He’s waiting for an answer, Mr. Wate-, I mean; Vincent is waiting for some sort of response. He’s eyes fixated only at me like I’ve got the answer to life, golly gee, I feel so childish. I can’t remember anyone looking at me with such an alluring feeling that it shrivels down inside me leaving a burning sensation, ready, at any second, to burst throughout my entire system.
“You’ve got good eyes, Mr. Waters.” Jake says in a cool tone, his eyes shifts to get a quick glance at me and breathes out a silent sigh as he notices my once tensed body relax as Vincent switches his attention from me to him.
“The painting speaks to me, Jake.” I wish I could to you! As ever, my mind can voice a thousand words, yet, my mouth, cannot. “And Mr. Waters is my father, please, call me Vincent”
John, who’s been enjoying the show he’s put up, shyly coughs to try to catch our attention, he seems pleased with how we’re rolling that I feel a knot in my stomach tightening, and mixing nervousness and happiness does not feel pleasant.
“Sorry to interrupt,” John takes out his gold pocket watch and presses it open; his face darkens but looks up at us with delight. “But I must attend to some business at home.”
Vincent grins, what a sight, and places his hand on John’s shoulder “For a tired night?”
“Something like that,” his chubby cheeks redden then bids us farewell with a tip of his top hat and, for the last time tonight, smiles, showing us his pearly whites.
As he disappears from the revolving doors I turn back to, what seems to be, reality of the gallery. Vincent, a man who looks like he came out of a fairytale, is our company at this moment. He seems to be interested enough to stay with us, goodie.
“Anyway…” he turns back to me, oh dear. “I would really like to know more about your paintings, maybe see others that are not yet in the market?”
Not yet in the market? Does he mean the other paintings I didn’t present or are unfinished?
“I’m sorry,” Andie, finding her voice once again, speaks up, looking like how she was before. “But Miss Foy doesn’t give private tours of her work.”
I frown; I don’t remember having that rule at all. “Since when?”
Andie looks at me like I’ve told a lie, but it’s clearly the other way around. “Since we had that talk last night.” she says in between her forceful smile.
I thought about it and the only conversation we had last night was about her father’s plans to buy this run down dairy factory and name products after their family, Milky Ignacio. Or something like that.
“Cheese?” I purse my lips and pout.
She exhales and grabs my hand with the same amount of pressure as when she dragged me backstage, oh no. She looks at Vincent then at Jake, silently asking permission to take me away from the circle. Jake nods but I see Vincent’s face frowning; I can’t help but give out a quiet giggle and feel my cheeks flame up at the joy of his response.
Andie drags me to another corner of the gallery near my painting called Primrose, a very detailed painting of a woman in a vast field of roses who is staring at a very blue cloudless sky.
“He’s dangerous,” she blurts out boldly, her eyes dead serious as she says those words and her brows wrinkle down at each other.
“What are you talking about?” I could feel my once stiffened body relax more and turn into something close to jelly, something I know I won’t get use to. “You’ve only just met him.”
She looks back; both Jake and Vincent are casually talking about something we clearly cannot hear, though they both seem to be enjoying each other’s company, given Jake’s rapture face as he gets a conversation going with another Alpha male. “I know, but I’ve got this weird feeling inside my gut saying that he’s a red flag.”
I roll my eyes and cross my arms. “Just because he’s good looking–“
“Very good looking,” she adds.
“Yes, we’ve established that he’s good looking, considering how you practically ogled at him a while ago.” I smirk; my eyes don’t leave her, anticipating her reaction.
She scowls. “At least I know how to pull myself back, you were so in to him.”
“I was not!” I immediately reply and my face feels like it’s been splashed with crimson red paint, I could feel it running through my entire body.
“Your face gives it all, Aurie.” she bats her eyes like a little girl, winning a useless argument.
“That is not the case at hand!” my hands clipped to the sides in a fist and my legs parted to help me stand, I try to look as lady like as possible, but, alas, Andie here has just pushed my buttons. “I’m just saying, he’s not someone you should decide is dangerous just because he’s good looking and wealthy.”
