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   Chapter 5 Five

Wildflower By Aubrey Wolfe Characters: 24199

Updated: 2019-10-21 22:04


I laid wide awake all night, barely getting a wink of sleep before my shift this morning. I kept replaying the intense scene between Emily and I in my living room. I can still feel the lingering warmth of her lips on mine and the nail marks she left in my arm, most likely trying to control herself as much as I was.

If it weren't for the fact that I wouldn't have known what to do, I would've suggested carrying on in my bedroom, not caring if I'm too inexperienced for her. A part of me hopes that she would over-look the fact once she found out, but it's fleeting.

Knowing I'm going to see her today, and be in a tight area with her behind the bar for quite a few hours just kept me awake even more. I kept thinking back to when she was laying in my bed, just mere feet away from where I had laid on the couch in the living room.

I remember craving her touch, knowing she was so close, yet so far at the same time. I knew it would be wrong to try and impose anything on her, and I was barely able to control my urges around her before she broke up with Everett. Now that she is technically free to pursue, it does unimaginable things to my temptations.

"Ready?" Parker asks me when I meet him outside.

I'm too tired to even speak, so I just nod in response. I haven't told him that Emily offered to help me behind the bar today, afraid of the big speech he is probably going to give me about being careful, because she just left a long-term relationship.

I knew making a move on her, whether she wanted me to or not, was a bad idea. I took advantage of her confused and damaged state. Chances are, she came to her senses this morning, and isn't going to be there.

When we arrive, I can tell the door has already been unlocked by the solid green light on the security pad by the door.

Someone has already opened up.

Thankfully, Parker is too tired to realize. I bid farewell and rush inside, to see Emily behind the counter, serving a customer a plate of eggs and toast. That brings back the flood of memories from yesterday morning.

Before the anxiety hits me, I make my way over to her, careful to keep my face calm and straight. I feel my façade falling when she turns and smiles at me. My heart picks up speed and my hands start to sweat.

"Good morning, I hope you slept well, " she says, coming over to give me a quick hug, pulling away too soon.

I want to tell her how she invaded my dreams last night, made me crave her touch and ache for her warmth while I thrashed around in bed, battling my inner demons. I want her to know just how much control she already has over me, and how she can make this terror all go away, if she were to never leave.

But I can't tell her that. From the way she acted with me yesterday, there is a chance she won't leave, and as much as every fiber in my being is screaming at me to let her in, tell her everything – I can't. I'm already starting to rely on her too much, she doesn't deserve to carry around my massive baggage, that even I can barely handle myself.

"What has Summer taught you so far?" she asks, her smile dropping a little from my lack of conversation. I don't mean to freeze up right now, I'm at a loss for words, and more worried I'll say or do something I'll regret, if I move from my spot now.

"Just the basics, the different kinds of drinks people usually order this early in the morning, which is mostly coffee or whatever energy drink Parker stocks back here. Then, just basic breakfast meals, since he doesn't have a whole lot of food."

Emily nods and looks around the counter for something else to teach me, but there really isn't anything else. Other than a few regular customers, who come in for the cheap morning drinks and even cheaper food, nothing ever happens.

"Well, seems like there's no reason for me to be here, " she says, sounding a little hesitant. "I should probably leave you to your work."

She grabs her purse walks past me, but I don't want her to go just yet. My arm reaches out and grasps hers, halting her in her tracks. I hear her suck in a sharp breath, but doesn't turn to look at me.

"You don't have to leave, " I say quietly, tightening my grip on her arm lightly, silently telling her I want her to stay.

I need her to stay, but I'm not ready to admit that. That will probably only scare her away.

She finally turns her heart stopping blue eyes on me. "Okay." She smiles, placing her hand over mine. "I have always wanted to organize that back room, now would be the perfect time."

I nod and gesture for her to lead the way. I haven't spent much time in the back, except for when I walk through to go out the exit door for a smoke. There are metal shelving units covering the left side of the wall, rising all the way up to the ceiling, where a few smaller boxes are piled on top.

