Beneath The Mask [On Hold]

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Chapter 11

✱Emma's POV✱

"I wish I were cross eyed so I could see you twice."

"I wish I was blind so I couldn't see you at all."

"Where have you been all my life?"

"Where I'll be for the rest of your life - in your wildest dreams."

"Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk by again?"

"Sure, but this time don't stop."

"Feel my shirt, it's boyfriend material."

"It looks a little clingy and high maintenance."

"I want to give myself to you."

"Sorry, but I don't take cheap gifts."

"What the-! How do you have a comeback for every single pickup line?!" Ben whined. I just laughed at his tantrum. "How are you so good at this, by the way?"

"Let's just say that I have experience with handling lame pickup lines."

"Hey! My pickup lines weren't lame!" He said, apparently offended.

"The pickup lines might not be lame, but I'm pretty sure that the person using them is."

I laughed when he narrowed his eyes at me on hearing my words.

This is what Ben and I have been doing for a while now. We did this through our entire dance lesson and we didn't even get caught. I'm surprised that Ms.Vaughn didn't realise.

"Do you have any class now?" He asked me.

When I said that I didn't have any other classes today, we proceeded to say goodbye and I made my way to my car.

Just when I was about to open the door, a voice behind me called, "Blue!". I froze, knowing very well who it was.

I slowly turned around as though I was being on held gunpoint.

"Ryder." I greeted with the most emotionless voice I could muster.

"I was hoping we could talk?"


Fifteen minutes later, Blake Ryder and I were sitting in one of the booths of the same ice cream parlor we had come to the other day with the same orders in our hands.

He was holding his ice cream cup against his swollen jaw. Yes, I punched him. Not once, but twice. Blake Ryder now sports a black eye and a swollen jaw.

"You do know that the thing in your hand is an ice cream and not an ice pack, right?"

"Ha ha. Very funny Blue. You punched harder than I expected you to."

"That was nothing. I only hit you this lightly because Noah told me to not break your bones. It took a lot of convincing to get permission to hit you-"

"Wait, you're telling me that you were the one who wanted to hit me and that Noah, in fact, didn't want you to do that?"

"Yes, because that's just the kind of person he is. Even after everything he had to go through because of you, he didn't want you hurt. That boy's too pure for this world."

He just looked at me as though he couldn't believe a word I was saying.

"Can I talk to him?" He asked me, his usually emotionless face holding slight hesitation and sadness.

"Hell no! I'm not letting you get close to him, just so you can hurt him again!"

"Emma, please, I promise I mean no harm, I just want to talk to my best friend."

I scoffed. "He stopped being your best friend the day you decided to insult him in front of your entire school!"

"I had my reasons. I won't say anything other than that to you. I just want to talk to him, explain everything to him."

I sat back in my seat and looked at him with narrowed eyes. I knew I couldn't make this decision for Noah. It was his choice if he wanted to forgive Ryder or not.

"Alright. I'll call him and ask him if he wants to speak to you. I'll also tell him that you want to explain to him why you were a jerk that day. Okay?"

"Thank you." He then sighed and looked at his ice cream. "This has melted. I'll go throw this and buy the cheapest ice cream they have, to use as an ice pack."

I told him to wait and went out to my car. I took out the ice pack I'd put in the mini cooler in my car this morning and went inside and handed it to him.

"You had this all along and your giving this to me now?!" He said, holding it to his face while glaring at me.

"Yes. I was enjoying you holding that ice cream to your face way too much to give you that earlier."

"You, Blue, are one crazy bitch."

"Now now Ryder, do we want a repeat of what happened the last time you called me a crazy bitch?"

"You know it's true." He said with a smirk.

"I know. I just don't like to be reminded." I replied, returning the smirk.

He just shook his head and went to buy another ice cream for himself.

Once we both were done with our ice creams, we left to go to his house to practice.


After parking my car next to Ryder's in his garage, as per his instructions, the two of us made our way inside his mansion.

We were in the foyer when a man who looked like he was in his fifties came up to us.

"You are late Blake. Your last class ended a while ago. Your father has been waiting for you. Didn't you remember that he had told you to come back early at least today?" He said to Ryder, looking worried.

"I know Edgar. I didn't mean to be late. But what I had to take care of is definitely more important than what that man will ever have to say. "

That didn't seem to please Edgar though. "What could have been possibly more - oh my god. Did you get in another fight? Your father is going to be so disappointed - And who might this young lady be?" He said, finally realising my presence.

"I'm Emma Sparx. Nice to meet you." I said with the smile I always put on while introducing myself to someone.

We all have that smile, don't we?

The smile which says 'I don't really want to smile, but I will, so I don't come off as rude '.

He smiled at me and said, "Nice to meet you too, Emma. I'm Edgar, the head butler of the Ryder family."

Before I could say anything else, a voice from inside called out, "Edgar, is Blake here yet?"

"Yes Colton. It's me." Ryder said in a bored voice.

"Why the hell is your face bruised? I thought your next fight-"

Ryder cut him off and said, "Colt, meet Emma. She's my partner this year in dance. I brought her along with me so we could practice in the ballroom." He was giving him the 'shut your mouth' look.

The guy - Colton- turned to me. "Hi. I'm sorry, I didn't see you there. I was solely focused on my brother's bruised face. I'm Colton, by the way." He said to me with a genuine smile.

"That's fine. I'm Emma."

Colton turned his attention back to his brother.

"Now, little brother, tell me who did this too you so I can and mess up his face."

I almost laughed at that.

