Ronin pulls up in front of an apartment complex … the wrong apartment complex. This is where my brother lives. Right or wrong, it’s the last place that I had been expecting us to go. “Oh!” is all I am able to say. I unhook my seat-belt feeling deflated, hurt, and completely confused. I reach for the door handle trying not to look at Ronin. I have no idea what had happened in the last twenty minutes, but it’s very clear that all of a sudden he wants to get rid of me. Thoughts start running through my head, and the most logical one is that he has another woman … he has to ditch me and go to her. I don’t know why I’m getting upset: I’ve always known that I wasn’t even close to being in his league. Still, the idea of another woman stings more than I thought that it would.
Ronin grabs my arm before I can get out of his fancy Ferrari. “I am so sorry beautiful, I really don’t want our day to end so abruptly. I wanted to taste your beautiful lips, but I have something that’s very important to deal with. And … I do believe that if I don’t get you back to your brother in time for him to take you shopping, he will have a few choice words for both of us.”
Ronin is trying to console me, but it’s too late—the damage has been done—I am already hurt. “Whatever Ronin.” I say trying to pull my arm free from his grasp.
“Believe me Treva, the last thing that I want to do is to hurt you.” His voice sounds pained, but I don’t want to fall victim to his web. He is such a womanizer, and I can’t believe he is giving me these lines of bullshit. Like … he expects me to believe it. He leans over to kiss me, but I keep my head straight. I don’t want to take the chance that my desire for him might make me give in to his whims.
“I’m not hurt … I’m fine.” I retort, before his lips can meet mine. I reach for the door handle again, but Ronin grabs my chin and turns my face so that I am facing him. Then his mouth crashes with mine. When they make contact, my lips melt into his. Damn it, why does my body have to defy me. Before I know it, I’m meeting his tongue movements just as fervently as his meet mine. I don’t want him to pull away from me and, with that, I begin searching his mouth more desperately—twisting my tongue around his, pressing in tighter like I’m running out of time. I want him, and I don’t want to be left alone … not even for a little while.
I moan into his mouth and reach my hand into his lap, rubbing and massaging his hardening groin through his pants. The last thing I wanted was to be thrown to the curbside like my inner-conscious kept warning. I feel a little better when he still responds to my hands touching him, but he is a man— they pretty much respond to anything. Slowly, I push myself away from the deep passionate kiss. Searching the door without looking, I’m able to find the handle. Hurriedly, I push it open.
“I will see you tomorrow?” He tells me, but it comes out more like a question than a true statement. “We do have a dinner party to attend.”
“Umm”… I stammer, not sure if I want to see him tomorrow, Duh you want to see him tomorrow, my more rational self kicks in. A more appropriate question would be, should you see him tomorrow. It takes me a few seconds to answer, “Of course Mr. Hollister, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I step from the car and the doorman to the apartment complex is already holding the door for me. Without glancing over my shoulder—I walk straight in and I never look back.
When the elevator door closes, I want to cry but I don’t. I hate that this stupid man has me so twisted up. I don’t want a relationship! I can’t have a relationship! Hell, why am I even using the word relationship? I know better, Ronin Hollister isn’t interested in having anything other than a sex fling. He probably just rushed off to meet up with some other woman. I am such a stupid fool.
I’m knocking on Seth’s door rather hard hoping he is here. I let out a sigh of relief when I hear the lock click from behind.
“HMM, he sure was cutting it close now wasn’t he?” Seth blurts out.
“What the hell are you talking about, Seth?”
“I asked Ronin to have you here by two o’clock so we could go shopping and looky here … its one. fifty. nine.”
“Oh My God, I’m surrounded by a bunch of over bearing control freaks.” My temper is flailing, and it takes a lot of control not to scream at the top of my lungs.
Seth looks at me sheepishly, interpreting my behavior, and then he hugs me … just out of the blue. “I’m sorry sis, you know … I’m just an over protective big brother; I remembered that I promised to take you shopping.”
“Alright, alright, I forgive you. Let’s go shopping!” I snap, far from in the mood to go shopping, but needing to do something to settle my pissy mood.
