STAY MINE AGAIN

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Chapter 2

CHAPTER 2:

Place me far way

Where there is blossom of May

Where you’ll hold me tight all day

And that’s the place I want to stay.

Megan.

Pamela Reed was one of Smith’s far off cousin, Edna Reed’s daughter. Though Edna was not a flower enthusiast, her daughter sure did carry all the genes in her. When I first confronted that I had to get out of the city for a while to err… clear off my head, the first thing that Smith told me was to go live with them.

I, being the modest creature, rented a single roomed bedroom with a bathroom and no kitchen, close to Pamela’s own house. Though Edna and Pamela had both asked me to move with them together as they were the only people living under their roof, I stood to my ground, telling them that it made me independent. In reality, only Miles knows how scared I am to live on my own, alone.

Pamela and I became close on the very first day we met and we also shared few common interests. Edna was old and had started gardening just like Smith a year later her husband died, and was awarded the best grower of tomatoes of the season. But Pamela stuck with flowers and planning. She was a great event organizer.

Pam was one of the brightest planner I had ever met. She was beyond creative and I had learnt so much more from her. I asked her if I could be her assistant, even when I doubted if she will ever needed any assistance, but she happily agreed.

From then, we have been working together in arrangements and decorations to birthday parties, funerals, office ceremonies, business representations, wedding and restaurants. It kept us busy from morning till night, though the population here was not as larger as the population where I had my Mystique flower’s.

Speaking of Mystique flowers, Amber was very sad in letting me go, but somewhere deep down she had understood that it was necessary. With my increased panic attacks, the doctor had suggested to move out and have a fresh start. What could be more refreshing than a few bunch of planning and flowers?

Nevertheless, Amber has still been maintaining Mystique flowers, the only dream of hers and mine. She had appointed a new guy called Thomas, and she had taken everything in charge. I must admit that it was running way smoothly than it was running before.

Today, I came back from the city after shifting Smith back to our humble abode. He was persistent that I move back. What he doesn’t know is that how much it hurts to come back—the same roads, the same shop, and the same… restaurant.

“How’s Smith?” Pam asked, as I entered her shop. It was not as big as the Mystique Flowers, but she had maintained it pretty well. It was connected to their house, which made it easy to keep an eye on the old Edna. Edna suffered from asthma and was mentally unstable after her late husband died, and a shop attached to the house seemed like a good idea. “I wish I could come, but it was mom’s general check-up day.”

“That’s okay.” I said. “He’s better.” For now, I silently added.

“That’s good to hear.” Edna said, as she came back. She was surely working on her gardens. Her long skirt looked mud-dirty. “He’s has a strong heart for his age.”

“Mom!” Pamela shouted, in order to shut her mother, who clearly had no filter.

I hold back a sob, thinking about what the doctor said.

“What happened?” Pamela asked, with concern etched in her voice. “Is he really okay?”

Not able to keep myself in check, I poured out all of it to her with teary eyes.

“Oh, uncle Smith.” She said, pulling her arms towards herself in order to control her emotions. “I’ve never seen him more than a few thanksgivings but I know he is a good man.”

