WHEN I got out of my last relationship, I decided not to ever get serious with a woman again, or she had to come with me where ever I go. Then, her entrance just caught me off guard. Things got offhanded.
Arella Reighan Rogue was nothing like in her picture. When I first saw her, she was already beautiful, but now, she’d grown up into a gorgeous woman, and as sexy as fuck! She was slim back then compared to the femininely curved body she had right now. Her brown caramel hair was longer than before—it couldn’t possibly be natural because I still remembered it was the color of Champagne—it cascaded midway down her back in wavy ringlets and shone and glossed in the light from their living room. Her skin looked so soft and smooth, and pale as milk. And those puckered pink painted lips parted when I pretended not to remember her.
My heart jumped out of my throat the moment our eyes met. Her wide honey-colored eyes adorning with long ebony lashes were alluring, but there was something in those eyes that I couldn’t point my finger on— was it sadness? Regrets? Her perfect heart shape face paled when she recognized me, then blushed a crimson rose when she was paired with me over a pool.
Your eyes look magical. I’ve never seen like these before.
I thought they scared you away like most girls were.
I had been with my shared of women, but I never imagined any of them naked underneath me, unlike right now. So, what was with Arella? The forbidden fruit that worth a bite— another bite. The jolt of electricity was still there— Jesus, after all these years. Had she felt it too?
She swayed her wide hips as she walked away from us. Her turquoise mini-dress hugged her gorgeous round arse perfectly, revealing her long shaped legs that could run miles. Despite wanting to taste her, I clenched my aching jaw, remembering about her lies just to avoid a hard-on in front of her family.
Damn it! I needed to get laid. I hadn’t had longer than a week without a woman since my ex. Thanks to HeartRated!
And what the bloody hell happened to her marriage? At the other corner of my brain, I was pretty celebrating. Now I had a chance to pursue my plan.
“You okay? Homesick already?” Lorcan pulled me back to his attention.
The weather was just right, but I found myself sweating to what I thought about her. The fresh air expanded my constricted chest, making me a little calm.
“I’m too old to feel homesick, Lorcan.” I chuckled. Bitterly.
The guilt I’d been carrying for seven years worsened a thousand times. Mum and business were just part of my plans of coming back. I persuaded Dad to transfer me with reasons for taking care of my mother. I realized I was such a bloody awful son.
Since I found out about Arella’s divorce and my constant stalking her online like a creep, I finalised my decisions.
“So, how’s your first week?” Brett asked, then sipped his beer.
I leaned my back to the chair, looking up at the clear dark sky. “I have to visit the lab next week. One of our chemists just developed new scents.”
Brett chuckled, “Good luck, mate.”
My brows arched with curiosity. “Why?”
He shrugged. “Nothing.” When his phone rang, he excused himself.
When his shadow was far enough, I faced Lorcan. “I don’t want to be nosy, but what happened to Arella’s marriage?” I sounded like a nosy bitch because I was actually snooping. But a few info wouldn’t hurt. It didn’t feel right to ask Brett about his sister, or I was just guilty as shit to ask him.
“Brett didn’t tell you?” He looked at me with a hint of confusion in his voice.
“Why would he tell me?” I almost chuckled at my absurdity. Then why are you even asking him, idiot?
“Then why are asking me now?” See?
“I was wondering, and I couldn’t shut my ears off to not listen while Davin and Arella were in a serious conversation earlier. So, that bad, huh?”
“Are all British love to snoop like you?” Lorcan laughed, and it made me groan as I was afraid Brett could have heard us. “You better ask Are. I’m not the right person to tell you that, but how do you know about her divorce?”
Fuck! Lorcan fucking Rogue!
“Have you forgotten that you all just talked about it earlier?” I breathed inwardly. Good excuse.
He pursed his lips, but his blue eyes remained pin at me. “Yep, pretty bad, but Are got a good settlement. That asshole deserved it.” The clenching of his jaw was hard enough that he breathed through his nose.
I nodded in understanding and didn’t pry anymore. I looked away, feeling the unknown emotions flooding my senses. My hands fell down to the armrest. When I looked back Lorcan, his scrutinizing eyes still pinned at me. I was afraid he just saw something. Hell, I was scared he would tell Brett.
“What? Do you develop a crush on a Brit already?” I joked, trying to lessen the tension that suddenly thickened around us.
