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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32. Opalite

 

 

CECILY

 

Morning light poured through the windows when I opened my eyes. For a second I forgot I was not in my bedroom, but I smiled happily as I saw next to whom I was lying.

Ace was sprawled on his side, one arm around my waist, the other under my head. Sheets twisted around our entangled legs and the familiar heat he radiated was spreading over my body. His skin was hot.

Thick lashes fanned the top of his cheeks and his lips slightly parted to utter a faint sigh. He looked so peaceful, and relaxed. And happy.

I didn’t want to wake him. And like a total creeper I just stared at him for a while my fingers explored his body. First his shoulders slowly to his hard chest, and then down to his belly. I had to make sure it was real. I wasn’t dreaming. Last night happened and I was lying in his arms.

Slowly, I tried to tug at the sheets, feeling suddenly too exposed when Ace moved. His grip tightened around my waist as he buried his face in my neck.

“Good morning”, he murmured, his voice raspy. And sexy.

“Morning.”

He snuggled closer. “You felt me up”, he said, warm breath falling on my skin. “Enjoyed it?”

I rolled onto my side, facing him. One eye opened as the corner of his lips curled up to a sexy half-smirk.

“A bit”, I lied.

“A bit? You’re hurting my feelings, baby.” He lifted his head and kissed me before he buried his face in his pillow, his hand running up and down my back.

“I enjoyed very much feeling you up in your sleep”, he taunted.

I smacked his shoulder and he muffled his chuckle in his pillow.

Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I yawned. “We should get up. It’s… almost noon.”

 “Too early”, he mumbled. His grip tensed around my waist. “Although I need to piss. A hot brunette kept laying above me the whole night, you know.”

A hint of a grin swept across my face but I concealed it behind rolling eyes. I started moving my legs when a stinging ache shot between them.

“Ouch”, I voiced, cringing.

Ace’s focus was on me. “You okay?”

“Mm… still a little sore.” I tapped his chin with my index finger. “Shouldn’t you like… making me breakfast or something?”, I teased.

“Should I?”, he smirked and grabbed my hand to plant soft petal-kisses on my palm.

“Mh-hm.”

He sighed. “Fine. You can stay in bed. At least there’s a good bakery here.”

My brows rose. The offer was tempting, no doubt. “Deal.”

In a fluid move, he got up, the sheets gliding off his body. My heart stumbled over itself as I was faced with the full magnificence of him. The tattoo under his hard muscles moved in sync to the way Ace was walking, flexing and tensing in all the right places.

He turned around, and now my eyes flung open. Heat flowed like lava through my veins and darkened my cheeks. Our gazes met and Ace cracked a grin.

“Enjoying it now?”, he asked, his eyes sparkling with lust.

“A bit.” I pressed my lips together as I heard him making a deep sound in the back of his throat; half-laugh, half-sigh.

I clapped my hands. “Hop, hop. I need my breakfast. Or brunch. Whatever. I’m starving.”

His lashes lifted. “I feel like a boy toy”, he mumbled. I burst out laughing as he headed to the bathroom.

I buried my face in his pillow and let his scent invade my nose.

Shortly after a brief mental listing of things we could do today, I heard Ace changing into a pair of jeans and a comfy hoodie and heading to the door when he suddenly turned around.

My brows rose at that and the glint in his eyes, but my voice muted when he crossed the distance and placed a sweet kiss on my lips. Soft and brief, yet infinitely tender.

“What was that for?”, I asked, my tongue running along my lips. “Not that I’m complaining.”

He grinned and shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know. Just wanted to.”

With a smile on his face that surely matched mine, he walked to the front door.

Yawning, I got up, the sheets gliding from my naked body.

My head darted to the full-length mirror and I looked at myself for a while. I mean, really looked at myself. From head to toe, I examined every square inch to see any difference. Somehow, I feared the loss of my virginity would be visible on my face. Like a big sign on my forehead saying I had sex last night. But I wasn’t any different than yesterday.

Okay, my hair was a mess. I’d always thought sex hair was supposed to look good, but it just was messy. My eyes seemed bigger than usual, and my cheeks a little pink…

Glowing.

That was what people always said, right? I shook my head. I was probably imagining things.

A quick shower later – and this time without mind-fuzzy interruptions – I picked out a plain white t-shirt from Ace’s side of the closet to cover myself. Heading back to the bed, I noted a small blotch on the sheet. A red blotch.

Heat enveloped my face and I wondered if he had seen it, too. Probably.

Tugging at each corner of the sheet, I folded it together and tossed it away. Okay, first thing I needed to buy today.

“Got you some French Toasts”, he said, walking to the ridiculously exquisite kitchen. “Not quite French, I know.”

A big smile rested on my face when I rose onto the tips of my toes and kissed his cheek. “Thank you.”

I helped him set the table. Coffee, bagels, orange juice, and some fruits – wow, Ace really knew how to begin a day.

 “Wow. Someone seemed to be hungry”, I said and poured some orange juice into my glass. “And in a really good mood”, I added as I saw him grinning.

He nipped at his coffee. “’Course. I had sex last night.”

I choked on my OJ and ignored my flaming cheeks. “Charming”, I mumbled, a mixed feeling creeping inside my chest.

“Is sex all you need to be that happy?”

He shrugged one shoulder. “Sure. I’m a guy”, he said grinning. May be true, but damn, if there wasn’t this sting in my chest. He must’ve seen something in my face because he leaned forward, all humor gone. “No, I don’t need to have sex with anyone to be happy. Just with you. You were all that mattered to me.”

Sweet. Damn… he was good. My tummy did a little flip, similar to the feeling of being stuck in a roller-coaster.

