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   Chapter 3 Three

Wildflower By Aubrey Wolfe Characters: 26737

Updated: 2019-10-21 22:02


Like promised, Parker calls me at 7 o'clock in the morning, telling me I have an hour to get ready and meet him downstairs. I'm dressed and showered by 7:30 and we're out the door and at the club by 8 o'clock sharp.

Thankfully, there isn't a line out the ass this time. There isn't any line at all. Parker unlocks the front door after disabling the alarm and shows me around the back room, telling me where all the supplies are and how to get into the alcohol cellar.

"Summer texted me, she's going to be here in about an hour. Until then, get familiar with everything and text me if you need anything, I'll see you later." He waves good-bye with a yawn and heads out the door.

I wander around the back, trying to memorize where everything is, but my mind is over taken with the memories of the last time I was back here; tending to Emily's wound. For a second, I let the feelings wash over me, remembering how it felt to feel her smooth skin under my fingertips, feel the warmth from her body close to mine.

The front door slamming shut breaks me out of my deep thought and I rush to the front, breathing a sigh of relief when I see Summer strut through. She looks like she just rolled out of bed, despite having an hour to get ready and get here.

"Expect to do nothing all morning, because that's all we're going to be doing, " she says, tossing her purse under the bar and taking a seat, pulling out a magazine. "No one really comes in here except the few loners looking for a quick drink."

I nod at her and pick up a rag, walking over to the sink to soak it in warm water and soap, then start cleaning down the counter. Mind as well seem useful and bide my time, hopefully it will go by faster.

"So, you have a thing for my girl?" Summer asks. I look back to see her peeking over her magazine.

I give her a frown. "What does that even mean?"

"It means, do you like her? Are you attracted to her?" she says and rolls her eyes. "Look, you have to have been blind in order to not see the chemistry flying between the two of you the other night."

"She has a boyfriend, if I'm recall. Parker mentioned it, " I mutter and turn back around, determined to drop this conversation. Why can't anyone just leave it alone?

"Yeah, he only mentioned it because it's his cousin, so he has no choice but to warn you. But–"

"Wait, she is dating Everett?" I ask, the name hitting me like a slap in the face. I remember Everett, but I wish I didn't. He was the annoying cousin who lived with Parker and his parents for a year, while his 'mansion' was being built.

He had to attend the same school as us for that year too, until he finally left to go to some fancy private school. He flaunted his money and used it to try and get in with the cool kids, basically buying his friends, even though none of them wrote to him after he left. Parker confirmed it.

"You know him?" Summer asks.

I nod grimly, trying to keep the grimace off my face.

"I didn't know he was back in town."

"Yeah, he goes to the same college as us, but he and Emily met back in high school. They both went to the same private school in New York."

That explains it. I remember I don't know anything about Emily, and I did realize that she had a slightly different accent. I recognize it now as more of a New York tone than anything.

"Regardless, she has a boyfriend, who I now happen to know."

Summer clicks her tongue and puts her magazine down. "I'll let you in on a little enraging secret, that's only a secret to no one but Emily." She stands up and walks closer to me, thankfully stopping a few inches away.

"Everett has been cheating on Emily for 3 years now, since the day she said she didn't want to sleep with him, until she was ready to give herself away."

My heart clenches in my chest. I'm not surprised to hear that he is toying with yet another girl, but for some reason it pains and angers me more, knowing it's Emily, and it has been going on for 3 years.

I always knew him to be sleezy as a kid, and it shouldn't surprise me that he still as an adult.

"Why hasn't anyone told Emily? She has a right to know, " I say, trying to control the rage I feel bubbling.

Summer shrugs and sits back down. "We've tried, Parker and I, but she never listens to us or she refuses to believe us. Everett is a saint in her eyes, no matter what you try and tell her different. Even Parker has tried telling her what he was like as a kid, saying he knows his cousin better than anyone, and that's probably true, but she still doesn't want to believe that Everett is capable of breaking her heart like that."

I grip the counter, shaking my head as I grasp everything Summer just said. I can't for the life of me being to understand this situation, never having been involved in anything to close to something like this.

"As bad as it sounds, have you ever thought of having her catch him in the act?" I find myself saying before I even think the words.

Summer blinks at me, seeming to contemplate my words.

"What do you mean exactly?" she asks.

I throw the towel down and turn to face her, leaning back against the counter to maintain a good distance between us. I already feel cramped enough back here with just her and I.

