We light up the light like a phoenix
Dancing our way to every remix
You are my wonderful Felix
Oh, please, let’s not jinx
It had been a month since the interview and all the newspapers held my sayings word to word. It was downright annoying. All I was trying to do was avoid her in all earnest and she was coming right back at me.
And on top of it all, she had come back to town and it became a hot topic for days. I’m sure the reporters were behind her back too. She never had liked publicity and now she was going through it because of me.
Hell, I’m thinking about her even now. Is there no way to get her out of my head? I’m going crazy. I’ve seen many couples break apart and grieve. A couple days with beer and rum would get their heads back to their place. But why won’t that work on me? Only I knew the difficulties of dealing with it. I had to maintain the cool demeanour outside while I was burning inside.
My phone rang, cutting me from my train of thoughts. I wiped my hands on my apron and held the phone to my ear. “Yes?”
“Cold as ever, as we?” came a familiar voice, bringing a smile on my face. “I smell something burning.”
I laughed. “Hey Laura!” I called out. “It’s the cooked eggs burning.” I teased. Her cooked eggs always burnt.
“Miles!” she shouted at me. But I could almost see her smile across the phone. “You know that I hate you right?”
“But your daughter loves me.” I reminded her. I turned towards the stove and panned the eggs that I was preparing earlier. I balanced the phone on my shoulder and put the eggs on my plate. “Is she missing me now?”
“I don’t know how you guys manage to control her.” She gave a tired smile. “And yes, she does miss you.”
“Awe, that’s my girl you got there.” I said proudly. She was growing on me and she was one of the adorable kids I had ever seen. Being three-year-old now, she had once called me during my meeting and cried for me to come home. I could tell that Mark is still a bit jealous of that fact.
Laura laughed. “Your girl wants you to come—”
“I have my car keys now. Tell where.” I said, stuffing the eggs on my mouth in a hurry.
She chucked. “To her birthday party, you dumb-ass.”
“Oh…” I said, chewing the eggs slowly. “You know that I won’t miss it for the world.
“I’m just reminding.” She said. “I’m sure Mark would call you in another hour or so.”
It was my turn to laugh. “I’m sure he won’t. He can’t see his daughter liking his friend.”
“You make it sound as if you are Em’s boyfriend.” She laughed. “She adores you though.”
“I’ll be there.” I smiled.
With another few pleasant exchanges, we cut the call. But then a thought struck to me. If it was a birthday party, will she be invited too? After all Mark was my best friend while Laura was hers.
It was the day of the party and I was getting agitated by every passing minute, because I was getting to meet her. And the most important thing was I was not yet prepared to face her. I was a wreck while she played fine.
I don’t want to end up in front of her like a love deprived puppy. I shook my overcoat in nervousness, before I headed out of my same old black Mercedes.
Damn, even my car had memories. But that was the only thing that was holding me back from selling it and changing it to a brand new one. If Dylan or Joe hears me ranting about it now, then they would call out to heaven and scream that I was whipped.
I heaved out a sigh as I made my way into the party with the gift that I had planned to give the little girl. I could tell by the way the party was arranged, it was all Rachel’s work and the flower arrangement looked almost similar. Yeah, it was them.
I scanned the crowd to find my little girl, who was so fond of me. It was partly because, I got her toys and her favorite chocolates but nevertheless, she always came to me. And one of the reasons why I turn up at her is that she helps me clear my head from her thoughts. What’s healthier than mingling with a three-year-old?
As I eyed the crowded hall, I spotted Laura smiling at her guests and thanking them for coming. I smiled at her and went near her.
“Hey, L” I said, surprising her from behind.
“Miles!” she turned around, her smile turning into a hundred-watt bulb. “You made it!”
She gave me a bear hug. Since Mark started dating her, she became close to me as I was the one to beat up Mark (even when he was my best friend) if he did anything to hurt her. “I would never miss this for the world.”
“I’m assuming you came now.” She said accusingly.
I scratched my head and looked at her innocently. “Work.”
“Emerald was waiting for you.” She said looking around and smiling at a few faces. “She was crying thinking that you missed. I don’t know what charms you have put on her.”
I laughed. I love that kid too. “Where’s she?” I asked.
