MY GUT clenched. That son of a bitch hurt Arella and got to mess up her head. Now she left angry and possibly wouldn’t talk to me again. What the fuck was I thinking? I dialed Brett immediately. Gladly, he picked up as if he was expecting my call.
“I want Arella’s number,” I quickly said what I wanted.
I groaned. “I thought you need my help. I need it now, Rogue.”
I ended the call after he agreed. I waited for him to send his sister’s number. After a few minutes of agony, I took a deep breath, trying to come up with a better idea of how to apologize before I made the call.
My heart leaped when she answered quickly. But there was something off in her voice and thought the call was from her brother.
“You should’ve checked first before you answered, lo—” The line went off.
Fuck! She hung up on me. Great! Just great.
I parked the rental at the corner of her apartment building. Brett gave me her address as well, and it was just a few blocks away from the supermarket. I closed my eyes and redialed.
“What do you want, Skipper?”
My name made my lips curve. “Can I come up, please?”
“Wait a sec. Did you follow me here?” The shock in her voice made me guiltier.
“I asked your number from your brother, and he was quite generous to give me your address as well.”
“Well, how nice of him? Why did you ask for my number?”
I ignored her sarcasm. I deserved it anyway. I climbed out of my car and looked up at the old brick building in front of me— not old enough to be destroyed by a low magnitude earthquake, but old for someone who could afford a decent apartment.
“I was an arse earlier, and I want to apologize in person.”
“Apology accepted. And here I thought you’re late for your appointment.”
“I said in person, Arella. And you can’t avoid me all the time. Your lab and your future job lie in your hands, and we have a seven-figure deal together, remember? So whether you like it or not, we still see each other at work and on weekends, love.” Yeah, idiot, way to completely scare her away.
“Don’t threaten my job, Skipper. And I’m not working alone on that project, remember? And you missed a few details, blokey because I’m only a trainee, so I don’t give a damn about the deal.”
I grinned. “I know, love. So why don’t you invite me up so we can have dinner?”
“Oh, my God! You’re unbelievable!” She was clearly unamused. “You just hurt my feelings and accused me of lying earlier, Skipper. I’m alone, and I don’t trust you. You’re literally a stranger to me.” Smartarse! You trusted me back there, so what changed now when we both knew we were free to do whatever we wanted?
“Fine, I’ll go. We still have a game to play on Saturday, right?” I got back in my car, squeezing my eyes shut, unable to fathom her rejection.
There was a moment of silence. My phone was still pressed against my ear, and I could hear her sighing from the other line.
“Fine. Come up. It’s apartment 03B. I am doing this for the sake of Brett, and nothing more.”
My heart raced of the possible scenario I could think, but I wouldn’t dare make any stupid things. We both paid the consequences back then, and I was not planning to let that happen again. She may have lied to me, but nothing was going to change the fact that her ex-husband had hurt her, and she had enough pain that arsehole had inflicted on her.
I knocked and stepped back, shoving my hands in my pockets. The door ajar, and gorgeous Arella looked adorably homey on her white bunny shirt and apple green pajama bottom. She tied her hair into a messy bun. And I fucking loved how she didn’t try to conceal her freckles on her makeup-free face. Her eyes and nose were still red. She was crying, wasn’t she? and it was all because of me.
My chest tightened. “Hi.” I smiled, washing my guilt out of my face.
She just made my day when she genuinely smiled back. “Come in.” Her voice was soft and a little bit unsteady.
“There’s nothing much to see inside. It’s the opposite of Brett’s apartment, but I love this place to even plan on moving out,” she explained, and I followed inside, locking the door behind me.
“I’m not here to judge your apartment, Arella. I just want to apologize for what I did earlier.” I sat on her couch with some colorful throw pillows placed on.
She picked one and sat on the sofa to my left.
“I already told you, apology accepted.” She shied, not meeting my gaze.
“About what you said earlier—”
“I don’t wanna talk about it,” she cut me off.
“No, Arella. I need to say this.” I stared at her closely, and she looked surprised. “I don’t date a woman by her size or her pretty face. I go out on a date with her because she’s funny and has accepted her flaws. My ex-girlfriend was a model, but still, our relationship ended because something didn’t work out between us. I want you to know that size and looks don’t matter to me as long as she’s true to herself.”
She looked down, but I knew she was listening, so I continued, “You are far from being fat, and so what if you are? Don’t let your ex’s words mess up your pretty brain because you’re an intelligent woman more than you give yourself credit for. You should remember that he’s a loser, and not you, Arella Rogue. He doesn’t know what he let go. Trust me, love, he’ll regret it. He’ll come back groveling to take you back. If not now, sooner. If it’s his loss, it’s another man’s gain. Trust me, and I will only say this once. You are beautiful inside and out.”