I gave him a weak smile. Ace was rarely serious, but when he was, he was dead serious. “How was it for you?”, he asked me. I took a bite of my Toast, ignoring the returning heat. Last night was… magical. There had been discomfort, at the beginning. But Ace… made it better. Hard to explain, even to understand, but it was one of the best experiences in my life. And I was so looking forward to having the enjoyable sex.

I swallowed a bite of my Toast before I looked up.

“It was beyond incredible”, I answered honestly. “Better than anything I’d expected.”

“Yes, it was”, he said with a soft smile as he brought the mug to his lips.

Physically and emotionally I’d never felt more connected to another person and I knew he felt the same way.

I stretched my arms behind my back. “So, what are we going to do today?”, I asked.

He shrugged. “Whatever you want.”

I grinned. “Shopping. I need new clothes.”

Now that gained me a giant groan and a few complains. Too bad.

“Oh, don’t you want to call your father and tell him–”, I started but he cut me off.

“Nope, that can wait”, he said, rolling his eyes.

“You know you have to sooner or later.” I placed a brief kiss on the top of his hair before starting to do the dishes.

The next second his body was behind me, his strong arms wrapped around my waist like bands of iron.

His mouth was inches away from my ear as a shiver tiptoed my spine.

“Later. Anyway, did I tell you how sexy you look in my t-shirt”, he whispered and brushed the hair away from my neck.

He pressed soft kisses behind my ear when his hand slowly wandered along my waistline under my burrowed shirt. Within a second my heartbeat quickened and I struggled to keep my breathings steady.

My breath hitched when his fingers drew slow circles on my tummy.

I gasped, like I was begging him to stop or continue… I didn’t know. My legs began to tremble when his lips brushed the skin on the back of my neck, his fingers gently caressing my skin.

“You should…”, I started but my voice broke the higher his lips wandered.

“Didn’t you want to… show me the city…?”

“Did I? I don’t remember”, he mumbled, his lips still connected with my skin.

I swallowed hard, spinning around to face him. Dark eyes kept staring at me when I wrapped my arms around his neck to meet his gaze.

“Trying to distract me with your kisses doesn’t work”, I half-lied. If we’d stay here any longer, there was a high chance we won’t leave this place. Ever.

He groaned. “Fine. I’ll show you around.” He twisted a damp strand of my hair between his fingers. “But I need a shower first. I was distracted last time I tried to shower.”

 

After we got dressed, we drove to a huge shopping mall, actually not quite far. The shops here were exquisite, selling everything a girl’s heart desired – and incredibly expensive.  

But apparently Ace decided to pay anything I looked at for more than ten seconds.

Infuriated, I tried to talk him out but it was too late. He was already in a He-man-mode. I put the black stilettos back.

“Stop it. We already had those argues, Ace”, I huffed as I grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the shop to the next bench.

“You stay here”, I bossed and put the bags next to him. “I’m going to buy something, and you won’t even get near to that store.”

He opened his mouth just to shake his head and I walked straight back. I didn’t actually want to buy anything but better not give him an opportunity to spend his money for me. I looked around and spotted a small jeweler. Iridescent crystals were formed to pendants on bracelets, necklaces or beautiful earrings. They were sparkling, the light diverging to all the rainbow colors.

Huh, maybe I could get something for him. Does he like jewels?

Spinning around, I examined some necklaces that had beautiful crystals wrapped in a chord.

“Can I help you?”, the old seller asked me politely.

“Oh, um, I am looking for… a gift for my boyfriend.”

“Ah, do you have something in mind? Something he would like?”

Nope.

“No, unfortunately… I have no idea.”

“That is not a problem.” Kindly, he showed me a few crystal bracelets, attached with a thick leather band, and necklaces that bore small quartzes.

A necklace with a light blue splint of a quartz caught my eye. It was an icy blue color, shimmering like the Caribbean Sea. Like the color of Ace’s eyes.

“It looks beautiful”, I said.

“Indeed. It’s Opalite”, he explained. “Only a few mines can unearth those minerals.”

The surface was soft, smooth under the pads of my thumbs.

Under the light I noted tiny lines swirled around the gemstone. Like electric wire they were glowing whitish inside the Opalite. I noticed a small tag attached to it. I glanced at it and found something other than the price written on it. A word. Protection. I looked around and apparently each necklace meant something else. Strength, healing, fortitude… each one was different. But this one was unique.

“It’s perfect”, I mumbled, already in awe.

Without hesitating, I took out my purse. I knew the more I’d keep looking, the more I would second-guess my decision.

The seller placed the necklace into a tiny box as I took out my card. Looking at the price, I nearly choked. It was a small fortune, but it was worth it. Hopefully, he’ll like… I’ll keep the check. Just in case.

Once I was outside, I found him leaning against the back of the bench and stretching his long legs.

Silky lashes lifted as I approached him.

“Did you find something?”

“Yep”, I said, beaming. For a second I wanted to give him the necklace but somehow, I figured it wasn’t the right moment. Maybe he’d go straight back and give it back?

“You know, most girls are happy when their boyfriend buys them something”, he sighed, getting up.

“I know, and I’m grateful, really. But you–”

“But nothing, Cec”, he cut in. He bent down his head, murmuring, “Let me spoil you with clothes that I can rip off your body.”

His eyes narrowed down on me and I could basically see the naughty things he was thinking. “You are so–” I stopped when I took a step back and almost bumped into someone.

“Oops–”

I jerked to a halt before crashing right into a girl with dark, beautiful curls. My eyes wandered from her hair to her face. She gave me a polite smile before her eyes wandered to Ace.

