It doesn’t take a genius to figure out, Arin was avoiding me last night. She was not being herself and I ensured the remnants of her confidence too shattered. How was I, one who couldn’t stop her thoughts from pocking me, was able to reject her. How did I turn out to such an arse.
While Arin was negotiating the contract, the only thought that came rushing back to me was of her place. Not that I was surprised where she lived; it was the fact that I was finally able to imagine it. Since our talks, I always had a hard time thinking how she must look or where she lived.
All that was put to rest with knowledge I carried. She was my assistant, one with her bright smile and an alluring personality. Arin was one of those rare entities who had the power to ensure, people would remember her for long.
It only took one to change both our lives. One phone call and one decision to take over her company made me stand face to face with the truth. I still wondered if she’d dislike me forever. I was, after all, her rude boss. The one who never valued her. From the way she negotiated her side of the contract, it was very clear, she didn’t favor me anymore than before.
Infact, it may be possible that she detested me after I sprang up the contract deal on her before Xavier had the change to ease her into it. It was my idiocy, my mistake that I dragged her into what I wanted without her consent. The way she peered at me while negotiating the clauses, made it abundantly clear. She wasn’t just haggling her side; she was ensuring I suffered.
It felt as if she was on some revenge mode. I saw the same darkness swirl in Brandon’s eyes once. God! Did I compare babydoll to a vile man!
I must be exhausted with all the recent developments.
When I dialed up Xavier, it went unanswered.
I wanted to consult with him before doing anything further. The last time, I didn’t take his advisement and proceeded to do things on my own, only to screwed things up. This time would be different.
At the sight of the the Oswald mansion, my drive slowed. A sense of relief washed over me. I used to cringe coming to this place. My blood used to boil every time I imagined this mansion and its people. But after getting rid of the one person who was an epitome of a she-devil, all things fell back in place.
Stella was as cunning as Brandon himself and I committed the mistake of underestimated her. I was too in love to open my eyes and see the reality, sense the truth. Love does make one do abhorrent things and I stood the embodiment of all things abhorrent.
Parked, I rushed in. My feet were skipping steps, wanting to get the ordeal done with. Stella would dredge drama, so I went to find Xavier first. She wouldn’t let go of her hold over me, even if it was through some insignificant contract.
Murals and painting on the walls adjoining Xavier’s walls depicted his profound love for art. This place was the classic example of both things good and bad. The residents, Stella and Malcom were the bloodlust hounds who wouldn’t think twice before sinking their teeth in anyone. But there was also, Xavier and Charles who were too good for their own harm.
Before I could knock and enter, a familiar voice boomed from behind the ajar doors, halting my steps. “Stop it.. I swear Xavier.. stop it..”
I have heard that voice so many times to know whose was it. Tossing aside the concept of decency, I barged in, thinking Arin was being troubled.
Only when I walked in, did I realize my mistake.
Arin stood across the room, a pillow in her hand while Xavier stood on the opposite side, holding a plate of whipped cream in his. I was as confused as them. Both of them stared at me, panting. They weren’t kids to play, yet they did. I struggled to churn some excuse but none made an appearance.
“Hey man,” acknowledging Xavier, I tried hiding my embarrassment but Arin seemed to have caught a whiff of my expressions.
“Your assumptions need to be kept in check, Roger..” her tone was boastful and so was her smirk.
I wouldn’t lie. A woman who could almost read my mind was a ‘fantasy come to life’ for me. But asides out differences, I also had a huge ego to feed.
“And your conclusion too, Arin.”
Her hooked eyebrows made me wonder if she contemplated pouncing on me or impressed at my retort. With Xavier intervening out conversation, I straightened to state my reasons.
“I need your help with Stella,” and the residual pride in me melted away.
He laughed as I shifted around, uneasy. ”Ohh, you want me to be your cushion?” I bobbed my head once and Arin uttered a laughter, vicious for my taste.
What was she up to? I have seen the kind and simple Arin in office and heard a minx over calls but this one, I had never encountered. She looked like someone who was hit with the realization of her power, her abilities.
Sure, coming to know of being a lost heiress was one thing, but Arin’s confidence depicted a different attribute. She reminded me of myself when I first joined the Murphys’. Arin determination trickled from every part of her body. She wasn’t a mere heiress anymore. Arin Oswald Rafferty seemed to have come to the realization, she was one strong weapon in herself.
Walking closer to my side, she contoured her face. Although her beautiful features still reflected through, this girl standing near me only had only one intention. Torture.
“Are you scared big boy?” with anime eyes, she blinked. Her lips parted for a devious smile.
I didn’t know if Xavier taught her this or she conjured it up from thin air but I didn’t like the baby treatment. Composing my face for a patient look, while agitation boiled inside of me, I answered. “I am not scared. That’s something you should have known, babydoll..”
That particular word affected her the most. Her demeanor, stoic walls crumbled as she tried to change the topic. Her give had me another stroke of realization.
Xavier doesn’t know about her call center job. And she would do anything to protect her secret.
“So why do you need Xavier?” Her arms crossed over her chest. Breathing at a rhythmic pace, she tried asking. It was only I, who would see the rising turmoil through her reddened face. “Can’t you talk to her. After all she was your first.” Her words pierced through me.
Playfulness aside, Stella was indeed my first love. I trusted her with my life. That same life, she played around with.
Deciding to talk to her myself, I trotted out of the room all the way to the other end. Even with the knowledge that I was entering a hyena’s den, I wasn’t worried anymore. I may have been a while back but with Arin words revving in my mind, I wasn’t.
