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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34. Happy Birthday

 

 

CECILY

 

Ace’s gaze rose along my body as I took off the dress, welcoming me at full force with his smoky darkened eyes.

Stepping forward to the bed, his lips found mine when he tilted my head with his strong hand.

My senses surged to a whole other level of emotions: An intensity of a thousand volts flowed through my body when his hands stroked my skin. When his lips drunk in my lips. When I heard the short gasps leaving his mouth.

I could feel it clearly.

His body, his touches ignited some crazy storms of sensations within me. I could feel… everything. But stronger. More powerful. More vibrant. 

He broke away. “No”, he choked. “I shouldn’t do this.”

He tried to pull his hands away but I stopped him. “Ace”, I nearly begged. “I want you to touch me.”

I started unbuttoning his shirt. He breathed heavily.

“You don’t really want that.”

“Yes, I do. It feels so good when you touch me.” I dragged his hands to my breasts, leading him to put just the right pressure for me to moan his name in pleasure.

The feeling of his touches… it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t a warm fire or a blazing heat.

It was an inferno.

I was hyperaware of every miniscule square millimeter of his skin against mine. A surreal force, almost unbearable but at the same time so, so wonderful.

My head fell back, and I was giving him full control. I locked my hands at the nape of his neck, bringing him closer so I could kiss the pulsating veins that lead to the spot under his ear.

“This isn’t right…”, he gasped. “You’re mad at me.”

“Please, Ace”, I urged. “Don’t make me ask for it.”

Sucking in a sharp breath, he turned around. A small pinch crawled into my guts as I saw him walking to the door.

He locked it.

“I thought you wanted to go”, I said as he brought his palms to my cheeks.

“I’m not going anywhere before I give you what you want.” His deep voice sent shivers down my spine and relief flooded me. His mouth yearned to kiss my lips, but I gently pushed him to sit on the edge of the bed.

Taking a few breaths, I shook my head. “I want to taste you”, I answered to his unspoken question. Never breaking eye-contact, I kneeled on the floor. He watched me carefully almost like he was saying Who is this girl?

I embraced the thought as I tugged his jeans down his legs along with his boxers. His big cock sprang free. Hard and heavy, and glistening at the tip.

I smirked, tightening my hand around him. “I love making you come for me.”   

“Fuck, Cec”, he gasped. “Where did you get that dirty mouth?”

I shrugged one shoulder. “My dirty mind is full of surprises.”

I pumped slowly before leaning forward and took him into my mouth, more than last time.

Inclining my head, I saw him closing his eyes, relaxing finally. Sucking in my cheeks, I moved my head up and down. I smiled against him, enjoying the view of him losing control.

His hand moved to my hair, gripping me tightly. “You look so sexy between my legs”, he panted.

My hand pumped faster as my tongue lapped him. Puckering my lips, I sucked the tip of his length. His grip tensed when he raised his hips off the bed, slightly thrusting into mouth. He was holding back but I knew I could handle more. Taking a deep breath, I shoved him farther in me, sucking harder.

“Jesus. You’re killing me”, he groaned as I saw his glowing eyes, stirred with relief when his body reached the threshold of pure ecstasy.

I released my grip and breathed out. He looked down at me as my tongue traced my lips, licking the rest of him.

His eyes darkened as he ran his thumb along my jaw. Wrapping his fingers around my wrist, he helped me get up to sit on his lap.

“You should start telling me what’s on your dirty mind”, he suggested. “It’s a lot more exciting in there than I thought.”

I smirked in response.

“Do… you… have a condom?”, I asked, my breathings ragged.

“Always.”

He took off his shirt and I drank in the view of his broad shoulders, of his hard muscles, and then the necklace.

My gaze dropped to the bright pendant hanging over his chest. Smooth and shiny. I touched the warm quartz and I could almost feel it pulsating, like an extension of his heartbeat.

My hand rested on his chest, my eyes drawn into his eyes. Myriad shades of blue swirled together in his iris, from icy blue to azure, creating such a stark contrast to his dark pupils. Almost unearthly.

