Place me next to your heart
And swear that we’ll never part.
The place feels so warm
That I start calling it home.
He was the vast oasis in my deserted world. He was the anchor to my ship in the endless ocean. He was the cool breeze on my summer night. He was everything that completed me, that made me stay afloat.
As his lips crushed mine with bursting force, I knew I was in trouble. Though I tried to push him away, he was stronger than I had anticipated and I couldn’t move him an inch. His tongue demanded entrance and I finally gave in. His touch awakened so many emotions in me that it became a twirl of feelings that I can never fathom.
All these years of anger was boiling in me and I found myself giving him my own punishing kiss. He pressed his muscular body over mine closing the small gap between us. His fists grabbed a handful of my hair and pulled it backwards, while his mouth never left mine.
My hands automatically moved towards his chiseled chest as every cell in my body repeatedly told me, how much I had really missed him. I grabbed his tux and pulled him closer. His right hand moved to my face, holding me in place.
I wonder how he still has so much power over me. The last time I saw him at the party, I almost had a panic attack. If Pamela hadn’t made me sit down with a glass of water, I would have ended up creating a scene. And now, here I’m fighting with the same person one second, and kissing him in the next.
I’m going to go crazy with him next to me.
Miles pulled away harshly, nipping at my lower lip. He rested his head on mine, holding my face gently. We were both breathing heavily filling the night’s silence.
“This is why…” He said, not moving an inch from where he was. “This… you drive me crazy darling.” There it was— darling. I had avoided the word so much and now, hearing it from him, brought back so many memories that I couldn’t help but hold back a sob that threatened to come out of my throat any minute.
“Miles…” my voice was so low and if he was not standing as close as he was standing, I was sure that he wouldn’t have heard it.
“No!” he pushed himself away from me. As soon as he did so, I found myself craving for his touch. I knew it was not a good thing of me to hold on to him, I knew it would leave me in a disaster when he would walk away, yet, I found myself holding his hand tightly.
“No!” he shouted again and freed his hand from me and walked away, leaving me in a cliff. Neither did I have the strength to jump nor did I had the power to walk over to him and demand what was it all about.
I sank to the ground and the tears that I was holding back till now, started flowing freely down the cheeks leaving back the trails of a new beginning.
“Hey.” I put my face in my palm, covering my shameful face, as I heard Amber’s voice. “Are you alright?”
I wiped my face clean and smiled weakly at her. “Hey, Amb. Tired of dancing with Zack already?”
“You don’t have to act strong always, Megan.” She sighed. “You can talk to me.”
“I know.” I said and looked away. I didn’t want to talk about anything to anyone. I didn’t know what to talk anymore. “But then again, you are my best friend.” I smiled at her.
“You know what—” Amber started her lecture, just when my phone started to buzz.
I raised my hand at her and searched my phone in my purse. Without looking at the caller id, as usual, I picked the call. “Hello?”
“Hannah?” my heart started to beat faster now. Did something happen to Smith or was he in the hospital or was he… no he can’t be. “What happened?”
“Where are you?” she asked, her voice was weak, as if she was holding a sob of her own. I could tell that she was hiding something form me. Amber who sat beside me, nudged my arm silently asking me what was wrong. I shook my head at her telling that I didn’t know it either. “Could you drop here tonight?”
“Hannah please tell me what’s happening.” I started to tell her, unable to go through her unsaid feelings. “You are making me worry.”
“It’s nothing really.” Hannah gave out a nervous laugh. “Smith… he’s been telling that he’s having slight ache at his chest today—”
“Are you taking him to hospital?” I asked cutting through her sentence. “I’ll be right there.”
“Meg, wait!” Hannah said. “It’s nothing too serious. He doesn’t want to go to the hospital and he’s been worrying me too much.”
“Just tell him to shut his mouth for once and to listen to us!” I said angrily.
Hannah laughed. “He said that he would be alright if he has a good night’s sleep.” she said, after few seconds. “But I’m scared, Megan. Can you come home tonight? I don’t want to be… alone.”
