Adaline

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nine

“Come to my place with me.”

Adaline rolled her eyes but didn’t say anything as Michael slipped his warm hand into her cold one.

“I don’t meet parents.” She replied and stepped a few inches closer to him. He was warm like summer, like fresh laundry. She wasn’t familiar with this feeling. The tugging in her chest whenever Michael looked at her and gave her one of his small smiles. The smiles which no one else seemed to notice, but she did. The ones which made her own lips mirror his.

Adaline was getting attached and she hated it. She hated how much she loved it.

“My parents aren’t in the country right now,” Michael shrugged his shoulder. He took his hand away from hers and Adaline fought hard not to show the disappointment on her face. But when he flung his arm around her shoulder and pulled her tight into his side, she allowed a small smile to creep up.

They both were walking on the sidewalk after having dinner at a restaurant. The weather was chilly and Michael’s hands were keeping her warmer than her thick coat. As much as Adaline didn’t want to admit it, she secretly loved going on dates with Michael. So far, he had not made any moves on her except for their make-out sessions after every date and even though the kisses always took her breath away, she still felt the disappointment that he never took it beyond first base.

Adaline smirked up at him. “If I didn’t know any better, Michael King, I’d think you’re trying to get lucky tonight.”

Michael raised an eyebrow at her with an amused expression. “Well, Jo. Maybe you don’t know any better then.”

Adaline inhaled a sharp breath and focused on keeping her foot from tumbling. She had flirted with guys before, slept with them and then ghosted them in a single heartbeat. This wasn’t any different, she told herself. Except that it totally was.

She didn’t like this. She didn’t like this at all.

She couldn’t wait to wake up next to him tomorrow morning.

For once, Adaline wasn’t running away and ironically, it felt liberating.

"Finally,” She blew out an exasperated breath. “I thought you’ll make me wait until after marriage.”

She froze as soon the words slipped her mouth.

If Michael noticed the slip up, he didn’t show it. Instead, he gave her a quick grin and shot up his hand to hail a cab. Adaline was grateful that he decided to ignore it.

She remained silent during the cab ride. Her mind was filled with all kinds of thoughts, but most importantly she was aware of how badly she wanted to put her head on Michael’s chest and snuggle closer to his warmth. It’s just the cold weather, she assured herself.

As if understanding her inner struggle, Michael slid his hand behind her neck and before she had the time to react, pushed his lips to hers.

Her hands found his hair immediately. Tangling her fingers into his black curls, she pulled them harshly and made him groan against her lips.

His own hand wandered over her legs, and then her thighs. She automatically responded by opening her legs by a fraction, thankful that she wore a dress today.

She felt his hand creep up at an antagonising slow pace, and then stop just below the short hem of her dress which had slid up her thigh by a couple of inches.

Adaline groaned against his lips and as a payback, bit his bottom lip with her teeth. Michael chuckled against her mouth before running his tongue over his bottom lip.

To her dismay, his hand left her thigh and went up to her face. His fingers pushed a loose curl of her hair behind her ear. He pulled back from her and looked into her eyes, only to notice they were a much darker shade than before. Michael leaned towards her ear and his warm breath made Adaline close her eyes and clench her thighs tightly.

“Sorry, sweetheart. You’ll have to wait. Can’t give the driver a show,” he whispered.

Adaline suddenly looked forward to where the cab driver was trying hard not to glance into the rear view mirror, and failing. A kiss from Michael and she forgot everything around them.

Bad. This is bad, she told herself. Her rapidly beating heart told her otherwise.

It took them ten more minutes and a huge amount of control from Adaline to keep her hands to herself, before they reached Michael’s house.

Michael’s house was exactly as she thought it would be. Standing boldly in an elite neighbourhood, it screamed rich from all angles. Michael paid the cab driver and came over to her. He led her through the gate with his hand

pressed on the small of her back. The contact itself made her shiver involuntarily.

It’s just sex, she thought. You’ve done it many times.