“Kiss me”, I begged, longing to feel his lips on mine.

Looping his arms around my waist, he laid me down on the soft mattress. With him over me, my heart picked up its pace. The crystal fell between my breasts, drawing small circles on my skin as he lowered his head and swept his lips over mine.

Deep, addictive kisses that made my toes curl.

I wrapped my arm around his thick neck, digging my nails into his shoulder. A throaty sound escaped his mouth, low and raw.

Slowly, his hands traveled along my belly down to my panties. “Lift up”, he murmured and yanked it down. With my trembling fingers I helped him taking it off me, impatient to finally get rid of them. His eyes roamed my naked body, staying between my legs. I could see his length thickening, and rising again instantly.

His hand trailed up between my thighs, higher and higher until his eyes went wide. “God, you’re already soaked.” The corner of his mouth lifted to a sexy smirk.

I grinned. “Told you.”

If he only knew how needy I was for him right now. I wanted this so bad. And all I could feel was a rush of excitement. Of need. Of him being inside me.

The smirk stayed on his lips when I felt his fingers brush against the spot that was pining for him, gently rubbing them against my heated flesh. Ecstasy flooded through every fiber of my body at the feeling of someone pleasuring me down there.

Ace bent down and pressed his lips against mine. Passionately. Like I was the air he needed to breathe. And slowly, my mind was beginning to turn into mush.

Suddenly he moved his lips away from mine, only to bring them under my ear as he placed a few soft kisses along to my cheek.

His eyes locked with mine and his finger stayed on my lips, tracing my lip line almost like he was in trance.

Without thinking about it, I opened my mouth and let my tongue slide over his slim fingers, slicking them. My eyes never left his. They went wide, his expression beyond ravenous. I grinned as I sucked on his fingers. He closed his eyes, a low groan escaping his mouth.

When he opened them, he pulled his fingers out and kissed me again. My eyelids flickered as he slid his wet fingers back down. Rubbing my tightness, I exhaled a soft moan until we were both breathless. Slowly, he put his finger inside me as my back arched up.

Sucking a sharp breath, I closed my eyes and let myself melt under the intrusion of his steady fingers. My nails dug deeper into his biceps and I was sure I was leaving a mark. Good. I wanted a physical memory of what we were about to do, if only to show everyone he belonged to me.

My body was fully inflamed, lost in this primitive instinct that I no longer could form any coherent thoughts.

A tickle crept up from every corner of my body: I was desperate for it to stop and yet I wished it never did. Unable to control my own body through the haze of pleasure, I could only cling to Ace. The coil of pressure in the pit of my stomach snapped and waves of euphoria crashed over me, causing my body to spasm and tremble. Lacking enough air in my lungs, I was getting completely lightheaded as my body clenched around Ace’s fingers.

I threw my head back as I voiced out my pleasure before sinking into the mattress.

Taking a few long breaths, my heart slowed down and I finally found my voice.

“Wow”, I mumbled, too drowned into the moment to notice Ace reaching for his jeans.

Once he was on top of me, I wrapped my legs around his waist, spinning us around.

A mix of amusement and curiosity flickered in his eyes as he arched his eyebrow at my determination.

“I told you I wanted to fuck you tonight”, I said.

With a smirk on my face, I bent down until my chest brushed his chest. Inclining my head, I whispered, “So let me ride you.”

I had no clue if I was even ready for that, but I felt ready. A little insecure, yet my worries faded as soon as I lifted myself up and grabbed his hard member.

A voice inside my head made me fearless and the feeling of power overwhelmed me wholly.

He placed his strong hands on either side of my waist.

“Then ride that dick.”

I slowly lowered myself onto him. There was a pinch inside me and I winced at the intrusion. Trying not to make any sound, I pressed my lips together.

Placing my palms on his chest to steady myself, I took a deep breath and let my body adjust to the foreign feeling before I moved my hips slightly.