I nodded in agreement as I wrap an arm around her. Edna not realizing what we were talking about, just announced that it was time for a group hug and hugged us, giving us a motherly comfort.

~~~

Later that evening, when we were about to call it a night, Pamela rushed into my work table with a goofy grin on her face. Her emerald eyes shone brightly with her curls dangling in front of her eyes.

“What’s with the smile?” I asked, unable to control my curiosity.

“Remember we had to take up the decorations with the renowned restaurant downtown? The De Matera?” she asked eagerly.

I nodded, not able to remember that encounter.

“Oh, I forgot. When you went to visit Smith, this hot guy in gray suit had come her asking if I could help decorate his restaurant.”

I gulped. A smack of déjà vu hitting me right there.

“Of course I went there and did all the work.” She continued with dreamy eyes. “He had such bright blueish eyes that were as deep as see. I wish I could drown in them for infinity.”

I heaved a sigh of relief. He had dark eyes, like a storm that is yet to come.

Looking at Pamela, I could tell that she was acting like a love stricken teenage girl. I couldn’t help but smile at her. “So did he ask you out?”

“No.” She said, as if I were a dunce in her class. “He invited me to his annual party today. He told me about a bunch of people that were coming as guest, but I couldn’t help but notice how perfectly his lips moved as he spoke.”

I laughed.

“Seriously!” she pouted at me. Then taking a minute to analyse the situation, she said. “You are coming with me.”

“No!” I said immediately, closing the sheet of paper that I was working on. “I told you before that I was shifting back to my place. I have to pack.”

“I’ll help you with that later.” She said. “Please Megan. Have I ever asked you anything before?”

“Don’t pull that card with me, Pam.” I warned her, getting up from the chair I was sitting on.

“What if I make a fool out of myself? I need someone to bring me back to ground.” She pleaded. “Besides, it will be like our best goodbye?”

I sighed. I really liked Pamela. “Fine.” I said, “You win.”

“Yes!”

It was almost eight in the evening, when Pamela and I were finally ready. I had thrown on a blue dress, which ended mid-thigh. It was a fancy party, as Pamela had put it, so I had put on light make up. When I saw my image on the mirror, one last time, I couldn’t help but notice how much I had changed.

My blond hair which was waist length before, now, ended up only a little longer than my shoulder. I had specifically asked the parlour lady to colour my hair with a darker shade, but she was totally against it. “A hair like this has to be the way it is. Do you know how many of my clients come to me asking for this kind of hair?”

That shut all the doors for further argument.

My makeup, covered my baggy eyes which were sleep deprived. I had lost a few pounds and anyone could hardly recognize me. I shook my head and went towards Pamela’s.

“There you are!” Pamela exclaimed, as I knocked at the door. “You look stunning. You would make every man jealous.”

I rolled my eyes. Pam and her way of overexerting things. “You on the other hand, look like an angle that is sent to strike that gray suit guy’s heart.” I teased.

She blushed a little. “You think?”

I smiled. “But you know him only for a few days, so keep your guards high.”

“Will do.” She agreed, locking her hands in mine. “Shall we go then?”

“Where’s Edna?”

“She’s at one of her friend’s house. I told her that we will be late.” Pam assured. “She’s going to be all right.”

We both hauled for a cab and took ride to the annual party of the hotel called De Matera. The whole way, I could only hear Pamela bluntly telling me about the restaurant owner, with whom she had a crush on. After about five minutes of listening to her promptly, I tuned her out.

It was the first time in two years, I’m going to a party. Since the incident, I had socially cut off everyone and was living in a rat hole. But today, I was just crossing all my lines and going to the unknown.

Damn, it’s a restaurant for God’s sake. What if…

No. it was a bad idea to come here along with Pam. What if I see him here?It’s a restaurant for God’s sake. And I’m not yet ready to face him. I can’t do this to myself.

“Thanks.” I heard Pam say as the car halted. Shit! We are late! But better late than never right? “You coming?”

“Um… Pam, my friend just messaged me, she is coming to meet me at my room…” I started, thinking of the best lie that I could foster at the moment. “You go ahead and have fun. I’ll call you later, okay?”

“What?” Pamela shouted at me not believing me for one second. “You are ditching me for some friend who’s waiting for you at your room? Now?”

“The meter’s running ma’am.” The driver said. Pamela pulled me out of the cab and mutter a ‘go’ to him.

“Pam!” I shouted, as I dusted my dress. “You lost my only cab.”

“I don’t care.” She said bleakly. “I had asked you about this thing yesterday and you were okay with it and now you are telling me lies about some imaginary friend waiting for you? I thought it was our last outing before you leave.”

“Pam, it’s not like you think.” I reasoned. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to go there. Besides I don’t know anyone there.”

Pamela didn’t know anything about my past love life though I was pretty famous considering the title of being the girlfriend of the renowned chef. Once I decided, I needed a change of environment, I had vowed to myself that I would not be bringing that topic at all in all costs.

“From when are you having trouble making friends.” She hissed at me, crossing her arms. “You are coming with me for all I care. I don’t mind dragging you with me if that’s necessary.”

