☠ Chapter Twenty-Seven ☠
➳ ARIELLE'S POV
I wake on my stomach, arm outstretched as I blindly pat around for the warmth that is Zayn's body. Much to my dismay, I'm forced to open my eyes only to find that he's not in the room. I sit up in the bed, forgetting where I am for a moment. And then I realize that I'm at my mother's house with her supposed new boyfriend . . . my ex-professor that's basically become my new . . . I don't know, stalker? Isn't that what Zayn called him yesterday? He wasn't my stalker, was he?
I reach for the bottle of water which was placed on the nightstand last night by Zayn, but it's empty. I vaguely remember waking up in the middle of the night, parched, which resulted in my drinking the entire bottle rapidly. The lack of headache I feel has made me thankful that I decided to drink so much liquid.
I flip the sheet off of my body, noticing that I'm still in my clothing from yesterday. I remember Zayn taking some clothes off but I'm unsure why he didn't help me change into some pyjamas.
I run my fingers through my hair, recalling exactly what went down last night. Embarrassingly, I remember every stark detail of the previous evening. I can recall telling Zayn about my step-father, Ezra. Other than my mother, Ezra, and myself, it was a secret that absolutely no one else knew.
And it wasn't that I didn't want to tell Zayn, because for a long time it's been weighing heavily on my mind. I knew he could see the internal struggle I was having. Somehow he knew. I don't know how, but he did. I didn't regret telling him. There's a large part of me that's glad the weight is gone from my shoulders. The only part that has me uncomfortable is the pity.
I didn't want him to look at me differently. Just because of this sudden revelation he shouldn't look at me as if I'm damaged or broken. I'm the exact same person now as I was when we first met.
Just then, Zayn comes out from the bathroom, wearing nothing but his tight boxer-briefs. I practically moan at the sight, but he doesn't seem to notice. It takes him a moment before he notices that I'm awake.
He smiles at me meekly, "morning babygirl."
"Morning," I yawn. I instinctively rub my eyes a little, still feeling the sleep clinging on.
"You feeling alright?" He chuckles, assuming that I'd be totally out of commission.
"Yeah, I wasn't all that drunk," I chuckle while fiddling with my hands. I'm terrified to look at him. I don't want to see the pity, the worry, the concern.
"Really now? You seemed pretty snockered to me," he crosses his arms and leans up against the door frame.
I giggle, which causes Zayn to smile. "There's that word again," I say.
"Hm?" He hums as a question.
"You like that one, huh?" He grabs his cell phone off of the dresser just outside the bathroom door and starts mindlessly looking at something.
I stand from the bed and take a seat on the little bench at the foot of the mattress. Zayn fiddles with his cell phone for a few more moments before drawing his attention towards me.
"I'm going to have a shower. Care to join me?" His beautifully pink lips curl into a suggestive smirk.
His large eyes take up and down my body, and it makes me smile. And not because he's always so d amn h orny, but because he's still being him. He's still looking at me in the exact same way he always has. He's looking at me as if nothing's changed and for that, I'm thankful. For him, I'm thankful.
"On second thought, don't join me," he says, distracting me from my thoughts.
"He's probably got f ucking cameras rigged up in here. Do not get undressed. I don't trust the f ucker," Zayn says angrily.
"What about you? Wouldn't he be filming you in the shower, Zayn?"
He chuckles, dryly, "I have nothing to be ashamed of, babygirl. You know that. H ell, I'll probably make him even more jealous." He takes a few steps forward and places his lips softly on mine. He then turns towards the bathroom again, his back to me as he checks his phone.
I stand up and saunter towards him, wrapping my small arms around his body. I admire the muscles in his back and how they flex under my touch. I stare at the tattoo inked into his upper back and I place my lips to it softly. He pulls away from me much too quickly. "I've got to hop in the shower. I'll be out soon, okay?"
I nod. He quickly tosses his unlocked phone onto the dresser before walking into the bathroom and closing the door. After a few seconds I hear the shower start running. I turn around and admire the large room before hearing a ringtone go off. "Zayn-" I call his name and then realize that it's probably pointless to call him.
I step towards his phone, noticing that it hasn't automatically locked yet, and that he got an email. It's from Tiffany & Co., the jewelry store where Zayn purchased my necklace. I grab the metal hanging around my neck, holding it carefully.
