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If only, p.13

If Only..., page 13

 

If Only...
 


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  As the song comes to an end, he gently pushes me away from his body. “Thank you for the dance,” he says. Then he walks away and I don’t see him for the rest of the night.

  Cole

  A flash of lightning illuminates the sky directly above me, followed by a clap of thunder so loud and so sudden that I practically jump out of my skin. I’m in the middle of an open field, which is possibly one of the worst places to be when there’s a storm right above you. I throw my tools down and start to sprint towards some shelter when the rain starts. By the time I get to the barn, I’m completely soaked through to my underwear. I pull my t-shirt off, throw it over the handle of a wheelbarrow and sit on a bale of hay.

  I’ve been watching the storm as it crashes all around me for about fifteen seconds when I hear a scream. I bolt up to my feet and run to the door. My eyes scan over the field of corn until I see a blob of dark hair running towards me.

  “Evie,” I call, sprinting back out into the rain. It pelts my bare chest so hard it feels like hail. I freeze in my tracks when Evie finally breaks free of the corn. Her hair is drenched and her white dress is completely see-through.

  “Don’t. Say. Anything.” I’m smiling as she stomps past me, peels her dress over her head and hangs it on the other wheelbarrow handle. She lies down on the hay wearing only her white bra and thong. I realise she might have told me not to say anything, but as my eyes scan over her body, I’m hoping she won’t tell me I can’t touch her.

  I flop down beside her and listen to her try and control her breathing as the storm rages on outside. We were having a freaky April heat wave. The Easter holidays have just started and it’s only my second day of working back on the farm, but we’ve been unseasonably busy because of the recent good weather.

  The rain hammers down on the aluminum roof above us, making it sound much worse than it actually is. “It scared me,” Evie says.

  “I know. It scared me a little bit too.”

  “I swear the lightning was right on top of my head,” she whispers.

  “I think it was.”

  She rolls over and looks up at me. “Do you love me, Cole?”

  “More than anything,” I say, without needing to think about it. “Why are you asking me?”

  She shrugs. “Sometimes I just like to check.”

  I pull her to my chest and inhale her hair that smells like honey. “You can check whenever you want,” I tell her. “I’ll always answer yes.”

  She snuggles into the crook of my neck and throws her arm over my chest. “Do you think we’ll still be together after university?”

  “Yes,” I say.

  “Do you think we’ll still be together when we’re thirty?”

  “Yes.”

  “Do you think—?”

  I cut her off with a kiss. “I think we’ll always be together,” I mumble in between kisses. “Don’t you feel how good we are,” I say, pressing my hand in between her breasts, “in here?”

  “Yes,” she breathes. “But I feel it deeper than just in there. I feel it in my soul. I don’t think I could live without you, or if I did, I don’t think I’d ever feel whole.”

  I notice a tension in her voice that I haven’t heard before. “Why does that sound like it scares you, Evie?”

  “Doesn’t it scare you?” she fires back. “That we’re so involved with each other that we barely see anything else?”

  I shake my head. “Not at all.”

  “But what if something happened and we weren’t together? The thought of seeing you with someone else or knowing you were with someone else makes me feel sick.”

  “I’ve never thought about it, and it’s not something I’ll ever have to feel,” I say confidently. “Why are you saying all of this?”

  “I don’t know,” she confesses. “Sometimes I just think random, crazy shit.”

  I laugh and gently skim the top of her arm with the back of my hand. “I think it’s mad,” I finally say.

  “What is?” she asks, leaning forward to look at my face.

  “Love,” I say. “One minute you’re plodding along, minding your own business, and then . . . BAM. It hits you. You can’t breathe without knowing the person you love is breathing. Your thoughts are consumed with them. Your heart beats for them.

  “Sometimes what I feel for you is so intense that it chokes me. Thoughts of you, what you look and feel like, and what we’ve done and still might do just whirl around in my head until I forget who I am or what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s like you’ve literally gotten stuck inside my body, and it’s only because you’re there I know how to work. I’d break without you.”