“Hey, how are you?” Laura greeted a young girl and then turned to me. “Mark took her out for some air.”
“I’ll go meet her.” I said winking at her.
I kissed Laura on her head and made my way out into the balcony. I kept my head as low as possible to keep to myself. I don’t want to create any scenes today. Thankfully, Steve for once, did his job right and the press were not behind my back.
I climbed the flight of stairs where few kids were running behind each other, probably playing catch me if you can. I smiled at them, thinking about my own childhood. I remember playing the same game with my brother, Mathew even when all the guests had left.
As I neared the open balcony, I heard few sobs. I let out a light chuckle thinking how Mark would console the little princess. He was always bad with dealing emotions, especially crying. That was one of the reasons why Laura ended up coming to me to ask me to beat him up.
“Emmy, come on honey.” Mark was saying to his daughter. “You don’t want Miles to see you crying right?”
Emerald muffed something onto Mark’s shoulder. Mark patted on her back soothing her short brown hair.
“Hey, princess.” I said, leaning on the entrance of the balcony. It was a big one with glass doors separating it from the hall. The balconies connected each other by a passage that was internally linked.
Emerald turned her head towards me, with a shocked expression in her face. Slowly she gave me a crooked smile revealing her missing teeth. “Mice!” she exclaimed.
I winced inwardly at her calling to me. Though I had taught her how to spell my name a thousand times already, she never obliged and this was the result every time. She wriggled out of Marks hold and reached towards me. I could see him give out a relieved sigh.
I carried her and gave her a nudge on her tear stained cheeks. “Were those tears for me?” I teased.
She curled her tiny fingers and hit me on the shoulders. “I don’t wike you.” she sniffed. “You came late.”
“How could I manage to come on time when I had to buy you the perfect gift?” I asked. I saw her smile widen by a fraction.
“Gift?” Her teary eyes sparkled. “Where’s it?”
I pulled out big gift wrapped rectangular box and held it out to her. Emerald grabbed it swiftly, making me lose my balance. I chuckled and turned towards Mark. “Hey dude!”
“Finally you noticed.” He sighed. “How come my girls like you more than me?”
I laughed. “Come on, it’s not that bad.”
“But you are good with girls who are crying.” He winked and laughed at his own joke. I gave me a dirty eye and turned back to Emerald. “How are you? it’s been long since I saw you.”
“I have been pretty busy these days.” I said which was partially true. The other part was I was trying to avoid the town since she came back here.
“Doctor kit!” Emerald said, still in my arms, as she pulled out the gift wrapper. “I’m a doctor.” She gave Mark a toothy smile. “Daddy, I will give you the needle.”
I put my head back and laughed. “Give him the needle.” I mused.
“Why do you get her stuffs like these?” Mark glared at me.
“Hey! She told me that she wants to be a doctor.” I defended. “And it doesn’t have any needle in it.”
Mark rolled his eyes at me. “Come let’s get you some cake and late dinner.”
After smiling for what seemed like hours in the party, my cheeks started aching due to over stretching. Though I saw her few times sitting by the tables along with Amber, I did my very best to avoid her. I mean you wouldn’t fall into the trap knowing that it’s right in front of you, right?
Em stayed by my side, as one of the guests came near her to give her their present. I didn’t know them, so I smiled politely, as Mark started chatting with them.
“Isn’t this Miles Jackson?” The lady with big blue studs on her ears turned to my side. “I’ve been a big fan of yours. You should ask my husband; he tells that it’s because of you that he lets me inside the kitchen.”
She laughed at her own joke bobbing her head like one of Emerald’s toys. I could tell that she was in her late fifties and her face was full of wrinkles. “Thank you.” I said, with a warm smile.
“The peanut butter lasagna, is still one of our favorite dishes.” She hit my elbow. “How do you come up with these ideas?”
I ran my fingers at my hair. “Well, I eat a lot.” I said, making her laugh.
“You should go to her house sometime Miles.” Mark chirped in. “She’s one of the best cooks you would ever find.”
I knew Mark was just testing me pushing me to the edge. I glared at him and then turned to give the lady a kind smile. “I would love that. I’ll be at your house the next thing I’ll be free.”
The lady seemed to be excited. “That’s wonderful.”
“Daddy, I got a pony!” Emerald’s face shone like a thousand-watt bulb. “I always wanted one.”
