MoboReader> Romance > Wildflower

   Chapter 6 Six

Wildflower By Aubrey Wolfe Characters: 36984

Updated: 2019-10-21 22:06


The second Emily walks out the door, the tension is back in my shoulders. Luckily, my anxiety isn't as high today, thanks to the dim and calm atmosphere I have set in the club, and lack of customers.

But it doesn't stop me from missing her touch the instant she is gone. I slap myself mentally, telling myself that I need to cut this need I have formed for her. I can't keep relying on her to keep my grounded, it isn't fair to put that on her.

Especially if I haven't revealed a single detail as to why I am the way I am. It was stupid to tell her that she needs to wait until she is ready to be me. Even before I said the words, I knew I was saying it because I'm not ready.

I'm not ready to let her in, to completely expose my dark side to her.

I'm not ready for the possibility that she will leave. I can admit that much, that I have grown too attached to her, to have her run away now.

But I can't be certain that I will ever be ready for that day, when I lay everything out on the table, and give her the final decision to stay; or flee.

So much has happened over the course of a week and a bit, I never thought I would find myself in this kind of situation the moment I left prison, or ever, to be honest. I never thought someone like me, deserves someone as sweet and heavenly as Emily.

Whatever I did to deserve her, I can't give up this chance.

The chance to find some sort of normalcy in my life, to overcome the darkness threatening to overcome me every day.

Every day I'm not with her. When I'm in Emily's presence, it has this power, strong enough to remind me what I'm fighting for.

True freedom.

I don't think I can achieve that, until I finally fight and win the battle for my sanity.

When I asked her out to dinner, I hadn't even thought about where I could possibly take her, where I wouldn't be threatened by a full-blown panic attack, or the fact that I have no money.

I make it a not to speak with Parker about some sort of pay for the work I have done. I don't expect a huge compensation at this point for only two weeks of mediocre work, but I can maybe convince him to set me up with enough to at least take Emily somewhere nice, but slightly more vacant than most places.

When Parker picks me up after work, I ask him about my pay, and possible good places to take Emily, that fit the description I'm looking for. He recommends a few good places that are close by, enough for us to walk, and says not to worry about my pay.

That makes me worry that he is going to give me well above what I even think I deserve. But I don't argue with him, too excited by the thought of having Emily to myself for an entire night.

Flashes of the moment in my kitchen with her pass through my mind, turning up my body heat temperature and making me sweat in the truck, despite the cool breeze coming through the open window.

Parker is acting out of character, silence over-taking the truck. I try and blame it on lack of sleep, but I can feel there is something wrong.

"What's going on with you and Emily?" he suddenly asks, not taking his eyes off the road.

I pause, thinking over my response. "There isn't anything going on."

"But you want it to be something, " he presses.

"Where is this coming from?" Does he know about what happened?

Though for some reason I can't see Emily telling Parker of the incident in my kitchen, I can see her telling Summer, and that girl strikes me as the type to carry a big mouth.

Parker frowns. "Emily texted me a little bit ago; asking who Tristan Burke is."

Fear courses through my body at the full mention of my name, and the fact that Emily now knows it. How much else does she know? I hope not much, since she turned to Parker to ask who he is.

She has to have some sense that it might be my real name, the name I tried to stop Parker from revealing when Emily and I first met. Though she may not have heard anything about Tristan Burke, the 14-year-old psychopath, nothing is stopping her from digging that information up, using just those two words.

"What did you say?" I ask.

Parker hesitates. "I told her the truth."

"Which is?"

"That she doesn't want to know. That I don't want her to know. Whoever Tristan Burk was, that isn't you, and I know it isn't. Whatever happened in your past, it doesn't have to define who you are now."

My chest lightens at his words. From the day Parker picked me up from prison, he hasn't asked for a single detail about what happened to land me there, missing for an entire decade. He hasn't pushed me for an explanation, hasn't said I owe him anything for his endless support and understanding.

"Thanks, man. It honestly means a lot, " I say, trying not to sound as awkward as I feel. I have never been one to speak my feelings or show gratitude, especially towards another male. Emily has been the only one to bring that out in me, make me want to share my every thought and desire with her.

"Don't get all sappy on me, I of course, still want to know what happened to you. But I know you'll tell me when you're ready." Parker flashes a crooked grin at me, and I feel a bit of the fear and tension leave my body.

I know he will always have my back, a feeling I hadn't realized I missed so much, until now. It would have saved me wonders, to have someone like Parker behind those doors. I regret even more now not reaching out to him, letting him know I didn't abandon our friendship, or his trust.

"So, what are you going to do about Emily?" Parker asks, stopping the truck outside his place.

I let out a shaky breath and run a hand down my face, wishing I could just snap all this bullshit inside me away, or the very least the last 10 years of my life.

Would I still meet Emily, if things had played out differently? Would I be the Prince Charming she is looking for? Or would I still be the fucked-up Igor I am now?

"Hey, don't sweat it so much, man. You don't know Emily like I do, and I can't guarantee things will work out, but I have never known her to have en evil or devious bone in her body. If there is anyone who can come to see beyond your past, and still love you, it's Emily."

