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Chapter 19

Scarlett's POV

Maybe it’s the way his eyes melt my insides.

Maybe it’s the way his hands grip me like I’m intangible to him.

Or maybe, it’s the way being around him brings me to life.

Whatever it is, I can’t not be myself around him. And in being myself, I have to be honest.

“Tor, I have to tell you something.” I say reluctantly, laying my chin over my crossed hands on his chest.

I run my fingers over the length of his abdomen, outlining his amazing body. The same body that brought mine to endless pleasure last night.

He props himself up on his elbows, looking down at me with a worried face.

“Oh no, not like that. Don’t even go there.” I say immediately, attempting to calm his nerves.

“I mean, you did mention how you could’ve fucked Sergio. That shit doesn’t just leave my mind, ya know.” he explains making a pained face.

I wince for ever even saying that. “Ew, no. Never. No one else. Ever.” I clarify.

I see his lip lightly pull at my words, soothing his worried heart.

“But important. And, I’m worried about how you’ll respond.” I say cautiously, drumming my fingers on his pecs.

“Say it.” he says calmly, grabbing my fingers and holding them softly against his hard, warm skin.

His heart is racing, I feel it through his chest. I feel it in the way his eyes are completely focused on me. I feel it in the way he’s holding his breath.

“The day I was leaving Venice, I saw your father.” My eyes find his as I wait with a worried expression as he registers what I’m saying.His forehead wrinkles as he looks at our hands.

“How do you know it was him?” he asks simply.

“I remember what he looks like, from that framed picture you have. The one where you were young. You have the same eyes.”

He scoffs lightly like this information isn’t at all what he was expecting.

“Okay, so you saw my father. Did he say anything to you? Or, what happened? Why are you telling me this? I feel like there’s more you aren’t saying.”

I swallow, then let out the air I’m holding before we both sit up, pulling his hand into my lap.

“He looked suspiciously at me, but I’m not sure if he recognized me. But...” I begin, feeling the ache in my chest, looking at him.

Here I go, off to destroy the Hollingsworth family.

“But what? C’mon...” he urges.

“He wasn’t alone. He was...he was with a woman.” I say, my heart literally breaking as I watch his face change.

His worried eyes change as his face drops. His brows knit together before dropping his head back against the headboard. His hands come up and rake through his hair before settling at the back of his neck.


“I’m sorry Toren. I say, scooting up to straddle his lap. “I had to tell you, I just...”

“I know. I know, baby.” He wraps his arms around me, holding me to chest as I feel him stiffen with anger beneath me.

“I didn’t know what to do.” I pull back, holding his face in the palms of my hands.

“Thank you for telling me, as hard as I’m sure it was.” he says sadly.

I can’t stand the face he’s making. He’s so sad even though he’s trying not to be. I know he’s thinking of his mom and what this will do to her. I press my lips against his, trying to heal him with my kiss. It’s soft, it’s intimate. It’s not a passionate kiss, it’s a ‘I’m here for you forever’ type of kiss.

I run my hands through his hair, pulling gently at the roots as we separate. He smiles with his mouth but it doesn’t reach his eyes. His head drops back against the headboard again. I fall into the nook of his neck, playing with his hair as we just hold one another, his hands rubbing up and down the skin of my back.

I hate to think what this is going to do. I hate to think I’ve upset him in any way. By the feel of it, he’s struggling with the information. But, I couldn’t withhold it. It would eat me alive and I can’t keep secrets from Toren. It’s not where we’re headed. We’re beyond that now. As hard as things get, being honest with him will always ultimately be my mission.

Later that morning, I head back to the studio to finish up my plans. I have so much work ahead of me, but the inspiration has never been more present. This is my therapy.

I work for hours on multiple pieces. I literally paint my heart out onto this canvas. The pain, the growth, the awakening, the’s all there in brush stroke form. I’ve never felt more like myself than when I’m expressing myself creatively. The brush becomes an extension of my soul, putting unexplainable feelings, emotions, wordless entities, into a tangible creation before my eyes.

These paintings are different from my typical style. There’s no sexual presence here. It’s all heart. And it’s for him.

Adrien taps my shoulder as I finish collecting my dirty brushes. I pop my earbud and take in his cocked hip and folded arms. His expression tells me all I need to know.

“He’s here?”

“Mhmm.” He narrows his eyes at me.

“Okay, entertain him for a minute while I clean up.” I wink, enjoying the pain I’m putting upon him.

“This is some shit.” he says beneath his breath, flipping his hair over his shoulder as he clops out of the back room in his thigh high boots.

He works his way out to the front while I soak my paint filled brushes. I edge myself close to the door to listen to them interact. It’s probably my favorite thing right now, making them a thing.

I hear Adam’s voice. “You look nice today.”

Adrien scoffs, “I look nice every day.”

Oh c’mon Adrien, take the damn compliment.

“I never said you didn’t.” Adam adds, “Anyways, how are you? How was the trip?”

Adrien clears his throat. “Excuse me, this is a legitimate business and we do real work here, not gossip and chit-chat all day, so take yo babbling ass elsewhere.”

“Adrien...” I hear him sigh, “Why do you hate me so much? It can’t be just from the show. That was years ago and I’ve already apologized. I was young and dumb.”

Oooooh, shit, here it comes!

“Was?” Adrien retorts.

“C’mon, tell me you hate me. I bet you can’t.” Adam replies flirtatiously.

You don’t know who you messin’ with Adam!

There’s a pause, a gap in the communication so I creek the door open a bit more.

“See. You can’t.”