“Hannah,” I sighed. “Nothing’s going to happen to him.” The last time I had checked on him, he was doing fine. He came back to usual routine of flower wholesaling and was not stressing. That’s what the doctor said—if he’s not stressing over, he would be fine.
“I can’t help the feeling though.” She sighed. “It was a bad idea to call you or Amber, it’s late dear. You should catch up on your sleep. I’m sorry that I bothered you.”
“Hannah, I would love to come. And don’t you ever mention that you are a bother, it’s a warning.” I said. Neither did I want to stay here any longer, nor did I want to end up crying home alone. “Give me an hour okay?”
“Thank you so much Megan.” Hannah said, as she sniffed. “I called Amber, but no one picked the call so I tried yours. I’m really sorry.”
“I’m coming.” I said, before I hung the call. “so, get rid of those tears.” I almost saw her give me a small smile.
I got up and dusted my dress. The night was still chilly and I could see few stars blinking in the moonlight. I clutched my phone tighter and turned around to see Amber crossing her arms across her chest.
“Care to explain?”
“Hannah’s being paranoid.” I said. “She wants me to stay over.”
“Why didn’t she call me?” Amber wondered out loud, walking towards the railings. “I mean it’s just been a month since you came and she forgets me now?”
“Come on Amber,” I said, walking out of the balcony. The party was still going on with kids running all over the hall with balloons and candies at their tow. “She called you first if that makes you comfortable.”
“Oh, shit.” Amber cursed, hitting her head with her hand. “I left my phone at Zack’s. I feel so much like an idiot now.”
“You want to come along with me?” I offered, as we started walking down the stairs. “Hannah would be happy.”
“I’m going to my parent’s tomorrow.” Amber said, following me behind. “I went there two days ago, so Hannah might forgive me. But please call me either way when you reach there.”
“Oh, sure.” I said. “I had forgotten about that. Then it’s only me in the shop tomorrow?”
“Thomas will be there.” Amber said, rolling her eyes. “Just because he took a leave for a week doesn’t mean that he’s fired completely.”
“I’ve not seen him anywhere in the shop, how am I supposed to know?” I defended myself. Though I was in town for one month I had not seen Thomas at all since Amber had told me to take a month off from any kind of business. I had opted to spend most of my time with the Smith’s trying to cover the lost time.
“Sure.” She scoffed.
I let go of the subject and turned to the matter at hand. I had to leave this party soon and head back. I searched for Laura but with the crowd downstairs, I couldn’t find her or her husband.
“Can you help me find Laura and Mark, please?” I asked Amber, cranking my head to my left to find them.
“I can see Laura at the DJ table.” Amber pointed out. “She’ll tell us about Mark.”
Amber and I went to the DJ table and pulled Laura away so that we could hear ourselves better in the loud noise. I still wonder how a DJ night would be preferred in children’s birthday party. I guess it’s more to entertain the crowd, than the kids. Sure, there were few games for the kids, but Pamela would definitely hate this kind of party planning.
“Hey, where had you guys been?” Laura asked just as we pulled her aside. “The DJ night just started.”
“I need to get going, Laura.” I screamed so that she could hear me well. “But I promise you Amber and Zack will dance all night to compensate my dancing. I’m sure they would attract the crowds.”
Amber hit me by the elbow. “Shut up!” both said in unison, which made a few heads turn towards us. I smiled at them politely and turned away from them to glare at the two girls.
“DJ just started and you are saying that you are going now? Just when things started to get better?” Laura demanded.
“I don’t want to hear anything about it. You are staying and that’s final.” Laura said, crossing her arms at me. What’s with these girls and crossing their arms at me?
“The Smith’s want me there.” I said without skipping a beat. As soon as she heard Smith’s name, her eyes grew soft. “I promise to be a good babysitter than I was the last time.”
This made both of them to laugh. The last time I went to baby sit little Emerald, she had puked on me for four times continuously just as I changed into new cloths. I swear I had taken several baths just to take out the scent.
“Mommy, mommy, can I play with Nate?” the cute birthday girl, came near us with a boy behind her. They were probably of the same age.
“Sure honey.” Laura smiled at her. “Want to say goodbye to Megan before you do?”
