"It doesn’t make sense though," Charice complains into her phone with an open textbook before her on the kitchen island, "We have to meet up regardless so we might as well finish the conversation—" The person on the other line interrupts her and her eyes go dark, "Why isn’t she coming?!" She begins to argue just as Anthony and Chance return from the game room.
"Uh oh," Chance sings with a scrunched face, "How long has this been going on?"
I glanced at my watch, "Almost an hour."
"And you’ve just been here listening in?" Anthony laughs.
"I’m moral support," I smiled softly, avoiding direct eye contact, looking down in my empty lap. It still unnerves me how... other-worldly they all seemed. Beautiful in the most refined o ways. Charice and Emerson were easy adjustments these past couple of days, but everyone else was a wild card. The boldness and assurance was present in small things they did. Let’s consider how they walked—backs straight and gazes solid, glares present until you were graces with a warm smile. It seemed to just reflect my fragility.
I wouldn’t let it get to me though, and no one else seemed to sense it, so maybe I was in over my head.
Chance gives a humored huff at my response, just as Anthony walks over to plant a kiss to Charice’s temple. She releases a breath upon contact and Anthony smiles, eyes shimmering, before heading for the refrigerator. Their relationship was another questioning feature of the Hunt experience along with Victor and Chelsea’s. Both relationships were confounding. Their intimacy went deeper than anything I could foresee. It didn't add up, even for a married couple.
"How are you feeling?" Chance walks over to the seat next to me. I force myself to not think too much about his sparkly green eyes and all too perfect smile.
I nodded softly, "Okay," other than the night terrors and lack of appetite, "I still can’t believe that cream cleared my bruises so quickly."
Just four days after the incident, my face was already entirely healed. My hip and ankle were making swifter recoveries than my ribs but that was expected.
"Don’t boost his ego Adira," Anthony warned me, "Took me two victories at the pool table to return him in this humbled state."
I laughed at this but Chance found no humor in it, "Where’s your little boyfriend?" He asks curiously, desperate to change the topic.
My cheeks light aflame at the title. Emerson, my boyfriend?! It was like a sick joke, except it was real and he took it very seriously. Thankfully no one notices my stupid blushing so I answer with a, "I think he went somewhere with Gavin?"
"Do you two have plans today?" Anthony asks walking over to Charice, rubbing her shoulders as she whispered threats into the cell phone.
"We were supposed to have dinner then run an errand," I think back to the note I received this morning, "But he had to respond to a work—"
"Okay I’m back," Emerson strides through the entryway and over to me, "Ready?"
"She’s been ready for an hour," Anthony snaps playfully, "Don’t you know not to keep a woman waiting?"
His joke makes me laugh, especially when I noticed the look it gave Emerson. Forlorn then angry. Perfect, nonetheless.
"I’m ready," I insisted as I hop from the high stool, careful of my ankle. I lean on the counter to support my hip, but of course Emerson notices it all.
"Maybe a trip would be too much?" He looks down at my wide hips with concern.
"No," my resistance caught everyone’s attention. Emerson’s brows flew up smirking as he stalks his way into my atmosphere, "Cabin fever," I explained.
He chuckles and rubs his large hands together. The small action emphasizes the power in his arms. Muscle that is accustomed to labor, not business meetings. I remember when I asked him how he stays fit, he laughed it off but it was another trend in this space. Physically, their bodies were all built for...action, but it seemed natural. As though they popped out of the womb—’popped’ being the operative word as the act of labor was in and of itself as simple as sneezing for a woman with that much strength—with fully functioning limbs and organs able to complete impossible feats.
"Fine," he hums softly, walking over to stroke my cheek with an intimate level of affection.
I was forcing myself to get used to it, but with each day it grew harder. To ignore the shot of light that ran down my spine every time he looks at me. His touch activated nerve cells that I am convinced were never present before, one's that propelled to my gut and bounced around there for a couple of minutes when his skin grazes mine. It was overwhelming.
At first, my attempt was avoidance. That failed almost immediately. As much as his presence throws my body into haywire, I...craved it. Longed for another agonizing nerve apoptosis, that tingle in my stomach, the back of my head when he was near. I needed it.
He begins leading me to the garage, and even when I slid into the comfort of luxury leather seats I still felt nauseous. To make matters worse the waft of his natural musk was suffocating. What’s wrong with me?