“Dear, I’m happy that you like it.” The lady patted the kid’s head.
My cell-phone beeped, and I excused myself and went to the balcony for some privacy. As I looked at the caller id, I found that it was one of the duty calls. “Steve.”
“Yes, sir.” He said. “The resort you wanted to book last week has been done.”
“Good.” I said, satisfied. I always craved for the resort in France.
“You have one more happy news sir.” He said. “Gregory couldn’t bid higher than your price and he’s backed out.”
“I knew that he couldn’t afford that anyway.” I snickered. I heard a slight movement and turned around. I saw nothing.
“That means you will be competing against only three more bidders.” Steve continued. “Should I still stick with the previous plan?”
“Yes.” I said. I heard a slight movement again and I twisted around to see someone walking away. Was someone eavesdropping on me? Did I give away any valid information during the conversation? “I got to go. If there are any other changes, just let me know.”
Before Steve could tell anything more, I cut the call and turned towards the person who was eavesdropping. It was a lady and she was walking away from me. Her gown was till her knee length and it was of a darker shade. Maybe that was why I couldn’t spot her earlier.
“Miss, hold on.” I called out.
The lady stopped in her tracks not turning, as if she was caught doing something wrong. No one gets away with me, I thought and walked towards her.
As I came nearer, I put my hand on her shoulder. “Did you—”
I was stopped short in my sentence as she faced me. I was now face to face with the person whom I had been avoiding all evening. It was her. My eyes couldn’t deceive me.
It was Megan Taylor.
He’s come to the party, my head was shouting and I was not able to get the voice out. I tried to listen to what Amber and Zack had been trying to tell me, but their voices were drowned by my own. Is that even possible?
After talking with the few guests that I knew, I wanted some fresh air. I couldn’t help but smile as I reached the balcony, feeling the night’s breeze hit my skin. By the end of the balcony, there was a bench. I went and sat on it, staring at the blackish-blue sky.
Suddenly, the balcony window came wide open, giving the silent night outside a few seconds of the racket that held inside. A well-built man with a black tux, walked out into the railings holing his phone at his ear. “Steve.” He was all he said.
His single word was more than enough for me to recognize who he was. It was Miles Jackson, whom I had been avoiding all the party. He seemed pretty happy making conversation with this guy called Steve. Oh, no. What am I doing? I shouldn’t be eavesdropping, I got up from my seat and walked in the opposite direction. Thank god, the balconies are inter connected.
“Miss, hold on.” He said, addressing me. His tone was demanding, making me flinch. It was more than three years since we had spoken to each other. I could hear my thoughts again, he’s here, whispering to me. I stopped dead in my tracks, not turning to him.
I heard his footsteps coming closer to mine. He put his hand on my shoulder in an attempt to make me face him. “Did you—” his words died away as he realized it was me.
I was still feeling the burning sensation at my shoulder where his hand was placed. His expression, for one millisecond softened and then it was replaced by a scowl. He took his hand off me and placed it inside his pant pockets.
We just stood there staring at each other for what seemed like hours. My greedy eyes, took in his figures. His disheveled hair was still the same with his dark eyes were analyzing me. His five o’clock subtle made him look even more handsome. Hell, even his tie was matching my dress.
When I looked back at his eyes, they were the color of the twilight sky, dark and beautiful. I had to look away from his scrutinizing stare down. I tucked my hair behind my ear. “How are you?”
I heard Miles laugh. When I looked at him, I was still under his analyzing eyes. “After all this time, the first thing that comes out of your mouth is—how are you?”
I bit my lip. “It’s been more than two years—”
“Two years, eleven months and seventeen days.” He corrected. And he was right.
“Miles,” I said closing my eyes. I couldn’t believe that I was talking to him. After all these years, after all those nightmares, I pinched myself trying to wake me up from the nightmare I was having. When I opened my eyes again, Miles was still there, staring at me like I was crazy.
“Well, I’m doing pretty well for the starters.” He said as he sighed. “I’ve become the CEO of our Hotel, managing and extending our services to other hotels as well.”
“I’m happy for you.” I said, genuinely meaning it.
Miles raked his fingers thorough his hair making it messier. I smiled, thinking that the Miles I knew hadn’t changed that much.