Do I dare?
Before I can even think about what I'm doing, I click on the email. Opening it up, it reads:
Dear Zayn Malik,
Tiffany & Co. would like to thank you for your recent purchase with us!
This email is being sent to inform you that a paper copy of your bill for your custom designed rose necklace has been mailed to the address provided for your convenience.
Please do contact us if there have been any issues with your purchase. We hope to be seeing you again in the near future!
The Staff at Tiffany & Co.
I hear a noise in the bathroom and it startles me. I quickly mark the email as unread and lock his cell phone, placing it back upon the dresser where I found it. My heart's racing so fast within my chest that I can feel it beating against my palm when I put my hand up to my skin.
The email said he had custom designed the necklace he gave me. So why didn't he tell me? Why didn't he brag all about how he designed something so magnificently beautiful just for me? He didn't just choose a necklace out of a glass case like he said he did . . . He actually took the time to sit down with a jeweller and create something that he thought I'd adore.
I'm smiling like a giddy idiot as I walk over to the window. Knowing little things like this make me care about him even more. Deep down, he's the most caring, sensitive, thoughtful man I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. I look out the window and stare in awe at the falling snowflakes.
The snow isn't the only thing that's falling fast . . .
➳ ZAYN'S POV
When I'm done in the shower I quickly wrap a towel around my naked waist and open the door to the bathroom. Steam leaks out and I follow it, stepping into the bedroom. When I look to my right, I find Arielle staring out the window at the falling snowflakes. She tucks a stand of hair behind her ear.
I saunter over to her. She doesn't seem to notice my presence until I speak up, "what are you looking at, angel?"
She doesn't turn, she just stares out the window at the large white flakes falling delicately to the streets of New York. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"
"Yes," I hum in response.
She's quiet, but then she turns slowly towards me. Her innocent eyes shamefully scan over my half-naked body before she places her palms flat on my chest. Her fingertips ghost along my damp skin, mesmerized. "Are we going home?" She asks quietly.
I don't respond because I'm distracted by the feeling that her touch gives me. I stare at the freckles upon her cheeks that I rarely see because they're always covered with makeup. They're adorable.
"I don't think I want to go home just yet," she confesses. Her fingers trace over the lines of black on my body. I look around the room for signs of microphones, cameras, anything. I want to tell her but I'm so f ucking terrified that this sick prick has the d amn room bugged that I don't say anything.
"I'm sorry," I murmur. She turns from me then and stares longingly out the window. I head to my suitcase and quickly put on a fresh pair of clothes for the day.
About twenty minutes later, Arielle and I are all packed up and ready to go. I put our suitcases down at the front door, "I'll be right back, okay?" I say to Arielle, and she nods her head.
I saunter into the kitchen, where Aaron is grabbing a bottle of water. "Hey, are you free?" I ask.
He turns around, seemingly startled from my voice. "Yes, Mister Malik."
"Zayn dude, Zayn."
"Right, Zayn. Do you need to be driven somewhere?" He asks.
"The airport, can you do that?"
He nods his head and walks around the island. I catch sight of a laptop oddly perched on top of the dining table. "Yes, I can do that . . . Zayn."
"Thanks. The uh-" I lean around Aaron to try and get a better view of a laptop. The screen is divided into four sections and I can see some movement. I just can't exactly see what's going on. "The luggage is by the front door." I use my thumb to point in that direction and Aaron takes that as his queue to leave.
I quickly scan around the room to check that no one's around before walking over to the laptop. "Motherf ucker," I mumble out loud when I realize exactly what I'm looking at. The screen is divvied into four, like I thought. Four greyscale sections of the bedroom and bathroom that Arielle and I slept in. I watch the cleaning lady as she changes the sheets on the bed. The f ucker was watching us on cameras. Just like I thought.
I smirk, knowing that I walked around naked. If the f ucker wasn't intimidated before, he sure will be now.
Plus he got nothing of Arielle.
I notice a mug of coffee placed delicately beside the laptop. I carelessly knock the f ucking thing over, and it spills its contents all over the laptop.
When I walk around the corner, Arielle is standing in the doorway. She smiles when she sees me, "what are you so happy about?"
