Forgiven

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Close to Confession

Chapter 28:

Alec showed up sooner than Lesly had expected. He helped her wake Hannah and Michaela up and guided them to his car. They dropped Hannah off at her apartment first. The young woman was in a much better condition than Michaela and would have been able to leave the car and find her apartment all by herself. However, both Lesly and Alec did not feel okay with letting Hannah do that in her current state. As such, they instructed her to call her roommate and did not allow her to leave the car until the roommate came to pick her up.

Alec drove to Coldwick next to drop Michaela off. She was still heavily intoxicated, so he and Lesly had to walk her to her apartment and make sure everything was in order before they left. Lesly guided her drunk friend to her bedroom, but not before she asked Alec to fetch some water and bin liners from the kitchen. Her friend might experience the need to throw up after drinking too much and Lesly wanted to make sure that there was a properly lined bin next to Michaela’s bed. Lesly sat Michaela down on her bed and removed her shoes. She then grabbed a change of clothes from the dresser and helped Michaela slip out of her uncomfortably constricting outfit and into the more comfortable ones she picked. Alec came into the room with the bin liners and a water bottle and found Michaela mumbling something to Lesly. The dark haired woman simply nodded as she took the water bottle from Alec and handed it to her friend. Michaela then gave Alec a dirty look and asked.

“Are you going to ask her to stay home with the kids?”

Alec was confused. He looked at Lesly who was standing next to the intoxicated woman and found her shaking her head and mouthing the word ‘no’ to him. He took the hint and answered Michaela hesitantly. “No?”

The dirty look Michaela was giving Alec did not disappear. She tried to stand up, but Lesly held her down and forced her to go back to sitting on her bed.

“You love animals?”

Alec looked at Lesly again and found that she was busy looking for Michaela’s phone in her purse, so he answered honestly.

“I don’t mind them.”

“Even reptiles?”

Lesly began to vehemently shake her head. Alec took the hint and said ‘no’.

“Good. I don’t like them either.”

“Michaela, hon., you need to get some sleep.” Lesly instructed.

“Okay.” Michaela answered, but Lesly could see that her friend had no idea what she just agreed to. Lesly helped her drunk friend lay down and covered her up with the duvet.

“Your phone is on the nightstand next to you. If you need anything, call me. If you feel like you want to throw up, I left a bin for you here.”

Michaela simply nodded. She dozed off a minute later.

Alec looked at Lesly in puzzlement and asked her. “What was that about?”

“Nothing”

“Was it my imagination or did she seem a bit antagonistic?” Alec followed Lesly out of her friend’s bedroom and into the living the room.

“You weren’t imagining it.” Lesly said with an amused look on her face.

“She said something about kids.”

“She also mentioned animals and reptiles. She’s drunk and has no idea what she’s talking about.” Lesly grabbed her purse from the living room and walked towards the door before she held it open for Alec.

“How is it that you’re the only one who’s sober?” Alec said suspiciously as he followed her to the door.

“They bonded over something that I didn’t have in common with them.” Then she added jokingly “Also, I make smarter choices.”

“Debatable.” He shrugged.

Lesly locked the door with her copy of the key before she turned to Alec. “You have evidence to argue to the contrary?”

“I can dig. Don’t tempt me.” He had a mischievous glint in his eyes.

Lesly did not say anything. She just smiled confidently at him before she took the stairs down. He tried to ask her about Michaela’s inexplicable hostility again during the ride back home, but she simply told him that it had nothing to do with him. He just happened to remind Michaela of a certain someone in her drunken state.

When they got back home, Lesly took off her coat, dropped her purse on the couch and went into the kitchen to get a glass of water. Alec was busy checking something on his phone. The frown on his face intensified before he began dialing a number. Lesly realized when he began talking that it was Hannah on the other end of the line. She must have texted him something and he called back to check on her.

Lesly watched him with interest as she leaned against the kitchen counter. She noticed the change the phone call brought to his face. He was no longer frowning but rather concerned. The sight of him talking to Hannah brought reminders of her conversation with Michaela earlier at the bar. Her friend asked her if the idea of Alec seeing someone else bothered her. Lesly said no, but in reality, it bothered her a great deal. It bothered her more than she liked to admit. It was ridiculous in a sense because she knew starting something with him was not a question of whether she wanted to or not. It was more a question of whether she could, and she knew she could not as much as she wanted to. It would be selfish of her to expect to him to put up with the burden of helping her sort through her issues. He did not deserve that. He deserved someone better, someone normal, someone who could make him happy. She was not that person.

Alec hung up and turned his attention to her. His question brought her back from her depressing train of thoughts.

“Hannah tells me you saw Michael?” He asked with a sheepish smile.

“I did.” Lesly’s answer came out short. She did not know what Hannah told him exactly and she did not want to get the young woman in trouble by telling Alec that it was Hannah who spotted the young man.

Alec began rubbing the back of his head apologetically. He tried to explain. “It’s not like I was having you stalked. I was worried something bad might happen when I wasn’t around. That’s why I asked Michael to keep an eye on you. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to feel anxious all the time.”

“I know.” She smiled warmly at him. She wanted to thank him for looking out for her, but she was worried that if she did, she might accidentally let him know that she had more emotions than gratitude threatening to reveal themselves at the moment.

“Anything else Hannah volunteered willingly in her drunken state?” He wore a smile, but it was not his usual confident one. He seemed anxious.