“What are you smiling at?” Miles asked. The defeated expression he held on his face turned into a scowl in the blink of an eye. So much for thinking that he was still the same Miles I knew. “You think if I’m still not over you then that’s your fault.”
I stood there dumb folded in front of him. Miles had never spoken to me that way. Never.
“You think you can rule me? Thinking that I’ll be right next to you when you are done.” Miles went on. “You are wrong. You were the one who walked out on me.”
“Miles!” I shouted above his voice to get his attention. He seemed to sense that he was talking more than necessary. “I… why are you being so cold to me?”
He looked at me with pure hatred in his eyes. “You know why.”
“All I talked was how are you and you are shouting at me.” I answered in a calm voice. “I don’t think I’ll know why.”
Miles looked away for a second and then turned back to me. “Because the warmth of my heart left me two years back.”
“Miles please don’t say that.” I pleaded, tears already forming. I blinked few time to get rid of them. “You know what happened, can’t we just forget them and move on?”
He laughed a cynical laugh. “Move on?” He walked away from me and stopped to hold the railings. “Easy for you to say as I can see that you have already moved on.”
“What?” He thinks that I have moved on? Only if he knew.
“Let’s just say that we moved on, then what?” He intrigued. “We find our own paths and destinations?”
I nodded my head, even when my heart was shouting a loud no.
“Aren’t we doing that now?”
“We can at least be friends.” I started, looking at my hands. I couldn’t bare Miles looking at me like I’m some murderer that he wants to kill any second. By being friends, I could get his smile at the least.
“Friends?” He spat at the word. “What were we before, Megan?”
The way he spelt Megan made my heart clench, as if it was foreign word in his tongue. The Miles I left almost two years back was so tranquilized and I had never seen him being angry or cold. But now, all I can see in him is the wrinkles that come from scowling at me.
“We were in a relationship.” My voice was too low to hear.
“What? I can’t hear you.” He said, turning to me.
“A relationship, Miles.” I shouted. “We were in a relationship.”
He winced at the word but closed his eyes to calm himself. “Where does that leave us in that relationship?”
I knew Miles was testing me, making me tell things that I don’t want to talk, but the authority in his voice, was rooting me in my place. “You were my boyfriend and I was your girlfriend.”
Those nine words were more than enough to get Miles temper back near the sun. But the same sentence got tears in my eyes. I was his and he was mine. Now, there was nothing that I could call mine.
“We were friends before—boy-friend and girl-friend.” Miles shouted pushing me to the balcony wall. He walked up to me holding my hands firmly in his, sending jolt of electric sparks down my spine. “We never worked out when we were friends. I don’t think we should continue, don’t you think?”
“We can.” I said, in a hope that he would agree. I didn’t want things to end up the way it was. Yes, I had broken up with Peter once, but it was not the same. The way we felt for each other was not as strong as the way I feel for Miles. Though I was the one to run away from him, I was not able to get myself together.
“No we can’t!” he shouted, in a low scary voice that gave me goose bumps on my neck. “You want a summary of what’s going to happen if we get to being friends again?”
“Then we don’t have to be fighting like this.” I said.
He immediately let go of my hand and took two step away from me. “No. I’ll tell you.” He said, facing away from me. “I will try my best to keep you happy, while you take that chance against me and walk over my heart over again.” He turned to face me. “I can’t take that one more time!”
Though a part of me was telling me that he was right, another part of me was still mad at him for making me go through all of that shit. And that part occupied most of me. Since I moved back to town, I knew I would have to deal with Miles one day or the other and walking away from each others’ face was not among the options. So I was here talking some sense into him, while he was giving attitude to me! That pissed me off at the right amount and I started to flare.
“And you would still lie to me in the name of keeping me happy!”
“You would never listen to what I’ve to say!”
“You would fight with me every time I try to talk about the heap ton of lies you created!”
“You will walk away from me again!”
“Who knows what you will create this time to keep me near you!”
“You! I… Damn it!”
In the next minute, he walked right past me, pinning me down the wall painfully. His face was beautiful as I remembered, but this time it was covered with a layer of anger, making his features more handsome. Before I could open my mouth and ask him what was he up to, his lips were on me.
It was a punishing kiss.