“I like the way you are right now. You don’t have to change a thing about yourself for the sake of how men will gonna judge you. Don’t give a damn if they can’t accept who you are. There are plenty more fish in the sea.” I stood up. “Thanks for giving me a chance to say things.” It felt that I’d just lost tons weighing on my shoulders. “I should go.” I walked to the door when she didn’t say a thing.
“Don’t you want to stay for dinner?” she asked.
I turned to face her. “Thank you, but I don’t think it’s a good idea.” I wanted to spend time with her and that was the problem. Her wound was still raw, and I didn’t want to be the reason to rip it open again.
“Why is that?” The way she looked at me— those innocent eyes made me want to be a sinner than I already was.
She’s just... Because I don’t want just to eat dinner with you. I want more, and it involves a lot of eating— my kind of eating, and a lot of shagging in every corner of this tiny apartment.
“You should stick to your no stranger allowed in your apartment. I’ll see you on Wednesday?”
Her brows furrowed. “Wednesday?”
“Yeah. At the lab.”
“Oh, yeah.” She rubbed the back of her neck, and it was wrong to stare, but it made me want to bite and taste it.
“Bye, love.” Before I could open the door, it swung open. A petite Asian lass appeared, wearing a green scrub suit with a red sweater.
Her face lit up like she’d seen the Man of Steel in person. “Oh, my god! You’re hotsome!” Her squinty eyes bulged. Her mouth formed an O-shaped as she poked my arm playfully.
“Who’s hotsome?” I raised my brows innocently.
“Kat!” Arella called from my back.
“Wait. Who is hotsome?” I asked again.
The woman named Kat checked me out whilst kneading my arms. “You’re a catch, hotsome.”
“KittyKat, he’s not hotsome!” Arella grabbed and released her friend’s hands on me.
I nodded slowly. “Uh-huh, the date?” I glanced at Arella. So, she talked about the guy on the app to her friend. I wondered what else she mentioned to Kat.
“Then who is this guy? Another date?” Kat asked. Arella remained tongue-tied. Her face was already creamy red.
“Wow! Are, I can’t believe you take him home. Well, if I were you, I would definitely bring him home with me, cuff him on my bedpost, and the rest is just the two of us,” Kat whispered that I could still hear, then side-glanced at me with a smirk. “Right, handsome?”
Arella glared at her with a looked telling her to shut up, but Kat seemed a type of person who never listened.
“Unfortunately, I’m not her date nor whoever this hotsome guy is.” I shrugged. “But what I can assure you of is, I’m way hotter than this guy you’re talking about, right, love?” I raised my brow to Arella, but she still had an incredulous looked on her face. “Please to meet you, pet, I’m Skip.”
Her mouth gaped open. Her eyes unbelievably widened. “Oh, my God! You are Skip Linton?”
“That’s me. Mind telling me how did you know my name? Did she talk a lot about me as well?” I smirked, pointing my thumb to Arella.
“Kat, get inside, and Skipper is leaving.” Arella grabbed my hand and dragged me away from her roommate. Her warm and soft hand made me grasp back. Jesus, I’d never been horny like this that just a simple touch from her, had my skin burned in delight. I need to get laid.
“Nice to finally meet you, Skip Hotbrit Linton!” she yelled from inside whilst Arella was still dragging towards the lift.
“Arella, how does she know me?” I stared at her, looking for any signs of lies.
“She knows Brett, and I mentioned that I met you during family dinner.” She rolled her expressive eyes.
“Yeah, that’s it. What else would it there?” She sounded annoyed and defensive.
“How about that hot arse some guy?”
“I don’t think it’s any of your business, Skipper. You don’t want to stay for dinner, then go home.”
“Are you sure you don’t have anything else to tell me, Arella?”
Her body went rigid, eyes quickly meeting mine when my voice suddenly turned sharp. “I-I don’t think I get what you mean.”
“Of course, you don’t. Keep it that way. You can be dumb, but—”
She raised her hand. “Look, Skip. I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about, and I think you might have mistaken me with someone else because I don’t know you, and I’ve never seen you in my entire life. So you better stop telling me I’m—”
“Are you sure about that? Because I haven’t mentioned to you anything else, yet—” My heartbeat pounded, and before I could tell her what tied us for years, she cut me off.
“Of course, I am sure.” She looked away.
“And you’ve never seen me before?” I stared at her intently and hissed with anger as to why she had to lie to me again.
I scoffed. “Such a terrible liar.”