Dark Love - A Darker Shade

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Chapter 5

Zee decided to be honest about her feelings.

“I’m glad too.” She responded. “But concerning the rebellious look, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You do, Elizabeth. And just so you know, if I was responsible for you, you will dread the thought of me finding you in this persona.”

Zee found herself speechless and frozen for a second. At that moment, he held her back from him, breaking up the embrace. Then his lips curled into a barely noticeable smirk. “Sit down, Zee. I do not bite. But you already know that.”

He sat down and watched her recover from the earlier shock of his words.

“Persona?” she asked wonderingly as she sat down. “Are you saying that I’m not real?”

He did not respond immediately. Instead, he was staring intensely into her eyes. It reminded her of how he had looked at her when he was deflowering her, his manhood, piercing her, making her a woman. She couldn’t stand any sort of pain, so she had cried beneath him but his whispered words of comfort and his beautiful eyes that held her tearful ones captive, helped her make it through the pain and then surprisingly to pleasure. She blinked rapidly at the memory and sent her gaze flying across the room. “Stop scrutinizing me.” She mumbled.

“Is that what I’m doing?”

“Yes.”

“Look at me, Elizabeth.”

“Zee.” She corrected, meeting his gaze assertively and he smirked at her.

“Your attempt at defiance is part of your persona.” He said simply. “So to answer your question, you’re not real.” He ignored the look of indignation that entered her eyes and continued. “You hide behind a seemingly safe but unreal image that you’ve built for yourself. You try to live like someone without a care in the world you know, as though, nothing bothers you.”

“Nothing bothers me,” she said fleetingly. She hated the truth. She would have bolted out of there but she was there on a mission. This was not the time to be a coward.

“Exactly.” His tone was laced with unbelief. “Anyway, enough of the psychoanalysis. What will you have?”

“Doughnut and orange juice. I am not hungry.”

“Me too.” He said and signalled a male waiter who drew near and took their order before leaving to fulfil them.

Zee’s eyes were on the table but Michael’s eyes were on her face.

“Elizabeth.”

She lifted her eyes and met his piercing gaze. “Zee.” She corrected.

“You’ve grown, Elizabeth.” He said, ignoring her correction. “Remember what I used to call you?”

“No.”

“You do.”

“I don’t.”

“Liz.”

“Stop it.”

He looked amused and watched her smile for the second time since they had met that afternoon.

“I know that you remember.”

“I do.”

“Don’t worry. I have outgrown the name. Now tell me what you said to me on the phone.”

Zee swallowed hard. This was her moment and she had come prepared.

“Marry me, Michael.” She said solemnly and he laughed.

“Zee?”

“I’m not joking. Please marry me.”

His gaze upon hers turned quizzical for a moment. Then his eyes widened as she rose, stepped away from her seat, and went down on her knees before him. Next, she pulled out a ring box from her pocket.

The moment it became inevitable that she was going to have to perform her dare face to face, she knew that she would have to do it well and make it believable so that the last dare would leave her alone. That was how the game worked.

“Jesus, Zee?” he whispered, unbelieving. She opened the box and retrieved an engagement ring, presenting it to him.

The restaurant guests noticed them, looks of surprise and shock, cutting across their faces. Michael saw that some of the guests had started fishing for their phones. He knew they would be taking videos or pictures next. Already, he could see the back cameras of several phones already being directed towards them, held by their excited spectators.

He quickly pulled her up to her feet, moved her to hug him but at the same time, he was shoving the ring and box into his pocket. He had to save her from being a social media joke. These days, people recorded everything and a girl proposing to a guy like this would make some good social media story.

“I have a fiancé.” He said in her ear. “So, no. I will not marry you. Now, let’s get out of here.”

Zee had thought that she would be happy when he finally got to say the words of rejection but she wasn’t. She was neither sad nor happy. She was somewhere in between and it was a terrible feeling that she could not explain.

