Authors: Rebekah Daniels
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Romantic Suspense, #Teen & Young Adult, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense, #Angels, #Demons & Devils
16 years later…
Just breathe!” Nicole Summers tried to calm her rolling stomach; not knowing if it was her nerves or the current illness plaguing her lately.
Placing a hand on the table to steady herself, she shut her eyes and took a deep breath in.
It wasn’t working! She was going to be sick.
Think of something else, she told herself.
A vision of her desk at the office came to mind. It was filled with files; files of children that she would have to get back to next week, if everything went well.
Being a social worker was never an easy job, and most definitely was not one that was Monday thru Friday only.
Anything could happen, and she lately found herself not having very many days off.
She promised herself this would be a work free day, so she brought her mind back to the present.
Unfortunately, it also brought her back to the situation she was trying to avoid…
and just in time
, she thought grudgingly.
“At this time, I would like to ask the bridal party to please join the happy couple on the dance floor.”
She listened to the announcement with dread. Inwardly cursing her best friend again for paring her up with the chauvinistic Neanderthal, she started to look around the room for her allotted dance partner. At last, she finally found him breaking away from his current conquests.
With a sneer, she watched as he made his way over to her.
She had to admit, the man was a fine specimen in a tux; broad shoulders, long legs, and an impressive build. Too bad his personality was nowhere near as nice as his appearance. He was arrogant, rude, and thought he was God’s gift to women. It completely showed in the way he swaggered over to her and flashed that stupid, cocky grin of his.
“May I have this dance?”
Nicole rolled her eyes heavenward. “Unfortunately, yes,” she mumbled.
Placing her hand inside his outstretched one, she prayed her palms weren’t as sweaty as they felt to her.
Wouldn’t that be great, just another thing for him to give her a hard time about.
He turned and led them onto the dance floor to join the others that were already there.
She refused to look in his direction, choosing to look at the bride and groom instead.
They looked so happy, and oblivious to anything else around them.
The bride, Trinity, had been her friend for so long, and it was nice to see her finally happy.
She had been through a lot, but was now so much more at ease since Malachi came into her life.
He seemed like a nice enough man.
Everything had happened so quickly between the two of them, and because of that, Nicole hadn’t really had time to get to know him. For right now, he made her best friend smile, and Trinity wasn’t the type to jump into things unknown. Nicole still worried, and probably always would, but she had to trust her friend to know what she was doing.
“You look good in that dress.”
The comment broke into her thoughts, and she turned to look at her dance partner.
Of course, it was in time to catch him blatantly staring at her breasts.
“Real mature, Gemariah!”
She lifted her hand to snap in front of his face. “Eyes up here!”
He quickly glanced up at her eyes before grinning and returning his gaze to her chest.
“Can I help it that they look so perky tonight?”
She slugged him in the shoulder with her fist, which made him raise his eyes once again.
“You’re despicable… the worst. I can’t imagine what any female would see in you… but this world is full of ignorant people, I guess.” Finishing her tirade, she glanced over at the two red heads he had extracted himself from a minute ago, the ones who were still glaring in their direction.
He raised an eyebrow quizzically, and looked down at her.
“Really? Sounding a bit jealous now, aren’t we?” He actually sounded as if he were enjoying himself.
She scoffed at the ridiculous idea.
The sound of the music in the background reminded her of where they were.
Realizing that this was no place to create a scene, she plastered on a large fake smile before turning back towards him.
“For once, I just wish you would shut your mouth.
The only things that ever come out of it solidify what I have known all along… that you are more brawn than brains.” She spoke through clenched teeth and never broke her composure.
All he did was smile.
If it wasn’t for the way his pupils flared, she would have never guessed that her words affected him. Only she knew her mark had been hit, though.
Mimicking her expression, he smiled back at her.
“Do you know how big of a bitch you really are? I’ve been trying to be nice, but you won’t even give me the same courtesy.”
“Why should I?
From day one, you have never given me any reason to like you.”
“And from day one, I have told you the same thing.
You don’t know me.”
“I don’t want to know you!
You’re a bully, a jerk, and a… a liar.” She was starting to get flustered.
A look of confusion crossed his face and his smile faltered before he put it back in place.
“What have I ever lied to you about?”
She didn’t answer, she couldn’t… not here.
She was about to tell him to take a hike when they were approached from the side.
“Ahh, I knew it was too good to be true that you guys were getting along.” Malachi chuckled, and looked back and forth between the two of them. “And here we all were thinking that you guys were too entranced with each other to realize the music had stopped.”
Nicole stood up straighter and glanced around to see that everyone was watching them and smiling.
Immediately, she released her hold on him and dropped her hands.
Gemariah sneered, but addressed Malachi as he looked her up and down.
“Entranced with her? She’s nothing. Never has been, never will be. I was just thinking that I know why she’s here alone. No one wants to get the arctic freeze from the Ice Queen. Her parents must have gotten rid of her, knowing what she would have become.”