"It's obvious you and possibly Parker have already caught him yourselves, meaning it might be easier to do it again if he is so careless about this. Stage a party, invite girls you know he would be tempted by, and see what happens."

She snaps her fingers. "That's brilliant! That way, we aren't forcing him to cheat, rather making him make the terrible choice himself. If he doesn't, then that settles it."

The idea all together sounds horrible. I can't imagine the feeling of loving and trusting someone, just to see all that crumble away. It feels even worst to plan a way for that to occur.

But what is worse? Finding out the person you're dedicated to yourself to doesn't want to do the same? Or living with someone who is betraying you every day, and never knowing?

To me, that choice seems simple, but I don't know what it feels like to be in love, or even love someone. I know I have love for Parker, but that will always be in a brotherly way, like the brother I never had.

It's a completely different kind, and doesn't have the same power over a person as being in love with someone does.

"We're having a party this weekend for our frat house actually, both Emily and Everett are members and there are a lot of good-looking girls who are constantly all over Everett when Emily isn't around, so this is going to be easy." Summer grins and takes her phone out.

"What are you doing?" I ask.

"Texting Parker and letting him know what we're planning, " she says.

I shake my head. "I won't be there, so I don't want anything to do with this. Honestly, I wasn't thinking when I made that decision, " I say, feeling the nerves kicking in again. I opened my mouth without thinking, and now I've convinced this girl to practically sabotage her friend's relationship.

Good job, Tristan.

"You have to be there, it will be movie perfect!" she cries, moving towards me. Without thinking again, I take a step back, maintaining distance.

Thankfully she doesn't notice.

"What are you talking about?" I ask, raising an eyebrow.

"It will be just like in the movies; the cheater is revealed, and you're the knight in shining armor, who will come in and sweep her off her feet–"

"Okay, whoa, calm down there. I met her briefly the other night and helped her out, that's it."

Summer pouts and falls back into her chair, crossing her arms like a child. I fight the urge to roll my eyes at her behavior and turn back to the counter to continue wiping it down.

The rest of the shift passes like this; Summer sitting on her phone, pointing to where things are when the rare customer comes up, but otherwise remaining motionless in her chair, staring at her screen.

Parker walks in the door at 3 o'clock, kicking everyone out and closing down for an hour so he can set everything up for the night. He gives me a ride home before that, and finally gives me the key to my apartment, saying it is officially mine, and that I won't owe rent for the first two months, but I will owe him a little extra for last months when I decide to leave.

If I ever get the chance to leave. Something tells me I'm always going to be rooted to this place, in some way.

Having nothing better to do, I trudge over to my room and pass out for most of the evening.

The rest of the week passes the same, working at the club in the morning with Summer, and looking for more permanent jobs and places elsewhere in my spare time.

Regardless what I was doing, my mind always found a way to think of Emily. Remind me of the way her touch made me feel, and how much I craved it at night, when I felt like the darkness was consuming me.

I thought living on my own, being alone, would be better for me.

It seems the demons that haunted me in there, haunt me out here as well. I had no choice but to ask Parker for a radio to put in my room, so there isn't complete silence at the very least. I can't seem to stand loud noises, but I also can't seem to bear silence either.

My head really is messed up. All the more reason why I've tries to thwart every attempt Summer has made to convince me to pursue Emily. Even if she wasn't already taken, I don't think it would be wise to pursue anything with her.

I'm too screwed up in the head, and let's not even begin with my lack of any social skills.

She needs someone better than that, she seems like the girl who deserves better than what I, and Everett, have to offer her.

Parker knocks on my door Friday evening, oddly dressed in a bathing suit and muscle shirt, with a towel hanging off his shoulder.

"What are you doing here? I thought you were working at the club all night?" I ask.

He just grins at me. "I have someone taking care of it, because you and I are going to the beach. I already have a bathing suit for you, " he says and holds up a plastic bag.

I raise a brow at him. "Are you serious? You ditched work because you want to take me to the beach?"

His shoulders sag and he glares at me. "Say it like that and it sound weird. I just want to get you out of the house, you've been inside all week, you need to get out and enjoy the sun while it last."

"I don't have to do anything except make sure I have enough money to pay your landlord at the end of next month, and maybe get a little more furniture in here." I cross my arms, making a stand that I'm not going to be persuaded this time.