“Why?” she asked, innocently looking at me.
“I’m going home, sweetie.” I said, pinching her nose. “I’ll be back on the weekend, okay?”
“No.” She said, making a face at me. “Come and play hide and seek with us. Nate says that he can count to ifty.”
Amber laughed at her. “It’s fifty. I’ll come to play then.”
“Yay!” the boy, who was probably Nate put his hand up in the air, smiling at Amber.
“See, you got a good player.” I smiled at Emerald. “Tell me who won this game the next time we meet. I’ll go now, bye Emerald.”
“Mommy.” Emerald started to wine and finally little sobs started which soon turned out to be a big crying contest. Nate, who didn’t know what was happening, joined Emerald and started to cry too.
“Oh, boy.” I muttered to myself as Laura gave me a pointed look that told me that it was all my fault. I was thankful for the DJ for the first time in that night that the crying were suppressed due to the loud noise.
“Should I get Mark?” Amber asked Laura concerned as the two kids went on a crying marathon of who makes the loudest cry of the night. Laura silently nodded her head.
“You don’t want to cry and play, now right?” Laura held Emerald in her arms. “So, you have to stop crying.”
“Honey, I’m right here.” I said to Emerald, in an attempt to make her stop crying. “You want chocolate?”
Emerald didn’t even bother to look at me, but held her mother tighter. I heaved a sigh. “Hey, Nate, why are you crying?” I turned towards the other kid.
“She’s not coming to play with me.” He said wiping his nose. “And she… she’s crying.”
I smiled at his innocent reply and kissed his cheeks. “Awe, who taught to count till fifty?” I asked changing the subject.
He wiped his cheeks and sniffed before answering. “Daddy taught me. He says that I’m smart.”
“Oh, I’m sure you are.” I ruffled his hair. Nate gave me a shy smile and looked at Emerald who was still sniffing on her mother’s shoulder.
“Emmy?” At the sound of Mark’s voice, I turned towards them.
“Mark, I’m so sorry. I really have to go.” I said, before he could say anything else. “I’ll crash at your place some other time.”
“Oh, now I know why she’s been crying.” Mark smiled. “That’s okay, Megan.” He pulled me into a bear hug and let me go.
“Meg.” Emerald called out for me, just as I was leaving. “Daddy, let her stay.”
“She’s just going to the bathroom.” Mark said. “She’ll come back.”
“No. Tell her to stay here and play with me.”
“Now, who wants to play with me?” It was Miles now. He looked so handsome, not a trail of what happened in the balcony. Was I that easy to forget and move on? I was just another one? “I’m sure, Nate loves to, isn’t that right Nate?”
“Yeah, you even hide me at the good spots.” Nate cheered, jumping up and down.
I bent my head lower, so that he wouldn’t recognize me. I took a few steps away from them. All the four of them were talking with the kids and they didn’t notice me.
“I want to play with you too.” Emerald said out loud. Her cries had already stopped. I could hear excitement in her voice.
As I turned away not wanting to make any further scenes with the kids, I heard something that made me stop at my tracks.
“She was always the one to go away just as we get comfortable around her.”
It was the same voice that was giving me nightmares. It was Miles.
All the five heart attack reports were filed neatly and were tucked on his drawer. I grabbed them and sat on the couch with a glass of green tea. Hannah had already slept and I was having trouble with sleeping. All I found to distract myself was his reports.
April seventeenth was his first heart attack, when I was with Miles. I was still angry with them as they had never mentioned it to me, not even once. The heart attack was a minor one and it was because of cholesterol.
December twenty was his second heart attack. I was at Chailey and it was a major one. That was the first time when Hannah had called me. I remember the day vividly—I had taken my sleeping pill and had just rested my head on the pillow as the call came. I had rushed out of the house with anger, fear and desperation to save him from his miseries.
But when I had finally reached there, he was out of risk but the banner remained—a second heart attack. I remember screaming at Hannah for not letting me know, for making me feel that I was not an important part in their life. I had shouted at the nurses, cursed the doctors and cried my eyes out.