The rest is left messy and disorganized on the shelves below, half the products hanging out of the boxes and the others just tossed everywhere. The ground is littered with cleaning supplies and stray product that has fallen off the shelf and nobody decided to pick up.

Emily and I assess the room, before we split it up and each take sections of the shelves; me taking the higher parts of course, and her cleaning the lower shelves until she can't really reach anymore.

I'm very aware of the heat that radiates off her body, every time we move around each other to put stuff away or organize. I try my best this time to not brush against her, restraining myself from craving or needing her touch. I decided last night; I need to learn to live without it.

These feelings, on my part or hers, may only be driven by lust, or temporary. Everything between us has happened so fast, there is no telling if they are genuine, I can't even say for sure if they are for me. I may only be attached to the fact that she is the only person so far, who can calm the storm constantly raging in me.

No matter how hard I try and convince myself of that, there is something in me that is telling me otherwise, trying to drive the idea that it's more than just a fleeting feeling, that with every passing day, I'm falling harder for this girl.

Which scares the hell out of me.

I know I'm not ready to function properly in a relationship, let alone begin to get close to another person enough to even just trust them. It's obvious that Emily is looking for someone who can commit, who she can spend the rest of her life with and life happily ever after.

That isn't mean.

I'm no Prince Charming. If anything, I'm Igor.

But god damn, I wanted to be one for her. I would become anything, to see her smile every day, sleep with her warmth wrapped around me every night, and wake to her soothing touch every morning.

With her beside me, I have no doubt the nightmares would cease, and I would finally be able to get a goodnight's sleep.

No matter how tempting that sounds, I know it will never happen.

Because no matter how much I want to become her Prince Charming, I know I can't, and I probably never will. I have tried to fight the darkness every day since I got out, but I can feel it slowly consuming me more with each passing moment.

I don't know who I will become when or if it does.

Would I still be the person Emily is interested in? Or will she look at me differently? I don't even know if I will be able to look at myself, if I ever let the darkness consume me. I can barely look at myself now.

I stop when I don't hear any movement behind me, and I turn to see Emily watching me with her blazing blue eyes.

"You look like you're thinking pretty hard over there, " she says, her tone soft and concerned.

I open my mouth to answer her, but for once, I don't have a response for her. How do I tell her I was thinking if she would still look at me, the way she is looking at me now – with such tenderness it warms my heart – will she still look that way if she ever found out what I'm really hiding?

She takes a step towards me and reaches a hand out, which I grasp almost desperately, hungry for her comforting warmth. I pull her against my chest, resting her head in the crook of my neck so I can lean my cheek against her hair, feeling their soft strands and inhaling her delicious strawberry shampoo.

"Is everything alright?" she asks. I hesitate a moment, distracted her hand rubbing light circles in my back, releasing a lot of the tension I hadn't realized built up.

"Everything is just fine, " I say, kissing the top of her head, the gesture feeling so natural, like I have done it a million times with her.

She takes a step back to smile at me, but gasps lightly when she seems to see something else in my eyes.

Can she see that much? Can she see the shadows that constantly dance around in my head, poking and prodding at my soul and mind, reminding me every second of what I've done?

Whatever it is she sees; it doesn't make her flee. Instead, she grips my arm tighter, her eyes flashing down to lips and back up, her intent clear.

Without letting my mind talk me out of it, I capture her lips in a heated, hungry kiss, the force of my sudden gesture so strong, she stumbles backwards into the shelf. Not caring about the items that fall from the shelf, scattering themselves on the freshly cleaned floor, I press her further into the shelf, wanting to feel every inch of her body against mine.

My skin feels like it's on fire, the heat travelling lower to my pants, making it rather uncomfortable up front. Emily feels it, and lets out a light gasp, giving me full entrance to her mouth, tangling my tongue with hers.