"So would you want to grab dinner after you go in?" He asks backing out of the driveway carefully.
I nodded feeling a familiar craving for milkshakes and protein that came along with my period, "Somewhere with steak? Or wings?"
He laughs merging smoothly onto the highway, "Yeah I know a couple spots in the cit—"
"No no," I refuse instantly looking to my clothes in distaste—black leggings, fuzzy boots, and a loose hoodie, "We can eat back at the house. Ou! Maybe we can get extra fries for Charice?"
"Woah woah woah," He laughs looking over at me with that megawatt smile, "What happened to cabin fever?"
My cheeks pinked, "Well I’ll be over it by the time I pick up the check," He indicates to the right taking the next exit, "Hey! Put on your seat belt."
"We’re 5 minutes away from the diner," He laughs in complaint.
"It doesn’t matter," I protest instantly, "It’s completely unsafe, what if you get into an accident?"
"I’ll be sure not to do that," My glare makes him smile and just as we pull into the parking he fastens the buckle on his seat belt.
"You’re a jerk," I grumble stepping carefully into the snow.
He laughs and jogs over to my side, "Let me help."
"Leave me alone," I pull from him and he laughs harder holding the door open. The expectant ring of the bell seems to push me back in time. I haven’t quit yet, but a strange mist of nostalgia soaked me as I processed that this would be one of my last times in this building.
The faint buzz of heat pushed in from the kitchen and a sizzle then pop informed me that the fries were just put in. There was a steady flow of families and workers bustling around but nothing too horrible. Regardless, as usual, eyes flowed to Emerson and myself.
I hated this, the attention he dragged with him. I get it. He’s beautiful and this pairing doesn’t add up. Blah, Blah, Blah.
"Or maybe they’re just jealous that he’s looking at you like that," the voice in my head hints with a giggle.
I turn to see what she was talking about and for a brief second I saw it. This look of adoration that so blatantly sealed itself in his gaze.
His eyes soften when they land on me, "You okay?" Was the question he voiced, but his eyes seemed to say it.
I nodded blankly and went over to the hostess, Julia. She was a horrible woman with no interest for anyone beyond the scope of herself and her always-temporary boyfriend. Her job was an ironic joke.
"How can I help you?" At least the lack of enthusiasm was honest.
"I need to talk to Kyle," I say forcing her to look at me, eventually behind me. Her eyes widen and that bothers me enough to snap a couple fingers in front of her face, "Julia, Kyle? Is he here?"
She gulps and nods finally looking away from Emerson long enough to click a couple things on the computer.
"Relax babe," he was trying not to laugh and that irritated me further, "Its nothing."
I don’t react only nodding at Julia when she gives me the clear at see Kyle. I begin walking there when he takes my hand and smiles in a way that reaches his eyes, "Want me to wait here?"
I think it through, "I’m just going down the hall," I nodded, Kyle was trustworthy, "I’ll be back in 5 minutes."
He complies and watches me off, already reaching for his cell phone. Workaholic. I smiled thinking of the numerous tauntings I’d have for our trip to get dinner. Julia pointlessly gestures to Kyle’s office before high-tailing her way back to her post, with a full view of Emerson. It unnerved me. All the reason to get this conversation out of the way.
I knocked absentmindedly and received a vague affirmation for entry when I pushed the fragile looking door open. His table was covered in papers and trash but was his "system" so I knew better than to comment on it. He was on the phone so quickly points to the only seat before his desk in an attempt to be accommodating. My hips cried at the sight of the low furniture, it would be terrifying to rise out of alone.
I shook my head with a small smile and he nodded before whispering into the phone and looking at me with his drained red eyes. I reaches for a cigarette and lighter, taking a quick draw before asking me, "Here to quit huh?"
My eyes widened, "How’d you know?"
"That shimmer in your eyes the excitement in your posture, I’ve seen it before. You found something better," He shakes his head in disappointment, releasing the cloud of toxicity before pulling out a drawer with an envelope, "Though I’m sad to see you go, I’m surprised it took you this long. You’re an excellent worker Adira."
He never learned to say my name correctly. The A-duh-rah sound replicated a choppy disrespect when compared to the beautiful A-dee-rah that my mother graced me with. I pushed it to the side and reached forward for the white envelope with my name on it.
