Half Hope, Half Love

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3| Where Love And Desire Meet

The deep pitter-patter of the heavy rain reverberated through the window shutter of my apartment as I adjusted in my sleep, pulling the blanket tightly around my curled body.

The need to make the necessary call to check on his well-being was increasing through each passing minute.

I glanced at my silent phone, time being past midnight and seeing that there were no missed calls from him, eventually I settled on going back to sleep.

Which proved to be a tougher task 'cause half of my stupid self was wondering if he got home safely while other half threw cactus at the first half for making such speculations of him reaching home at his first date, stubbornly making me imagine various interesting and steamy ways he might be enjoying his date with Kiara.

Hell, no! Heath wasn't like that. As far as I knew, I was fairly informed of all his barely touched relationships with women and none of them involved his own will but was rather, forced upon him by his very own father, who, if he ever got the chance to confront bravely, was going to get the piece of his mind someday.

But that was out of question, since Heath barely visited his home, let alone having good relations with his father.

As for his mother, he never mentioned anything about her, except for the day she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and I still remember the day he asked me to leave him alone, after hearing of his mother's sickness, which I clearly protested against and he gave me his one reserved look of You-better-back-out-before-I-turn-into-a-wolf which did pretty much of a harm to my already bruised dignity.

I clutched the blanket around my fingers, wetting my lips in deep thought but after a minute of being held prison by my own evilness, I kicked the pillow in frustration and decided to give in to my conscience for once.

When he didn't respond after my second call, I knew he wasn't home, or he was already asleep after his strenuous date.

Or maybe he loved every inch of it.

Deciding it better to visit him in person, hurriedly I put on my jacket and shoes and marched to his apartment, after hauling taxi from across the rainy street corner.

It was only after I reached his front door, was I able to realize I actually forgot to pick umbrella with me and after typing his house passcode with trembling fingers and shivering spine, I opened the door in slight rush, making the polished wooden door thud against the adjacent wall, leaving slight scratches.

Heath was in the midst of opening his shirt when he looked at me, his fingers loosing movement the minute he laid his eyes on my soaked form.

"Hi." I croaked out, waving hesitantly at him.

He raised his one eyebrow to examine my face before he let his eyes trail downward, and almost instantly, as if afraid of looking down, he plasterd his gaze again on my face, with a blank face. "What happened?" He asked.

"I..I..." I opened my mouth to answer him, but found it difficult to continue further.

He stopped unbuttoning his shirt, and went to his room, quietly, and emerged with a fresh towel.

"Here."I felt soft material land on my wet forehead, my temple itching with the prolonged rainwater sticking to my face.

Tentatively, I grabbed the towel, and rubbed it against my soaked face and over the wet clothes clinging to my body as a second skin.

With the corner of his eyes, he glanced to make sure I was drying myself before moving aside the unnecessary things from his dining table aside and picked two clean coffee mugs from the kitchen cupboard.

"Why're you still standing there?" He asked me when I made no move to close the door and enter inside his apartment. "I thought you came to check on me." He said, with a hint of smile on his voice.

My eyes widened at his words and quickly I fumbled with my shoes and walked to his apartment, seating myself comfortably on his couch.

"Who said I came to check on you?" I muttered, grabbing blindly any book from his study table and clutched it in my fingers, proudly, ready to show him the proof of my claim.

When he turned around, carrying two coffee mugs in his hand, I pretended to read something from the book in my hands, my mind totally fixed on making back up excuses if the one in my hand didn't work.

"Why're you here then? Your dishevelled state of-"

"I forgot a very important book while leaving your apartment." He looked at me with a questioning gaze and I practically shoved the book on his face, too eager to prove him wrong.

He stared at the book, then at me and then again at the book, and slowly, a faint teasing smile spread threatened to spread on his face, before he put the coffee mugs on the table and crossed his hands across his chest, his muscles flexing against his tight shirt.

"What?" I started, irritated by his response.

"Are you sure it's the one you've been looking for.." His right lip curled upwards. "in the middle of the night" He regarded me with mild amusement, before looking outside his windows. "in this rainy storm." He traced the corner of my jawline with his scrutinizing eyes, finally trailing his gaze down my wet slightly heaving breasts and legs. "half-naked."

I blushed at his boldness. "Yes! It's the one-" Quickly, I turned the book around to read it's title so that I could clearly show him I was really looking for my book and almost immediately, I threw the book on farthest corner of the room, wiping my hands frantically on my wet top, as if just the title had managed to rob me of all my innocence, and engulfed me in its sultry world.

Seventeen ways to have him inside you.

-By Rixon Gold.

God, I almost vomited the heart out of my mouth reading that title.

Who even cares how many ways he is inside you as long as you have him love you daily?