“Oh, hitting two birds with one stone, nice” she winks.
I stick my tongue out with narrowed eyes, I know, very mature, and she exaggeratedly gasps, in attempt to look hurt, but, containing her amusement is a tough battle. I, on the other hand, turn and stomp back to where the two gentlemen are with a very hot head.
“So?” I look directly at Vincent, and the burning feeling bursts as he meets my eyes, then gulp the ball that was about to clog my throat of speech. “My other paintings?”
He stares at me like I’m some crazy lunatic, probably am, then his face softens along with his eyes. “I would very much appreciate that.”
Andie was just in time to hear him and shakes her head disapprovingly, too late, bestie.
Vincent reaches down his to pocket and hands me a card. “Call me anytime, Aurora.”
At the stroke of midnight Jake has offered to give us a lift home, Andie has agreed, since Patricia, her sister, borrowed her car for the evening.
“Thanks, but…” I swing my keys in front of him. “I have my own ride.”
Shrugging, Jake takes Andie by the waist, odd, and gestures me to exit the gallery along with them. I follow and notice how protective Jake has become towards my very cheeky friend; well he has been since I could remember, but never towards Andie, not in this way.
As my mind wonders around that thought I hadn’t notice the sudden chill my shoulders feel, we’ve already stepped outside and I’m definitely feeling winter coming, it’s only August and yet the air feels so moist and alive, yep, winter.
“Give me a ring once you get home, ‘kay?” Andie steps away from Jake’s arms and gives me a tight embrace; I could smell her very expensive, very branded, perfume.
I return the same actions. “Of course.”
“And be careful with that Vincent guy, tell me if you do give him a call,” she whispers and gives me a friendly kiss on the cheek before releasing me once again, and returning to Jake. “Night, Aurora.”
“Drive safe,” Jake waves and starts to fiddle with his chain full of keys, retrieving the one for his Tesla S, he opens the door for Andie then makes his way to the driver’s seat.
“Night,” I wave with a hollow smile.
Rolling down the mirror Jake jerks his chin while Andie mouths “love you” I watch them drive their way out of the parking lot and hear nothing else but the darkness of the cold morning. And that would be my cue to leave.
Twelve-thirty two. I sigh after looking at the clock for the 3rd time tonight, it’s been a long and interesting day but, as always, I am beat. I’ve reached my destination after a quick twenty minute drive, new record, and swiftly unbuckle my seatbelt, grab my things, and leave the car.
“God, Aurora, you are one lucky bitch.” murmuring to myself I get my bag and look for the key to my abode, my mind replays the achievements I’ve incurred. Sold all my paintings, gain more than $50,000, being introduced to Vincent, and, technically, win an argument against Andie. Whoopee.
They must be in this pile of mess somewhere. I think to myself as I search my bag for the nth time. I discard all my thoughts and concentrate on my bag; I need to remind myself to clean it once in a while.
My face suddenly feels pale and I look once more, frantically checking every nook and cranny of my very small purse. Oh no! I sit on the railings by the side and shake all the things out to see if I’ve really wronged myself. My eyes scan all my belongings. Half a ticket. I.D. Wallet. Phone. I grab my jacket and check each pocket, no apartment key.
“Damn it!” I bring my head back and close my eyes shut; I could feel my head throbbing out of this stressful evening, can things get any worse?
Plop… Plop… Plop. PLOP. PLOP.PLOP. DROP. PLOP. DROP. PLOP.
Rain starts to pour down, fast, painful, and hard. Of course. Now I feel like I’m in one of those movies where the girl, after a huge difficult challenge, starts to walk down the pouring streets and someone or something comes to her rescue. I’m very tempted to try if the scene would come alive in my current shitty situation.
I weigh down the pros and cons to this. The door to the apartment is locked, I don’t have my unit key, and maybe luck is still on my side. Do I dare test it?