As if my instincts take over, my hands travel lower to the hem of her shirt and tug on it, making my intentions known. She doesn't break the kiss, or push my hands away, so I proceed to lift her shift, allowing whatever urges are driving me to take over.

Before I can lift it an inch, she breaks the kiss and pushes me away lightly, both of us gasping for air.

"Wait, I'm sorry, I can't, " she manages to get out.

I take a second to recover, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to overstep a line."

She instantly shakes her head. "It isn't that, trust me, you don't know how bad I want you too. It's just–" she stops and fiddles with her fingers.

Letting out a sigh, she looks back up at me. "Tristan, I'm still a virgin."

I hesitate, contemplating telling her that I know already. I decide that if I do want to try and trust her, and have her trust me in return, I need to be honest.

"I know, " I say quietly.

"W-what? You already know? How–" she stops and closes her eyes, letting out a deep breath through her nose. "Summer, of course."

"Actually, it was Parker, " I quickly lie, for some reason wanting to save Summer's ass.

Emily gives me a curious look. "So, you don't care?" she asks.

"That you're 21 and still a virgin?"

She nods.

I take a breath, preparing myself to finally reveal a small truth of myself, and also possibly a small test to see whether she will stay or not.

"No, I don't care that you're 21 and still a virgin. Because I'm 24, and also still a virgin."

***

I wait, as the tension builds in the room, for him to start laughing at me, or give me some sort of punch line.

But nothing. He just stares back at me, watching me for my reaction.

He can't be serious? There is no way this man, this Adonis, is still a virgin!

"Emily, please say something or I might run out of this room, " Tristan says, his voice shaking.

I instantly run towards the opening to the bar, blocking his escape, but curse when I remember the exit door behind him.

"Don't leave, I'm sorry. Honestly, I wasn't sure if you were making fun of me or something, " I say.

He raises an eyebrow. "Why would I make fun of you now, when I already knew before?"

He has a point, and now I feel like an idiot. "To be honest, I also don't really believe you. I mean– look at you. How in the world are you still a virgin?" I ask, feeling the blush hit my cheeks.

A bit of the tension that sits in my chest releases when he

lets out a musical laugh. I realize it's the first time I've heard him laugh, and also realize how much I want to hear it more.

Hell, every day, if I could. This man is doing things to me I never want to stop feeling.

"I'm being honest, Emily. I don't want to exactly go into details as to why, but know I am being truthful, I could never make fun of you." He reaches out and touches my hand. "Therefore, I am more than willing to wait as long as you need."

My heart melts at his words, and I grasp onto his arm to keep my knees from buckling. It hits me what he just said.

"Wait-wait for me? You're willing to wait for me?" I ask, sounding like a parrot.

Tristan nods, a beautiful smile touching his lips. "I'm new to this whole relationship thing, but if you're willing to work with me, I want to be with you when you're ready. I don't want to rush things, I want you to take time to heal from Everett, I know he meant a lot to you and might still."

Though his words touch my very soul, I shake my head in protest. "You're right, I do need time to heal, but not because I still feel anything towards Everett. This has made me realize that I lost those feelings for Everett a long time ago, but I didn't want to admit it to myself, because I was hoping for my perfect ending."

He sighs softly and touches my cheek. "Emily, I'm not the guy who is going to give you that perfect ending, I need to tell you that now. I can promise I will never betray you the way Everett has, but right now I can't promise you the future you want. I want to know you more, and you me, when we're both ready."

"What are you hiding, Tristan?" The question pops out of my mouth, from the small box I tucked it into at the back of my head. The box of questions to never be asked.

The shadows appear in his eyes once more, and I can almost see the walls he keeps up quickly start to rebuild behind his dark pools.

"I'm not ready to tell you yet, " he says stiffly. I put my hands to his cheeks, trying to banish the shadows, but this time it doesn't work. He's keeping me out.

"Why not?" I ask, and I see his eyes soften, and a bot of the darkness fade.

