Half Hope, Half Love

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2| Where There Is Hope

"Don't trust just anyone blindly, Heath. You know not everyone wants your best.." I sighed in pleasure as his lips peppered kisses on my exposed throat, but remembering that he had a date with my sister tonight, almost immediately I pushed him aside roughly, his balance swaying for a minute before he hovered once again at me, this time keeping his right hand firmly on my chin, tilting my head to my side.

Once again, his lips found my neck, this time pressing wet kisses across my throbbing pulse. I gripped the bedsheets tightly with my hands, my fingernails pushing against each other, my eyes closing almost involuntarily at his ministrations.

His fingers stroked my cheek, rubbing his thumb pad lazily over my skin, light friction causing me to whimper in response. "If you think doing this will get you Kiara, then you're wrong, Heath. She'll hate it the moment you become dominating with her."

My words must've knocked his bolts out 'cause he stopped in his actions, peeking from my throat to look at me.

When he saw the expression on my face, he realized what he did, and almost instantly, his face was filled with guilt and remorse.

He backed out from me hurriedly, sitting on the other side of bed, raking his fingers across his slighly disheveld hairs.

Blinking several times to sort out his confusion of what had actually come over him to make him do something like that, he looked hesitantly at me to see if he did any harm to me, and when he did look at me, I smiled a bit to ease his discomfort.

Inside, I was burning with desire sadness and agony.

It happens sometimes, I supposed, due to nervousness and pressure of doing something for the first time. It wasn't like he went on dates every other day, with every other women of his choice.

So it was only natural if he hyperventilated a little. We all do, sometimes.

Or atleast, that's what I tried to think to convince my stubborn self who was selfishly weaving some impossible reasons for his unjustifiable actions just minutes ago.

That he wasn't as thrilled and excited to go on a date with Kiara as much as I thought he was.

Or that he might possibly didn't like Kiara that much after all.

Or he might actually return my..

"I didn't mean to throw myself at you, Scarlett. I suppose I'm just desperate, that's all."

Or he might actually not. Never.

When I didn't reply to his statement, which I wasn't supposed to, he turned around fully to look at me and I slowly made my way back to reality, where wanting things was too much of a burden and ignoring them was an equally advisable solution to all the troubles.

Slowly I sat on the other side of the bed, my head hung low in realisation.

"I'm sorry, Scarlett-"

"I know. It's just the alcohol speaking." I smiled at him. "And doing." I reasoned for him, knowing if he did it himself, he won't be able to reason for both of us.

And as if on a cue, the doorbell to his apartment rang and I silently made my way to the hall to answer it.

"Kiara."

"Hey Hazel!"

Kiara hugged me tightly, crushing few of my ribs in the process, and I stepped to the side to let her inside.

She made her way to his apartment, her eyes glistening with mischief as she stood on the carpet floor and after making futile attempts to find, I presume Heath, she pouted adorably and turned towards me. "Where's he? I had been waiting for an hour, hoping he'd come on time to pick me up from home."

I rolled my eyes at her lie. It wasn't even eight yet. She'd been too excited to meet with her date, as always was the case with her, with her other dates.

She gets carried away easily. I crossed my arms in front of my chest, half glaring at her in amusement when she raised her hands in defense."Okay, I lied. No surprise there. I just couldn't wait to be with Heath tonight."

Putting aside the usual waves of sadness, that passed through my chest

after hearing her bold words, I again half-glared at her, knowing she had more to the truth, than what she'd been feeding me.

'Cause Kiara didn't do date in her casual clothes. She was too modest for that.

"Okay, actually Father wanted to see you so I searched your apartment, probably ended up eating half of your bite-sized sandwich, and yes, those almonds have to be imported stuff I'm telling ya with all those crunchiness and I liked the new shoes you'd been hiding inside your bed. That's it."

Oh, so that's how she ended up searching the whole apartment for me, 'cause she actually thought I had the peanut sized brain cells to actually hide inside my bed, beside my newly

bought shoes, as a decoration.

"Tell him I'm not coming home anytime soon."

"Okay, but be prepared with some better excuse next time. This time I'm letting you borrow mine." She said, nonchalantly.

