Forgiven

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Seeking Answers 2

Chapter 59:

He was lying to her face. She knew it. It did not matter how many times she pleaded with him to tell her the truth. It did not matter how many times she gave him a chance to come clean himself. He still chose to keep her out. It would have been different if it were due to some painful experience that he still did not feel comfortable sharing. She would not have minded the wait. However, after what her contacts revealed to her, she was certain that whatever matter he was hiding was not something she could overlook or ignore, especially since it became obvious that it had something to do with her as well.

To have him lie to her face like that shattered her trust in him in an instant. It was like a veil had been lifted and she was finally able to see things clearly for the first time. Not everything made perfect sense yet, but she was finally able to put certain bits and pieces together. For months she had ignored one sign after another that something was not right about him. Her gut feeling told her that something was off, yet she gave in and let her feelings blind her to what was staring her right in the face. How could she be so stupid, blind and ignorant?

Yes, she was hurt. However, anger had thankfully taken over to a point that kept her from wallowing in self-pity like a coward. Something had to be done before it wavered and left her in the throes of self-reproach, and the first step that had to be taken was to distance herself from him as soon as possible. As such, she did not waste time and immediately gathered what she could pack in a suitcase before she left his place. Then she drove to Michaela’s flat and hoped that her friend could take her in until she managed to figure out what to do next.

As expected, her friend was more than supportive. She told her she could stay in for as long as needed. Lesly still refused to tell her what the problem was exactly because she could not handle her friend’s inquisitiveness when she had no solid answers to give. It would only infuriate and remind her of how much of an idiot she was for giving in to a man that she knew so little about. Silence was how she chose to handle the matter, and thankfully, Michaela took the hint and left her alone.

Sleep eluded her. It was only natural since her mind would not stop overthinking every little detail in search of an answer to her questions. Unfortunately, nothing made sense. By the time morning came, she was exhausted, drained and exasperated. Michaela tried to convince her to call the office and tell them that she would be arriving late so she could catch a few hours of rest, but Lesly would not listen. She needed whatever distraction the cases that awaited her in the office could offer. As a result, she took a shower, got dressed and walked out the door. She did not even bother with the breakfast Michaela prepared. She simply filled a travel mug with coffee and hoped it would help her do her job properly.

When Lesly finally arrived at her office, she saw Stacey fidgeting in her chair nervously. The moment the young woman saw her superior, she sprang to her feet and went to meet her just a few feet away from her office.

“He’s waiting for you inside,” Stacey announced anxiously. “I tried to keep him from going in, but I couldn’t.”

“It’s fine, Stacey. I’ll handle him,” Lesly responded calmly before walking into her office and shutting the door behind her.

He was standing by the window when he heard her come in. His hand held a piece of paper which she recognized instantly. It was the note she left him the day before. In it she told him that she had left and that she would come back for the rest of her things later.

Alec immediately held the note up with a frown. “Don’t you think you should’ve at least talked to me before you decided to leave like that?”

Lesly briefly spared him a glance before she took her coat off and hung it. “I already talked to you. You had nothing to say to me.”

“I assured you I’d tell you everything eventually. I just need time.”

“Time for what exactly?” Lesly asked calmly.

“It’s complicated…”

“You’re asking too much,” she quickly interrupted before seating herself and turning her computer on. If he was still not willing to talk, she was not going to waste one more second arguing with him.

Alec watched her in silence as she began sorting through the mail on her desk as if he were not there. He took a few steps towards her desk and tried talking to her again.

“I know how it might seem to you right now, especially after everything that happened. Still,…”

Lesly sighed loudly and glared at him. He was making excuses again. “You don’t get it, do you? I know nothing about you...nothing. I don’t even know if you’re indeed who you claim to be.”

“You do know something. You know how I feel,” he tried to reason.

“I’m not even sure about that anymore.”

“I would never lie to you about that…never. Why would I even lie about something like that?”

“You tell me.” The hurt look in her eyes was back again. Her voice barely rose above a whisper as she spoke to him. “What is it that you were hoping to get by earning my trust?”

“For God’s sake, Lesly. I have no ulterior motives.”

“How can I be so sure?” she challenged.

