"You shouldn't have done this to me, Stella."
I looked at him and it was like I was seeing him for the first time, seeing a guy whose walls were slowly melting away, in process, burning every inch of my heart. In the darkness, as we sat looking at each other, I realised how hurt he was and his eyes, shining like fading stars, were cruelly naked for me to see that I was the reason for his pain.
I didn't know how to tell him anything, tell him that I didn't want to, that I never did, that I knew how wrong I was to be there with Alden, because I knew it won't ease anything.
I acknowledged it the moment he came looking for me and it was then, when he was walking towards me that I knew everything I wanted to know. With him in the room, even my heart knew how to beat differently.
He looked away as if, to see me was a simple pain he didn't wish to bear, so he got out of the car and disappeared inside the lodge.
I sighed. This lodge, it all started just here and I wish he had taken me back to his place instead of here. I don't think if I'll be able to handle this when I know this time, if he walks away, some part of me that latches onto the idea of him would die right there and the mere thought of it was disturbing.
Either way, I have to face this and I have to face this with him. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw him at De Kas, threatening Alden just so I would come with him and I admit, that ticked me off like anything but for once I knew better than to play with the fire that was consuming Charles and I had no wish to burn the place down.
So I kept quiet which gave me time to think about his reaction which was quite out of my imagination. I haven't seen him this angry, ever, even when I took Rosie away to the hospital and knowing it was me who caused his unsettling actions is only aggravating my guilt all the way more. I know there is a lot to resolve, a lot of stench to clear from air between us and I could sense it was going to be one long night.
I gulped and got out of the car, taking slow steps towards the house. I walked up the wooden steps and stood at the threshold, my eyes finding him instantly as he stood with his back turned to me. His one hand was pressing the back of the sofa and I could see his knuckles that had turned white from the tight grip, while he ran his other hand through his hair letting me know distressed he was.
There was a silent tornado of a million thoughts whooshing inside me but all I wanted to ask him was one simple thing.
"Why didn't you come?" Thats it. All I wanted to know was why did he never show up when he should have come to look for me, to make sure that I am okay.
He turned around and I could see his eyes conflicting between holding back or just let the words go out without any restraints.
"Why didn't you wait for me?" His question caught me off guard and I frowned.
"I did." I stressed as if that wasn't obvious enough.
"For two days?" He scoffed. "Sure Stella."
His words twisted sharply in my intestine and all my guilt turned around into unexpected anger that was fully directed at him.
"Two days, might not be that big of a deal for you Mr. Charles Hyland!" I snapped in a very rude manner. "But for a girl like me who never truly understands how to handle these tiring feelings is a torture!"
Thats right. It was a torture for me and he didn't care enough to come back and make sure if I was doing fine because its his fault that I have these unsettling and unknown feelings that I can't even put a finger on and seeing how ruthless he was in treating me is a red flag in itself that he wouldn't ever be there to take care of me when I won't be able to handle the burden.
"You think I was happy all this while?" He asked scowling, his eyes back to their accusatory stance. He took a few steps in my direction, ready to pounce, should I step out of the line but I remained in my spot, holding my ground this time. "Do you have any idea of how cruel your absence can be?"
I shook my head at his hyperbole. He can't turn this around on me.
"I was't absent, Charles." I said, not giving him the satisfaction of my guilt. If he was not okay with me not being around then it takes me back to my very first question, doesn't it? Why didn't he come? "You asked me to leave remember?! You didn't want me!"
Thats the thing which hurts the most. That he didn't want me.
"Thats not true." He said softly and closed the distance between us. I sucked in a sharp breath as his hands reached up to cradle my head and even though I wanted to pull away so that I would have a sense to think straight, I couldn't help but lean in his possessive touch. I have missed it, the illicit sparks that come to life with his contact, it feels like my whole body heats up to his closeness. "If there is one thing I want, desire even, thats you."
His words knocked the breath out of me.
"Those weren't your words until two days back." I shook my head and walked past him, grateful for the warmth of the place that engulfed me but already moaning at the loss of his touch.
"I know Stella." He said sighing. "But what did you expect?"
"I don't know? Maybe a little more respect at your end?!" I snapped.
"You judged me." He glared at me. How can he go from being so soft to angry in seconds? He is handsome and all but he stresses the heavens out of me! And his words were equal reflection of his calculated stance.
I did. I did judge him but what choice did he leave me with?
"You let me judge you." I fired back.
"You went on a date with that asshole!" He burst out and I flinched at his words.
"Oh so now we are down to playing the blame game?" I sighed.
"No! Fuck no!" He paced around, looking agitated. "Why would you Stella? Why would you do something like that to me damnit?!"
His eyes searched my face for an answer I didn't want to give him because he knows the answer as well and isn't that what we humans do? Act like we don't know when we have all the idea in this world?
I looked away.
