Never Again

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Chapter 15

Three clubs and several drinks later; I am grinding against Matt on a dance floor to some hip hop song. I found my second wind and I’m having a great time, and to be honest—feeling utterly pleased with myself for pissing off Amy in every possible way.

“I need another drink,” I yell to Matt out of breath. He nods and grabs my hand to lead me to the bar. Matt must be about 6’ 2” tall. He towers over me and even though he isn’t real bulky, he seems to push his way through the tight dance floor with no problems. I watch his wide shoulders as he tugs me along. Holding on to him with one hand and wrapping my other around his hard forearm to make sure I don’t lose him. We make it to the bar and he asks for two beers while holding on to me tightly … no indications of letting go.

The two of us walk back to our table laughing, talking and hand in hand. I stop dead in my tracks when I see Ronin sitting in the corner at our table watching me. His eyes drop from my eyes down to my hand that’s clearly tangled up in Matt’s.

“Hi,” I say.

“Treva, Matt,” he nods at us.

I don’t know why I care, but I rapidly pull my hand from Matt’s and sit down. Amy is sitting on the opposite side almost in Ronin’s lap—snarling like a mad dog.

I wonder if Amy called him to start some shit, but I pull my shoulders back remembering the conversation I had with my roommate Becca, You’re in control. This man is nothing to you. The two of you are from different worlds, and you will take what you want from this— if you want too. What did you expect from him any way, Treva, for him to fall in love with you?” I think to myself nervously.

“What brings you out tonight?” I ask loudly trying to compose myself from the heat of his stare. And oh that stare … those glimmering gorgeous green eyes meeting my hazel ones, that perfect face and that smooth line across his lips giving no sign of any emotions.

“Amy called me and said you guys were all out.”

Just as I thought, Amy is trying to get in his pants thinking he’d get mad that I was hanging with Matt.

“So did you like my gift?” Ronin asks me out of the blue. Both Matt and Amy look at Ronin then to me in surprise.

“Umm … yes it’s wonderful, a little over the top and I shouldn’t accept it; if I had known you would be out tonight, I would have brought it with me so that I can return it to you.”

“I wanted to give it to you.” He half smiles.

I can tell that he isn’t happy about my response. It perplexes me that I even care that I might have hurt his feelings after he dumps me two times, and one of the times he was with her. I glance in Amy’s direction and see Ronin jump slightly. I can see that Amy’s arm is at an odd angle; obviously, she placed her hand in his crotch. She edges closer to him trying to close the gap between them.

“Excuse me, I’ll be right back.” I stand up needing to get away and I walk to the easiest out … toward the restrooms. I look at myself in the mirror and rub the smeared mascara, from sweating, out from under my eyes.

“What am I doing? I should find Seth and go back to his place. I can’t get my head on straight.” And now I am talking to the mirror. Seriously what is wrong with me? I’m jealous … this is bullshit! I have no claims on him at all. The thoughts buzz through my mind. I’m not sure what I should do. I turn and enter a stall and use the bathroom. I hear the door open to the bathroom and hear a clickety clack of shoes tapping against the tiled floor, but I pay no attention to it. When I leave the stall, Amy is leaning up against the counter with an evil grin planted on her large red stained lips. I compose myself from the shock of her belligerent stare. I wash my hands without even looking at her. I turn to leave, but she steps directly in front of me. “Excuse me.” I say.

“You are not worthy of his time! Do you even think you have a chance with him?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Now please excuse me.” I try to step to the side, but again she just steps into my path.

“Don’t play coy with me. You know exactly what I am talking about, Ronin will never want you. I will always be the one by his side. Didn’t you see the front page of the paper this morning?”

That was a low blow, I had seen the paper and it’s still making me sick to my stomach to think about. “Yes Amy I did, and it was a lovely picture, now if you don’t mind I am going to go find my brother so we can leave.”

“That’s right tuck your tail and run little girl, and be advised to stay away from my man.”

I push past her and quickly leave the bathroom, determined to find Seth so that we can leave. I swing the door open hard as I fight back my tears.

“Hello beautiful.” The words catch me completely off guard.

“Hi, Mr. umm … Hollister.”