“If I haven’t known you never met Arella before, I might think you two have something.” He didn’t blink, and I swore I could feel my face burning with guilt.
The adrenaline quickly rushed through my system, making my senses heighten. My mouth fell open as I stared at him in disbelief.
I swallowed hard, licking my dry lips. “Where did that bloody idea come from?” My accent thickened. I spoke in an American way since I was here. Mum never adopted Dad’s accent, so I was used to be talking like her.
“And why the hell are you so defensive?”
“I’m not, but you, saying something like that is completely ridiculous. Arella is my best friend’s little sister, and think about our age difference, mate.”
“That’s what I’m saying. Your defensiveness is questionable. What is four years age difference? Her dad is six years older than her mom,” he said calmly while my sense was raging in alarm.
I stood up, breathing deeply. “I better go and talk to Brett. It’s late, and I should go home.”
“Just be careful, man. I’m a psychologist for a reason. I notice things that you don’t. And I saw how you looked at her.” Lorcan rubbed his chin, then shrugged.
Yeah, I fucking forgot there was a shrink in the room. How wonderful? I ignored him, walked away, and entered the house. Brett was done talking when I bid goodbye to his parents. I could sense the call was not good news.
“Skip, call me if you need anything.” Brett walked me to my car.
“I’m good and settled, mate. Thanks though.” I stopped beside my car. “Is everything okay?”
“Is she okay?” The words slipped my mouth before I even realized.
There was a brief of hesitation traced on his face, then he said, “She signed up in your dating app.”
I could feel my face lit up. Not bad at all. Thank fuck! “You mean our dating app. Doesn’t she know that’s ours?”
“Fuck no. She’ll laugh her ass out on me.”
“Then what’s wrong if she signed up?” How did I end up being so shameless to find out something about her?
Brett hadn’t mentioned anything about his sister’s personal life even once, so I respected and never asked. Unlike my life, it had never been a secret between us. Well, aside from that part.
“I don’t want her to use that app to go out on a date.”
“I thought you want her to go out on a date and have her life back,” I quoted his words.
“Yeah, but I doubt if there is any guy who’s serious to have a relationship using that app. Mostly they just want to get laid.”
“Mate, you’re too overprotective over her. Did you forget she’s old enough to take care of herself? Let her loosen up a bit. She needs it. She should date someone and forget that arsehole who broke her heart.”
I could see the pain in Brett’s face. It made me wonder what she’d been through in the hands of her arsehole ex-husband.
“She asked for my permission, Skip. Since the first time she went out on a date with that dickhead, I had this feeling that I couldn’t trust him with my sister, but Are was kind of lost. There was something missing in her eyes. The sparks, I didn’t know. But I just wanted to see her happy again. So I allowed her since she was so adamant to date that guy. If I only knew he was.” He paused and rubbed his hands over his face, then blew an exasperating sigh.
“Over these years all he did was to hurt my sister in every possible way. I never thought Are could hide it from me. It almost killed me when I found out, Skip. It was all my fault.” The pain in his eyes when he looked at me just justified that Arella had been through hell. And Brett was blaming himself.
My knuckles cracked as I fisted my hands behind my back.
“Can I help?” I asked without hesitation.
I let out a small laugh. “Brett, you’re my best friend, and if it concerns you and your family, I’m willing to do anything.” And if it concerns Arella, with all my heart, I’m in.
* * *
BRETT’S WORDS echoed repeatedly in my mind while I ran three miles on the treadmill and until I finished the hot water in the shower. I questioned myself for his sincerity and trust. Am I this trustworthy for him to trust his sister with me?
I lied on my bed, staring at the blank chatbox. I scratched my growing stubble annoyingly. All my plans had been thrown into the dustbin.
Hotsome: Hey, you up?
The chatbox instantly bubbled that put a smile on my lips.
Sinderella: Thought you won’t talk to me until I have my decision.
Hotsome: That was the plan.
Sinderella: What changed then?
Hotsome: You’re not interested, so I thought I could find someone interested in meeting up. This is the purpose of this app, right?
I waited. She didn’t reply, but her profile status showed she was still online.
Hotsome: Can I ask you one thing?
She replied immediately.
Hoтѕoмe: Are you dating anybody? I mean, do you like someone else?
Sinderella: That’s two things, hottie.
Hottie? I chuckled.
Hotsome: Choose one then.
Sinderella: Yes, I like someone.