"What's your excuse?"

"That you aren't coming home?"

"Where's the excuse in there?"

"I'm sure Father will conjure up some satisfactory excuses to convince himself of his defeat in your words, since he knows you won't admit defeat anytime soon?"

I grinned at her. "You have grown to be a very smart lady, Kiara."

"That's why I tell you to follow me on Instagram. But honestly, where's he? I don't see him in the kitchen? Are you sure he isn't rotting in some stray corner of his own house, being eaten by rodents-"

"Enough of your bullshits, Kiara. Get out now-"

"Okay! Okay! I'm going! You're no fun, sis. But in an hour we're meeting so you can't actually-"

"Do you want be slapped by a turnip?"

"I'd rather have bundles of spinach. I'm not-" I pushed her outside the door, closed it with a loud shut on her face but not before shouting "Kiss some random guy on the street and I swear I'll take you to the salon to have all your hairs tailored out of your skull." with her loud response of "I dare you won't."

Rubbing my temples in sheer stress, I made my way to Heath's room only to find him leaning against the door of his room, his left leg against the wooden frame.

"Some innocent younger sister you're supposed to be."

I didn't reply to his almost annoying statement.

Yes, Kiara was a year older than me. Or perhaps two, I didn't quite remember the year name of her birth, when my mother married her father. After all, the marriage didn't occur with my approval.

I was straightway against it. So against the ceremonial bond I was that I didn't go to my new home for a month to show my hostility towards my mother.

I was so sure of supporting me and my mother that I didn't spare a glance at her new husband, and much to his annoyance, landed myself a job at one of the most renowned companies of New York.

But Heath was also year or two older than me, so that chalks up his age almost similar to that of Kiara's.

They even had matching birthyears, never mind the birthdays.

Perfect couple, they would make, I enchanted in my brain.

"Let's get you ready." I told him and walked to his room, busying myself with readying his attire.

After minutes of efforts, he emerged out as fresh as ever, white shirt constricting against his hard features, pitch black necktie hanging loose around his open collar, which he took the liberty to tie deftly with his smooth calloused long fingers.

Straightening out his dark blue tux, I slung it close to his broad shoulders, which he slid easily up his arms.

"Do you think this looks okay?" He asked, having suddenly decided to value my opinion about his appearance, and I narrowed my eyes seeing him actually wear black-tie with blue tux.

Sighing, I moved forward, untied his tie, pulled it from around his collar, and after rummaging his closet for good four minutes, handed him the decent looking matching necktie.

"This one looks much better. Tie it around-"

"But the black one I was wearing earlier actually came with the tux." He protested and I took it in myself to do the task for him.

Nodding, I raised my arms and wrapped my hands around his collar, adjusting the tie and tried to tie it strangely with struggle.

My eyes narrowed when the ends of the tie got entangled with my fingers and I cursed softly under my breath hearing Heath chuckle at my predicament.

His chest rumbled with his laugh, and I gulped looking at his half exposed chest in front of my eyes.

Untying it as respectably as possible, I tried to tie it again, but failed nevertheless.

I remembered doing it with much ease with my father's tie, when he prepared to go to his office.

But considering it's been almost twenty-one years since that event, I decided it was only plausible that I didn't verse in this talent anymore.

"Here." Heath put his hand over mine, clutching my fingers with his thumb and forefinger and directed me to his collar again, reopening the dislodged knot. "Do it like this." Fully grabbing my fingers now, he moved them over his, knotting the tie in perfectness but in the midst of the ordeal, I found myself staring at his handsome features instead.

"And when you fold and slide this last piece over this hanging one." He looked at me to see if I was looking and coughed a little to show his presence.

I flushed in embarassment for slacking off in middle of such an important tutorial. He gripped my forefinger with his thumb, slid the last piece of cloth over the other hanging one and left my hand to let me do the rest.

Nodding to myself, I pressed my lips in thin line and pulled the cloth down, earning myself the perfect knot ever and immediately, tiny smile made its way to my sombre face. "It's perfect." I said, dusting the imaginary dust on his collar and licked my lips in nervousness to look up at him.

