Clandestine Heart

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Chapter 14

Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back, guilty of dust and sin.But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slacks from my first entrance in.Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning, if I lack’d anything.

--George Herbert


“Tristan, why don’t you join me?” Amelina requested, reclining her body on the bed.

Tristan didn’t move. He kept on sitting at edge of the bed didn’t even bother to bulge.

“Tristan…” He heard Amelina called his name again, this time it was more seductive.

“I’m not tired. You can go sleeping first.” Tristan finally replied after a long silence without bothering to turn around to see her.

“I’m getting lonely without you, besides I want you to warm me up, please.” Naked bur for a turquoise silk wrap, Amelina leapt up and curled her arms around his body, deploying her long, rangy, supermodel stature like a lethal weapon of persuasion.

“You sleep first, I need to do something.” He pushed away her arms, irritated by her persistence though he did not lose the control of his temper while dealing with her.

“Why? I’ve never asked you this one before.” She pouted.

Tristan shrugged. Amelina and all the women he had slept with, should have never needed to ask, since he was a very generous lover.

“Tristan…” Amelina whispered in the melodramatic tone.

“I told you, I’m not tired.” His tone was chilly when rose from the bed. His brilliant gaze bore the coldness of reserve. He did not like hearing the pleading from her voice.

Their relationships, as Amelina was aware, was basic and not exclusive. Tristan came and went as he pleased without explanation or apology. Between him and the women he had slept with, there had been arrangement and he had no desire for anything else from them. He did not like a woman who asked more than he gave. Certainly would not be the whole dating-type scenario of being shown off like some trophy tycoon’s girl at high-class parties. It would be indiscreet, since his appearance at those parties always had been virtual guarantee of photos and comment in social media and gossip columns.

Furious at flat rejection, Amelina looked sulky. “Well, if you like it that way.” She turned around and reclined her body to the bed. She knew too well when and where she ought to stop pleading.

And Tristan did not bother to persuade. Instead he kept walking out from the bedroom and shut the door quietly behind.

Barefooted, he strode across the living room, heading to the kitchen. The moonlight shot through the crack of the velvet burgundy curtain, creating the silhouette of his devastating figure. The black wrap masked the strong, lean-limbed body. He looked like a dangerous wild beast. An injured wild beast.

After pouring himself a glass of Whiskey on the rock, he opened the kitchen window curtain and sat on the wooden chair facing the outside view.

There was nothing much to see when he settled his gaze upward. Outside the circle of the moon had already begun it downward arc high in the beautiful charcoal sky. It seemed, the moon was impossibly bright, gracefully shining its beam of silver on the night part of the earth. Hundreds stars glittered and winked. The night was silent and peaceful. So contradicted with the restlessness pacing in his veins and question circulating in his head.

What had been her reaction after the kiss?

He had had no idea since he had left her and had not seen her again until in the evening when they had thrown small Christmas party. Even then, he could not have read what had been on her mind. It had been so obvious to him, again she had avoided being close enough around him.

And when the time they had exchanged the presents, she had seated at the farthest sofa in the room, only once in while, Blake had talked to her, caressed her on her arms or whispered something funny, in which those actions had pissed him off even more.

The icicle expression on his face gradually changed, revealing his sealing emotions. The emotions he rarely displayed in front of the public that led to the theory that he had been incapable to feel anything.

But tonight, the emotions revealed and there were rage and jealousy.

He expelled a frustrated growl, driving one of his hands into his hair. He did not know which one annoyed him more, the possibility Lara had liked Blake’s attention on her, or Lara’s flare ignorance towards their kiss as if she had not felt anything.

He gulped his drink then clenched the crystal glass tightly. The kick of Whiskey to his system seemed to release the tension in him.

His mind captured different episode scene on the same event, three nights ago, when he had given her the Tiffany T Two hinged gold bracelet for Christmas present.

Tristan had not cared the puzzlement gaze he had received from Phoenix and the suspicious gaze he had received from Blake even though Blake had been the one that clasped the bracelet on her wrist. Besides, Tristan had been known in the public eyes that he was a generous lover and friend. He liked to give expensive presents, so far he had given expensive presents to his friends for Christmas. Yes those presents had been expensive but not as special as he’d given to Lara.

Tristan had seen the surprise flicked on those beautiful eyes as if, she had not believe that he would have given her a present like that. The she had blinked and when she had opened her eyes the surprise had gone. And he still could not have read what had really been on her mind since she had not said much only a murmur word of thank to him then after that she had opened another presents from the rest.

Tristan took another gulp and funnily the thought of her minimum gratitude had not been the usual treatment he had received from the rest of the women, but it did not really bother him. He was glad that she had not rejected the present at first place.

