With You, I Feel Safe
~A drop in the ocean, a change in the weather, I was praying that you and me might end up together. It’s like wishing for rain as I stand in the desert, But I’m holding you closer than most, ’Cause you are my heaven~ Ron Pope.
Chapter Theme Song: 'A Drop in the Ocean' by Ron Pope.
I jam my palms in my pockets as I approach Jeff who is closing the door of the car. The sound of my footsteps pulls his attention, but the lighting of the parking lot is relatively dim, so he narrows his eyes to catch sight of who is approaching. He finally recognizes me as I break out of the darkness, and his brows knit into a frown while he straightens his spine.
He glowers at me. “Need something?”
Since the first day I met this man, I knew something was off about him. It wasn’t solely the overprotectiveness or exaggerated concern he had for Rainey; it was also the look in his eyes when he looked at her. There was a bright flare of impure lust in them, and it really was not hard to spot. Earlier at the table, he had the same glint in his eyes, and he probably thought I hadn’t noticed, but he was staring at her cleavage the whole time.
That day I left Rainey’s house, I called up Max, a friend of Alaric’s to do some background check on Jeff. Max is famous in the streets, and he’s good at researching. He would do anything for the King’s family mainly because when it came to danger and violence, we are always at his aid. After his five days search, he swung by this morning, delivering to me what he found about this man, and I am not surprised that it did confirm my speculations.
Jeff scoff, thick vapor from the cold night air emits through his mouth. “Do you have something to say, kid?”
I glare at him with an unsmiling expression. “You still haven’t changed since 2006.”
He narrows his eyes in confusion. “What?”
“You’re still the same sick, twisted person as you were many years ago. Tell me, Jeff, where is that perverted friend of yours?” I continue, tilting my head to the side.
Jeff shifts his weight apprehensively, pointing his finger at me. “You know nothing about me, you better watch your words with me, boy.”
I smirk, and a muscle in his face twitches at this. “Did you just smirk at me?”
“I am not one to beat around the bush, so I will just get straight to the point.” I lament. “I heard about you and your friend…what’s his name? Greg?”
I watch as his face unhardens, transforming into bewilderment.
Observing his expression, my sinister smile stretches wider. “Judging by your look of horror. I am guessing I did get the name right, then?”
“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about!”
“Then let me remind you. You and your little partner in assault—Greg Taylor— sexually harassed a thirteen-year-old girl in 2006 when you both were sixteen years old. However, after charges were pressed, you both managed to get away with it free of charge and jail time because Greg’s father, who was the Commissioner of Police somehow bought you both out of the case.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about—” He gestures to walk away when I slither in his path, my face shifting to a stern glare.
“They say once a rapist, always a rapist. If I were you, I’d straighten up my act.”
He squints his eyes, the trepidation clear in them. “Are you threatening me?”
“Take it as you wish. If I learn that you did something to Rainey…best believe, I will kill you.”
He swallows hard at the threat before clenching his teeth. I glare at him for a while, ensuring he sees the warning in my eyes. Deciding I have said all I’ve needed to; I turn away while he begins to yell behind me.
“Kill me?! I would love to see you try; you don’t know me, you don’t know anything about me, you little fucker!”
I shake my head as I continue my journey, not allowing him a second more of my time.
“Trust me, you don’t know me either…” I mutter.
I am sitting at the table for quite some time and Ansel has still not returned. Jeff enters the ballroom once again wearing a strange look on his face while he finds his seat. He looks uneasy and jittery as he hands my mom her jacket.
“You were gone for quite some time, are you okay?” she questions while she splays the pink sweater over her shoulders.
Jeff nods his head. “Yeah, I was just taking a smoke.”
She chuckles. “I could use some myself, that man’s speech is so boring.”
A few heads from neighboring tables snap in our direction, proving that they heard her crude comment. She smiles at them bashfully, reaching for her glass of water and taking a small sip.
Jeff pulls his gaze in my direction but hastily looks away. His whole demeanor is strange, but it is definitely not my concern. I arise from my seat and leave the ballroom to go find Ansel.
I roam the grounds of the hotel, the cool wind causing chills on my body. I wrap an arm around me as I continue my search. This hotel is gigantic and never-ending. I am out of energy and my feet are hurting from the heels. I halt my strides, grimacing as I twist my feet in the shoes. I take notice of my surroundings and realize I am now standing in the pool area.
I look around. The deck is quiet with no sign of anyone, the only sound is of the fainted voice of the speaker from the ballroom and crickets crying out in the distance. I stand in front of the blue crystal waters for a while, the stillness easing my mind a little. The color of the pool reminds me of Ansel’s eyes, and I realize that it would have been a lot easier if I had shot him a quick text instead. It’s too late to do that now since I’ve foolishly left my phone inside.
I know it seems as if I am getting a bit fixated, but I honestly cannot bear sitting inside with my mom and Jeff while Ansel isn’t present. It feels uncomfortable, so I’d rather stand here and stare at the pool waters until I am certain that he has returned inside.
“What are you doing around here?”