I do. I get up, first throwing all my belongings in the car and stuffing the only key I have in my jacket, and then start my melodramatic walk.
If I hitched a ride with Jake and Andie then I wouldn’t be in this dreadful predicament, but no, I had to bring my car!
People stare as I walk pass them, drenched, but discard their facial expressions and kind offers to get me out of the rain, I just feel so awful. How could I, a rookie artist who sold a painting worth $50,000, forget something as simple as keys to my apartment? I can’t even think straight, rationally I would just stay in my car until morning but if I sit still I think I might have a mental break down.
Calling Andie or Jake is out of the question since they’ve been entertaining my guests and keeping me company all night, they’re probably tired just like I was. Scratch that from the list. I can’t wake up the people in the apartment, that’d be too embarrassing, I still had my pride. Scratch that from the list. But I have Vincent’s number… No. I’m not even going there, that will never be on the list.
As I reach the 5th block down I notice how the street seem a little too bright, the lamps that colored the road with orange are mixed with some yellow near my probably worn out heels, new fluorescents? Then and there I see my shadow being casted away north and that the huge yellow lights are not from the lamps but from a car behind me.
I turn and see a Mercedes-Benz CL Class starring back at me, and what a fine sight it is, all shiny and glossy from the rain, it’s blackness emphasize due to droplets that rests all over it and the engine purring, ready to roar.
“Umm…?” I squint, trying to see who the person behind the wheel is.
The headlights are suddenly turned off, the engine shut down, and the door to the driver seat opens. I wipe my eyes, given my vision blurs from the rain, and wait to see who this person is. I should walk away. Since I’m not familiar as to whom this car belongs to and the person in it, but my curiosity has over taken me.
“Aurora?” a tall man, I still can’t make out who, steps out and raises his hand over his eyes and, I think, is trying to figure out if I am the person he claims to have just said.
I nod, confused as I clutch on to my coat. “Yes? Can I help you?”
He shuts the car door and walks towards me.
“Jesus Christ, what’re you doing out in the rain?”
I stare at the mysterious driver; my heart pounding like it was back in the gallery, I hear the familiar beat echoing inside my ears as my eyes follow the, now, familiar man in front of me.
“You’re soaked.” he grabs my arm and pulls me towards his car. “You’ll get sick if you stay out here any longer.”
He pushes me inside and joins in on the driver’s seat while taking out a handkerchief from his rear pocket, another sight to see.
“Aurora?” he snaps his fingers in front of me and my eyes blink rapidly as I secure all my senses back.
“Vincent.” I reply, a bit awed in my current situation.
Looks like those movies were right, thank God!
“Here, dry yourself.” he looks away and hands me his hanky.
Taking it I stare at him, completely under whatever spell he has casted on me, mesmerized by his presence “Thank… You”
After feeling half dry Vincent finally looks at my direction, scanning my body from head to toe for inspection. I suddenly feel self-conscious given my earlier poise and success; it’s like getting caught doing a bad deed right after doing something respectable.
His eyes softens and his face relaxes, looking satisfied with my result, he starts the engine, the air-conditioning suddenly resurrects as I feel the cold gush of wind penetrate my wet dress, and presses down on the gas, catching me by surprise, I am sent leaning back on the seat.
Talk to him! My mind lingers to any form of conversation starters but fails miserably because of humiliation.
“Where do you live?” he starts, catching my complete undivided attention.
My eyes wonder towards him and sense his foul mood. “An apartment 5 blocks back,” I squeak too highly.
He nods and proceeds.
“You don’t have to take me back, I can manage,” my weak smile tries it’s hardest to convince him to stop and let me jump out of the car so the earth could just swallow me up and rid the embarrassment I feel deep in my core.
“And let you get sick? Miss Foy, I am not that kind of man.” he replies coolly, I must have imagined the stern tone when he ordered me to dry myself but he sounds more unperturbed, not at all disappointed after seeing the girl he bought art from all soaked and problematic.
I can’t help but smile at his concern; at least I know he cares.
