Show Me Your Soul

What happens if life throws you off track? What if someone asks you to trust him, even though you know nothing about him? Would you trust him?
Cecily Martesse is a normal student in her second year at college. Just when the next normal semester starts, she meets Ace - a handsome boy that throws her life upside down. Compelled by his words, his voice, his behavior, she finds herself getting dragged into a world full of secrets, unfaithfulness and deceit.
Just when she hears some devastating news about her brother, she has to face things she never knew she could endure.
A story about love, trust and friendship. Rated Mature for adult language and hot love scenes.

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20. Dinner Party

 

CECILY

 

What the hell was that?

 

That question ran through my head the whole week. That whole scene was just confusing and making my stomach loop. After driving home, every badass answer ran through my head and I cursed myself for not coming up with those instead of my stupid schoolgirl shyness.

But Ace just had something that intimidates me from head to toe. His nearness and voice made me not think clearly.

I tried my best to avoid him this week and stuck to Ruby and Cassy in the lecture halls, at lunch and even in the changing room. It’s like every time I’m alone, I come across him and we somehow end up having either fierce fights or hot, almost-kiss scenarios that feel as if he was sucking the air of the room with his presence.

Also, I was too busy making calls with Francine or the catering service.

Unfortunately, I needed to see Aro badly so that he could give me my notes back. The exams are coming soon and I don’t want to face a huge amount of clinical chemistry bullshit and drink energy drinks for three days to stuff the topics in my head.

Okay, in the end, it’s going to come down to sleepless nights and frustrating bulimia-learning, but I want to have my notes back to have at least the possibility to maybe begin the learning just in time.

Just as I finished that thought, Aro and Lucas came toward me in the hallway.

“Oh, Aro!”, I said and he turned his gaze to me.

“What do you want?”

Yeah, hello Cecily, nice to see you, too. Douchebag. I rolled my eyes and swallowed the urge to scold him.

“My notes. You still have them, but now I need them back.”

He arched his eyebrows and nodded. “’kay. I’ll give them to you, tomorrow.”

Oh, that was simple. Huh, too simple. “You really don’t need them anymore?”

“No”, he said and smiled twistedly. “Tomorrow at lunch, then.”

He started walking but then turned around as if he forgot something. “Oh, and thank you”, he said still smiling.

Okay, this is just too weird. Since when does Aro say “thank you”? And in such a weird way?

Whatever.

This stupid week just didn’t want to finish: every professor reminded us unnecessarily of the exams (as if we would forget about that?!), Rayden put some pressure on us that we should finish with our work before the last exam is over. Which is absolutely crackbrained. I mean, we still have time before summer break starts! He just fears that we will interfere with the exam semester and take away their valuable time. Ugh…

Anyway, I was preoccupied with the dinner party to even bother about due dates.

 

Sunday was very tiring. My family was gathered over the weekend, my brothers, my aunt, my cousins; I’ve never seen our house this full for a long time. But despite the stressful situation with guests, it was a beautiful thing hearing stories about the daily lives of everyone, seeing how healthy my aunt is now, giggling with my cousins. It was just like old times…

Dad told us that he would take Mom to the theater in the afternoon, so that Francine and the catering service could come and prepare everything. Officially, Mom thinks that we will have a little family dinner in the evening.

As soon as Mom and Dad left, Francine came and was instantly in her element. She was giving the guys orders where the tables should be placed, the flowers arranged, tasted the food and even organized a small band. Wow.

After an hour, our garden wasn’t the same anymore.

I ran upstairs and put on a cranberry-red party dress with little spaghetti straps with some matching high heels. I decided to wear my hair straight and blow-dried it for almost twenty minutes. I didn’t realize how long it had gotten… A little mascara, rouge and lipstick and I was prête à sortir!

I rushed downstairs to greet our neighbors, ushering them to our garden. Lights flickered around the lawn, illuminating the whole garden and as soon as Cassy, Ruby, Anna and Alex came, we searched for an empty table, Eric and Josh followed.

“Your garden looks amazing!”, Anna beamed, looking around.

I smiled. “Thanks. Francine did a great work, you’re right.”

I looked over to the girls, hearing some of their stories about what they had done this weekend. My gaze wandered to Cassy; her hands were clenched and she looked spaced out. Huh… that was usually my talent.

I placed my hand over hers. She looked up, her eyes sadder than I had thought.

“Is everything okay?”, I whispered so the others wouldn’t hear anything. But they were busy with their talks about college, anyway.

“Yeah… I’m okay. I just hoped Michael would call me back by now.”

Oh… so he still didn’t apologize to her. She told me that she has hoped he’d come with her to the dinner party, but he was stubborn and kept ignoring her.

I squeezed her hand, trying to cheer her up as best as I could.

On the other hand, Alex and Anna were having dreamy eyes when they talked about Paul and Dexter which wasn’t quite helpful, but we didn’t want to stop their cheerfulness. Anna and Dexter were still a little shy toward each other and it would be too soon to invite him to this kind of party, she explained sheepishly.