He approaches me one step at a time, and when he reaches me, he grabs me and pulls me tightly to him. I try to push away feeling confused and totally lost. I give up and look up at him. He is peering down into my eyes and the look is so intense that I forget to breathe. Ronin pulls up on my chin, so that he can close his mouth over mine. The kiss is deep and with purpose, his tongue slowly gliding over my lips and tongue. He’s already holding me so tight, but he clenches his arms harder and holds me even closer. I feel him slowly rubbing his groin against my body. When he finally loosens his hold a little, I gasp for air.

The door to the bathroom flings open and Amy’s eyes almost pop out of her head … damned bitch. She looks at Ronin pleading without speaking. I look at Ronin, and I notice that he doesn’t even acknowledge her. Amy stomps off down the hall and when I’m unable to see her, I decide I need to make my stand.

“Ronin, I can’t be one of those girls you drag around on an invisible leash. I can’t and won’t be one of those girls.” I say blatantly.

“Treva,” he breathes my name heavily. “You’re not one of those girls.”

I let out a deep sigh. I’m still not quite sure who I am to him. Without having control of my mouth I cry out, “What about Amy?”

“Amy?” Ronin looks at me confused.

“YES AMY! You two have something going, I saw the pictures of you and her in the newspaper, and you even ditched me last night for HER.” My brain is beginning to boil. “I’m not going to play games with the two of you … And with the threats I just got from her, it’s very obvious you two are together.”

Ronin bursts out laughing, just pissing me off more.

“Treva, I am not playing games with you. I apologize I ditched you last night, but I assure you, Amy and I are not together. She wishes that we were. And last night at the Gala, I was there with my brother and his wife at a last minute request for my company. Amy just happened to show up with her family and the press got a picture right after she decided to hold onto me. I will admit that I have used Amy on more than one occasion, and now I wish that I hadn’t. I assure you it will never happen again.”

“Yeah right, Ronin.” I blurt out

Ronin looks down and shakes his head back and forth before he continues. “Treva, I swear to you there is nothing going on between Amy and me. Is that why you’re here with Matt tonight?”

“It’s none of your god damn business why I’m here with Matt tonight.”

“Damn it, Treva. Everything you do is my business.”

“Excuse me?” I try to push away from him, but his hold clamps down tighter on me—making it impossible to get free. “Let go of me. You don’t get to dictate what I can and can’t do,” again, I try to wiggle free from his hold.

“Fuck Treva, please stop trying to get away and listen to me. I can’t quite figure out what you have done to me, but I have been lost the last two days. First, when I was unable to get a hold of you, and then when you sent me that message about being with Matt, I felt a feeling I have never had before. I was outraged. I wanted to go over to Matt’s place and rip his heart out with my bare hands.” He takes a deep breath in. “When Amy asked me to meet up with her tonight along with Travis, Seth,” he hesitates, “and then she said that you were accompanying Matt. I had to come see you. When I get here, I see Matt grinding against you like you’re some piece of meat to him, and then he starts dragging you around by the hand. The rage came again—along with a new feeling—I felt crushed.”

I feel speechless. I don’t know for sure if I am hearing him right. From the sound of it though, I’m pretty sure he is telling me he’s jealous of Matt. – Good, I think to myself.

.“I almost stood up and decked him when you guys came back to the table. I’d hate to have to hit a friend, but if he wants to mess with my woman, I’m going to have to jump in … friend or not.” Ronin grumbles.

“Your woman?” I ask softly.

Ronin looks at me like he’s afraid that he might have just sealed his fate and scared me off by expressing his feelings. I know that he never backs down when there’s something that he wants, and right now he wants me, Treva Stone. He is staking his claim.

“YES. MINE!” He leans forward and kisses me again.

“Let’s go home.” Ronin takes me by the hand and leads me out of the hall and back to the table. “Tell Seth I’m taking Treva home.” Ronin says in a stern voice to the group sitting at the table.

Matt looks up at me confused. I try hard to give him that I’m sorry look, but I’m not sure that he catches on.

“Dude, she came out with us, and I think she’s having fun ...” He looks back at me again, “Aren’t you?” Matt asks sincerely. He stands from his chair, and gets closer to me waiting for my response.

“… I ...” I try to answer, but Ronin butts in, “Matt, I’m not asking permission. Now get the hell out of my face!” Ronin’s forceful behavior catches me by surprise.

Matt pushes his fingers through his long blonde, hair in frustration and then throws his arms up in defeat. “Whatever man, we were just hanging out having a good time.” Matt steps back and reaches for his amber colored drink and throws it back in one swallow. “See ya later Treva.”