"Yeah. I never knew Kiara's favorite color was blue. Thanks for filling it in time for me."

"Her favourite color are many, to be honest. Red, black, orange, yellow, white, purple, pink, sunny yellow, lemony yellow, sunflowery yellow, cauliflowery-yellow, candy-yellow-"

"Where the blue fits in there then?" He asked, with the hint of annoyance and worry, in his deep voice.

I pretended to think like some good old scholar but ended up looking like some jarred granny instead.

"She always has some shades of blue in her usual clothes, that's where I decided from that she must've this indescribably unknowingly obsession with the blue color and honestly, if you ask me, it's actually very sexy, in my opinion." I chirped at him when he stopped doing his hair and looked at me incredulously.

"Seriously, Scarlett? That's your reason for making me wear blue on my first date-"

"I told you it's looking good. Sexy as hell! Kiara will never dream of another man again-"

"And you don't think it's your favorite color?"

I pretended to fake gasp, but seeing his serious expression, I sighed in defeat and crossed my arms across my breasts.

"You worry too much, Heath. My sister is a fickle creature. And strangely gullible as well." I adjusted his handkerchief in his front pocket and pushed it slightly down before looking at him."Once I told her she was born out of bird shit as spores, she believed it almost readily as I fed her the lie. Sometimes I worry about my sister's sanity."

"She's cute in her own way."

"She takes after me."

"Yeah? Just as you take after your madness?"

"That was a nice attempt at making a complete fool out of yourself."

"Admit your defeat already, Scarlett." He chuckled.

"Hah. You think I'm not like Kiara?"

He scoffed at my words. "You two are polar opposites, I'm telling you. You're the Mercury and she's the Neptune of the solar system. You two are light years apart."

"Hey! You don't think I'm cute then?" I asked him, pushing my cheeks up with both of my hands, tilting my head to the side and pouting at him.

"Stop it. I'm getting nausea here."

Regaining my usual self, I rolled my eyes. "Of course, you're getting nauseous. Some galleons of beer you swallowed is gonna come out sooner or later. It'll only be a miracle if you don't end up spraying that half-digested coal of beer over your napkin."

"I already threw up twice when you were kicking your sister out of my apartment."

"That's for better. Now what else is left for you to be ready to depart, I wonder?" I put my forefinger on my lips, my eyes narrowing and searching for any thing I must have managed to miss.

"Yes! Your cologne-"

"Check."

"Your wallet?"

"In my car. Check."

"Your other wallet?"

"Inside my back pocket. Check."

"Do you happen to have a third one for emergencies?"

"I'm not eloping with my lover, Scarlett."

"Yeah! Your wristwatch?"

He showed me his hand, and I nodded. "Check."

Looking at the clock, my eyes widened in alarm.

Only half an hour left till his reserved date at some fancy restaurant I didn't have the brains to remember name of.

"I think you're ready to go now. Hurry! It'll take you more than fifteen minutes to reach my home and pick Kiara. I wish she'd be ready by now, I swear sometimes she behaves like such a woman, in readying herself up for these dates."

Gently wrapping my arms around his own, I took him with me to the outside door where he once again checked at his reflection in the nearby kitchen rack mirror, in nervousness.

"You look fine, Heath." I encouraged him.

Nevertheless, he adjusted his tie again and I smiled at his immaturity. "Here." I shoved a bouquet of freshly plucked red roses on his hands, wrapped beautifuly in a thin cellophane, with its end tied neatly in another red ribbon knot.

"Scarlett-" He looked at me, touched with my efforts.

"Yeah, roses are Scarlett but these I didn't buy for myself." I raised his arms to his pectoral level, making him take the bouquet like a gentleman and dusted the stray imaginary leaves away from the roses.

"Keep your chin high." I put my fingers under his jawline and raised his head a little to face forward.

"Imagine you're in your conference room, meeting your new dealers and employees and all you have to do is smile and wave it all off. Okay?"

I gauged his reaction and he seemed to be following what I was trying to say.

"Smile and wave it all off." I repeated.

"Smile and wave it all off." He repeated with me and tried to smile his best way.

