Clandestine Heart

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Chapter 16

Time go by turns and chances change by course

From foul to fair, form better hap to worse

--Robert Southwell


Tristan had been travelling. He had been travelling to Hong Kong, Singapore then Kuala Lumpur for the past three weeks and half. He had not stopped. He had needed to work, filled his mind with work, with meetings, reports, budget plans, forecasts and surveys. For him, it had been busy weeks after the New Year. Though he had not minded at all. It had not mattered for as long as he had not felt anything and thought about anything but her.

Oh, he had managed to do that, until now. When he was back in this city and everything had done for today.

It was a quarter after one in the morning, and he was nowhere near home. As matter of fact, he was in some bar and drinking at least half of bottle of Whiskey, alone. He had cut himself off from everyone outside his work. His family and his friends did not even know that he had been back since last night.

Settling himself on the bar stool inside a deafening club, Tristan took another mouthful gulp of his drink. A cigarette was in between in his finger. His chiseled feature that was so exquisitely sculpted caught the attention of the females in the room, but he did not care, even when few of them dared to approached him, he politely dismissed them.

Tristan was supposed to be tired or having jet lag, yet he did not feel any those things. He knew if he let his tiredness taking over, he would sleep and dream about that night. His hand clenched his glass like a life preserver as he remembered that night, four weeks ago.

He had said it. He had said under his breath that he had wanted her.

And he had felt the tide running strong and so powerful that its strength had overwhelmed him, swept away the things he should not have let it sweep away.

All these time he had managed to avoid this feeling, to keep it away inside his own Pandora’s box, yet that night he had lost it.

Only God knew he had tried to fight this tide, however it had been like swimming against a current so strong that he could have made no headway. Nor, had he wanted to fight it.

And that had been the worst. Unconsciously, he had wanted her to know.

It should not have come to this. He should have stopped it, halted it in its tracks, forced it by main strength to keep his feeling inside.

However he could not have. He had not had the strength no to reach out of her.

He had finally done it.

And when he had, she had rejected him.

The anger seared him again. She had clearly had said no.

She had denied the only thing he wanted.

Her.

That had been all he wanted.

Fuck…

Tristan took a heavy sigh, running his fingers through his hair, which only had the effect of making him even more handsome. He needed alcohol to feel jaded. Now, he only wanted to feel empty and to feel nothing, not even about her.

He had all the luxury connection she had offered to him before but he had wasted the offer. The thought tormented him. The thought to one, single word.

No.

He inhaled the cigarette and a heavy rasp escaped him as he was struck by a memory.

‘No’ had not been the word she had used. She had used a rather different word.

He stilled, slowly, the white rage of frustration, something he had known for the past four weeks, was withdrawing from him. He took a harsh breath, feeling so stupid for not realizing it soon. Blamed it to his stubbornness to ignore this face and buried it deep inside.

The emotion of fury drained from him to be replaced by bleak, belated recognition. In his head sounded in the low, strained sound of her voice.

Lara had not said ‘no’ to him, she had said ‘I can’t’.

She had turned him down for something she had not even explained the reason why.

What happened to her? What had been the reason that he could not have her? Did she have any commitment to someone or something that made her hands were tight?

Or it’s only simple, reason, Tristan. She can’t be with you because you hurt her in the past!

A hollowing, savage humor stabbed through him, only there was no humor in it. It was only a bitter, truth irony that cut to the very quick of him.

What do you expect, Tristan? That she will just gladly accept you after the ill treatment you’ve done upon her?

He sank down his head with one of his hand. His turmoil heart was a having a conflict.

What should he do? How to amend this? Where to start?

His eyes shadowed and he lifted his face from his hands.

Apologize is a good start. His inner sanctum told him. He stiffened his spine as the realization dawned him.

Apologize…

Well, it was so simple yet would it be enough?

Those words burned into his consciousness. Words were acid on his soul. The words he had thrown at Lara since more than two years back to twenty-one days ago. His rejection, his harsh denial of her existence in his life and his cold attitude.

But it’s a good start. At least you know where to begin.

He killed his cigarette, placed it in the astray before he stood up. His eyes suddenly lit, showing determination as he looked at himself in the mirror of the bar counter.

It seemed the universe he had been living in had become a completely different one. What should he be afraid of something had not really happened yet. Since when had he started to become a cowardice? Perhaps his parents’ failing marriage or Georgia had made him this way but, Lara was not like them.

Perhaps too late now, but she had not really heard the whole point that night and she had not made her reply clearly.

Tristan called for his bill and flicked out his wrist. It was two in the morning already and she might have slept at this hour.

Should I call her now?

He shoved his hand to reach his mobile phone. Contemplation etched on his face. Would it be too late to call her now? What would he say? Should he ask if he could come to her place? Should he wait until normal hour?

“Excuse me Sir,” Suddenly a bartender handled him the black, leather bill holder. “Here’s the bill.”

Tristan blinked. It took a few split seconds for him to wake up from his reverie. He pulled out his wallet and laid enough money inside the holder. He did not even bother to give his card. He just wanted to leave this place and called her.

“Keep the change. And thanks.” He said without waiting for any reply from the bartender.

I need to talk to her. I must talk to her.

It was all he could focus on right now.

There was an urgency that impelled his steps as he crossing the half-crowded lounge. And then from the corner of his eyes, he saw there was a some heated argument between a woman who was wearing a simple black dress and a man who was around mid forties and seemingly drunk.

At first, Tristan ignored the commotion as it was quite common to have arguments or fight at some bars and clubs. He had been there, done it before during his younger years with his friends. But he could not act like he did not care when he saw now the man was slapping quite hard to that woman. He saw that she fell onto the table and tried to balance herself.

No one really helped her, mostly because everybody was already drunk and there were no bouncers around the place.

He did not know what power him to come and rescue her. Perhaps being taught for never hit a woman and or he just simply felt sorry with her. He then raced towards them quickly and was just in time to hold that man arm to prevent him to give her a second slap.

“Be polite to a woman!” Tristan glared at him and pushed him hard to the corner. That push almost made him knocked out to the floor and that man immediately got into the defensiveness at Tristan unexpected approach.

“What the fuck is your problem?!” That man yelled and was about to put into a fight by throwing his fist but Tristan was faster. He slugged the other man on the face, sending him sprawling totally on the ground.

The situation started to become a little bit chaotic. Women gasped and few men made the initiation to help the drunk man from the floor. But then Tristan did not care about them, what should he, anyway? No one bothered to help that woman who was still facing her face down onto the table, in pain.

He rushed towards her. “Are you okay, Miss?” He asked. His voice was soothing and warm. Somehow her fragile frame reminded him of Lara, though he dismissed his own thoughts as he tenderly pulled her vulnerable petite body into his arms, ignoring the people around them. Then with absolute gentleness, he pulled the lock hair to see her face, clearly.

And he was in his deepest shock and feeling his heart pounding hard as he saw her face. “Oh, My God Lara!”

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