A Reason To Live

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Chapter Nine

Zander is nowhere to be found in the penthouse when I finally emerge from my room in the morning. A tray with food sits on the counter in the kitchen with a stick note that reads: I’m sorry, please eat. Be back.

I toss the note to the side on the counter and grab a slice of french toast, munching on it as I walk towards the large window and staring at the city below.

I try to watch something on Netflix but fail miserably, and find myself just sitting on the couching scrolling through different social media platforms.

The front door opens then closes and I lock my phone before looking towards the door. Zander appears and when he notices me he stops in his steps. Neither one of us looks away from the other, but I’m not speaking first, I have nothing to say and for all he knows I didn’t hear his apology last night.

“I shouldn’t have acted the way I did this week towards you,” he speaks first and I don’t move from my spot on the couch. “Chris tried to fuck me over and it messed with my head, I’m sorry.”

I bit back the urge to tell him it’s okay because it wasn’t okay, it isn’t okay. “I understand,” I say quickly, not really sure if those words are better.

Zander nods before walking over and sitting on the couch next to me, “are you ready for tonight?” He says looking at me. It’s the first time he has really looked at me and it makes my heart jump in my chest.

“I mean,” I look down at the clothes I’m wearing, “I’m not going in this but it won’t take long to get ready.” I press the button on the side of my phone to check the time, “I should actually start getting read, we have to leave in an hour.” I quickly get up, walk around the small coffee table to avoid passing directly in front of him, and walk towards my room.

Almost an hour later I’m applying the last touches to my outfit, I decided on a pair of black dress pants and a nice blouse with a jacket for tonight. Winter is almost over and I can’t wait for spring.

I throw on my ankle boots before walking out of my room and into the living room.

Zander is leaning against the breakfast bar typing something on his phone and I take the moment to look at him, his suit fits looks really good on it and I hate the butterflies I feel in my stomach at the view.

His eyes meet mine and then I watch him look me up and down, a heat rises to my face in a blush as I walk towards him.

“You look very nice Freya,” he says with a smile on his face and he pockets his cell phone

“Thanks, you too. But,” I reach my hand out when I reach him and tug on his crooked tie straightening it out. I run my fingers down it making sure it sits properly against him, “better.” I say softly as I look up at him.

“Thanks.”

“Sure,” the word comes out as a whisper and I realize how close I am to him. I quickly step back but trip over my heels and fall backward, I close my eyes, bracing for impact with the floor behind me. But it never comes, instead, Zander has his arms around my waist. He caught me.

I open my eyes and he is inches away from my face, his blue eyes stare back into mine. I don’t move, can’t move. At this moment, the entire week didn’t happen and things feel almost normal...

A phone rings in the distance and then Zander has his cell phone up his ear, “Zander Scott.” He answers.

There’s a pause as he listens, “we are coming down.” He says before hanging up and sliding the phone back into his pocket.

He straightens us out quickly but his hands linger on my back, “It’s time to go.” And almost as soon as it was there, his touch is gone.

30 minutes later we are standing outside a Japanese restaurant and my stomach drops, I don’t do raw fish and I’m unsure what exactly is going to be served.

I follow Zander inside and we are seated right away since we have a reservation. My nerves grow as we walk in, the lighting is kind of low, and everyone is sitting on the floor. What am I walking into?

My eyes widen as we reach our table which is almost sitting on the floor, cushions surround the table. I’ve seen this once in a movie, don’t we usually remove our shoes before seating?

My eyes quickly look over to Zander who is already removing his shoes so I quickly stand next to him and remove mine as well.

Zander holds his hand out in a gesture for me to sit first; I quickly sit down, my legs bent at the knees and slightly under my butt and off to one side together.

When Zander finally sits down I lean over towards him, “Zander, um..” I pause before blurting it out, “I don’t eat raw anything..” I bit my bottom lip nervously.

There’s a small smile on his face at my words, “don’t worry, not everything is raw.”

“Yeah but..how do I know what is and isn’t?” I ask quickly.

He looks at me, the smile still sits on his lips, “I’ll help you, okay?”

I nod quickly and suddenly our guests have arrived. I jump up quickly with Zander and follow his lead, bowing slightly. We give quick introductions and the food arrives suddenly, an overwhelming feeling consumes me as I look at all the food options set out in front of me.

True to his word, Zander carefully places a few items on the plate in front of me. I give him a small smile in thanks before he continues speaking to the potential clients. I can barely hear anything over the sound of my own heartbeat in my ear as I shove an entire sushi roll in my mouth.

Halfway through dinner, a tiny cup is placed in front of me. “It’s Sake, alcohol, be careful it’s strong.”

I nod quickly and follow what everyone else is doing. The taste is strong and causes me to cringe slightly, but I can’t help but enjoy the slightly sweet taste.

The meeting finally comes to an end and we all stand up, I can feel the effects of the alcohol I had consumed over the course of the meal slightly and silently pray that I am okay to move.

We say our goodbyes and then after they leave, Zander and I slip on our shoes and I am so thankful I don’t fall over.

When we walk outside I take a deep breath of the air around us before looking over at Zander. “That went well right?” I ask him curiously.

“Yes, very. What did you think of the sushi?”

“Hm,” I think for a second, “it was good but I’m not sure I will be going out of my way for it again.”

Zander laughs and it causes butterflies in my stomach. “Come on, we are going out.” He places his hand on my lower back, moving in the direction of where he wants to go.

We step in front of a nice looking and kind of fancy bar and I stop in my tracks. Zander looks at me and I can see the sake is affecting him too, “Zander, why are we here?”

He takes a step closer towards me but I can’t read his face. His hand reaches out and grabs mine as his eyes look down and his fingertips lightly trace the scars on my wrist, “we are celebrating that you are still here.” There’s a softness to his voice at his words and it pulls at me in so many ways, some good and some not.

He knows, this is the confirmation I have been looking for since day one. He knows about my attempt, that I failed at it. But what really hits me is that today is the day, it has been officially two years today since my failed attempt. It is not exactly something I strive to remember.

My mind somewhere is screaming at me to run but Zander’s hand in mine causes me to follow him inside instead.

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