“Can we please talk?” I asked – or rather begged Chase. It was afternoon, and the football team’s training had just ended. I was waiting in the exit, and Chase now appeared, alone, smelling clean and showered and dressed in his designer clothes. When he saw and hear me, he stopped in his track, deep blue eyes turning cold, face blank and posture stiff.
I hugged myself and forced the words out. “I know you’re angry with me, probably hate me, but I’m asking you to let me explain... Everything. And apologize.”
He now crossed his arm, which was an improvement, since the last few days after my running away whenever he saw me he avoided me at all costs. Now... Now I knew it was time for him to listen.
But first, I needed to make sure he would listen. “Are you going to stay here? To let me explain?” I asked.
Chase looked coolly at me. “I’m here, right?” He said in a harsh voice. “Just go along with your plan or whatever.”
I mentally sighed. “Can we go outside to the quad or something?”
He stared levelly, coldly at me. “No.”
Now I sighed outwardly. “Fine.” I took a deep breath and looked at him. “Before... Before we even became friends, I... met someone.”
He said nothing, just leaned on the wall in front of me with his back, his arms still crossed, his stare still cold and distant. Another deep breath, and I was good to go. “We had... I had... fallen for him. I didn’t intend for it to happen but I just did. He made it clear time after time that he wanted nothing to do with me, that he didn’t feel the same, and I finally gave up and wanted to find someone else. That’s when you entered the picture.”
I saw him going even stiffer, tenser, but I had to tell him the truth. I had to be as honest as I believed myself to be. So I swallowed my fears and pride and just continued talking. “I wanted you to be kinda like my... rebound guy. I flirted with you and actually really liked you, I just wasn’t sure if I liked you in a romantic way. Meanwhile, my real crush was getting closer to me, and than avoiding me again, making me go nuts. I wanted to make myself fall for you as fast as I could, believing that you probably wouldn’t feel the same toward someone as low-classed as me, but apparently... You did.”
I looked away and hugged myself even tighter. “I know it was wrong. I know I shouldn’t have done it that way. But I was lost, and I needed some plan. And to think I made you feel stuff to me... I was so shocked. I mean, I’m just Rae O’Reilly, you know? I’m a nobody.” I chuckled lamely at that. “And when you asked me to the New Year’s party, I thought I had an option to finally move on. But then... then he came and kissed me, apparently wanting to be with me. I was so stunned that the only thing I could think about was that he came for me, that he wanted me, that I had a chance being with him. And in running away from the party with him I hurt you, and I’m so, so sorry I did that.”
For a few moments, an awkward silence fell on us. I dared raising my eyes to him and saw him regarding me with watchful eyes, with weariness, exasperation, and... And longing.
When the silence became tensed, I was sure he wouldn’t say a thing. But I was wrong. He looked at me with an oddness I couldn’t interpret and said, “You know, I actually fell for you because of your honesty and frankness, which is quiet ironic to what you just told me, that you weren’t truthful with me.”
“It’s not true,” I immediately said. “Everything – and I mean it – that I said to you was true. About my feelings, about our having fun together. I was... I was just dishonest about... this.”
“But I thought you were honest,” his voice rose. “I thought that you’re not like all those other bitches. That you actually had some sense of right and wrong. But apparently, I was wrong.”
He turned to go, his all body language telling me to fuck off, but I wasn’t done, and he would listen to me. “Wait!” I called after him but he didn’t say a thing. So I practically ran to him and grabbed his shirt, making him come to a holt. “Please just listen to me.”
“I listened plenty enough already!” He snapped turning to me with true anger. He stepped forward, making me back away until my back touched the wall. “You think that saying you’re sorry is going to make everything better? Do you really believe that, Rae?!”
Tears wetted my eyes. “Chase, please - “
“Stop pleading with me like a desperate woman!” He snarled. “Stop, for one second, trying to be nice! You can’t be always so nice and goody-two-shoes, you know! Don’t try to make yourself perfect because you’re very far from that - “
“I know that, you asshole!” I yelled, my own temper rising, and also... hurting that he actually said those things. That he voiced my thoughts about myself so perfectly. “So will you shut up and let me - “
“No!” He shouted. “I will never forgive you for playing with my feelings that way, you bitch - “
“Chase, let me - “
“I fucking love you, Rae!” He roared, his voice ringing in the whole place. “I fucking fell in love with you, you bitch!”
Those words made me freeze and look at him with shock, horror, astonishment, hesitation... “You what?” I whispered, like I couldn’t believe it. And I really couldn’t.
Chase looked at me, and his face turned suddenly desperate. “I love you.” he said in a low voice that pricked my memory for some reason, breathing hard and suddenly, when I realized he caged me between himself and the wall, his arms on either side of my head, his face inches from mine, every thought I might’ve had disappeared, giving in to uneasiness.
“Chase...” I said, pain filling my chest at the fact that my heart belonged to someone else already.
And then, like he couldn’t control himself anymore, he kissed me.