I let out a frustrated groan. It was all my mistake.

Pamela held my hand and yanked it towards her as she took a step forward. I felt like a school kid who was caught lying that he had a stomach ache to avoid school. “Fine, don’t drag me.”

“What if you run away, leaving me alone?”

“You know I won’t do that.”

“So… I can trust you.”

“Yes.” I rolled my eyes. She was two years younger to me and she was definitely a pestering woman I had ever met.

She beamed brightly revealing her perfect teeth. Pam showed her invitation card to the guard who stood at the entrance and we were allowed inside. Once inside, Pam was frantic to find her crush and swoon at him all day.

As she wished, a tall sturdy man came towards her. I had not seen him before. His eyes were ocean deep blue. His hair was neatly gelled to one side. His tux hugged him tightly revealing the muscles and his bright smile never left him alone.

“Pamela Reed.” He said smoothly. “You showed up a little late.”

Pamela blushed a little. “We got a carried away at work.” I said covering for her. “I’m Megan by the way.” I shook his hand.

“Hello Megan. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Jason Bright.” He said giving me a full ear-to-ear smile. “Do you girls want anything to drink?”

“No thanks.” I said.

“Sure.” Pamela said at the same time making him chuckle.

“Come on, let’s get you a drink.” Jason said, holding Pam by her waist. Pam threw me a thanks look before she went along with him.

As I anticipated, I ended up alone. I was about to turn around to go to the ice-cream section, when someone put their arm around my waist from behind. I curled my fist in horror, to hit the guy, but he held my hand firmly and turned me around to face him.

My heart started to beat faster making my hands go cold. I knew no one here and damn, I was all alone. What if the guy puts chloroform to me and kills me slowly? With all the panic abilities that I had taken up, things in my head started to build even before anything happened. I slowly turned around to see none other than—

Peter.

“Peter?” I asked perplexed. Thankfully, my nerves seemed to recognize him and they slowly calmed down. “What are you doing here?”

Peter was my ex-ex. He was the first unfortunate person to be my boyfriend, let’s just face it, really. But we had never contacted each other after our break-up. Looking at Peter now, he was the same with an extra smile plastered on his face.

“I thought I would never see you again.” Peter said, pulling me closer. “Come here. How many years has it been? Two, three?”

“Four.” I corrected him. I couldn’t help but smile. “How are you and your business?”

“I’m doing so good.” He said with a chuckle. “How are you? God, come here.” He gave me another one of his bear hugs.

“I’m too good.” I said smiling at him.

“What are you doing here all alone?” He asked, still holding me by the shoulders.

“Came with a friend, long story short.” I said, rolling my eyes at the same time.

“So, want to have a glass of wine?” Peter asked, looking at the bar counter. I turned to see his line of vision and saw Jason and Pamela laughing with each other.

“No, I’m good.” I said smiling at them.

“Okay then, I’ve got an excellent idea.” He winked at me. “Come let’s dance and talk.”

“Pete, you know how much I don’t like to dance in front of others.” I wined.

“Come on, for old time’s sake at least.” He dragged me to the dance floor where few of the old couples were swaying to and fro. “We can dance and talk.”

I rolled my eyes, but kept my hands on his neck. “So what makes you come here?”

“I’m the architect of this building. I got some credits in the presentation.” He boasted making me laugh. “You missed how much Jason was practically appreciating my work.”

“I’m glad I did.” I mused.

“Hey.” He protested, still a playful smile on his face. “You are supposed to be on my side. I’m giving you the best dance ever.”

I giggled. “How’s Lisa?”

“She’s doing good.” He answered. His face lost the playful charm at the mention of her name.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, sensing his disappointment. “Are you guys okay?”

“I mean, yeah.” He said looking at me. “I proposed to her last fortnight and she said that we had to wait for some more time. I don’t know what’s bothering her.”

“Oh,” I said, not able to get words to speak. “Maybe she was trying to propose you first and you ruined it for her.” I shrugged.

Peter out his head back and laughed. “You are still the same Megan as before, though you have lost a few pounds.”

I blushed. “Peter!” I whisper shouted, which made him smile broadly again.

“I heard about Miles.” He said a little while later. “Sorry for that.”

I nodded at him, not able to look at his face. Peter pulled me closer and I ended up resting my head on his shoulders. Thanks to the dance floor which became crowded now.

“He—” Peter started when suddenly, the Jason poked him on his shoulder.

“Peter, sorry to interrupt.” Jason said. “I didn’t introduce to this guy who is undertaking our hotel.”

I stepped out of his embrace and stood beside Peter listening to Jason. Jason lead us outside the dance floor and we followed him. “That’s okay, Jason, let’s meet him.”

From the opposite direction, I saw a familiar face, with authority and confident atmosphere surrounding him. He was the same person, who was giving me nightmares every other night. He looked the same as I remembered—same disheveled hair, dark eyes that could make any storm turn shy, his body which was well fit to fight any bad ass on any day.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“Meet, Mr. Miles Jackson, our new head CEO of our hotel.”