I mean I wouldn't care if we made love daily, with the same angle everyday, I would just be content with him ins-

I heard him cough beside me and, blushed at my own hidden dirtiness, avoiding his eyes.

"You sure keep some interesting specimens of literature in your study." I accused him, taking the coffee mug and leaning against his dining table.

I glanced at him when he didn't reply. "I suppose I should give the credit to Jennifer for gifting you such beautiful analogies of human reproduction."

It was plausible enough that his sister, who had a face of an angel but soul of a devil, could commit such heinous act of spoiling her own younger brother.

He shrugged, eyeing the book on the floor dangerously. "Not entirely. My mother owns more than half of it."

Like daughter. Like mother.

But I liked Mrs Evercrest. She's most beautiful and graceful lady I ever had the honors to cross paths with.

Though she was mostly busy with serving her family with utmost devotion, she would drop by his son's apartment almost at every weekend to fill his needs for nutrition and healthy munches.

Though Heath didn't seem to be grateful of his own mother's unconditional affection for him!

She was the sad mother, undoubtly genuine one, concerned for her son's well-being cause her daughter grew up too wild to her taste, and so, she made sure at almost every family gathering that her son hadn't caught on her daughter's germs by staying in the same room together.

Which was kinda impossible as Heath wasted no time in kicking his sister's ass whenver she'd get too wild, bossy or sassy with him, though it earned him almost equal intensity of retaliation, four out of every five times, considering Miss Jennifer didn't take shit even from her own brother.

But keeping the usual animosity between siblings aside, Heath and Miss Jennifer were goals.

Too bad my mother didn't marry the man with a son. I'd have loved to play brother-sister with him.

Taking one sip from my mug, I looked at Heath to see him in deep thought. "How did the date go?"

As if broken out of his reverie, he blinked at me before answering. "Ah. Date." He paused, thinking something, as if remembering the night's events, before looking at me. "Yeah. It was good."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "Good? Just good? What'd you do, Heath?"

He shrugged. "I just followed your instructions." He glanced brifely at me, before continuing. "You told me to smile and wave it off. I just did that."

"So...What'd you two do then?"

"We talked, ate, and enjoyed." He looked apologetic. "In silence." He completed, obviously feeling dejected and disappointed.

I frowned. "Silence? You two ate in silence? How is this even possible? I mean I know you aren't very talkitive, hell sometimes, even I had to butt-heads with you to put words in your mouth!" He glared at me but I was already immune to all his scaring tactics. "I thought your taciturnity changed after all these years." I completed, feeling remorse for him.

He shook his head. "It wasn't entirely silent. I love silence but that one was a bit unnerving. Only Kiara talked, she asked me a lot of things and I think I had replied to all her doubts properly-"

"Doubts?"

"Yeah. She asked me if my favourite singer was Eminem. She just assumed it was him without even taking my choice in consideration-"

"You went on a date, Heath. Not on a courtroom to defend some raped victim." I put my empty cup down the sink and turned on the tap to wash it.

"It was Kiara's ways of asking your interests, likes and dislikes, hobbies, wants and whether you'd still like to go on a next date with her."

Health frowned deeply at my revealation. I understood his inexperience and undeftness in such subjects but still, he was a man so I thought he wouldn't need suggestions in those areas of love life.

"Yes. I'd love to go on another date with her. She's pretty, cute and tolerable. I think she's the one, Scarlett." I paused hearing his words, my heart twisting painfully in my chest, throbbing harder but kept my lips pressed in a thin line.

After a pause, Heath continued. "It'd have been better if I had been courageous enough to tell her that. It's frustrating how I messed it all up, Scarlett! I had been so close to wooing her tonight. She was right in front of me, smiling, talking, stealing glances. But I let my nervousness and inexperience take over me. I'm such a fool Scarlett. I'm such a-" He took one glance at me, then at himself, then at me again before he took one sip of his coffee and spoke "Never mind."

I didn't respond. I thought it was better this way, if I would just ignore some things, some pretty unbearable confessions, some loud thudding of my heart, some raw desire of my body, some hard feelings of lo-

I coughed, -we'd both be happy in our own spheres, I completed hurriedly in my mind.

Placing the cleaned cup inside the cupboard, I took his own empty cup from his hands and washed it down the running water. "Leave them on the sink. Maid will take care of it." He said.

"I'm already done with it." Wiping my wet hands in the kitchen towel, I took my place, leaning on the dining table beside him.

Soft blow of semi-wet breeze from the corner of the slightly open window reminded me I was still in my wet clothes and I shivered in cold, wrapping my hands around my shoulders to keep me warm.

I heard Heath shuffle beside me before he placed soft dry towel on my still wet hair, applied pressure over the cloth and started to dry my hair.

"I can do it mys-" I tried to take the towel from his hands but he used his height to his advantage.

"Keep still." He said, his voice hinting authority and I pressed my lips in thin line, nodding meekly.