The idea of a crowded beach doesn't sound any better than a club, though it won't be as loud, and the atmosphere will be a bit nicer.

"Come on, man. It's just the beach, and I know a spot where there aren't that many people. I promise, you will enjoy it, " Parker says, clasping his hands together to plead with me, giving me fake puppy dog eyes.

"I have to work tomorrow, I can't be out too late, " I continue to argue.

Parker rolls his eyes. "We aren't going to be out until 1 o'clock in the morning, it's just a couple hours at the beach to enjoy the sun before it goes down it's already late enough not too many people are going to be there, so we'll practically have the beach to ourselves."

The way he says that, it implies there is going to be more than just the two of us going. "Who else is going to be there?" I ask.

Parker's eyes shift slightly. "Just us."

I don't believe him, but I have no proof as to why. I heave a sigh and turn to grab my keys and slip my shoes on.

"This better be worth it, " I mutter and close the door. Parker hands me the bathing suit, but I refuse it, saying I probably won't go swimming.

I've never learned, anyway. Not going to start now.

We drive over and he's right, there are a few people scattered on the beach, but no one in the water and not too many people near it. There is a small clearing in the corner of the beach, where I see a few people have set up their towels and umbrellas.

Parker immediately starts walking over to them, and before I can ask what he's doing, I recognize one of the girls laying on her stomach, getting a tan.

Emily.

She sees us soon after and waves us over, removing her sunglasses and exposing her gorgeous blue eyes. Compared to the water next to her, it puts it to real shame.

I feel my breath catch in my throat and my pulse speed up just at the sight of her smile.

"Parker, you said it was just us, " I grumble at him.

He shrugs. "I didn't know they were going to be here."

I roll my eyes, but let it slide again, though I don't believe a word. I knew from the beginning he was planning something, but even if I figured it out before now, it would be futile to argue against him.

"Glad you guys could make it, " Emily says running up to us. My palms grow clammy, my fingers itching to reach out and brush her silky skin. I try and stop my eyes from lingering over her rather revealing bikini, admiring how amazing her body looks.

I don't have many images to compare to, but that doesn't matter. I can tell just by looking at her, her figure is remarkable, and will knock any guy off his feet. I can already feel the eyes around us on her, causing a slight rage to f

ill the pit of my stomach.

Emily moves towards me in a hug, and I see Parker's eyes watching us as she wraps her arms around me. Her warmth engulfs me instantly, swarming around me and chasing away the anxiety creeping in the back of my mind.

I get the urge to stay there, in her embrace for eternity, but I can see feel Parker's piercing gaze, analyzing us, and I quickly pull away. I give her a tight smile, trying to mask just how much it really pained me to pull away.

She leads us back over to where the towels and umbrellas are laid out, and I quickly recognize a somewhat familiar face.

Everett.

***

I didn't think I still carried much despise for Everett anymore, but the moment I see his traditional smug smirk on his face, I instantly want to punch it off. Instead, I try my best to muster a convincing fake smile when he spots Parker and I.

"Whoa, is that Tristan? Now there's a face I never thought I'd see again, " he says, with a mischievous glint in his eye.

Does he know?

Everett didn't strike me as the kind of guy to watch the news or ever pick up a newspaper. But that doesn't mean social media hasn't evolved since, and I have no doubt it has. Who is to say this info isn't just a click away now?

I shake his hand, keeping the fake smile plastered on, hoping that he has somewhat matured over the years, and will at least keep whatever he does know to himself. I grip his hand in silent warning and he winces, drawing it back with a nervous smile.

"Nice to see you man, it's been a long time, " he mutters.

Emily looks between us, confused. "Wait, you two know each other?"

Everett and I nod, not looking the happiest about it.

"I used to see Tristan a lot around the manor when I lived with Parker and his parents for a little while, " Everett says, moving his arm to snake around Emily's waist. I can't help but note now possessive it is, like he is threatened by my presence.

"Are we done with the reunion? I want to go swimming, " Summer says, stripping out of her shorts and t-shirt. I notice the way Parker shuffles uncomfortably, averting his gaze. I remember the way his eyes roamed freely over the girls who entered the club, not afraid to look at their barely covered skin then.

I lift a brow and smirk at him, which just makes him more uncomfortable. He mutters something as he walks by, tossing his shirt on the ground and trudging after Summer. Everett is busy with something on his phone.

Leaving just Emily and I standing there.