He places his hands over mine and kisses the inside of my right palm, his brown eyes looking deep into mine.

"Because I'm not ready to lose you yet."

I open my mouth to ask what he means, but we hear a man call from the bar, asking for service. Tristan smiles softly then pulls away, going back to cleaning. I try and calm my racing heart as I walk up to the man, flashing him a forced smile.

We don't pick-up the conversation afterwards, but I can't help but mull over what he said, and what he could possibly mean. How can he lose me, before he even has me?

Is he already aware of how hard I have fallen for him, just the short span since we met? Is it that obvious?

Half-way through the morning, I get a text from my mother, inviting me and Everett over for dinner tonight. I hesitate telling her that we aren't together anymore, and decide to tell her in person what happened.

I know the moment my father finds out what happened, he will be running straight to Evertt's father. They are currently business partners, with Everett's family owning a very successful line of Insurance companies, he insures a large portion of my father's companies and assets in return.

What will happen, when he is confronted with what his son did to the great and feared, Ashton Bradford?

I cringe even just thinking that. My father has made a name for himself in the business industry, and although he is revered as a great man both personally and professionally, he has made quite a few enemies along the way, and has had to prove himself on more than one occasion.

One occasion being my mother. I never learned the full story, but I remember snippets from my past, of a time when it was just my mother and I, Ava White. At the time, my name was Emily White by birth, and there aren't any pictures of my father and I when I was first born.

Just my mother, and a few of the nurses and doctor who helped deliver me and walk my mother through it, at the tender age of 19. She has told me the story of how my father didn't know about me, how my mother kept me a secret from him and her family until I was five-years old.

That's when my father found us, and from what they have both told me, he did anything and everything he could to get my mother back, and finally be in my life. I still don't know what happened, for them to have fallen out in the first place. My father said it wasn't because they thought they didn't love each other enough, saying that he has never been in love with anyone like he is with my mother.

I see it between them every day, and it's one of the many reasons I haven't given up hope for myself. I have seen many friends and their parents even, have their marriages and relationships fall apart, sometimes faster than they even began. I've seen, and now felt, the endless feeling of heartbreak, the pain and loss.

But despite all that, I know that it's still possible to find everlasting love, and that everyone is worthy of it. You just might have to go through a few frogs, before you find your Prince Charming.

I never considered myself as someone who is looking for exactly that, or even close. But I realize now I was expecting too much perfection out of my relationship. There is no such thing as perfection, but that doesn't mean I can't still have my own happy ending, like I've always wanted.

It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be happy.

Tristan claims he can't give me that. It makes me wonder just how little he thinks of himself, and why? Can he not see how happy I am just looking at the way he looks at me? Like I'm the most precious thing on Earth to him.

Everett has never looked at me like that. Even my father has rarely given me a look of pure affection since I was a child.

Tristan makes my heart flutter just by touching me. Everett gave me goosebumps at most. How did I not realize these comparisons before? Is it because I never really had anything to compare to? Or was I really that blinded?

Whatever the matter, it's over now. I know I want Tristan, that I'm ready to be with him despite my heartbreak over Everett. I feel like he is secretly saying he isn't ready, but for some reason can't admit it.

"Back room is all finished."

I nearly jump when his voice comes from behind me. My heart beats fast at how close he is, my shoulder brushing against his chest.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you, " he says, grasping my upper arm lightly. I instantly calm under the warmth of his palm, spreading through me like wildfire.

I smile, "it's alright, I just got a text from my mother. She wants me to go over for dinner tonight."

"You can head out now, my shift is over within the hour and Parker should be here soon, " he says, his fingers touching my cheek. I instinctively lean into his touch, drawn into the tingling his fingers trail on my skin.

I don't want to leave, but my parents live in New York, which isn't far but still a drive, and I didn't do much this morning to prepare myself, other than throw my hair in a ponytail and put on a bit of mascara to cover the make-up I never washed off last night.

