Clandestine Heart

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Chapter 20

Never have relish in the faery power of unreflecting love

Then on the shore of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till love and fame to nothingness do sink

--John Keats


How could her world change so much, so swiftly within hours? The question swirled in Lara’s head like a carousel, making her giddy with incredulity. She had it before when her mother had passed away, but this time, the change had been in different kind of phase. It had happened so quickly, dizzyingly fast. How that man had abused her in some club, then Tristan had helped her and then one very crucial discover…His feeling.

Now, a mere five hours later, she was in his penthouse, wearing his oversize black tee shirt and laying down in his king size bed, alone since he had told her that he would have been in another room tonight. His conduct once they had arrived only passing his black tee shirt and a robe for her to wear and then a taut of word of good night before he had disappeared to another room.

Yes, apparently, it took five hours for her to realize since she had been so suffused in confusion and when in did, her breath caught with the impact of it.

She leered at the digital clock on the side of the night table and found it was five in the morning. It was early still. It seemed the sedative medicine that doctor had given did not really work since she could not close her eyes though all of her body had a sheer of aching and exhaustion.

She then turned on the side table lamp and then rose from the bed. For the first time since she had occupied the room, she was able to scan it thoroughly.

Her bare feet were touching the thick Moroccan beige carpet as she started to explore the surrounding. Her eyes took a cursor glance from one exquisite treasure to the next one. Inside his master bedroom, there was a silky cream colored sofa that was accompanied by a televisions set. It was simple yet so opulent and as she appreciated the beauty of the room, Lara felt like an onion in a tulip patch. There were another two closed doors that she predicted led to the bathroom and walking closet.

It was obvious that this was the heart of where he lived, the place that was closest to him, his private retreat, being away from all the public eyes. There was unmistakable warmth of his masculinity and sensuality that dominated every detail here.

Lara took one small sigh. Being here although alone, already made her overwhelm. His amazing scent and his presence was inevitable everywhere. She needed to get out from this confined room. It made her suffocated with heaviness.

Decisively, she wrapped herself in a voluminous robe that Tristan also had prepared for her then she padded out from the room. There was no light outside the bedroom and Lara’s eyes-sights needed to adjust with just one light that came from the bedroom where she occupied. She then walked further and finally she reached the empty living room.

The twilight moon beamed through shining her pale face and Lara kept on her pace to the French windows. She then found that there was a wide balcony and decided to go outside.

The sliding-glass door mad a grating noise as she opened it and stepped onto the balcony. Gradually she felt the cold breeze caressed her face and played with her hair.

Arms hugging her waist, she rested her body against the railing and heard the familiar hustle of New York sound at this dawn though somehow with a distance noise, it could let her to contemplate.

How could this happen this way? Why did I have to be caught in his web like this?

Her chest tightened as if did whenever she thought of him and the recklessness she had created from the moment she had fallen for him. Oh, she knew there was no one to blame but herself. She was the foolish one to have given her heart to Tristan Lancaster.

Then his voice when he had said those three words distilled in her mind.

Because I love you. Sometimes there’s a necessity that love has to show its dark side.

Her lips parted as she slowly exhaled.

Was it truly possible that he loved her? She had trouble believing it, however she could not strictly believe that he would say such things only to deceive her.

She was a rational person. A hardship of life had taught her to be based on reason. And besides they were a world apart. It was like he stood on the opposite cliff and there was no way she could do to cross over to his side. Even if, she and Tristan would be willing to break through the barrier the people put up, she knew from the start it was and it had been impossible. Tristan belonged to the society which never tolerated women came from different class, sound cliché but that was the fact. Even with Abby and Liam, they still had to face obstacles even though Abby was a decent woman, sometimes she had to get a slight ill treatment from the Liam’s society just because she came from deprived family.

Another fragments of his words echoed.

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. 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.

What had he meant? Had he meant that his mother also had been a social faux? That his father’s families and their circle social life could not have accepted her?

If that had been a case, then Tristan had made the right the decision to keep her at distance.

A shadow fell across her face since she realized that tonight had magnified their differences.

What a chance she would have with Tristan? She was not only an orphan but also a disgrace woman, a prostitute. It did not need a rocket scientist in his circle of society would accept her, of course it was with a good reason. The heir of Lancaster’s empire should be a woman who came from the prominent family and adequate to their social status. She raised her face to the heavens, blinking back the ready tears.

This had to stop now. Her feeling needed to be stopped. She could not be anything but contented that finally Tristan returned her feeling. Her heart, however, was weeping for the perfect timing that she had not even had.

Again his feeling was lost to her forever and she always would cherish it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tristan gazed up upward into the dark and stared at the high ceiling unseen above him. As a matter of fact, he had been laying in this bed for hours. He could not sleep. How could he sleep when he knew Lara was next door, sleeping in his bed and wearing his clothes?

His mind was totally wide awake.

Thinking. Recalling. Remembering.

Starting when he had found Lara laying helplessly.