Alex told us that she and Paul were having a couple dates and went to the cinema, yesterday. “Yeah, and we made out a couple times. Man, Paul is just a great kisser! And has very skillful hands”, she whispered in my ear and gave me a mischievous wink. 

I rolled my eyes on the inside and bit my tongue to brag about Ace’s skillful tongue and his long fingers that send every time a chill down my spine – even the slightest touch.

Lord, what is wrong with me?! I shook my head for even having those kinds of thoughts and tried to be as happy as possible for Anna and Alex and not this stupid, jealous friend who wished her whatever-Ace-is-to-me would kiss me again the way she was describing it with Paul.  

Mom and Dad came after a while and Mom was looking more than surprised. Good thing that she’s a better actress than me. I grinned on the inside for her slightly exaggerated surprise-look.

They greeted everyone; the smell of food hanging in the air.

It was lovely.

I was sitting with my friends, my parents celebrating their long marriage and my brother finally getting his life under control.

Then why the hell am I feeling a sting in my heart? I sighed. Who am I fooling?

I missed Ace and wished he could be here right now.

I don’t know why I want him near me. On the other hand, our last encounter was kind of… intimidating. And I still don’t have a perfect answer to his last question.

“Guys, I’ll bring some water from the kitchen. Do you want something?”

They shook their heads and I went inside. There were already several dishes piling like a tower in the sink and other French confectionaries neatly arranged on the counter. Among them a delicious-looking butter cream cake. Wow, Francine sure took a lot trouble to get those French sweets.

I cringed as I saw Josh sitting at the table.

“Oh, Josh, you scared me for a sec! What are you doing here?” I noted the beer in his hand as he took a small sip.

I sat down next to him.

“Hey… just wanted a little break from all the noise outside”, he smiled weakly.

I nodded and took a sip of my water. We looked outside our window and heard Cassy bursting out into laughing with the girls.

“It’s nice seeing her so happy”, Josh said and smiled warmly, never losing his sight of her. “She was so sad, lately.”

“Yeah, she got into a fight with Michael.”

His gaze darkened as he took another sip of his beer. “Yeah, she told me. That asshole. He didn’t even bother calling her or apologizing to her although she invited him to this dinner party.”

His cheeks were flushed and his dark eyes seemed to glow.

“Yes, that’s kind of… cruel”, I admitted.

“That’s not cruel. That is being an asshole”, he said louder, “She doesn’t deserve that. She deserves someone who understands her studies and supports her in every way. Someone who sees the way her face lightens up when a patient is receiving a prosthesis or a bridge she made. Or how she blinks several times when a patient that is dear to her is showering her with hugs and thank-you’s. Who sees how she’s suffering when someone she likes is ignoring her. Who can’t sleep knowing she’s unhappy. And that is definitively not was this asshole is doing.”

I blinked several times and closed my mouth that was wide-open. I can’t believe that he was so attentive. No one could talk like that unless–

“Josh?”, I said carefully, “Are you… are you in love with Cassy?”

He blushed even harder and turned his eyes to me. “Don’t tell her, Cecily. Ever.”

“I won’t, I swear! But… but if you have feelings for her, you need to tell her.”

He scratched his cheek and asked gently, “Did you tell Ace how you feel?”

My heart made a loop. What…? How did he…?!

He laughed and patted my shoulder. “That’s not the same… I don’t… I mean… ugh… it’s complicated”, I stuttered.

“I know. And I won’t say anything to anyone, either”, he said and got up. “But if he’s not completely blind, he already figured it out.”

He winked and left me in our kitchen, my mind swirling.

That is exactly what I fear the most, Josh. That he already figured it out and it leaves him cold. That he doesn’t care if I have feelings for him or not. Ace’s voice echoed through my head.

No, of course not.

He said that after Victoria had asked him if he loved me. His answer was short and straight, not giving any room for a doubt.

I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t even saw Eric coming through the terrace.

“Helloooo, Cecily?”

“Huh, what?” I turned around and saw Eric smiling at me. He shook his head and sat next to me where Josh had been a couple minutes ago. “Sorry, Eric. I was… um, I spaced out.”

“You are always like this”, he said and shook his head again. “You always do that. Sometimes, when we talk to you, we have the feeling that you’re on another planet with your thoughts.”

He rolled his eyes. I felt a little annoyed, but kept my smile. I know I space out sometimes, but I always thought that I do it in a subtle way. And that no one notices that.

“I know…”

We were quiet for a while, every second getting more and more awkward. “So, um, you like it here?” I finally broke the silence.

“Yes, totally. Last time I was at your house was on your birthday. What cake did your Mom bake?”

“Er… it’s called Le Merveilleux. A meringue cake.” I was surprised he still remembered that.

“Yeah, it was very tasty.” He smiled and I joined him. Surely, he had no idea what a meringue cake was, but it was a cute comment. He cleared his throat and looked nervously at me and then back at the table, “Um, so, Ace didn’t come?”

There it was. That stupid sting in my heart.

“No, he had to work”, I said as casually as possible.

