The Court of Love

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Chapter 9

Arabella wondered what went on through Zoilo's mind as she waited for the elevator.

She thought about how he would tell her he loved her whenever they had sex. But she questioned if he meant it.

She brought a hand up and pushed a lock of her brown hair behind her ear. Why are you even thinking about this? She sighed.

Her other hand held onto the strap of her purse which hung at her shoulder. She pulled the strap closer to her. If only he wasn't good at it.

He knew her all too well.

He spoke in his native language from time to time as he did wonders to her body. She hated having her hair pulled but loved when he gripped her thighs and waist. Her hands were never held back for too long. Arabella needed to hold or touch him in some way whether it was tangling her fingers in his hair, running her hand along his jaw and cheeks, gripping his shoulders or biceps before digging her nails into them, or running her hand over his torso.

At least those were a few of many reasons how he knew her.

Heat spread across her cheeks and ears as she thought about it. Her gaze fell on the lights above the elevator that indicated what floor it was on.

The elevator showed to be on the floor above her and within seconds it was on hers. Arabella shifted her gaze to each side of her as she waited for the doors to open. When they did, she stepped inside and pressed the button with the number ten.

The moment the doors closed, she leaned her back against the wall. The corners of her lips slightly dropped as her thoughts went back to last night.

Since the night her and Zoilo saw their families, they spent their nights together under the sheets and woke up in each other's naked embrace. Zoilo hadn't left her alone a single night since.

Arabella scoffed at the thought of how things ended up.

It was never about sex for her. She didn't lose her virginity until after she got married with Zoilo. What she looked for in a man was more than that.

When Arabella first met Zoilo, he looked like the type of guy she would avoid, despite his formality and chivalry. The thing she didn't like the most was when he, or any man, smoked because of the harmful effects smoking caused.

And just the fact that she was going out with a man she had not met before nor had any interest in him prior to meeting him bothered her. It didn't feel right nor natural.

But surprisingly, the more she got to know him, the more she saw in him. He was someone she wanted in her life, either as a friend or more. Zoilo was funny, charming, thoughtful, considerate, and sweet.

Zoilo was always like that since the beginning. She questioned what had changed. I don't love you anymore. He said he didn't love her anymore when he told Arabella he wanted the divorce. And yet, he tells her he loves her when it's just the two of them.

Arabella stared at her reflection on the elevator doors. Her eyes didn't see much. She stared back at the brunette woman with brown eyes and questioned herself. How could she have lead her marriage with Zoilo come to a divorce? What had she become? What was she doing?

She then began to question what went on through Zoilo's mind. What did he want from her? Why would he tell her he loved her and make her believe he did to then act like he didn't?

It didn't make any sense to her.

Zoilo and Arabella became close the more they got to know each other. They had many things in common, including love that never came to be.

After they had gotten married, Arabella had grown to trust Zoilo and told him about her college crush.

"I'm sorry about what happened. You probably waited for him to make the first move," Zoilo said. Arabella sighed before nodding and leaned back against the couch

He continued, "he was probably one of those guys that needed a push. He probably thought you only saw him as a friend."

Arabella shook her head, "I think he just didn't see me as more than a friend."

She turned to face Zoilo and continued, "but I can't do anything about it now and I won't. He's married and very happy with his wife. I would never ruin someone's relationship for my own personal needs." Arabella gave him a sad smile. "What about you?" She asked. "Was there anyone that caught your eye?"

"There was this girl. We dated for almost 4 years but our parents never approved our relationship. We lost contact a few months after breaking up. I tried contacting her again, but she seemed to have changed her phone number and moved somewhere else."

He paused, "I've told you before that I did go out a few times, after her, with other women. But things didn't go too far." As he continued speaking, the corners of his lips curled up, forming into a smile that reached just below his eyes. "And then you came along. Although everything was sort of planned at first, I never expected for it to turn out like this."

Arabella blushed. He was right. Everything was planned at first but it became something more. She didn't expect to develop feelings for him and everyday, she believed she was closer to loving him.

But there was one thing she wondered that she had to ask. "Do you miss her?"

"I do, I won't lie. I honestly thought she was the one but things didn't work out." Arabella could see how much he missed his ex girlfriend. She felt bad that he was in an arranged marriage with her.