It was time to be the big boy.
The knock on her door went without response. It took a while before Stella herself opened it. Not only was it strange that she attended her own room call, the surprising element was her presence at this time of day. On any normal day, an afternoon session would have her drinking her mimosas and yapping with her friends. Seemed like it wasn’t one of those days.
“Ah.. darling...” she moved back and flung the doors to remain open. Both the brother sister duo had darling, as their favorite reference.
Stella greeted me with her eyes, blinking slow and scanning me from top to bottom as I entered her chamber. The second I walked inside, the wild thoughts of my previous presence in this room rattled me.
“Any reason for you to be here? I mean..” she asked, threading her words.
There was no reason to beat around the bush. “Yes. Your services are no longer required. You are free from the contract.”
Being aware that she was the one who leaked Arin’s information to the press, I played my squared, keeping the mysterious cover up.
“Read in the papers. And remember,” I turned to address her one more time. “You do any more funny business and there are things of yours, which can get leaked.”
She nodded in an unwilling manner. Although the kitty seemed declawed at this moment, I knew she would go for a pounce, the second she’d realize it was Arin who replaced her. Stella and I may have broken up a long time back, she wouldn’t let go of any chance to torture me.
Walking out, I heard my name. Tapped footsteps and the panting voice reached me quicker. Arin bend down, gasping for air before staring back at me.
“I need a scooter to walk around this place..”
Looking at her in amusement, I found myself smiling at her words. “You called to tell me that you need a scooter?” Waiving her hands in the air, she heaved as her lungs tried to suck the air around. “It’s not that difficult you know.” She looked at me in confusion. “Exercise, Arin, instead of chugging pints of ice cream.”
Cringing her face, she mocked me. “Listen. We are deviating.”
She tried her best not to laugh but it was my turn to play around. “You are the one who started with the scooter, I only continued.”
I know it wasn’t the best of my humor but it still made her laugh. Leaning against the banister, she smiled and held a pose, arms on both sides. “I wanted to say sorry about what I said.” My questioned face made her realize my lack of understanding. “What I said about Stella being your first..and..”
I dismissed her apology with a hand wave. A thing of the past doesn’t need an apology. “Don’t fret about it. And stop being so formal.”
She nodded in agreement.
I walked back and slid into my car. Before I could hit the accelerator, thoughts about things from the past flooded my mind. Thinking that I was over Stella’s betrayal was my biggest mistake. I wasn’t. After her, I could never trust anyone. Stella taught me an important lesson. Survival.
Heaving, I closed my eyes. Air inside my mechanically cooled interior wasn’t as helpful as the fresh crisp air on the outside. But I also wasn’t in any condition to open the door and let the world see my weakness.
The same weakness that shattered my world a few years back..
The past was still fresh as if it happened yesterday. And just like that, the day when everything crumbled, came rushing back, pricking my chest and throat.
The dark gloomy room wasn’t as scary as was the thought of what was said about me.
Stella only confessed to her father and some of her friends but it was enough for me to be scared for myself, for my business.
A tall, slender man walked into the room. His hand held files and papers stacked inside a mini box. My lawyer sat beside me. She held my hand and gave me a tight smile. Her assurance was everything. Her confidence gave me the support needed for surviving this ordeal.
Placing himself on the seat opposition mine, the detective pressed the button to begin the interview. He recorded the time and date and narrated those vile claims.
“We are interrogating Roger Murphy on the charges of rape and assault on Stella Oswald.” The soundproof room seemed to boom, resonating those words as I heard the allegations levied against me.
I remembered being told about Stella’s infidelity. A friend of mine witnessed her with another man. A rich one, he said. Before I could confront her, she played her move. I remembered being escorted from my apartment by the police.
Stella had accused me of raping her before I could ask her about her affair. Before I could break up with her, her accusation made me the bad guy.
The detective’s voice floated across to me. “We have a written confession from the victim and a medical test.” I waited for him to finish. He was already convinced that I was the culprit. “Do you want to say something?”
Stating the parroted words taught by my lawyer, I repeated, “No comments.”
The buzzer rang and the detective was called out. It took another half hour for him to walk back, by when his demeanor changed. His stoic expressions were replaced with happiness as he announced, “You are free to go. The charges are dropped.”
Those dreadful memories remained etched in my mind. It taught me, no one could be trusted in this world. Nobody can love someone unconditionally. Everyone had their reasons to be with someone.
Stella had hers.
After an out of court settlement and a hush ransom for me to have controlling stakes in the Oswald business, I agreed to not press defamation charges against her.
The press never even knew about it. Malcom was good to sweep it under his dirty rug of secrets. The only regret I had was asking her to play my fiancé. She was the enemy whom I wanted to keep an eye on. An enemy to help defeat another, bigger one.
A phone call pulled me out of those memories. The name flashed on my screen, making me smile.
Picking up, I heard Charles’s harsh voice. “Wherever you are. Whatever you are doing. Stop it and come meet me..”
Knowing that he was still unaware of the arrangement with Arin and we had planned meticulously on telling him, my doubts pointed towards one person. Stella.
But, I could be wrong too. Chances were, Charles wanted to discuss the merger contract. Pulling on a normal face and voice, I responded. “What happened Charles?”
A storm of breath took over the speaker which lasted for a couple of second. “You are not going to marrying Arin.”
Hope you like this chapter..