“I don’t know how I can put your mind at ease.”

“Tell me the truth.”

“I can’t... not now.”

“Then this discussion is over,” Lesly announced before she stood up and started marching towards the door to usher him out. Alec held her by the arm gently before she reached it. His voice was low as he pleaded with her again. “All I’m asking for is just a little bit more time. That’s all.”

Lesly immediately took a step back and released her arm slowly from his hold. Her anger at his insistence to drag this charade for a bit longer had reached a boiling point. She began rubbing her temples in an effort to summon control back, but it was no use.

“So the months we’ve been together weren’t enough?” she asked in anger.

“Lesly…”

“Actually, scratch that. We’ve known each other for how long? Two years? Still isn’t enough for you?”

“It’s not as simple as that.”

“I told you yesterday,” she maintained firmly. “If there’s the tiniest bit of sincerity in your feelings for me, you’ll tell me. You didn’t say anything. It’s pretty obvious where you stand, don’t you think?”

“You’ve always been quick to jump to conclusions.”

There was a noticeable break in her voice as she asked, “Tell me then. What am I supposed to believe?”

He could see how hurt she was, and it tore him apart. He tried to reach for her and hold the side of her face, but when she shut her eyes and flinched away, he decided to plead with her one more time. “Sweetheart…”

“Don’t call me that!”

Feeling helpless, he made another desperate attempt at pleading with her, “It was never my intention to…”

“I trusted you,” she immediately interrupted in exasperation. “I told you everything about me…everything…I…I…”

Tears flooded her eyes as she struggled to explain how betrayed she was feeling at the moment. “I loved you.”

Her words, the way she spoke them and the pained look in her teary eyes rendered him silent. He did not know what to say or how to fix the situation. They stared at one another in silence. He was desperately trying to think of something to say. She was waiting for him to finally explain himself.

When he said nothing, she shut her eyes in defeat and demanded in a weak voice. “Please leave.”

He did not comply, so she decided to ignore him and not drag this pointless discussion any longer. However, before she took a step away from him and towards the door, he stopped her.

“It wasn’t two years.”

His remark did not make much sense, so she turned around and looked at him in confusion. He carried on, “I’ve known you for a lot longer than that.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve met me… years ago.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’m the reason you’re in this mess,” he explained with a pained expression.

She said nothing because she was confused. Alec could see it in her face. This was going to be a shock. He knew it would be and he wished he could tell her when he knew she would be ready to hear it. However, coming clean at the moment was his only option to prove to her that he was not using her for some ulterior motive. The truth would certainly complicate things at this point, but she gave him no other choice. It had to be said.

Alec took a step forward and ran a hand through his hair nervously as he thought of the best possible way to phrase what he was about to say. Then he spoke in a low voice, “Five years ago, you met a person on the verge of death in a burning building. He asked you for help, and you did. You saved his life…. That person is me.”

Lesly shook her head slowly as she began to realize what he was talking about. “No…that man…he died.”

“He didn’t,” Alec stated calmly. “He’s standing right in front of you now.”

“You’re not making much sense,” she responded with a noticeable break in her voice.

“Try to remember, Lesly. You saw my injuries then, and you’ve seen the scars they left behind. You asked me about them repeatedly. I’m telling you now. That’s how I got them. That’s why I have them.”

He gave her a moment to process everything, but he could see shock and confusion written all over her face. She tried voicing a protest, but words failed her.

“Victor…he said…”

Alec placed a hand on her shoulder and gave her a gentle squeeze to get her to look at him. When she did, he began explaining, “My old man had to fake my death then. He did it to keep me safe…As for Wallace….,” he paused for a moment, “he and I are the same person.”

It was all too much. She needed to sit down and take a moment to think everything through. With shaky hands, she grabbed the nearest chair to her desk, sat down and buried her head in her hands. Alec gave her the time she needed to process what he just revealed to her. When she did not say anything for a long time, he approached her, placed a hand on her arm and spoke gently to her.

“Are you okay? Do you need me to get you anything?”

“No…” she whispered.

“Are you sure?” he asked with concern.

“I’m fine,” she responded stubbornly.

