Begin Again

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Nineteen: Escape

"What has gone on for too long?" I ask Violet. She doesn't answer me and her words begin to dig deeper into my soul. What the hell could she mean by that? The fear that I've been hiding from everyone's nasty comments towards Violet begins to eat at me and every possible answer crosses my mind.

Violet's eyes flicker towards mine but she quickly looks away again. My patience is wearing thin and I want to yell at her to just tell me what she meant, but I don't. I give her the benefit of the doubt like I always have.

"Vi... Tell me what's going on before my mind convinces me of worse," I beg her.

She shakes her head in response to me, "I'm not sure it could be much worse than what's true."

"What the hell does that even mean?" I flail my arms and walk over to where she's standing, "Is this relationship we have nothing serious to you? You don't have feelings for me? Just say it. I can handle whatever it is."

But I'm not sure if I actually can handle what Violet is going to say to me, depending on exactly what she's going to say. I'm a man, though. I will be strong and not let her know if it actually bothers me. Emotions are hard enough to express when I'm happy, let alone when I'm hurt.

"Jade... We weren't as close as I've been telling you," Violet finally says.

My world seems to stop and I'm confused. Up to this point, Violet has told me that she and Jade were cousins who had been extremely close growing up. Aside from Jenna showing me that Violet had no Cooper's on her Facebook friend list, everything seemed normal.

"She and I weren't close at all... The thing is, Thomas, I don't have as many memories with Jade as I would like because our father's were feuding," Violet looks away as she speaks to me, I assume that's because she doesn't know how I'll react. As this point, I'm not even sure how to react. After I don't reply, Violet continues, "I have like one photo of us together... When we were babies, but other than that..."

"Nothing," I finish her sentence for her. I don't know why she would lie to me like this, why she thought she had to pretend to be close with Jade, but the fact that she lied is what hurts more, "But you decided to meet me because?"

"Because I wanted to know about her life, if she had been happy before... You know," Her voice trails off and she finally shrugs her shoulders slightly, "No one knew her better than you did, Thomas."

"Yeah? Well you made me believe that you did," I snap, irritated with Violet and at myself for believing her so easily, "You told me stories about her, Vi. Were they all made up?"

Violet doesn't say a word, but her silence speaks for herself.

"Wow, okay... Making up stories about your dead cousin is pretty fucked up, Violet." I clench my jaw, looking around my room in a panic. The walls are closing in and I need to get away from this situation. I'm angry, I'm fucking furious. But if I stay here longer I may just mess things up more.

Once I grab a leather jacket from my closet, Violet's brows furrow in confusion, "Where are you going?"

"I need air," I tell her, "I'll tell my mom to let you out."

"Thomas, please."

I don't stop. I can't. I leave my room and storm towards the kitchen where my mom is pouring a glass of wine. She sees me and becomes concerns, "Tommy, what's going on?"

"I'll be back, make sure Violet leaves when she comes out of the room, please."

"Thomas, are you okay?" I can see that my mom is becoming more concerned and I stop in my tracks, "Sweetheart, I'm worried."

"Mom, I'm okay. I promise," I turn to her and manage a small smile, reassuring her that I'm okay. I don't want her to worry about me, that's the last thing I want, "Violet and I just had a disagreement so I just need to get away from her for a little bit. I love you, mom. Don't worry, okay?"

Finally, I manage to escape my loft and flee the scene. I'm pissed and hurt, so many mixed emotions are flooding my mind. How am I ever supposed to believe a word that comes out of Violet's mouth? The stories she told me about her and Jade having sleepovers, when they would spend Christmas together and ride their bikes. Violet told me vivid stories about Jade that were completely made up from her own imagination.

***

The only place I can hide from the world is that place I buried myself when I was hurting from the loss of Jade. The office. It's the only place I can lock the world out and be alone in complete silence. I've spent far more nights than I would like to admit here, and tonight would be another.

After deciding to stay on the couch in my office, I text my mom apologizing and letting her know that I'll be home tomorrow. Then I would be able to fully dedicate myself to her without all of this weighing on my mind.

The charity event is tomorrow and until then, I just need my own space to think. I feel terrible for bailing on my mom during her first night here, but I can't put this stress on her. I would return when my mind was clear.

It doesn't take me long to pass out and when the morning comes around there's a huge storm outside. It's strange how things happen, another day to fit my mood. I yawn as I slowly stand from the couch, making my way to the large window just as lightning strikes. It's 5:30am and staff were asked to come in at 7:00 to get some final things together before the event tonight. With the weather at this moment, it seems pointless to get my employees on the road.

I take my cellphone off of my desk and call Mason, he answers after three rings.

"Tommy..." He groans, clearly tired from the early hours of the morning, "It's early. Why... Why are you calling me?"

"Hey... I know, man. Sorry, but the weather is pretty bad," I tell him, "I'm thinking we send out a memo for everyone to stay home. I'm at the office so I'll handle the few things left to do here, I'd rather keep everyone off of the roads for the time being."

"Honestly, bro. Do whatever... If it means that I can go back to sleep, then yes. Do that."

I chuckle and turn away from the window, nodding my head, "Get back to bed, lazy ass."

When we end the call, I run my fingers through my hair and glance at my phone. Three missed called from Violet and multiple text messages waiting.

I'm sorry.

Please talk to me.

Thomas, I didn't mean to make things seem different than what they were.

Call me.

I toss my phone on the couch, refusing to deal with this right now. I'm still angry with the lies she told me, she used Jade's name and inability to be here as a pawn in her little fucked up game and it made me look at her differently.