, she thought. All she could do was stare, not knowing what to do next. She couldn’t believe he had gone that far.
“What the fuck, G?”
Malachi’s explosive whisper snapped her out of her trance.
Placing hands on her stomach, she took a deep breath in to calm the rolling that had started once again.
She could feel her eyes starting to water, and she shut them for a second to ward off the tears.
Not in front of him
, she thought. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.
She hated herself for not being able to contain the sob that pushed forth, and she turned to leave the hall.
She heard Gemariah’s outburst, but didn’t stop until she made it to the restroom and locked herself inside.
Placing both hands on the door, she bowed her head and concentrated on her breathing. It was either throw up or start crying, and she didn’t want to do either.
She took note of the nicely tiled floor and the expensive wood paneling on the walls.
If there was ever a bathroom to lock oneself into this was it
, she thought.
When she started to feel herself calming down, there was a slight knock that caused her to jump back from the door.
She could have taken anyone but him right then. “Go away,” she yelled. Shutting her eyes, she prayed he complied.
“Listen… I didn’t mean what I said.”
There was a slight pause before Gemariah continued. “You just always seem to bring out the worst in me.”
Now it’s my fault?” she snapped at the door before thinking better of it. The break in her concentration was all it took, and she knew that she had to move quickly. “I can’t do this right now! Go away!” she yelled over her shoulder as she rushed to the toilet. Fortunately, she made it just in time to lose the wedding cake she had recently eaten.
“What’s going on in there?”
He knocked harder on the door. “Are you okay?”
By the tone in his voice, she could almost think he was concerned.
She wasn’t delusional enough to believe it, though. He didn’t care about anybody but himself. “Please go away!” She practically begged. “I’m fine.”
She waited, and after a few seconds of silence, she knew that he had finally walked away.
Standing up, she slouched against the wall and dropped her head back to once again regulate her breathing.
She was so mad at herself.
This wasn’t supposed to happen here! Her nausea had been getting so much better to where there were days that she had not even gotten sick. Placing her hands on each side of her head, she gently pushed. The small amount of pressure helped to ward off the insistent headache that seemed to come more frequently than not. What the hell was wrong with her?
Nicole didn’t put all the blame on herself, though.
If it wasn’t for the six foot eight, blonde barbarian, her emotions would have never gone haywire. Therefore, she wouldn’t be stuck in this bathroom, waiting for her emotions, and her stomach to settle down.
Walking over to the sink, she observed herself in the mirror.
She wet down a paper towel and gently patted it against her face, trying to rid herself of the flush that had appeared. When that was done, she took a sip of water to swoosh the bad taste from her mouth.
She then stood there and stared at herself in the mirror, as she worked to regain her composer.
Knowing that she had to get back out there, for Trinity, she tried hard to shake it off.
Why did he always get to her?
Or better yet, why did she let him? Her thoughts had returned back to Gemariah, and she became even angrier that she couldn’t forget about him.
Since day one, months ago, when she caught him picking on a child, she knew he was no good.
Walking out of her favorite coffee shop, she witnessed this grown man shaking a young boy she knew. Yes, Jeremy can be a definite handful, but that was no excuse.
When she saw what was going on, her protective instincts kicked in, and she put herself between the two.
After they exchanged words and went their separate ways, she didn’t think she would ever have to see him again. As luck would have it though, her best friend fell in love with his, and because of that, they are forced to endure each other’s company at times.
Not even two months ago was the worst encounter, and she remembered it like it was yesterday.
Trinity and Malachi decided to throw a barbeque so each other’s friends and family could meet and mingle.
When Trinity ended up staying the night, she got the misfortune of getting a ride home from Gemariah.
The ride started out nice because they both stayed silent.
He drove while she fiddled around with the radio. Anything to keep her mind off the argument she had just had with Trinity.
Nicole had blabbed stuff Trinity had wanted to keep a secret, and in front of Malachi no less.
She still didn’t understand completely why she had done it. Yes, she was worried how fast Trinity was diving into her relationship, but maybe she had gone too far.
One thing was for sure.
do it to sabotage their relationship. She wanted her friend to be happy, but cautious as well. It was Trinity’s comment after the fact that had really gotten to her. “Misery loves company…” The statement kept repeating in her mind. She was
“Oh for crying out loud, would you just pick something to listen to?
Your insistent flipping of stations is driving me insane!”
Gemariah snapping at her brought her, momentarily, out of her funk.
“You said I could pick what we listened to.”
“That was when I thought you would actually pick something!”
He reached over and hit a button on the radio and the noise was almost deafening.
Quickly, she pressed another button to change the music; if it could have even been called music.
A nice, soft melody came out of the speakers and she leaned back in the seat to relax.
Not a minute later, she reached down to change the station, but before she could touch it, he hit her hand away and turned the God awful sound back on.
That was when it started. She got angry and said some things. Then he got angry and said things as well. By the time they got to her place, she couldn’t get out of the car fast enough. Unfortunately, he stepped out as well to walk her to the door.