He sees the ecstatic human from him stealing
Reels from the joy experience brought
And dares not clutch what love was half revealing
--Sir Edmund Gosse
The air of silences ascended them, only the owls hoots perched somewhere amongst the trees, filling the emptiness of the sound. The tenses between them were very thick after Tristan had made his outrageous announcement of his feeling.
It’s because I love you.
The words kept echoing in her ears. Her breath hitched, her brown eyes stared at him shockingly. Disbelief clearly was written in every line of her face.
It could not have been. It must only have been her illusion. She definitely had heard it wrong.
Yet, she needed to reconfirm.
“What did you just say?” She hissed.
Tristan swallowed very hard. These words sounded so strange to his ears. Oh, he heard them may times before and it had been a very, very long time he had ever said those three words to anyone else yet there was nothing of honesty compare this one.
And he felt marvelously relief, for at last she knew the truth now despite the ill treatment he had done upon bestowed her.
“I love you, Lara. I do really love you.” He said it again, this time his tone was firm yet also as soft as feather kiss touched her face.
Lara was petrified and did not dare to move. Her heart was throbbing very fast, she could scarcely hear. His words made her quiver inside and she didn’t know how or what to react but the deny.
“You don’t mean it.” She said. At the same time, part of her wanted to so much to believe nevertheless the other part, she knew she just could not. How could she easily believe what he’d said when the reality of his treatment had been the total opposite. “You can’t possibly love me…I…”
“Why not?” He demanded as his long legs sprawled before him. His eyes scrutinized her deeply. He already stood in front of her now. “Just because I hurt you? Because I made those damn things to destroy your feeling for me?” He raged outwardly. “Love isn’t always pure. Love is also having a bad side. Loving someone isn’t always tender and gentle. Sometimes there’s a necessity that love has to show its dark side. I love you damn much to cause you more pain that I’ve done. Fuck’s sake, there are many men, better than me, to be with you and I know you’ll be better off without me, or at least that has been on my mind. But the more I push you away, the more I just can’t hold the feeling any longer.”
Lara stunned. Her eyes were filled with tears but she did not bother to usher it. “No, this can’t be true! You don’t love me!” She protested as she shook her head vehemently. She did not want to believe. She could not afford to believe him. It was only a mirage to hear him said those words.
He clenched his fist and squeezed his eyes shut, fighting the powerful roil of emotions flying inside him. She did not believe him. He should have known that, nevertheless she had to hear everything, no more lies between them. He had been tired to fight his feeling.
He opened his eyes as he spoke gently. “I’ve always loved you, I didn’t know when or where it started but I knew the feeling keeps going stronger, despite all my effort to push you away. I was panic with this new territory. I was afraid that I would’ve become just like my father. He’s been hurting my mother for so long until she couldn’t take the feeling any longer. I don’t want that. And I tried to dismiss my thoughts of you. I kept telling myself that I don’t love anyone. Fuck, I always though that I’m no capable to love anyone after Georgia, and perhaps I deep inside I know I didn’t even love her. It was just the thought and demand of the society for being with someone, with anyone back then.” Then he paused taking a deep breath before he continued. “But with you, there wasn’t just the feeling of love. There always will be the need of you being with me.”
Lara was now in complete flabbergasted. It was so overwhelming to hear the words tumbled down from the lips of this cold-hearted man in front of her.
She broke the eye contact. The old wound revealed. The part, inside her which had been frozen for so long began to thaw. The ice had been so tangible for her eyesight that if she looked down she was half expecting to see a pool of water around her feet.
“Like I said,” He went on in the raw voice. “I know I’m not the only one to fall for you, Blake also falls for you. And he’s everything that I’m not and I won’t blame you if you start to like him more than just a friend.”
“I like Blake?” She charged. Her voice was shaking when she took a step away from him.
He sardonically smiled and his chest raised and fell as he shook his head. “Honestly, I don’t know since there’s still one fright that kept on invading me.”
Lara frowned. “What’s that?”
“What can I give to you, Lara?” He stared at her with miserable eyes. “Besides, so far, I did nothing but to hurt you.” He admitted.
She sniffed and tears came on faster. “Yes you did hurt me.” She reminded him softly.