His hand gripped the back of my neck, keeping me in place while his fingers took their liberty in wiping the moisture off my face, gliding deliciously down my throat, settling over the throbbing pulse.

Blood rushed to my face as he fingered the strap of my top, while still drying the last of the moisture from my brown curls before he slid the elastic strap down a little, off my shoulder.

Suddenly, I felt exposed, and quickly, I looked down to see my black wet bra clearly visible and tightly sticking to my breasts, shaping them almost evenly, leaving ample amount of cleavage to the view.

I put my hands over his which were still holding the top down and tucked on it, gently, urgently.

"I can do it myself from here." I stated.

As if he didn't hear my words, Heath put the drying towel over my bare shoulders and started to rub gently over the moisture clinging to my skin.

The pads of his thumb and forefinger moved slowly and tortourously over my bare skin, making me bit my lips from making any sound.

My knees felt weak from being under his slow and agonizing touch for long, as he removed the towel from my shoulder but didn't cover my bare skin thereafter.

I could feel his eyes on my exposed shoulder, boring holes at it, and not longafter, I felt his knuckles grazing my chin, tilting it to the side, and exposing my throat.

His right hand caressed my wet hairs, and my eyes drooped low, threatning to shut in the delicious sensation.

Faint sound of cloth hitting the floor registered in the far corners of my mind before his left hand inclined to my face, and he turned it around to trace my cheek with his knuckles, his breathing slowing down, almost strained, as he pressed his hand further onto my skin, his big rough hands cupping my face now.

I leaned unconsciously to his touch, his fingers stroking my cheek, towel long forgotten on the floor while his other hand was still threaded into my hairs, his fingers running between the brown curls, as he traced the length of my hair, down my back and reaching the end of it, he left my hair hanging in length as he slowly, hesitantly, traced my back, making delicious pleasure ran down my spine and after minutes of slow torture, finally settled his hands around my waist, but still maintaining the respectable distance between us.

An unidentified noise escaped my lips as I felt his breath near my soaked chest, hot breath making me shiver in ironic coldness and I blushed in sheer embarrassment to see he was probably looking at my topless chest now.

Suddenly feeling modest, I jerked my knees down to his position and tried to grab the towel from his hands, making his hot open lips brush accidently against my cleavage.

Immediately closing my eyes in pleasure and embarrassment, as the wetness of his hot lips registered on my bare skin, I put my trembling fingers on his arms and clutched his sleeves, tightly, desperatly, roughly, feeling the buttons on his sleeves press bluntly against my palm. My knees felt jelly under my legs and I didn't know for how long I was going to be able to stand upright in his arms.

Both of us froze at the unexpected contact, as he stilled in his place, in his motions, in his ministrations, his lips hovering above my heavily heaving chest, my heartbeat quickening wildly with each passing minute.

With some difficulty, I managed to pull myself up to save myself some embarassment and left his sleeves almost immediately, turning away from him, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear in nervousness.

I heard him stood up from his position, standing there for minutes, before he walked towards me and I felt my heart going insane from anticipation.

What would he say?

That I pushed myself at him deliberately!?

No, I didn't. It was just some bloody women reflex I had intentionally been born with!

Would he understand?

I would surely die of shame if he didn't, oh god.

Dear all gods and their goddess in heaven, let me have safe heroic exit from this earth. I don't want to die such pathe-

"Scarlett."

I didn't turn around. Didn't have the courage to. Not after he nearly ki-

"I'm sorry. I got distracted." He said, humbly, gently, his voice laced with hint of plead.

"It's...It's okay. We bo..both.. got di..distracted. I am sure you're ti..tired after your long day and I sho..shouldn't have come running here for something trivial as da...dates, you know. You're big enough to handle yourself, hell you even handle much bigger things than these menial girls, dates, women, then I wonder why I bothered to run here for nothing-" I bit my lips hard, after realising I exposed myself.

I. Exposed. Myself.

I'm my biggest traitor. Liar. Cheater. Bitch. Slug. Frog. Python. Donke-

"But I should've been more careful. I just had a date with your sister and I'm here, doing tha.." He stopped, muttering something incoherent in his breath before I felt him slide towel down my shoulders.

Keeping my voice intact, I stared at the wall in front of me, so interestingly, so deeply, as if suddenly it had become the most interesting thing in the world.

Swallowing the lump in my throat, I curled my fingers in fists as I turned around to face him , keeping my expression as nonchalant as possible.

But I knew I couldn't do anything for the dark blush adorning my face and neck and I swear I saw the faint tiny of pink on his own cheeks, as he scratched his neck, avoiding my eyes.

