Ties that bind

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CHAPTER FOUR

It’s obvious he’s not coming home when 2:00 AM passes and I’m still outside on the steps with a blanket thrown over my shoulders. Was this my life? A mother who could barely give two shits about me unless she’s beating the brown off of me and a father who only serves to lie in my face with his bogus wife. I pull the blanket closer and lean back on the warm cobble arch walls of the house. The big cherub fountain in the middle of the yard keeps my attention for the longest time as I rack my mind for my next move. I don’t want to go back home, not after all that boastful attitude I had about Alessandra. Especially not after what happened with my mom but I don’t want to stay here after my Dad lied to me. I keep telling myself that Alessandra was lying but it’s all too familiar. She was his business trip for ten years. The new model I chuckle bitterly at the way he used to degrade my mother and compare her to Alessandra.

I was so stupid to sit there and listen to his vinegary insults. I defended my mother so many times and once Ale came around more she too started to resent me the way she grew hate for my father. It was pointless to pick a side with them, if you went one way the target would be on your back. I just thought if I stuck with my father his fairy tale of a life could be mine too but it’s more than apparent whichever way the coin flips I’m still unwanted.

Is this the life I want? The ring and the man. I don’t want a man who’ll lie to my face about where he is or break his vows to me but all the same I wasn’t in it for love. This was just about money and pampering, no strings attached. I almost feel bad to say it but men like my father deserve to be scammed and sucked dry by women like Alessandra. If he couldn’t even find time for the “Woman of his dreams” what would happen with me? He had so much doing that he missed my netball game last month and now when he finally has me, poof! Everything with these people is an illusion, my mom, my dad-Alessandra!

My fingers wrap around the phone and bring it to my face. The phone opens but there’s nothing there. No message, no calls. Did I even exist to anyone without them wanting something in return? I find myself logging into the site. I hope he texts back, this is the only thing I have to look forward to.

A small change of plans sweetheart, would you be open to meeting me Sunday evening ? I apologize for the sudden switch. It’s a little hectic living this type of life, too many businesses to keep up with.

Businesses. Does he do the same work as my Dad? Could this just be another lie waiting to explode in my face. He could be married for all I know, a man like him, someone so amazingly gorgeous is not single. Is he as damaged as I am? Lonely and yearning for comfort in the slightest or is it more of a rush, knowing he has the ability to snag younger women with his riches and charm. There’s not enough space for me to be sympathetic, he could have ten wives for all I care. I just needed an out.

There’s no point in saying no, Ale ignored me for the majority of the day and didn’t even bat an eye when I passed her and her friend alone in the living room. I just feel unwanted, I wish someone cared about me and looked at me the way you see lost people in the desert run and praise an optical illusion. When I’m around Ale men flock to her like flies to honey, they envy my father and concoct all different ways to be around her. When I’m alone no one notices. Boys ignore me unless it’s to try and see if their luck will permit the same embarrassing end as it did with my ex- if I can even call him that. Only the men find me attractive, I know that in the way they flirtatiously start up a conversation with me, open doors and even on the off chance pay my fare just to speak with me.

With older men I get experience, attention and money. They don’t waste my time or make me feel stupid for even expressing my emotions and intentions. However, the older I get, I see that too is a facade. They want me for all the wrong reasons, they want me for sex. The way I see it why let them fuck and not pay. Is it really prostitution when all I’m doing is pushing the envelope. How badly do they need me? What lengths will these men go to entertain the idea of having a relationship with me? I want him to fight for me, to show that he’ll do whatever it takes to have a chance.

No, It’s no inconvenience at all. Where would you like to meet up? Quickly, I jump up, dusting off the bottom of my dress and push the heavy door until I’m finally inside. My steps beat down on the stairs and I spare no interest for anyone’s rest once I ascend to my room. The door slams behind me and I twist the knob, falling stomach first onto the clothes scattered bed.

The message barely stays in the chat for a second before the green circle at the top of his picture pops up and I see that he’s typing. He is interested in me afterall. I’ve never been bold enough to instigate a meeting with a complete stranger but I’m old enough to decide what I want without any one meddling in my business. With Sergio, how could I resist. The man was a living fantasy. To know someone who looks like this finds me attractive is more than enough to stroke my ego.

My place, I’ll have someone collect you. His place? I don’t know how to feel about that. Sure, he’s gorgeous and all but for the first greeting I didn’t think it would be at this house. A cafe maybe?

I’m not so sure about that... The popping bubble sounds when I hit send.

With the way things are going at home, I thought you’d appreciate the time away from all the stress and just take a well deserved break. Wait, he’s doing this for me? I don’t want him to get the wrong impression of me, what if he gets annoyed by my shyness. I don’t want him to be bored of me. I run my fingers over the waves of coagulated gel on my hair, raking my mind through all the possible outcomes if I don’t say yes. Am I being unappreciative? I don’t want him to lose interest in me. So, like the attention whore I am, I say yes.

I’m sorry, I’d love to meet up. One condition… I don’t want you to pick me up from where I am rn. Why did I type ’rn’ that! He’ll probably think I’m immature. Hopefully, he’s ok with me not wanting to meet at my home and that’ll occupy his mind instead of me choosing rn. I’m already embarrassed at how quickly Ale switched up on me, but I don’t doubt for a minute she won’t report to my father and let him know some strange man picked me up at his house. Truly, I doubt he’d even care- my mother however, might? Have other reservations.

Even better, How do you feel about yacht rides? A yacht! He must be loaded. The closest I’ve ever been to a yacht was when my Father rented a party boat for his wedding with Alessandra and even then, the small boat was too packed for me to even enjoy my first time on a boat.

