#73 Mystery guest
Not great, but okay.
I really am.
And the weird thing is that I didn’t expect to be. When I saw that horrible video, I felt like my heart was breaking all over again. Like I was 18 years old, covering up bruises with clothes and make-up so my friends wouldn’t find out. Not that I still had many friends with Melchior trying to have me all to himself.
Half an hour after Dshawn stormed in to comfort me, I already felt… normal? And now, almost a week later, I honestly feel like I’m still doing okay. The images haunt me at night, but Dshawn makes sure to go to bed at the same time as I do, no matter how early or late it is. He holds me until I finally fall asleep, too exhausted to keep replaying the footage in my mind.
He’s the perfect boyfriend, truly, but I can feel he’s getting to his breaking point when it comes to his curiosity. He wants to understand what happened, what I saw to get me so upset, but I don’t want to tell him. He asked if I wanted to show him, but there’s no way he’s watching that video. Never. He would definitely want me to go to the police to turn Melchior in, since I now have proof of him abusing me. That’s not happening. I don’t want to go down that path. This was so many years ago I’m not sure it even matters that I have the abuse on tape. And his family is rich and powerful… he’ll never go to jail. He’ll weasel his way out of it. I’ll only hurt myself by having to relive all that crap.
I throw myself into work, working way more hours than needed, even picking up some shifts that Annie is supposed to cover for me. I’m back to my old ways, spending all my time yelling at Kieran and Michel, picking up the slack for the new waitstaff, doing paperwork and calling suppliers that are trying to weasel out of their contracts. I’m on fire, but only in my professional life. Personal… not so much. I am not exactly the perfect girlfriend. Not even close.
When I get back home on Friday night after yet another shift gone long, Dshawn is waiting for me with a glass of champagne and a bowl filled with strawberries. I smile at him, surprised by the sweet gesture. Not that he isn’t always sweet, but I did absolutely nothing to deserve this. There he is, looking fine as hell in his tight black jeans and bright red shirt, giving me his most gorgeous grin, and here I am in my sweaty work clothes, my hair in a bun on top of my head. Aston just dropped me off, all awkwardness between us gone, and now I understand why he was winking at me when I headed into the building. He obviously knew.
“There she is,” Dshawn says like he’s been waiting for me all night. “My beautiful girl.”
I roll my eyes and drop my purse onto the floor, moving over to take the glass from him. “I look like a truck full of pigs ran me over three times.”
He laughs and puts a hand on the back of my head so he can pull me in for a kiss. His tongue slips into my mouth, kissing me deeply and hungrily. Even though I feel like a mess next to him, I still kiss him back, unable to keep back a moan when he pushes himself up against me and I feel that he’s already hard for me. I’m still holding the champagne glass with one hand, so I’m trying hard not to spill the contents all over him. Still, I can’t help running my free hand down his chest and grabbing his bulge, groaning into the kiss when I feel how ready he is for more.
“Okay, okay,” he breathes when he pulls back. “That was not the plan.”
I laugh when he runs his hands through his cute little curls, pulling at them slightly. I love his hair like this. Hopefully I can persuade him to grow it out even more instead of shaving it all off like he wants to.
“So your plan isn’t to seduce me with strawberries, champagne and scorching hot kisses?” I tease, sipping my drink and enjoying the sweet taste. “Because I have to tell you, it was working.”
“No, no, sex isn’t scheduled until the end of the night,” he replies, absolutely serious. “First, we’re going to drink and talk, catch up after barely seeing each other all week. Then, we’re meeting Aston, Franny and a mystery guest for cocktails. Since you’re free tomorrow, we’ll be going dancing after.”
“And then sex?” I ask, smiling at how cute he is all serious like this, looking at me with wide, honest eyes. What would I do without this man in my life?
“Yes,” he says with a smirk. “Ideally.”
“How about we chug our drinks, dial the talking down to just a few sentences and get in a quicky before we have to meet our friends?” I get a head’s start on my proposal, emptying the glass into my mouth. “And… is the mystery guest by any chance Caroline?”
He grunts. “Maybe…”
We know each other so well that it’s almost creepy. He is so sweet. Tears fill my eyes and I pull him back in for a hug after putting my glass on the coffee table. He strokes my hair, grunting when I give his ass a squeeze.
“What did I do to deserve you?” I ask him, hiding my face in his shirt. “I’ve been so distant this week, and here you are, being so perfect.”
“You’re everything to me,” he states simply, tugging softly at my hair so I have to look up at him. “I’m pretty sure I’m the one who’s reaching.”
“Reaching?” I ask, frowning. “For what?”
