I’m stunned, and completely immobile.
“Treva, what is it?”
“I … I think maybe I was hallucinating.”
“Hallucinating? What are you talking about?” The worry in Seth’s tone doesn’t comfort my fear, but I know I should be strong. There is no way that he could be here. He’s still in prison. The stress from Ronin and Matt fighting over me must have my brain going in wild circles, and now I’m imagining Eric is here in San Diego … following me.
“Umm … well, I just thought we were being followed.” I incoherently mutter. I don’t mention to Seth who I thought was following us, thinking it might be better to keep that to myself.
Seth grabs my arm and takes off down the sidewalk leading between the buildings. When we get out into the open, I don’t see the man that was behind us, “Do you see the person?”
I shake my head indicating no. It was probably all in my head and seeing no evidence of anyone lurking in the corners just affirms my first thought—stress is making me delusional.
I begin to doze. My eyes are swimming between heavy lids, but I know that tonight I will be uneasy and restless.
My dream morphs from a beautiful man pleasing me in extreme depths to a blackness that tears at my very being. Ronin’s beautiful, perfect face starts to become distorted into the nightmarish evil bastard Eric. Ronin can be so domineering—like the few times I had witnessed when his darker side popped out—yelling at the photographer and the restaurant manager or whoever the man Charles is, but now it’s somehow different. I wasn’t scared then, now I feel terrified. My heart rate quickens, and with each breath it becomes harder to inhale. Every time I breathe in, my lungs fill with a heavy liquid. Am I drowning? No I can’t be. He’s yelling at me to bend over and spread my legs. I’m mortified by his aggressiveness, and not to mention his melodic voice is now coming from a face that fills every corner of my life with lurid atrocities. Why is Ronin treating me like this? And why does he have Eric’s face?
I stand naked in an unfamiliar room that is encircled by windows. Blinding light streams across my body, warming me. I have to squint through the brightness to see the morphed man situated in the center of the stark white room. If he didn’t have the face of a deranged psychopath, I would think of him as otherworldly. His white gossamer shirt and pants hang loosely over his tan skin and the contrast of the stark whiteness of the room makes his chocolate colored hair and other features stand out.
I know in my mind that it’s Ronin. His beauty and that stern voice, but even with the blinding light, I can see Eric’s face. The one person I have fought for years to push back into the darkest corner of my mind. The one person I absolutely fear to ever see again.
“What are you?” I find myself asking.
His low laugh causes goose bumps to erupt over my skin. “I am your deepest want and the answer to all of your dreams. I am your personal angel; I’ll glide along with you through your passage of life. But I am also your deepest fears, your dark angel, weaving angst and turmoil in the mist.”
I wake with a start, my heart hammering against my chest. What the hell was that? Not wanting to lay in bed, in fear of my mind wandering longer, I push myself out of bed and shuffle my feet slowly meandering to the shower … confused and dazed by my bizarre dream. Things seem to be just getting stranger by the day. The shower is very welcoming as I try to lose myself in the warm water spilling over my shoulders. But even the hot water isn’t enough to push the thought of Ronin and his deep secrets out of my mind. I know that I need to get things under wrap because it is literally making me insane. It’s unfathomable how my wild imagination has created nightmares so strong and vivid, that they are actually physically starting to appear right before my eyes. I shiver thinking about the man I thought was following us last night. Yes, I definitely need to get things straightened out. I’m just not quite sure about how to go about it … not after seeing the multiple mood swings of Ronin flipping out as fast as a switch turning on a light. I’m not exactly sure how I am supposed to get him straightened out. Like me, there seems to be many layers to that beautiful man.