Silence reigned followed her outburst. Tristan could only stare painfully at her fragile figure. He heard the bleakness in her voice and it suddenly dawned on him the heartache she had been facing all this time.
“I’m sorry for all the things I put you through, for the pain that I caused you. I’m sorry for all the sorrow I printed in your heart…” A shudder went through him. “I know saying sorry wouldn’t help to cure all the pain I’ve caused, but you know the reason why I needed to do this was to keep you away from me. From a man who could offer you nothing.”
“No.” She cried and stepped back away from him. “Don’t say that again! You don’t mean it! You don’t love me! That’s not possible!” She said, covering both of her ears with her hands as if she had not wanted to hear what he had said. She still did not want to believe it. “You lie to me. You lie!!” She was almost screaming as she charged him frantically.
Her scorn of accusation pricked him. He tried to reach out to touch her, but she moved away from him. Hurt, he slowly pulled back his hand. He had anticipated her denial, but he had not anticipated the pain. It had been like knives thrust into his heart. “I know you don’t believe me and I know that you’re over me.” He sighed. “But you can’t ignore the truth lays in front of you.”
“Over you?” She hissed. “Do you think I’m over you?! She asked succinctly. “Do you know how I pray every night that someday you will love me? That somehow you look at me in the loving gaze? Do you know all the misery I’ve to put through? How many broken hearted you’ve caused me seeing you with somebody else?” She said between her sobbing.
“No I don’t know.” He muttered. His arms hanging limply at his sides looking at tears kept rolling down on her face. He wanted to hold her, he wanted to console her but he was afraid that she did not want him. Fuck! She did not even want his touch.
“That’s right, you don’t know!” Tears kept trickling down her porcelain face, tracing her delicate feature. “You don’t know also that I’d do anything for you, anything! I’d sell my soul to the devil if you want me to!” She was too full of angry, hurt to listen to overcome with the starkness of pain. “But why you never told me before, Tristan?”
Tristan stared at her motionless, not knowing how to answer, not daring to say anything.
“I don’t know why I still love you, why I still love this arrogant, cold-blooded jerk! I want to hate you, I want to get away from the web of this feeling, but I just…I just…” Her voice trailed off as she threw her cry heart out. Her bosom heaved with emotions.
The color drained dramatically from his face as she watched. “You still love me?” He asked, in a voice she scarcely recognized. “I didn’t know, I thought that you’re over me. I didn’t know…”
“Of course you didn’t know.” She said as she ushered her tears rudely from her cheeks. “But it doesn’t matter any longer, because I can’t love you anymore.” Even as she spoke she could feel the churches in her heart.
She wanted to hurt him. She wanted to hit him with something. This man in front of her had made her suffer for three years. He’d controlled her happiness, her tears and her life. She had waited for so long just to hear him those words, but why did it have to come when everything had ruined? Why he had not told her when she had not been a disgrace woman? Why now when everything was too late?
“What do you mean?” He asked painfully, shoving both of his hands on the coat pockets.
She laughed somberly as she glared at him. “I’m a hooker, Tristan! Did you hear what that man told you? I am exactly what he said!”
“No, that can’t be true, you’re not…” His sentences were cut off sharply.
“I’m, Tristan! I’m a hooker! A slut! A bitch! A prostitute! A whore! Any those names!” She still did not know what had possessed her to blurt out the truth, but it was too late to take the words back. After all he had seen her tonight, her contractual obligation was only to confirm him all the speculation in his mind.
Tristan every feature seemed to freeze. Now he was the one who was in the edge of disbelief. He’d heard it from the man who had hurt her earlier, and he had ignored the fact. He had pushed aside the thought of any man had touched his woman. The woman he loved.
In his eyes, Lara had not been a woman she had mentioned. She had remained the same good girl he had used to know. But now, he realized that dream and reality sometimes had to compromise.
He was angry also, angry to himself and to the past. If only he could have turned back the time he would. He would have said the words she had needed to hear and perhaps she would not have suffered. Perhaps she would not have sold her body to any man.
“I know, but it doesn’t mean I will stop loving you.” He said firmly, wanting to show her how much he meant every single word he said.
Lara stared at him shockingly. He was serious! He was dead serious. His soulful eyes delved into hers, refusing her to let her look away and she felt helpless in his power. “But did you hear what I said?!” She gasped in horror as built up her strength again to speak.