"Oh! It's okay, Heath! What do you take me for!? A shy, embarrassing woman? Not habitual of men's touch? I'm twenty-six for my sake!" I raised my voice to any extra inch, straining my larynx. "I'm fine! We're fine. Really! You're a man and I'm a woman, Heath. Things like this can happen between us! It's no surprise! Don't fret over the spread milk-" I stopped speaking as soon as he looked at me in shock.

How could I speak of fucking milk after what just happened!?

How could I!?

Yeah, I remember now. I'm retarded. From top of my brain to the bottom of my ass!

I'm a creeping retard. Raging retard. Lowly retard. I'd rather just be a reptile!

Coughing loudly in discomfort, Heath busied himself in finding something on the study table, still in his formal clothes, his shirt half-undone, his sleeves rolled upwards.

His collar was halfway open wide, his chiseled chest peeking from beneath his white shirt and I wondered why he chose to wear blue, even when he knew, from my very own reliable imported highly-advanced mouth, that blue wasn't even among Kiara's favourite colors.

Maybe because he didn't have time to change into anything comfortable and interesting for his date.

I saw his muscles getting strained and flexed against the white fabric, veins on his throat constricting in line as if he'd been holding something this whole time and I realised he might really be tired after everything he endured in just a single day.

"You should dry-"

"I think I should go-" We both started at the the same time, only to stop in mid to let the other continue their words.

I blinked at him to continue his statement.

He blinked in return, for me to do the same.

After I made no attempt in contiuing my statement, he deemed it necessary to speak first.

"You should dry yourself up properly, Scarlett. You might catch cold if you stay long this way. Besides, I've an important client meeting tomorrow afternoon and you'd also be busy managing guests there..." He trailed off, hoping I'd understand his intentions, without misunderstanding.

I nodded silently. "Okay. I understand. Good night then, I'll be going now!" I waved at him, approaching the door. I pulled out my wet shoes and pushed my feet into them, keeping a hand on the wall to keep my balance.

"Where're you going?"

"Home." I replied, not looking at him. "God, these shoes won't fit! Its-"

"Stay."

Not paying much attention to his words, I looked up from my shoes to him, narrowing my eyes in confusion."Huh? What di-"

"Stay the night, Hazel. It's late."

I glanced at my watch. Too late actually.

It was past three AM but I didn't mind going to my apartment this late. I was habitual of sleeping late anyway, all credits to his unusual working habits and my duty to stick to his side, as his assistant.

But never a single day did he actually ask me to stay the night.

Though he'd be kind enough to text me to enquire about my safety.

And remembering that aspect of his personality, I was getting too nervous to actually stay the night.

With him. On his apartment.

"But how can-"

"Unless you want me to drop you to your apartment this late at night, then do what I'm saying."

He would drop me to my apartment? Woah! I looked at him in utter astonishment.

Did he eat the elephant in his dinner?

Or the lowly-criticized black-moustached bald Victorian Romeo?

"It'd hardly take one minute to call a cab, Heath! Their services are getting really good and they take take the passengers with carefully devised navigation without traffics amd minor obstructions!"

And to prove my point, I booked a cab from a mobile phone and put the screen in front of his annoyed face. "See, it says here, after 3 minutes, a green cab's gonna be waiting for me and..." After some careful swiping and scrolling of the screen, ignoring his usual mutter of "women-and-their big-stubborn-mouths", I managed to find myself a solution. "See. Here it shows, with the cab, I'm gonna be home in 45 minutes. Just 45 minutes."

I looked from phonescreen to see him radiating a dark aura before I went back to opening my gallery and pretending to do something in it.

I really didn't want to spend the night with him. It was awkward, frustrating, annoying, lonely, exciting, thrilling, sad, lovely, satisfying and agonizingly delicious to stay with him for more than ten hours straight in a single day, as it is.

I didn't want to strain my heart out further. It was already wounded, bruised and depressed from his-

"Hey! That's my phone!" Heath grabbed the phone from me and threw it unceremeniously on his couch.

"You're staying the night, that's it. No arguments."

"But my cab's-"

"Cancel it before it starts barking in front of my apartment."

"But-"

"Don't make me repeat myself, Scarlett."

I pouted in disappointment. "But you already repeated yourself earlier..." I trailed off, seeing him giving me off his infamous glare for daring to offend his authority and so I dropped my protests and prepared to drop on his couch, like a farted mammal.

"You're an unidentified moth flying above a rotten body..." I muttered under my breath, turning on my back and lying flat on my stoamach.

"Same to you." I heard him say before he stopped on his way to go to his room and stared at me, his expression turning deep as something dark swiveled as a storm in his green orbs.

"What?" I asked him, feeling too tired to argue.

"Nothing." He said and again made his way to his room, but before he was even halfway to his destination, he turned back on his heels to stand before me, an unreadable expression haunting his face.

"Please get your robe, Hazel." I looked at him in confusion, seeing him starting to unbutton his shirt, one by one. "I'm not a saint."



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