He grabbed a chair and drew it closer to hers. Then he sat opposite to her, rested his elbows on his knees and waited for her to gather herself. When she finally looked at him, a hint of anger and hurt had replaced the look of confusion on her face.

“Why did you keep this from me?” She asked in a small voice.

“I didn’t intend to,” he answered gently. “Our relationship was strictly professional. You didn’t recognize me, and I was fine with that. That was the whole purpose behind faking my death anyways. Still, I felt indebted to you. I wanted to help you. You were always cautious around me, and I was desperate to change that. I didn’t know why at first, but then I realized that I have feelings for you.”

“That’s no excuse…,” she whispered. Her eyes were beginning to tear up.

“I know. I should’ve told you after we’ve grown close, but I was worried that you’d doubt my intentions again. I couldn’t risk it. I was worried you’d reject my offer to help.”

She sighed loudly as she ran a hand through her hair and looked away. “So you’re gonna make it seem like you lied for my sake?”

“I shouldn’t have done it. I know, but the longer I kept it in, the harder it became for me to let it out. I didn’t wanna lose you…,” he spoke gently as he held her hand.

She looked at the large hand covering hers for a moment before she drew hers away. He could see that she was deeply hurt. She was right. It was not solely for her sake that he lied to her, no. There were other reasons why he was anxious about telling her the truth, the biggest of which were his concern that she would reject him entirely because to her he would be nothing more than a constant reminder of the horrible experience she went through. Yes, he was selfish for doing that, and yes, he knew the reason he gave her was not convincing enough, but what use would the truth be if it was only going to show him as a self-serving rascal who only cared about himself and paid no heed to whom he was hurting in the process?

“What else have you lied about?” She asked after a moment of silence.

“Nothing. Just my name. That was all. Everything else I told you is true.”

Her eyes were burning with unshed tears at this point, but the look of hurt and anger never went away. “Was it fun for you? Watching me hang on your every word like an idiot? Or did you do it to ease your guilt?”

Alec immediately rushed to assure her, “Please believe me. What I said to you…I meant it…every word. I swear, you mean more to me than you think. I’d never…”

“You’d never what? Hurt me?” She interrupted.

It was frustrating to see her lose her faith in him like that and not be able to persuade her. He wanted to hold her hand, wipe her tears or hold the side of her face, but he knew that if he did any of that, she would only push him away.

He shut his eyes forcefully and took a deep breath before attempting to plead with her again. “I don’t know how to prove it to you…you asked me to tell you the truth, and I did. What else can I do?”

“Stop…” she demanded weakly in a broken voice.

“Lesly, please.”

“I can’t even look at you right now,” she turned her face away.

“We have to talk.”

“There’s nothing more to talk about.”

“I love you,” Alec finally declared in frustration at being shut down. “I meant it when I said it.”

“Please don’t…”

“I love you,” he said again with so much emphasis this time hoping that it would sink in. “I said it once and I’ll say it again. I’m not giving you up.”

“You need to stop!” She demanded firmly.

“What do you suggest we do then?” he asked with a hint of exasperation in his voice.

“I can’t think right now.”

He thought to give her a few more minutes to gather her thoughts, so he sat in front of her in silence and watched her with an anxious look on his face. She still held her head with her hands and refused to look at or even talk to him. When the silence got too much for him, his concern pushed him to speak.

“Lesly…,” he gently called her name, but she would not respond.

“Lesly, please say something.”

“I think you should leave,” she whispered without lifting her head.

“Fine,” he replied reluctantly to placate her even though her request made him anxious. Did she want him to leave for now, or was she basically telling him that they were over? It was not clear because she refused to look at him.

In an effort to put his worry to rest, he laid a hand on her shoulder and spoke gently, “We’ll talk later, okay?”

She nodded without sparing him a glance. Then she wiped her tears and stood up to go back to her desk. Alec watched her for a few seconds. Then he stood up and walked towards the door. He paused before he opened it to take one final look at her. She continued to avoid looking at him. Desperate for a sign that there was a chance they could work things out, he spoke “I’ll give you a call later.”

She said nothing, and he did not push it. The only hint she got that he was no longer around was the soft sound of her office door being shut behind him.

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