Whatever Ace’s magic hands just had done to me, it was enough to erase the faint, unpleasant feeling within the briefest second. Marveling at the sensation of having him sheathed fully inside me, I started moving my hips until I found a rhythm.

My eyelids lifted to see a pair of sparkling eyes looking at me. The intensity of his eerie eyes nearly made me fall apart. Like the sky before lightning hits, floods of electricity glinted his face. Striking yet soft.

His full lips parted to let out a strained gasp as I rocked my hips against him.

“Fuck, Cec”, he groaned, splaying his hands across my hips. Steely, hard fingers tensed around my flesh, gripping me tightly. Carefully, I picked up the pace, his hands helping me not to lose the rhythm.

Leaning forward, silken curtains of my hair fell over his chest, obscuring my face but Ace tucked them back to press his lips on mine.

The way his abs contracted, the way his forehead dotted with moist gleams of sweat, and the way my name sounded on his lips… God, it erupted countless emotions in me. Seeing him, feeling him was beyond words – a connection stronger than anything I’ve ever felt.

Breathing became difficult and my muscles burned, but I tried not to pause. My stamina wasn’t nearly as good as his yet I wouldn’t stop.

“Baby, you’re doing great”, he said, cursing under his breath.

Tiny drips rolled off my back as my thighs trembled at the rising pressure. My body was shaking and against my will, I gave in to my quivering thighs.

With one arm on my thigh and the other around my back, he flipped us over and hovered himself over me. The change of position pinched yet vanished almost completely as he thrusted in and out. His lips crushed against mine; salty and delicious, and his tongue melted away every remaining ache.

The heat of his body transferred to me, turning my skin into a fervid coat that felt only a tiny bit of coldness when the pendant fell on my chest.

My arms moved to Ace’s neck, holding on to him as he was speeding toward release. 

Words dripped out of my mouth, incomprehensible to my ears since all I was hearing was blood rushing through my body.

A rough exhale pushed past his lips when he came. Sinking his head into the pillow, his breathings slowed.

“This was so fucking good”, he said, looking at me like I was some heavenly thing.

Pulling himself out of me, he rolled to the side before he tossed the spent condom. “Mmm…”, I voiced, pushing the damp hair from my face.

Fucking good was not even close to describe this…beyond belief, tremendous and incredible feeling. I was just too exhausted to say anything else.

For several moments, neither of us spoke. We didn’t need to. I just wanted to hold him and for him to hold me. He stretched his arm out, so that I could rest my head on his chest, as he pulled me closer to him.

“I can’t believe we just had sex at your friend’s house…”, I mumbled, suddenly aware of what we just did. And where. But then, who cares? There were countless rooms and Miguel sure was used to people having sex at his place.

Feeling exposed, I sat up and tugged at the sheets, as I wrapped it over my body. Ace kept looking at me the same way I always looked at a piece of chocolate cake.

“You seem hungry.”

“Famished”, he admitted.

I snickered, bringing my face to the crook of his neck. “Well, I heard there are some brownies. Quite tasty, you know.”

He chuckled into my ear, “I’m already high when I look at you”, he answered, a smug grin on his lips.

When I turned to look at my phone, I spotted a clock at the other end of the room. It was past midnight.

I smiled at Ace, kissing the tip of his nose. When I saw his questioning look, I tipped my chin toward the clock. “It’s past midnight. Happy birthday.”

He snorted, but his chuckle died within the briefest second. For some reason, he looked upset. “What’s wrong?”, I asked.

“I shouldn’t have left you”, he confessed. “If something–”

I silenced him with a kiss. “Nothing bad happened, okay? Also…” I drew in a long breath. “I may have overreacted a little bit.” Admitting that required a lot of willpower. Maybe it was the drugs that had my mind in dazed state or maybe this post-sex dizziness, but I somehow meant what I was saying. Sure, it still bothered me, yet for the moment I couldn’t care less.

His dark brows raised. “Wow. You sure are high.”

I snickered. “Totally.” I looped a leg around his waist. “Up for another round, birthday boy?”

His eyes flickered as he climbed on top of me.

“You bet.”