In an instant her face beamed.

“Ace?”, she gasped, her voice dulcet. Her smile brightened on her heart-shaped face when she suddenly threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.

My gaze wandered from her to the guy next to her who greeted Ace just as amicably as soon as the girl disentangled herself from him.

“Leah. Seb”, he said, smiling at them. “Great to see you.”

“You too! How are you?”, she said when her warm eyes rested on me, her smile contagious.

“I’m good. Cec, that’s Leah and Sebastian, my friends from college”, Ace explained. “That’s Cecily. My girlfriend.”

The sound of it never ceased to please me.

Leah’s eyes went wide while Sebastian gave Ace a small grin.

“Cool! Nice to meet you”, she shined, giving me a tight hug. She was smaller than me albeit much stronger than she looked. And chirping like a fairy.

“Yeah, you too”, I said, shaking Sebastian’s hand.

“What are you even doing here Ace?”, Sebastian asked. “You’re here for good?”

He shook his head. “Nah, just vacations.”

Sebastian nodded shortly, a little disappointed.

“So, anyway, how are you? How is California?”, Leah asked and he basically summed up what’d happened those past months. Apparently they knew the reason why he left but I guessed no one wanted to mention Victoria. Which made them kind of an ally?

They started talking about people and places I’d never heard of. Okay. This was weird.

Leah suddenly clapped her hands together. “Oh my gosh, you came because of your birthday, right?! I had totally forgotten but Vince mentioned it yesterday!”

I felt my jaw hit the ground.

Slowly, I turned to Ace, my look giving away the unspoken thoughts in me. Mostly insults.

“Birthday?”, I asked and watched Leah’s curls bounce as she nodded.

“Yeah, Monday, right?”

Narrowing my eyes on Ace, I said, “Monday’s your birthday?”

He sighed, nodding. “Uh-huh.”

“But… how… why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because it’s not a big deal. I didn’t want you to plan a stupid surprise party or something.” He turned his gaze to Leah and Sebastian. “Same goes for you. I didn’t come because of my birthday, so no party and that bullshit.”

Leah opened her mouth, but I was faster. “I wouldn’t have planned a surprise party. But I would’ve liked to know before. I could’ve prepared something nice… or…”

Feeling the gazes of the others on me, I stopped. I couldn’t fight with him here, in front of two people I just had met.

“I could have picked a nice present”, I mumbled, mentally compiling a list of things I could buy him today.

“You don’t have to buy me anything, Cec.”

I dropped the topic for now, yet my look was signalizing that this issue was anything but over.

Ace turned to Leah. “Vince, you said?” He snorted, shaking his head. “Of course that moron would remember.” Within seconds, I watched Ace’s face light up as he asked how he was doing. There was so much warmth in his voice that I started wondering who that Vince was.

 “So, I guess you don’t have any plans for tomorrow?” She looked hopefully at us.

We exchanged quick glances, but Ace huffed, “No birthday party.”

“Fine, fine! My gosh, you didn’t change the bit”, she scowled. “But you’re lucky there’s a party at Farraday’s tomorrow anyway. You know Miguel, he doesn’t need a reason to party. Anyway, you two could come if you don’t have any other plans. No gifts or cakes, I promise.”

Ace quickly glanced at me and I shrugged. Not telling me about his birthday bothered me but then, he just didn’t want me to buy him anything. Which annoyed me even more. He didn’t want me to pay for my new clothes, fine. I could live with that kind of gallantry. But I wouldn’t let him take away my chance to buy him at least a gift for his frickin’ birthday.

“Sure”, I mumbled, a little taken aback from this sudden change of plans. Not that I had any plans for tomorrow night but I thought of cooking something nice and watching a movie.

Okay. That sounded boring. He sure would want to spend his birthday doing something more exciting.

“Yeah, sure, we’ll be there”, I said, more reassuring.

“Really?”, he mouthed only to me.

“Yep”, I answered.

“Awesome!”, Leah said, clapping her hands. Despite this knot in my chest, I smiled at her cheerfulness.

“Huh, I still need a dress for tomorrow, then”, she added. Sebastian groaned, shaking his head.

“You already have tons”, he said but she just shook her curly head, looking deeply offended.

“So not true. Also, a girl can never have too many dresses. You weren’t much of a help by the way, Sebastian.”

She smiled sweetly at him but he just rolled his eyes.

A dress. Shit.

A sudden idea darted like a flash through my mind.

“How about we go shopping?”, I asked Leah. “If you’re not having plans right now of course…”, I added, glancing from Sebastian back at her. “I’m sure I would be much more of a help than Sebastian. Sorry, no offense”, I added.

“Sounds fantastic”, she and Sebastian said in unison. They didn’t share a look, like they were used to saying the same thing.

Maybe Leah knew a perfect gift for Ace.

“You sure?”, Ace asked quietly, and I nodded.

“Yeah, it’s cool. You guys can spend the rest of the day catching up. I see you at the apartment”, I quickly gave him a small kiss and took Leah’s arm.

 

“Thanks for coming with me”, I said to Leah once we got inside the mall.

“No need to”, she answered. “Sebastian was rather a burden.”

I giggled. “I guess shopping with your boyfriend wasn’t very exciting.”

She uttered a shrill laugh, carefree to the core. “Sebastian’s my brother. But you’re right. It wasn’t fun.”

She cleared her throat, heading to the next fashion shop. “Also, I wanted to get to know Ace’s new girlfriend”, she added, giving me a small wink.

I uttered a small laugh. “Yeah, everyone seems to be quite surprised about that.” I thought about that Nicole-girl and the small knot was back.

