The Rules Series

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Enforced Rules 4: Aurora

It’s over. Those words that he didn’t even bother to say cut me to the core. It’s over. There is no coming back from this. I let him hurt me and it was a huge mistake. I knew it would be. I’d known it before I’d let him touch me. I’d known it when he first told me he’d lied to me. When he first admitted the connection between our families; our parents. I’m completely overwhelmed with everything that happened tonight. Hell, I’m overwhelmed by everything that has happened this week, not just tonight. It’s not as if I thought he’d open up to me and share every secret he ever had after he fucked me in his old bedroom but I didn’t think it would go down like it did. It was awful. He’d pulled me away from his photos refusing to acknowledge all my unanswered questions. He’d literally dragged me down the stairs and out onto the patio, where his parents were waiting for us. I’d blushed ridiculously red; I was so sure they knew what we had been doing in his room. I mean there is no way they didn’t know, right? They were really polite regardless. Acting as if they were completely unawares. But that’s not possible, right? And even if they didn’t know for sure, they would have been suspicious. They asked again after my parents, reminding me of the fact that Landon had lied to me when he first met me. It had caused me to frown. They didn’t notice, I don’t think. Landon’s father said he might ask my father to a game of golf. But there was this horrible tension in the air and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Landon was tense. I knew that much; I could feel it. The tension was rolling off him in tidal waves and landing on my skin with an icy coldness that made me shiver. I knew he was having issues with his father but I didn’t know the details. I just knew they’d had a horrible dinner together where his father had told him he was sick and that Landon’s father wanted him to take over the family business. From what I could see tonight, Alistair Peters is not the sort of man to not get what he wants. The problem is the apple didn’t fall far from the tree and I know Landon is exactly the same, so there was this horrible fight for dominance and control going on.

“Has my son told you I’m sick?” he asked me, from across the dinner table, much to Landon’s clear irritation. He was frustrated that he couldn’t keep his parents in check.

I was so shocked at his outbreak, that I didn’t know how to reply. Fortunately, he didn’t seem to expect a reply at all and pressed on, “And yet he no intentions of continuing my legacy. He thinks I should just give my life’s work to my wife’s bastard child.”

I had heard his wife’s harsh take in of breath without looking up from my hands in my lap. The dinner quickly became as awkward as my last family dinner. I desperately wanted to comfort her. I had a feeling there was far more to the story than Alistair told us. “She’s pretty, you know, son,” he had changed direction, “I can see why you like her. Take my empire for her, for her children... let me give that much to you before I go.”

Landon was caught off guard, out of control and he really didn’t like it. I had seen that much. His face was a mask but I could see a tick in his cheek, a tale tell sign he wasn’t okay. Strange that it took this situation for me to finally see past his poker face. I wanted to take his hand, to support him, but I wasn’t sure if he’d accept it: my hand or my support. I was a stranger with a front row seat to how fucked up his family was. His father had continued his personal monologue, “As if I’d let Thomas Thorpe’s son have my company,” he had laughed callously.

“I see you knew Landon,” Alistair had commented with a raised eyebrow, clearly noting Landon’s lack of shock.

“Mother told me a few days ago,” Landon had responded with no emotion at all, or at least that’s what he wanted us to think. I had seen that tick and heard the slight tremble in his voice. I took a risk, offering him my hand under the table, scared he’d reject it. I was silently pleased when he took it and held it tightly: as tight as if he were a drowning man at sea and I was his only hope of rescue. I was the buoy keeping him afloat.

“Did she tell you it was my fault? That I worked too much?” Alistair laughed bitterly.

“It’s not as simple as that,” Lauren was crying openly now. No longer trying to keep her composure.

“She loved him, you know. Still does she says,” Landon’s father was angry now, shaking with rage. “So many excuses: I was never home; always working; I was distant…”

“Father,” Landon began.

“Don’t father me! This is still my house… you know I could have cheated. The women are always there, you know that son. You’ve made it your life’s mission to never get tied down – until now it seems,” he glanced at me briefly, “there are always opportunities… but I was faithful to my faithless wife.”

“You were faithful to your company first,” Lauren said quietly, “I was the only mistress you needed.”

“You never seemed unsatisfied. You had everything! I gave you everything!” his words were furious and cold all at once.