I’ve never been on a yacht I disclose. The three dotted bubble shows its face after seconds of ogling it. Instead of the simplistic oh He sends me another message that has me contemplating whether or not to end it here. This was serious. I wasn’t just chatting up Sergio, the tanned italian man off the coast of Italy- I was chatting up a stranger - a sexy stranger, one with a pocket deep enough to rival Daddy Warbucks.

Give me your number amor. My eyes bug out of their socket, I flip the phone around and tuck it under my pillow as a squeal tears past my lips and I fall into a cloud of the stereotypical girly reaction to a hot guy. I can’t help myself when minutes pass and I flop onto my back, staring at the ceiling with dreamy eyes. He called me amor. I never had a man call me love. Infact, I’ve never had anyone call me that. For some reason, I feel the need to treasure it.

Without thinking, I open the phone and type my number in (realistically, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done since memorizing it when I finally got my new phone) It zings and I see the blue ticks lining my sent message. He’s seen it. So why hasn’t he texted me? My eyes are stapled to the time at the top of the screen. I sent my number at 2: 10, I’m so paranoid it hasn’t even passed two minutes but a part of me can’t refrain from wanting his immediate attention. Is it that bad?

I all but crumple into myself staring at the darkening screen until a private number blares across my screen. My heart skyrockets to my ears. I fist my sweaty hands and sit up immediately, brushing any crumples from my dress even though I know he won’t even be able to see me. I want to be perfect. I sigh heavily, releasing a steady breath as my wet finger touches the cold screen and glides across the screen until the green icon moves to the direction I want it. I hold my breath, anticipating anything even if it’s a breath of air. A nanosecond slides and takes my heart with it when I hear his voice. His deep gravelly voice that wraps around my throat like barbed wire.

“Beautiful,”My chest rumbles. He can’t possibly be talking to me, can he? My teeth sink into my carmex coated lip. I close my eyes and fall back into the mass of pillows behind me. I try to catch my breath but it’s impossible with my heart eating so fast and my anxiety making my hand tremble when I open my mouth and try to let the words flow freely. This has never happened to me before- I’ve never contacted strangers online (well except for the men in my inbox but with those it’s a quick block once they ask for my number or a nude) I was too much of a coward, now look at me. This was a mistake. I can’t possibly talk to him when I’m afraid of my own voice.

“Say something amor, Melanie?” He speaks my name like some forgotten language, calculating and with the greatest caution. He can sense my anxiety, my fear. I allow myself to breath out those deep heavy breaths. What follows next is all up to my mouth.

“H-hi” the timid squeak has me grimacing. If he didn’t think I was some immature kid not worth speaking to earlier he surely does now.

“So this is what heaven feels like? I never heard a voice so smooth and lulling. It’s intoxicating.” I flush red. His words leave a glimmer of floating pink hearts in my line of sight. I pull the phone closer if that’s even possible and try to scramble enough words together to form a sentence before my lips pull apart again.

“Tell me something Cara, are you as happy as I am about our trip ?” He asks, I feel my body relaxing further into the comforter.

“Yes.’ I whisper.

“Yes, what?” My body freezes. I pause, what did I say wrong?

“I’m sorry.” he chuckles. It’s not comedic or relieving but dark and chilling. I shakily sit up, breathing slowly, counting from one to ten and back again. I always count back from ten, it gives me time to concentrate and cool off.

“Yes what Cara?” Even through the phone he riots a certain fear in me. Something in my gut tells me to hang up but my mind wards me from doing so. For some reason, it feels like a bad decision. I swallow heavily and try again.

“Yes, Sir” I speak more confidently, there’s silence minus the sound of hitting waves from where he is until, he laughs and I visibly slouch, “That’s all amor, For every thing I will reward you with, I only demand your respect in return.” Respect. He only wanted me to address him respectfully and here I am falling apart from just a simple sentence. I need to calm down.

“Yes Sir, I won’t make the same mistake again.” he sighs from the other side, it causes me to bring my feet closer to my chest. I place my phone on the space beside me and pull the covers over myself as the sound of his voice flows freely through the room courtesy of the speaker.

“You won’t, I can promise you. After hearing your voice alone, I don’t know how I can wait until Sunday.”

“But Sunday is when I’m fre-”

“How are things going at home? Is your stepmom still ignoring you?” she is, I don’t want to get so deep into our issues but who else can I turn to and expect them to understand? I don’t feel welcome here, I don’t even feel comfortable in my own home- my mother’s home, that’s what she always tells me at least. Just go with it, Mel.

“Yes Sir. I don’t think she’s too fond of me right now. I don’t think anyone is” I barely let the end of it go. By now, the entire mood has changed and the topic is now focused on my crap life. I hate this feeling. Being so closed off from any and everything. It’s not until I say it out loud that I realise how crappy my life really is.

“Just say yes to tomorrow Cara. I can have you smiling and forgetting about everything the minute we meet. All you have to do is agree, it’s your choice” it is my choice. I choose to be happy. Ale barely glances in my direction and I haven’t even seen a call from my mother all day. She’s probably happy with me gone, all her children in one place- all her favorites just suckling under her while I’m out here alone and miserable. Typical, everything is her fault. She never gave a damn about me. None of them do.

“Mhmm”

“Is that a yes?” A wave of excitement overtakes me. For the first time in forever I can make my own decision and know what I’m doing is in my best interest.

“It is. What time should I be ready, Sir?”

“Be ready at 9AM, I’ll send a car for you at the ROSAS in the square. We have a full day ahead of us. I don’t like to be kept waiting” God, he’s so attractive being in control. I love it.

“You won’t be picking me up?”

“Believe me baby, you’ll have enough time with me once you get here. Afterall, it is your choice” I don’t understand what he means by that so I brush it off.

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