"Nothing," I lie. She ignores my response and we head outside together. As we walk up to the car together, Aaron is opening the trunk. I tell Arielle to get inside the warm car and then walk over to help Aaron.
Once I'm sure Arielle is in the car, I hand Aaron a slip of paper, "here's the address." He looks towards the writing in confusion for a second before he nods his head. I help him load the other suitcase into the trunk before we both get in the car.
"I'm kind of excited to get home and put this all behind us," Arielle says. "And to see Sky.
I chuckle, "yesterday was one h ell of a day, babygirl."
She runs her hands over her face, "you can say that again. God, I'm so sorry you had to see that. No one should ever see the person I become around my mother." She reaches for the ring she gave me, which I'm wearing on my right hand. She gently tugs it off and slips it onto her finger as if it's the most normal gesture. For some reason to me it's the complete opposite. It's a gesture that makes my heart race a little, and make my palms sweaty. I carelessly rub my palms on my jeans.
"Don't worry about it, I'm not. I'm just glad you're okay."
"Because of you," she replies. She then grabs my right hand and places the ring back onto my finger. It causes chills to run down my spine and I try to shake the feeling but it doesn't seem to want to go away. "If you weren't there for me last night, who knows what the h ell would've happened to me? So thank you."
I give her a small smile because I'm not really sure what to say. I wasn't sure of what to say last night and I'm not sure what to say now. All I know is that she seems happier today, and lighter and maybe I had something to do with that.
It falls silent in the car and after roughly fifteen or twenty minutes Aaron puts the car in park. "We're here, Zayn." he announces, oddly saying my name as if it tastes weird on his tongue.
"Where are we?" Arielle asks, looking past me towards the tall building.
"A hotel," I respond. "I figured, why should we waste this trip? I mean Vivien and Theo are pricks but that doesn't mean the trip is destroyed. While you were sleeping this morning I booked a hotel for the night and a flight back for later tomorrow."
"Really?" She asks, smile plastered on her face.
I nod, "I wanted to keep it a secret because I was pretty sure Theo had that d amn house bugged. I wanted them to think we were going home." Hopefully this means we're finally one step ahead of them. "Now we'll get some uninterrupted time to ourselves." I place my hand on her thigh and she visibly shivers at the action.
I suddenly hear a sound and am forced to pull away from Arielle. When I turn, I realize that Aaron is standing there, holding the car door open. I roll my eyes. By now he should know that I can open my own d amn door.
I carefully crawl out of the car and turn to hold my hand out for Arielle. She takes it and scoots herself out. When she's on the sidewalk she looks up at the building, eyes wide. The structure is so tall that she's forced to crane her neck.
I hear Aaron pop the trunk and he pulls our suitcases out, placing them in front of us. He shuts the trunk with one hand and then stands before us. "Would you like me to carry your bags to your room?" He asks me.
"No, it's alright mate. I've got it." I reach for my bag, which is considerably smaller than Arielle's and hold it. Aaron looks at me as if he needs to be dismissed or something.
"Thank you for being so helpful to us." Arielle says.
"It was my pleasure, Miss."
"I don't think we'll be needing you anymore Aaron. But thank you." I grab hold of Arielle's bag while Aaron makes his way around us. He stands in front of the driver's side door and turns towards us.
"It was lovely meeting the both of you. All the best," he says politely as he gets into the car.
"Same to you," Arielle replies.
Aaron drives off and I turn towards Arielle. "Shall we, Miss Hawthorne?"
She giggles and then walks into the massive building. We approach the front desk together where the receptionist greets us. It takes several minutes to remind the woman that I booked a room with them earlier this morning. Eventually she finds my booking and she hands Arielle the key cards to the room.
I grab our suitcases and Arielle and I ride the elevator to our floor. Once we reach the correct floor, the elevator sinks a little and I watch as Arielle squeezes her eyes shut tightly for just a moment. The action makes my stomach flutter but I'm not entirely sure if the reason for the flutter was the elevator, or her.
When the doors open we exit the elevator and scurry down the never ending hallway until we fall upon our room number. Arielle slips the card into the the lock until she sees little green light and then she opens the door, holding it open for me.