Love.

That word resonates in me. I have never felt the emotion, false or otherwise. I've never pretended to love someone, or even tried to. My father and I never had a loving relationship, and for all I know now, he's dead. That thought doesn't affect me the way a son who loves his father should.

If anything, it gives me a bit of peace, thinking he can no longer taint this world, or my life, any longer.

Am I even capable of loving someone? Especially an emotion as strong as being in love?

"How are you so certain?" I ask quietly.

"You aren't the only one with a haunted past and shitty up-bringing. If you heard the true story of Emily's family, and even how she came to be, you would understand why she would be keener to look past your mistakes."

I give him a curious look, prompting him silently to continue explaining.

"Look, it isn't my story to tell and honestly, it isn't Emily's either. She doesn't even know half of what has really happened in her past."

"How is you know then?" I ask.

Parker hesitates and frowns. "You remember my mother; she was always known to love juicy tabloid gossip. She knew the White family, Emily's mother, before Emily was even around. Cassandra and Anthony White were a power couple in the state of California, owning half the businesses in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Naturally, my parents were attracted to them for that very reason, and did everything they could to land a partnership with even one of their companies."

"Let me guess, your mother tried to get in with Cassandra White's inner circle?" I ask, already knowing where this story is going. It is something Sabine Andrews has done many times, it's her tactic to moving herself higher up in the business society. It's a tactic her husband, Fredrick, also used to his advantages at times, telling her who to get close with.

Parker nods, a grim look in his eyes. "She tried to attend all the tea parties and luncheons Cassandra held, mainly events for charity or to promote a new line of product, whatever she happened to eb creating at the time. She was an avid artist, creating paintings, clothing, jewelry, you name it. My mother took art lessons, hired a tutor to teach her about modern and ancient art. It was sickening."

He shivers in disgust but quickly composes himself.

"She eventually became good friends with Cassandra, and my parents were invited over a private dinner. They all hit it off, a partnership deal was signed right there, and our families have been friends ever since. I was eventually introduced to them, and Emily as well. Emily and I, though a little far apart in age, seemed to become good friends naturally. Then, she met Everett when he came to stay with us, but it was only when she came to town one weekend, because she lived and went to school in New York."

That's why I never met her. I knew Parker when Everett stayed with them, and I was over at his house frequently despite him being there. I knew my company helped Parker cope with his cousin's annoying presence.

"To believe, she was right there the entire time, right under my nose, " I mutter, not realizing I have spoken out loud, until I see Parker giving me a funny look.

"I didn't even think to introduce you two. I know you never liked the rich-type of girls, but even I knew that Emily was never like that. Her parents, or mother I should say, raised her well."

"What happened with her parents? If she can't tell me, who can?" I ask, desperately wanting to know the shadows that haunt her past, wondering if she too has any demons lurking.

Parker sighs again, looking conflicted.

"I'll make a deal with you; I'll tell you what I know about her family, with the promise you will never utter a word I say to anyone else. In exchange, you tell me what happened to you, and where the hell you've been the last 10-years. Deal?" he asks and stick his hand out.

I look at it as if my entire world will end if I so much as graze his skin. I know it won't, but I can't help but feel extremely vulnerable. Telling Parker everything that has happened, it's going to make me re-live it all.

I don't know if I'm ready for that. I already re-live most of the gruesome memories spent in there when I close my eyes at night, and the nightmares take-over.

But if I want to know more about Emily, give myself more reasons to open up to her; and trust that she won't run away like I fear when I do.

I clasp his hand. "Alright, deal."

Parker grins. "Okay, I need to get a bit more sleep and then head over to the club. We'll talk more tonight, you better still be awake when I get back, " he says and points a threatening finger at me, a teasing smile on his face.

I fight the urge to roll my eyes. "I work tomorrow, remember, boss?" I lift a brow at him.

"Not anymore, I'll call Summer and ask her if she can take it, I'll probably have to gi

cause we grew up in the same apartment building. I lived a floor below the apartment you used to live in, the one that has been blocked off up until a year ago, when they started plans for renovation."

My head starts to swirl and I feel dizzy.

She has known this entire time. Why hasn't she said anything until now? We have been alone countless times when working at the club, she had every opportunity to reveal to me then that she knew who I am this whole time.

"Have you said anything to Emily?" I ask cautiously.

She shakes her head, relieving a tiny bit of the pressure.

"It's your story to tell, I just hope you will tell her soon."

I bite my lip and grasp at my chest again, the fear striking daggers at my heart. "I can't tell her, I'm afraid." The confession doesn't seem to affect the growing anxiety.

"Afraid of what?" she asks softly.

I take a deep breath. "Afraid that she will see me in a new light, and that spark in her eye every time she looks at me, won't be there anymore. I don't think I can bear that."

Summer's pale blue eyes widen, and I'm afraid I said something wrong, then she reaches her hand across the table and grasps mine.

