhaps had seen her somewhere in the magazine though she could not recall which one.

“When shall we go?” This woman, Amelina asked in a voice that Lara found of her cut-glass tone of the English upper class was unmistakable, the accent that could not be faked. And Lara also caught a faint whiff of expensive scent permeated.

“Soon.” Tristan murmured, the smile kept plastering on his face. His glance then slid back to Lara. “I guess you haven’t met Amelina, Lara.” He did the introduction. “And Amelina this is Lara.”

For the first time, Amelina’s gaze bore down on her. And Lara felt the blood drain from her face though she managed to regain her equilibrium when she smiled to Amelina. “Hello, it’s nice to meet you.” She said politely as she surreptitiously tried to remove a few larger twigs from her hair.

“Charmed to met you, Lara.” Amelina greeted with arctic voice and she barely sparing her glance to Lara as she turned her eyes to Tristan again. “Tristan darling…” Now she sounded pleading over the syllables of his name, investing them with unmistakable intimacy. “Let’s sit down for now, whilst we’re waiting.”

“Sure.” Tristan agreed, he then lightly placed his hand on Amelina’s waist. “Just enjoy the compliment, Lara. You can eat or drink whatever you want. It’s free.” He told her in scrupulous politeness.

“Uhm…Thank you.” Lara’s voice sounded strangulated when she replied.

Tristan cocked his head, his heavy-lidded gaze stared at her unfathomably. “No, problem.” He stated before he turned around and started to chat with Amelina again as they started walking away from where Lara was standing.

Lara throat tightened, she was struggling for composure for not learning of her own pain. She should have known Tristan who had everything with the finest quality of life, including with women, would never be truly interested in her.

Well…She gave a silent, heavy sigh. She only acknowledged in dismay that she had never learnt that fact.

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