"One, if I wanted to hit that person, I would do it myself. I'm not a kid anymore, so stop treating me like one. Two, even if I told you the person's name, you wouldn't do anything because she had a good reason."

"She? You got beaten up by a girl? Fine, at least tell me her name. I'll tell Natalie to take care of her."

I raised an eyebrow at the sexist comment. Before I could say anything, Ryder turned to look at me. His brother, who seemed to have picked up on that, turned to me accusingly and yelled, "You? You- "

But Ryder cut him off, "She's Antonio's best friend. And she knows about everything that went down that day." He said, without looking into his eyes.

"Antonio? You mean Antonio Rodriguez?"

"Antonio Rodriguez? I'm hearing that name in this house after a long time." A familiar voice called out. Alexander Ryder was walking towards us with a small smile on his face.

On seeing his father, the softened face Ryder had on talking about Noah went away and was replaced by the usual emotionless stone face.

When his father saw me, his eyes widened. "Ms. Sparx? What are you doing here?"

Before I could get in a word, Ryder spoke, "You know Blu- Emma?"

Why don't the people in this house let me speak?

His father's eyes widened at Ryder's words, clearly realising his mistake.

"Remember I told you that I had to go to a meeting yesterday? I met him there." I was quick to cover up. It isn't completely a lie though.

Ryder narrowed his at me and asked, "And what exactly was my father doing in a meeting with Woods Publishing?"

Shit. Why didn't I think of that?

You're just that dumb.

Oh shut up!

"We are manufacturing parts for their printers." Mr. Ryder, thankfully, covered.

"Oh. So you've been dealing with Woods Publishing and you didn't tell me?" Ryder looked at his father with accusing eyes.

"Don't look at me like that Blake. You're never home and when you are, you only talk to me to pick a fight! Besides, you've never been interested in anything related to Ryder Industries."

"That doesn't mean you couldn't have told me! Then again, it's not like you ever care about what I think or feel."

"Blake Theodore Ryder! Watch that mouth of yours!"

Colton cleared his throat."We are in the presence of a guest." He reminded the arguing duo.

Both of them got looks of realisation on their faces and immediately shut their mouths. After a few seconds of awkward silence, Mr. Ryder spoke up, "What was that I heard about Antonio?"

Once Colton told him what he had learnt from Ryder, his father looked shocked. Soon the shock was replaced by happiness, "How is he? I missed that kid. I thought we would never hear from him again after that stunt Blake pulled."

I just smiled awkwardly, not knowing what to say.

As we made our way to the living room, Ryder was very quiet. He hadn't spoken a word since the argument. So me being me, decided to start a conversation with him.

"So.... Your middle name is Theodore, huh?"

"Why? You got a problem with that?" He looked at me with raised eyebrows.

"No. On the contrary, I actually quite like the name. I might even start calling you that."

"Please don't. I hate the name." He said, shaking his head with a grimace.

"Seeing that you don't like the name, makes me want to call you that more. It's decided then, from today I, Emma Sparx, will be addressing you, Blake Ryder, as Theo."

"What will it take for you not call me that?"

"I might consider not calling you that if you stop calling me Blue."

"Yeah, that's not happening."

"Then I guess I'm addressing you as Theo from today."

"You are so god damn annoying! " He said, amusement flickering in his eyes.

"I take pride in being annoying." I replied with a grin.

He was obviously in a better mood now and I was happy that I had managed to make someone feel better.

We halted once we reached the living room. Ryd- no, Theo immediately turned to his father and said, "You had told me that you wanted to speak to me about something right? Well here I am, tell me why you told me to come early."

"It's not me who wanted to talk to the two of you, your grandfather is here, he's the one who wants to talk to you two."

"Please don't tell me he's here to stay."

"Sadly, he is." Colton told Blake.

I feel like I'm listening to a very private conversation and I'm not talking about just this conversation.

"He's waiting for you both in his office."

I turned to Ry- Theo and asked, "Do you want me to leave? We can practice tomorrow, I don't mind."

"No. Don't go. I'll get this over with as soon as I can and then we'll practice. We haven't even completed the choreography yet."

"Yes, Emma. You can stay. I'll give you company until Blake comes back." Mr. Ryder told me.

I agreed and the two siblings went upstairs. Once both of them were out of our line of vision, Mr. Ryder turned towards me with a raised eyebrow.

"Emma, why didn't I know that you personally knew my son."

"I know I should have told you, Mr. Ryder, but both the times that we met, I was annoyed with your son and telling you about him completely slipped my mind."

"You were annoyed with him both the times we met? How much does he annoy you?"

"I poured Gatorade and coffee on him on the day we met." I explained.

"Oh. I guess that means that he annoys you a lot."

"And I make sure I annoy him twice as much as he annoys me. It's kind of a mutual agreement."

He laughed and said, " That wasn't the only thing I wanted to speak to you about."

"I wanted to know who you're trusting with what I told you."

That was a tricky question. "I won't be telling everyone I trust about this. I'm only telling Mike."

"It's your choice, Emma. Just make sure that you make the right decisions." After saying that, he left, claiming that he had an important call and to make myself comfortable.

So much for 'I'll keep you company'.

I'm only telling Mike about this because anyone who gets involved in this will have to move around with a target on their backs.

I'm not letting my friends get into this. I know that they will want to know, what to be a part of this, but I'm not letting that happen. At least not for now.

Mike will be soon getting a position in the board, so I will have two people on the inside. Mr. Ryder and Mike.

I knew that something this dangerous will take big actions to settle and that at some point we will definitely have to go against the board.

And no matter what happens, I will do it. There's no way I'm letting my home, my safe haven get destroyed.

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