Chapter 14 - Knox
I knew it would be like this. I knew that having her once wouldn’t be enough. I knew exactly what I was doing, and why this was a spectacularly bad idea.
At least she walked into this eyes open, knowing that we had an expiration date. The clock was ticking, and I had about three months left before I’d leave for Europe, for at least two years - if not longer than that. My plans had been mapped out and made long ago, and there was no way I could alter course now.
Snow was just a girl, wasn’t she? A beautiful girl, who I was insanely attracted to, but nonetheless. Forever was never written into our destiny; all I could offer was right now. It would be okay - as long as we didn’t fall in love. As long as we both knew that this was temporary and physical, perhaps we could both walk away from this relatively unscathed.
“What are you thinking?” She asked softly, looking at me with so much undiluted trust in those sapphire blues. It made me feel guilty as sin when she looked at me like that - like she thought I was some sort of saint - which I definitely wasn’t - just because I happened to save her life.
I sighed, drawing my arms tighter around her, because I couldn’t lie - it felt so fucking good to have her in my arms. I’d dreamed of this, night after night, but now what? All that I knew was that I wanted whatever I could have with her. If that was right here and right now, then I’d take it. She was fast becoming an obsession - an obsession I couldn’t afford to indulge for too long. Perhaps this was a good idea, after all - get her out of my system - hopefully - by the time I have to leave. We both understood where we stood with each other; our foundation wasn’t built on lies.
“I was thinking... that I still have to come clean to you about who I really am,” I sighed, and a little smile curved on her lips. Fuck - she was so beautiful. Why did she have to look like that? Why did she have to look at me like that?
“That’s right... why did you say earlier that you hoped I wasn’t a snob?” She traced patterns with her fingertips on my chest; God, I wanted her again. What was she doing to me? I didn’t seem to have any self-control around this girl. Kissing in dark alleyways, in a damn blacked-out club with her boyfriend steps away - what the hell was I thinking at the time?
“Let me explain, okay? Please don’t just... make assumptions.” I felt uncomfortable as hell. Was she going to hate me when she found out who I really was?
“I won’t,” she sounded vulnerable, like she was steeling herself for bad news.
“When you said that I looked familiar... you were right - we’ve met.”
“Where?” She asked, holding her breath.
“Through your dad’s firm.” I dropped the bombshell, wondering how much I needed to tell her before she’d realize.
“You know my dad?” She asked, frowning, and I could see the confusion on her face. She genuinely had no idea who I was.
“We’ve met, a few times.”
“Wait... what’s your last name?” It was as though a light was lit inside her eyes; she was figuring this out.
I smiled, because this girl was smart. “My name is Knox Vaughn.”
Her eyes widened, and she caught her bottom lip between her teeth; and I just wanted to ravage her mouth again, but I watched carefully for her reaction, because this was where things could really be derailed.
“You’re... Dean Vaughn’s son?” She gasped, realizing trickling into her as her jaw slowly dropped.
I nodded. “Yeah. We’ve met, Snow, years ago. The truth is - my dad works for yours. You know how your dad organizes the annual Easter picnic for all of his employees at the firm?”
“Of course! I remember you now - although... I haven’t seen you in years if I remember correctly...” her voice trailed off as realization slammed into her, and her eyes widened again, and she looked at me with something like sympathy in her gaze. It was clear that she knew about what had happened five years ago. Who was I kidding - everyone knew. And everyone felt sorry for me. I hated seeing that pity in people’s eyes when they looked at me, as though there was something wrong with me. And that was just another reason why I needed to get away from here and start over somewhere else, somewhere where I had a chance to escape the dark smog constantly surrounding me.
But the fact was, my dad was employed by hers. He was the most senior employee at Adam Davis’ financial firm - the chief operating officer - running the show day-to-day while Snow’s dad pursued his post-football career and passion as a sports presenter on television. And although my father was highly regarded, and even more highly paid, the fact was that Snow was the boss’ daughter.