He nodded and looked at me through his thick glasses, “Um, can I ask you something, Cecily?”

His serious tone made me uncomfortable. “Yeah, sure.”

“Are you two… um, dating? Or a couple?” Heat infused his cheeks when I saw them getting pinker than usual.

I snorted and hoped it didn’t sound hysterical. “No, of course not!” I stopped laughing when I saw his face still tense.

“He didn’t force himself on you, didn’t he?” He sounded alarmed. Well, I couldn’t blame him; from the outside, it was looking as if he was cornering me, indeed. Which he did, in fact.

“No, Eric, he didn’t”, I assured, softening my features. He worries way too much, but that’s just Eric. “Look, it’s just… that’s just Ace. You assume things that aren’t happening. There is nothing going on between us.”

Nodding, he seemed a little relieved. “Yeah… I just don’t want you to be treated disrespectfully…”, he mumbled, I barely heard him.

I uttered a faint laugh. That is sweet; most guys don’t think that way anymore. As I opened my mouth to take away his worries, his shoulders shook slightly with laughter. “Jeez, can you believe I just asked you that?! Sorry, Cecily, I’m just being stupid. I didn’t actually expect you to go out with him.” He lightly hit my shoulder, leaning his body against the chair.

“What… what do you mean?”

“Well, don’t get mad, but you deserve way better than him.”

I frowned but didn’t reply anything, so he continued, “He kind of sucked your…uh… vital force. Ever since he came to our college, you smiled and laughed rarer. You often looked a bit stressed out or had red eyes – from crying, I guess. And I thought that he had something to do with that. Only recently, you’ve been like your old self.” He smiled but I was recapping what he just said.

True, I was down when Noah was in jail or afterward when he was driving Mom and Dad insane. But it wasn’t Ace’s fault that he came into my life the moment we had huge family problems at home.

I didn’t reply, so he must have thought that I agreed with him. “And he’s so unfriendly and cold”, he continued, “To almost everyone while you’re so nice and sweet. You need someone who cheers you up doesn’t drag you down into his darkness or whatsoever–”

“Stop it, Eric. You don’t know anything about him”, I snapped. I got up, looking down at his wide eyes. I was raging yet I’m not even sure why.

I just wanted to defend him.

I relaxed my clenched fingers; I need to calm down before I say something or do something I will regret later.

Ace can come across as unfriendly or cold, I agree, but that’s only because he had a rough past, I guess. But Ace is also the most protective person I have ever met in my life. And mostly defensive against people who come near to his heart. He values trust so much, it breaks my heart that someone this close to him could betray him. But I would never tell him that. That was Ace’s secret and I’m not going to misuse his trust toward me.

“You may be right about him being sometimes harsh or cold, but he has other qualities once you get to know him and I can assure you, those qualities are worthier than every random smile or ‘hello’ or other futile courtesies anyone ever gave me.”

“And I’m not going to stand here and listen to any more of those insults – especially when he’s not here to defend himself!”

My hands trembled. Okay, good thing that Ace didn’t come after all. If he had heard that, I would die out of embarrassment. That was the nicest thing I have ever said or thought about him and if he heard that… well worst thing that could happen: He would laugh at me. And tease me for the rest of my college time.

Eric looked pale; words seemed to fail him. I have never snapped at him like that. And I don’t even know why exactly I snapped at him like that.

“Whoa…Cecily, I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to, um, insult him”, he stuttered. My gaze softened and suddenly, I felt sorry for barking at him. He looked shyly to the ground and mumbled, “I was just concerned.”

“I appreciate your concern but there is no need to be.”

I had nothing more to say to him, so I started walking to our terrace when Francine grabbed my arm, looking nervous.

“There you are, Cecily! Your parents are looking for you!”

She shoved me to the garden at the table where Mom and Dad were sitting, a fork in Dad’s hand when he raised his glass. The clink echoed through our garden, the others fell silent.

“Oh and here comes my lovely daughter”, he said, his voice echoing through the garden. I felt my cheeks burning but smiled it away. I was anything but lovely just now, but I dismissed the guilty feeling inside my head.

“Now that my family is gathered, I would like to announce something.” He cleared his throat and turned to Mom, who was looking at him through her big, green eyes. “Twenty-five years ago, we celebrated our honeymoon in the Bahamas, on the island Inagua. We didn’t have much money back then, just enough to pay the tickets and to book a small room in a motel near the beach. But this two weeks with you, Julie, felt like an eternity in heaven. So, I’m asking you again, would you like to go there again? Um, with me?”

I blinked several times and stared on the ground. Dad usually doesn’t like showing his affection to Mom in front of so many people, so this must have costed him a lot of effort.

Mom was already kissing him and saying “Yes” a couple times. Gross… but if they weren’t my parents it would be cute.

“Okay, so our flight is tomorrow night.”

“What?!”, my Mom and I shouted simultaneously.

Stefan, Marlene and Noah chuckled. So they all must’ve known that!

“I’m sorry, mon poussin”, Dad whispered in my ear, “I didn’t tell you because I know you couldn’t have kept it a secret.”