I duck out of the shower, wrap a towel around my damp hair, slip on a plain white tank top, and my favorite pair of loose jeans. I make my way to the kitchen to start my day with a morning cup of coffee. It seems oddly quiet, and when I look around, I realize Seth must be gone—I do see the already made coffee, hmm, I smile … wow I’m so lucky to have someone like Seth who cares about me. I grab a cup and fill it, then I read the note that I see on the counter:
Off to work sis
If you need me give me a call
Otherwise; be back around 2:00
I don’t mind Seth being gone. It gives me the opportunity to do some hardcore soul searching and get the Christmas decorating done. Sometimes the best therapy is mindlessly working on a project. I sip on my coffee while I ponder what kind of cereal to have for breakfast. Slowly, I eat my Cheerios and enjoy my coffee while I try to come up with a game plan for the decorations that we had bought. After I rinse my bowl out, I send a quick text to my BFF Becca to tell her I miss her, and then find my IPod and ear phones and turn up my music. My thumb strums over the different playlists I have set up, and I opt for a more upbeat set. My favorite tunes always motivate me.
The song Stereo Love starts strumming in my ears and I start my project by dragging out all of the decorations and get to work … dancing, spinning and hanging the festive décor. The faux tree we chose fits perfectly in the corner of the living room; carefully I hang the elegant ornaments on it. When the tree is done, I hang a greenery garland around the living room and kitchen; I hang two stockings on the mantle of the fireplace, for Seth and me.
I glance up and regret it; the picture hanging over the fireplace haunts me as I look at the faces of my parents and my sister judging me. “Stupid tears,” I yell. “Why the hell do you guys still make me cry? I’m good enough damn it—look at me now … none of you ever believed me or believed in me, but I’m making it on my own. I’m going to finish school without any of your support, physically, financially or mentally. I didn’t lie about what happened. Why wouldn’t you believe me?” What the Fuck, I’m talking to pictures now—that can’t be good. I wipe a tear from my eye and take a step back—turning my eyes away from the portrait to look over my work, “PERFECT,” I mumble pulling my thoughts back to my decorations.
I’m finished. My music is still blasting, when the front door flies open—startling the hell out of me. I pull out the earphones, ready to bolt when I see Seth walk in.
“Wow, this looks great Treva.” He walks over and gives me a kiss on the forehead.
I slap his chest, “You almost gave me a heart attack. I was about to try a round house out.” My pulse is still pounding to the point of my chest hurting, but my breath is slowing. Then I realize what he had said, “You really think so?” I ask looking around the room to have a look at the decorations.
“Hell yeah, this will be a great Christmas, you’re making this the best sis. Oh, and sorry about the scare, I didn’t mean to freak you out.”
I twist up my lips into a huge smile and begin walking around the room gathering the scraps of torn wrappers and unused decorations. I bend over and pick up all the garbage and my towel falls to the floor. I had forgotten it was still on my head.
“We need to celebrate tonight!” Seth loudly proclaims while grabbing a cold water bottle out of the fridge.
“What are we celebrating?”
“Matt and I closed a big deal today and I’m talking big bucks.”
“Awesome, Seth. Way to go big brother. So will I need to dress up for this celebration or can I go like this?”
Seth looks me over once, “You’re clothes are fine I just want you to be comfortable, but um you might want to brush your hair.” I stick my tongue out at him and chuck a leftover ornament at him. “How childish, I’m appalled.” He snorts. “Oh yeah, speaking of dressing up, I almost forgot, Schilling’s is having their annual Christmas party and we’ll be attending. Did you bring any dress up clothes?”
“Schilling’s?” I have no idea what Schilling’s is, and I furrow my eyebrows looking at him confused.
“You know the company I work for?” He answers my un-asked question.
“Oh yeah … right, sorry I forgot the name, and about that dress … Ha, you’re so funny. When the hell … do I ever have a chance or reason to dress up in Helena, Montana? Of course I have no dress up clothes.”
Seth quirks at me in acknowledgement, “I guess you’ll have to go shopping then.”
“Alright,” I say feeling slightly embarrassed, “but I don’t have tons of cash, so we’ll have to hit somewhere I can afford.”
Seth looks at me dejectedly, “Treva, Treva, Treva, no baby girl, it’s on me. You’re my guest, and I just landed a huge deal remember?”
“Seth, you don’t have to do that.”
“I know, but I want to.”