“Yes I did, and I also did hear when we’re in the club that you wanted to quit this….” He paused incapable to form the description of what she had been doing.
Lara looked at him in a full of surprises. Her brown eyes glittered with expression that he could not even read. For thirty seconds they remained silence until finally Lara shook her head. “You’re right, I’m quitting this low, degrading type of work, but it doesn’t mean that we still can be together.”
“Why not?” He demanded.
“Why not?!” She echoed harshly. “Come on, Tristan, please look at you.” She pointed him rudely before pointing at herself. “And look at me. We’re so much different. Heck, even without this situation, back then I’ve realized that we’re so much different, though of course small chance, but I still had a hope but now, the differences between us escalades into something bigger.”
“I don’t understand.” He wondered. His strong eyebrows jointed together.
“Tristan, you come from one of the prominent family in here. You’ve a great background. You’re one of the few elite with a position that everyone looks at you. What would people think when you are with me?! Don’t you think they’ll despise you and me?!”
“But…” He traced his step closer to her.
“No, stop, please…” She pleaded and raised both of her hands in front of her body, as if she had wanted to prevent him to move nearer. “No buts please. We just can’t be together. Just face it, please, for me?” She pleaded him with her huge, liquid eyes. His breath caught. He felt her wounded heart in the quavering breath she drew. Nevertheless she asked too much. Her request of leaving her hurt him to the bottom of his soul.
She dropped her hands powerless at the side of her body. She gave him one last glance before slowly turning around. “I’ve to go.”
She only managed to take one step when his husky voice called out her name. “Lara...”
She immediately stopped waiting in agony what he wanted to say.
“You once told me that it was love that made the choice and not you. That was the love has done to me.” He paused for a moment anticipating of her movement and when she remained at the same spot, he paced his steps to her and reached her. “Love chose you to be with me despite of everything.”
She abruptly turned around and only to learn that she was already in his embrace. She tried to fight him, tried to wrench away but he was undaunted. He held her tight as if he would have never let her go. Finally she gave up of her struggling and for moment they were standing motionless at the same positions mentally comforting each other. Her tears dampened his elegant shirt again just like she had done in the club.
“I love you. I’ve never stopped loving you.” He stroked her hair gently and pressing his mouth against the glossy top of her head. “Even the whole world denies you, it won’t make me to give you up. I don’t care what people say.” He said, breathing in the fragrance of the slippery, clean tresses. “I should’ve been able to stop your pain and I couldn’t.” He took her face between his hands and looked into her eyes. “It doesn’t stop my feeling for you.”
His warm lips for the first time caressed her face. He tenderly kissed away her tears and she stood paralyzed beneath his touch, it was so gentle, so unbearable gentle. Slowly in the length of heartbeat he returned his gaze at her. Their eyes clung and she could not avoid his longing eyes. Tristan mouth grazed hers. Their breath mingled. “I need you to believe me.” He said hoarsely before he finally closed her lips with his.
Tristan was but a wisp against the breadth of his large-boned form. The scent of her hair was dizzying, the feel of her intoxicating. He held her tight, half afraid he might’ve crushed her because she was so vulnerable just like china in his hands. Nevertheless she swayed against him, and the tremulous rush of warm, moist breath against her mouth seared him to the bone. It was but a whisper of a kiss, a fraction of all they had desired all this time. The touch they had dreamt over and over again.
Lara’s heart was tapered, for his kiss was far more than she expected. As the feel of his lips were warm and hard upon hers, gradually the tight knot of her fear deep in her slipping away. She had never realized how on earth a mere of kiss could be tender and fierce, fiery and restrained all at once. The impossible sweetness of his mouth upon hers was balm to her long wounded soul. It was like the cure to mend the broken of her heart. The tumult within her washed away. Hungry for more of his kiss and everything about him, her lips parted beneath the wordless demand of him.
He deepened the kiss. The expert tutelage of his tongue brought her to come out from hiding. When her tongue touched his, there was a low, vibrating growl deep in his chest. She could feel his arms hard around her back, drawing her closer until there was no part of his body she could not feel. Her hands were splayed against the broad plane of his chest.
And after for a very long moment, reluctantly he released her mouth. He rested his forehead against hers. Within his eyes glimmered a scalding heat, he whispered. “We’d better go.”