Lesly figured that Hannah must have told him the truth. However, judging by his reaction, it seemed that Hannah did not exactly recall everything that she said to Lesly. Alec was surely made aware of that.

“Nothing much,” Lesly smiled, “but thank you for alerting me to the fact that I should seek Hannah if I ever needed to dig some dirt on you.”

“For what purpose?” Alec asked with a sheepish grin.

“Fun.” She shrugged.

“Have at it.” He chuckled. “Keep in mind, though, that if you want to dig something substantial, Greg is the guy you should seek, not Hannah.”

“Really?”

“He’s very difficult to crack, however, so good luck with that.”

Lesly watched Alec as he picked the pile of mail that was on the coffee table and started sorting through it. She remembered the look Hannah had on her face while she was talking about him. It told her how much the young woman idolized and adored him. This made Lesly wonder if Alec knew about Hannah or if he had ever felt the same way about the young woman in the past. She wanted to find out even though her mind reasoned with her repeatedly that she should not pursue the matter any further. Nothing good would come out of it. He might find out how much knowing about it bothered her. She might learn something that could hurt her. The gnawing curiosity did not leave her, however. She desperately wanted to know if he was going to have the same look on his face as Hannah’s if she asked him about her. Did he perhaps feel the same way about the young woman but was not aware of it? Did something happen between the two of them in the past? What sort of relationship tied him to her?

“I’ve noticed that she’s very formal with you.” Lesly spoke softly after a moment of silence.

“Who?” Alec asked. His eyes were still focused on an envelope he was holding. He seemed to have forgotten what they were talking about.

“Hannah.”

“Yeah, I tried talking to her about it, but she wouldn’t drop it.”

“You’ve known each other for years now, haven’t you?”

“I guess.” He answered almost absentmindedly. He was distracted by the contents of the envelope he was checking earlier.

“Would you say that you guys are close?”

“If you mean close as in friends, …” Alec stopped to think about the question. Then he shrugged and continued. “I don’t know. I guess.”

“She seems to know so much about you.”

Alec paused and looked at Lesly questioningly. He noticed that something was off. He thought she was still joking about finding something embarrassing about him from Hannah, but right now, the purpose behind their discussion seemed to have changed.

“What’s going on?” He asked suspiciously.

“Nothing.” Lesly tried to mask her nervousness.

Alec narrowed his eyes at her. “Is something bothering you?”

“No.”

Lesly realized then that she had made a mistake. She had totally forgotten about how perceptive he was and how obvious she could be. She tried to rush through another excuse and hoped that he would not be able to tell how flustered she was. “I was just curious. That’s all.”

She then placed the glass she was holding in the sink and tried to walk back to her room. “I think I should go to bed now. Good night.”

“Lesly, wait.”

She stopped. Why did she stop? She could have kept going and avoided the whole ordeal. She turned around to face him and tried her best to look normal. He took a couple of steps towards her until he was standing right in front of her. Then he began talking.

“Hannah and I have known each other for years. Yes, we understand each other so well, and yes, she has feelings for me, but I’ve always thought of her like a little sister.”

“You knew?” Lesly interrupted.

He nodded. “She told me, and judging by your reaction, I’m guessing she told you too.”

“She was drunk.” Lesly tried to defend her.

“I’m aware of that.”

“How long have you known about her?”

“She told me a couple of months ago.”

“I see.”

Alec leaned down and placed both hands on the counter behind her to keep her from leaving. Then he asked her.

“Any other question you wish me to answer?”

Lesly shook her head slowly as she kept her eyes locked with his.

“Is it okay if I ask you something now?” He asked in a husky voice that made goosebumps rise on her skin.

“What is it?” She whispered.

“How much did it bother you?”

“How much did what bother me?” She tried to feign ignorance.

“Learning about Hannah.”

Lesly did not know how to answer him. If she denied it, he was going to know immediately that she was lying. If she gave him a confirmation, he would definitely ask her why. There was no way out of this situation, so she chose to stay silent.

Alec got the message. He did not press her for an answer because her silence told him everything he needed to know. Nevertheless, it was important for him that she understood how he felt.

“Lesly, you know where I stand.”

She still chose silence, but her eyes spoke volumes. He pulled the loose chunky knit turtleneck down and caressed the spot where his mouth had left a mark the night before. He felt the frantic beating of her heart on his fingers which were lightly stroking her pulse point. He could see her chest rising and falling as her breathing quickened. He leaned down until his lips barely touched hers and whispered.

“Just say the word and I’m yours.”

Lesly finally spoke. Her tone was soft and uncertain as she gave him her answer.

“It wouldn’t be fair to you…as much as I want to.”

“Why would you think that?” He asked.

“It’s complicated. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.” He tried to reason. His deep low voice made her tremble. “You trust me, don’t you?”

“I do.”

“Then talk to me.”

A moment of silence passed before she spoke again. Her voice quivered. “I’m afraid.”

“Of what?”

She did not answer him. Her eyes were cast down to avoid his, but he could see that they were already getting teary. He cupped the sides of her face and pleaded once more. “Lesly, look at me.”

She complied. The moment she lifted her eyes to meet his, however, her tears tickled down. His chest tightened at the sight of her sad face. He wiped her tears away with his thumbs, drew her to him and wrapped her in his embrace. He chose not to pursue the matter any further.

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