The hair on his neck started to prickle if he had not been there to save her. He had never been so afraid in his life and at the same time felt instant anger, bone-deep reaction to anyone before. And honestly, he could never have imagined that he had a protection instinct inside him and had the capability to almost kill that bastard literally with his bare hands.

Perhaps it was because his feeling was strong towards her all time and he had not realized it until what had happened to her tonight.

Despite what she had become and the reason why she had told him that they could not have been together. Although she had admitted she had still loved him, yet there was a sheer of doubt in her eyes.

Why? Didn’t she believe him?

The cynical answer was that no woman in the right mind would just accept the truth a man who had hurt her then suddenly declared that he had loved her.

What do you expect, Tristan? Do you expect that she would have fled into your arms? Forgive and forget whatever the pain you have caused her?

With a tight, heavy emotion Tristan raised from the bed. He glanced around, locating his phone where it lay on the bedside table. He checked to see the display screen and saw that it was about five in the morning.

And then he heard something.

What’s that? He immersed.

He grabbed the robe to cover his body and flicked on the night table light before he rose up.

Emerging from the bedroom, his eyes moved around the living room and saw Lara outside, on the balcony, a supersize robe wrapped her petite body, the sliding door imperfectly closed. Pale, soft moonlight shone the side of her face. Her long hair fanned loosened just above her waist like a chestnut halo. Her back profile partially was to him as she was looking upward the night sky.

And her expression…

Shuttered, tight as if she was holding something so heavy in her heart.

Tristan caught his breath. He sensed desolation from the way she leaned to the railing and her shoulders slumped in dejection. Without waiting another second, he approached her.

“What are you doing here, Lara?” He asked, opening the sliding door.

The instant Lara heard Tristan’s voice, she froze. She whirled around and found Tristan standing behind her. The white robe covered almost his body but it had left a glimpsing view of his broad chest. “Tristan…” His name slipped from her lips unsteadily anguished.

His voice strangled as he asked. “What are you doing outside? It’s freezing.” He stared at her, his eyes narrowing.

“I can’t sleep.” She said in a small voice, barely audible. Her eyes did not meet his as she hung her head down.

“Lara, you should get some rest.” Tristan closed the gap between them. “I thought the medicine could sedate you so you can sleep.”

“I know, but I just can’t close my eyes.” Lara told him. She tightened her hold on the railing of the balcony since his nearness almost stopped the breath in her lung.

“What’s wrong?” He asked, one of his hands naturally on the slender of her shoulder that made her to turn her around. His gaze traveled before strayed to her left cheek, where an ugly bluish bruise had formed from the slap she had received from that man then to the swollen mark at the corner of her lips. “Are you thinking what’s happened? I can arrange that fucking bastard won’t live another day.”

“No…” She fervently shook her head. “I’m not that worthy to make you lose a person’s life, Tristan. I won’t ask you to do that for me.”

Now his other hand found its way to the back of her neck before he whispered gently. “For me, you are worth more, than another millions lives, Lara.”

“No, I’m not.” She said, her voice trembled with his touch. “I’m just a nobody who’s trying to make a living as a prostitute.”

“Don’t say that!” The angry words exploded into the night. He took a deep raged breath as he gently spread his long fingers across her taut cheekbones. “It’s all in the past, Lara.” He said with his dark flashing eyes scanned her face.

Numbly her eyes flew to him and saw that the moonlight cast a romantic veil over the balcony, washing Tristan with soft highlight, almost like he, too were part of the scenery that hung on the wall. “But it is still the reality even though it’s the past.” She finally said with trembling voice.

His hand closed more firmly around her neck, bringing her against the solid shield wall of his chest. “I don’t care about it. You’re with me now and you’re safe. I won’t let anyone hurt you, Lara. No one.” His voice was incredibly gentle caressing her upturned face.

The irony in his words was bringing the agony inside her, since she knew was at the least safe place, particularly her heart. “Tristan, please…”

“Sh…” His mouth moved against her hair in a rough action. The heat of his body burned through the material of her robe. He heartbeat hammered erratically against her palm. “Don’t say word, Lara.” He told her. “ Just feel. Just feel me.”

“Tristan, don’t please.” She pleaded, trying to wrench herself away from him. “I can’t do this. I just can’t…”

“You can’t run away from me, Lara.” He managed to prevent her to move as he tightened his embrace. “You always run away from me. I know most part is my fault. But fuck!” He cursed in the exasperation and fury. “I’ll regret it let you slip away this time!”

Tristan lowered his face to hers. Though for a moment she was able to elude his searching kiss, however when his lips met hers, all the protest she wanted to say, died. His kiss was slow and sensual yet too painful at the same time for her to handle this new him.

Nevertheless, she gave in...

She wound her arms around his neck and clung to him like a lifeline as she felt boneless. She gave herself completely to his probing, deepening kiss.

Ttistan then raised his mouth from hers a little while later, but never pulled himself away from her.. “Please get some rest now, we’ll discuss everything tomorrow.” He whispered against her name. “As much as I want to hold you like this but the weather doesn’t allow us. I’m taking you to the room now.”

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