"I can go out with whoever I want to." I said firmly. There was a long silence that stretched its legs between us, increasing the distance even more and my words were its exact reason.
"The hell did you just say to me?"
I looked back at him and for that moment, I truly feared for my life. I didn't know him and seeing the thunder bolting in his eyes, I wished to not know and aquatint with the real Charles Hyland either.
"You," He pointed at me. "want to go out with whoever you want?"
He closed the gap between us again and this time when I looked up at him, something about the way his eyes glowered at me was different, they were dangerously alight with hurt and passion, a heady combination that was taking my every pulse to a whole different level of intoxicated existence. I didn't know I was matching his steps backwards until my back hit a surface behind and I closed my eyes, exasperate at our situation that seems to be stubbornly reoccurring every time we are around each other. I could almost feel his smugness coming off in waves as he came to stand right in front of me.
He took my hands in his and pinned them above my head. While, he gazed at me with a lazy smirk plastered on his full lips. Letting me know his crooked intentions.
Ugh how does he manage to do this within minutes?
"You were saying something, princess?" And even though I have shamelessly missed his voice and his stupid nickname for me, right now even that made my nerves jump from scared excitement, the way his tongue hit against his perfect teeth, as he called me that, wriggled a sensation, a very unfamiliar and almost sinful sensation, inside me.
My mouth went dry and I couldn't get anything out of it without fumbling over my own words. Desperate to come up with something coherent.
"Let me make one thing perfectly clear." He said before he leaned in and his lips found mine. With his hard claim like this, I knew this was different. His kiss wasn't out of affection but an aftermath of his carefully controlled heavy emotions that were very very mad at me right now and as his lips moved with mine in an agonising rhythm, I couldn't help but be satisfied with him being mad at me like this. I could happily bear his anger if this was his way of showing me so. He pulled away and looked me straight in the eyes, our breaths tangled with each other’s, and his next words made one thing perfectly clear. "You are mine."
In his three words, so simple yet so demanding, I felt a kind of desire I thought I never had. When he looked at me like that, I was almost certain that he could hear my very thoughts that were submitting to his dominating claim and the funny part is I had no problem with that. It was surprising that how ready I was to give him anything, should he ask for it, anything he wanted, maybe everything.
His smirk let me know that he was quite satiated with my lost face as I stood burning under his aspiring words that had set a new stone between us, a new beginning that in my idea was going to cost me a lot more than I can see right now.
"You don't play fair!" I whispered moving away from his grip. I inhaled deeply as his touch slipped away from mine and the foggy thoughts were taken over by clear rationality that was pushing me towards the more logical part of my mind, which was adamant to hold him accountable for what he did, for the way he treated me, for his words, said and unsaid, both.
"If I had played fair, then you wouldn't be here." His face shifted, more passive now, almost expressionless.
"Thats the point Charles!" I snapped. "Isn't it?! I am here because you want me to be, just like I wasn't when two days back because you didn't want me to be!"
He frowned and I took that as a sign to continue.
"You had said that you will let me in-you didn't-heck I wasn't even aware of the very fact that you are Charles freaking Hyland!" Oh how that makes my blood boil every time I think about it.
"Kingsley." He said smiling and I gave him a confused look. "Its Charles Kingsley Hyland."
Is he for real?
"I don't care!"
"Not anymore." I said looking away.
"I was afraid that you'd judge me." If it weren't for the heavy silence that was swinging back and forth between us, I wouldn't have caught his silent words. I turned to him. "And you proved my fear quite convincingly Stella."
My heart broke a little at his words. The way his voice had grown so painfully slow and tired, I knew the accusation in his words wasn't untrue.
"You gave me every reason to do that Charles." I said sighing. Didn't he? "If you had trusted me enough, even a little, you would have told me about yourself."
"I do trust you." He said looking up instantly. The sincerity, even though I didn't want to acknowledge it, was very much there in his eyes. "I am just very much familiar with the fact that people change, Stella, in ways you can't do anything but let them go. When people find out about me, its only matter of time before everything becomes about my wealth and power. They don’t wanna be around me because they like me but because of the fact that money and I, pathetically, are thwarted into a package deal.”
I gulped at his confession.
"You can't even ask them to stay, however much you want to, and its all because of that one change you had dreaded all along. You however, you were nothing like I had ever seen, you weren't instantly begging for my attention or treating me differently but it was how casually you acknowledged me like I was some ordinary guy, it was everything to me."
I shook my head.
"Why do you think I would change?"
"Din't you? Look at us now, fighting over my last name because suddenly thats the most important issue, just like it always is!" He ran a hand through his hair in a frustrating fashion.
"No. Its not." I said and the look of pure astonishment on his face was almost comical. Had it not been such a serious conversation, I would have laughed it out in his face but instead I sighed. He seems like such a lost kid right now that I felt nothing but an urge to sooth his insecurity and make him see that this was not about him being some millionaire everyone keeps making a big deal out of.