“Well, I’ve known Ace for a long time and he… err, didn’t date many girls.”

Nicely put. I could sense that she didn’t want to hurt me.

“I know. He told me a little about his past.”

“Oh. So… you know about Victoria?”

I nodded, ambling through a line of other dresses.

Her curly head bounced next to me when she grabbed a black, tight skirt.

“Well, I never liked that bitch anyway.”

I burst out into laughing. She was outgoing, no doubt. And her sassy comments together with her calm attitude reminded me somehow of Cassy and Ruby, even though her dress style was even bolder than Cassy’s.

I already liked her.

A few dresses caught her attention but it was either the color she disliked or the shape, or simply everything.

I guess it’ll be that kind of party where half of the girls would be half-naked and the other half on their way of being completely nude.

“Ugh, I just wear that one dress in my closet. I tossed it there a few weeks ago but it’s a lot more stylish than any here.” She eyed me for a second as I put back a strapless dark blue dress.

“Hm, what?”, I asked.

“I have just the perfect dress for you at my place. You totally have the legs for it.”

“Oh… uh, yeah, cool”, I stuttered.

“Great! So, let’s get out of this shop. The dresses are tedious, anyway.”

I muffled my giggle as the vendor turned her head to us and scowled.

“Oh no, wait! I need to buy Ace a gift.” The necklace was beautiful, no doubt – but I’d never seen him wearing anything like that and for his birthday gift, I wanted to be on the safe side.

“Okay. But first I need to eat something. You like Thai?”

I nodded and she dragged me to Baisi Thai. I had to agree, my stomach was howling.

At the Thai restaurant, I nervously bit my nails once we ordered some food. My list of things that Ace could probably like evaporated like morning dew on a hot summer day the more Leah told me. I’d always been terrible at choosing presents and usually ended up in getting something impersonal but this time I had some really good ideas.

“I give up”, I sighed. “Apparently, he wouldn’t like anything or already has most of the things I thought of.”

I stabbed some lettuce with my fork and shoved it into my mouth.

“Don’t worry, you’ll find something. Also, it’s not about the gift. I’m sure he’ll like anything from you.”

“Then I should just buy him a few oranges and a pack of condoms. That would be the ideal gift”, I mumbled and watched Leah shaking with laughter.

“Good idea. Huh, now that you mentioned it, I also need a few things from the grocery store.”

We paid and Leah showed me the shortest way to the next grocery store. Just when I was about to enter the shop, a book store on the other side of the street caught my attention. Sunlight Bookseller and Publisher was written in old calligraphy and the urge to cross the street and catch a glimpse at some new bestseller books was too great.

“Go ahead. I’ll be right back”, I said, on my way to catch a glimpse.

The small bell rang above my head as I walked through the door and the smell of new books invaded my nostrils. Everywhere rows of new books, bestsellers or classics lined on the wall. My eyes scanned the room for something Ace would like but like a magnet my fingers were pulled to the books written by my favorite authors.

Reluctantly, I tore my gaze away from the books I liked and headed to the others.

Science fiction and thrillers… that’s what Ace had told me. And classics, too, but I guess he already read most of them.

Reality struck me as I found myself wondering for more than fifteen minutes what he could like.

Sherlock Holmes books were sold, and the other thrillers sounded either completely psychotic or boring. But maybe that was just my taste? I rubbed my temples, annoyed that I couldn’t even find a book for him. Leah joined me, but headed straight to the piles of comic books.

“You like comics?”, I asked, surprised.

Her cheeks turned a little pink when she nodded. “Yeah, I know I’m a total geek.”

I chuckled. “Not at all. I watched every Marvel movie.”

With a smile, Leah kept looking for some superhero comic when I sat down on a chair at the corner of the room. A few piles of biographies of important people flanked from each side and I let my eyes wander from the familiar faces of famous actors, former presidents to dead Pulitzer Prize winners and politicians.

A warm smile was on Nelson Mandela’s face when he stared at me. It was a picture shortly after he got released from jail and happiness was spread all over his features. A quote was written on the cover of the book, simple but burning in my mind. Forget the past.

I grabbed the book and began to read a few passages until I plunged into the descriptive biography of a man that dedicated his life to other people. I knew his life was more than sad, and it was even more impressive that he reached out to millions of people.

Forget the past.

I should tell that Ace. The way he still holds a grudge against his father was incomprehensible to me. Or against his brother. Even this city.

I was impassioned by the biography of South Africa’s former president that suffered so much and didn’t lose hope. Time flew and I didn’t realize that I was reading the whole chapter until Leah snapped her fingers in front of my eyes.

“Hello? Cecily?”

I looked up. “I have the perfect gift for Ace”, I said and walked to the checkout counter.

“Cool”, Leah said, bending her head to read the title. “You sure… um he likes biographies?”

“Well, he likes books. And I think that one would make him reflect on things differently.”

She didn’t look convinced but I was positive about this one. It wasn’t the fanciest gift but at least something that could be useful. I hoped so.

“So, who’s Vince by the way?”, I asked.

“Ace’s best friend”, she answered. “They’ve know each other since high school.”

“Oh, wow.”

Never mentioning his best friend to me seemed a little weird, but that’s just who Ace was.

“Okay now that you have your birthday gift, we can go to my place”, she said. “But I have to warn you, my room is a bit messy.”

I laughed. “Don’t worry, my room’s probably worse.”

 

Nope. Definitively, a big, fat no.

I always considered myself as a slightly messy person, but Leah definitively topped me. Dark green walls flanked the room and sparkled with silver paint dots. I couldn’t quite determine where her bed was but my guess was under the huge pile of glittering clothes. Even her little vanity table didn’t remain uncovered; bras and glitter framed her mirror while her make-up laid onto her table.