He winked at me and kissed me briefly on my cheek. “Julie, would you give me the honor to dance with me to our wedding song?” He didn’t have to ask her twice, she already stood up.

Just when he handed me the band’s microphone, he added “Come on, you know the song by heart. Please.”

Oh no. Oh no, no, no, no. I haven’t sung this song for a long time. Also, in front of so many people?! But Mom and Dad looked at me so pleadingly that I just couldn’t say no.

Sighing deeply, I followed them to the center of our garden. I ignored my trembling hands and tried to focus on the lyrics in my head, the words slowly arranging in a proper order.

Taking a deep breath, I nodded, the melodious sound coming from my lips. At least my voice was steadier than my hands. It was a slow song, full of emotions and profundity.

L’amour existe encore by Céline Dion. I learned it by heart when I was five years old after watching the old wedding recordings from Mom and Dad’s wedding. I loved that song; it was beautiful and gives me hope that, well, love still existed.

They finished their dance as soon as I finished singing. Everyone applauded and Mom kissed me on my cheek, mouthing “Thank you”.

God, I was so thirsty now, but the bottle of water was still missing at our table. I started to go back to the terrace, when my aunt grabbed my arm.  

“You were amazing!”, she said and hugged me tightly.

“Thanks.” I grinned back at her.

She examined my face for a second and then seemed to have remembered something, “Oh, Cecily, I had totally forgotten to tell you. There was a young man standing at the front porch, earlier. He said he was looking for you so I let him in.”

“What? Who?”

“I don’t remember. He was tall, had dark hair. But I forgot his name, I’m sorry!”

My heart was making a loop. Could it be? No, that’s impossible.

I walked to the table where Alex and the others were sitting.

“Cecy, you were great–”

“Has anyone seen Ace?”

They all looked at each other and shook their heads. Okay, maybe I’m going crazy and I just want him to be here so badly that I jump – as usual – to false conclusions.

“I’ll be right back”, I said absent-mindedly and walked back to our house. I searched every room but couldn’t find him anywhere.

Okay, I think I’m going crazy. Sighing, I went upstairs. I was sweating from all the searching and I need to freshen up. Well, it was also a surprisingly warm night.

Closing the door behind me, I didn’t bother turning the lights on. In hindsight, I should have done that because the moment I saw someone lying on my bed, I cursed heavily, my heart nearly jumping out of my rib cage.

My legs felt like jelly as I sank on the floor, my heart racing.

“Sorry, Cec, I didn’t want to scare you”, Ace said and got up from my bed.

It was at this moment that I realized that Ace was in my room. In my bed! He came, he really came. I felt my belly flutter and tried my best to suppress a grin.

He went to my bookshelf and put a book back.

“W-Were you reading?”, I asked, my gaze shifting to my window. The light from the garden outside came though my window and turned my room into a whitish place. Enough light to read, I assume.

He nodded.

“God, Ace. Please don’t do that again, you scared the shit out of me.”

My eyes adjusted to the dim light and I could see his full silhouette: He was wearing his plain white shirt and a pair of casual jeans while his hair hung wildly around his forehead. His eyes that were almost glowing whitish were focused on the books on my shelves.

“What are you even doing here, Ace?” I felt more nervous with every second that passed. “Have you been here since your arrival?”

I got up but he didn’t answer, and I felt more and more intimidated. I didn’t want to be in my room with Ace, the lights turned off and my personal things scattered around the floor and walls. I went to the switch yet he seemed to notice that.

“Let the lights off.” I looked at him but he was just focused on my bookshelf.

“Scary how much we’re alike, Cec”, he added, keeping his gaze at my books. Leave it Ace to always surprise me. Even with those kinds of phrases.

I uttered a brief laugh. “We are not at all alike, Ace. We have absolutely nothing in common.”

At that he turned his gaze to me and blinked a couple times, as if he just realized that I was even standing here. 

“You look beautiful.” He said it so plainly and in a simple way, yet his words left goose bumps all over my arms and neck. “And yes, we do have a lot in common.”

He came closer to me and started playing with a strand of my hair.

I gulped, gathering all my working cells to form a normal sentence.

“In what way, Ace? You’re arrogant and totally moody. And when you’re angry, you look like an orc who’s going berserk!”

Okay, now it was his turn to suppress a laughter, but he failed. His laugh was carefree, the sound coming from the depths of his heart, making me join him reluctantly.

“You know I’m right”, I said as he rubbed his moistened eye. I let my eyes wander around my room until I found my DVD pile next to my nightstand.

“What’s your favorite movie?”

He arched an eyebrow, clearly taken aback from my sudden question, but contemplated for a while. “Crime thrillers are great… like Sherlock Holmes movies. Or science fiction.”

“Ugh… I like everything but crime thrillers. Or science fiction… I hate that. What’s your favorite series?”, I continued so he couldn’t debate with me on that.

“Prison break”, he said without thinking too long, “A classic.” He smirked and tilted his head, his eyes never leaving me. “You?”