“Don’t you remember that episode of How I met your mother that we watched the other day?” he asks, smiling at my confusion. “In every relationship, there’s a reacher and a settler. As in, someone who is reaching for someone out of their league and someone who settles for someone who’s beneath them. I’m definitely the reacher.”
“You’re crazy!” I say a little too loudly, looking up at him angrily. “Have you met yourself? You are loyal, caring, thoughtful, gorgeous, sexy, amazing… You’re the only person who has ever made me feel truly and utterly safe and loved. If anyone is reaching, it’s me.”
“Let’s just agree we’re both awesome,” he says with a wink. “And don’t worry about this week, baby. I get that you sometimes need some time to work through things on your own. I just hope you know that I’m here for whatever you need. To talk, to hold you, to distract you…”
“Hmm…” I murmur when he kisses my neck. “Distracting me sounds like a great plan right now.”
Before I can register his movements, he’s already picking me up and carrying me to the bedroom, my legs around his waist. Just like he did that very first time, and like he has done many times since them, he lowers me down onto our bed with loving care, lowering himself onto me slowly so he won’t hurt or crush me.
We undress each other as fast as we can, laughing when I get stuck in my shirt, unable to see what’s going wrong. When he finally pulls it off of me, he then goes on to struggle with my bra – it’s a new one with more clasps than he’s used to.
“Fuck – you’re hard to get naked,” he complains, already stripped of all his clothes and eager for me to catch up.
“Not everyone’s as easy as you,” I tease while he pulls down my panties and throws them onto the floor. I want to tease him some more, but he shuts me up by kissing me, his fingers finding their way down my body and straight into my soaking wet pussy.
This is the first time we’re being intimate since I watched the video. I just wasn’t in the mood after hearing my own moans coming out of my laptop, knowing that it was Melchior that coaxed them out of me. Dshawn hasn’t pushed me in any way, but it’s obvious by the way he’s touching me now that he’s been yearning for this for days. I’m ready to have sex again. More than ready.
When he tries to go down on me, I pull him back up, meeting his unfocused gaze. “I just want you inside of me,” I murmur huskily. “Please.”
Immediately, he positions himself between my legs and pushes into me inch by inch. He’s so goddamn hard that he feels bigger than usual, making me moan loudly when he forces in the last inch. My ankles cross behind him, trying to pull him in even deeper. He grunts and starts trusting, unable to start out slowly. Within seconds, he’s slamming into me, panting and grunting.
“Fuck fuck fuck,” he mumbles, his eyes closed. “Fuuuuuuuuuuuck.”
“Look at me,” I order him, taking his face in my hands.
When he does, he groans at the lust in my eyes. The way he bites his soft plump lip undoes me, pushing me right over the edge. I come around him, pulling him into the abyss with me. He shudders and releases himself inside of me, his eyes never leaving mine.
“Oh fuck,” he says with one last thrust. “Sorry, I just couldn’t-”
“It’s perfect,” I assure him, still trembling from the force of that incredibly fast orgasm. “You’re perfect.”
“I love you,” he says forcefully.
“I love you,” I repeat, kissing him softly. “So much.”
He stays inside of me for a brief moment, but then he pulls out and rolls off of me, letting out a deep sigh of contentment. “Damn, I really needed that.”
“You seriously need to start jacking off again,” I tell him with a chuckle. “You’re going to explode one of these days when I’m not in the mood.”
“No,” Dshawn says, pulling me against him. “I’m all yours, baby. I won’t even cheat on you with my hand.”
Laughing, I rest my head on his chest. “That’s sweet, but totally unnecessary.”
“It doesn’t feel right to get myself off when you’re hurting,” he says, deadly serious. “I’m not sure I even could have managed this week. I was so damn worried that you were going to slip back into that dark place, baby. I’m so proud of how strong you are.”
I kiss his skin, sighing. I don’t feel strong, but it’s nice that he’s proud of me. “When are we supposed to meet the others?”
Dshawn checks the time on his phone and curses. “In thirty minutes.”
“So no round two?”
He immediately pulls me on top of him, ready to go. “Hell yeah. They can wait.”
“Caroline!” I shriek when I enter the cocktail bar.
She jumps up as well, throwing her arms around me. We haven’t seen each other in person since the wedding. Sure, we text and call, but that’s not quite the same. When she pulls back, her eyes search my face.
“You look good,” she says, sounding relieved.
I grunt. “Dshawn told you what happened, didn’t he?”
“Of course,” she says, rolling her eyes. “Next time, you better call me yourself, Shaughna!”
When I open my mouth to reply, I spot the person in the booth with Aston and Franny. “Nathan?” I ask, laughing. “Oh my God, how did Caroline manage to get you to tag along?”