Seth drags me to some boutiques even in my foul mood. I’m trying to push the thought of getting dumped on the curb out of my mind and focus on shopping, but I still find myself preoccupied by the whole thing. Why would he say such nice things to me like calling me his Achilles heal? I don’t understand, especially with my brain not firing on all of its cylinders … I need to focus, get myself together!
I try to pay more attention to my surroundings, hoping that my foggy mind will slowly clear up. I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that I would ever find myself browsing in the fancy boutiques … thanks to Seth. A few dresses catch my eye, so I decide to try them on. I sort of feel like Cinderella with all of the women helping me try on clothes in the dressing room.
After a dozen shops and five dozen gowns later, I settle on a silver sequined cocktail dress. It is tight and very form fitting with the hem hitting me mid-thigh. It has only one strap crossing over my left shoulder, leaving my right completely exposed. It is tastefully revealing and extremely sexy. It’s definitely something that I would never wear in public, but tomorrow I will.
“Now shoes.” Seth announces.
Shoe shopping is one of the more fun parts of our shopping day. Seth buys a pair of bright red shoes to go with his black tux to add a bit of spunk, so I follow his bodacious style, and pick out a pair of bright red, five inch, strappy stilettos.
“We are going to be HAWT, H … A … W … T.” He enunciates each letter.
“Hell yeah,” I agree.
“Do you have any jewelry to go with that?” Seth points down to the bag I am carrying that holds my new dress.
“Oh … yes, you know me. I always carry my diamonds everywhere I go.” I roll my eyes and laugh at him.
“Well, hmm. I think we might have a Dollar store around here somewhere.” He winks at me.
“That would go perfect with my six hundred dollar dress you just bought me.”
I put my arm around Seth’s as we stroll out of the shoe shop and hit the streets … The gas lamp district. “Ooh … an antique shop, can we go look?” Seth extends his arm in a gesture for me to lead the way, but just before we get to the door, a plummeting sickness fills my stomach and all the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. I spin searching the faces of the people on the sidewalk, but I don’t see anyone or anything that could put my tranquil senses on high alert. It is the most awful feeling to have a gnawing sensation that something is off—very off. When Seth looks at me quizzically, no words will come to my mind so that I can explain it to him. I shrug my shoulders, “Sorry just had some weird Déjà Vu.” That was my best explanation, but I still glance back over my shoulder before we walk into the shop.
I have always loved antiques. We meander through the store and I gawk at beautiful ornate marble tables and old wood head boards. Keeping a clear view of the front door to see if anyone I recognize walks in, “This place is amazing.” I say softly under my breath. A glass case in the middle of the store gets my attention, and I leave Seth to wander. When I lean over to peer through the glass at all of the costume jewelry, a set of grey, and who knows what other kind of stone glitters at me.
“Miss … Excuse me Miss, could I please look at that?” The clerk looks irritated like I just interrupted her whole day and she rolls her eyes at me, but she walks over to the counter and pulls the pieces out that I am pointing to. It only takes me a nano-second of looking at it to say, “I’ll take it.”
Seth comes over just in time to peek at the jewelry, “ooh, look at the pretty old junk.” I smack his arm.
“Ok, I get the earrings, but what are you going to do with the broach?”
I turn and flint a brilliant smile at my brother, “you have no imagination. I’m going to turn it into a beautiful decorative hair piece. This stuff will go great with my dress.”
Seth couldn’t disagree with me that it wouldn’t go well with my new ensemble, so he didn’t say anymore.
There was no way that I was going to let Seth pay for my awesome find in the antique store, and he is still throwing a tantrum after we leave the store when my phone Bings.
I pull out my phone and see that I have one new message, but I don’t recognize the number. Nervously, I click the icon to display the message:
I can’t get you out of my mind.
I’m missing you tons pudding
The message completely takes me off guard. I’m relieved after all the strange calls and my over-active imagination—thinking someone has been following us. When I reread the text, jolting tingles shoot over my skin. I am still overly pissed, frustrated, and hurt that he had dropped me off so suddenly this afternoon—like he was dumping me without any notice, and pissed that he has my body doing flip flops every time I think of him. I decide to respond:
How do you know my number?