It was the first time I had my panic attack. I had dropped down unconscious as soon as I had finished all my screaming ceremony. I had stayed at the hospital for two more days recovering from the repeated panic attacks.
All my medications were doubled, the previous medicines were changed to new ones. It was then that the Smith’s decided to tell me everything.
“Not sleeping?” I was startled when I saw Hannah standing behind me with a glass of water.
“Hannah, you scared me.” I said, keeping my hand at my chest. “You even spilled my tea.”
“What’s keeping you awake, sweetie?” she asked ignoring my wines. She came around the couch to sit next to me. “You didn’t take the pill?”
“I did.” I said, taking a sip from the tea. “Why are you not sleeping?” She held her glass of water for me to see and a second later, took a sip from it. “That explains it.”
“What are you doing with all these files?” Hannah scolded lightly, pulling the records away from me. “Where did you find it anyway? I had hidden it from you.”
I laughed. “Well, with my history, you should have known that I’m very good at finding out things.”
“Sweetie,” the air in the room had shifted to become heavy, the fun part of it had vaporized into the dark night. “It was supposed to be a joke.”
“I know Hannah.” I said, with all the energy I could muster.
“Did you meet him there?” Hannah asked, changing the subject as soon as possible. She took a seat next to me and placed the glass on the table. “Mark and Miles are close, aren’t they?”
The mention of the incident brought back those images, I wanted to erase. It was one of the reasons why I had taken two pills instead of one tonight, yet I was not able to close my eyes peacefully and fall into the arms of sleep. “I… no… I was at the other part… and he was at the other…”
“I spoke to Amber.” She said when I was mustering all my medicated wits to come up with a good excuse. But as Hannah spoke, my head became a void, as if they got permission to go blank and not come up with anything. I should get Amber a filter next time I meet her.
“It’s nothing, Hannah.” I said, in a low voice avoiding eye contact with her. I didn’t know why I was being so guilty about the whole kissing thing. For one, it was Miles who initiated it. For two, I was just talking to him and trying to be friendly. For three, he was blaming everything on me like all the other times.
“Listen honey, I know it’s been hard for you for the last couple years.” She said, stroking my arm. “To be abandoned for most of your life and just when you feel you are doing okay, the ship sinks again.”
“Hannah…” I said, not wanting her to go on with whatever she had in mind. If she continued, I was sure that I was going into another panic attack that very minute. “Please don’t do this.”
“No, you listen to me.” She said, silencing me. “I want you to remember something dear. No one can ever hurt you unless you let them.” She got up and stood in front of me. “You don’t have to tell me what’s happening, I’m sure you can handle them better than me. I only want you to make decisions that makes happy.”
She kissed my forehead. “Good night, sweetie. I’ll take these files away okay?”
I nodded my head, unable to get my voice out of my throat.
“Yes, I know.” I said for the umpteenth time. “I won’t be late.”
Smith smiled as he sat in his chair, rocking mildly. He pulled his paper and covered his face to avoid me seeing him giggle.
“I can hear you Smith.” I said, rolling my eyes. “And you,” I said to Amber who was in the call. “I remember everything you said and I take an oath that I won’t fail you. Please let me go now.”
“Gee, you are demanding and pleading at the same time.” Amber said, with a strange voice. “Is that even allowed?”
“Amber,” I sighed. “It’s eight thirty here and I want to have a good morning. Don’t spoil it for fun.” Hannah motioned me to join them in the breakfast. I walked past Smith and sat down next to her.
“Okay, fine.” I could almost see her put her hands up in surrender. “I’ll send you a pic of Thomas. I don’t want you employing a serial killer in his name.”
“Love you too.” She said sweetly, before she cut the call.
“I really hate that girl.” I said out loud.
“I guess you are having a very good morning today.” Smith said as he sat next to me.
“Don’t even get me started.” My phone buzzed again, sending in the latest pic of the so-called Thomas. He seemed to be around twenty and if I recall correctly, he was a college student who was in need of some money, and that was how Amber had employed him.
“How is your ache now?” I asked Smith as I started on the omelette. It was one of the best things Hannah prepared.
“I think it was the heavy meal I had last night.” He said rubbing his chest.