Trust is something that has never come easy to me and this doesn't help.

I spend the next hour and a half working on details for the event because I can't manage to fall asleep again, there's too much on my mind so I do what I do best and lose myself in work. It isn't until I glance at the security cameras on my computer that I see Ella is outside in the pouring rain, banging on the main door downstairs.

Well, shit. Why is she here?

I groan as I stand up, not wanting to be around anyone at the time. Especially not Ella, the women who seems to despise me for reasons that happened years ago.

To save time, I run down the stairs rather than taking the elevator and when I get to the lobby I unlock the door to let Ella in from the storm.

"Why was the door locked? It's terrible out here," Ella complains as she hurries inside, water dripping from her blonde hair.

"Do you not check your emails?" I ask, raising an eyebrow, "I sent a memo nearly two hours ago telling no one to come in today due to weather conditions."

Ella frowns, clearly not having gotten the memo. She takes out her phone and begins to check her emails, "Oh my goodness. That would have saved me a lot of trouble... I almost went off the road twice on the way here."

I give a little smirk, "I appreciate the dedication but you can go."

As I begin to walk to the elevator, I hear Ella's sloppy steps following behind me, "Well, since I'm here could I just stay and help out? Until the weather calms down, at least."

There isn't any harm in that, I'd actually rather have her stay here instead of going on the dangerous roads again. I nod my head and press the elevator button, waiting for the doors to open.

"I could use a little help," I admit, something I rarely admit to people but I'm flooded with prep and Ella is efficient, so having her assist me would help speed things along.

The elevator doors finally open and I wait for Ella to step inside before I follow. We stand in silence once the doors close and the elevator begins to move.

Ella breaks the silence just like women always do, "So why did you come into the office if no one else did?"

"I just crashed here last night, had lots of work to do..." I partly lie because it's no one's business and I don't want to give people more reasons to dislike Violet. The last thing I want to do is get into what happened the night before, with Ella of all people.

Again, we fall silent an my eyes suddenly fall to Ella's chest. Her white blouse is pressed against her skin, its become wet and is now see through, her pale bra becoming visible. I feel horrible for looking but her boobs are basically screaming "look at me!"

"Uh... Your..." I clear my throat, trying my best to sound like a professional boss instead of a pervert who was just staring at her chest, "Your shirt is..."

Ella looks down at her chest, her eyes widening in horror. She covers her chest with her hands and looks at me with her cheeks burning a bright red shade, "This is so embarrassing... Thomas, I'm sorry. This is--"

"It's fine, Elle." I tell her, giving her a reassuring smile, "You can't help the weather. I have a jacket in my office you can use."

When the doors open I lead Ella to my office, grabbing my leather jacket and passing it to her. I have no problem with her boobs being flaunted around me, but I can tell she's insecure and I want her to be comfortable.

Ella puts my jacket on to cover herself, "Thanks."

"Yeah, no problem." She begins to walk out but I stop her, "Why don't you stay here? You might as well since it's just the two of us."

She turns to look at me and nods her head, "Yeah, that makes more sense."

I watch her take a seat on my couch and I sit on the arm chair across from her, "Everything is rented, the podium, tables and chairs, we have a caterer hired and decorators. What I'm handling now is the pamphlets for guest, the speech line up and... the seating chart."

"I can finalize the pamphlets if you'd like," She suggests.

"Sounds good to me," I nod, taking out the binder and scanning through the guest list to get the table chart started. My phone begins to ring and it's still on the couch where Ella is sitting, she picks it up and passes it to me.

When I have it in my hands I see Violet's name and press ignore, setting my phone on the coffee table. I can see Ella watching me but she doesn't say anything. My phone rings a moment later and it's Violet once again, I press the ignore button and I hear Ella clear her throat.

"Do you have something you want to say?" I ask her.

She shakes her head, "No, no... I just don't want you to be ignoring your girlfriend because I'm here. I can step out if you need to talk in private."

"No, it's not you... I just don't want to spe-- I'd rather focus on work right now," I shake my head, keeping my eyes on the table chart, "Violet and I had a slight falling out and I just need to get over it before I talk to her."

Ella nods her head, "Makes sense. You want to talk to her with a fresh state of mind. It's actually really responsible of you, Thomas. Maybe you'll feel differently afterwards."

"I don't know, honestly... It's a whole trust thing that fucks with me and... I have trouble opening up to people so once they do something to make me reconsider everything, it's hard to just jump back into it," I tell her, not wanting to go into detail with what happened. I'd rather keep all the details private.

Ella shifts to the other end of the couch so she's closer to me, when I look at her she's looking at me with concerned eyes and I can see how genuine she is in the moment, "I don't know what exactly happened, but you might need to ask yourself if you want this to work or not. It's clear that you care about Violet, why would you let one mistake take all of that away?"

She has a point. I do care about Violet but I really do have to think about how I can trust her, if I can trust her. I begin to wonder if maybe talking to Ella is a good thing, it feels like a good thing now. Opening up to someone and expressing my feelings without being judged as something that I haven't felt in a long time. Ella seems to understand me, she seems to want the best for me even though I have never been the best to her.

Ella has a good soul, a good personality that gives me a sense of familiarity. Too familiar. But in a good way. I feel comfortable talking to her, I want to talk to her. But it's never good to talk about your relationship with another woman regardless of the circumstances. I learned that from young age and I would be a hypocrite if I went against what I've said all these years. But at this point I don't know what else to do, talking to Ella seems to be like my only escape and what I need now, desperately, is an escape.

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