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Chapter 3

Toren’s POV

The next morning I wake up to the smell of coffee filling my nose. I inhale a deep breath and open my eyes to see Scarlett kneeling next to the bed with a covered tray.

“Mmm...what’s that smell?” I speak with a raspy morning voice.

“I made you some breakfast.” Scarlett says, smiling lightly, running a few fingers through the hair on my forehead.

“Fuck, I was gonna do that for you.” I groan, throwing my head back.

After the memories of the event resurfacing again last night, I’d planned to wake her up to the smell of coffee and eggs, but the lack of sleep this past week due has caught up to me it seems.

“No. It’s my time to treat you for all you do.”

I look directly at her as she diverts her eyes from mine, adjusting a spoon on the tray that doesn’t need adjusting.

She’s doing it again. Guilting herself. I can’t stand the way it makes me feel inside. She acts like she owes me something.

“Don’t.” I say, grabbing her uninjured hand.

Her hesitant eyes look up at me, breaking my heart.

“Come, sit by me and let’s enjoy it together. I’m not even going to ask how you cooked with that hand. I don’t even want to know.” I comment, shaking my head, mad at the thought, as a light chuckle comes out of her mouth.

We eat breakfast in bed and sip coffee in communal silence while global news airs in the background.

“So have you responded back to Sergio yet? It’s been, what, three days since he reached out?”

“Yeah, I mean, the exhibit is in two weeks, I have the pieces already selected so it’s not like I need to paint with my bum hand, but...I don’t know...” she trails.

Tommy knew what he was doing when he hurt her. She said he’d done it before and he did it again. Anything he could do to take away the promises of her future. I’m glad the sick fuck is six feet under. I’m only upset I didn’t get the chance to do it myself.

I set our tray of breakfast down on the dresser, climbing back into the bed next to her, lying on my stomach, my head resting against her exposed knees.

I love her in only my t-shirt.

“Scarlett...” I begin, looking at her until she finally locks eyes with me, “...you deserve this, the success, the happiness. Please don’t try and tell yourself otherwise.”

I know what she’s doing. She doesn’t feel right about moving forward with her life in a successful manner. She feels like she shouldn’t. Like she doesn’t deserve happiness after Ryder’s passing. She won’t talk to me about it. I’m sure she thinks it’ll hurt me to hear about the pain she’s going through, but she’s mistaken.

The situation as a whole was as horrific as you can imagine, but the after effects are devastating.

“I just feel like maybe now isn’t the right time, maybe I should wait the two years and see if he’d be interested in my work at that time. It all just feels so wrong.” she says sadly.

“Listen baby,” I start, grabbing her face between my hands. “I know your heart aches for him, in a pained way that’s unexplainable. I’m man enough to understand it, acknowledge it, and be here for you. A loss is a loss, even if you’re still struggling with the forgiveness part, even if you hate to admit to yourself how deeply you felt for him.”

She blinks rapidly, her lips parting to let out a little sigh.

“However, I won’t allow you to beat yourself up over a past that was completely out of your control.”

Her eyes well with tears as she plays with the white comforter between her little fingers.

“How do I get over this feeling?” She begins crying. “I’m sad yet mad all at the same time.”

Her head falls into her hands as she loses the fight against the emotion again. I scoot up alongside her, wrapping my arms around her again. A position we’re more than familiar with these days.

“You’ll find a way to forgive him, a way to acknowledge what you had with him and move forward with it. Time will help, but talking about it will be better.” I kiss the top of her head. “And a margarita on the beach wouldn’t hurt.”

Her head pops up at my words.

“Ugh, true.” she chuckles lightly while sniffling.

“Was that a smile I just saw?” I grin, tucking her hair behind her ear.

She lays her head against my hand, her soft, sweet face giving me another little smile before her face turns serious. “I’d never have made it without you.”

I take the opportunity to kiss her.

“Feelings mutual, my love.”

Later that afternoon, I head with her down to the studio to sort out some paperwork for recent purchases she’s sold. She’s tending to more of the business side lately due to Maggie’s engorged body and the fact that her hand still needs healing.

I swear, I don’t understand how things fit in there. Maggie looks ready to burst and trust me, Ronan is loving every second of having her home, catering to her every need. The man found what he always wanted. To be a protector. Like he was for me growing up.

