Chapter 31 | Traumatic Ignorance
The darkness seeped into Elizabeth’s windows. The moonlight was especially bright today. So bright that some of its light lit up the street in front of her building.
It was almost time for Mark to pick her up. Honestly, she was still a bit scared. Scared if they were going to be part of rumors just like before. Mark was probably even scolded for his actions and she felt really guilty about it sometimes.
She still moved to recheck herself if everything is at place. She told Mark to dress up semi-formal, like how she was. Elizabeth waited for him, donning a white half-sleeved dress which ended just above her knees. It wasn’t too much, paired with a belt, a purse to go with it, and short nude heels.
She ha offered to choose the restaurant and after an hour of searching, she had come across this classy small place downtown called “July”.
She didn’t think they would go for something formal, but taking a bit of measures, it was the only one who had little to none customers reserved for that day. And they had private rooms for dinners, which was great at keeping low profile, especially for someone like Mark. It wasn’t too hard on her wallet, yet still looked like they served good food.
Looking down her window, she noticed an unfamiliar-looking car who stopped by the building’s entrance. She looked at her clock, which had already showed to be seven P. M, but she doubted if it was Mark.
She kept on staring out the window, when suddenly a message notified on her phone. She opened it and saw,
Which only affirmed that it was actually Mark in the car. So, without replying to the message, Elizabeth hurriedly exited and went down the flight of stairs.
As she exited her front door, Mark’s windows went down for him to face her. He smiled and said, “You’re here.”
“Yep.” she said as she entered the seat beside him. “You dressed up well.” She remarked as she looked at him. And he did, with normal black slacks and a nice white upper to go with it.
“Well, you told me semi-formal. Where exactly are we going, anyway?”
“I found this pleasant restaurant called July with a few people. I’ve reserved a dining room there”
“You must do well in your job, huh?”
Elizabeth laughed at his remark. “Don’t count yourself out. What’s with this new ride?” She the pointed all around her as she said this.
“Hahaha I’ve had this for a long time and thought it would be better to not attract attention.”
“Mhmm, I notice the tinted windows.” This time, Mark had already typed in the restaurant name into his GPS and started driving. Elizabeth continued, “I’m really sorry for the last rumor. This restaurant is best for our extra precautions.”
“No... It was my fault as well. But it’s good you don’t hinder yourself from spending time with me because of it. The media would just think of us as friends, so we don’t have to worry all that much. Plus, it’s a great time with you.” Mark turned to her and smiled, which somehow comfortably made her all warm inside.
“Thanks.” She simply replied. There, the drive to the venue continued quietly.
They arrived at the bustling street and together; they admired the city lights that lined the sky. Elizabeth’s gaze was focused outside the window that she didn’t notice Mark’s gaze constantly shifting from the road to her, admiring the colorful lights shining her glowing smile.
The GPS then signaled that they had already arrived at the location. It was actually a restaurant on top of a hotel that looked over the downtown city lights.
They had exited the car and rode the elevator all the way to the top. Right away, when they had exited, they faced the front door of the empty restaurant. It was shouting out elegance. With white walls donned with yellow shimmering lights. It had private rooms that were walled one side with clear glass.
It wasn’t full, and they already had a reservation, so they were seated right away. Their table was in a wide spaced room with tiled floors and wonderful lights on its own. “This makes me feel like royalty.” Mark had remarked.
Elizabeth giggled at his words as she sat down herself. “I never expected it to look this grand. But it fits the look of someone like you.” As they conversed, a kind-looking waiter quietly poured complimentary wine into their glasses.
“Are you saying I look rich?”
Elizabeth laughed once more at the teasing look in his eyes. “Who would deny that? You forget you’re an international grade athlete.”
“I do, huh?” Both of them laughed at the same time. The menus then came up into their view. There it was quiet as the two chose their orders. After they were satisfied with their choices, they gave back the booklet and Mark started.
“Now, El, tell me how you found out about the doping.”
Elizabeth took a sip of her wine and shook her head. “No, no. If I did, you wouldn’t have a reason to buy the latest copy of our magazine in the future.”
Mark laughed when he heard this and then rubbed his chest with his palm saying, “Ouch, is your job more important the friendship?”
“You don’t provide me my salary, do you?”
Mark took the glass in his hand and swirled the wine around like an experienced connoisseur as he then turned his deep eyes to look directly into hers. ” I could if I wanted to.”
“You forget I’m an international grade athlete. I’m filthy rich.” Mark leaned in closer and took a strand of Elizabeth’s dark hair and swirled it in his fingers before placing it behind her ear. While whispering, “Do you want me?”
Elizabeth, a bit flustered, leaned back. She could tell that heat was rising on her face and tried to calm herself down. Seeing this, Mark let go of her hair and placed the cup back down. He then laughed loudly at her reaction.
“You should have seen your face.”