  Evie’s eyes twinkle. “What we still might do, huh?”

  “Yeah,” I say, smirking at her as I drop a kiss to her shoulder. “And I reckon we could try and turn that thought into action right about now.”

  Evie

  Only twelve of us have made it down to breakfast. The rest are either still puking or trying to sleep it off.

  I push my scrambled eggs around my plate twice more before finally giving up on it. My head feels horrendous and my stomach feels even worse. I shouldn’t have had those shots, and I definitely shouldn’t have had any whiskey when we all got back to the hotel last night. I don’t think I got into bed until gone half three in the morning, and even then Lorna wasn’t in there. In fact, Lorna didn’t come back to the hotel room at all.

  “I’m not doing that again,” says Gerard, slipping into the seat opposite me.

  I pull some milk thistle from my bag and pour it into our waters. “That should help,” I tell him.

  “I don’t think anything but a new brain will help,” he says, lowering his head to the table.

  “Where did Cole end up?” I ask. “I didn’t see him for the rest of the night.”

  Gerard raises his eyebrows at me, but he doesn’t ask why I’m asking. “Something came up at home and he had to go back.” Gerard sits up straight to let the waitress put a plateful of greasy food in front of him. “He caught the first flight out of Gatwick this morning.”

  What could have possibly come up that he needed to fly out on a Sunday morning? “I hope it’s nothing to worry about.”

  “I’m sure it isn’t,” he says.

  Everyone is laughing when I walk into the office the next morning. My legs still feel a little wobbly and I haven’t dared to eat a proper meal, but I did sleep for fifteen hours straight so at least I don’t feel tired anymore.

  “What’s so funny?” I ask when I reach Lorna.

  She turns her screen to me and points to a picture of someone being catapulted through the air in a starfish position, seconds away from going underwater. “That’s not funny,” I say, shuddering at the memory.

  Lorna snorts and then holds her stomach as another giggle rips through her. “I can’t stop looking at it,” she breathes, trying to fan her face with a piece of paper. “It couldn’t have been taken at a more perfect time.”

  Tears stream down her face as Stuart gets up and stands with his arms and legs wide apart. He starts wobbling around their desk. “Who do I look like?” he says, laughing.

  “Oh, just fuck off,” I say, but they know I’m only joking. I walk to my desk, noticing that Cole’s hasn’t been touched. Even though it’s still before nine, he’s always been in before I have.

  “Evie,” Gerard calls from his office, “can I see you for a minute?”

  “Sure.” I drop my bag onto my chair and walk into his office.

  “Shut the door, will you, luv?”

  I feel myself frowning as I turn to close the door behind me. Gerard doesn’t normally do closed-door conversations. “Is everything okay?” I ask.

  He nods, but his eyes betray him. “I’ve got a big meeting this afternoon, and I know,” he rushes on when he sees me opening my mouth, “that’s its not in the diary. It’s not there because it needs to be kept absolutely secret.”

  I nod and clasp my hands in front of me.

  “I n
eed you to organise some food, but I don’t want anyone else to know. I want you to schedule a meeting in one of the rooms that’s not on this floor. Do what you have to.”

  “Okay . . . what sort of food?”

  “Buffet,” he says, “because we’ll be in there for a while.”

  “For how many people?”

  “Ten.”

  “Are you allowed to be disturbed?” I ask.

  He shakes his head. “Absolutely not.”

  I want to ask him what’s going on, but I daren’t. Gerard normally tells me everything, and if he isn’t volunteering the information on his own, then I’m guessing it’s something that I really can’t know.

  “I’ll let you know what room when it’s booked,” I say. “Will that be all?”

  “For now.” He nods and then smiles at me. “Oh, and you’ll need to change any meetings that are in Cole’s diary. He won’t be in today.”

  “Oh. Will he be available for meetings tomorrow?”

  He nods. “Yes, I believe so.”

  “Where is he?”