A sudden voice sounds from behind me, and I jerk in fright, losing my balance. A hand quickly sweeps around me to save me from falling over; however, the efforts miserably fail as we both crash headway into the pool with a loud splash.
My head breaks above the water and I cough, using my palms to wipe my eyes. I hear a deep chuckle and force an eye open to see Ansel, his jacket clinging to his form and his wet hair slicked to his forehead. His lips are dripping wet, and he bites down on his bottom flesh to stifle further laughter.
“This isn’t funny, Ansel…we’re wet.” A smile pulls at my lips as I push wet strands of hair from my eyes. He climbs up from the water and stretches his hand out to help me up. I take his hand in mine and he pulls me onto the deck.
He laughs as he rings the water from his jacket, his hair landing over his eyes in the most attractive way I have ever seen. “I thought you knew my voice by now, Rain.”
“I thought no-one was here, you scared me.” I titter, twisting the hem of my dress. “What are you doing around here?”
He shrugs. “I was just getting some fresh air. I was in a bad mood. Were you looking for me?”
I nod. “Yeah…I-I didn’t want to be alone with my mom and Jeff.”
He nods, lowering his eyes and stamping water from his shoes. “Sorry I was gone for so long.”
I shake my head. “You weren’t…I am just being weirdly clingy…sorry.”
“No, don’t apologize, you’re not being clingy. I like being around you too.”
I get some of the water out of my dress, then move on to squeezing it from my ponytail. Ansel is ruffling his hair to dry it but suddenly halts his movements while he stares intently at me. I catch sight of his gaze, and he looks away uneasily.
I stare at him curiously, swiveling my hair. “What…?”
“Your…I am seeing—” He waves his palm over his torso, and I look at him quizzically.
“Your chest…I am seeing everything,” he informs, keeping his eyes off me and looking into the distance instead, his face visibly flushed.
I am confused at his broken sentence, and my brows furrow as I drop my gaze. I gasp when I realize that my wet dress is clinging to my body, and since I am not wearing a bra underneath, my entire chest is printing through the soaked material.
My eyes are wide as I swing my back to him, wrapping my arms around my myself as I close my eyes in embarrassment.
I hear footsteps approaching behind me. With my eyes still screwed close, I feel Ansel’s presence as he wraps his jacket around my wet body.
“You can wear this home,” he offers.
I quickly slip my hands inside his jacket and wrap it around me. Although it’s wet, it’s a lot better than Ansel seeing my whole entire chest. I whirl around to him, and his face is equally as red as mine.
“Uhm…I can’t go back inside looking like this…” I mutter.
“Don’t worry, I’ll go get your stuff for you, wait here.” He smiles and walks away, and as soon as he breaks the corner I secretly facepalm myself for deciding not to wear a bra.
Ansel returns in no time with my purse, saying the whole dining room was gawking at his wet figure and that my mom was angry about my choice to leave the banquet this early. Despite the utter embarrassment of Ansel seeing my chest, I don’t regret falling over into that pool. It serves as a great excuse to leave this stupid dinner.
We begin heading out of the pool area. The stars are plenty in the sky and the silver moon is full and bright above us. Ansel had to park some distances away from the hotel because the parking lots were all full. As soon as we exit the gates of the hotel, my right heel decides to break on me, and my ankle twists painfully from the force.
I wince, crouching down to pull the shoe off my foot. “This is why I don’t wear heels,” I grumble.
“Are you okay?” Ansel stops walking and looks back at me with concern.
“My heel broke.” I frown. I press my barefoot on the opposite foot to avoid touching the cold ground; however, I am hit with another excruciating pain instantly. I cringe. Is it sprained or something?
Ansel moves closer to me, squatting so he can inspect my ankle. He holds onto the spot, and I wince at the ache.
“Can you walk?” He looks up at me, and I ignore how handsome he looks under the silver lighting of the moon. It is certainly not the time to be gushing over him.
I shrug. “I am not sure…it hurts.”
He bites down on his lip, then without getting up, he shifts so his back is facing me. “Get on my back.”
I stare at him, blinking my eyes as if he just spoke a different language. He shifts his head to the side when he realizes I am still standing in my spot. “Rain?”
“I am fine, I don’t think—”
My speech trails off when Ansel positions his arms under my thighs and effortlessly pulls me onto his back. He hoists me up like a light ragdoll as he stands, gripping my legs onto his waists.
My eyes are wide. “A-Ansel, you can’t—”
“I can’t what, Rain?” There’s an obvious hint of amusement in his tone, and I close my eyes as I feel his palms right near my bottom. It feels weird and nerve-wracking, and the fact that my chest is pressed up against his back makes matters so much more unbearable.
“Put your arms around my neck,” he softly instructs.
I oblige, my heart hammering in my chest. My body is stiff against his, and he notices this as well.
“Relax against me, Rain.”
I swallow, slowly laying my head against his nape. His body vibrates as he speaks again. “See? Much better, right?”
I nod my head, tightening my hold around him. I inhale his intoxicating scent as I close my eyes. His body is warm and cozy, and when he holds me this close I can’t help but wish he would hold me like this forever.
I feel safe.
I feel at home.
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