I have my ways
I think for a second, hmm I can play too…
I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you
You were on my mind and I wanted you to know
I reread the message thinking the ‘sorry’ probably has a double meaning, not just about him texting, but for his behavior earlier. Then I wonder if maybe I am just seeing more in this than there really is.
Are you doing ok?
And are you enjoying shopping with Seth?
I pause for a long time before I decide to answer:
No and yes
Thanks for asking
And with that I leave him hanging. The afternoon speeds by, and now we’re wandering the streets in the dark. Of course it is winter and the sun sets extremely early, but it makes the time seem to go even faster when the day light seems to last for such a short time.
“What sounds good to eat?” Seth asks me.
“How about some seafood? I have to take advantage of the fresh stuff while I’m here and then sleep. I feel like a walking zombie.”
“Perfect. I know a great place for wonderful seafood, and then I’ll get my baby sister home so that she can go to bed.”
After my stomach has been filled with as much as I could stuff into it, we leave and go back to Seth’s apartment. When we get to his place a beautiful bouquet of white roses and a wrapped gift sits on the floor right in front of his door. “Ooh, Seth you got a secret admirer?”
Seth leans down and grabs the envelope that has been placed on the roses. “Nope, not me, but looks like you do.”
I’m stunned, “ME?” Seth hands me the card and I see the elegant hand writing on the front of it boldly saying ‘TREVA’. I rip the envelope open, pull out the card and begin to read:
My Achilles’ heel
I will think about you until we are together again.
Lost and incomplete
I don’t want to, but I can’t seem to help but smile. The roses are beautiful, but the box has my curiosity. I pick it up off the floor and wait for Seth to open the door. When we get in, I place my items from shopping earlier down on the counter, so that I can focus my attention to the shiny wrapped box. I rip open the paper and notice that the box has a Mac logo on the side. “NO -WAY!” I say out loud. I hurry to open the box and pull out a brand new lap top. I would never call myself a computer geek, I’m more the science nerd, but I’m pretty sure Ronin wouldn’t just send me a bottom line generic cheap thing. This laptop probably has all the bells and whistles.
I feel Seth looking over my shoulder as I pull out the lap top. “Holy shit, nothing like buying his way into a pair of pants.”
I gasp and punch his arm.
“Just saying,” he mumbles rubbing his arm dramatically. “Well … turn it on; let’s see what it’s got.”
I fire it up, which takes no time at all. The homepage wall paper shocks me; it’s a picture of me, leaning over the side of the sailboat with a spout of water shooting in the air. “I didn’t even know he was taking pictures.” I say softly.
Seeing the picture reminded me of Becca’s text—probing me to see what my best friend was babbling about. The search engine hums to life when I type in, Ronin Hollister.
Page after page pops up after I type in his name;
RONIN HOLLISTER young billionaire …
RONIN HOLLISTER playing all angles …
RONIN HOLLISTER who’s the next bimbo …
I click on one of the many sites that pop up and I’m surprised when I see myself in a picture sitting with Ronin at the restaurant we had all gone to. Under the photo, comments piled up;
“Another gold digger?”
“How long will this one last?”
“Surprised her feet are on the ground and not in the air.”
This is appalling, but I continue to read all the terrible misjudgments’ the paparazzi had written about me. I can feel Seth breathing over my shoulder and when I look up at him, the set line on his face tells me that he isn’t quite as surprised as I am. He has been friends with Ronin for about four years now, and he’s probably accustomed to the paparazzi around Ronin and his female friends around.
“I AM NONE OF THESE THINGS!” I yell as I click another page. I look over my shoulder again feeling short of breath. In a low soft whisper, I can barely even ask the question, “Seth, is Ronin really that horrible to women?
“Well … sorry to say it, Treva, but … yeah.” My assumptions of him being a womanizer are confirmed.
Another photo of Ronin at a fund raiser covers the screen of the computer, and my eyes immediately fall to the girl holding his hand, AMY.
“Is that Amy?”