  He sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Can you do me a favour, actually?”

  I nod. “Anything.”

  “Will you take Cole out for a drink or something one night this week?”

  I blink, trying to figure out if I’ve just heard him right. “Why?”

  “He’ll need a friend and someone to talk to, and I’m busy all this week.”

  “He doesn’t need friends,” I scoff.

  “Evie,” he says. “I don’t know what it is with you two, but you’re the only person that he seems to pay any attention to. I just thought it might be nice if you offer him an olive branch.”

  “What’s he need an olive branch for?”

  “I don’t really think it’s my place to say.” He looks up and then sighs heavily. “If I tell you, do you promise not to tell him that I told you?”

  “This is starting to sound like school,” I say through a smile. “But yes, I promise.”

  “I don’t know why he went back home so suddenly,” he begins, “but it wasn’t planned, and his fiancée clearly didn’t expect him to go back either.”

  My ears prick up. “Why? What happened?”

  “When he got to his house, he found her in bed with the guy that was going to be his best man at their wedding.”

  I put my hand over my mouth to hide my shock. I may dislike Cole, but that must have been awful. “Oh dear,” I whisper.

  Gerard nods. “He’s travelling back to London tonight, and he said he’ll be back in the office tomorrow. I think he’s just sorting out wedding things, money, etcetera.”

  “So they’ve split up?” I push.

  “I’m assuming so,” he snaps.

  “I’ll think about the olive branch,” I tell him. “And I’ll let you know about the meeting room.”

  He nods. “Good. Thank you.”

  I walk out of the office with a mixture of conflicting feelings swarming around my head. I feel bad for Cole, even though I don’t want to. But worst of all, I feel excited that he’s no longer engaged to be married to someone else.

  Cole

  I’m sitting on the comfiest sofa that I’ve ever sat on in the biggest hotel room I’ve ever seen in the middle of Madrid. I know I haven’t exactly seen the inside of many hotel rooms but this is beyond big. There are two sitting rooms, a mini kitchen, two bathrooms and three bedrooms.

  When Nico walks out of his bedroom, he’s freshly showered and freshly changed. He’s wearing expensive-smelling aftershave, and the clothes he’s wearing probably cost more than I earn in an entire year. I feel scruffy and insignificant standing next to him.

  “Cole,” he says as he walks towards me with a grin on his face. He throws his arms around my neck and pulls me into a big hug. “Did you enjoy the game?”

  “Yeah,” I say, slapping his back. “You played great, and that second goal was unbelievable.”

  He walks over to the minibar. “You want something to drink?”

  I take the miniature bottle of whiskey from him and roll it around in my hand. “You’re not old enough to drink,” I tell him.

  “Good thing you are, because if they ask who emptied the mini bar, I’ll just tell them it was you.”

  I twist the cap off and pour the fiery hot liquid into my mouth. I screw my face up as it burns all the way down my throat. “Would you get in trouble if they knew you’d been drinking?”

  He shrugs. “Only if the press found out. But I’m not going to tell them, are you?”

  I shake my head and look out the window to the city below us. “Of course not.”

  “That’s sorted then.”

  “Evie says ‘hi,’” I tell him.

  He rolls his eyes. “Seriously, does she not bore you yet?”

  My head snaps up at the venom in his words. “Where has that come from?”

  He laughs and slaps my shoulder with his hand. “I’m joking. You pair have been together for a long time now. No one would blame you if you said you were bored.”

  “I’m not bored,” I say. “I love her.”

  He huffs and flops down onto the sofa. “I just can’t talk to you about girls or shagging or anything, and you can’t talk to me about it.”

  I’m definitely not going to talk to him about it because they’re twins and that would be weird. “You can talk to me,” I tell him. “I’ve never stopped you from talking about what you’ve been up to.”

  He sniffs. “True. I may not be old enough to drink but I’m certainly old enough to fuck, and they’re not going to stop me from doing that.”

  I grab another whiskey and find myself wondering why Nico seems so different.