“Sorry for the mess”, she said, grabbing a few clothes from a chair. “Here, sit. Do you want to drink something?”

“No, thanks.” I smiled, ignoring the stinging smell of hairspray and perfume in this room.

“So… let’s see, where is that dress?”, she mumbled and disappeared in her closet. More clothes kept flying from her closet for a while.

“So… you live here with your brother?”, I asked when a silver sequined dress grazed my temple.

“No. He goes to college two hours away from here. But I have a roomie. She’s overseas right now”, she explained, tossing more dresses on her bed. “Where is that – ah, found it!” 

She pulled something red and wiggled it in front of my face. Not crimson or decent rose. Stinging, eye-catching, burning red. Slinky as hell.

“That’s a negligee”, I said as I saw how much it would cover me probably.

Leah looked beyond shocked. “It’ll cover half of your thighs. Look, it’s stretchy. Now try it on.”

She winked and shoved me to her bathroom.

I wriggled the dress on over my head and held my breath. Yup, it was tight. The hem reached halfway my thighs and small spaghetti straps covered my shoulders. But the décolleté revealed a good part of my breasts.

Trying not to inhale too deeply, I walked out of the room and watched Leah’s eyes widen, her lips puckering to blow a whistle.

“Wow, you look damn good, girl. You’re going to drive him crazy with that dress.”

“I’m not sure”, I mumbled, unused to see that much of my breasts. “I’m not even sure he likes the color.”
“Pfft… of course he does. Trust me.” She snapped her fingers, eyeing my much-exposed legs. “Shoes. Need some?”

“Nope.” At least something. “But thanks.”

She nodded while I kept tugging at the hem or trying to pull the top up. Leah sighed, fishing a black leather jacket out of her clothes-mountain.

“Here, if the décolleté bothers you that much, you can put the jacket on.”

I smiled. “Thanks. Now that’s better.”

I changed into my other clothes and stuffed her things in a bag. “Thank you again, Leah”, I said as I headed to the door.

“No need to.”

I hugged her goodbye and we parted. I was still nervous about that party, especially when I thought about all the people I didn’t know or what they will think of “Ace’s new girlfriend”. I hated that term already and was glad that Leah didn’t mention it again.

 

Back at the apartment, I headed straight to the bedroom and hid the bag with his gifts together with Leah’s red dress.

The old wall clock read seven thirty. After making up the bed with the clean, new sheets, I didn’t quite know what to do except waiting for Ace to come back. I was happy for him to spend time with his friends and I wasn’t one of the needy girls who had to be around their boyfriends all the time. Yet somehow, I already missed him. 

I called at home but no one picked up. They were probably busy with packing. Thinking about them brought me back to hard reality. I banished those thoughts the minute they crossed my mind.

I was here. With Ace. And I was happy. No one was going to take away this happiness from me.

A warm feeling crept down my stomach as I thought of Ace’s offer to move in with him. It was a weak moment and he probably just wanted to cheer me up. Still, the thought was exquisite, and yet it seemed so far.

Grabbing a book from the shelves, I lolled on the couch and read the first sixty pages of Robinson Crusoe before I drifted to sleep.

But the noise from the front door instantly woke me as I found Ace leaning against the frame, chuckling.

“Are you laughing at me”, I slurred as he came closer.

The corner of his lips curled up. “Maybe. Scoot”, he said and lounged next to me, pulling me closer. I snuggled against him and smelled a faint smell of liquor.

“You had fun I see.”

“Yeah, Seb and I went to a bar.”

“Relax, I’m not drunk”, he sighed as he noticed the worried look on my face.

True, he seemed fine. And I wanted him to have fun with his friend.

My head rested on top of his chest as I wrapped my arm around his waist.

My t-shirt flashed a little bit of my stomach as Ace’s hand made its way to my exposed flesh.

“Mh-hm.” Soft fingers explored my skin, drawing slow circles around my beauty patch. Slowly, I was beginning to get fuzzy, my brain turning to mush and I almost forgot why I had been mad at him.

But then I remembered.

Disengaging from his hold, I fiercely smacked his chest, hoping that the faint bruises would still hurt. His breath hitched.

“What was that for?”, he panted.

“How about for not telling me that Monday’s your birthday?”

He screwed his eyes shut and I could basically hear the counting-to-ten in his head to calm down.

“I don’t do birthdays, Cec.”

Like a tsunami, words broke out of my mouth and I had no more any control over them.

“I don’t care! I could have picked a really, really nice gift that you would’ve actually liked if you had told me before!”

“Cec–”

“No, don’t Cec me!”, I huffed. “I want to repay you for everything that you did for me and I have no idea how to express my gratitude. I don’t have a job which never bothered me so far but right now it’s pissing me off. Just to think that I can’t even give you a tiny bit of the money you gave to my brother or to that asshole Aro makes me just sick. I don’t think you can begin to understand the way I feel otherwise you wouldn’t react like that. So, excuse me if I’m such a bad person just because I want to buy a decent present for my boyfriend.”

I was panting the moment I finished. I kept glaring at him but his face was not giving away anything except a killing smirk. I wanted to smack that smirk out of his face.

“Great, and now you’re laughing at me.”

“Cec, would you shut up for two seconds and let me talk?” I opened my mouth to insult him but he pressed his palm against it.

“That’s exactly why I didn’t want to tell you about the money.” He sucked in a deep breath between his teeth before he continued, “I knew you’d feel obliged to pay me back and I don’t know how often I have to tell you that I don’t want that. It was a high sum, I know, but I did it for you. And I’d do it again if I had to.”