 

 §§§

 

My head was pounding and I was thirsty as hell in the morning.

Twisting and turning, I found myself alone in my bed. Miguel’s bed. No, Ace’s bed?

I looked around recognized Ace’s apartment.

Pinching my eyes, I recalled last night and the short ride back to this place. And all the other things that happened.

Heat filled my cheeks but the urge for aspirin pushed away the rising embarrassment. The smell of brewed coffee filled the whole room as I walked to the living room.

I spotted Ace sitting there with a book and mug.

“You like Defoe?”, I asked, surprised that he was reading Robinson Crusoe.

He looked up. “No. Hate that shit. It’s Vince’s”, he said.

Too thirsty to make a comment, I settled down next to him and emptied the bottle of water.

“Ugh… I’m still thirsty”, I admitted.

I looked down at the clothes I was wearing: a pair of leggings and a tank top.  

“I don’t quite remember gotten naked when we arrived.” I eyed him but he looked just innocently.

A cocky grin shone at me. “I didn’t want you to sleep in that dress. And you said you were totally fine with me stripping you when I carried you.”

My eyes narrowed. “Yeah… I really don’t remember having said that.”

“Maybe you had been too high to remember now.” 

I moaned, putting my head in my palms.

“God, why do you have to remind me”, I said, my voice muffled. “I can’t believe what happened last night.”

He fought a smile.

“You like to talk about last night?”, he murmured, bringing his face closer to mine. 

“Err… about what exactly?”

“How about the sexy things you said to me? Dirty Cec was quite fun. Very fun.”

I folded my arms across my chest. “I was angry.”

“You were horny.”

I groaned. “Can we just pretend it never happened?”

He shook his head, the cocky grin never leaving. “Why? I just respected your wishes last night. Three times.”

The heat returned and cloaked my entire face. I drank the rest of my water in another gulp just so that I didn’t have to come up with an answer.

“I’m still thirsty.”

“That’s normal”, he said. I looked at my watch. It was past noon. We somewhat fell into a coma after the party.

“You’re up early”, I remarked. “Got something to do?”

“No. Just couldn’t sleep anymore. You have a headache?”

“A little.”

Several moments passed till I remembered. “Happy birthday”, I said, smiling.

“You already said that last night.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t give you your present.”

“My–What? Cec, wait!” Before he could scold me for buying me something I was already on my feet and rushed off. I placed the bag on his lap, ignoring the glare he was giving me.

“I told you not to–”

“I wanted to.”

Sighing, he looked at what was inside. A package, wrapped in deep blue paper. Almost absent-mindedly, his fingers wandered to his necklace, to the pendant.

“I thought this was my present.”

“Nope”, I said. “Now, come on, open it!”

He tore the paper apart and stared at Nelson Mandela’s face for several moments.

“Err, well, it’s a biography”, I explained, stating the obvious.

He turned the first page, and I could see the corner of his mouth quivering. “That’s… nice.”

I rolled my eyes. “Okay, it may be an unusual gift”, I started. “But I wanted you to read it because Nelson Mandela’s story is touching. And because of this quote.”

I pointed at it and he read, “Forget the past.”

The grin disappeared as he flipped some pages to one of Mandela’s speeches, right after he got elected as president. He talked about apartheid and political rights, about freedom, about equality––things that were so self-evident nowadays, yet so hard to achieve for him and his country back then.

“I should be mad at you for sending me subliminal messages.”

Eyes narrowed on me when I couldn’t hide my grin. His focus was back on the speech. reading the speech. “I get your message. But people aren’t as good as you might think.”

I frowned. “He was in jail for thirty years just because he fought for freedom in his land and equal rights. And after he got elected as president, he didn’t hold a grudge against anyone.”

He snorted. “Because they gave him a lot of money. True, he was in jail, unjustly, but I don’t believe he just forgave everyone who put him there.”

I drew in a long breath. “It doesn’t matter”, I countered, still looking at Mandela’s face. “I don’t know what his inner motives were. But he was an inspiration. He still is, even after so many years.”

