The next morning Emilie felt a slight soreness in her knees, and inner thighs, and remembered the day before. An instant smile spread to her lips.
But then it was gone. Aaron had cheated on her. Had been cheating on her. For god knows how long, and she had no clue.
So what did yesterday mean? To her, it was almost clear, she was hurt, and Axel used that against her to get her in bed, like how she had described to him in the car the night before.
What did it mean to Axel? She didn’t know, but she was desperate to find out. She turned to her side, seeing the space next to her where Axel was just last night, completely empty.
She sighed, of course. She should have guessed. He got what he wanted, and now she was going to be booted from the house like another one of his easy girls.
She sighed as she slid from the bed, looking down at her naked body, realizing all she had for clothes was her dress from the night before, and absolutely no shoes.
She didn’t even have makeup on. She felt ashamed and embarrassed. How could she let herself become so vulnerable? She just wanted out, and with a look at the clock on the bedside table, she knew Aaron still had three hours before all of his stuff had to be gone.
She couldn’t go back there yet. Would she go to work? Waste away the hours there? But with Aaron working there, could she really handle that? Was she going to have to leave her job, too?
She spotted a dresser near the corner of the room, so she descended upon it and opened the first drawer. There were PJ bottoms and a pair of grey, male sweatpants. She shrugged and tugged the sweatpants on, pulling the strings and tying them until they hugged her waist.
Reaching down for the second drawer, she saw socks and boxers, she wouldn’t be needing those, so she shut the drawer and moved on, in the next one there were countless tee shirts, and with another shrug to herself, she pulled one of those out of the drawer and went hunting for her bra and underwear.
She checked the bathroom first, and there they were, just as yesterday. She grabbed them and stripped down again, pulling them on before pulling back on the clothes she had borrowed. She hoped Axel didn’t mind. I’m sure he wouldn’t, why would he have clothes in the guest room anyway?
She poked her head from the bathroom, and instantly smelled the sweet, hearty smell of bacon, eggs and butter on toast. She inhaled deeply, and was drawn to the delicious scent.
She entered the kitchen, her eyes landing on a shirtless Axel, placing two sunny side up eggs on a plate, and he turned and placed it on the island in the middle of the kitchen, next to another filled plate, and that’s when he spotted her.
A smile instantly rose on his face, and Emilie’s knees nearly buckled from underneath her. The sight itself was enough to make Emilie swoon. The way he smiled at her when he noticed her standing there, the way he was making them breakfast, and not trying to excuse himself to get her out of there.
“Good morning, darling.” He said, clapping his hands together and marvelling at her, “I see you’ve found my old clothes.” she looked down and felt a blush creeping on her cheeks.
She walked towards the island and sat down on the other side of it, the stool was so high she couldn’t touch her feet on the ground.
Axel frowned when she sat, and instead of saying anything, he rounded the island himself and came to stand behind her, wrapping his arms around her and tucking his head into the crook of her neck.
She inhaled deeply and closed her eyes. He wasn’t showing her the door, he wasn’t making excuses, he was cuddling up to her.
She didn’t understand. Why was he so intrigued? And why couldn’t she stop it?
“Axel, listen, about last night..” She started and felt his body tense, and then he pulled away and wandered back over to the other side of the island, far away from her again.
“I shouldn’t have let it happen, I’m sorry. You were wounded and I bet you feel like I’ve taken advantage of that. But I’m being honest when I say I didn’t. Emilie, you intrigue me, you are a mystery that I want to figure out,”
He shook his head, like he was surprised at his own words, “I don’t understand it myself, so I can’t imagine how you’re feeling.”
“I was hurt, I am hurt. I don’t know what I’m really feeling right now, and I don’t want to drag you into it.” She said, her eyes locked on his face. The reaction was everything she had been scared of, his face crumpled, and it was the first time she’d seen him so... sad.
The usual cocky mentor he put on wasn’t the real him, and she saw that back at the bar, when he revealed the way he felt about his father. She saw it even more now when she was breaking his heart.
“So what was it to you?” He asked. She froze at the sudden hardness of his voice, the coldness, “I don’t know. But all I know is that I am attracted to you in a way I shouldn’t be. After finding out about Aaron, I don’t want to put myself back out there. Not yet.”
“So it was a fuck and chuck then? Just gonna forget about all of the -” he cut himself off, and then started again, “Good, I was hoping you’d say that.” His voice was so icy, it made her flinch.
She stood from the stool, “Really? You feel that way?”