Scarlett’s success is soaring at the moment. Aside from recent events bringing some negative light, luckily most of it still unknown by the general public, her popularity is flourishing. New features in art exhibits all around New York, special articles about her in the largest papers of the city, booking covers of magazines, you name it. She’s doing big things and I couldn’t be more proud.

It’s helping her to keep her mind off the past if she allows it to, but I know she just needs time. The wounds are still fresh, and I’ll be the man to change the bandages until they heal.

“Miss Moe Moe, I’ve got some stuff for you to sign!” Adrien hollers at her with the phone still on his ear as we walk in. “Yes, that’ll be the purchase price. If you’re still interested let me know, I have many other buyers waiting.”

He hangs up the phone, and begins typing away at the computer in front of him, clicking his nails on the keys at an annoyingly fast rate.

“Phew!” he smiles, looking back up at us. “I’m busier than a one armed pimp in a bitch slappin’ competition, I swear!”

Scarlett chuckles for the second time today and my heart swells.

Thank you, A.

“How you feeling today?” he asks her with a soft face and kind eyes.

“I’m alright, I’ve got a quick meeting with Adam in a few minutes, Tor came for emotional support....for you.” she says with a hint of humor in her eyes.

He glances at me quickly in a knowing way. He knows what she’s doing better than I do. She’s deflecting and not dealing.

Adrien sits back in his seat, crossing his legs, showcasing his black leather leggings with his cheetah-print high heels. His neon green blouse has the entire outfit giving me a migraine. He rests an elbow on the side arm of the chair, pursing his lips as he glares at Scar.

“And what does that little twat licker want?”

“Why do you want to know?” she questions, cocking a brow.

“Trust me, it’s not that I care, I just need to be on top of things as your customer service representative.” he snaps, waving his hands animatedly as he talks. “I may need to inform a potential client you’re in a meeting with the enemy.”

“It sounds like you need to be on top of him.” I say under my breath as Scarlett chuckles for the third time today.

Heart, swell away.

“Excuse me? Did the man who couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the directions were written on the heel, say something?” he snaps, cocking his head at me.

I raise my hands, backing away with a timid grin. “Please don’t hurt me.”

“Oh c’mon Adrien, are we really going to be childish about things? Your little catwalk drama happened so long ago, it’s in the past, move forward already. He has.”

“It’s a shame his mother didn’t decide to swallow him.” Adrien rolls his eyes.

I throw my head back in laughter, “Oh my God, you totally want this dude.”

“Ugh, as Queen Cher would say...as if.” he responds smugly.

“No, it true.” Scarlett joins in, “He totally wants him. He never hates this hard, he’s like a little prepubescent boy on the playground, picking on the little catholic school boys he likes.”

“Don’t bring religion into this. You know I have a thing for priests.” he snaps.

Scarlett twists her face as I bite back a laugh.

“But before you go talking with your little bum-lickin bowtie boy, what are you buying the baby? I put these adorable Dolce and Gabbana leather slip ons in my shopping cart that could be totally androgynous.”

“Adrien, they literally make a registry for this exact reason.” Scar responds blandly.

“Oh whatever, don’t be jealous of the little one already. Bitch, I know your style, and no, they don’t have your size.”

Seeing the guy I remember to be Adam at the door, I let him in while the children fight.

“Just bring something with it, diapers, wipes, anything that doesn’t scream ‘I’m useless after two weeks.’”

“Oh, so I shouldn’t bring Adam, got it.”

“Shouldn’t bring me where?”

Adam’s voice joins in the conversation as both Scarlett and Adrien’s eyes widen like plates.

“Adam. Hey.” Scarlett gives him a hug while he kisses her cheeks. “We were just talking about this baby shower we have next week. Maggie’s to be exact.”

“It’s going to be a fabulous event. Sorry, invite only.” Adrien snubs.

“Damn, I was going to ask if you wanted to join me at the Calvin Klein fashion show.” Adam starts as Adrien’s eyes grow wide with hope. “I had a couple of tickets fall in my lap and thought maybe you’d like to come, you know, a truce. Figured we could leave the past in the past, start fresh.”