“Mexican telenovelas. Um, but in French, I can’t speak Spanish. The first concert you’ve ever been to?”

“Um… Linkin Park… I guess.”

I knitted my brows. “You don’t remember your first concert?”

He shrugged. “I guess I was too drunk.”

So he must have really drunk a lot when he was a teenager. Well, I’m glad he doesn’t do that anymore. Except when his brother shows up or the day of his mother’s death; I wonder which one is the reason for his outburst at the hotel but I didn’t want to shatter this bubble. For once he’s telling me something about himself without feeling uncomfortable. I should have done that before. He likes talking about random things rather than his past or family.

He cocked his head to his side. “And your first concert?”

Without thinking, I answered automatically. “Céline Dion.” Of course one of my favorite artist. “Your favorite songs?”

“I mostly listen to Jazz. You?”

I frowned, “French songs. Ew… Jazz? I hate that”, I confessed. “See? We have nothing in common.”

He arched his eyebrow, looking around my room. “You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Where’s your laptop?”

I wanted to ask him what he wanted with my laptop but decided not to. Better safe the questions to ask other things. We walked to my desk and I turned it on.

He eyed the screen and frowned. “Is he always so slow?”

“Yeah…” It was an old laptop but I liked it. It was a birthday present and I break away from things with difficulty.

Ace turned his head to me and smirked, chewing his bottom lip.

What a tempting gesture… making me want to run my tongue along that lip and–

“What?”, I asked him, snapping out of my fantasy.

He came closer to me, raking my body from head to toe. “You hear and watch a lot of things in French.”

“Yes, of course.”

His smirk grew even bigger. “Maybe you could teach me how to speak French and I could teach you how to French kiss.”

My eyes widened and I felt my thighs tensing. My stupid inner-me wanted to reply to him something as nasty as his words but I was left dumbfounded and utterly startled. “No, thanks!”, was all I could come up with.

He laughed and fortunately, he focused back on my laptop.

Or unfortunately? No, no, no! I need to clear my mind. I would have liked to tell him that I’m already good enough at French kissing, but I fear it would just challenge him to prove me otherwise. And risk to confuse my mind even more than it already is.

The screen was showing my family’s picture and demanded my keyword. I went to my laptop and felt Ace gaze on me.

“Um, turn around, I need to type my keyword.”

He arched his eyebrow. “What? You don’t trust me?” He said it in a mocking tone yet another emotion mingled in his voice.  

“No, that’s not the reason”, I said honestly. “It’s rather my keyword that is… embarrassing.”

A smile formed on his face and thank God, he didn’t laugh at me but turned around. I typed my super-dumb keyword and we waited for it to boot up.

“I don’t mean the superficial things we have in common, Cec.” His gaze was so intense, it made me shiver. Placing his hands around my waist, he minimized the space between us. My reason was basically shouting at me what the hell I was doing, but I ignored it. I just focused on Ace and was too curious to hear what he wanted to say; what he was thinking.

“For the start, we’re both stubborn. We both went through a lot, maybe that’s why we are sarcastic and have a very badass tongue. And…”

He cocked his head to his side. “And… we both like books.”

“You read books?” I’ve never seen him reading a book. We just had that awkward moment at the diner but he said he had read that in school.

He cleared his throat. “Yeah, I read occasionally novels about socio-criticism, thrillers or science fiction.”

“Wow…” Most guys don’t read nowadays. “There aren’t any books in your apartment.” I don’t remember seeing any bookshelves or readings on his nightstand.

He turned his stoned gaze to me and was back in his Ace-mode, a wall building up, defending him. “I didn’t bring them to L.A. And before you ask why, it’s not something I like talking about.”

“I didn’t want to ask”, I lied. The question had almost popped out of my mouth but Ace’s icy answer was faster. I recapped what he just said about our commonalities and I reluctantly had to admit that he was right – in some points. And I’m glad.

He looked at my screen and frowned. “Your shit laptop sure is slow.”

“Hey!”, I yelled, hitting him lightly on his biceps. “Don’t insult my laptop!”

He rolled his eyes, typing something in YouTube that I couldn’t see. Wow, his fingers were moving so quickly, as if the letters were obeying even before he tipped the keypad.

“Ace, I don’t know any Jazz songs, so don’t bother–”

“Just be patient, will you?”, he huffed in his bossy tone. “Even you little philistine surely knows that song.”

I giggled at his choice of word. Okay, maybe he really reads some books in his free time.

The melody started and it was… so slow. I recognized the drumsticks that were slowly giving the beat and a harmonica that was playing sensuously in the background.

“Ace, I really don’t know this–”

“Shhh!” His warm fingers shut my mouth. His eyes were glowing in a way I have never seen before. He plunged into the music, his body swaying slightly and his fingers moving slowly around the cupid’s bow of my mouth.

And then the soulful saxophone started and the song hit me vehemently after playing the first chord.

Ain’t no sunshine.

I gasped for air but didn’t dare to speak. I didn’t want to ruin this moment. Or ruin the way Ace was enjoying the music.