~~~

Miles.

Dylan’s party brought back old memories. It was like a bee sting to me. It was the place where I had first asked her to be my girlfriend. Damn, I’m so messed up. I tried getting off that party but Joe had pulled me in. I had planned to be at the airport by eight. But I reached there at eight thirty. I had to call Steve to ask the plane to wait for me.

Though I had to be at De Matera hotel at seven, the head manager, Jason was very generous and told me that it was not that big of a deal and I should take my time. I smiled at him as I shook my hand.

“Please take this bouquet.” Jason said, handing me a bouquet. As if it were made of poison, I handed it to my secretary as quickly as possible and nodded at him.

“How are the workers?” I asked moving into the party. I was so tired and my eyes strained. All I need is some sleep. Though I was at two parties at one night, I restricted myself from drinks. I had to maintain myself—one has to be confident, arrogant if one has to have what he wants, especially me. There were many CEO that were working against me, keeping microscopic view of my every move with keen eyes. I couldn’t just get wasted and give all my weakness to their bare arms.

“They are quite impressive.” Jason said. “They are in fact looking forward in working together with you as the head.” He laughed. “Few of them have a crush on you, no offence.”

I smiled. So, Jason is very close to his workers, that means that the workers might take his decisions very lightly. I have to keep that in mind. “Who’s architecture is this? Looks so much different than many hotels.” I observed.

Jason lead me towards the pool. It was very clean and none of them had got down into it. Impressive.

“Oh, he’s one of the growing architects here.” Jason informed. “There he is.” He said, pointing towards the dance floor. “The one in the middle, Peter White.”

Peter White!

With her.

Whom I had been avoiding almost every day!

I’m sure I was stunned at the image of what I saw. She was in his arms, laughing at something he was telling. She looked so… happy. She was wearing a blue dress, not so fancy, yet it was defining her. The lacy border came up to her mid-thigh. I could see that she was wearing light make-up. As far as I knew she hardly wore make-up. What the hell!

Her hair was cut short. Thank goodness, it remained in its same blond state. I always liked her hair. But her eyes… the sparkle it once held was never there. Peter swayed her and a moment later she hugged him and was resting her head on his shoulder.

My blood was boiling in anger and betrayal. How could she do that to me? He was the one who left her when he found a new girl. And now, she’s back with him? Did he get tired of the girl whom he met after her? What is she thinking anyway, holding him like that?

I hate her so much. I hate her because she deprived me of my happiness. I hate her because she never stood there to listen to what I had to say. I hate her because she left me hanging. Does she know how much of effort it took to be the way I’m now?

My Dad still gives me the look that says, I told you so. My brother and his wife, give me a pity smile. I don’t want them. And looking at her, happily dancing, got me my nerves.

“Call him here,” I said, in a husky voice, which made Jason wonder if there was something wrong.

“Yes sir.” He said and the next minute, I saw Jason moving towards those two who were dancing. The three of them descended down the dance floor.

“Meet, Mr. Miles Jackson, our new head CEO of our hotel.” Jason said as they neared me. I nodded without looking at him. My cold eyes were on the other two. With the corner of my eyes I could see Peter holding her by her waist.

I closed my eyes for a brief moment to control my anger. I don’t want to make a scene here.

“This is Peter White, the wonderful architect.” Jason beamed at Peter, clearly not noticing me. “And this is the beautiful lady, Megan, a friend of mine.”

So she knows Jason too? God! Here I was thinking the best way to bring myself together and she? She’s been roaming around with men! A sudden urge to hurt her and suck all the happiness in her life haunted me.

But look at her, so innocent and absolved. How could I ever hurt her? She’s my darling. Even if she probably smacks with everything I have, I would never be able to hate her. The Megan, who was smiling and laughing with Peter, was now gone. When I looked closely at her, I saw her eyes were teary. And the sudden realization that I was the reason for those teary eyes, dawned on me. I couldn’t hate myself anymore.