“I was performing a dare.” She responded as she stayed locked in his embrace.

“That was very silly of you.” He replied. “Nonetheless, let’s just laugh like two silly people, alright? That way it would look like this was a planned joke.”

Zee thought it was a brilliant idea and she was grateful that he was willing to save her from the embarrassment. “Okay.”

He started tickling her and she burst into exaggerated laughter. Michael laughed with her and then with his hand, holding hers, he started leading them out.

“Sorry for the prank, guys.” He announced as he led a laughing Zee out of the restaurant.

The confused guests stared at them as they walked out, some shaking their heads in amusement as they returned to their meals. Outside, Zee pointed at her truck “That’s my car.” She informed him and he led her towards it. Then he stood beside her and she was so embarrassed, she had her gaze to the floor. She felt his finger lifting her jaw and managed to meet his intense gaze. She thought he would say something but he remained silent. It made her nervous and uncomfortable.

“You don’t…you don’t deserve my shenanigans.” She said quietly.

“I don’t.” he agreed plainly.

“Who’s your fiancé by the way? I only saw your Facebook status. I didn’t see any pictures or anything.”

“My Facebook was hacked.”

“Oh, sorry about that.”

“It’s fine. I was never a social media person, anyway.”

“That’s true. It takes you ages to make a post.”

“You got that right.”

“So, you’re not engaged?”

“I am getting married in seven days. That’s on Saturday.”

“Oh, congratulations.”

“Thank you.”

“Who’s the girl?”

“You ask like you know everyone in this town.”

“I hang out a lot. I just might know.”

“Well, she’s someone I met here at a friend’s wedding.”

“I never did ask you what you did for a living.”

“If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.”

Zee laughed, but he didn’t join her. “You’re serious?”

He smiled. “Of course not. I am a businessman. I own a winery.”

“Really?”

“We’ve been worlds apart, Elizabeth.”

“Hmm. Anyway, who’s your fiancé?”

“Her name is Cassandra Blake.”

“Cassy?”

Zee was surprised. Didn’t she see Cassy frolicking with someone a few minutes ago?

“You know her?”

“Sure. She used to be in my class.”

“I see. Anyway, it is a low-key wedding taking place at the state’s Cathedral by 10:00 am next Saturday.”

“Low key, huh? I guess you have your reasons.” she quipped.

“We do.”

“I see. Okay.”

“Are you going to be there?”

“Are you inviting me?”

“I gave you the time and venue. That means I am.”

“Sorry, but I don’t like your future wife.” Zee could not stand Cassy and she had held her tongue for long enough.

His eyebrows lifted. “Why?”

“She and her friends used to bully my best friend.” She answered. Besides, she is cheating on you and she is a slut, Zee felt like adding but she held back her tongue.

“Sorry about that.”

“I may come.”

“Okay, but it’s still not a problem if you cannot make it.”

“I understand.”

“Come with me, Zee.” He was pointing at a car. She saw a black range rover. “I want you to have a souvenir of our meeting. That’s in case I don’t see you again.”

“Okay.” She replied and followed him to the car which he opened and handed a sleek bottle of red wine to her. It was branded, Havens.

“Oh my God, Michael. This is like the new wine in town. Is this your brand?”

“Sure.”

“I love it. The taste is divine.”

“Good to know. Thanks. Hug me, will you?”

Zee hugged him. “I’ve always liked you, Zee.” He said as he held her close. I can still remember the first day your dad dropped you off at school. You looked so innocent and quiet. I fell in love with that Zee. That’s the Zee I see even underneath all this facade. That’s why I took your virginity when you asked. It angered me when you were running around that boy who had no regard for you. But that was because you had no regard for yourself.”

Zee started struggling to be free from his embrace, but he held her close and would not release her. “Let me go.” She whined.

“Shut your mouth and listen to the truth,” he commanded in a low tone, the forcefulness of his deep voice rendering her immobile.

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