Stunned, I didn’t react. But then he cupped my face in his hands and pressed his lips harder to mine, making me gasp in utter astonishment he went so far. He then kissed me hungrily, trying to make me kiss him back, but I couldn’t. I just stood there, stunned and confused with tears streaming down my face. My hands were limp at my sides, I was numb, and I wanted him to stop. It felt wrong kissing with someone who was not Gunner.
When he didn’t, I forced myself to act. I put my hands on his shoulders and shoved as hard as I could. Shocked, he’d let me, stepping back and looking at me with pure lust in his eyes. It made me feel angry at him, shameful that I’d let it last so long, and sick to my stomach that I kissed someone whom I didn’t love in any way other than friendly... and even that was in question.
“Don’t,” I warned when he would’ve stepped toward me. “Don’t get any closer, don’t say anything, just... just let’s take a break for a while.” It was so hard no to let my anger control my words, but I knew that being angry right now wouldn’t help. He’d just complicated things more than they already had been, and I needed more complications with letting my anger get the best of me.
“Rae...” he said, almost pleading. “I can’t... I love - “
“I heard you the first and second times, Chase,” I cut him, my voice shaking. “Just... stay away from me. And I’ll do the same. For now, it’s what we need.”
“Rae - “
“I can’t love you back, Chase!” I cried, looking at him, pleading with him to understand. “I don’t love you like that, and I don’t think I ever will. You are a great guy – really, you are – and I’m sure you’ll find someone who’ll adore you back just like you deserve, but I’m not that someone. I’m sorry,” I started backing away from him. “It was a mistake coming here. I’m really, truly sorry for the damage I’ve caused you. But I can’t... I just can’t give you what you need.”
He didn’t say anything else, didn’t try to stop me, when I turned around and walked hurriedly away from him, and I thanked God for that. I didn’t know if I could keep my anger contained anymore.
Gunner was waiting for me at the gate, like the last few days, and his face, for the first time since New Year’s, was kind of frosty and distant. I had a bad feeling about it and as I closed in and he turned tensed, I knew I was right to feel bad about this. The tears were still streaming down my face, and I knew my lips were slightly puffy from when Chase kissed me, and from his look, his sea-green eyes that checked my lips, I knew he knew about what’d just happened.
“Gunner...” I started, wanting to explain to him everything. A lot of explanations I needed to do today.
“Taryn has just been here to tell me something interesting,” he said in a silky, calm, low and deep voice. Which meant he was angry. Oh God, it wasn’t my day.
“Gunner - “ I tried again but he cut me again.
“She saw you and Montgomery kissing, Rae,” he said, crossing his arms much like Chase had done. “What’s the meaning of this?”
I was seriously considering breaking down again, but I shook my head internally. I couldn’t be so weak that whenever my life became overwhelming I ran away. I needed to face those hardships so I could conquer them.
So instead, I turned my anger into fury. How dis Taryn dare to try and ruin my life again? I gritted my teeth. “You just turned pissed off because of something Taryn Torres told you?” I asked him in disbelief. “You didn’t even wait for me to tell you to turn pissed off?”
His stiff posture didn’t change, his eyes awfully cool and nonchalant. “Why did you let him kiss you, Rae?”
I groaned. “I didn’t let him!” I snapped. “We fought when I tried to apologize for using him to get over you before you decided to be with me, and then he told me he loved me and kissed me, Gunner! I then shoved him and told him to stay away from me for a while! He kissed me against my consent, Gunner!”
Suddenly he was right in my face, his body caging my own with the simple fact he was lots of feet taller. He cupped my face in his big and warm hands and penetrated my dark brown eyes with his piercing greenish-blue ones. “Don’t ever let someone who’s not me kiss you again, Rae,” he said in a very low, very rough voice. His eyes narrowed. “I’m not joking about it. Another guy trying to kiss you – I won’t be so relent.”
He thought he was relent now? He seriously had a weird way of showing it. “Gunner, I promise you it was a one-off, “ I told him in a quiet voice. “You have to believe me and in me. Otherwise...” I winced at what I was going to say, “Otherwise... it wouldn’t work, Gunner. You can’t turn all alpha-male on me whenever you think I’m cheating on you, and especially you must listen to what I say first, and not to someone like Taryn Torres who wants to ruin my life, no matter what.”
His expression didn’t soften, didn’t become as relent as he claimed himself to be, and instead he kissed me. Hard. Rough. Wild. The tears had already dried by the time he finished with me, leaning back to look at me, his hands still cupping my face. “You had to know it was coming when you chose me, baby,” he said in a low, growly voice. “I’m older than you, Rae. I’m in an age when I don’t want to have a woman just to get laid or something. I want something serious. I want you and you want me, and you have to bare the consequences. I’m not going to just let you go to another man’s hands without a fight. I’m not going to be easy. I’m going to be stubborn, and you’ll have to learn how to deal with me. I thought you were ready when we started it all, but maybe you aren’t.”