I look at my hands and fiddle with the wrappers. I’m not one of those who don’t accept gifts; I try to take care of myself. “So when’s the party?”
“Saturday night.” Seth answers.
“Alright, well at least I have a few days to look for something. Today is Thursday right?”
“ALL DAY” he winks at me.
Seth’s phone rings, “Seth.” There is a pause and his eyes watch me before speaking again. “Yeah, we did. I know it’s a pretty big deal. Hell yeah! Yup Treva and I were just saying that. Ok sounds good.” And he clicks his phone off.
“Go get ready we are going to celebrate.”
I look at him strangely, not sure about who he was just talking to; if I needed to know he would have told me.
I’m not a very primpy type of person, so I spend little time fussing. I pull my hair into two pig tail braids and apply a little mascara. “This okay?” I ask when I walk back into the living room.
“Oh, look how cute and innocent you look.”
“That’s me alright,” I roll my eyes.
“I’ll give you this much though—at least you don’t take forever fussing about yourself … come on, get some shoes on.”
I slide into my well broke-in flip flops and grab my favorite comfy oversized college sweatshirt.
“Uh sis’, its like 77 degrees out right now.”
“I know it’s for later … just in case.”
The two of us cruise in Seth’s sporty silver car with the windows rolled down. “Wow, this bridge is awesome.” I squeal. I try to look over the edge as we drive over the bridge high above the water, but a car next to us obstructs my view.
“This is the bridge that will take us over to Coronado.”
When we reach the other side of the massive bridge, I turn around to look at the city across the water. Staring at the surrounding landscape makes it hard to concentrate on everything. I do notice though that the environment is slightly changing. As we drive a little further, it seems a little nicer around this neighborhood, actually a lot nicer. “Seth I’m starting to feel slightly under-dressed now.”
“Quit worrying you’re fine.”
I fidget with my hands a little bit as I stare out the window and see well-dressed people on the sidewalks. “It’s buzzing down here. Are we going to be able to find a parking spot?” With perfect timing a car pulls out and Seth scoots his little car into the spot.
“This is a pretty cool place. They have some great shops it looks like; maybe we could go shopping here.” I point out.
“Awe, it’s not too bad I guess.” Seth grabs my hand and drags me across the street. “There it is right up there.” Seth points up the street to a building, but I’m not exactly sure to which one. When we get to a brick building the door is kind of blackened out, and we walk in. It dawns on me that we’re in a pool hall.
“Seth you brought me to a pool hall? I don’t want to have to embarrass you in front all of your fellow men.”
Seth’s lips twist into a half grin. “I’ve been practicing.”
We’re well into a few games when Ronin walks in. I instantaneously feel his presence and look up over the pool table before I make my shot. I stand straight up and look directly at him. He tilts his head and his eyes gleam. My body warms, and I can feel myself glowing. Without any trepidation he walks straight for me and grabs me by the waist. He pulls me close, and then gives me a long hot wet kiss on my lips. I’m engulfed in the moment and I wrap my arms around his neck—holding on to him tightly— obviously needing him just as much as he needs me. The kiss is passionate and desperate as we search each others mouths. Crap this is it. I am totally and completely lost in Ronin Hollister, hopefully my heart understands that this is just a temporary fling.
“Hem, hem”. The little gesture doesn’t pull us apart, so Seth steps closer and does a fake cough in Ronin’s ear.
Ronin slows his eager mouth and pulls away to see who is boldly interrupting. I’m instantly feeling left wanting for more. The sensation of his mouth is still lingering, on my now swollen lips … fresh in my mind. Slowly Ronin pulls up the corner of his mouth, “Hello Seth”.
“We celebrating for me, or do you and my sister have another party intended?”
“’Both,” Ronin says matter-of-factly.
I flush crimson with embarrassment and can’t look into Seth’s eyes. I had gotten so wrapped up in Ronin that I completely blanked out everyone else in the room—for a second; it was like we were the only two people left in the universe.