“Hate is a strong word. Let’s try strongly disapprove.” Adrien comments.

“I’ll break you down. I see I already am.” Adam replies with what sounds like a grin.

“You’re ambitious, and hopeful.” Adrien snarkily responds.

“I’m a romantic.” Adam declares, oozing sex.

Eeeek! Where’s Mag’s when I need her? This is like a daytime soap opera in the making.

I come out of the backroom just in time to see Adrien pursing his lips while rolling his eyes and tapping his pen aggressively on the desk.

“Adam! Hey you!” I give him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“Hello darling! How was the trip? Did you both have an amazing time?”

“Oh it was fantastic. You must tell Emerson thank you again. We had an absolute blast. The show was phenomenal.”

“It could’ve been better.” Adrien adds with a sigh, “I didn’t even get a chance to use the double ender.”

“The what?” Adam asks.

“Trust me, you don’t want to know.”

Adam and I work for a few hours in the office, planning and prepping for the surprise art show at the Rasputin Center. We work on booking a caterer, the DJ, everything that you would need for a high end, well put together charity event. We get the guest list together, using my recent fame to pull in the big names. This is all happening within a matter of days so it’ll be a miracle if we can really pull this off.

We head towards Adrien at the front desk, handing over the guest list. He’s rocking out to music, licking stamps and shaking his ass while sending out mail. I’m not alone in this discovery. Adam stands back against the wall, crossing his arms and watching this little spectacle unfold with an amused grin.

As I’m about to pull his earbud out, he whips his weave in a full circle, hitting me in the face like a bushel of dried grass before he belts out the words.

“Nasty! Nasty boys, don’t mean a thing, huh!”

He rotates his hips, flipping his hair to the other side and starts popping his shoulders left and right aggressively.

“Oh you nasty boys! Nasty, nasty boys! Don’t you eva change!”

I finally dive under him and pause the music coming from his phone. He stills for a moment, then keeps singing and twerking against the desk with his leg lifted.

“Oh you nasty boys!”

“Janet fan, eh?” Adam says with a cocked brow.

Adrien finally turns and faces us with a scowl. “First of all, that song was about you, and second, one does not simply become a Janet Jackson fan. You are lucky to be immersed in her music, bask in the glory that is her.”

His turns to me throwing his hand dismissively in Adam’s direction. “Who is this imbecile?”

“The imbecile who’s cousin happens to know her choreographer.” Adam claps back with a cocky grin.

My eyes widen as Adrien purses his lips, blinking while thinking of some sort of comeback. I know him too well. I feel like I’m in his head sometimes. It’s a wild and scary place.

He licks his teeth, looking back at me. “Yeah, I got nothin’.”

I laugh at Adam’s ability to leave Adrien speechless again.

“They’re having a tribute show dedicated to her soon. If you wanna check it out. We could grab dinner beforehand?” Adam adds, walking forward and leaning his elbows on the desk, closing some space between the two.

I bite my bottom lip, holding in my excitement as my eyes dart from Adrien to Adam to Adrien. Adam just asked Adrien out on a date and baited him with Janet!? There’s no way he can resist.

“Oh, the show I’m taking Davonte to? Yeah, we already got tickets. Thank you, next.”

My whole body deflates as if someone let all of the air out of my lungs. I can’t stand my friend sometimes.

“Davonte? You aren’t even-”

“Shut it Moe.” he spits out at me.

That little shit is lying.

“Well, maybe I’ll see you there then.” Adam says flatly.

Aw, my heart. Stupid stubborn Adrien and his stupid self absorbed...self.

“Anyways, what do you need from me?” Adrien asks, awaiting his task.

“These are the names we need contacted as soon as possible for the event.” I show him the email I sent through my phone. “I’ve sent them to the work email so you have them now.”

He looks over the plans as we show him what we’ve got together.

“Damn girl, wedding planning should be your side gig, throwing this shit together so quick. I’m impressed.”

“Ha! Yeah right. An art event is one thing. Dealing with Bridezillas is another.”

“What about you? You gonna be a Bridezilla or what? You might need to plan your own shit soon.” Adrien comments then looks at Adam.

I can’t help but pick up on that little exchange. What was that? Why did he glance at Adam when he said that and why is Adam looking so unnaturally stoic all of a sudden?

“Oh you think I’m about to get married? Hunny, you don’t know a thing about me. I don’t do weddings.” I snap back.

There’s that weird look again.

“Don’t do weddings? A wedding is every girl’s and little gay boy’s dream!”“Facts.” Adam adds, pointing to Adrien.

“I just came around to the idea. I’m not the one.”

“Well what about Toren and what he wants, ya selfish Sally?”

“I’ll do whatever to make him happy, but why are we even talking about this?! He hasn’t even asked me!”

The look. Again.

“What the hell do you guys know? What’s that look!?”

“What look?” Adrien scoffs.

Adams cocks a brow acting confused, staying unnaturally silent.

“The look. The one where you look at each other then look like you’re holding a quarter in your ass cheeks. You’re being weird.”

“Girl, I’m just trying to talk to you about the future! You the one buggin’!” He flips his wrist at me. “Quarter in my ass, cute.” He scoffs.

“Ugh...I’m just not that girl. You know this. I’ve literally never even thought of getting married before Toren. I could care less where we do it, how we do it, what I’m wearing, what color flowers...none of it matters to me. I’d almost want someone else to figure it all out and call me when I need to walk.”

“Eeshh...” Adrien makes a pained face. “Thank god you have me.”

“Truer words have never been spoken, my friend.”

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