The Darkest Petal

'I promised myself that I wouldn't love you.' He began, and my heart stopped. 'And I don't love you. But, it was 4am and you were breathing beside me, and I felt happy for the first time in a long time. I knew then that my promise was fucked.'

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2. Chapter One

September - 2015

 

I remembered walking down the street I lived on. September in the cold air, with the touch of summer sun still about. My breath came out in a love puff like that of a cigarette. Living on this side of town you didn’t get to meet many ‘ordinary’ people. My mother, Allison Cunningham, a well known magazine editor, and my father, Andrew Cunningham,  a business manager. Both despised their daughter, the girl who wore jeans, not dresses, unless absolutely necessary, straight hair, never curled. I wore cuts and bruises perfectly, but Chanel no.5 - never.

 

I’d lived on the same upper-class street all my life, all the grass was the same height, no hedge was too tall, every drop of water that fell lay perfectly on the leaves. I couldn’t figure out why nothing every changed. 

It was on that very cold, and unusually dark morning, that everything changed. The leaves suddenly dropped, they were no longer that bright red of autumn but a shrivelled brown. There seemed to be more wind, more cracks in the pavement, as I glanced up with my brown flag blowing in the wind, I saw what the nature was telling me.

A tall boy with locks of tar, and thick ruby lips, that had a jagged scar. Dark eyes that poured themselves all over the floor. I couldn’t move without them watching me, they were stuck, like a lion, who had clocked it’s prey. 

I saw him pull his sunglasses down, he walked to a black car that screeched as it torn off from the side of the road. 

 

I finally caught my breath when he left. I wish I knew that, that suffocating feeling was something i’d feel continuously for the next year. I composed myself and went to pick up the dresses that me and mother were wearing tonight, hers was a deep grey colour which clung to her figure, slight beading that was around her chest. Mine, a harsh blue colour, that flared, the thin black belt that latched onto my waist, the white cardigan and shoes that matched, that I didn’t want to wear.

 

However, there was always something about me in a dress - or so he said - that made me pure,  it made my skin lighter, my lips fuller, my eyes brighter. Something that made me his. Something that me innocent, something that made me his.  

 

Tonight we were attending a dinner, for the rich and powerful. My father had to seal a deal, with the head of an international corporation, my mother had to talk fashion to some models. I had to stand there and look appropriate. 

We were going to the Styles's house, a four story house that made for a perfect venue. There was to be business talks, servants, and women in short dresses, men in suits, and words I didn’t understand.

 

After going home, and having several hours of hair and make up, which realistically was only about forty-five minutes, I was apparently acceptable.

My curls were loosely waving down my back, and my cheek bones accentuated, lips curved into a joker smile. I was ready, I put on my dress, and white shoes, throwing my cardigan over the top, with a small little white bag. 

I wasn’t quite ready for this, several hours of talking that did not concern me. 

 

“Oh would you try and smile.” My father stood in front of my mother as she fixed his grey tie that matched her dress, “Why do I need to go, if it’s your dinner.” I spoke, “We are a family, we do things together.” he snapped at me, his phone rang then. 

The room dropped silent. The thing about my father was he was too proud. He’d boast about loyalty, and the 24 years of marriage to  my mother, but what he always forgot to mention was the two girls that he kept on the side, both twenty years old, and he was so old he could be there father. 

“Aren’t you going to get that?” I asked him, and he scowled at me, “Not tonight.”, he left then going to wait in the taxi that would take us four minutes down the road. 

 

“When are you going to say something?” I sighed, and leant against the door frame, as my mothers small face drooped, “He’s a man, they stray.” she muttered, she pulled me to the french couch, that I did not know the name of. 

“A piece of advice. If you want to be with a man that you love, you have to let him stray, it keeps him interested. It hurts, but we have to keep them happy somehow.” she touched my hand, “Now, tonight. Callum will be eating with us, I want you to talk to him. He’ll have never seen you look so beautiful.” she touched my face, like she was remembering what it was like.

I sighed, she always defended him. I would not be so weak. If I loved a man, he should love me, he would not stray. 

Oh what a fool I seem now! I was so forgiving, too forgiving. I let him stray, I let him love others. When I only loved him. I realised then, I was in love with the same kind man that my mother had fell in love with all those 24 years ago.

 

“Come on, the car is waiting.” 