Zoilo grabbed Arabella's hand and pulled her onto his lap facing him with one leg on each side of him. "But I've moved on. I only hope that she's as happy and fortunate as I am right now."

He chucked, "why are you so red?"

Arabella could feel heat spread across her cheeks, nose, and ears. She knew she was turning as red as a tomato. "You have a way with words, Zoilo."

"Is that the only reason why?" He arched an eyebrow. He traced a hand up against her back, over her sweater. The thin material grazed against her skin, sending shivers along her spine.

Arabella brought his hand down onto her waist. "This position it's... and your hands love to wonder off to places." She she looked down at his chest to avoid eye contact.

Zoilo gently grabbed her chin and lifted her face, locking his gaze with hers. With his other hand he rubbed up and down her thigh. "There's no need to be shy about it. You weren't shy about being in this exact position last night," he smirked.

Arabella lightly pushed him back, "that was different." Her face was now burning.

Zoilo laughed. He leaned closer and placed a kiss on her forehead. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer to him.

Arabella sank into his embrace and placed her head on his chest listening to his soothing heartbeat. That day she was one day closer to falling in love with him.

In that moment, the elevator doors began to open. Arabella sighed. In the end, it didn't matter. They were getting divorced and nothing would save their relationship.

• • •

Three days later, Costano sat in his office as he spoke with his secretary, Ms. Dunn.

"When would you like me to set up another meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Velazquez?" Ms. Dunn asked.

"Make it next Thursday at nine," Ms. Dunn wrote the date on her notepad. "Oh, and Valencia."

She raised her head and looked at Costano. "Cancel any meetings I might have tomorrow and reschedule them. I'm taking the rest of the day off." Valencia nodded and wrote it on her notepad.

Costano grabbed his suit case and stood up. "I'll see you on Monday, Mr. Mattaliano. Have a great weekend," Valencia smiled.

"You can call me Costano when we're alone. You've been a great help to me and the company since you began working. I appreciate everything you've done. If you're okay with it of course."

She nodded, "thank you Costano."

"See you on Monday, Valencia," he waved before leaving his office.

• • •

There was a knock on Arabella's office door. She called for them to enter as she finished signing the documents that laid on her desk.

The door opened and in came Sefora.

"You called me?" Sefora asked.

"Yes, I need you to give this file to Zoilo." Arabella placed the documents into a file and held it up. When Sefora grabbed the file, Arabella then said, "and this as well." She reached into her top cabinet and pulled out a small white box.

"How are you guys anyways?" Sefora's expression saddened.

"It's been okay so far," Arabella answered, but her face said otherwise.

Sefora stared at her. She felt pity for Arabella. Arabella wasn't herself. She wasn't as happy and many noticed, especially Sefora since she was her personal assistant. She wanted to be there for her as her friend, not as her coworker. But she didn't want to force Arabella to tell her either.

After they started speaking less, Sefora began to miss Arabella. She missed being able to spend time on the weekends after work and hang out. It wasn't that Arabella was her only friend at work, or in general. It's just that it wasn't the same anymore.

She hoped that things would soon get better for Arabella, as well as their friendship.

"I'll go take the file and the box to him now," Sefora smiled. Arabella mimicked her smile before Sefora turned and left.

• • •

Zoilo sat behind his desk listening to his personal assistant as she spoke about upcoming events and meetings. To which he then told her whether he would attend, not attend, to change the date, or keep it as it was. They did this for about ten minutes.

"And finally, you have a meeting with the head of the finance department, Mrs. Martinez, at the end of the month." She looked up from her tablet and waited for Zoilo to speak.

He nodded his head slightly, "good. Thank you, Veronica."

She smiled, "I mean it is my job as your personal assistant." She placed the tablet on his desk which stood between them. "Now, mind telling me why you've been so stressed out lately?" She arched an eyebrow.

There were many things Zoilo should've been stressed about. Things like his company, business deals that he wanted to meet in order to expand his company, the several events that had been planned for this particular month. But his thoughts always went back to one woman in particular.

"It's nothing," he brought his left hand up over his forehead and rubbed the sides of his temple.

"It's not nothing." Veronica uncrossed her legs and stood up from her chair. "It's never good to let things build up. It never ends well," she said as she made her to the side of his desk.

"So spill," she continued. Veronica sat at the edge of the desk and raised an eyebrow, waiting for his answer.

"It's nothing, Veronica." He sighed, "just go."