I nod and try to smile, but it doesn't touch my eyes.

Tristan twirls a lock of hair that escaped my ponytail, sending my heart into a frenzy by the simple gesture.

"Can I take you to dinner next week?" he asks suddenly. "I won't get paid until the end of this week."

I want to hesitate, to tease him a little, but I can't stop the stupid grin that spreads across my face, threatening to split my cheeks.

"I would like that, " I whisper, barely able to find my voice. I take out my phone and hand it to him to put his number in, and he does the same. I try not to laugh at the retro phone he has and type my info in, putting a little smiley face at the end of my name.

He smirks when he sees that, and gives me a kiss on the forehead, the feeling of comfort washing over me.

"I'll call and let you know the plan, make sure to keep your weekend open." He hands back my phone and I nod, already knowing I wasn't going to plan anything anyway. I will have to reserve one day to at least get some studying done, with exams only two weeks away.

Then, I'm finally free for the summer. The warm weather has already moved in, making it feel like summer is here, though we're only near the end of spring.

Images of lying on the beach or picnicking with Tristan in the park flash in my head, making me want the end of school to come all the more sooner, so I can have countless hours to spend with him.

I grab my bag and look over at him, wondering if he is ever going to let me in, tell me what he is hiding, the reason why he carries the shadows he does.

Before leaving, I give him a lingering kiss on the cheek, catching him by surprise. I love the way his brown eyes light up when I do that, something I hope I never get tired of seeing.

I rush off towards my car before my heart forces me to turn back inside and throw myself at him, telling him I don't want to wait till we're ready, that I want to be with him now and always.

But I know that isn't the better decision right now. As much as I don't want to admit I need to heal from Everett, because I don't want to also admit that the asshole did any damage to me– but he did.

I still have the urge to cry whenever I replay the scene in my head, or think of all the sweet nothings he used to whisper to me, making me feel safe and wanted. When in his reality, it was the opposite.

I grip the steering wheel and close my eyes, shutting off the thoughts and images. I race back to the house, breathing a sigh of relief when I see Summer isn't there. She knows I went to the club today to help Tristan, but she quickly saw right through that excuse when I told her, saying she didn't have to go in for the day.

I have a feeling she is going to pester me about it when I she gets back. Running into the bathroom, I'm about the close the door when my phone rings from my bed. I jump on in, hoping it's Tristan, but my shoulders fall when I see Everett's name flash across the screen.

Despite my better judgement, I swipe the message.

I see you moved on fast.

Rage flares in me, and I pick my phone up to toss it further on the bed, but it buzzes with another message.

He isn't who you think he is. Do you even know his real name?

His real name? I feel this is an attempt to get me riled up, but what kind of bluff could Everett be pulling with this kind of information? He's not that creative to come up with an elaborate lie just out of jealousy or even just for the hell of it, to poke the wound more, I suppose.

Leave me alone, I'm done playing games with you.

He sends a text right back.

Just do me a favor and look up Tristan Burke.

Is that his real name? I can't be certain, even Parker has never mentioned Tristan's full name. Thinking about it now, he had tried, but Tristan had cut him off, when they first met in the club.

Did he do that, because he was afraid Parker was going to reveal his full name? Who is Tristan Burke, and what is so important about him, that it has even Everett concerned?

Or is this still just part of his mind game, and I'm still falling for his bullshit? There was one only way possible way to get some answers, and I knew Everett or Tristan weren't going to give me them.

Instead of playing his game, if it even is one, and looking up Tristan's name, I send a text to Parker asking if he's free tonight, then finally get ready for dinner tonight.

When I get out of the shower, there is a text from Parker saying he is working, like I should have expected. There is no chance of me getting any decent amount of time with him tonight, in order to ask him anything.

I just text him the question instead.

Who is Tristan Burke?

It's a long time until he replies, when I'm almost out the door.

You don't want to know.

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