 

I waited for a moment, took a few breaths, and braced myself. If I’d have known then, that he would be there, I’m not sure I would still have gone. But, perhaps, our crossing of paths, would always have led us to the same place. My fate, would always lead me to his arms. 

 

We drove that short four minute walk, and walked to the door, which had a heavy bronze lion head lying on it. The thud thundered through the house, and almost shook the ground. Daniel opened the door, and with his slick black hair, and wonderful grey suit, he threw me a smile. “Running a little late, aren’t we?” he grinned, and my dad barged his way in shaking Daniel’s hand as they excused themselves for a glass of whiskey. 

“I’m going to find Andy, and ask about his new line.” mother smirked and walked the other way. I was left standing in the lions den, hungry eyes watching me. 

I walked forward, trying to find myself a drink. 

 

“Long time, no see.” I heard, a familiar voice. Daniels son, Callum. I was expected to marry in later years to tie up a business bond. 

“Callum.” I tried to smile, as he kissed my cheek, “You must need a drink.” I heard him say, I nodded with a porcelain smile and tried to hide my disgust at him.

Callum Styles was a boy who loved his money, like he loved me, for extravagance purposes only. Money with her green eyes would watch us, be the bane of us, and it would ultimately ruin us. “Is that a new dress?” he spoke, and I hummed a yes, he smirked. “All for me?” he chuckled, “Oh please.” I laughed, grossly and over the top.

 

Three hours later, dinner was ready. Callum's eyes had watch me up and down for all 180 minutes. He then, pulled up a chair beside me, but so did someone else. 

 

I looked at it was him. 

Different to this morning. He now wore a black suit, a thin black tie, and he still wore that jagged scar. He hadn’t looked at me yet, I knew he would. His eyes lingered over a short brown haired girl across the table, she was my the dream girl. Chestnut curls, rosy cheeks, and thick lips. Caramel eyes, and he was hungry for her. Her body wore a slim red dress, with a white shawl. If she hadn’t had his attention, maybe I would have liked her.

 

However, she was the fatal thing that would ruin us. 

 

My friend with legs that went on for days. Darker skin than myself, she looked Moroccan, from all of the expensive holidays. The sweets eyes I had ever seen in my life, that were so thick like honey. I wasn't surprised Harry got stuck in them. We'd often play princesses when we were younger, she was always Pocahontas. 

 

Amelia Wilson. A name to remember. I loved her. I loved her company. Friends fro, such a fragile age. Her smile so wonderful, I, sure I'm true princess style, birds began to sing. She'd always been one for boys to look at. Spitting her venom and making them fall. I often watched and even tried self tanning once. I tried to talk to the birds, but they always fluttered to her. So I was left with dark petals, and her the biggest trees.

 

“My father said we can borrow his boat on Saturday, I was thinking we go for a sail around the coast. Maybe then get lunch?” Callum tried to buy me, and win me over, he then touched my cheek, “I’d love to see you in a little sailors outfit.” he whispered, and he disgusted me. “I am busy.” I whispered, he laughed. “You don’t get busy.” he grabbed his glass of wine, and swallowed it whole.

 

Thirty minutes later, and the main course was already over. I looked to my mother, she gave me warning eyes, not to put up a fight. A small plate of pigeon with some side salads, and some dressing I did not know the name of. I picked at my food, and pushed it around the plate, was this even food. The carnivores around the table seemed to think so. 

“You know, he’s right about the sailors outfit.” I heard, and glanced over to the boy who would fascinate me. I laughed under my breath, “I saw you this morning.” I spoke, and he looked at me, and shook his head, “I don’t think you did.” he told me, and smirk danced on his lips. 

Desert was just as small as the rest, and I didn’t care to eat it. 

“Well, gentlemen, why don’t we go and play some cards! Let the ladies talk about their clothes and hair.” I heard Daniel announce, the boy next to me scoffed, “I think that’s a wonderful idea.” my mother added, and darted her eyes to me. 

“May I play cards?” I asked, and Daniel smirked at me, “You want to play with tigers.” he laughed, and I stood up, “I’m just as good as you are. You forget I’ve been to monte Carlo three times in my own short life.” I told him, and he walked around and lead me through to the game.

I could feel the whispers, but I saw that boy beside me follow, he leant against the wall, and threw me a smirk. I’m sure he purred too.