"Would you like to go swimming?" she asks, then looks at my jean and t-shirt attire, and frowns. "You aren't really dressed for the beach."

"Oh, uh, I don't really like swimming. Never been a fan of water, " I quickly lie, tucking the bag with the bathing suit behind me.

Emily still notices however. "If you have something to change into, you can always help me build a sand castle, " she offers and smiles, a small giggle escaping her lips. My heart beats faster at the sound, and I ignore the fact that she just asked to build a sand castle.

Another activity I never got to do as a kid. They do say it's never too late to start something.

I hesitate, then nod, her bright smiling internally winning me over. I seek out a small bathroom hut and duck inside to change into the shorts Parker gave me, surprised at how well they fit and thankful there is a string on the front to at least adjust them.

Before exiting, I look at myself once over in the mirror, suddenly grateful for the countless hours I spent in the weight room, when I had the chance, or just doing simple push-ups to try and outrun my thoughts when needed.

Despite that, I suddenly start to feel self-conscious the closer I get to Emily, who is already hunched over a pile of sand with a few plastic molds next to her. I search the beach for everyone else, more specifically Everett, and see him still plastered to his phone, now sitting over by the towels.

He hasn't paid a single attention to Emily since I arrived, except the fleeting moment of jealousy he portrayed. However, she seems content doing her own thing; as if this is how they always act together.

Is this how a couple eventually acts, after being together so long? I have no idea how long they have been together, but even then, every second I'm in Emily's presence, the urge to never leave grows.

If I could spend every waking moment with her, opening my eyes to her soothing touch and warm skin; it would be heaven. Does he not feel the same? How could he not? There's no way I'm the only person who feels this way around her.

Shaking the thoughts away, I keep moving towards Emily and plop down gently next to her in the sand. I see her look up, and her eyes widen when she takes in my naked torso. I try and make out the emotion in her blue eyes, but it's hard to tell exactly what she is thinking.

Is she as attracted to me, as I am to her? Did I make it more obvious?

I feel the anxiety fill the back of my throat, and my chest starts to slowly build up pressure from my overwhelming thoughts. My palms start to sweat, despite the cool breeze washing over the open sand.

"When was the last time you built a sand castle?" she asks.

I contemplate telling her the truth, deciding that it wouldn't be such a shocking discovery. "I've never built one."

She does give me a fleeting look of shock, before covering it with a beaming smile. "Well, today is your lucky day then. I happen to be a master sand castle builder, so you're going to learn from the best." She lets out another giggle and my heart races, the urge to reach out and grasp her hand becoming overbearing now.

"What can I do to help?" I ask, moving closer to her to look at the molds on her side, using any excuse to even brush my skin against hers. She looks through them with me and picks a few out, some looking like castle towers while others look like small village huts.

We start packing the molds together and she directs me on where she wants each to go. I try and get in her way from time to time, so my hand brushes against hers, or my legs has to press into her. Any sort of contact, to calm the anxiety still building in my chest as the sun starts to set.

It would be the perfect setting, had her boyfriend not already be sitting a few feet away, not paying a lick of attention to the scene behind him.

"Why isn't Everett helping you?" I ask, instantly regretting it when her mouth turns down in a frown.

"He doesn't really like this stuff, which is fine, it is kind of childish to some people. I guess I just never grew out of it." She smiles at me, molding the sides of the castle expertly.

"Are you a sculptor?" I ask, the motions of her hands working precisely around the sand, reminding me of someone working the mold on a clap pot.

She gives me a small smile. "Something like that, I like to paint and sketch from time to time, but I've dabbed a bit into sculpting and other forms of art. Building sand castles is really the closest I've come though, to making a suitable sculpture."

"I think you can do anything you put your mind too, " I mutter, still admiring how careful and precise she is, like she is handling a priceless object, rather than a sand castle that's going to be destroyed by tomorrow morning, when the tide gets high.

"Any chance your free tomorrow night?" she asks suddenly, leaning back to look at her work so far.

"I only work mornings, so probably."

She grins, giving me the sense that I should've said no, but right now I would say anything to keep that smile on her face. It takes my breath away every time, hasn't failed to yet.

"You should come by our frat party, last one of the year before school is done for the summer. I only have one year left after this, but Summer is going to be done her studies, and she wants to go all out for this party."