He pulled his hands away and stepped back and I felt a sudden, blazing panic. He couldn’t... he couldn’t just break up with me. He would not break up with me over something like this, over false accusations.
Rage filled me, and before neither he nor I saw it coming – I pushed him with his back to the fence that surrounded the school and planted my lips on his. He was so surprised he let me shove and kiss him without putting on a fight. I just acted by instinct.
I couldn’t let him go. I wouldn’t let him go away and break my heart to pieces. So I did the only thing I could and kissed him with ferociousness he probably didn’t see coming, too. I bit his lower lip, penetrated his mouth with my tongue and made it cling to his. I wrapped my arms tightly around his neck and kissed him with all the fineness of a hormonal, angry, estrogen-led teenage girl.
Apparently he was in the right mood to kiss me back with the same wildness I kissed him, and wrapped his strong arms around my waist, his hands going down to my thighs and in a one, swift move made me wrap my legs around him. In another movement, we were turn so I was pressed with my back to the fence instead of him, and he was now in charge, being the dominant, dominating man he was. I was all but moaning with such a pleasure to be surrounded by him. It was so erotic, so powerful, so lustful.
He thrusted his denim-covered sex to my own covered one in one, powerful movement. We both groaned at the feeling of his hard-on at my own wet sex, although it was with clothes and everything. It made me wonder how it would be with clothes at all.
I grabbed his shoulders, closing my eyes when he thrusted again and again, like we were actually having sex, only we didn’t. His lips kissed and sucked my neck, and even bit it erotically, making me moan once again. He grabbed my thighs so hard and practically fucked me through the clothes, showing how much he wanted me, just like I wanted him.
Then we both realized we were actually outside, in a parking lot, having a dry sex on the fence. We both stopped grinding against each other and looked at each other with new wonderment. Slowly, regretfully, Gunner let me down, making my sexual frustration to reach to a new pick. His face also turned frustrated, like he too felt it.
We were both breathing hard, and I was reminded that I needed to tell him something important. I turned to him, cupped his face in my hands, and stared straight into his eyes. “You are not leaving me,” I ordered in a harsh yet shaky voice. “I am not letting you walk away from us just because of this. Do you understand me? I’m perfectly ready for you and for what you need me to give you, so don’t you dare leave me.”
Instead of getting all angry and stubborn, he smirked and wrapped his arms around my waist... Around my butt. He squeezed my butt, making my arousal even stronger. “I wouldn’t have let you go away too, even if you wanted to,” he said with that sexy smirk of his. “But then you decided to jump on me and who was I to object?”
I slapped his arm hard, but now I was grinning too. But that grin was short-lived because I remembered everything that happened with Chase. “About Chase...” I started but he cut me with putting his forehead on mine.
“Forgiven and forgotten,” he said, looking deeply into my own eyes.
I hesitated a bit, but then nodded, and even smiled a little. He kissed me again, only now it was a slow, passionate kiss instead of wild and fierce. Then we decided to take a detour, not quiet ready to come back home. So he took me to some diner, where we ate greasy hamburger with chips and then went hand in hand, fingers intertwined, along the promenade.
It was so romantic, so perfect, that I didn’t want to return home. But eventually it was nine P.M and we had to go back. So regretfully we did.
And the moment we entered the entrance hall, we both knew something was wrong. The mansion was quiet, too quiet, and eerily so. Gunner fetched one of the servants and asked, “What’s going on?”
The servant, which I recognized as Vaughn, the animal-lover who took care of my Flanny whenever I was out, said with guardedness, “Miss Andela is here, Mr. Murray.”
Gunner visibly froze, expression turning hard and so enraged I was shocked. “What the hell is she doing here?” He asked, voice turning angry and cold.
“I do not know, sir,” Vaughn said guardedly. “She’s with the others at the lounge, sir.”
Gunner started walking to the elevator and I chased right after him. “Who’s this Miss Andela, Gunner?” I asked just as we entered the elevator. “Who is she?”
Gunner didn’t look at me, just kept his eyes on the closed doors. “You don’t want to know.”
“Gunner, please - “
“It’s Willow.” He said in a strained voice, making me feel too cold all of a sudden, the magic of our shared afternoon dissipating.
“Willow?” I asked weakly, shocked and horrified.
He didn’t look at me, but he didn’t need to. His words were enough. “The one and the only.”
Willow was here? Why? And what did it mean for Gunner and... and me?
The elevator reached its destination and we got out of it. Gunner went hastily to the lounge, me right behind him, and we both entered the living room, where Jez, Danger, Ryder, Henry, Maddox and Evelyn were sitting with an unfamiliar woman... who at the same time was familiar.
And the moment I saw her, I froze in my place, eyes wide, and felt like my world came down on my shoulders, rocking everything I knew, making me rethink every decision I’d made throughout my life.
And when the woman’s eyes locked with mine, it seemed like there was no one else here. Only us. Me and and that woman.
A sob bobbled out of my mouth, and a hushed whisper that resounded in the whole room made everyone freeze.