 

Forty-Five minutes. I had won. He had lost. 

 

Daniel emitted a radiant smile, and he seemed proud. “It’s about time a girl beats a man, it’s been reversed for far too long.” he chuckled, “Do I not get my prize?” I spoke, in reality he owed me $50,000, he laughed, “You’ve got a real cracker on your hands here.” Daniel spoke, and handed me a glass of over priced champagne.

Everyone simmered away then. It was me and Daniel, plus four of his followers. “Has Callum told you about the boat?” he asked, and I nodded, “It’s too cold for boating, Daniel.” I laughed, and he shook his head, “Nonsense.” he smirked. 

He turned cold then, his face went from lying in the sun, to climbing everest. “I thought you said I could borrow the boat, dad.” I heard, and I turned to see the boy. 

 

“Harold.” Daniel warned, “Harry.” the boy corrected. “You can have the boat, the week after, Callum and Sophia have plans.” he chuckled nervously. 

 

Dad. 

 

“You never mentioned you had another son.” I spoke, turning to Daniel, “He doesn’t like to talk about it.” Harry smirked to me, he stuck his hand out, and Daniel cut him off. “Why don’t you go and find Amelia.” he said, “She’s not my type, you may have secured a deal with Sophia and Callum, but there will be no Harry and Amelia today.” he spoke.

 

No he was saving that for later.

 

“There is no me and Callum.” I say, and take a step forward. “Oh really?” he smirked, and fixed his eyes with his dad.

Daniel then excused himself.

“Well, if you’re only friends. Then you can’t say no to me taking you for a drink.” he spoke, “I could say no.” I tell him, he took a step forward, “I know, but you aren't going to” he told me, and I laughed, shaking my head.

 

“Let me go and get changed.” Harry spoke, “I will too.” I said. He raised his eyebrows. “I stay here a lot, but you wouldn’t know that. I have some things.”.

Ten minutes later, I had black jeans and a jumper on. My hair was tied back, and I could breath a little easier. Harry also looked more himself, than he did when he was in a suit. 

I walked down the stairs, and Harry grabbed his keys. I’d never been so reckless. I’d never wanted to be so reckless, but he had something in him, and when he touched my skin, ever so slightly, it must have passed into me. Like some kind of electrical current. I still have that feeling now. 

We got to the door, “Sophia!” I heard, and turned to see Callum, “Where are you going?” he asked, laughing, uncomfortably. “Out.” Harry answered for me.

“I will see you soon, Callum.” I tell him, and kiss his cheek, before turning to Harry, who offered me  half a smirk, and something new.

 

The car I would step into would become so much more. Let me skip a head, just so I don’t surprise you too much. Besides, I need to say it all. I need to remember everything, everything he promised, everything he lied about.

I had my arms wrapped around myself. Outside, cigarette between my lips, letting the gentle but deadly smoke escape into the starlit sky, how different things were now.

 

The bruises made my arms have a little bit of colour, my ragged now dirty blonde hair was matted with sweat from being inside that building with men that wanted nothing but a pretty thing, or a good time for half an hour. My thighs were stuck together by the black leather skirt I had on, the tight red top pushing my small breast together, now ached. Is this what he wanted?

 

The girl beside me, was doing the exact same thing, she was no more than fifteen. Scars covered her face, she had black rings in her face, and thick purple lips. I still to this day do not know if the lips were just cuts and bruises, or actual lipstick. 

A man walked passed her sliding a small, square bag, with a white heavenly powered concealed inside, it went straight into her hand, and she looked calm. He patted her cheek, “I told you, baby. I look after my girls.” he was so close to her, his yellow teeth spitting venom at her, burning her skin, but she seemed so used to it. It was men like that, that ruined little girls. 

 

I had to wonder how had I got to this position, seven months ago, I had just met this boy, I worked at a newspaper company, I was good, getting serious money, smiling with a coffee, buying things for ridiculous prices, that I did need. Now? I’m stood in a alley way, waiting to get my boyfriends drugs, he tells me he needs them, but he assures me they aren't for me,  he tells me Baby, they will keep us safe, just until I have the money. Somehow, the money never comes, and i’m here, every third Wednesday at 10pm, with dirty men, and another 

 

 This’ll be the last time, I promise. 

It was never the last time.

 
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