When I enter the room, it's large and rather warm. Someone has turned up the thermostat and frankly, I'm very happy for it. I find myself missing the warm Miami air more and more the longer we've been in New York City. I place our heavy bags down onto the long dresser on the far side of the room and sit down on the edge of the bed, exhausted.
I throw myself backwards, carelessly letting my back hit the mattress and I throw my arms out. I feel the bed dip beside me and Arielle does the same thing as I did - throwing her exhausted body into the bed.
I don't know what has gotten us both to feel so entirely drained. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's Vivien and Theo. Or maybe it's the fact that no matter where we are or what we're doing, we just can't seem to avoid the drama. Or maybe it's all of the above.
As much as I want to get out there and explore the city with Arielle, right now I want nothing more than to strip down to my boxers, order room service and a movie and just crawl under the sheets with her. I want to avoid people and the cold.
When I turn my head to look at her, she has her eyes closed. For a moment I could swear that she's already fallen asleep but then she slowly flutters her eyes open, blinking heavily a couple of times before turning her head towards me. I can see the drowsiness in her eyes.
"Do you want to go explore the city?" I ask.
She blinks heavily a few more times, struggling to keep her eyes open. "As much as I'd love to, I'm not sure I can. I'm exhausted." She rolls over onto her stomach and buries her face into the comforter.
"We don't have to do anything, babygirl."
"Are you sure? I don't want to waste this trip."
I reach over and run my fingers through her hair, "honestly? I was just thinking about how much I wanted to stay here. We could turn the thermostat up, strip down-" I dip my hand underneath the fabric of her jeans, teasing her, "-order room service and a movie and just avoid the cold."
"And the people," she adds.
I smile, "exactly."
I stand up and walk across the room to turn up the thermostat. I then strip down my clothing as Arielle sits up in the bed, watching me with wild eyes. "Does that mean we're staying here for the night?" She asks.
"What do you think, angel?" I ask as I kick my jeans off my legs. Once I'm down to my boxer-briefs I hop into the bed under the warm comforter.
She stands up from the bed and shrugs off the jacket and jumpers she's wearing. She then turns towards me, making eye contact with me as she reaches for the hem of her shirt, pulling it slowly off her body. F uck me, she's teasing me. I can feel my d ick registering already and so I fist the sheets underneath the comforter as a distraction. When she pulls the shirt completely off her torso she's left in a lacy purple bra which draws all of my attention to her beautiful t its. She then slowly undoes the buttons on her jeans and shimmies out of the material, sinfully swaying her curvy hips until the denim hits the ground. Her panties match her bra and my mouth goes dry at the sight. F uck, Arielle.
She acts all coy and innocent standing in front of me. The sparkle coming from her new necklace draws my attention back to her chest and I squirm.
I can't help but think she's the perfect mixture of every quality I've ever wanted in a woman. It feels like she's perfect for me . . . But maybe I'm just too selfish.
She leans forward and crawls across the bed on her hands and knees. I'm not sure if it's an innocent gesture or a teasing action but I feel all of the blood flowing towards my d ick and it's torturous.
She crawls forward and under the sheets, instantly cozying into my side. I'm still staring at her hungrily. She's made me h orny now and all I can think about is feeling my release.
"Zayn?" I hear her call my name. When my eyes flicker to hers she's staring at me intently.
"Hm?" I hum.
"I asked what movie you'd like to watch," she puts her hands above her head, quickly pulling the loose stands up into a messy kind of ponytail.
"I zoned out. You look too f uckable right now. The blood was going somewhere else."
She blushes furiously, "Zayn . . ." Her small hands swat at my arm delicately.
"Choose any movie. I'll probably end up falling asleep anyways, I'm so tired." She says as she tosses the remote onto my lap.
I pick it up and aim it at the television. I end up choosing some action type film that also has romance for Arielle's sake. We order some room service and the entire day and evening is filled with laughter, smiles and cuddles between the two of us.
Nothing has ever felt so perfect.
After we've watched three movies it's already late and I can hear Arielle's breathing beginning to slow. We've both been sitting up in the bed with our backs up against the headboard, but suddenly Arielle shifts so that she's laying on her side with her back towards me.
I admire the way she looks as she gently begins to fall asleep. Once the movie is over, I find some reality show and shut the lights off. I lay down on my back and watch the TV to tire my eyes out.
"I love you, Zayn"