The brings me back to the conversation Summer and I had at the beginning of the week, about staging a party, to catch Everett in the act. This has to be it, even just mentioning that Summer wants to go 'all out' for this party, sends off red flags in my head.

Telling me to stay far away from this party.

"I'm not very big on parties, I don't like big crowds."

"I could tell from the other night, you looked a little shaken up, " she says. I hoped she wouldn't bring that up, and maybe hadn't noticed as much as I thought.

"Yeah, sorry about that. You met me at an off time, " I mutter, not sure of how to explain that situation, without getting complicated.

"Looks like there's a story behind it, I wouldn't mind hearing it some other time." She reaches over and squeezes my hand, her warmth spreading through my skin instantly. I feel myself relax under her touch once again, the feeling warming me more than the quickly disappearing sun and heat still radiating off the sand.

"I would love to tell you, " I find myself saying, though the voice in the back of my head is screaming at me not to. Any more time spent with this girl, and I won't be able to walk away.

Especially time spent alone.

She is too alluring and captivating, something about her keeps drawing me in, when I know it's dangerous.

Parker and Summer soon join us again, and Summer immediately starts talking about the frat party again, as if she could hear us all the way down at the water. She gives me a pointed look which I try to ignore.

I want no part in this, despite it being partially my idea in the first place. I didn't mean for a whole devious plan to come out of it, and I don't want to be there to watch Emily fall.

It will break my heart. I don't think I could handle it.

"Tristan, are you coming?" Summer asks, which makes Everett finally look up from his phone. He looks over towards Emily and I, seeing how close we are together, crouched over the built sand castle.

He jumps in between us, lifting Emily off the ground and wrapping his arms around her waist from behind. He sends me a fleeting sneer, then turns his attention back to her, going in to steal a kiss.

I'm shocked when she turns her head, giving him a glare and whispering something about 'not here' in his ear. Everett pouts, but she turns her face away, looking directly back at me.

"Parties aren't really Tristan's scene, right man?" Everett speaks up, smiling tightly at me.

I narrow my eyes at him, not caring that everyone is looking at me. I didn't hide my distaste for him in the past, I'm not about to start now. I despise him even more, knowing he has someone like Emily and is treating her the way he is.

Who am I kidding? It's because he has Emily, not someone like her.

It's been a week since we met, and the feelings for her still haven't faded, as much as I have tried to force them away.

"I'll think about it, " I say, still glaring at Everett, who is now glaring back. He wasn't expecting me to say that, and to be honest I'm not sure why I said it either. I'm not going, that's final, but maybe I wanted to wipe the smug smile off his face.

I at least succeeded in that.

"Alright, I think it's time to head out now, suns pretty much gone, " Parker intervenes, throwing me a nervous look. I'm not the one who is oozing testosterone and jealousy through their pores, like Everett.

I at least learned a few life lessons in prison, and one of them was determining which fights are worth the effort, or worth it to walk away.

A fight with Everett is never worth it.

We all walk back towards the parking lot, Emily and I trailing slowly behind. I stopped when I saw her pause in her step and take out her phone, turning back towards the spot where we built the sand castle.

"Stand next to it, " she says and gestures over to it.

"What, why?" I ask, but slowly move backwards.

She holds her phone up. "I want to get a picture, so we can remember the day you built your first sand castle."

My heart stutters a little at the thought, and seeing the gleeful smile on her face as she motions for me to stand next to the sand castle. I stand there awkwardly, not sure how to place myself, and she snaps the picture.

"Hold on, " she says and rushes over to stand next to me. "Let's take a picture with it together." She motions for me to crouch down with her next to the sand castle, so it's visible in the background behind us.

I feel her cuddle into the crook of my arm, prompting me to throw it over her shoulder so we can squeeze into the frame more. I can feel her heartbeat against my chest, and it's beating almost as fast as mine, giving me the small hope that she might feel the same.

That I have the same effect on her.

I look towards the camera, and see our faces staring back at us. I look into her eyes through the phone, which are distracted by smiling up at the top of the phone where the camera sits. She snaps the photo, but I get a final look at it before it swipes to the side, and I realize something.

At some point, right before she snapped the photo, I stopped looking at the phone and turned my gaze to admire her. Thankfully, she quickly tucks her phone away in her pocket and we rush up to join the others, not overlooking the picture.

I know later on, however, she is going to look at it, and realize I'm not staring at the camera.

I'm staring at her.

I'm going to be so busted.

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