“He’s whipped,” Aston tells me, giving Nathan a playful smack on the back of his head, not caring that he barely even knows Caroline’s husband and that he’s way older than he is. “Car did a great job training this old dog.”
Nathan just rolls his green eyes, pulling Caroline into his side when she sits back down. “I just felt like spending the night with my wife. And since she insisted on driving all the way over here, I couldn’t exactly stay home, now could I?”
“Whipped,” Aston repeats, making the sound of a whip cracking.
Nathan turns to him with a dangerous gleam in his eyes. “I talked to Annabel the other day. She had some interesting things to say about you, Aston.”
“Don’t you dare, you old asshole,” he warns Nathan darkly. It’s so strange to see him revved up like this. Aston is the most laid-back person in the world and he doesn’t get embarrassed easily. What does Nathan have on him? No, wait… what does Annabel known about him that we don’t?
“What did she say?” I ask, curious as fuck.
“Nothing,” Nathan says, laughing at Aston’s angry scowl. “Nothing at all.”
“Oh, come on!” Caroline pleads as well, apparently – and surprisingly – not in the loop. “You can’t keep things from your wife!”
“Sure I can,” Nathan says, chuckling. “You have no idea what kind of dark secrets I’ve got.”
“Please,” Dshawn says, sitting down across from him and pulling me down with him, his hand squeezing my leg under the table. “You’re as tame as they come, old man.”
“He may be old, but he’s not tame,” Caroline says, biting her lower lip as she looks at her husband. “Trust me. You have no idea how wild he can get.”
Aston points at her neck, where a bruise isn’t quite covered by the thick coat of make-up she put over it. “Oh, I think we’ve all got a pretty good idea, Carebear.”
Everyone laughs, but Caroline makes sure to steer the conversation away from her wicked sex life. We just talk about our jobs, silly things Nathan’s kid Rose said, the honeymoon, a new diet Aston is trying to put on some more muscles, stuff like that. Francesca is eerily silent, so after a while I get up to head to the restroom, pulling her with me. Caroline shares a knowing look with me, staying behind with the three men. She’s truly the best. I never need to explain shit like this to her. She only knows half of what happened between Fran and Aston – hell, I even don’t know all of it – but she just immediately sees what’s happening and gets that I’m the one who needs to talk to Franny. Alone.
“Hey, are you sure you’re up for this?” I ask Franny when we’re in the small but relatively clean bathroom and I’ve checked the stalls are all empty. “I’m sorry if Dshawn and I keep dragging you into outings with Aston. If we need to stop, just say the word. I’ll happily hang out with you without him there.”
She sighs and looks at herself in the mirror, fixing her hair and make-up. Her purple highlight have been redone recently and they look a little more on the blue side of the spectrum, which suits her very well. “No, it’s fine. Aston and I even hung out together a few days ago, after I ran into him at the gym. We’re getting back to being friends, but it still stings when he talks about Annabel.”
I nod. That’s totally understandable, especially since Aston reacts a little out a character when it comes to her. “Like I said, we can totally hang out more, just the two of us, without the guys. I know I haven’t been a good friend to you lately and I-”
Francesca doesn’t even let me finish. She pulls me in for a hug and holds onto me for a while, squeezing me tightly. “Trust me, babe, you’re not a bad friend. You’ve been great throughout this whole thing. Even this week, when you’re going through your own shit, you still text me throughout the day and call me while you drive home to see how I’m doing.” She smiles at me with tears in her eyes. “I seriously would be in a far worse state if you hadn’t been there for me these past few months. You get it. You know Aston, you know me, and you’re a really great listener.”
I roll my eyes, trying to cover up that I’m getting emotional as well. “Please, bitch, I’m not.”
She laughs and flips her long hair over her shoulder. “Okay, fine, be like that. Just know that I appreciate you. And Shaughna…” She hesitates. “Look, I know that you don’t like talking about the who Melchior thing, but next time you’re going through something, you can talk to me, okay? When Dshawn called me last night to ask if I was free for cocktails tonight, I was so shocked to hear what a crap week you’ve been having. We talked almost every day – why didn’t you say something?”
I grunt, a little annoyed with Dshawn for telling all my friends about what happened. Well, his version of things, since he doesn’t even know what truly happened. I still haven’t told him about the video. “I didn’t want to talk about it. And I still don’t. But that’s not because of you, that’s just because I want to stop dwelling on the past.”
“Okay, then we move on to plan B.”
“Plan B?” I repeat.
Franny grins wickedly. “We’re going to get totally shit-faced drunk tonight.”
“Hell yeah,” I agree, happy to see her looking less drawn now. “It’s been too long.”