“Not everything is about material possessions,” Landon frowned, “she needed you when she was hurting and you weren’t there.”

“Now you are taking her side?” his father laughed, “how will you feel when you are me and this pretty little something sleeps with Jarrod or Jack.” His words are bitter and cutting and disgusting.

Landon drops my hand under the table in shock, “we aren’t serious – we’re not married. It’s not the same as you and mum,” He tries to remain composed, controlled, defiant.

“It will be; I can see it in your eyes. You want her, the same way I wanted your mother. She’ll be your world if you let her and she’ll destroy it too.”

“Aurora’s not like that,” he said quietly, defending a future me that neither one of us knew.

“I didn’t think your mother was either,” he smirked unkindly, “I thought she was perfect; how mistaken I was. But you didn’t answer my question... how would you feel?”

“It would destroy me,” he whispered. I had been shocked because truth be told he barely knows me. I hadn’t understood then how I could possibly hurt him. That was before he hurt me.

“Then don’t judge me for feeling betrayed that my wife had an affair that lasted for most of your life.”

“I’m not judging you father,” Landon tried to reason, “I’m only trying to understand. You love Ayden, like a son, even though he isn’t... you love him...”

“I wish I had my Melody,” Alistair spoke quietly, not particularly speaking to any of us, Landon’s words ignored.

“We all wish she was here,” Landon replied, his voice softer.

When the meal was finally finished, I offered to help Mrs Peters with the dishes, thinking it might give Landon some time to sort things out with his father. “You’re probably judging me dear.” She sounded resigned.

“No...” I didn’t know what to say. I look her over. She’s a very attractive woman with blonde hair that is tied back in a knot at the base of her neck. Even though she has been crying she’s still beautiful. Most of her make up still in place. Her outfit is simple and elegant and she wears minimalistic jewelry.

“It’s okay. I’d probably judge me too. You forget, I’m your mother’s friend. I know the mould you’ve been made in.”

“I’m not my mother,” I retort almost angrily.

“No... You’re stronger than her,” Lauren smiled sadly. “Perhaps you might understand in a way your mother, my husband, even my son can’t. I was hurting. I’d lost a baby. I miscarried and my husband was away on business. I called Thomas. He held me as I cried myself to sleep. It was one of the most innocent acts of my life but it had the most sinful of consequences. I kissed him and he didn’t stop me and I didn’t stop myself. I should have, I know that. As a married woman I had no right to kiss him. I had no right to find peace in his arms the way I did.”

When I didn’t respond she spoke again. “My husband isn’t an unfeeling monster. I love him very much. He’s an amazing man.”

“But you love this Thomas too?” I’m confused.

“It’s different but yes I do. He’s my closest friend. But we haven’t been together since my husband found out two years ago.”

“Why did you stay?”

“Because I love them both and I knew I had to choose between them. My three children, as far as I knew were all Alistair’s and even if that was in doubt he had always been an amazing father to them and had every intention to continue in the same way. I didn’t want to destroy my family. We’d already suffered so much tragedy; my boys were already broken.”

“Three children?” As far as I knew they only had two sons: Landon and Ayden.

“Alistair and I had a daughter,” Lauren told me with tears in our eyes, “Melody.”

I try to hide my surprise. “She was always Alistair’s favourite,” Lauren continued, “not that he’d ever say it. She was his princess. She would be about your age: 21, 22… she looked a bit like you too, except her hair was curly. It was an untamable mess of curls.”

“She died?” I ask, even though I know the answer. She is the girl from the photos: the girl at the piano. The one he won’t talk about.

“Yes,” Lauren sighed, “she was in a terrible car crash on her way home from boarding school. The other driver was drunk,” I was no longer sure if she was telling me or talking to herself. “My baby girl died and Alistair lost his princess. Melody’s best friend was in the car with her. My boys are quite protective of Abby Tucker. They treat her like the sister they lost. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ayden tried to marry her, although I’m quite convinced they’d never make each other happy.”

“They would be constantly trying to fix the unfixable,” I say quietly.

“Exactly – marrying her won’t bring his sister back,” her voice broke and I found myself outstretching my arm, trying to give this broken woman comfort.

“My husband loves Ayden. He’s just very sick. I don’t know how much you know, but he has an inoperable brain tumour.”