“Hello sir,” Peter broke my eye contact with Megan. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

I could feel the sarcasm ripping out from his words. He held his hand to me to shake. I glared at his other hand which clutched Megan. He noticed it and tightened his hold. “And this is the best girl I have ever met, Megan.”

His words were so cold and the way he said her name, made me flinch. I have to get rid of him from her. I shook his hand with greater force than necessary.

“Megan, this is our CEO head.” Peter said, to spite me. “He’s really a great man.”

I knew his main intention was to make me uncomfortable. From the looks of it, Megan was too edgy of the situation too. Finally, after debating with herself, she brought her hands towards me to shake.

Just then, my phone buzzed out aloud and for once, I was more than grateful for the caller. “Excuse me.” I muttered, fishing my pockets.

I reached the farther end of the party, where it was less crowded. Most of them knew me and they nodded their head when they saw me get past them.

I nodded back in return and took the call.

“Boss,” It was Steve. I should remember to make him a pay rise. “I called to make sure that if the meeting at Germany went well, so that I could send the papers there. There was a meeting here to know how many workers we need to set up there.”

“It went quite well.” I said, remembering the meeting. The projections were very good, but they still have their doubts. They said that they needed more time to consider as one of our opponents were there for a challenge. “If they call you, give them twenty-five percent of reductions.”

“Um… okay.” He said. “Should I give a call to the meeting for tomorrow?”

“Yes, Steve.” I said, rubbing my hand over my forehead. “That will have to do.”

“Okay sir.”

I cut the call, closing my eyes. I need a break from all these. When I turned around, the trio was absent and I wondered where she went. I scanned the whole area and finally rested my eyes on her as I found her. She was sitting at one of the tables, sipping a wine glass. From the looks of it, she didn’t seem to be fine. Though she was as beautiful as ever, I found that she had become weaker than I had remembered.

“Like what you see?”

I turned around to see Peter, watching in my line of vision. I glared at him. “What are you doing here?” I asked with gritted teeth.

“Oh, I was with Megan dancing till my heart’s content when you called us.” He rolled his eyes. “Still a jealous boyfriend?”

“Peter, don’t you dare.” I warned, clutching my phone hard in my hands.

“She’s pretty, isn’t she?” He said ignoring all my warnings, looking at her at the same time. “It was a shame that you left her.”

She left me, I wanted to add. “Did you get bored of your girlfriend, or did you find the old one back?” I spat.

Peter scoffed. “I’m still with Lisa.”

“My condolences to her.”

“Watch your mouth.” Peter gritted his teeth. “Just because you are a billionaire doesn’t stop me from giving you a broken nose.”

I gave him a humorless laugh. “Try me.”

“Plus, Megan wouldn’t be happy with me.” He added and suddenly, my senses became tense.

“Don’t.” I said, holding my index finger at him. Though it was more than two years, her name still had an impact on me.

“Don’t tell her name?” Peter asked with a light chuckle. “Do you have any idea how broken you left her?”

“You did the same with her.” I said. “And it was me who supported her.”

“Don’t dodge it, Miles.” Peter waved his hand in the air. “I agree that you were there when I hurt her, but who’s with her now?”

What about all the guys with whom she had been roaming around? I ran my hands through my hair. If I still managed to stay there, I knew I would bring a punch at his face. I took a step backward and moved away.

I heard Peter laugh behind me. “What, are you are running away now?”

I stopped in my tracks. “No, I’m trying to save you from my punches on our pretty face.”

“Look,” he said in a serious voice. “I don’t want any scenes here, Miles.”

“Then what do you want?” I asked in an irritated tone.

“I want Megan to be happy again.” He said, looking at the table where she was sitting. She was looking at her empty glass with a sad look on her face. “Today was the first time I met her in years and I can tell if she’s happy or not.”

I looked away.

“I know I have hurt her before and have given her a hard time.” He said. “I appreciate that you were with her then and took care of her.”

“Your point being?” I asked frustrated by his speech. I curled my fists and stopped myself from hitting him hard in the face.

“My point is that, even though I hurt her, I left her in good terms. And today when she sees me, she still can laugh with me.” He said looking me in the eye. “Can she do that with you?”

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