I was glad my parents were at work, as if they’d have seen Luke pulling up they would have had a heart attack I’m sure. I pulled the door shut behind me, glad I had dressed down. I wasn’t about to give him any ideas, so I had my grey joggers on with a loose hoody, refusing to even wear make up. No way was he thinking there was more to this than there was. I took a deep breath as I switched my phone to silent, making my way to the Ford Ranger. He sat in the drivers seat watching me with a smile on his lips, wearing a dark red leather jacket that oddly resembled Brad Pitts from Fight Club.
Don’t stare Gretchen.
He was hot, there was no denying that. But my heart was with Cal, who would always be my one and only. I suppose it was usual for exes to still admire each other, as long as nothing was done about it.
‘How can you still look so beautiful in your loungewear man, girls must hate you.’ He laughed as I slid in the truck, pulling the door shut behind me. I clipped my belt in as I shot him a warning smile.
‘Less of the beautiful. You said no funny business.’
He held his hands up as he pushed the car into drive, pulling away easily.
‘So, New York.’ He said, glancing over to me as we drove through the familiar streets, my heart aching with memory after memory.
‘Yeah, its a big ass city.’
This was ridiculous. When were we going to just get to it? He seemed to read my mind as he sighed, turning onto the freeway.
‘Ok Gretch, heres the thing. You know I still love you, theres no denying that.’ I was surprised by his directness, and I just stared straight ahead as he continued to speak. ‘You are with Cal, thats just how it is. But that doesn’t mean I can just turn off how I feel for you. I haven’t seen you since we left school and I just handled it badly, the other night. I apologise.’
I nodded gratefully, relieved in the direction the conversation seemed to be taking.
‘Thank you.’ I said softly as he smiled at me.
‘I thought we could head to that little cafe overlooking the sea.’ He pointed towards the hills that rolled in front of us and I nodded. I knew the place, he used to take me there when we were dating.
‘Thats fine.’ I felt like I needed to say more, but the guilt at even being in his presence alone made me feel sick with nerves. Cal would meave me instantly, after sawing Lukes head off with a rusty saw. We drove in silence for a while until he pulled into a dirt track that lead to the cafe, his tyres expertly guiding us towards the parking lot despite the gravel.
‘Ah man, I’ve not been here since I last came with you.’ He admitted sheepishly as I raised my eyebrows in surprise. Surely there had been other girls? He waited for me, swinging his keys around his finger as I climbed out, landing on the floor with a thud. We walked into the cafe which was fairly quiet- not many people knew of it, you certainly had to be a local. We got a gorgeous window seat overlooking the bay and I sighed happily. It was actually nice to be here, even with Luke.
‘So now I am going to ask you a question, and I want you to be completely honest with me.’ He said seriously, and I raised an eyebrow at him suspiciously.
‘If its anything about you and me-’
He cut me off with his hand in the air, blinking slowly.
I sat back in my chair as I clasped my hands together.
‘Ok, so go on then?’
He sat forward, his hands meeting in a steeple motion as he gazed at me. Our eyes met as he spoke, and he held my gaze as he watched my reaction.
‘What happened in New York? Tell me.’
I dropped my eyes from his as I gave a short laugh.
‘I don’t now what you are talking about, Luke.’ I was grateful when the waitress brought our coffees over, as I watched her with a great deal of interest. Luke however kept his eyes on mine, murmuring a thanks as she left.
‘Why are you lying to me?’ His voice was low as I sighed, irritated.
‘What does it matter to you Luke?’ I snapped. ‘I thought we were here to remedy our shit, not create more.’
He sat back as he studied me, his fingers pressed to his lips.
‘Did he hurt you?’ His voice came out like a strangle as I screwed my face up in response.
‘What? No, Don’t be absurd.’
‘Thats what girls that are abused say.’
I stared at him, my mouth agape.
‘Luke, you have this wrong. It wasn’t Cal.’ I sipped my latte, wincing at the heat. ‘Cal would never hurt me.’
‘If it wasn’t him, who was it?’ He demanded, refusing to let the matter drop. I folded my arms as I gazed at him.
‘If I tell you, you have to swear to not tell a soul.’
He made a cross over his chest as he stared at me, his expression hardening as though he was preparing himself for the worst news he’d ever received. I took a deep breath and met his eyes.
’I’m fucking serious Luke, I will never forgive you if you tell a soul. If you love me at all, you won’t tell anyone.′
‘Gretch, you are scaring me now. What the fuck happened? I won’t tell anyone.’
‘I was kidnapped.’
His eyes widened as his mouth fell open, his hands reaching for mine over the table.
‘Are you being fucking serious right now?’ He hissed quietly as I nodded. ‘Who the fuck by? What did they do to you?’
He sat patiently listening to me as I poured it all out, and I had to admit, it felt so good to finally speak to someone about it who wasn’t Cal.
‘What did Cal do about it?’ He said through gritted teeth, his eyes wild with anger.
’Do? He came and got me. What more can he do Luke, its the fucking mob.′ I retaliated angrily as he sat back in his chair in shock, gazing out of the window whilst he rubbed his chin.
’I don’t care. What did he do.′
His voice had a hardness to it and I blinked in surprise. Cal had done the right thing, left it alone. I knew that, yet sitting here in front of Luke I suddenly felt like someone had to do something in my honour. I shook my head as he met my eyes again, hatred filled in his eyes.
‘This is his fault. You can’t see it, I know that. But listen to me, it is.’ He sighed as he reached for my hand, holding it tightly.
’I’m going to tell you this once, and I want you to remember it for the rest of your life. If you ever need me, ever, I don’t care if I’m married with kids, you ring me. Yeah?′
I nodded slowly as he released my hand, the warmth of his touch gone.
‘Mob or not, I’d bury anyone that touched a hair on your head.’
‘Thank you but I have got Cal and-’
‘Yes he’s a vicious fucker. But he isn’t the only one that loves you, and sometimes you may just need someone else to turn to.’
I nodded as he smiled at me.
‘We can be friends you know. It just means I can’t have you the way I want, but at least I have you in some capacity. Agreed?’