Unfortunately, it didn't come as satisfactorily as it did when he was doing it naturally. "You've to smile, Heath. Not frown. It's looking as if someone stole your panties on your first day to school-"

"I don't wear panties-"

"Either way, you're doing it all wrong. Smile." I looked at him with determination and perseverance."Again."

And he did. But failed yet again.

"Honestly, Heath. You really need to sweat it all out-"

"You know I've never been to a date before, Scarlett."

"_"

"I thought I should remind you this is my first time..." He trailed off, seeing the blank reaction on my face.

"_"

"Okay, okay I'm smiling goddammit! See? I am smiling. Happy?"

"You're looking as if you just ate the lizard's fat ass in your dinner." I glanced at his too-much-of-haunting-pressure-in-my-panties smiling face again. "And her eggs too, maybe, perhaps."

He sighed in defeat. "I think it's gonna end in disaster-"

"Heath! My sister is just an ordinary girl. She might have been born out of bird 's shit but she's far from being some angel, you know. She's as normal as a day and a night and you can just talk to her, casually, rudely, ok now maybe rudely, but nicely, cooly. Like a person. A male." I quirked my head to make my point clear.

"I will try to make the best out of it."

"You've to. If you didn't, forget about ever having a better girl in future, as your wife, or as your life partner. She's the best you can have, think of it like this okay? All you have to do is sit comfortably by her side and be the partner of her chirpy talks, maybe participate in one or two, if you feel comfortable with her, that is."

"Feel comfortable? But she's not you, Scarlett. How can I-"

I tried to ignore the sudden delicious skip of my heart at his words. "Would you rather have me as your date and dare I say, as your wife, then, Mr Evercrest?"

Immediately, I wanted to cover my mouth with my hands and take those words back in my mouth, but it was too late, I realised.

Heath looked at me in daze, something suddenly twinkling in his eye, and I found I didn't want to know what it was.

"I have this wonderful idea, Scarlett. Why don't you join me in my date? It'd be comfortable to have you around my side and you can direct me from there..." And he babbled the rest like a parrot while I mentally face-palmed myself thinking this guy was the same male who howls like a wolf in his company, ordering his employees like some Greek God, walking with such authority on the floor that it starts burning behind his next steps.

There he would never speak a useless word unless someone died in front of him, or was on the verge of dying and here, he had fully transformed into a huge evolution of parrot desecedents.

"I think you should go for now, Heath. Unless you want to end up picking up your first date late, that is."

Surprisingly, he stopped babbling and looked at me. He scrutinized my body posture for some time and I fidgeted under his gaze, uncomfortably, swallowing the bile in my throat.

"You don't look much happy with my date, I see."

I mocked laugh at him. "I have perfectly fine relations with my sister, Heath. She can be salty as times but she is my sister-"

"I didn't mean with your sister, Scarlett." He took long strides and suddenly, he was standing in front of me. "I meant, with me going on a date."

I froze in my place. "Who says-"

"Hazel."

I looked at anywhere but him. "Are you not happy with me going on a date with your sister?"

"Who cares if I am happy or not?" As long as you are happy, I am happy, I thought to myself.

"I do." He cupped my chin with his both hands. "If you're worried I'm not good enough for your sister, then you can always view your thoughts out aloud, Scarlett. I won't mind."

When I didn't say anything and looked down, he smiled and ruffled my hairs. "Before being my employee, you're a sister to someone. Just as before being your trusted employer, I'm the stranger going on a date with your sister."

"You're not a stranger." I mumbled under my breath.

"Just as you're not just any employee."

I heard him whisper before he left my side and before I could properly have a last look at him, he was gone from my view, the faint sound of door clicking shut as the sound of his departure.

I rushed to the windows, fumbling with the shutter to open them hurriedly and peeked my head outside to see him starting the car and driving in between the streets. I stood beside the window, looking at him, tears pooling at the corner of my eyes.

Unconsciously, my fingers brushed against the spot on my neck, where he had kissed earlier, feeling the wetness of his lips still on my skin and I closed my eyes in overwhelming emotions.

Turning my gaze back on the road, I sighed loudly, seeing the faint blur of his car visible from the crowd, eventually disappearing later on among them.




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