“I hope you don’t mind me asking,” he starts once again, not keeping his eyes from the clear but pouring road. “But why were you out in this kind of weather?”
Can I just jump out and run as far away as possible?
He raises his eyebrow and looks at me quizzically. “Yes?”
“I got locked out.” I pout and sigh.
My eyes catch the side of his mouth crack in to a curve and I can’t help but get this feeling that he’s suppressing his laughter “I see.”
“Oh, please, don’t make fun of me,” I plead, not wanting to make this situation anymore excruciating.
“Miss Foy, I would never.” his tone, just like Andie, is full of sarcasm as he tries his hardest to keep a serious look on his face.
I accept his false promise and force myself to relax even with the situation turning like this. Not the way I envisioned our next meeting, oh well. I sense a pang of displeasure shadow me as these thoughts circulate my mind, but I let it slip as I feel the cool air of the AC dry my clothes further, letting go of the wet feeling. My body slowly shuts down.
After some time I came to realize that I had fallen numb, my body, overly-relaxed, deceived me and drifted away to a deep slumber. I feel myself floating and moving, not clinging to anything but the touch of something warm and firm around my legs and shoulders, mmmm, my eyes feel heavy but I try to open them with the little energy I have left.
A bright blurry light attacks my vision as I open my eyes and I can’t help but let out a small groan at the sight. As I adjust I realize that I am no longer resting on the leathery material that supported my body, rather, I am in a very elegant carpeted hallway. To my left, as I pass, are small sculptures of local artist and to my right are some white doors with different carvings on their sides.
The walls are painted with cream, or ecru? I’m not sure, since my mind is still a little fuzzy and has this awful ache. The floor, just like in the gallery, is full on marble, matching the walls, but has a different pattern. My eyes continue to wonder.
I look up.
My eyes widen and I squirm, catching his attention, and try to process as to what the hell is going on. He does not let go, nor say a word, but instead, quickens his pace and brings me to a very large, larger than my apartment, room.
He turns left and brings me to the over-sized bed and drops me flatly, letting the soft feather like sheets catch my fall. I stare at him and notice that he’s still wearing the suit he wore in the gallery a while ago, my my.
“Vincent,” I am able to speak, finally, and look around to examine the unfamiliar environment.
It seriously is bigger than my apartment, probably by a few meters but still, bigger. The walls are the same as outside but the floor does not mirror the same cream color, it’s a dark and shady blue marble with a few strokes of white and the tiles are endless, the lines separating them are very hard to see but still visible. The walls have a few painting hung, there are potted plants in each side, a neat glass coffee table sits in the middle with a soft looking plush couch in front of it, a huge plasma TV is hung in front of the bed, and different mahogany cabinets are by the side near another door. All in all, this is a really nice suite.
“The bathroom is over there,” he points to the mysterious looking door near the cabinet. “I’ll be down the hall,” he points to the door where we came in “And clothes for you are by the couch.” his tone all orderly.
“I… Vince…” my head throbs and I feel my cheeks flush.
“Aurora, please, you need not think about all the small details,” he stops my supposed explanation and gestures me to the bathroom. “Right now I need you to clean yourself off the rain.”
I nod, he really is bossy.
“I have already asked room service to draw you a bath, so please…”
I stagger as I get up, my legs feel wobbly, my body aches, and my head-oh my damn head!-pulses a vigorous rhythm of pain.
Once I enter the bathroom I feel the steaming air that instantly relaxes me, it blurs me and I know that I could, at anytime, faint as it cools down my entire body. I sense Vincent pass by me and see him kneeling next to the bathtub; rolling up his sleeves he checks the temperature, and then looks at me to indicate that the water is ready to be used.
As I come closer I smell the aroma of jasmine pouring out with the steam, and it is a heavenly scent. Mmm.
“I’ll check up on you after an hour or so,” he makes his way out, leaving me to enjoy this to my heart’s content.