He withdrew his hand and turned back to his serious-mode, his eyes blazing like diamonds.

“I don’t want you to pay me back. Ever. Or mention paying me back. And I don’t want you to worry about the money, I can assure you I have enough for us both. If you want to have a job, that’s fine. But you shouldn’t work with the intentions of some sort of obligation toward me. Got it?”

As he finished, my head started once again to feel like mush, as well as the rest of my body.

In an odd way, I could understand what he felt, and his behavior. And I loved him more for his resolution. I knew arguing wouldn’t bring us far, so I just nodded.

Ace cupped my cheeks, forcing me to look at him. Now he was grinning; that infuriating, cocky grin.

“What a miracle. Cecily Martesse, you have no arguments anymore?”, he taunted, pushing it way too far.

“Oh, I have a hell lot of arguments that I want to throw at that pighead of yours.” I cleared my throat, and softened my features. “But what you said was sweet, so I’m a little less mad at you.” The last part I mumbled, hoping that he would overhear it but who was I kidding.

“Mh-hm”, he said, and pulled me on top of him.

He planted a soft kiss on the top of my head as I listened to his steady heartbeat.

“How was it with Leah?”, he asked after a while.

“Good. She’s nice. A little freaky but nice. She didn’t find a dress so we went to her place.” I gave him a brief summary of her room and he chuckled, saying that she’d always had a chaotic nature.

“She insisted that I should wear a dress of hers tomorrow.”

I bit my lip. Luckily, he couldn’t see my face right now and read my face expression.

“Oh, really?” I felt him looking down at me. “And will I like it?”

I could basically see his smirk but I just shrugged. “I guess. It’s red.”

He closed his eyes and chuckled deeply. “Then I will love it.”

My brows rose. “Why?”

As his luminous eyes opened, a shudder rolled through me. “I have the feeling that color suits you well. Very well.” A smirk rested on his face, as if he were secretly laughing.

Before I could give a witty response, he shifted his body. One hand steadied him on the couch, the other was tingling my belly as he drew slow circles on my exposed skin. His breath was warm against my cheek when his lips inched closer.

“Enough talking”, he whispered.

He cupped my cheeks when I felt soft lips brush mine as lightly as a feather. He put the right pressure for me to part my lips. My skin began to tingle and a slow warmth rose in me, leaving me all dizzy. I could feel it in every part of my body as his tongue invaded my mouth, sweeping over mine. The warmth turned to a heat, increasing rapidly as he drew slow circles with the pad of his thumb. Touching him always felt like having a fever. Kissing him like pure fire.

Against his mouth, I groaned softly.

Hell yes: enough talking.

 

The next day, my nerves began to get the best of me as I imagined the possibilities of how the night could turn out. And again, I wondered what his friends would be like, if they were going to like me and vice versa.

Get a grip, Martesse! Sebastian and Leah seemed to be nice people, and meeting some of Ace’s friends would be fun.

When I finished with my hair, I opened the door, asking Ace when we should be there.

“Doesn’t matter.”

I looked at my watch. “Well, don’t you want to get ready?”

He got up from the bed, leaning against the door frame. “You sure you wanna go there?”

“Yes, for crying out loud. What’s going on with you? That’s the fifth time you asked me.”

He rubbed the back of his neck, closing his eyes.

“Nothing. They’re just… different.”

I frowned. “Sebastian and Leah seemed pretty normal to me. And I guess Vince will be just as… friendly”, I added.

He chuckled. “Vince is… you’ll see.”

I shut off my doubtful thoughts and concentrated on getting dressed. Once again, I exhaled deeply before slipping into that skintight dress. I checked myself in the bathroom mirror and yup, my breasts still looked like popping out at any moment. I slipped into my black pumps and went for a light makeup.

“How long are you going to stay in the bathroom by the way–”, he began but his mouth stayed open as I stepped out.

“So…what do you–?”

“Holy fuck.”

Ace’s eyes went wide as they slowly swept along my body. He sucked in a low breath and came closer.

“My eyes are up here”, I said, cracking a grin.

“Mmm…”, he mumbled, reluctantly looking up.

“It’s not too much, right?”

“Totally. A big, fat too much”, he said, licking his bottom lip.

He looked around the room and found Leah’s jacket on the bed. “You should wear a jacket.”

My brows raised as I heard his bossy tone and a small, annoyed inner-me awoke. I wanted to wear that jacket anyway, but hell, there was no way he’d tell me what to wear or not.

“Are you dictating me what to wear?”, I asked, implying that this was a dangerous territory.

“No, I’m not”, he said, throwing the jacket over my shoulders. “But I could not bear other guys looking at you the way I am now.”

I knew what he meant. I didn’t want others to pierce me with their lustful looks, either, so I felt a bit more comfortable the moment the material covered my skin.

My eyes scanned Ace’s outfit and I wondered how simple jeans and a deep blue shirt could look so hot on him.

He was bent at the waist to put on his leather boots, and my gaze transfixed his firm ass. What a tempting view. As he turned around, a slow grin plastered on his lips. Shit, I had been caught.

“Should I bend again so you could get a good look at my ass?”

“I would need more time for that”, I mumbled. Clearing my throat, I arranged the collar of his shirt.

“I… err, have something for you.”

His brows rose and I sensed he wanted to complain about pre-birthday gifts, but I cut in on him.

“Before you say something, I bought it before I knew that tomorrow’s your birthday.”

Feeling the weight of his gaze on me, I made my way to my closet and fished the tiny box.

“Close your eyes.”