  “You should see some of the women I pull, Cole. They look like models and act like porn stars in the bedroom. It’s like every seventeen-year-old boy’s fantasies come true. Look,” he says, pulling out his phone. He scrolls through some pictures and shows me numerous naked women. Some of them are doing things to themselves and others are doing things to him. “I had a threesome the other week. Fucking. Amazing.”

  I feel uncomfortable, like I’m cheating on Evie by even looking at these women and listening to his stories. It doesn’t stop me from looking though and asking him to tell me more.

  We’re smashed out of our brains a few hours later. There are empty beer bottles and pizza boxes on the floor, and there are currently two women sitting on Nico’s knee. The third woman they brought with them is sat on the sofa opposite me giving me the evil eye, but I’m too drunk to care if I’ve offended her with something I’ve said.

  “Cole,” says Nico in between shoving his tongue into each of their mouths. “Fancy spicing things up a little bit?”

  “I’ve drank far too much already,” I tell him.

  “I’m not on about drink. Do you remember when you used to smoke pot and eat those mushrooms? Do you remember telling me it was nothing like being pissed, and how that feeling of being high was the best feeling you’d ever felt?”

  I nod, but I don’t believe that anymore. Evie is the best feeling I’ve ever felt.

  “I have something better than those,” he says. “Something that makes you feel ten times better than how you felt when you smoked pot.”

  “What is it?”

  “This,” he says, shaking a little packet of white powder at me. “Just one line, and I promise you’ll have the best night of your life.” He pushes the girls off his knee and stalks over towards the bathroom. “Are you coming, or are you too pussy-whipped by my sister these days?”

  “I’m not whipped by anyone,” I mumble drunkenly. I hear the three women laughing at me.

  “How old are you?” the blonde one asks.

  “Eighteen,” I reply.

  Her eyes never leave mine as she lifts a glass to her mouth, takes a drink and then licks her lips.

  “Cole,” Nico snaps from the bathroom. “Come on, man, one for old times’ sake?”

  I nod and follow him i
nto the bathroom. “Just use this,” he says, handing me a bit of rolled-up paper. “Stick it up your nose and inhale.”

  I bend down over the line of powder and do as he says. The second it fires up my nose, I feel it starting to tingle.

  “There we go,” he says, pushing me out of the way. “Let it work its magic. You won’t know what’s hit you.”

  I stumble out of the bathroom in a daze. My face feels sensitive and numb all at the same time, but I’m not sure if it felt like that before or not.

  “Where did you go, big boy?” the blonde asks.

  I flop down next to her. “Your hair is blonde,” I whisper.

  “Er, yeah.”

  “Not dark and wavy like Evie’s.”

  She giggles and brushes her fingers down my cheek. “Evie isn’t here, is she?”

  My head flops to the side and I stare into a pair of grey eyes. “No, she’s not.” But I wish she were.

  I suddenly feel hands all over me, but my mouth and tongue won’t work together to tell them to get off. I feel lips touch down against my cheek and try to jerk my head away. I don’t want this.

  “No,” I slur. “No.”

  I hear giggling but it sounds harsh and witch-like, not soft and musical like Evie’s.

  “Come on, Cole,” says a silky female voice. She might be touching me when I don’t want her to, but her voice is nice and creamy. “Let me show you how a real woman fucks. You are such a handsome man,” she says, brushing something along my jaw. “Too nice not to share.”

  “Evie,” I mumble. Evie. Evie. Evie.

  “Wrong,” one of them says. “I’m Victoria.”

  “No,” I say, pushing them off. “No!”

  I hear shrieking, and then I feel hands in my pockets.

  “Get off,” I say.

  “Just leave him,” mumbles Nico. “He’s screwing my sister and he seems to like it.”

  Screwing her? I stumble across the room and over the rubbish that’s littering the floor. I find my bedroom and quickly push the door open, locking it behind me as panic settles in the pit of my stomach.

 
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