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion”, I read. “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

“You can’t tell me someone with a corrupted soul could say something like that”, I finished.

His face was a mask. I knew I was reaching out to him but there was a remaining bitterness in his expression.

“Fine, I get it”, he growled, closing the book. “So, you want me to forgive Thomas.”

“Well, yeah…”

“Okay.”

He nodded. My eyebrows arched. “Okay? So, you wanna visit him?”

He nodded. “Sure. I already texted him. He invited us for dinner.”

My jaw dropped. What the hell just happened? “Are you on drugs or something?”

He gave me a cocky grin. “Nope.”

Wow… this was easier than I’d imagined. Huh, maybe some birthday miracle or something?

“Okay…cool. You’re, err, sure? You really want to see him?”

“I really want to see him”, he confirmed. “Badly.”

He smiled but I couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was more behind it.

 

The sun was setting at the horizon as we passed rows of huge mansions. After forty minutes of driving, Ace slowed the car in front of a gate. Fumbling for something in his pocket, I heard a small beep tone and the gates opened. We drove again and pulled into the driveway of a three-story monster of a home.

I gawked. I had never seen a home like this one before. “Wow”, I gasped.

Ace seemed unfazed. We arrived at the front door and just as my fingers brushed the doorbell, his hand clasped the knob.

We exchanged glances. “Shouldn’t we ring?”, I asked.

I shrugged. “Right.”

I hid my smile behind the bottle of wine. He still thought of this house as his home, whether he liked it or not.

The door swung open and a familiar face appeared. “Ace. Cecily.”

Dressed in a blue cardigan and a pair of jeans, Thomas greeted us warmly. “It’s great to see you.”  

His arms reached out to give Ace a hug and I gladly watched him requite it.  

“Thanks for inviting us”, I said.

“I’m glad you came. Oh, happy birthday.” He gave Ace a clap on his shoulder.

“Thanks”, he muttered.

He ushered us along the hallway to the living room with some huge couches. I looked at the table; it was perfectly set: some candles flickered over the white-linen tablecloth and porcelain dishes were neatly arranged. Knowing that there was no way a man had done all of that, I realized that there were staff members walking out of the kitchen.

“It looks lovely”, I admired, still gawking like an idiot. Everything this place resounded was posh. My gaze dropped to the unused fireplace when I noticed a portrait of a woman above.

She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.

Like black ink her hair flowed down her shoulders to her chest, shining like the sea at night. Her ice blue eyes sparkled like stars as she looked down at us, and her smile showed pure happiness. Nothing was fake, her beauty was perfectly captured.

“Beautiful, wasn’t she?”, Thomas stood next to me, a sad smile flooding him.

I nodded. “So, this is–”

“Rebecca”, he revealed. “Ace’s mother.”

Obviously. The resemblance was scary. The same hair color, the same shade of this bright blue, the same smile that I had sometimes seen on Ace’s face.

I could almost hear her laugh through the picture.

Behind me, Ace placed his hand on my shoulder. “Come. I’ll show you around.”

I nodded, and he guided me to the marbled stairs that led to other countless rooms. I couldn’t stop gasping each time I caught a glimpse at a bathroom, at the paintings that hung on each wall, but also the family photos. Smiling, I stopped to take a look at them. Ten-year old Ace sure was cute.

“How many rooms do you have?”

“Don’t know”, he admitted. “Believe me, we needed that space.”

Obvs. It surprised me he even got to see his family members.

The double doors to a room were open. “Is that your room?”, I asked, my finger already brushing the door handle.  

“Uh, no–”

When I opened it, the first thing I noticed was the sound of oceans. At one end of the room was a huge piano, at the other a large bed. Several shelves flanked each corner of the room, draped with books and more family photos.

“This was my mother’s suite”, Ace explained. “When she got sicker, she’d wanted to spend the nights here.”

Unable to answer him, I walked to the piano. There was no dust, not even the slightest hint that it hadn’t been used for years or so.

“Did she play?”

