Chapter Eighteen: My Defeat
I walked into a tall building with marble white floors, my shoulders pulled back confidently. I made my way to the receptionist and told her I was here for the Candice event. She was quick to explain to me that it was on the third floor and a few guests had already arrived.
I waited patiently in the elevator, wondering why we had to invite partners along to these events. Debra wanted to make it as informal as possible so that our sponsors felt like they were part of a family. In my opinion, it was a waste of money. But maybe I thought that because I was in a bitter mood. It had never bothered me before.
When the elevator opened, I looked up to see two large wooden doors that were opened across the hall. There were a few guests in the room who were standing around and sipping on their drinks. They looked at me as I entered, then turned back to their idle chat.
I noticed Debra and her husband, Gary, and took steps to avoid them. I grabbed a glass of champagne and knocked it back. I didn’t want to tell her anything. I grabbed a second glass. I no longer wanted to be pretty and perfect, on display like a puppet for my superiors.
One of the sponsor’s wives I had once met came to talk to me. Nula was a lovely woman and a fitness fanatic. She had tight blonde curls and a body to die for. She looked stunning for a fifty-year-old woman. Like last time, she commented on my shape and how I might “sculpt” it through minimal eating and exercising. I nodded in politeness as I gulped another mouthful of my drink.
We were interrupted by Gary, who came to join in the conversation. He seemed more than happy to look me over as Nula talked on about squats. When she left to fetch her husband, Gary and I were once again left alone in awkward conversation.
“You look stunning tonight,” he said shyly. “Although you look like you have lost a little weight since I last saw you.”
“Clean eating,” I said sarcastically, instantly regretting my unfair tone.
“Ah, Clover, glad you could make it,” Debra said, quickly clinging to her husband’s arm. “But no Damon, I see?”
“Damon and I are finished,” I said, swirling my champagne in agitation.
Her thin lips curled into a smile before she composed herself again. “Oh how sad. He was rather charming. Although I did wonder how long it could last for,” she said facetiously to Gary, making the atmosphere awkward.
I smiled, holding back my fierce words as I swallowed the last of my champagne.
“Don’t be jealous of her just because your husband so obviously wants her,” Damon’s voice spoke out from behind.
I spun around to face him. His hair was now slightly longer since the last time I saw him. He was wearing long black pants, pointed polished shoes, and a long buttoned white shirt.
“Gary does not want her!” Debra said, her voice breaking.
I looked at her, noticing that her composure was broken. She looked at me savagely. I couldn’t help but glance at Gary now, who was shuffling uncomfortably beside her.
“Is that why Debra was treating me so terribly... because she thought I was a threat?” I wondered inwardly. I thought of all the things she had done to make my working life hell, all because she was jealous. Perhaps that’s why she made such an obvious play for Damon.
Gary looked at me and then away from the group as red blushed across his cheeks. He fumbled for words, but found none. I recalled Damon suggesting this to me once before. But it was Gary and Debra’s broken composure that confirmed it in front of my own eyes.
I turned from them. “What are you doing here, Damon?” I asked, his name causing a lump in my throat.
“I’m sorry...I’m so sorry,” he said, stepping toward me. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I just...I didn’t want to be hurt again, and then when I went to apologize, you were already gone. And I knew I couldn’t apologize enough for what I had done anyway. I am not deserving of you.”
I took a step back, wanting to protect myself from him. I couldn’t leave myself as vulnerable as I had last time. I couldn’t handle the risk of being humiliated and rejected once again.
“Can we speak about this elsewhere,” I said, the lump in my throat catching my words. Everyone was watching us as the air stilled. Not even Debra had a snide comment to make.
I walked down the hall to another conference room, away from eavesdropping distance at least. Damon walked behind me, his hands in his pocket as he fidgeted.
“You have no right to be here,” I said angrily.
“I know. Cassidy called me and told me you would be here. I thought you would hate me for what I did to you, how I humiliated you like that. But I didn’t mean it, I truly didn’t. I was sickened with myself for what I did to you. I just, I didn’t know what to do. I panicked. I have never met a woman like you, Clover...”
“Not even during your research as Anonymous, right?” I asked bitterly.
He looked taken aback by my comment. “No, it was never like that with you. I wanted to be around you, but you terrified me. Around you I couldn’t keep my composure, everything in my life was set, and yet when I had the chance to see you I took it. For the first time in my life I couldn’t control myself. That terrified me, Clover,” he said, his voice raw and sensitive. “I have thought of that night over and over in my head, regretting it. Never did I think after doing that to you that I deserved to fight for you.”