Sighing, he obeyed. I opened the tiny clip and raised on my tiptoes to close it behind his neck. The pendant softly fell on his chest and ended a little bit above his heart.

“It’s Opalite”, I explained when he opened his eyes and examined the pendant. “Um… I was looking for some gemstones until I found that one. I wasn’t sure if you like necklaces but I can bring it back if you don’t, I still have the–”

“It’s beautiful.” Ace’s deep voice interrupted my waterfall of words. The pendant laid between his fingers; the clear color of the Opalite stood in contrast to the dark shirt he was wearing.

His eyes broke away from the necklace and glowed just as much. “Thanks, Cec”, he said, he said and wrapped his fingers around my wrist.

I bit my lip. “So… you like it?”

He nodded, twisting it around his fingers. “Very much. Even though it wasn’t necessary. But still, thank you.”

The feeling of relief made me smile at him. I could see he did like it.

I grabbed my tiny purse and checked again my make-up in the mirror. With Ace behind me I could almost hear his dirty thoughts.

“God, if any guy looks at you, I swear I’ll break his teeth”, he slurred.

I shrieked. “You’re going to be a dentist! You should repair and not break them!”

He shrugged, which alarmed me even more. “Don’t care. You do realize that I won’t let you out of my sight tonight”, he murmured, his voice sending shivers through me.

“I can live with that.”

“That’s what I wanted to hear”, he said and snatched the keys. 

 

Ace pulled up to Miguel’s house and I already heard music pouring through the open windows and door.

I placed my hand in his as Ace and I walked through the door, moving between crowds of people to the smoke-filled living room.

Drinks were placed in our hands but we both mutely agreed not to drink tonight. I still shuddered each time I thought about last time I’d drunken.

Shouts of joy and surprise filled my ears when some people greeted Ace. Girls teetered in ending-right-at-the-butt skirts or were showing double of their breasts than me. Good to know I could’ve gone wilder, apparently.

My eyes scanned the room, hoping I would find Leah somewhere but it was no use for now. Semi-loud music clanged through the glazed doors to the huge pool where most of the people danced.

“Ace!”, a male voice called behind me.

I turned around to see the guy shaking Ace’s hand. I cringed a little at the appearance of him: piercings glittered all over his face: on his nose, his eyebrow and I could catch a glimpse of a tongue piercing when he talked. Two big bolts pierced his earlobes but that was unspectacular in comparison to his metallic-silver hair in contrast to his mocha colored skin. I tried to picture the real face underneath and was glad to see a warm smile around his face as he looked at me.

“Hi, I’m Miguel. Nice to meet you.”

“Cecily. Thanks, you too.”

So that was the host. He ushered us to the couch in the middle of the dim room and took a seat next to Ace. “Can I get you something?” He offered a beer but I declined.

“Sorry. I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol”, I answered. Besides, beer tastes gross.

I looked around the mansion. The interior was just as fancy as the exterior.

“Your house is…” Extravagant. Posh. “Nice”, I decided.

“Belongs to my old man”, he said, shrugging one shoulder. “Convenient that he’s not here often.” He winked and brought the bottle to his lips.

“Business trips?”, I guessed.

“Brothel trips.”

Miguel’s expression didn’t change. There wasn’t bitterness or anger in his voice, he was just stating the facts. A father who works his ass off abroad and misses most of his children’s upbringing was painfully familiar to me.

“Sorry”, I mumbled.

“Don’t be.”

Ace laid his hand between my shoulder blades and I drank in that one small gesture.

My eyes scanned once again the room for Leah, but she was nowhere to be seen.

“You just had to invite everyone you know, Miguel”, Ace growled as others kept coming.

Miguel laughed, long and light. “Don’t blame it on me. It’s the end of the semester. And when Vince heard you were coming he had to tell half Chicago about it.”

“Where is he even?”, Ace asked just to be interrupted by a loud voice.

“Right here, Skidmore.”

I followed Ace’s gaze and spotted a tall guy leaning against the frame. My gaze dropped to his body: broad shoulders and defined muscles were clearly visible under the white polo shirt. His skin was tanned golden and his hair ash blond. High cheekbones, and a cleft chin formed his face like a sculpture. His full lips curled up to a smile and his cheeks showed prominent dimples that made him even hotter. Wow… he was quite attractive, I had to admit.

God, if Cassy and Ruby were here, they would devour him. Hell, they would eye-fuck him right now. Especially Ruby.

He was exactly her type. He had this defined and angular face, with a perfect jawline – an elegance of an old era. Like a gentleman from the Victorian age or something.

He was quite handsome, yet it didn’t impress me. He had a different type of beauty than Ace. He was too perfect, too flawless.

Maybe my love for Ace made me see things from a different point of view, but I could certainly tell that this guy was not my type.

The way he moved his body showed a certain swiftness when he fluidly crossed the distance between us to give Ace a loud clap on his back.

So that must be Vince.

His eyes darted to me as he held out his hand and I wrapped my fingers around it to greet him.

“Hi, I’m Cec–”

“Cecily, I know”, he cut in. “Leah told me. Wow, she looks amazing, Ace.”

“Don’t push it, Vince”, Ace said, but the lightness in his tone made me at ease. So Vince was clearly not of the break-their-teeth-people. His loyalty must be great if Ace trusted him that much.

Vince sat down opposite us, taking a sip of his beer. “You know I would never steal her from you.”

Before Ace replied, I opened my mouth. “I wouldn’t let you even if you tried”, I snapped, harsher than I had intended to.

I wanted to bite my tongue for that comment. Great. Heat flowed through my face and I couldn’t even blame it on the alcohol. I wasn’t tipsy and already–

“Bold”, Vince said, smiling at me. “I like her.”