Silence followed and then, he felt her hand on his. She brought his hand down and said, "you forget that I know you well enough to know when something's bothering you. So, I'll ask again, what's wrong?"

He didn't answer. Instead, he leaned forward and brought their lips together. Don't think about her.

Zoilo stood up, bringing Veronica's body up against his. She brought her arms up and secured them around his neck as she deepened the kiss. Veronica moaned when Zoilo trailed his kisses down her neck. He picked her up and wrapped her legs around his waist before sitting her on his desk.

"You still didn't answer my question. Don't think this will make me forget." Veronica spoke in a breathy moan. Zoilo stopped and stared down at her.

"You haven't changed, even after all these years," he chuckled.

Veronica let out a small laugh and smiled. She pulled him by his collar, slamming her lips onto his. The kiss became rough as both challenged each other for dominance.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.

Zoilo took a step back, allowing Veronica to get up from his desk. He sat back on his chair and ran a hand through his hair while Veronica made her way around his desk, quickly fixing her appearance.

"You may come in," Zoilo said after Veronica took a seat. She grabbed her tablet from the desk and stared at a document she had previously opened, pretending that she had not made out with her boss only seconds ago.

The door opened and Sefora stepped inside the room. "I have a file for you from Arabella." She made her way up to his desk and placed the file in his hand. "She also said to give you this." She placed the small white box on his desk.

"Thank you, Sefora. Let her know that I'll be home early and that we're going out for dinner."

Sefora nodded. She looked down at Veronica, who seemed to be reading whatever was on her tablet, before shifting her gaze back at Zoilo. She felt odd, but decided not to mention anything about it.

"I'll see you tomorrow sir." Sefora waved before leaving Zoilo's office.

Ever since Veronica began working as Zoilo's P.A., she felt odd. There was something about her that she didn't like. Although there was nothing Veronica did to prove Sefora's feelings were right from the beginning, they never went away. It was why Sefora never mentioned anything before.

She made a mental note to tell Arabella.

Meanwhile, Zoilo read the papers inside the file. It was the contract of the deal they recently closed. All that was needed were both his and Arabella's signatures to go through with the plan. He placed the file on his desk and opened the box. Inside were two slices of cheese cake.

His favorite, in fact. He noticed a note stuck to the lid inside the box. After removing it, he read the note.

I ran into Mr. and Mrs. Cooper this morning and invited me to their new bakery. It's just a few minutes away. I got you your favorite. Hope you like it.
- Arabella

Zoilo remembered always visiting the Cooper's. A young couple that moved away from California and lived here ever since. They were one of the most genuine people he had met and loved buying from them. It wasn't until that they had taken down the bakery that he and Arabella didn't see them again.

It didn't surprise him that Arabella still remembered. It was the fact that she brought him his favorite cheesecake. She didn't have to and could've just told him where the bakery was.

He frowned. Why?

Veronica's voice brought him back from his thoughts. "You've been staring at the box for a while. Who's it from?" She placed the tablet back on the desk.

"From Arabella," he answered and his frown deepened.

"You know you can tell me anything." The corner of her lips slightly raised into a smile. She wasn't happy and Zoilo knew. "It's okay if you still love her."

"I don't love her." He stood up from his chair and moved in front of her. He leaned against the front of his desk.

"You're lying." Veronica sighed and stood before reaching for her tablet. "She's the reason why you've been stressed lately, isn't she?"

Before she could get to it, Zoilo hand wrapped his hand around her wrist. He pulled her towards him and said, "Bella and I are just complicated." He kissed the back of her hand. "With getting things ready to finalize the divorce it's just complicated," he sighed and let her go.

"I get it," she spoke, softly. She pecked his lips before grabbing her things and heading for the door. "I'll go make a few calls for the meetings you wanted to change the date."

Once he nodded, she stepped out of his office. The corners of her lips hung down as she closed the door behind her.

Veronica knew Zoilo too well. She knew that he was lying when he said he didn't love Arabella. She knew that when he meant it was complicated between them it meant that it was hard letting her go.

Tears began to fill her eyes, blurring her vision.

She quickly wiped them away the moment one fell. She took a deep breath and pushed away the thought that had kept haunting her since the start of the affair.

He never wanted to leave her in the first place.

Her lips formed a smile that while many thought she was happy, inside she wasn't.

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