"So, who’d we lose you to?" He gives a yellow smile as the paper slips from his fingers.
I give a tender smile, leaning against the chair for support, my hips were over this whole standing thing apparently, "No one in particular," I say beginning to walk out cautiously.
To my disappointment he raises from his chair and begins to follow me out, "I get it," He holds the door open for me, "I included your past couple months of tips in there." I was stunned enough to stop walking. He just laughs and pushes forward with me.
"Why did you do that?" I ask as we neared Julia’s station.
He shrugs, "I started to see this change a couple months ago, you seemed different, figured you were going to that fancy school or something, thought I’d help somehow."
My chest felt warm, I faced him and did something uncharacteristic. The hug was quick but appreciated, "Thanks for all your help Kyle."
"It’s nothing," He laughs and begins to show me off when Emerson stands and meets me, "Is this the ‘no one’ you’re leaving me for?"
It was a joke, a bad one, but I smiled nonetheless, "I suppose."
Emerson sees the extra pressure I’m putting on my already bruised ankles, rocking between my toes, and gets the hint, "We should be on our way."
I nod and thanked Kyle again just as Emerson put his hand on my lower back, "Oh I almost forgot," Kyle walks over lazily, "Your...um dad dropped by," He knew enough to be cautious, "Asked for you, I told him you have a shift tomorrow. I’ll keep telling him that for as long as you need but I thought you should know in case you don’t plan on," His eyes shift up to Emerson, "on coming back."
I nodded, "Thanks Kyle."
"Hope to see you back suga," Julia sings waving daintily at Emerson. He nods without looking up but my eye twitches in contempt. I opened my mouth to give her a piece of my mind when Emerson all but lifts me out of the building.
"She’s just yanking your cha--"
"Yeah until I yanked that wig off her head," I say still trying to look over his shoulder.
"I don’t know why you’re so mad considering we’re, in your words, ‘not even in a relationship’," My eyes widened as my head whips up at him opening my door for me.
"Ouuuuu he got you there," The voice cackles in my head, rolling with laughter.
"Come on, I’m kidding," He laughs when I refuse his help into my seat, "You’re really cute when you’re jealous."
When he said this I was too focused on buckling my seat belt and therefore missed the proximity. He seemed to over calculate it. I face him and our lips grazed unevenly. The fire that rushed down my spine was almost extraterrestrial. More than my body could contain so without thinking a soft moan is allowed to slip past my lips. His eyes grow dark and instantly I crave him more.
He licks his lips before leaning in intentionally this time, and my world is caught aflame. Even the voice in my mind scurries to a corner, a blush on her cheeks, in reverence of what was happening before her. His lips were softer than I presumed and delightfully so. When I come to my senses enough to reach forward—meaning to push him away ever so slightly and explain that I was still deliberating whether to stay at al so maybe this wasn’t the best idea—I pull him nearer. Now drunk with his touch, I allow myself to sink in it.
It is he who pulls away, eventually. Hazel-blue eyes jittery and excited, smile present. I was at a loss for words, "Don’t bother, we don’t have to talk about it," He says with a boyish look on his face, "especially not in front of my girlfriend’s workplace."
My brows furrow as anger rushes through my veins, "Don’t. Call. Her. That."
He folds his lips and nods, rushing to his side of the vehicle before pulling away and driving to a restaurant for food. I get my wings and fries for Charice, a milkshake in the side, and it all puts me in a better mood. I hum to the music on the radio and rock happily as I drank the rest of my shake to Emerson’s amusement.
"Does this mean you’re not mad at me?" He asks backing into the huge garage. I decided to tease him a bit, leaving the vehicle with the bags of food but not answering. I rush to the kitchen where I heard Charice’s humming and Gavin’s voice, holding the greasy paper bag of fries in her direction.
Her eyes lit up and she squeezes me close with a high pitched squeal, "Thank you."
"Who’s causing Charice to make that noise?" Chance makes a face as he walks into the kitchen.
"Ugh Adira you’re the best," Charice sings ignoring the complaints as she rips into the bag.
"How was the diner? Any treats for us?" Gavin taunts looking into the other bags as Cody and Chelsea join.
