Clandestine Heart

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Chapter 11

There is a pain, so utter

It swallows substance up

Then covers the abyss with trace

So memory can step

--Emily Dickinson


Lara almost gaped, once she strode inside the parameter hand-tufted wool carpet of his private plane. Behind the warmth creams and gold accents created luxurious and comfortable ambiance in addition, glamorous, four place club and two place club, curved sofas with lacquered, honey-toned wood veneers detailing swept through this lavish jet interior on each side.

“Welcome on board, Mr. Lancaster.” A woman that had greeted Lara in the lounge, welcomed Tristan.

Apparently she was one of the air stewardesses, Lara noticed, and also another two, the same outfits ladies who were standing in the alley to welcome them.

“Thank you.” Tristan nodded and then he turned his attention towards his friends. “Take any seats, guys.” He said then added with a jest. “Just as long as isn’t in the pilot seats.”

“Don’t worry, we don’t want some problem to ruin your precious plane, Tris.” Phoenix grinned and held Rosalie’s hand. “Let’s go further inside babe.”

“There’s no need to go further. “ Tristan told them. “Just right there.” He indicated with his chin to the two-place club sofas that with two fold out tables.

“Do you want to sit here, babe?” Phoenix asked Rosalie.

“Yes, alright. I can always move later on and talk to Abby and Lara.” Rosalie replied then she turned her attention to Lara and Abby. “Where are you going to seat?”

“I’ll take the rear-cabin as I need to study for a while.” Lara answered and without further delay she moved forward, then being assisted with one of the stewardess. All this time, she avoided any possibility that had to put her into having a conversation with Tristan.

She only took four steps when Blake tapped her shoulder.

“Do you mind if I join you later on?”

Lara smiled warmly. “Of course. I really want to have a companion, it’ll be a long flight.”

“Yup.” Blake agreed. “Long nine hours flight, but I let you study and rest first, only meals time, I join you.”

“Deal.” Lara said then she walked again, leaving Blake that took his seat with Abby and Liam in the mid-cabin.

Once she was at her sofa, the awe she had felt earlier returned. The atmosphere of her own suite was enhanced with mood lighting and touch-screen controls linking the integrated state-of-art communications and entertainment technology. Whoever designed this plane obviously had impeccable taste and had done a marvelous job.

She leaned back against the rich smooth sofa and sighed as she looked at the view from her window. Her mind reminisced what had happened about an hour ago. She had willed her heart for not getting affected by his presence and his companion, though the trembled lingered and no matter she tried, there always was an excruciating of pain in her heart.

From the moment she had agreed half-heartedly going with them for this holiday, she had a lot of contemplations that had come through her mind of how she would have handled the awkwardness between them in which, so far she always failed. This trip actually only made her feeling awkward. The only compensation why she had finally agreed, she could forget her grieve of losing her mother and also her lowly, miserable life.

The inflight announcement from the captain stirred her from her reverie. From the speaker, the captain was greeting Tristan and all of his friends, including her. He also was announcing that sky was clear and it would be a smooth-fly journey only a few turbulences would be expected during the flight.

Shortly, the seat belt sign illuminated and Lara immediately fastened her seat belt tried to make herself more relax as the aircraft started to pull out from the tarmac.

As the iron bird started to take the full speed and began to ascent, once again Lara turned her gaze out the plane window. She was watching that the sky painted in rich hues of red, orange and yellow. Gradually the winter sun was setting in the horizon and New York faded farther and farther away into the distance.

Fifteen minutes later, the captain once again was making the announcement that they passed above clouds and the soon the Fasten Seat Belt sign turned off.

The flight attendant approached her as Lara was unfastening her seat belt. “Would like to have a drink, Miss Harrington.” She proffered politely.

Lara glanced up to see her was smiling. “No, thank you.” She declined. “Perhaps later on.”

“Certainly Miss Harrington.” She replied and moved to her friends’ lounges.