Adam Davis inherited the billion-dollar-firm from his father and never had any real interest in running a hedge fund, from what I’d heard from my dad over the years. Her family was insanely rich, beyond most people’s comprehension. But the fact remained, my family was employed by hers. And this was a test - was she going to realize that she just made a big mistake? Was she going to regret this - would she think that I was beneath her, because of that?
I was holding my breath, waiting for her reaction, and I could see a million thoughts racing through her mind for a few seconds, but then she smiled.
“Why would that matter, Knox?” And she looked at me like that again - as though I was some sort of prince. Little did she know how damaged I was, how little I could offer her.
“Because... perhaps your family wouldn’t look kindly on the fact that you’re fraternizing with... employees,” I laid the ugly truth bare. I voiced what had been plaguing me all these weeks, since she’d walked back into my life.
“That’s complete rubbish, and you know that. What kind of person do you think I am? And apart from that, your dad is extremely good at what he does. My dad relies on him a hell of a lot - he has the highest respect for him. Why would he - or I - care?” She sounded borderline-offended, and I smiled, because if I hadn’t known it before, I knew just then that this girl was the real deal. She was the kind of girl that would either break your heart, or you’d want forever with... unfortunately for me, it was probably going to be the former, rather than the latter.
“You don’t hate me, then, for keeping the truth from you?”
“No. I wish I’d known who you were, sooner though,” she sighed against my chest, and I couldn’t resist; I tangled my fingers through her silky hair, hoping like hell that what we’d just started here, could be contained. That we could handle this, without getting too close. Why the hell did she have to be so pure, so trusting, so understanding about the whole thing?
“I remember when we were little... one year at the picnic, all the kids went on the Easter egg hunt,” she started, a smile curving on her full lips.
“And you cried because you couldn’t find a chocolate bunny?” I smiled, too, remembering that too - she must have been around seven, perhaps.
“Yeah... and you saw that I was crying, and gave me one of yours.” And she looked at me like that again, shit - this was going to be a lot more complicated than I’d thought it would - I already knew it.
I shrugged. “Perhaps I’ve always had a soft spot for pretty girls who needed rescuing,” I teased, and her smile broadened again, and fuck, if it wasn’t one of the most beautiful smiles I’d ever seen...
“When are you going?” Her expression became more somber, a guarded look settling in her expressive eyes.
“To London?” I sighed.
“Just after Christmas.” I could feel my heart slamming inside my chest - like hers was slamming against mine, too.
“That’s not very long...”
“No, it’s not. I have to be honest with you, Snow, that’s the time we’ve got.” Why did it feel like I was ripping those words from my throat all of a sudden?
“So you said. But Knox - I’d rather have three months of this, than have nothing at all. Because I’d always be wondering what could’ve been if we didn’t...”
Her honesty and fearlessness of the truth blew me away again. She was strong - she could handle things. Perhaps I didn’t give her enough credit, thinking this would end in tears.
“Me too,” I admitted. Because I already knew that I couldn’t stay the hell away from her, hard as I tried. As hard as I’d made up my mind, the moment I saw her, I just didn’t think.
“You’re okay with this, then? You want this... for now? Until I go,” I clarified, looking at her, and there was so much damn vulnerability in her eyes.
“Am I okay with this? I don’t have a choice. But yes, I want this,” she said softly, and I thought I saw a flash of pain inside her eyes, but then I disregarded that thought - because we’d barely just started - there were no feelings, just this crazy magnetic pull that neither of us seemed to be able to resist.
And then, suddenly, I didn’t have words anymore. So, I kissed her again - and again. Getting so completely fucking lost in her, I hoped I’d be able to find my way home again. Because I was fast realizing that Snow was like the ocean - bottomless and vast, beautiful, but dangerous at the same time. I’d already lost a piece of my heart to the ocean forever - I had to be careful not to lose it all this time...