He grinned, wrapping his fingers around my wrist. He swayed his body more against mine, minimizing the space between us. I didn’t have any idea how to dance to a song or in general to music that was this slow, but without thinking too much about it, my body responded to him and I joined in. His hand was moving softly against my back, his chin laying on the top of my hair. I could feel my heartbeat matching his. We were swaying on the same spot rather than actually dancing, but I didn’t mind.

The music was so soft and sensual that it made my muscles tighten. I never knew that Jazz could be so… hot.

Ace was humming the song silently, making my ear shiver every time he breathed softly against it. “I didn’t know you could sing so angelic, Cec.”

“Y-You heard me?”

He nodded slowly but I was unable to look him in the eyes. He would see my rosy cheeks and tease me with it. Although his voice was so serious I couldn’t imagine him saying anything funny.

The thought that he heard me singing through my window left me voiceless. Thank God, I hadn’t known he was listening, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to sing at all.

“Why did you come, Ace?”, I whispered.

He was quiet for a while and I feared that he wouldn’t answer my question.

“Because we haven’t finished our talk. We were interrupted and you kept avoiding me the whole week.”

Denying was pointless. He was right, I was avoiding him.

The song stopped and I forced myself to look at his darkened eyes. “You weren’t fair. You were cornering me, besieging me even.” He didn’t say anything, so I seized the opportunity. “Also, you asked me why I lied about Dexter, although you never told me why you asked Cassy about Anna and him. Why did you ask her, Ace? Why did you want to know more about him and me?”

Instantly, he let go of me. Turning around, he walked a couple steps away from me. As if my sight was causing him pain. Great, Cecily. You just crossed the line and now he’s back being a crazy orc.

Running his hand though his hair, he turned back to me, his eyes wilder than ever. Oh, boy. I swallowed that lump in my throat and prepared for the mean things he’s going to say to me.

“Because you are driving me crazy, Cec!”

What the heck?

Once again, he grabbed his hair and seemed at a loss for words. “I-I tried… God, Cec, I tried to ignore you, to avoid you, I even tried to hate you, but I can’t. I just can’t. I can’t resist you and I know, you can’t resist me, either. Your body is haunting me and I see you everywhere. I even see your face in those stupid cereals I eat every morning. Every time I read in my textbook, I think of how you sit on the bench, sometimes with a pen between those sexy lips of yours that I want to feel on every square inch of my skin. I can’t stand the fact that someone else is leering at you or giving you a second glance, let alone take you on a date.”

He stopped, breathing heavily.

He said something so utterly unexpected… that I was left speechless. I wasn’t prepared to hear him talk so honestly to me. I didn’t expect him to open up all of a sudden, let alone to have a response for what he just said. He noticed my silence and I saw him tensing all over his body. Coming closer to me, he placed his forehead against mine. “I want you, Cecily Martesse. I want you more than anything else in the world.”

I think the moment, he said that, my room turned a bit darker. Oh, my screen was frozen again, but I didn’t give a shit about it right now.

I was just looking at Ace and saw his chest rising and falling rapidly. His eyes were dark, swallowed by the onyx color of his pupils.

He wants me. He wants me. He wants me.

Ace wants me.

“Say something”, he commanded, his voice deep, his eyes pleading me.

I wished I had prepared a beautiful speech that could show him how deeply I care for him but I wasn’t a poet. My heart was racing and my lips trembling.

“Teach me how to French kiss”, was all I could manage.  

He let out a gasp and grinned one last time before we collided. I don’t know if I leaned forward first or he. Maybe we both. But that didn’t matter right now.

His soft lips were on mine and his arms wrapped around me, the tension between our bodies rising. My fingers yearned to feel his hair again as they grabbed it lightly, making him moan. The sound was the most tempting thing I have ever heard, and I wanted to hear it as often as possible. He deepened the kiss and his tongue slid inside my mouth, tender but claiming. The warmth of his mouth mixed with his ruthless tongue were sending a current through my body, making me tremble. I let out a groan and tasted his typical Ace-scent with a faint hint of orange flavor. My favorite flavor.

“Oh, Ace…”, I sighed.

My veins pounded and my heart was bursting. Now I understand why people describe kissing as melting; my legs felt weak, unsteady from Ace’s lips.

He brought one of his hands to cup my cheek and ran his tongue along my bottom lip. I shuddered at the raw feeling, but his smile caught my attention. His hands wandered down my waistline, stopping on my hips.

“W-Wait… wait…”, I gasped, taking a step back. He matched my steps, his eyes never breaking away from mine. His look was predatory when he crossed the little space I had created. The back of my knee hit the verge of my bed. I jerked back, my grip around Ace’s arms tensed when I dragged him along.

A mischievous look was in his eyes when he was on top of me and I felt my heartbeat rising explosively.

He bent down his head and I breathed against his lips. My eyes closed when soft lips brushed tenderly against mine. I parted my legs to make room for his defined body. His hand moved from my arm down to my waist, stroking my bare thigh while his lips touched my chin and made me shiver as he continued a line of kisses along my jawline.