Suddenly the old-fashioned grandfather clock striking a ponderous three, he began to stride out from the kitchen when the kitchen door swung opened.

He halted abruptly when he saw familiar figure that always brought the shivery feeling in the system of his body. Her thick night gown could not hide her thin frame.

Tristan saw a strangle gasp escaped from her convulsing throat and the colors drained from her only to highlight her brown eyes as if she did not expect to see anyone or perhaps him there, in the early morning in the kitchen.

“I’m sorry I didn’t know you’re here.” Lara said in a low, troubled voice.

She was in a state of petrified paralysis, only stared at him. Her entire attention magnetically pinned to him, absorbing every aspect of his appearance in terrifyingly detail. His fabulous perfectly modeled face and the devastating strength of purpose dauntingly etched into every feature. Furthermore, his black wrap only enhanced his obvious sexuality of his fully adult all-male body.

“I didn’t know you’d come in here.” Tristan replied, his gaze did not leave her.

“I…I forgot to take some water.” She shrugged intensely and slid few steps away from where he was standing. “So I guess I just take it now.”

Tristan watched her sailing pass him. He took a deep sigh before twirled around, and found that she was pacing restively to the kitchen cabinet then talking the glass. Her fragile slender body was rigid as bowstring and her hair was shimmering under the moonlight.

“Would you care to sit down and drink with me?” A breathless voice he barely recognized as his own pleaded out.

Lara halted. She was frozen on the spot when she heard his almost audible request. She was afraid to turn around, afraid to look at him since she feared that she heard it wrong.

Tristan stared at the back of her petite figure, took in every little detail before he moved closer to her, his purposeful strides making quick work of the room. “Just for one drink.” He said, closing the gap. “Lara.”

She closed her eyes momentarily, the offer was so tempting and the way he called her name…

No!

The sensible voice inside warned her.

Don’t make yourself more miserable than you already have, Lara.

“I can’t.” Lara shook her head slowly and turned around only to find out that he was standing very near. She had to fight her own will for not savoring the warmth scent of his, overlaid by the elusive fragrance he sparingly used.

“Why not?” He demanded as his gaze connected with her, pierced her to give him the answer he wanted to hear.

Suddenly the temperature seemed to rise, the tension in the room double.

Lara tightened the grip of the glass in her hand. “I just…”

“Stay.” His gaze dropped to her mouth then back to her eyes. “One drink, that’s all I ask.”

She avoided his eyes. “It’s late, Tristan and…” Her voice trailed off, she ran out the excuses but she did not want to spend another night, another day to think about his behavior especially when he had kissed her, and the present he had given to her later on that Christmas evening. “I just can’t stay.”

“Please, I don’t like to drink alone.” He tipped her jaw, gently forced her to see those two points of light that had been piercing her, imprisoning her, conspiring to witch her sense and send the mixed alarm on every part of her nerves.

Her heart trilled, her pulse raced. She tried to keep on sticking to her answer, declining his request. She wanted to run away, to escape from his fathomless eyes but when his fingers were tracing down on side of her face, it seemed her body was controlled by something else, filling her with unbearably powerful feeling. Her body betrayed her rational sense.

She slowly nodded.

A slight, slanting smile curved on his face. It eased the ferocious tension stamped on his feature. “Good.” He said, lifting his fingers from her face though the warmth stayed. “What do you want to have? You fancy wine?”

“I…” She stammered but she finally managed to reply. “Yes, wine would be great.”

“Red? White? Rose?” He asked while walking to the wine cellar behind the refrigerator.

“Anything.”

“Okay then, I’ll take rose. It’s light.” He informed her voluntarily and then started to take the bottle and two champagne flutes from the same kitchen cabinet.

And while he was doing that, Lara silently took a relief sigh. At least for a couple of minutes, she could justify her heartbeat back to the normal rhythm.

She settled herself on the stool of the kitchen island and placed her empty glass on the table. Her thoughts about Tristan and his new behavior concerned her. It isn’t supposed to be like this, she told herself.

“Let me open it first.” Tristan’s voice woke her up from her reverie. She looked up and saw he was towering in front of her.

Lara did not say anything, she only surveyed his movement as he opened the bottle and poured the pink rose liquid into the crystal flutes.

“Here’s your drink.” He picked up her flute and offered it to her, retaining his own.

She took hers gingerly. “Thank you.”

“Cheers.” He proposed the toast, raising his glass.

“Cheers, Tristan.” She replied softly clicking her glass to his.