Despite his charms, he wasn’t pushy. I sensed his flirty manner was reflex rather than personal.

“Err, thanks.”

I didn’t think I’ve ever seen Ace smiling at the mention of his father, but there seemed to be an unspoken memory hanging between him and Vince when he said Skidmore.

“So tell me, Cecily. How did that jerk get to have such a gorgeous girl like you?”

Ace flipped him off. “With my charms, Vince. You could use some of it yourself.”

I raised my eyebrow, astonished that he really believed that, and propped my arms up on my elbows. I leaned forward.

“Seriously, he was a jerk, you’re right”, I said to Vince and watched the others chuckling.

With every passing minute, I relaxed as I shared some stories about how Ace and I had met and how he had driven me insane with his behavior. He still does, though.

Vince was making it easy to relax too. He liked teasing Ace just as much as I did and vice versa. I could see the deep friendship between the two of them – although they were rather insulting each other than actually talking in a normal manner.

It still astonished me that he never mentioned Vince even though they seemed to be on good terms and acting more like brothers than his actual brother.

I gladly heard some stories about the two of them and watched Ace bursting with laughing. I’d never seen him that carefree and happy.

I knew it was a good thing to come to Chicago.

“So that’s when he grabbed my arm and we started running before the cops could catch us”, Vince finished the next story.

Knowing Ace’s affinity to get himself into trouble was one thing. But to think of a person being even more reckless than Ace frightened me.

“I didn’t think you were the reasonable one, Ace”, I said between some laughs.

“Me? No. Vince was the one who always saved my ass at the end.”

“Yup”, Vince said, clicking his tongue. “He was such a pain in the ass. But at least he was a genius and saved my ass during lab courses in college.”

“Oh, you study dentistry?”, I asked and could not hide the surprise in my voice.

“Of course”, he said, shrugging.

Just when we shared a few stories from college about patients and lab courses, I spotted a curly-haired head at the door. A strapless, black dress flattered her hourglass curves in an exquisite way and her long hair was pinned into a messy ponytail, bouncing between her shoulder blades as she took off her jacket. She looked beautiful.

She was talking to someone but I was already on my feet.

“Excuse me”, I mumbled as I got up and walked to her.

“Cecily!”, Leah called and gave me a tight hug. I think my bones cracked under her force but I just smiled at her. Glittering eyeshadow encircled her eyes and her make-up was on point. She looked pretty.

“Wow, Leah, you look hot.”

She smiled sweetly. “Thanks. So do you.”

Smiling, I looked at the girl she had been talking to. She looked like an elf; delicate features formed a half-smirk when she flipped her long, bronze hair over her shoulder and nipped elegantly at her cup.

Somehow, the gesture was familiar.

“So, this is Megan. Megan, Cecily.”

Ignoring her scanning eyes, I stretched out my hand and shook her hand. Despite her imposing height, she was a lightweight when it came to handshakes.

“Oh, you’re Ace’s girlfriend”, Megan said after the next nip. She didn’t put it as a question, and I could already sense a hint of bitchiness in her voice.

“Exactly.”

“Interesting”, she mumbled, her eyes narrowing. “Didn’t think he’d find someone else after Victoria. They were so… perfect.” 

Ouch. Now that hurt like a jellyfish sting. Bitch.

I could feel my head getting blank with jealousy but I couldn’t afford jumping here at Megan. Although it took every bit of self-control not to.

I gave her a fake smile. “Apparently not enough since he broke up with her.”

She equaled my smile. “Some people don’t know what’s good for them. Or realize it later.”

“And some people realize what’s poisoning them.”

She chuckled. “Cute that you think like that. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get bored. It happens easily with Ace.”

The moment I opened my mouth, daring her to explain that phrase, Sebastian appeared and wrapped his arm around her waist.

“Making new friends, babe?”, he asked her. She pulled him closer to her and gave him a deep, long and much tongue-needed kiss.

I concealed my urge to vomit by staring at Leah who made gagging noises. “Ew. Seriously guys. I want to keep my dinner in my stomach.”

I giggled. Sebastian turned his gaze to me once they had finished nibbling at each other’s lips.

“Sorry, sis.” He cleared his throat and turned to me. “So, you met Megan.”

I forced a smile. “Yeah. Ace has some really… nice friends.” Not everyone.

Somehow, she had devilish side. Devious and malicious, I could sense that after the first two seconds. And the more I got to talk to Sebastian and the others, the more I asked myself why he was together with her.

She must be really good in bed.

I glanced at Ace and saw him laughing with Miguel and Vince. There was a lot to catch up with his friends, I guess.

I sighed. “I’ll go freshen up”, I said mostly to Leah, since Megan seemed to consider me as invisible.

“Upstairs, down the hall and then turn left”, someone told me when I asked.

Just as I wanted to go upstairs, I remembered having left my purse with Ace, so I headed back to the living room.

Holding my breath, I slipped between some clouds of smoke blown into my face and finally reached the much-crowded room. Swaying bodies and hot make-out sessions blocked my way yet I finally reached the couch where Ace was sitting with Miguel.

Except that there wasn’t Miguel by his side.

A waterfall of blond hair fell over his shoulders as she flipped them elegantly. The exposed skin of her long legs was inching closer as she lightly clapped his chest. She was laughing. Long and joyous. Her eyes sparkled as she dug her fingers into his biceps, talking in a low voice to him.

 

Anger and nausea fought about who was going to get the upper hand, but anger clearly won. The longer I kept looking, the harder I dug my nails into my skin.

Victoria was here.

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