“Yep, she’s kind of been Ronin’s fill in. When he wants company and can’t find someone else, he drags her along. He often finds a hot chick, bags her and then dumps her. He burns a lot of bridges, but god knows the women still line up thinking they will be the one that can finally change him. Amy’s just handy, because for some reason she never leaves or gives up. I’m pretty sure she’s holding on, hoping Ronin will change his mind about her … but she’s a dumb ass.”
I can hear Seth talking, but my ears are just getting hotter. I feel like my internal temperature gauge is about to burst. The more he talks about Ronin and his inhibitions with women, the harder it becomes to concentrate on his words.
I can’t take any more. I slam the lid of the laptop closed, startling Seth. I need to compose myself. “I think I need a shower.”
After the water steams up the entire bathroom so I can barely see what’s in front of me, I step into the shower. Trying to clear my mind enough so that I can focus again, I sing at the top of my lungs— Heaven, nor Hell, from one of my favorite bands Volbeat— until my voice crackles a little. It feels good to just let some tension out. I need to get my head back in the right place. Everything I had hoped this vacation would be has been the complete opposite. I think that I am more stressed now, than when I left Montana. I don’t know how the hell that could possibly be, because I was at my breaking point. Why does Ronin have to spin me around in circles like this? And hell … is it even his fault? Wasn’t I the one who had pursued him from the very start at the airport? I need to stop this nonsense. It can’t lead to anything—not anything that’s good for me. I’m not about to let myself be used by some manipulative, rich, hot guy that thinks he can just get into any one’s panties whenever he wants to … not me.
I climb out of the shower and pull on my PJ’s. I feel better as I walk out in the living room, but then I notice the laptop sitting on the counter like a bold, red, blinking reminder. It disgusts me, and I let it stay right there. “Hey big brother, I’m going to call it a night.” I lean over the back of the couch and kiss Seth on the top of the head, “Love you. Goodnight.”
“TREVA! TREVA! Wake up baby sis. You’re having a nightmare. It’s ok you’re alright, I’m right here.” Seth heard my screams again and came to comfort me like always.
I wake with a jolt and am surprised that tears are pouring down my face. “I’m sorry Seth,” I sob.
“Oh Treva, don’t be sorry, you’re ok.” He cradles me like a small lost child and rocks me back and forth while I cry. “It’s ok, it was just a nightmare.” Seth hums softly trying to console me.
I look at him through puffy red eyes, “Seth I don’t think it was a nightmare … it, it was more like a memory.” I breathe heavy and lie still in his arms remembering the memories tormenting me in my sleep. “Seth, I was in that dark room where he held me. It was so cold,” I involuntarily shiver thinking about how cold my dank prison was. “He had me chained to the concrete wall like normal, but this time when the door opened, he wasn’t alone,” I pause, “he had someone with him. Both of them reeked of booze and sweat. I wanted to puke from the smell, but I don’t think I had eaten in a few days, so I probably couldn’t have—even if I had wanted to. And … and when that other nasty man touched me, Eric just egged him on, laughing the whole time.”
Seth stiffens his fists around me and squeezes harder.
“I’m sorry Seth. I know that you know most of the terrible things that I had to go through; you don’t know all of the details, and I don’t mean to tell you like this.”
“Fuck Treva, I’m the one who’s sorry. I don’t mean to react like this, but every time a new piece of information comes up about that asshole and how he tormented you, my blood boils. I want a much deeper justice for your terrible living nightmare that you had to endure. I’d like to rip that fucker apart with my bare hands.” He looks down at me and his distorted face softens, “I’m so sorry Treva I swear if I could have …” he trails off.
I snuggle my head into Seth’s chest as he soothingly whispers, “You’re safe … you’re safe.” He kisses me on the top of my head. “How about a nice cup of tea?”
“Yeah, that sounds good.” I’m able to say.
Seth pulls me into the living room and finds a blanket and pillow for me, and throws them on the couch. I curl up and get comfortable, while he heads to the kitchen. After he brings me a hot cup of tea, he sits close to me on the couch—flipping through the channels to try to find something mindless to look at so that we don’t have to think about anything.