As his hand wandered higher and higher between my legs, I moaned, squeezing him with my thighs.

Tiny sparks seemed to cover the spots where Ace’s fingertips touched my skin and a shuddering sigh passed my lips.

With every square inch he was getting higher heat radiated through my body. The veins around my center pulsated when he slowly broke away from my lips.

I whimpered at the loss of our kiss. “What… are you going to do?”, I asked, my voice raspy.

“You will see”, he smirked. His eyes glistered as he lowered his head, lifting my dress.

My heart was slamming against my chest and my curious-me dying to know what he was going to do. His mouth sealed with my knee, his lips rising higher and higher. Slowly, Ace’s fingers slipped under my panties, stroking my sensitive skin.

“Shit… a few kisses and you’re already wet”, he groaned between the kisses. I saw Ace eyes darken with lust, as he gazed at me.

What? Wet? My breath hitched in my throat. A burning jolt of heat shot through my stomach whenever his fingers touched my skin and a strange, aching desire overcame me. I didn’t know what it was. All I knew was that I didn’t want him to stop.

His fingers stayed under my panties, caressing my clit while his lips attached to my thigh, moving up. Higher and higher, until the softness of his mouth almost arrived at my center. Once again, I cursed myself for not having a longer body so I could enjoy this feeling more. He pressed his mouth harder against my thigh, nipping at it before sucking hard. I arched my back the more he sucked, gasping for air.

“Ace…”, I panted.

It burned but he kept on with his working mouth until it left a sting. A pleasant pain, making me moan even more. Caressing my skin with his lips, he soothed the little ache.
My back arched once more as his mouth came closer to my center. “Ace… Ace… Ace…” I couldn’t stop repeating his name, over and over. This sensation was overwhelming me.

“Fuck, Cec. I love it when you say my name”, he said before putting the fabric of my panties between his teeth.

I had thought he would rip them off me, yet he surprised me when he brought his swollen lips back on mine, his hand staying on my sensitive skin under my panties.

“Relax.”

Such a sultry voice. Such a husky voice. So commanding. A voice one couldn’t disobey.

I obliged.

He sucked a breath through his teeth as he kissed me and without warning he slid my panties down. Only that much, that I was left exposed to him. His hand returned back to my center immediately.

He stroke me gently, pushing his long index finger inside me. I gasped as a shock ran through me, my body clenching around him at the unfamiliar but pleasurable invasion. Clinging to him, I was unable to stop the noises coming out of me as I drowned in the torturous pleasure he was giving me. He kissed me fiercely as he added another finger. I couldn’t believe how good that felt. He smiled against my mouth, realizing that he was making me go crazy with his rubbing fingers, gently thrusting in and out, in and out. I gasped, my voice making sounds I had never done before.

My eyelids flickered each time he repeated it, each time his fingers moving deeper, making me moan his name. I couldn’t help but bite my lower lip when I felt a gentle pinch, igniting a fire inside my belly. My legs stiffened around him, and whole body trembled at the same time.

Ace held me, never taking his eyes off me. He studied every piece of my face, his eyes glowing.

What is happening to me, I thought while moaning as the pleasure reached an unbearable peak. Powerful waves of bliss overcame me, one right after the other in a seemingly endless tidal wave. I shook violently as my body clenched around Ace’s fingers and hot juices ran down my tights.

I pressed my palm against my mouth, afraid that my groan caused by my euphoric state could be heard downstairs. My body felt slick and I tried my best to catch my breath.
When the quakes had finally subsided and the pleasure faded, he removed his fingers from my body and allowed my now soiled underwear to slide back into place.

I felt my back lower down to the bed and looked at a gasping Ace, his cheeks flushing slightly. He brought his fingers to his mouth and licked the juice. My juice.

I was panting raggedly, my heart still stumbling over itself. I wanted to speak but wet, salty lips crushed on me before I could come up with any phrase in my head.

“You taste so good”, he mumbled into my mouth, letting me taste myself. I was left impassioned by this gesture and trembled at his words, remembering the mind-blowing pleasure I had just experienced a few moments ago.

“Wow… that was… a great feeling”, I muttered, breathing hard.

“A great orgasm you wanted to say”, he murmured against my ear, his voice sounding pleased with himself.

Oh… so that’s what it feels like.

His eyes snapped when he stared at me, “Wait… you felt that before, right? When you touch yourself, I mean.”

Oh boy, the heat started to wrap around my face, again. I shook my head unable to trust my voice.

He looked utterly surprised, a small grin appearing after a second. “You don’t do that? Doesn’t especially French girls do that to themselves all the time?”

I shrugged my shoulders. I have no idea if it was specifically a French thing or not. And I would never ask my cousins in Paris or Bordeaux if they touch themselves or not.

He laughed. “Well, then it’s even more tantalizing that I was the first one to cause you that feeling.”

I blushed harder – if that’s even possible – as I heard those words.