I try to plead with him with my eyes, but he turns his back on me. I feel deflated. I hurt someone else’s feelings again, and I’m sorry that it was Matt.

Amy of course stands up as we are turning to leave and grabs Ronin’s face and plants a kiss right on his lips. “Call me after you drop her off.” She winks at him and walks in the direction that we had just come from. Ronin never responded.

Ronin pulls on me and as soon as we get out into the fresh air, I can no longer hold back, “What the fuck was that?” I stare angrily at Ronin and quiver from head to toe.

“For god’s sake, you get into a pissing match with Matt and then let Amy seduce you while you’re holding my hand!”

“Treva.”

“Fuck Ronin! I’m not just a shiny new toy for you to fight over and pull around however you want. I’m a god damn human being …with feelings.”

“I’m sorry, Treva … I, uh.”

“Maybe you should take me home, but to Seth’s, not yours.” I rip my hand free from Ronin’s grip and massage my forehead—trying to rub some sense into my numb brain. “I’m here for R&R; I have enough stress at home.” I’m able to say in a slightly calmer tone.

Ronin gently touches my hand and wraps his long, strong, fingers around it. He pulls my hand from my face while drawing soothing circles with his thumb over the top of my hand. “I really am sorry. I’m not used to having to consider or for that matter care about other people’s feelings … just my own. I know you’re only here for a short time and I shouldn’t be piling on stress. I want you to have a wonderful, memorable, vacation.” Ronin sighs.

I don’t want to look at him, but I feel the movement of my hand being brought to his lips and then bathed in kisses, “Would you mind just walking with me for a bit?”

Truthfully, I just want to be as far away from all of this as I can get, but I feel his sincerity, “yeah, okay. The fresh air does feel nice.” And with that I go against what I thought was logical and let my heart lead me in another direction …maybe down the wrong road again.

The air is crisp and my skin shivers from a breeze that blows across my bare legs. I’m wearing a very short skirt and a pair of heels that are very impractical for walking around in. My outfit leaves a lot of skin exposed to the elements; earlier the skirt seemed like a good idea, but now I’m questioning that decision.

I try to enjoy the Christmas lights. I love Christmas time; it’s so beautiful and seeing it with no snow is actually refreshing in a strange way. San Diego is really starting to grow on me, which is surprising since I’ve only been here for a week, but maybe it’s more than just San Diego. Ronin and I hold hands while we walk quietly and watch the Christmas lights of many colors flicker along the streets.

“What are you thinking about?” Ronin asks breaking the silence.

I smile to myself, “I was just thinking about how much I like San Diego, and I was wondering where I will end up for med- school.”

“Where is your first choice?”

“Well, I’d like to go to Seattle. They have a great medical program, but I sent applications to Texas, Arkansas, Arizona … umm, where else …” I rattle on, trying to remember all the long applications I had filled out.

“Anywhere in California?”

“Uh - huh,” I shake my head indicating no.

“What? Our schools not good enough,” Ronin bites out.

“To be perfectly honest, I just never thought about it.” Now I’m feeling a bit sheepish not knowing the best way to explain.

“Although, Seth’s here?”

“Don’t get me wrong I would love to be closer to Seth. I just never wanted to be the little sister having to bum and mooch off her older brother.”

“Tsk, Tsk, Tsk, I’m sure Seth would never see it that way.”

“But I would.” I reply.

“Well, think about it. We do have some great schools and some of the internships at the hospitals around here are great.”

I look up at him and give him the best smile I can, “thank you, I will.”

“Where are your parents?” Ronin asks nonchalantly.

My smile instantly vanishes when I hear the new topic of discussion Ronin changed to. “They’re in Montana.” I snap.

“Oh, Seth never really mentions them, so I wasn’t sure.”

“They don’t speak to me, so I’m not sure how well they are, or what they’re doing with their lives.”

Ronin can tell by the way that I’m acting that he hit a nerve asking about my parents. I don’t mean to come across so harsh, but it’s a sore subject for me.

He clears his throat, “I’ve never told anyone this before, but my brother and I were adopted.”

I’m not sure why he decides to pipe up and talk so randomly, but I sense maybe he thinks by telling me something private it might help me open up more, but I have no desire to open up about my past … not now. I reply a little too harshly, “I think people already know that Ronin.” I roll my eyes expecting that he was going to let me in on some deep dark secret. “I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just saying.”

“Yes that’s true, but no one knows why we were adopted.”