“She loved it”, he admired and a small smile showed. “She was very talented. She even gave lessons.”

With the steady sound of the ocean and the last sunrays that turned this place to a warm yellowish glow, I found myself wondering how Rebecca Skidmore must’ve spent the days in here.

It was so peaceful.

“Dinner’s probably ready”, Ace commented.

I closed the door to the room that must’ve held the most painful memories in this house. An illusion. That’s what Ace had said to me once.   

Downstairs, I wanted to help carry the food but a young woman with a beige apron around her waist shook wildly her head.

“You really don’t need to”, she chirped, setting the table with salad and a steaming bowl of rice. Thomas smiled at me as the aroma from the food mingled in the air.

I couldn’t wait to start eating.

“You have a beautiful home”, I praised when we all sat down.

“Thanks. But now, with the boys gone, I must say it’s a little too big.” Thomas cleared his throat. “So how’s your stay so far?”

“Fantastic”, Ace chimed in, and I couldn’t miss the sarcasm.

The staff came by, serving us which made me feel super awkward. 

“If you had told me sooner, I would’ve prepared a gift.”

“It was a rather spontaneous decision”, Ace answered, the coldness in his tone not lessening.

I placed my hand over his knee, hoping that it would somehow take away his tenseness, but his fingers were still clenched tightly around his fork. What was going on with him?

“You look good”, his stepfather observed. “How are the bruises?”

“Healed.”

“Good. Whatever your reasons had been to pick a fight, I really hope it doesn’t happen again.” His tone was neutral, but that had been enough to make a muscle pop in Ace’s jaw.  

“Let’s talk about something else, Dad.” He gave a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.

“How’s your work? Anything new?”

“Well, good, actually”, he informed. “The contract to a new project had been settled with our former partners.”

“What are you planning?”, Ace asked.

“Nothing particular. The government wanted the old buildings at the Gold Coast to be demolished to build a new courthouse.”

Ace abandoned his food, his full attention on Thomas. “I’m not talking about that. I want to know about that shit Chris and Victoria are doing. Was that your idea?”

Thomas closed his eyes, sighing. “Who told you?”

“Doesn’t matter. What do you know about that damn project?”

Like a tennis match my eyes changed between the two of them, and my confusion was slowly reaching the peak.

“No, it wasn’t my idea”, Thomas conceded. “This had nothing to do with you. They were discussing this last year, before you guys even broke up.”

“So, you’re saying this is all a coincidence or what?” He snorted. “Like any of this–”

The thud of the door got us all silent. “God, that meeting had been awful, just as expected”, someone said as the sound of footsteps reached the dining room. A guy stood in front of us, his eyes glued to his watch.

“But at least I could steal off before they started with the financial crap. Wow, Dad, that smells nice–” He looked up and stopped.

His dark hair was pushed back to reveal the chiseled features of his face. A pair of dark eyes swept over the table, resting briefly at each one of us before they locked with Ace’s.

No one said anything. They kept just staring at each other until the man cracked a grin that was slightly familiar.

“You have got to be kidding me”, Ace muttered under his breath, followed by a curse.

“Hello, brother”, he said. “What a surprise. It’s nice to see you.”

“What are you doing here?” A harshness I’d rarely heard flushed Ace’s voice. 

Brother.

Wow… there was zero resemblance. He was a few years older but looking nothing like Ace at all. Unlike his brother’s eye and hair color, Chris had deep brown eyes and chestnut hair. A nice-looking guy, no doubt.

But it seemed only Ace inherited his mother’s features.

Chris was wearing a pair of dark dress pants and a tweet jacket, framing his well-trained torso and would probably give me a cardiac infarction if I’d seen the price tag.

His smile didn’t falter as he smoothly crossed the distance to shake Thomas’s hand. “It’s our home, Ace”, he said, taking a seat at the other end of the table. “And I have some things to discuss with Dad. Later, of course.”

Ace’s hand rested under his chin, his eyes switching to Thomas. Words didn’t need to be exchanged; Ace was basically stabbing him with his look.