So I walked over to the couch and flopped down, beckoning him to join me. He did, his face set in a firm caution, wary, as if he was scared that I would snap at any given moment.
He sat beside me and I refrained myself from touching him because I wanted him to be relaxed first, not as tensed as he was in his conflicting state.
"Its not about who others think you are or who I think you are because I don't know you Charles." I started, turning to him. I made sure to hold his eyes so he would know my true thoughts. "And this was exactly what happened two days back. I didn't judge you because you are a millionaire-why would I anyways?-because all I am hurt about is the fact that you didn't trust me enough that I would not. Your assumption was more painful than the reality itself."
"So you are saying you are not affected by my money?" He asked and I almost cried at his childlike look, as he looked at me for affirmation.
"Should I be?" He shook his head. "Then I am not."
He smiled. His small shy smile, worth more than any precious gem in this world.
"But just out of curiosity, whats your net worth?" He gave me a blank look and it took a second before my words settled and we both burst out laughing. I guess we'll be always this weird, jumping from one mood to another like thats all we know. "Wait how did you know I was at De Kas?"
"Don't remind me because I am not forgiving you for that anytime soon." He said with coldness and I sat up straight at the change of his tone.
"I didn't want to go." I confessed looking down at my fiddling hands. "Mae forced me to. And I was of the opinion that you didn't want me anymore. But mostly it was Mae."
His jaw locked.
"I...did you kiss him?" He asked and my head snapped up at him. Was he crazy?
"What? No!" I cried out. "Why would you ask that?"
"I was so mad when I saw you with him." He said more to himself. "I thought I had lost you even before I could have you and thats not a good feeling."
"I didn't even touch him." I said lacing my fingers through his. I am not going to take offence from his question, because its not meant to offend me, he is merely voicing his doubts and I would have done the same if it were to be him with some other girl. God are we complicated in the most whirling way.
Even his exhausted smile was breath taking.
"You know how casually badass you are?" He asked pinning me with his smouldering gaze. "You know every eye that wants you, every eye that hasn't had you."
"Isn't that what you want?"
"Its precisely what I want." And this time when he pulled me on his lap, I wished for his phone to remain silent, at least until we were done with each other. "You look so beautiful tonight."
He kissed me slowly, torturously with his lazy movement as his hand crawled up my thigh, feeling the exposed skin as my dress remained bundled around my hips. His hands settled on my butts just when a thought crossed my mind.
"Wait," I said and he groaned against my lips making me chuckle. "You didn't tell me."
"What?" He gave me a look that said this better be good.
"How did you know I was at De Kas?"
"Mae told me." He said in a short, clipped answer so that we could go back to doing what we had started but my mind was already gearing up, trying to piece this together so that the bigger picture would come forth.
I scrambled from his lap, looking around for my clutch. Figuring, I must have left it in his car I turned to Charles who was giving me a very annoyed look.
"Where is your phone?" I asked.
“I don’t like her.” He rolled his eyes but dialled her number anyways. I took his phone and pressed it to my ear, wondering what happened between those two.
"You are unbelievable Mae!" I snapped as soon as she picked up the call and she had the audacity to laugh at my frustration. "How could you?!"
"Well your welcome." She chuckled.
"I didn't have a choice Stella!" She defended herself. "You two were acting like kids and thats annoying."
"So you went ahead and fixed me up on a date?" I asked, my disbelief at her actions was clear in my tone. Charles gave me a look as if he finally understood what happened with us this evening and that it was someone else pulling our strings. "Do you have any idea how badly this could have ended?!"
"It didn't though." How can she be this cool right now?
"It could have!"
"Geez Stella. Chill. Focus on Charl-" Her voice was cut off by some noise in background and I frowned. It sounded like she was with someone.
"Are you with Val?"
"Yep. I'll talk later. Use protection kids." She cut the call quickly before I could give her a piece of my mind.
Charles snickered and I glared at him.
"What is it?”
He shrugged and I massaged my temples. I can't believe Mae went to such lengths for getting us to talk to each other.
"Yeah because that solves everything."
"No. But I know something that will." He stood up and suddenly my body took a turn merely from the way he advanced towards me.
"Wh-what are you doing?"
And in a swift motion, he picked me up from my thighs and threw me over his shoulder, while I thrashed in the after realisation of his actions.
He climbed up the stairs with me still in his hands and opened the first door on right side of next floor.
"Charles put me down now!"
"As you say, princess." He gently laid me down on the soft satin sheets of bed and I quickly looked around at the fancy decor of the room we were in, it had a very seductive aesthetic to it, whats with all dark furnishing and dim lights.
But he had my attention in the end. I looked up at him as he cupped my chin and forced my head to tilt at his angle.
"I may be a man of my manner, but if you look at me like that, with those innocent eyes...biting your lip, I might just loose all my sanity right here, in you."
And with his words alone, all my universe was shook for a lifetime.