A tear slid down my face as I tried to control my quivering lips.
He raised his hand slowly to my cheek, cupping my face and wiping away one of the tears that fell. I felt timid, wanting to flinch away from him but unable to do so.
“I am so sorry, and I will never forgive myself for doing that to you. But I realized—even without my sister telling me—how much of a mistake I had made. After leaving you and abandoning you in that shed, I have realized how empty and alone I feel. I want to be near you, laughing with you, having you in the same room as me.”
He cupped his other hand around my other cheek, his dark-brown eyes earnest. “I have only known you for such a short time, but already I know I want you in my life. I feared falling for you, and not being wanted in return. I was scared of that and ran like a coward,” he said. “I only want you, and the chance to get to know you properly.”
I looked at him longingly, my legs feeling as if they were going to collapse at any moment.
“Please Clover, say something,” he whispered, holding me fiercely.
I curled my hand around the back of his neck, pulling him into me and kissing him. His lips parted mine. Something my body had ached for, for so long.
“You took too long,” I said as I pulled back breathlessly.
“I know,” he agreed. “You win, Clover, I can’t be without you.”
His words lingered in the air. My heart ached at the words. I firmed my grip around his neck, smiling at his confession. “I have won.”
Damon’s face brightened, and his dark-brown eyes danced as the traces of a cocky smile pulled at his mouth. He swept me off my feet. A small squeal passed my lips. He kissed me again, looking at me longingly. “Now, we have a month of unfinished business to attend to,” he growled.
I smiled at him wickedly, the fire spreading through my body once again.
Thank you, Companion
My companion was someone who worked hard and talked little. They let the air go still in the cab.
We drove past a small shop. I had to stop for this shop, had to convince this companion to accompany me. I questioned: could it be? Could it be that shop I so long ago visited, the one my mother took me to before her too-early death? We stepped out, already fighting the familiar chill of a New York autumn.
My companion and I were only new. We were little more than acquaintances, actually, that had met in the busy world of high-fashion and glamour. We were both writers, and this was how we bonded.
Little did this amazing person know that when I escorted them into the antique café, I had guided them there selfishly, because I needed support. Still, to this day, they do not understand the transition they helped me with.
I loved my mother dearly and this was where she had taken me. I thought it our sanctuary. She read me books and helped me write poetry from a young age. That version of me was forgotten and gone. My mother brought me to that place to better my literacy and appreciation for books. And I had learnt much from her. But since her death I dare say I hadn’t learned much more. I closed down the flickering memories, alongside my heart, which could not grow.
Or so I thought.
I had opened the door for my companion, and watched delight spread across their face as their eyes danced over the volumes of books that lined the long-standing walls. The booths had now changed in color, but the foundation stayed the same. I smiled at my companion cautiously as they oozed excitement and appreciation for the store.
I had walked in there with my unsuspecting companion to face a million half-forgotten smiles and gentle words.
It was hard not to allow the memories that flooded back as I stared at the booth. How my mother had loved this place. I looked at the back of my companion as they slowly stepped forward, admiring the books. In that moment I felt strength and appreciation for them being there with me. There was no one else I could ask, no one who I could take this step with.
My companion did not know me well, yet I felt familiar with them. They did not know of my memories, so they could not guess at the turmoil I felt within.
A smile was what captured my attention from across the table, that smile of my companion. That was when I knew I was safe, and back in a place that had always existed somewhere within me. The ghost of my mother’s smile lingered and I swore in that moment I could smell her perfume.
We all have places we must go, further places to visit. The ones we resist returning to are the ones we fear. There is a ghost that scares us. With my companion by my side, I no longer feared my memories.
I was once a child, but now I am an adult. I should not have feared my mother’s mortality. It is the transition of life, and the delivery of our well-deserved rest. She gave me many years of love that no one else could offer. I could now accept this small café for the loving atmosphere it represented. This piece of reality once channeled me to a place that terrified me from the recesses of my mind. But now? Now it is no longer tainted.
On this day I could not hold my companion’s hand, because I was challenged by a new fear. Their smile brightened my soul. Their quick perceptions challenged me. Their stubbornness reminded me of an old companion. Their beauty enticed me. But yet I could not bring myself to reach out and touch them.
A small token of gratitude—I bought my companion a hazelnut coffee. The same coffee that I had always saved my pocket money for. My mother had liked the very same.