“Ha Ha Ha... So funny.” Elizabeth let go of her cheeks and, as if the divinity noticed the awkward situation, the food arrived.
Unconsciously, she looked down to avoid the server from noticing her reddening face. Mark as well was focused on controlling his laughter, so they really didn’t notice the figure serving the food.
“Thank you, are you the chef?” Mark said with brief contact.
“Yes, chef and owner of July. I hope you enjoy the meal.” He said before leaving them to their privacy.
Elizabeth looked at the food and was suddenly getting hungry. She then asked, “The chef served us.”
“Well, I am soccer player Mark Hale.” He remarked, which made the air so much more relaxed. And with that, they started having their delicious meal.
Time passed, and the two were having a good time. They talked about the disqualification, and eventually, Elizabeth told him everything about it; from how she wandered into the men’s bathroom to the meeting room.
Something so simple made Mark laugh so hard that Elizabeth was having second thoughts of accepting him again as a friend. “It’s not that funny Mark.” She said, pouting.
“Hahahahahaha, it is! If I were there to open that door, you would look like a vermin crouched on the toilet seat.”
“But wasn’t me sitting there convenient?”
“I suppose it was. Thanks El, we’ve got one less team to worry about.”
They almost finished their meals when Elizabeth stood up from her chair. ” I’ll just go to the comfort room.”
Mark took another sip of his wine as Elizabeth approached the door out, “Don’t wander into the men’s bathroom again.”
Elizabeth looked back at the smug-looking Mark, who smirked at his drink before completely exiting out their table and heading to the comfort room.
She did her business quickly, then looked into the mirror as she washed her hands thoroughly.
With the cold water still clinging onto her hands, she shook them off several times before staring at herself. She noticed the ever-growing shade of redness on her cheeks and ears. Ever since they sat down, something has been jumping up and down in her stomach every time Mark spoke and she didn’t know why.
With hands not fully dry, she cupped her face and slapped both of her cheeks twice at the same time. Not very hard, but enough to calm down her nerves after a shock of slight pain. She breathed in deep and out, closing her eyes and conditioning herself before she went out.
As she exited the wooden door of the comfort room, a white figure leaned against the wall beside it.
The man was wearing all white and black shoes. He was the chef of the restaurant. He looked down at the floor, so quietly, Elizabeth tried to pass by the weird person.
But as she did so, she could feel a sudden pressure tugging on her wrist, pulling her back into the small hallway. Now the man looked at her properly as she stood in his arms.
“Elizabeth Lane.” He muttered quietly.
After a few moments, Elizabeth realized who he was. “Felix! Why are you here?!”
He played with her hair as he leaned in dangerously close to her. ” I don’t believe you don’t remember. I’ve already told you I owned this restaurant.” His breathing was close to her ear and, out of sheer fear, Elizabeth closed her eyes and tried to lean back.
Because of the hand behind her back pulling her towards him, she could not run. He gripped her wrists. It hurt her. She turned her face away from him.
“You dare forget me?! I even served you your food, little Missy, and you lowered your head, trying to ignore me. And you were even with another man!”
Felix pushed her away, but with the firm grip on her, he pulled her into the women’s bathroom where she had just exited and closed the door.
He backed her up against the sinks as she held on for dear life on the marble surface behind her.
He touched her left cheek like it was fragile. Slithering his fingers softly against her skin. “Who was he Elizabeth?”
Elizabeth couldn’t look.
“You know, ever since we’ve met, there has been no other like you. You looked so classy on our blind date, you caught me in love at first sight.”
Felix couldn’t stand her turned face, so he took her chin and pulled her to face him. “You were so beautiful that my mind was fixated on you every single day. I’m sorry I stormed out. I hated the food and the place, but I couldn’t hate you. I came back an hour after, hoping you were waiting for me, but you weren’t.”
Her eyes looked to the ground. She really couldn’t handle the sight of him. She was scared and her whole body shook in his grasp. “But you, Elizabeth, didn’t even remember me. Who was that man, Elizabeth? Who was he!?”
With that, he punched the mirror beside Elizabeth with all his strength, fury in his eyes. She didn’t know he was this kind of person.
The mirror behind her cracked under the yellow lighting. “Tell me!” He demanded as he grabbed her face closer to his with so much strength, her cheeks almost touching.
“You are so beautiful.” He softly muttered as he forced his lips onto hers. The kiss was salty, overshadowed by tears.
Elizabeth was frozen on the spot. She was frightened. She didn’t want what happened to her mother happening to her. The trauma was filling her brain with memories that weren’t hers, but she couldn’t help but cry.
No... No... No, she thought, but no word would come out of her mouth, which was still being harshly kissed by unfamiliar Felix.
Elizabeth could do nothing but mentally call the person closest to her at the moment. She didn’t know what to do.
Mark, save me.