“It’s symptomatic,” I nod my head, needing no more explanation. Cameron had told me enough horror stories from his med classes. At that moment, Landon thundered into the kitchen.

“We’re leaving,” he took the plate I was drying and flung it onto the draining board, clearly not caring if it smashed. I wanted to chastise him but it clearly wasn’t the best time. We’d probably have ended up fighting.

“Wait until you’ve calmed down,” Lauren was worried; I could tell. It was understandable. If I’d lost a daughter in a car crash, I’d be worried if my son wanted to drive off in a temper too.

“No,” Landon quipped, “we need to go. I’m not staying a moment longer.”

He practically dragged me to the front door by the arm. I was certain I would bruise. He was being very rough. He turned as he opened the door, “Tell dad to get his lawyers to draw up a contract. I’ll have mine do the same and then we can compare.”

“Thank you Landon,” Lauren smiled like a broken women. She literally looked like one of those women who had lost everything: the women you pitied.

“Don’t thank me,” Landon brushed off her gratitude with distain. This was a side of him I didn’t like: a side I was secretly hoping not to have to see again.

I offered to drive when we were outside but he didn’t even reply. He just got into the driver’s seat and waited for me. He drove in silence barely acknowledging my presence. I didn’t know if I should say anything so I just sat there looking out the window until I noticed where he was taking me.

“You’re taking me home,” I had commented quietly. I don’t know why that had bothered me so much. Had I expected to spend the night at his? In his arms? I don’t know. But it was like a knife to the chest: the realisation that there would be no discussion. His mind was made up and I was being kept at arm’s length. He was pushing me away.

His lack of response told me he wasn’t just taking me home, he wasn’t staying either and my disappointment grew astronomically. He probably just wanted to be alone, I had tried to pacify myself. I had no business feeling so disappointed, I chastised. We weren’t even in a relationship but still it was going to be the first night I’d slept alone since the night I met him.

He stopped the car, not even turning off the engine. He didn’t even turn his head towards me to say goodbye. “I...” I really didn’t know what to say, “I’ll see you tomorrow...”

No response, “at the fundraiser?” I push. Still nothing. It’s over. This is him ending it I realise. It was always going to be short lived. He’d made it clear he wasn’t the sort of guy to do second or third dates. How did this get so complicated? He’d done what he’d promised; he’d helped me break the rules. It’s over. There’s no going back. I can’t unsee the mess I saw tonight and that’s what he wants, I think. He wants to order the chaos.

I open the door, I put one leg out and glance back wondering if I leant over and kissed him could I melt the statue he’d become. He takes me by surprise pulling me back into the car, closing the door and pulling me onto his lap. His kiss is deep, passionate but cold. I can’t tell if he is kissing me goodbye or if he is trying to fuck me out of his system or if he is using me to deal with how he feels. A part of me is repulsed by the idea of him using me but I silence my querns and try to focus on the way his body against mine makes me feel. He unzips his trousers and is inside me before I can say or do anything. My hands are on the ceiling of the car as he bounces me on his cock. It is as intense as it always is with Landon but it is quick and dirty and I don’t feel cherished like every other time. I look into his eyes, but I can’t get a read on him. He is uncontrolled like a fiery demon but his eyes are as cold as flint: flint that could start the most deadly of fires. He gives me the orgasm of my life and then pats down my dress and opens his door and I am sure he is going to just push me out and drive off without a word. Instead he gets out of the car with me wrapped around him and carries me to the door of my apartment. For a second, I’m hopeful that he’s changed his mind and is going to come in, but that hope is shallow and fleeting. He doesn’t say anything, just gives me an unfathomable look when he puts me down on the doorstop before striding back to his car and driving away.

It nearly destroys me, the sight of him leaving me.

Tallulah and Cameron will want details but I am not ready to share this. It is too deep. Too broken. I am wrecked in a whirl of explosive thoughts and feelings that so far I’d managed to avoid. Until now. Until I let Landon Peters into my life. Until I’d relinquished control. I am convinced it is over. Even if it isn’t over, even if he thinks he come back from this, I don’t think I can. I’ve never let anyone this close before. I’ve never let anyone hurt me before. I’ve never felt so weak. I wipe the tears that have gathered at my eyes and I straighten my back. I’ve just had break up sex and it has nearly destroyed me, but no one will be able to tell I promise myself. I won’t let them see my weakness. I take a deep breath and quietly let myself in and go straight to my room. I can hear three voices in the lounge; Cam has a girl over. I get undressed and get straight into bed, curling into a ball. I am tempted to call my mother but that is a terrible idea. If there is one person I don’t want to know about this, it is my mother. I pick up my phone anyway, “Ali?”