"Don’t touch my food," Emerson warns entering the kitchen with a sense of regality in his step, "And you need to stop putting pressure on that leg," He says to me, pointing at my injured ankle.
Whether it was frustration from the tingling that was still present on my lips or the residual jealousy, my desire to push back was undeniable, "Don’t you have a date to be going to?"
Anthony laughs at this, grabbing a fry from Charice’s bag—and receiving a hiss of discontent— before adding, "Oh this should be good."
"A date?" Emerson’s smile was something to be memorialized, especially when in full position as it was now, "With whom? That woman from the diner?"
"Oh no," I narrowed my eyes at him, "I believe you referred to her as your girlfriend?" My head tilts and I push my anxiety away even when he came closer. I try not to smile as well as maintaining eye contact but one had to go and looking at anything but him was nothing near an option so I smiled until my cheeks burned.
"You sound a little jealous there Dee," He knew how much I hated and adored the nickname.
"Jealous?! Of what?"
His back goes straight and I want nothing more than to…to… "Lounge him right here in the kitchen?" the voice in my head adds, revealing my deepest desires.
"Stop," I laugh, scolding her.
"Just saying," she seems to shrug when adding this, resorting back to her position in the corner of my mind.
"Of my newly found relationship," He states proudly reaching behind me for his chocolate milkshake.
I mimic him in attempts to hide how much the thought of him with any woman who wasn’t myself, bothered me. Not-so-deep-down it more than bothered me. It hurt, physically. Beyond the ailments that already existed my chest clavicle pounded in angst, my brain wanted to explode in order to relieve the heat build-up and my spine wished to all but snap in half. My entire body was anatomically opposed to the THOUGHT of being away from him.
What would happen if I left?
"I told you," The voice pops up, more seriously this time, "You...we would die."
"Ready to eat?" Emerson asks with soft eyes and a lingering smile.
Look at him.
"Yeah," I say absentmindedly, anger dissipating to nothing but the ever-present lust and hunger, "Can we go in the mountain room?" my question as apparently expected.
"I already have it set up," He answers without looking at me, "grab your food."
"Ou I need water," I mentioned softly, remembering my finished shake.
"I ordered another vanilla milkshake," He wiggles the sweaty white plastic container in his hand and the gesture makes my heart soar, "Ready?" What did I do to deserve him?
"Go through hell." This voice always gave me the reality check I needed.
"So what’s this about a new girlfriend?" Chelsea whispers to Chance as Emerson and I start heading up the stairs.
I can’t help but face her, in all her perfection, "Her name is Juli—"
Emerson scoops me in his arms over his shoulder continuing up the stairs with admirable, but expected ease. My laugh seemed to echo down the halls as we walked and when I’m placed to my feet, we were facing the mahogany doors. Too excited to stop myself I pull them open and settled by the fire pit facing the endless woods. I stare off into the distance instantly noticing two gold dots that interrupted the endless trees. I figured they were fireflies at first, but they didn’t move, except when they disappeared for a slight second. A blink. Eyes then. Mesmerizing and fiery.
"So are we watching a movie or just relaxing a bit?" Emerson asks, walking down to settle next to me.
I’m fixed on the circular orbs. I wish I could see them up close.
"Adira?" He was next to me, "You okay?"
Soon. I’d see them soon.
"You say something?" He asks ripping into his bag.
"Nope," I smiled but all my attention was on the golden dots in the trees. They laughed with me now.
From the Author
Please let me know what you think :) Any ideas on what might happen next? Are things moving too fast between Adira and Emerson? What about her dad? Will Adira leave after the two weeks? Or is it too early to speculate? So many questions, let me hear some of your answers?
Just so everyone is aware, even one comment will keep me motivated, so please leave me with something! I'm open to (and CRAVE) constructive criticism so give me details, whenever I feel like I suck at this, or that the plot is the worst thing ever (pardon my dramaticism) rereading comments really keeps me going so...please leave some!
Anonymous: Thank you for thinking I'm a good writer, it genuinely means the world to me! What did you think about this chapter?
Banyana: You're so loyal it hurts! Thank you! Thoughts here?
Butterfly: You too are a constant that I hope to keep :) What do you think now? Comparatively or otherwise.
Anonymous:) : Sorry to keep you waiting! I know this chapter probably wasn't worth it but let me know!