Adam pulls two tickets out of his bag, flashing the before Adrien’s thirsty eyes.

His mouth drops open, while his hand raises up, clearly trying to figure out a way to get out of the baby shower. Moe side glances at Adrien with a little smirk and I cross my arms and cock my head to the side, watching humorously, awaiting his response.

The tickets are just dangling in front of him.

“But...nevermind. I’m useless after two weeks, right?” Adam smirks, quickly pulling the tickets away and putting them back into his bag, “Anyways, Moe...shall we?”

They brush past Adrien who still has his hand up and his jaw practically on the counter. I walk towards him, suppressing a laugh and lean casually against the front desk.

“I hate that little man.” he glares after them.

“Doubtful.”

“Oh hell, you too?” Adrien scoffs.

“I’ve never seen your claws directed towards one individual like this. Maybe you need to fuck it out? Worked for me and Scar.” I shrug, the smile thinking about us in the beginning.

The memory of us fucking under the stairs at the fashion show almost has me sportin a chubby.

“Please! He looks like something I’d draw with my left hand. I would never.”

I lean forward on the counter, cocking a brow.

“Have you seen him!? He’s like the off brand version of Jon Heder that’s been dropped and marked half off from the dent.”

“You think?” I question, looking back towards the office. “I don’t know, I got Josh Hutcherson vibes myself.”

“Mockingjay much?” he cocks his head in surprise.

“Shut up, it was a phase. Great films, plus Katniss is hot.”

“Hmm...we should talk.” He begins before tapping his finger on his lip.

I can literally hear his brain operating, planning out our Hunger Games movie marathon with Katniss’s lamb soup and Peeta’s cheese bread on deck.

“She’s no Khalessi though.” I think to myself but say aloud.

“You really are a nerd.” Adrien says with the most serious tone I’ve ever heard, like he’s truly surprised himself.

“What, you never got into Game of Thrones? C’mon.” I scoff.

“Oh trust me, I was patiently waiting to be ravished by the Dothraki Chief himself. Khal Drogo could do what he wished with this little frame.” he wiggles in his seat, giggling then snap upright. “Which reminds me, I need to call Davonte.”

“Woah, what? Davonte, as in...the porn star?! You’re sleeping with him?! I didn’t know he was gay! Tyler loves that dude!” I stare at Adrien with my mouth agape and my eyes even wider, laughing hysterically.

“Oops.” he shrugs, “Shit, I can’t help it, loose mouth syndrome.”

“Hey, better than a loose booty.” I shrug.

He scowls at me, pausing what he’s doing, making me laugh even more.

“I didn’t mean...I meant...ah fuck it. But, seriously, all jokes aside, thanks for making me laugh today. It’s been a rough few days, as I’m sure it’s been for you.” I say somberly.

“It definitely has.” He nods his head, agreeing. “Seeing your best friend with a gun pointed at her head, that image just doesn’t go away.”

He looks past me now, remembering as his eyes fill with tears and he fights them back by biting his bottom lip.

“You make sure to take care of that girl!” he yells at me, wiping a loose tear.

I walk around the desk, picking him up by his twig arms and grab him into a hug. I forget how traumatic that experience was for him too. He was there for her when I wasn’t. He carries a lot of the weight as well. He stabbed the guy. With his heel.

“I’m here for you, A. Always.” I pat his back.

He lets out a little cry he was holding in. “Same goes for you, T.”

Sniffling then straightening himself out, he sighs and sits back in his chair. I smile as an idea comes to mind.

“Why don’t you take Scarlett to Italy?”

His eyebrows arch. “Huh?”

“Take her to the Venice Biennale, to the art show with Sergio. You two deserve a little break from work. Be there for each other, enjoy yourself. I’ll take care of the arrangements and everything. I really think you both need this.”

They do. They had each other long before I had her. It’s time they put work aside for a bit and laugh again. He brightens her up in a way that I can’t. It’s a sibling thing, like one I get when I’m with Ronan. It’s a different relationship, but extremely important nonetheless. Maybe Adrien will help push her towards the idea. They need this. Together.

He looks down, then back up again, a happy glimmer in his thankful eyes.

“I mean, I could go for some Italian salami right about now.”

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