He helped me get up and with shock I realized that my legs felt a bit shaky. I did my best not to show him or else he would make even more fun of me.

Just when he leaned forward to kiss me again, someone shouted, “Cecily?! Cecily?! Ceeeeecilyyyy!”

Oh crap, Marlene! “Shit, my sister!”, I whispered. “Um, yes, I’m coming!”, I shouted.

“Oh yes, you were totally coming”, Ace said and bit his lip.

I put my palm on his filthy mouth before he could say anything else that could… turn me on.

“Oh my gosh, stop smirking!”

“Relax, baby. She won’t notice anything.”

Where did he get that confidence? Whoa… baby?

“Don’t you mean ‘you baby’?”

“No, I mean baby. You’re my baby.”

I smiled weakly, not knowing what I should answer to this kind of statement. I’m used to rude-Ace or seductive-Ace or in general moody-Ace, but not this affectionate version of him. He held out his hand that I gladly took to equilibrate my body as I put my shoes on.

“Cecily?” Marlene knocked.

“Yes, one second, Marlene. I’m coming.” I rushed to the switch and turned the light on. I examined Ace who was looking unearthly “normal”. He wasn’t panting or nervous or trembling. As if we were doing the most innocent thing a couple minutes ago. Was it even special to him? My stupid, jealous thoughts crossed my mind but I dismissed them. This was not the time for that. Okay, if my face wasn’t as red as a tomato right now, then she shouldn’t suspect anything.

I opened the door and smiled at my sister who was eying us through her big glasses. “Hey, Marlene. What… um… do you want?”

“Aunt Susan is about to leave and they wanted to say goodbye to you, too.”

“Oh, okay, I’ll be right there.” I looked nervously to Ace who arched his eyebrows as if he was expecting something. “Um, Marlene this is Ace. Ace this is Marlene, my sister.” She smiled shyly and greeted him.

“Nice to meet you, Marlene”, Ace said warmly.

She mumbled something and then disappeared downstairs. “I’m sorry, she’s very shy at the beginning but once you get to know her, she’s actually very outgoing.”

He smiled, caressing my cheek and let his gaze wander to my laptop.

“Your laptop has crashed.”

I looked at my screen and it was completely black. No reaction. Whatever button I pressed.

“Dammit! All my lecture notes are in there! And my seminar sheets!” Crap!

“Don’t worry, it’s probably a virus.”

“You can fix that, right?”

He looked at me as if I had claimed something very absurd. “Of course I can fix that.”

He grabbed my laptop and eyed me. “I guess now I need the keyword. I promise I won’t laugh, even if it’s ‘Ace-is-so-damn-sexy’.” I rolled my eyes. Ace is just incorrigible. But somehow, I like that. Of course, I wouldn’t admit that; that would just encourage him in his narcissism. But that’s one of the things I love about him.

Love?

I shook my head, not daring to carry on this thought.

I scrabbled my keyword on a piece of paper and handed it to him. He just touched one of my most intimate spots; a stupid, little keyword is now not embarrassing anymore.

He eyed me after staring at my keyword, and I bit my lips. Laughing out loud, he caressed my cheek again. “See? Another commonality; I like animes, too.”

I didn’t reply and we walked silently downstairs. Susan was already at our front porch and hugged me tightly. “That’s the boy!”, she whispered in my ear. Yeah, I figured it out, Susan but I nodded.

Mom was standing next to me, beaming with delight when she saw Ace.

“Ace, it’s so nice to see you again!” She hugged him and kissed him on his cheeks. He was clearly taken aback from this unexpected gesture and I blushed at Mom’s typical French-cheek-kisses.

“Okay, Mom, Ace really needs to go now!” Before you guys start taking family pictures or plan our wedding or something else.

“Oh, okay… um, do you want to take some French sweets with you?”, Mom asked.

He smiled innocently, but somehow I could see the filth behind his grin. “No, thank you very much, Mrs. Martesse. I already tasted some very, very delicious French sweets.”

What the–?!

He looked at me and if Mom and Susan weren’t standing here, I would have either fainted or jumped at him and tasted his dirty tongue – I don’t know.

Mom and Susan didn’t notice anything; they just smiled warmly at him. Aunt Susan got into her cab, together with her husband and my cousins and drove to the airport. Mom left Ace and me alone at our front porch and gave us the lame excuse that she had to “see Dad right now”.

“So… I guess we’ll see each other at the clinic”, I said at the front porch.

He eyed me for a second and interlaced his fingers with mine, nodding briefly.

A small grin appeared on his lips when he brought them closer to my ear. “Yeah, you better clean yourself up, after what I did to you.” He winked, and left me torrid as images of what just happened crossed my mind.

Oh, Ace, I’ll definitively won’t change my panties now, was all I could think about. My lips sewed together to prevent me from saying those extremely perverted thoughts of mine.

He lifted my chin and gave me brief, sweet kiss on my forehead. “Good night.”

He smiled and turned around to walk to his car.

I closed the door, and leaned against it for a while before I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, ready to face my friends without a dreamy grin on my face.

In vain, of course.

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