Lara took her bag that was underneath the seat to collect her books. She placed them on the veneer table next to her. She chose one book and began to read.

Though her concentration only lasted for less than ten minutes when vaguely she heard familiar laughter that only belonged to Tristan, followed by another feminine voice. Lara shook her head as if she did that, their mirth would not be heard, it did not give much help. She started to wonder whether her ears played trick with her bleeding heart or it was simply they only amused about something and did not even bother with their surrounding.

Though no one seemed to bother. Perhaps it was only her who felt the pain hearing Tristan’s deep, rich voice and Amelina’s sweet voice erupted inside the cabin. She really wasn’t sure which sent the biggest needle into her soul, the thought of Amelina made him laugh or her own foolish, traitorous heart that was still yearning to be in Amelina’s position, just to taste for even one time only, his charming attention.

It seems it’s going to be a very long enduring flight, she thought bitterly, averted her eyes listlessly to the outside window for the third time, only to see that darkness had already blanketed the sky.

Her book had left unnoticed on her laps, she knew it was pointless to concentrate on her study and she was in the same place with him. All she did was dazing out and let her mind wondered not realizing that Blake already sat next to her.

“Earth’s calling Lara…”

Lara turned her gaze around saw Blake was smiling amusingly at her.

“I’m sorry.” She apologized. “I was enjoying the view.”

“Huh?” Blake tilted his head, puzzled. “It’s nothing outside.”

Lara emitted a small grin. “Well, there’s a moon.”

Blake leaned a slight forward and flicked his gaze to look outside the window. “It’s a very sad, pale moon.”

“But it’s beautiful.” Lara replied.

“Okay, you win.” Blake nodded, turning his eyes back to hers. “Do you want to accompany me to have coffees?”

“Did the flight attendant offer you?” She asked, placing her book on the side table.

Blake shrugged languorously. “I don’t like my coffee being made by some stranger.”

“Oh, my God…” She moaned, her voice laced with humor. “Why you’re so fussy about it? What if you need to buy coffee from coffee shop?”

“I don’t buy coffee from coffee shop.” He said then stood up. “Come on, you can make me one there.” He pointed with his chin to the luxurious galley that was located at the back of the cabin.

“I thought you don’t like your coffee being made by stranger.” She frowned, nonetheless she was also standing up from her seat.

“Yes.” He conceded, sliding aside to give her away. “But you’re not a stranger to me.”

Lara laughed, a bright sound. “I’m not sure that I should be flattered for making you coffee, just because I’m no stranger to you.”

Blake raised a brow. “How do you feel?” He asked, the question seemingly gnawed him as he stared at her.

“Oh, I think that I should be flattered.” She said.

Blake let out a relief sigh. “Glad you feel that way.” He said quietly, studying her intently.

Lara looked at his compelling dark brown irises. Blake had always had enigmatic aura. Oh, she knew behind his placid handsome face, he was very kind, especially to her lately. But, he was like a jigsaw puzzle; she never knew where the conversation led to. He had unpredictable way of thinking. Sometimes he teased her, sometimes he could just stared at her without saying a word.

Lara smiled. “Alright, I make you a cup of coffee.” She said and started to walk towards the galley while Blake was following her steps.

Once they’re at the galley one flight attendance asked them whether they needed her assistance but Blake dismissed her gently saying that all he needed was making his own coffee. The flight attendant only nodded and gave her polite smile before she left them.

“Alright,” She said, opening the lid of the coffee opaque airtight container. “What kind of coffee you want?”

“White coffee.” Blake said.

Lara nodded. “With creamer or milk?”

“Creamer.” He answered leaning against the glossy fancy table.

“Okay.” Lara replied, reaching the opened shelve above her, where the creamer container was placed. She then took a teaspoon from the corner of the table.

And Blake’s interest eyes followed her movement though he kept on silent while she was doing her task.

“How many teaspoon do you want to add for the creamer?” Lara asked once she poured the hot water on the mug and stirred the coffee.