I peel my clothes off, coat, dress, heels, and then undies, and feel the water come into contact with my skin. The change of temperature relaxes me. It feels good. I lower myself down; since my skin is still ice cold from the rain, I let the water and aroma take me away. With my eyes closing once again I re-organize my thoughts about today’s outcome. My day has been from better to worse to unfitting to better, again.
You are one lucky son of a bitch, Aurora. My mind teases. The last few words I said to myself before all this happened.
My fingers start to prune was when I decide to leave the wonderful tub. I feel refreshed, still having the bad headache, but less tired than before. I leave the bathroom and recall Vincent telling me about clothes, I walk to the cream colored couch and spot a shopping bag sitting on top.
Pajamas! My mind squeals with delight. I take them out of the bag and feel how soft and comfortable looking they are. He has gotten me print less white PJ’s which have a cottony feel against my skin, they are really lovely. I search for the bottoms but only find the matching shorts, lacy undergarments and clothes for tomorrow, I blush.
I can’t really complain, but Vincent really went all out. Beggars can’t be choosers.
I slip on the clothes provided for me and, surprisingly, they’re a perfect fit, even the underwear. Now I start to wonder who bought these clothes for me at, I look at the clock, two-thirty in the morning?! I was supposed to give Andie a call! She’s always been a worry wart. I look around for my bag…
It’s in my car! Shit!
Andie and Jake, oh my God, I can’t have both of them worrying about me! If they see my things in the car they might think of the worst case scenario, oh no!
My head, taking all this stressful thoughts, has gone overdrive and I am left leaning on the wall for support. My breathing shortens, pulse quickening, body heat rises, and vision out of focus. I try walk to the door but my legs, damn them, are all squishy and I am left collapsing on – thank god – the bed.
“Aurora?” I hear a knock on the door, Vincent!
My mouth opens but nothing comes out, I can’t call out to him.
“Aurora? I have some medicine for you, may I come in?” he knocks once more and I hear the worry in his voice.
Medicine? What for?
After another painful throb in the head I came realize that, due to the heavy rain and Vincent’s air conditioning, I may have a fever. My thoughts start to applause as I find the answer to my own question, great thinking Sherlock.
Luckily, the door wasn’t locked and my silence seemed to allow Vincent to enter the room. I take deep breaths as I see him looking for me, his eyes quickly dart to the bathroom.
“Aurora?” he says my name and I feel my heart rapidly pumping its way out of my chest, jeez.
He sees me by the bed and scrambles his way as I position myself in a fertile one; I cover my head with my arms and groan as it pounds hard like a hammer and I as the nail. I feel his cold hands touch my sensitive skin, yikes, that hurts, and lifts my head so I could face him.
“You need to drink this, Aurora.” he places a small peach tablet in front of my mouth and presses the ice cold glass of water to my shoulder.
Groaning once more, I nod. “Okay,”
With my mouth slightly parted he inserts the pill and lifts my head up, then the glass of water – I feel it’s coldness near my face – is tilted to my mouth and the arctic flow liquefies my heated mouth. I drink the medicine, painfully, and Vincent quickly lays me back after I’ve swallowed.
“Get some rest now,” he lifts me once again, gentler this time, and drags me up until my head is united with a soft pillow, he then raises the blanket and comforter to cover my shivering body.
I roll to my side, feeling a bit emotional with my head still in a haze. “Please don’t leave.”
He brushes my hair and smiles kindly; this man is still so beautiful even with my watery eyes. “Good night, Aurora.”
But I grab his sleeve. “Please.”
I’m not sure if it’s my fever talking or I’m just really needy but I plead to the man who I just met a few hours ago, wanting his protecting arms around me.
“Stop pouting,” he sighs, his eyes look to the clock as if he’s thinking of something. “But okay, just get some sleep.”
I nod and he takes the partnering side of the bed, I feel the sheets rising and falling, knowing that he has entered, and I feel a warm aura behind me. I turn and hold on to his sleeve, not wanting him to leave my side.
“You are a handful, Miss Foy.” the last words I hear him say before I fall into insentience.