“Rory? What’s wrong?” Aileen is clearly out with friends in a bar or something based on the sounds I can hear in the background.

“I think I had my heart broken,” I tell her with a whisper.

“Do you want me to come by?” she is worried. She always had been a caring sister, back when we’d been close, back before her baby.

“No... have fun... you’re out right?”

“That doesn’t matter,” she says seriously, “I’ll come round.”

I want her to come so I don’t try and stop her again. I just sit there, naked in my bed... until I realise I should probably put some clothes on if Aileen is coming over. I grab some pjs, putting them on and curling back up again. Aileen doesn’t ring the bell. She doesn’t need to. She has a key. I’m grateful because I don’t want Cameron or Tallulah to see me; not like this. I know what they think of me. Just like everyone else, they are convinced that I am perfect. This would certainly break that illusion, I think to myself bitterly. She comes straight down the hall to my room. She doesn’t knock but barges straight in. “Shit,” she takes one look at me, “this might need more than the one bottle...” she holds up a bottle of tequila, a jar of salt and a bag of limes.

I can’t help but chuckle. “I like tequila.”

“I heard a rumour about that recently,” she raises an eyebrow.

She pours me a shot, waits for me to down it before asking me to tell her everything. I have no idea where to start so I haphazardly tell her everything from the beginning, “I was jealous of you.” It’s a whispered confession; brief yet true.

“What??” her eyes are wide with shock, “jealous of me?”

“You pave your own path, Aileen. You make your own rules,” I laugh bitterly, “I decided I wanted to try breaking the rules. I’ve tried so hard to be what they want but I’m not perfect and it drives me mad that everyone thinks I am...” My voice is high pitched and I’m close to tears, but I won’t let them fall. I won’t break.

“You’ve always made it look pretty easy,” Ali laughs. It makes me sad that even Aileen doesn’t see the real me, the imperfect me. What everyone else sees as perfection, I see as a fear of crossing imaginary lines. I’m not perfect. I’m just a coward, too scared to be anything but what they all expect me to be. Too scared to risk their rejection and disappointment on the things that I want, on the person I want to be. That’s not perfect. It’s far from perfect. It’s brokenness hidden inside a perfect wrapper. It’s a broken mirror pretending to be mosaic, pretending to be beautiful.

“So I got drunk with Lou and Cam,” I carry on, trying to distance myself from my thoughts before they overwhelm me, “met a guy, Landon... he’s hot.” I try for indifference. I try for control.

“How hot? Like bubbly, I’m attracted to you, but I can still put you down, hot or, crazy, deep, devastatingly, uncontrollably hot like a fiery explosion of sexual passion and want.” Aileen always has had a way with words.

“Aileen,” I shake my head at her, “do you think I’d be this messed up if I could still put him down?”

“Ah...” It’s a quiet response, resound and sad.

“I only met him a few nights ago – like literally on Monday night,” None of this makes sense.

She gives me a look that tells me she thinks I am insane but I carry on, “but it’s been so intense. I’ve been with him every night since then,” I try to explain, but nothing I say seems enough to describe the impact he’s had upon me, “he told me he wanted to help me break the rules... but I get the impression he doesn’t do relationships. We did things that would shock you.”

“I doubt that,” Ali grins, “you’re the good sister.”

“We fucked in a limo,” if anything she’s more shocked by me cursing, “we fucked in the front seat of his lexus tonight...”

“All that tells me is that my recently non-virgin sister has a kink for cars,” she laughs, trying to keep everything light. That’s Aileen for you; she avoids the deep stuff.

“He’s tied me up, we had sex on a balcony, over the railing, looking down on the city,” I don’t know why I’m telling her this. Is it that I’m trying to prove that I’m not perfect? Is it that I want her to see how different I am with him? I don’t know.

“Okay, that’s hot. I’ll give you that,” Aileen agrees with a low whistle.