Ronin inhales deeply and I watch his chest fill, but he doesn’t exhale. His hand tightens around mine and I believe I just felt him shudder, and then he lets out his breath slowly. I see a worried line take shape on his forehead before he looks away from me. I don’t know why it takes so long, but a light bulb clicks on in my head, “Oh … umm Ronin you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” I stiffen.

“I know I don’t Treva, but I want you to know me. I want you to know who I am and where I come from … good and bad.”

All of this is so overwhelming. I have wanted to know as much as possible about this beautiful man since he walked through the airport doors, but now I’m not sure if I am ready for him to let me in—I am definitely not ready to let him in. I squeeze his hand in reassurance, but it’s more of a reflex to want to soothe his pain.

“Treva, my mom was murdered.”

I gasp, trying to process what he had just said … wondering if I had heard him right. “OH MY GOD! Ronin I am so sorry.” I stop walking abruptly and turn to look at him. This was the last thing I thought he was going to say to me. I reach up and gently touch his face. The urge to kiss him and console him is pulling deeply at my heart. I stand on my toes and lean forward to meet his lips, thinking that kissing him could maybe take the place of words—words I don’t know how to say. He stops me before I can kiss his lips.

“Stop! I don’t need your pity. It was a long time ago.”

Talk about whiplash. He tells me he wants me to know him and where he comes from, but the second he says one sentence … he’s shutting down and closing me off. Maybe he thought he was ready to talk about it, but saying the words out loud was a deeper slice into him than he was prepared for. I keep my words to myself while watching his emotions change. I can’t imagine what is going on in this man’s mind. It’s unfathomable to think of a loved one being murdered, and I don’t even know the details.

I watch in silence as he fights a battle with himself. I squeeze his hand to remind him that I am still there. He’s been silent for a long time and I’m anxious, but at the same time I’m being patient … letting him have some time with his thoughts.

Ronin finally clears his throat and begins to speak again. I hear the rasp in his voice, “Let’s get out of here.”

I can see the tears flooding his eyes, but I don’t pry. I reach forward and run my fingers through Ronin’s thick hair, reassuring him with my touch—hoping that it will somehow bring us back together. It breaks my heart to feel him tremble when I touch him. Why is it that I feel so connected to him, even with the stupid crap he has put me through the last couple of days? I slowly step closer; and like a mother would comfort a child, I wrap my arms around him and pull myself close to his body … humming a song that might not even be a song.

“Treva, you are so beautiful. My very own angel.”

I stop humming and look up into his sad jaded eyes. “We’re quite the messed up pair,” I say without elaborating anymore. “Let’s get you home.”

I stumble dizzily as I let him go, remembering how much I had to drink. “OOPS.” I giggle while I grab the front of Ronin’s shirt to steady myself.

Ronin just shakes his head at me. We start walking back toward the club where Ronin’s driver is still waiting. We are passing a dark lot and I gasp loudly as I pull away from Ronin and run off into an almost abandoned parking lot. Ronin must think I see something terrible happening, so he starts to run after me, “Treva, what is it?”

“This is the truck I want.” I run my hands next to the truck without actually touching it … it could have an alarm system.

Ronin grabs his knees bending over gasping for air. “Are you serious? I thought something was wrong.”

I flash him a wide smile. “No, No, No, this Mr. Hollister is my dream truck. A Ford, F350, Power Stroke, Super Duty, with an eight inch lift kit and 37inch tires. MMM … very sexy,” I walk around the truck lusting over the beautiful black machine.

“Someday, after I get done with school and have my student loans paid off. This baby will be mine.”

“And Miss Stone, what on earth will you do with a truck like that?”

I shake my head in shame, “Silly man, I’d drive it of course.”

We both start laughing, which is something we both need to do.

“Again Miss Stone, you amaze me, and I do have to say it’s pretty hot when a woman really goes bonkers over a toy. I like a woman who knows what she wants.”

Ronin grabs me by the waist and kisses each of my eyebrows intimately. “Come on lets walk this way.”

I am beginning to recognize the area downtown fairly well, and when we start walking, I realize we are on the tourist path next to the bay off of Harbor Boulevard. I have been here a few times. Now it’s so relaxing and quiet, but that’s because it’s 1:00 in the morning. Not much is stirring around us as we slow our pace. We walk pass the enormous yachts tied off in the marina and Ronin pushes up against me … backing me up to the railing.

“TREVA!” He breathes my name softly while holding me close.

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