Ronin grabs my hand like he’s been doing it for years and holds onto it firmly. My hand is incredibly comfortable nestled into his, which shocks me a little. I’m not used to any sort of affection, but right now … at this very moment, with my hand in his, it feels completely right—it’s something that I could easily get used to.
Seth gives a glaring death stare at where Ronin has decided to place his hand; he then gives me a look of disgust. Seth mumbles, “There’s no point. Ronin always gets what he wants and I guess you’re that prize right now”.
I look up at Ronin and melt into his beautiful sea green eyes. I missed him; only now do I realize how much—his perfect smile and bright white teeth beaming at me. He is so beautiful and it must look like black and white with us standing together like this. Complete opposites in every way.
“What are you thinking about?” I can’t help but ask.
“You … isn’t that obvious?”
“What about me?”
“Right now I’m thinking about how your tank top shows off your perfect robust tits and how it hugs your body closely all the way down to your petite waist. Those jeans you’re wearing are faded and loose, but they still show enough for everybody to know that underneath you have a nice tight ass and a beautiful body. And oh my god, pigtails. I would love to pull on those and make you squeal.”
The confession he just whispered into my ear makes me so sizzling hot. I squeeze my thighs together, and I feel my wetness. If Seth wasn’t here I would drag Ronin to the bathroom and make him take me over the sink.
“Are you a glutton? Don’t you remember our abrupt ending the other night?” I ask.
“I must be. To be honest, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but no one has ever thrown me out before.” His lips are in a straight line and I can’t read his emotions.
“I’m sorry about that,” I say. I lean up on my tip toes and give him a quick peck on his soft lips.
“You guys want a beer?” Ronin asks suddenly evading the direction in which our conversation is leading to.
“I think I need a shot,” Seth says defeated.
“I’ll take another beer.” I agree. Ronin brings my hand up to his mouth and kisses my hand tenderly. Then he makes a show of an exaggerated lingering as if he never wants to let me go. He slips out of my hand and leaves to get our drinks.
“WHAT THE FUCK SIS?”
“I don’t’ know … what?” I hiss at him. “I’m here on vacation Seth. I’m just having a good time. It’s been a long time coming, and don’t forget I’m more immune to broken hearts than you … REMEMBER?”
Seth throws his arms up in defeat, “ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, calm down. I know you’re a big girl. I just worry about you. I know your past… no one else does. I don’t need my hit list any longer because some other asshole moves in on you and hurts you.”
I hug Seth and cool down. I know he isn’t purposely trying to piss me off; he is just trying to keep me safe and I can’t be mad at him for that. “How come you get to pick people up for random fucking’s all the time? I want to have fun too!” I whisper in his ear.
Ronin is already back from the bar with his hands full of drinks, “What’s up?”
“Nothing much just a sibling hash out.” I admit.
Ronin hands me a beer and gives Seth his drink. “Who’s up?” Ronin points to the pool table.
I sense Ronin is trying to break up whatever might be going on between Seth and I. It does seem to disrupt Seth, at least for now.
“How about you play Treva, and I’ll sit this one out.”
After I beat Ronin at multiple games of pool, he finally decides he has had enough of being beaten. “How about we go get something to eat? I don’t want this night to end yet.” Ronin insists.
“Well before we go anywhere, I have to run to the little girl’s room.” I announce and stand from our table. The bathroom is on the opposite wall in the corner, and I find it easily. I hesitantly look at myself in the mirror, knowing that I hadn’t dolled myself up much—I did want a quick glance, wondering how or what Ronin is seeing before I leave.
Just outside the door, a couple of men are standing by the corner of the bar and they immediately start making comments when they see me come out.
“Hey sugar. What are you doin’ tonight?” One of the men slurs out.
I figure it best to just keep walking and ignore them, but they were offended by my attitude.
“I was talking to you.” The man steps forward and I feel his grimy hands as he grabs me around the waist pulling me backwards. A yelp of surprise escapes my lips, not expecting the grip.