“Two scoops are good for me.” Blake gave her his amazing, toe-curling smile. He really could make her to feel this way sometimes.

“Two scoops then.” She said and could not help also to smile while putting the powder creamer into the coffee. Without she realized, she tugged away the strand of her annoying curly hair behind her ear with her other hand while stirring the coffee at the same time.

“Hmm…Smells good.” Blake said, watching his hot brew was almost ready.

Lara gave her cursory glanced with a smile before looking up to see the sugar container from the same shelves. “Do you want some sugar?”

“Yes.” He said then reached the container at the same time Lara also did the same thing. Their hands inadvertently brushed and unexpected jolt of electricity sprinted up her arm for a moment though she chose to feel unaffected as she let him to take the container.

“How many teaspoon?” She asked indicated the sugar.

“One only.”

Lara again nodded as she took one scoop of sugar and mixed it with the coffee.

“Here’s your coffee.” She said handling the white plain mug and added with a mocking smile. “Sir.”

Blake took the mug from her hand. “Thank you.” He said, gently. “It really smells good.”

Lara tilted her head and a proud smile appeared on the visage of her face. “Well, you should try first before giving me compliment.”

“I believe that you’re making a good coffee.” He said genuinely

She felt crimson crept on her cheeks. The way he breathed in the aroma of the coffee before he took a sip and the way he said it with his soft voice, was something that she never really had that kindness from the men she had encountered, not even Tristan.

Instantly she shook her head and tried to blank out her thoughts of seeing Blake in different kind of view. She knew that he was the kind of man that every girl dreamed of. With his boyish but cold look, he was so attractive. Even for her, the girl from the wrong side of the track could easily be attracted to him.

“I don’t know,” She said, pasting on a grin to lighten the mood and hide her wistfulness. “There are a lot of people can make better coffee, I bet.” She said flipping her hair casually.

“There’s a creamer residue on your cheek.” He suddenly said and without asking any acquiescence, he lifted his hand and rubbed the creamer off from her cheek, only his thumb and index finger lingered more than it should have.

Time stayed still, feeling his fingers against the silkiness of her skin produced an instant reaction, an awareness of him as a man. Lara immediately struggled to think to continue breathing. Her heart thumped but she could not move away from the lock of his eyes.

There was something had changed….

“What the hell are you doing?”

A deep, scolding voice belonged to Tristan startled both of them.

Lara blinked, it took a few moments for her to digest what had happened and then when she realized that, Blake’s fingers already left her cheek and his body half-way towards Tristan.

“Lara was making me a cup of coffee.” Blake said with emphasis, he leered to Lara and gave her his cryptic smile.

Lara was impaled as she saw Tristan’s obscure gaze rest on first Blake then to her simultaneously. She felt an anxiety seep through her.

Did a searing emotion flash briefly in the depth of his eyes? She couldn’t tell…His eyes were unreadable.

“You have flight attendants at your disposal to serve you more than just a cup of coffee.” Tristan remarked sardonically. “Why you needed her to make you a coffee?” A dark eyebrow rose. There was a tight expression now on his face.

“Because I don’t drink coffee from strangers.” Blake casually repeated the answer, he had told Lara earlier.

“I bet all the flight attendants especially who serve private plane can make very nice coffee.” Tristan eyes glittered with malevolent light. “Tell me,” He went on, his tone conversational although with deadliness in it that sliced liked razorblade. “What makes you think that she,” He pointed askew to Lara who was standing immobile behind Blake with his chin. “Could make better coffee?” His voice was scornful and baiting. And Lara’s face was blanched, her skin stretched thin over her starkly outlined bones.

From the corner of her eyes, she watched Blake’s jaw tightened and the muscle flex with his tautness and decided he was biting his tongue to keep their friendship peace. “Because I like her coffee.” Blake replied, there was a slight of defensive tone for Lara’s behalf. “Everybody has own preference and I prefer Lara’s than any others.” He added and as if he wanted to show his point, he took another sip of his coffee.