“I’m cutting on the steak for you today then.” Hannah said, concerned. “If I had known, I wouldn’t have put the broccoli salad for you yesterday.”
“I hate broccoli.” Smith said, in a low voice, only for me to hear. His eyes sparkled as if to tell me that the main intention was to get himself broccoli-free.
I shook my head smiling. “But Hannah I read an article that broccoli's good for heart patients.” I took another bite from the plate. “It seems that it prevents them.”
Smith was shooting daggers at me from his eyes if that is ever possible. I only held back a chuckle and I witnessed the events in front of me.
“Really?” Hannah looked at me. “I was wondering what grocery to buy for lunch today. Broccoli would do then.”
I winked at Smith as I got up from my seat to wash the plates. “I’m going off to work, guys. I’ll see you at the weekend.”
“Thanks for dropping by.” Smith said, as he walked towards my car. “You should do that more often.”
“Yeah.” I said, sliding onto the driver’s seat. “Till then, be safe.”
I waved goodbye and drove past him to the shop—Mystique flowers. It only seems yesterday that I started this shop, which today stands to be one of the most widely running flower boutiques. As I parked my SUV in its normal position, I saw that the shop was still the same.
The banner which read Mystique flowers, had faded and needed repainting. There were no wilted flowers anywhere near the shop. All the new designs for the bouquets were neatly displayed across the glass windows.
I smiled at the nostalgic effect that hit me when I unlocked the familiar door. A wave of scent hit me as I entered the door. I could tell that it was lilies and tulips. It was the first time I was going to the shop after all these days that I moved here and I wanted to take all my time to realize that I was not dreaming.
The only change here was that the wallpapers were changed and new set of designs had come up. I smiled as I approached the blooming rose buds and sniffed the scent—a best way to start my day.
“Good morning.” I turned around to see Thomas. I could easily recognize him, thanks to Amber and her photos of his. He looked better than I had seen him in the photos. He was a little dark with curly hairs that needed a cut. His dark brown eyes twinkled as he extended his hand towards me. “I’m Thomas. You must be Megan. Amber couldn’t shut up about you.”
I laughed. I had already started liking this guy. “I’ve heard a lot about you too.” I shook his hand lightly. “How long have you been working here?”
“It will be two years this summer.” He said, as he made his way towards the rose buds to get them out of the water. “I only wanted to be here for the last summer, but then, I learnt that girls love flowers, and so here I am.”
Giggling, I helped him get the rose buds set on the table. “So, you are a student here on a part time job?”
“Yeah, pretty much.” He said, pulling out the plastic sheets that we use to make bouquets. “I had moved here only then; my parents had already paid for my college and tuition. They were giving me stink eyes whenever I asked them for money to spend for myself.”
“So, this job makes you independent, huh?”
“You can say that, and Amber pays me more than enough.” He said. “Shit, I wasn’t supposed to tell that out loud.”
I smiled. “I’m a great secret keeper.”
“Thanks.” He gave me a toothy smile.
“So, there are any deliveries today?” I asked. “Or any events for which we have to decorate or something?”
“It’s only deliveries today.” He answered, keeping his eyes on the bouquet he was preparing. “There are competitions from the plastic flowers now, but most of them prefer the original ones.”
“Let God bless them.” I said, as I made my way towards the book that holds the entries of the deliveries.
Thomas chuckled. “Yeah.”
“You want to go on deliveries or should I?” I asked as I flipped the pages of the book.
“I have a class at eleven, so if you don’t mind, can you do it and be back by eleven?” He asked, looking at me with pleading brown eyes.
“Not a problem.” I said. “I usually did the deliveries anyway.”
“You are an angel in disguise, seriously.” He said, laughing. “By now, Amber and I would have had at least thirty things to argue about.”
I laughed thinking how Thomas had actually survived with all the arguments with Amber. “That’s her.”
“She never did deliveries and always put them on me.” He winced like a school kid.
“Well, I’m here to save your ass then.” I smiled at him. “I better get going now, if you want me to be here by eleven.”
And just like that I was put back into my old-new life, taking down the same paths, but this time, with different memories.