“Let go of me ASSHOLE.” I yell, and I look over to the corner searching for Ronin. I see him from across the room. I don’t want to wait and decide to take matters into my own hands … feeling sickened by the strangers hands wrapped around me. I throw my head back hard into his nose, and then when his grip is lost, I spin around lifting my knee to meet his groin. I see Ronin appear next to me just in time for him to see me take my knee and nut the guy as hard as I can … I finish it by smacking him in the face. “Next time a girl doesn’t want your attention LEAVE HER THE FUCK ALONE!” I spit in his face.
Ronin swings his arm around my waist. “Do you have any idea how much you just turned me on right now?” He says in a low voice. A devious little smile passes my lips, and I kiss him lightly on his cheek.
Seth isn’t far behind Ronin. He is watching us as we come wandering back to him, “I forgot how feisty you are and I should stop doubting you so much. Come on guys let’s get the hell out of here.” He says.
“Great idea! Seth maybe you should leave your car here and I’ll have Taylor come and grab it.” He looks at Seth with a straight face, “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive.”
It still is fairly light outside as Ronin directs me to a black SUV; I’m surprised that he even has such a thing. I notice that it’s not some over the top special ordered vehicle. Actually, it’s just a really nice GMC Yukon Denali. Not that I wouldn’t dream to have one, they are very nice trucks. I just guess I’m stereo typing and expect a rich gazillionaire to have cars and trucks that I know nothing about.
When we all climb into the back, I notice a man sitting in the driver’s seat. “Malcolm, I think we would like to go to Leon’s.” Malcolm doesn’t even say anything he just nods his head, and we start rolling down the street.
Ronin starts in on Seth, giving him a hard time, and I have to hold back to keep from laughing. “I can’t believe your sister can out drink and out shoot you Seth. Actually, I can’t believe she smeared the both of us with her billiard abilities.”
“I told you guys not to put any money down. I had warned you, but now I have money to go shopping.” The giggles escape my lips, and I jump around like a little school girl.
“Shopping, and what are we shopping for?” Ronin looks at me quizzically.
“Well, I was told that I need a formal dress for the company’s Christmas party.”
“Schillings?” he asks.
“Do you also need a date?” Ronin hums in my ears.
“Hmm - Ronin are you asking if you can accompany me to a dinner party?”
“Why, yes I think I am Miss Stone.”
I melt when I see his bigger than-life perfect smile and those beautiful green eyes searching my face. “Well … if my brother doesn’t mind me ditching him as his date, then I would be much obliged.” I half bow.
“I do think though—my little peanut—you might be needing, two dresses.” Ronin reaches down and grabs my hand. He must see my confusion and quickly adds, “Two, because I too have a dinner party I’d like you to attend.”
I smile trying to remain calm. The god sitting next to me holding my hand wants me, and there is absolutely no sense to it. “I’m not sure that I can handle all of this excitement. I’m just a redneck girl from a little town remember?”
Ronin throws his head back and laughs. It is so sexy seeing him so carefree and laughing. I wish we were alone so I could throw myself into his lap and soak all of him up—melding with him in every way possible. While he continues laughing in a low voice I say, “But I’d love to accommodate you Mr. Ronin.”
“THAT’S MR. HOLLISTER to you!”
My hazel eyes pop open and I giggle yet again. “Okay then, MR. Hollister, it’s a date.”
“Hey Seth, I forgot to ask, is there a descent computer store around here? Maybe while shopping for my dresses,” I flash a look at Ronin as I emphasize the es’, “we could maybe look for a new lap top. Mine finally gave up.”
“Sure no problem, we can go look tomorrow.”
Good … I have some much needed research to get done. I think, as I nudge in closer to Ronin.
The rest of the evening was just as much fun. Ronin took us to an extravagant steak house where we all pigged out and had way too much to drink. On the ride home, I’m glued to Ronin. He feels so good wrapped around me. I snuggle in as close as I possibly can—getting tucked under his arm and into his side.
“Stay with me tonight!” He whispers into my ear.
I look at Seth and see that he is passed out. My nerves twinge and I think about all of my reservations, but when I look up into his eyes, the words cross my lips and softly say, “Yes”.