I couldn’t thank them on that day for the small steps they assisted me in taking. But I can freely write it now.
I lay in my bed in my black lacy underwear. The hot summer’s day caused beads of sweat to gather on my naked skin. I looked up at the ceiling as I spoke to my sister, Megan, on the phone.
“Yea, I think the change has been good for me. I’m going to the Czech Republic for two weeks soon for my next article,” I said, playing with my silver necklace. “I’m really enjoying it.”
It had now been six months since I had left Candice magazine. I had walked into Debra’s office with a confident stride to hand in my notice. Her face was priceless. It felt so good to tell her I was moving on to bigger and better things. Michelle stood by her offer, and the position as a traveling columnist at Be True magazine was now mine. Apparently she had been on bad terms with Damon after my departure from the Bahamas. After his apology, they were getting along fine again. She had been upset when I left, and when she found Damon wallowing on his own with a bottle of red, she had been less than impressed with his behavior.
Damon’s escorting days were behind him, as he claimed he got everything he needed and more from me. It didn’t affect his writing ability; in fact, he said our relationship enriched his articles.
“I am so glad it has all worked out for you. You finally have the job you wanted. Mum is really proud and is telling me to tell you to call her more. Shut up, Mum, I can’t hear her,” Megan yelled at Mum. “So, do we get to meet this new man of yours on Mum’s birthday?”
I held my hand against the phone, blocking her from hearing my words. I looked over at Damon, who lay next to me reading a book. His black reading glasses were the only thing he wore. The sheets were covering the lower half of him, teasing me as my gaze swept up his body.
“Megan wants to know if you are coming to meet them for Mum’s birthday,” I whispered.
He gave me a cocky smile and flicked over another page. “You want me to meet your family already?” he asked in mock horror.
“You made me meet your sister before we even started dating!” I retorted. I pressed the phone to my ear again to talk to Megan. “Yea, we will be there.”
“Hmm,” Damon growled. “I don’t like it when you tell me what to do.” He put the book down on the side table. Slowly he crept toward my stomach then began kissing down my body. I pushed him away. But it was no use; my legs began to quiver as everything else throbbed for him.
“Hey Megan, I’m going to have to go, but I’ll call you tomorrow.” After a quick goodbye she hung up the phone. I grabbed the back of Damon’s hair, lifting him so I could look into his lust-filled eyes. He smiled as I pulled his head back.
“Don’t you?” I antagonized.
He leant toward me on his elbow as I released my grip. His dark-brown eyes pooled into mine as he slowly kissed up my arm, his finger tracing over my bra strap. “I guess I might put up with it,” he said with a cocky smile.
“You guess?” I demanded back, eagerly sweeping my fingers against his hard stomach and chest.
“What I do know is I want to make love to you,” he said in a low voice whilst pulling on my lips. He began kissing down my neck, and my head tilted back in pleasure.
“Prove it,” I said with a smile, the burning sensation growing stronger.
His hand trailed down my stomach and grabbed at my underwear. “I will,” he promised, before giving me the pleasure I ached for.
About The Author
‘Kia is a Token, no, she is THE Token of Vampire & Paranormal books.’ ~ 5 STAR Reviewer.
Prepare to join a completely different style of writing and worlds. The international Australian author has a unique style of writing- creating an emotional roller coaster and fast paced action. Her writing and presence in the literary world has been described as ‘the new up and coming author to watch out for’ and ‘hauntingly beautiful’.
Kia grew up in the Darling Downs Region in Queensland, Australia. Graduating High School, she pursued a career in freelance journalism. In 2014, having always had a passion for writing fiction, she decided to follow her dream of becoming an accomplished author.
Kia intends to make her books globally known and is already creating a name for herself amongst social media, fans, readers and spectators.
During the weekdays Kia works at her Monday to Friday job in Logistics and Transport. She leaves her book worlds to the night and weekends, being well described as a driven young woman.
Kia has attended numerous guest speaking, convention signings, and signings including at Dymocks bookstores and Angus and Robinson. She is an animal lover and organises different events each mid year to donate towards the RSCPA in Australia.
Kia enjoys dancing, cooking, reading, painting, photography and spending time with her family and friends.
Now living in Brisbane, Australia, Kia has a can do attitude, a strong will and the touch of kindness that makes it hard not to fall in love with her. Announced ‘The Best New Author of 2015’ by AusRomToday, she has no intentions of stopping. Kia Carrington-Russell is definitely the new author to be looking out for.
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