The interior of the house was as beautiful as the exterior. The exclusive architecture made Adaline look around in awe. Michael went to the fridge next to the mini bar in his living room. Instead of pulling out some kind of alcohol like she had expected, he took out a bottle of flavoured soda and poured it evenly into two glasses.

Adaline raised her eyebrow as she accepted the glass from him. She sniffed the drink.

Cherry.

“I’d rather prefer scotch.”

Michael smiled at her and sat on the arm of one of the couches in front of her.

“I know.”

They both finished their drinks in silence. Michael took her empty glass and kept it along with his on the table. He returned to his place on the arm of the couch and looked at her. She felt hot under his gaze. Nervous, something she hadn’t felt in a long time.

Adaline crossed her arm on her chest and looked at him.

“Now what?”

One side of his lips quirked up.

“Now you strip.”

Michael’s house was exactly as she had remembered it was.

It brought back some of the best memories she had of their relationship. The worst ones, she tried to forget.

Ringing the doorbell, Adaline felt a knot in her stomach.

What if his parents open the door?

She was not ready to face them, or their disappointed looks. Michael’s parents loved Adaline and even though it was because of the fact that she had a reputed last name, she couldn’t help but miss them.

When the door opened, Adaline didn’t know if it was for better or worse that it was Michael himself who was looking straight at her and judging by his face, he knew she was going to show up at his house.

Adaline hated how he still knew her better than she knew herself.

“May I come in?”

Michael shrugged. “Might as well.”

Adaline gritted her teeth but kept quiet as she walked inside. Michael walked over to the mini bar and looked at her.

“Scotch?”

She gave him a small smile. “How about cherry soda?”

Michael kept a straight face when he nodded and took out a bottle of soda, pouring it silently into two glasses. Adaline pursed her lips and waited for

him to speak to her. To shout at her. To throw things around. She couldn’t bear his silence.

When Michael handed her the glass and sat on the arm of the couch, still devoid of any emotion, Adaline couldn’t take it anymore.

“Don’t do this,” she hissed at him.

He raised an eyebrow. “Do what?”

"This. Acting like you don’t know me.”

Michael sighed and rubbed his palm on his face.

“That’s because I don’t know who you are anymore, Jo.”

Adaline kept her glass on the table and moved nearer to where he was sitting. She gently took his palm from his face, wondering if he’ll retract it any second. He didn’t.

Michael tilted his head up to look at Adaline. She gave him a smile.

“Then why did you call me Jo?”

Michael let out a staggered breath. And for the first time since she came back, Adaline saw an emotion on his face. Anger.

“Why the fuck did you leave, Adaline?”

Michael stood up from the couch and she took a step back. She replied honestly. She was tired of running away from the truth.

“Because of you.”

Michael let out a humourless laugh.

“Why? Because I said that I loved you?”

Adaline looked straight into his eyes while replying.

“Yes.”

Two, or maybe ten minutes passed before Michael slumped back on the couch. His voice was much lower this time.

“You could have asked me to take it back, or fought with me. Not run to a different continent.”

Now, it was Adaline who let out a humourless laugh.

“I didn’t run away because you told me that you loved me, Michael.” She looked at him with a sad glint in her eyes. “I ran away because of how badly I wanted to say it back.”

Adaline didn’t miss his sharp intake of breath. She didn’t miss the way her own heart pumped loudly against her chest. She didn’t miss the flicker of hope in his eyes.

Another minute passed before she spoke.

“Now what?”

Michael gave her a small smile, remembering a past memory which seemed like it happened decades ago.

“Do you love me, Adaline?”

Adaline froze. She shifted from one leg to another, contemplating.

Did she love him?

A minute passed. Michael silently sipped his drink, patiently waiting.

“I don’t know.”

Michael looked up from his glass, and then slowly nodded at her answer. He didn’t look disappointed, maybe even mildly satisfied that she didn’t completely deny it.

Adaline asked him the next question.

“Do you love me?”

A second passed.

“Yes.”

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