She sipped the wine simultaneously with him and felt the rim rattling against her teeth when she noted that Tristan was watching her. Immediately she was in a state of panicking and really was incapable of rational dialogue or small talk.

Tristan kept his gaze at her in the faintly silvery moonlight and thought she looked impossibly beautiful.

“Why you couldn’t sleep?” He asked, opening their conversation.

“I just finished reading my book and wanted to get some water before going to bed.”

“I see.” Tristan nodded. “You’re going to have exams after new years, right?” He told her. His voice was friendly, warm and melting. Melting her through like honey.

Lara nodded but she did not say anything.

There were a few minutes of awkward silence moment between them. Lara took another savoring mouthful before she gathered her courage to begin.

“How’s your hand?” She asked, flicking her eyes to his hand. There was no bandage wrapped around his. It seemed it had cured since it’d happened three days ago.

“Well, I’m survived.” He replied, smiling. Gracefully, he lowered his lean frame into the adjacent stool without taking his eyes off of her.

Lara looked down, her fingers instinctively were playing on the stem of the flute. “That’s good to know.” The word escaped her on a breath.

“I haven’t seen much of you. Did you paint the town red already?” He asked.

A smile broke from her. “Not really. I just enjoyed this place. Having some meals from small cafes are very unique. What an experience.”

“I know. “ He agreed then continued telling her other places and for sightseeing.

Lara held her drink and lifted it to her mouth from time to time.

It was a magical moment for her to sit here with him. With the man who could turn her inside out and back again with one single long-lashed glance. It was wonderful to listen to his smooth voice talking about undemanding, easy topics.

“Sounds a great place that restaurant.” Lara finally said after he had finished talking about the restaurant he would like to go.

“Yes that restaurant is my favorite.”

“Well yes, but still it I didn’t know that you like to go the city.”

Tristan glanced at her. “Why? You don’t believe me?” He asked. There was amused irony in his voice and in the lift of his eyebrow.

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I just thought that you’re not that kind of person.”

“What do you think of me, Lara?”

His voice was a husk. It turned her inside out and this question was a dangerous question, she would prefer to avoid.

She shook her head. “Nothing, I don’t think anything bad about it.”

He studied her in a thoughtful silence. There was something that looked like a mixture of longing and restrained of emotion in her eyes. He wanted to stop her for restraining herself in front of him, though so far he had failed miserably to do so.

“Well, I don’t mind to accompany you tomorrow to the town.” He offered gently.

Lara startled when hearing his offer. Deep in her throat she made a low chock sound. “What?” She gaped. “You want to go to the town with me?”

Tristan scoffed. “Is there something wrong, I go to the town with you?”

“Of course not.” Instantaneously she shook her head again then she added in hesitance. “It’s just that Blake already offered me to do some sightseeing tomorrow. But thank you.”

“Blake, huh?” His tone was amiable but the dark eyes had the warmth of the North Sea. “He’s really hovering around you lately.”

She bit her lip, somehow feeling trapped with his statement. She did not know what or how to reply. She had thought about it, the way Blake had treated her and if she had wanted to admit, she had liked the attention, though at the same time, it had always been just attention that she had enjoyed. She would have never dragged Blake’s life to be as low as her life.

But why Tristan asked about him? Was he jealous of him? Yet which part of this situation that could have made him jealous of Blake? Was it Blake himself or her? In this case, the later part was really unrealistic reason. Tristan did not love her. He had made it perfectly clear about it. Perhaps it was only the rivalry between men though they were best friends and she was just the insubstantial detail.

“Lara?” He called her name.

“Why do you mean about hovering?” She expelled a shuddering breath, now somehow or rather she was exhausted with her own assumption about Tristan. She really did not understand him at all.

He watched as the expression of confusion deepened in her face. “You know what I mean.” He said. “It seems that he has this kind of thing to you. Perhaps he likes you more than a friend should like another friend.”

“And you don’t like if it happens?” The words were scarcely audible.

He made a slight gesture with his hand. “I don’t like not knowing his intention.”

“Why you don’t’ like it?” She asked again as if she still could not take it in.

His gaze was incredibly steady. “Because, now as I thought about it, I don’t like him having you, Lara.”

Comprehension hollowed through her. He did not want anyone with her, especially his best friend. Which was quite understandable from her point of view.

She closed her eyes momentarily to compose her feeling and gather her strength. When she opened them, she looked straight into those dark orbs. “You don’t have to worry about it. There’s nothing going on between us.” She paused for a second. “Though I couldn’t say anything on his behalf about his feeling towards me. Since you’d never know to whom will you fall in love with. No one has the power to choose that. Just like I did. I didn’t choose you. It was love that made the choice, not I.”

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