“Yep.” He gave her the one syllable, popping the P with his lips. She nodded and turned her back to him, “I guess I’ll be.. heading out then.”
He didn’t answer, so she walked straight for the door, “I’ll return your clothes tomorrow.” She said, as she opened the large door, she heard quietly, “Don’t even bother.”
She felt burning tears in her eyes, it blocked her vision. But she knew this was best, she couldn’t handle another heartbreak, and with someone like Axel, she knew that was only bound to happen.
She heard the door clank behind her, and she realized she was shoeless, wearing borrowed clothes, had no money or a cell phone on her, and she didn’t know how to get home from here.
She sighed and walked over the rocks, they crunched underneath her bare feet, she flinched with every step. Suddenly she heard the door swing open again, and she twisted, hope filled her body, but she didn’t know what she was hoping for.
Axel appeared in the doorway, still shirtless, still only wearing plaid pants low on his waist, “I called you a taxi. Might wanna stick around until it gets here.”
Then the door was shut again, and it was like he was ripping her heart from her chest. What had she done?
By the time she walked over the threshold of her apartment, she remembered everything once again, the scene came through her mind in a flashback, like a repeated movie scene.
She looked around, seeing boxes and piled up clothing all around the apartment, and then she was shoved forward, her bruised knees hitting the floorboards.
She groaned and shifted to her butt to hold her knees in her hands. She looked up to see what caused the tumble, and saw Aaron, holding a box in front of him. It far from blocked his vision, in fact he was still staring down at her as she sat there, looking right back up at him.
“Oops.” Was all he said. And then he just looked away and placed the box he was holding on top of another one.
“You can’t give me shit right now, it’s not noon yet.” He said, stone cold and icy.
She didn’t speak, just stood and held onto the counter for support, “I’m not giving you shit. I’m just here to change and then you can have until I get back from work.”
“Whatever.” He disappeared from the room, heading into their - her, bedroom, she scowled and followed, her hands in fists.
“I want to know how you could do it. How you couldn’t have had the decency to just break up with me.” She demanded, standing in the door way,
“Because I stopped loving you. And once I stopped loving you, I realized I didn’t care about how you felt. If I hurt you. All I knew was that you would give me sex if I needed it.”
The words threw daggers at her chest, right where her heart lay. She couldn’t believe the words she was hearing, “You’re a fucking coward.”
“That wasn’t what you were saying last night, you thanked me, I believe. So, you’re welcome.” He turned and smirked at her, and that simple movement was it for her, she lunged forward, her fist connecting with his face, and as soon as she’d done it, she felt the searing pain in her knuckles.
“You bitch!” Aaron bellowed, lunging for her, she only had time to put her arms in front of her face before she heard the crash.
She heard the man’s fist colliding over and over with Aaron’s face, and she gasped, “Stephen, Stephen, that’s enough!” She yelled, pulling him off of Aaron.
Aaron lay groaning on the ground, “Thank you, he deserved that, a little.” She said, pulling back a heavy breathing Stephen, who once was Aaron’s best friend, “He was going to hit you, there was no tolerance for that.”
She nodded and let him pull her from the room, but she quickly grabbed a clean pair of underwear and a hoodie, and leggings to change into. What are you doing here?” She asked.
“I was helping him move his shit out, but he can do that on his own now, Ian’s outside still loading his car. I’m gonna tell him to leave it on the street.” Stephen’s anger was pronounced, and she smiled, “Thank you.”
“I also dismissed your taxi, and paid him.” Emilie lightly hit him on the shoulder, “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I wanted to. He told me he was waiting for a ‘pretty brunette girl’, and I knew it was you.” He chuckled, helping her walk down the stairs, “What happened to your legs?”
“They were already sore, but Aaron shoving me didn’t help.” Stephen spit on the ground suddenly, “That fucker is gonna get what’s coming his way.”
“Don’t worry about it. I think he got enough people punching him in the face for the rest of his life. I just never want to see him again.” She admitted.
She looked down at her feet and realized they were still bare, “Jesus, I forgot my shoes.” She sighed and turned to head back upstairs.
“I’ll get them. You stay here. Ian and I will take you to work with us.” She nodded and watched him jog back up the stairs.
After all that has happened today, should she really be going to work? Where one man, who had hurt her so badly was always going to be, and where another man, who she fell so quickly for, but couldn’t allow herself to have, would also be.
Before Stephen even showed back up, a new bruise on his cheek and another set of knuckles bleeding, she had already made the difficult decision to quit.