“He fingered me in the lift on our way up to his apartment the very first night I met him.”

“Okay, I get the point. The sex has been a hot, kinky, mess.”

“That’s not the point. I don’t know what the point is.” I’m frustrated and I don’t know why. No that’s not true. I’m angry with Landon, that’s why I’m frustrated.

“You like him?”

“More than I should,” More than I want to, I finish in my head.

“Because he doesn’t do relationships?” she asks.

“Yes. No. Partly. But also because I don’t really know him. This isn’t like me.”

“You always did care too much,” Ali grins.

“Yeah sure about sick animals and my friends and family,” I’m laughing now, “not about boys…” the last words a gentle whisper.

“No,” Aileen agrees, “not boys… you always were slightly oblivious when it came to boys.”

“Not oblivious,” I sigh, “just not interested.”

“Even Theo?” her eyebrow is raised now.

“Things with Theo have always been complicated. He’s one of my best friends. I’d never want to ruin that.”

“Even though he loves you?”

“He doesn’t,” I shake my head, “not in that way anyway.”

“Hmmm, if you say so…”

“Our families know each other.” I try to get us back on track, “That complicates things. He recognised me at the bar before we met and he didn’t tell me. He lied. Pretended to be a stranger…”

“I don’t like being lied to,” I tell her honestly, “too many people have lied to me recently.”

Aileen lowers her eyes to the ground, knowing full well what I’m referring to. I don’t want to make her feel bad. It’s not her fault.

“Ali,” I sigh, “can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” she says it so soft I barely hear her.

“Why? Why did you do what they wanted? You’re the most stubborn person I know. You’re independent and strong. Why?”

“I was scared,” she looks up at me, “I knew the only way I could have my baby is if I walked away from our family; did it all on my own.”

“I would have helped,” I tell her, “but you’re doing it all on your own anyway.”

“Yeah,” she nods, “I know you would have.” She places her hand over mine, “but I was scared. I knew the second mother made the demand that our relationship was as good as over.” She’s crying; sobbing almost, “and I knew I’d be on my own and I knew that I could do that. I could be on my own. I’d get a job, a flat, I’d finish school… I could do that… but I didn’t think I could be a mum on my own.”

“Why?”

“Don’t you see?” her eyes are wide and broken like I’ve never seen them before, “if I can’t pay my rent, it only hurts me, if I can’t afford to buy food, it only hurts me… If I’d kept Amelia, it would have hurt her too. I had no idea what it would take to be independent like this. I wasn’t sure I could do it and I was never going to let anything hurt my baby.”

“You’re so brave,” I want to hug her close and protect her from the pain she’s hidden for all this time.

“She’s loved by more people than she’ll ever know,” she smiles sadly, “maybe one day she’ll want to know me… I can’t describe to you how empty my hands feel.”

There are tears in my eyes as I hear her words, “I’ve never felt whole, not since the day I gave her up.” She shakes her head as if to shake away her thoughts, “but tonight is not about me…”

I frown, “there’s enough hours in the night for us to talk about anything and everything. It doesn’t all have to be about me.”

“I know,” she grins, “but I want to hear the end of the story.”

I laugh, “if you’re sure.”

She nods her head and waits for me to continue, “So he’d lied to me and everything but that didn’t stop me liking him. His connection to our family didn’t stop me liking him. Things were really great. It wasn’t just sex, we talked you know.”

She doesn’t want to interrupt me in full flow but when I abruptly stop she asks, “What happened tonight? Why do you think it’s over?”

“We went to his parents for dinner.”

“You met his parents? Doesn’t sound like it’s over to me.”

“It went badly,” that’s an understatement, “they’ve got shit going on that makes our family look happy.”

“Wow...” Aileen whistles again.

“I think it was difficult for him, having me see that.”

“Probably,” she nods her head, “but that doesn’t mean it’s over.”

“He didn’t talk to me on the way back.”

“He was probably distracted.”

“I went to get out and he pulled me back, fucked me in the car and then carried me to the door to my apartment without saying anything. He just walked away and drove off.”

“Well... okay that’s a bit fucked.” I like that about Ali. She is always real. I know she’d never say something just to make me feel better. “I think we need to drink some more.”

“Like way more,” I grin.

“You read my mind chick,” Aileen smirks, before handing me another shot.

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