A cold, cynical smile parted Tristan’s sensuous lips. It chilled her to the core. “Of course.” He agreed with obvious feigned pleasantry. “I bet she makes very good…” He paused fractionally. “Coffee.”

The tension was palpable for moment but it was gone when Blake flashed his smile. “Indeed, she does.” Blake said then tilted his head and met his eyes on Lara’s. His face was a mask. “Shall we return to our seats, hm?”

Slowly she nodded. It seemed that it was the only thing for her to do.

That and kept herself upright together, all part of her body because inside she was falling apart of the way Tristan was looking so coldly at her right now.

“Let’s go.” Blake did not waste his time, grabbing her fragile wrist with his hand while other cradling the mug.

Tristan seemed to hesitate to give them a way for a split second, though finally he slid a side and let them pass him.

Lara’s eyes avoided going to Tristan as she was walking behind Blake. Her movement was spasmodic, like a puppet. A puppet that as if strings had been pulled too tight.

“Are you okay?” Blake asked concernedly as Tristan was out of hearing range.

“I’m…I’m fine.” She stuttered, lying. She did not know why Tristan really disliked her. Was it because her confession? But should it have been over years ago? God, she already had evaded him, why could he ask more from her?

A gentle tugged her wrist, And Lara leveled up her gaze to see the worriedness clearly etched on Blake’s handsome face.

“Lara, I really don’t know what’s going on with Tristan. I didn’t know what makes him so furious over small matter, like coffee.” There was apologetically sound in his voice.

Lara managed to give a smile. “I don’t know either.” She said as they reached their seat and she slipped to her seat.

“Is there something going on between the two of you?” Blake asked suspiciously, taking his own seat. “Because Tristan always behaves so furious or angry whenever you’re around. Did you cross him before?”

“I don’t know.” Lara breathed sharply and her voice was clipped. She started to open her book and flipping the pages.

Blake studied her face as if he was contemplating to pursue this question and Lara prayed he did not. Fortunately, being Blake, he didn’t pursue, he only smiled with such immense warmth. “Thank you for the coffee.” He finally said.

Lara swallowed trying to calm her emotion as she stared back at him. “No problem, I liked to do that for you.”

“Still, thank you.” He said. “Do you want me to leave you alone while you’re studying again or…” He purposely let his question hung in the air, giving her a chance to decide.

“I need to study, I mean…”

“Say no more.” Blake interrupted then he stood up and said to her lightly. “I let you alone for a while but if you need some boring conversation, I’m just across the aisle.”

Lara felt a twinge of guilt but overriding she needed to calm the storm of her emotion alone, she gratefully taking this chance. “Yes, thank you, Blake.”

Blake only nodded then left her as he returned to his seat.

Once she was alone, Lara sat very still. She felt her throat tightened. She had known that Tristan always treated her politely cold but never so brutal like just now.

She heard it again, felt it again, the savage crudeness of his voice, felt his absolute affront on her as if she were nothing.

Oh, she knew who she was and what was her position. She was outclassed to any of them. She had grasped her life was like that.

But when Tristan had shown that…

Did he have to be so brutal?

Oh, come on, Lara…Wise up, Tristan won’t be the only one who sees you so low like this. It’s not the first time that a person demeaning you, even there are people who’s worse than him. She berated herself.

But even she tried to console her emotion, her heart was in tremendous agony. She thought she would cry silently, though oddly tears refused to come. It was as if her misery had squeezed even the ability to cry. Also, it seemed her pain had reached saturation and she could not hurt anymore than she already had.

She took a breath, harsh and punishing and crushed her emotion away. Oh, she was right from the start. She should not have agreed to this trip.

But it was too late now…All she needed to do was to endure and avoid Tristan as much as possible. And she only hoped that she could manage to do so without a lot of effort.

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