Chris’s dark eyes snapped to me, as if he just realized that I was sitting there. “I’m sorry for my manners”, he said quickly and extended his arm. “Hi, I’m Christopher. It’s nice to meet you.”
Before I could shake his hand, Ace wrapped his fingers around his brother’s wrist.

“Don’t even think about it.”

He gave him a death glare.

Once he released his arm, Chris reached for the bottle of wine. “Jeez”, he sighed.

“I see, you still don’t know how to behave correctly in front of people.”

He sat down on the table, next to his father and poured himself a glass of wine.

“Do you really think you’re in the right position to tell me what to do?”

“Guys, please”, Mr. Skidmore interfered.

But Ace didn’t seem to hear him.

“Handing out advice in your position comes a little ironic, don’t you think?”

“It’s not me who has to solve his problem with his fists.”

“I wouldn’t mind doing it again”, Ace growled.

Chris’s face went pale as they glared at each other.

He took a sip from his wine and shook his head, looking tired.

“What do you want me to say Ace? I don’t know how often I have already apologized to you”, he said.

Pity pinched my guts. Yet his brother’s words left Ace unimpressed.

He narrowed his eyes. “I don’t need your apologies.”

“Then what is it that you need? Tell me what I can do to make you forgive me”, he said, his voice low. “If it’s money that you want…”

At these words Ace laughed. With absolutely no humor in his voice.

“God, Chris, you’re so sick. Not everything in this world can be solved with money.”

He rose to his feet, his look void of affection. “You didn’t change at all.”

Thomas put his head in his hand. “Ace, please.”

He waved him off, never leaving his eyes from Chris. “I know you and I can see through your act. You don’t deserve my forgiveness and I don’t see why I should even talk to you.”

Moving lightning fast, he tugged my hand. “We’re going.”

“Eh? But-”

I didn’t get further than that. My word didn’t reach him at all. I have never seen him so angry before. I almost stumbled over my own feet as we headed to the door. Chris called his name but Ace’s feet carried him already to the door.

I embraced the cool night air since my head just felt like all my blood had been stored in there.

“Ace”, I said carefully, making him somehow to stop. “Ace, look at me!”

“Don’t try it, Cec”, he growled.

Air was punched from my lungs. “What?”

“You heard me”, he said, a muscle on his jaw popping up. “Don’t try to calm me down or that shit.”

“I won’t”, I croaked. “I just need my purse.”

He gave a quick nod and headed to his car.

Blinking several times, I went back inside and glanced at Thomas who was suddenly looking tired.

“I…–” God, what should I even say? “I am so sorry.” Sad eyes looked up at me and I had no idea how I could make up for anything that happened just now.

To my surprise, it was Chris who spoke. “It’s not your fault.”

I almost laughed at that. If we weren’t here, none of that would’ve happened. I recalled the things Ace had said to Thomas before his brother arrived, but I didn’t want to push it.

“He needs time”, I almost whispered, hoping it was true.

Chris nodded and rose to his feet. I felt bad. Really bad. They went through a lot of trouble to prepare everything and didn’t deserve this outcome.

“Still, thank you for the invitation, Thomas”, I said and shook his hand.

“My pleasure. You and Ace are always welcome. Please tell him that when he’s, ah, in a better mood.”

“Please call me”, Chris blurted out, handing me his card. When he saw my confused look, he added quickly. “I really want to make up for this. I want to talk to him. But you saw…”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Great.” He scratched the back of his neck. “I didn’t have a chance to say happy birthday to him.”

Unable to give him an answer, I took the card and shoved it into my purse. Ace would be anything but happy if he knew that, but the urge to help mend their relationship hit me hard.

“Thanks”, he said, giving me a small smile.

Ace didn’t say anything, just started driving as soon as I closed the door.

Moments passed in silence and I was nervously shifting on my seat.

“Did he say anything to you?”, he said through clenched teeth.

The tiny hair on my neck straightened and the small voice inside my head begged me to say the right thing.

The truth.

“No, nothing.”

Shit.

 

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