"Tristan, I can't say I understand exactly what you're going through, or the demons you might be fighting, but I can promise you that Emily will always look at you the way she does now. I can tell you for a fact, she is already head over heels for you, and when Emily loves someone, she loves deep."

My pulse stutters at the word love.

I have thought about it a few times since I've met Emily, but I still don't know if I love her. What does loving someone feel like? I haven't really read any romance novels, and even then, most of it is fabricated or exaggerated.

I decide to ask Summer, revealing to her that small part of me. After spending a bit of peaceful time in her presence, I feel I can trust her just a little with some information, since she is also the only person who possibly knows details of what happened 10-years ago, that no one else knows.

She is the only person I have met, who shares a small part of my old life with me. "How do you know when you're in love with someone?" I ask.

Summer cocks her head to the side, giving me a curious look.

"What do you mean? Have you never dated anyone?"

I shake my head and her lips form into a circle shape.

"Can't say I'm not surprised, I thought for sure you've dated at least one person. I won't lie and deny that you are an attractive man. How have you gone so long without any girl jumping on you?" she asks.

We start walking back down the sidewalk towards Parker's place, maintaining a steady pace with each other. I turn my face to the side; not wanting to reveal anything as to why I haven't even touched a woman besides Emily, and now Summer, in over 10 years.

"That's a story for another day, " I say and turn back, offering her a tight smile. She frowns, but drops the conversation.

"Regardless, Emily isn't very experienced herself, if she hasn't told you already."

I nod and think back to the conversation I had with her in the supply room of the club. "I'm aware, and know she also blames it on being the reason Everett cheated on her."

"You don't think that's the reason?" she asks.

"Not at all, he has cheated on every girl he has tried to date, even when he was in elementary school. He could never commit to just one person, that's the way he has always been, so therefore, the reason he cheated is because he is a spoiled brat who can't stand subjecting himself to one piece of treasure."

Summer smirks. "You don't think like that?"

I gaze intensely at her. "I don't view Emily as a piece of treasure, because a piece of treasure is an object of value, whereas I view Emily more as some wild, that's beauty cannot simply be bought. Like a flower, " I whisper.

A wildflower. Her beauty precious and priceless.

I can feel Summer beam next to me. "You know, you aren't as bad as I thought you were, Tristan."

My eyebrows shoot up. "You thought bad of me before?" I ask, a hint of a teasing tone in my voice.

She rolls her eyes. "You know what I mean. I knew exactly who you were, I had seen you and your dad a few times in the building, either getting mail or doing laundry. I recognized you right away, and of course, I didn't really know what to think. But when I saw how concerned you looked when you were helping Emily with the cut on her leg, the longing in your eyes when you gazed at her, something told me you aren't the guy the media made you out to be."

I smile softly at her words, remembering the exact moment as she talks about it. "Thank you, Summer. That does mean a lot to me, " I say.

She gives me a smile in return, and we continue the rest of the walk back in silence, enjoying the light breeze and warm afternoon sun.

Summer walks me all the way to Parker's driveway, and I can feel she has one last thing to say before we part ways. She turns to me as I move back towards the house.

"I think you should try and open up more to Emily. You'll be surprised at what you can get out of it, to get some of that stuff off your chest, and have someone you can trust in, " she says, smiling.

Before I can respond, she turns around and walks back down the sidewalk, popping in a pair of headphones she pulls out of her pocket. With more on my mind than I had before I left, I trudge back inside to grab my phone.

I pick it up with the intent of calling Emily, but freeze when I see she has called me twice, and there is a message from her.

Can we talk? In person?

Everything in me tells me to ditch the phone and run.

Then, Summer's voice echoes in my head, reminding me to breath and not let my anxiety jump to conclusions. Maybe she wants to tell me she doesn't want to wait, that she is ready to pursue something now.

Sure, I'm at home, you can come over here.

I stare at my phone for what feels like hours until she sends back a text.

😊

The small emoji sends hope coursing through me, and it calms the panic in my chest a little. I quickly shower and change into comfortable clothes, picking up stray garbage and dirty dishware to occupy my mind until she knocks on the door.

When I open it, her face is bare of any make-up and her dark hair is thrown up in a messy bun on top of her head. She still manages to look amazing and take my breath away.

"Emily, " I say, my voice coming out a lot more airy than I anticipated.

She smiles timidly, making my stomach flip in a bad way.

I step aside and let her come in, closing the door slowly behind her, already feeling like this was a bad idea.

"Sorry for coming over so suddenly, I hope I wasn't interrupting anything, " she says, standing in the middle of the room with her hands clasped nervously in front of her.

"Is everything alright?" I ask. I want to take a step closer to her, feel the warmth I didn't think I was going to get until the end of the week. But something tells me not to, that there really is something wrong.

"I was hoping to just talk to you, " she says, wringing her wrist with her fingers. Despite my instincts, I step towards and breath relief when she doesn't move away.

"What did you want to talk about?"

I can hear her gulp before she looks up at me, her blue eyes striking me.

"Is your full name Tristan Burke?"

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