Imperfect, p.5

Imperfect, page 5

 

Imperfect
 


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  I quietly scoot out of the bed and tiptop through the dark room to the living room, finding my sandals and purse. The door creaks as I slowly open it. I look back but don’t hear any movement from him. I shut the door and let my body slide to the ground. What the hell have I done? I opened up my heart to him, again. How could I be so stupid? I think to myself. Slipping on my sandals and grabbing my phone, I call for a cab to take me home.

  Tears threaten to fall the whole short ride back. I remember our conversation clearly. I was better off not knowing he didn’t cheat on me. I can’t do this with him again, but damn it if I don’t still want him just as badly.

  Instead of going to my apartment, I find myself standing in front of Wren’s door. I knock quietly, then change my mind. Why do I run to him every time something happens with Ashe? As I’m about to walk away, I hear his door open.

  “Are you okay?” His hair is floppy and he’s shirtless.

  “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have come over, it’s too early.” I go to walk away and he grabs my elbow.

  “You came over for a reason. Now come inside, I’ll make us some coffee.”

  I plop down on the couch and sit quietly as he makes coffee. Pouring two mugs he joins me on the couch. “Why are you up so early?” he asks.

  “I went over to Ashe’s last night and we talked.”

  He cuts his eyes at me. “Is that all that happened?” I see jealously creep into his facial expression.

  “We kissed and I ended up passing out. I was so tired to begin with, then we ate and I remember mixing several drinks.”

  “And, let me guess: Ashe was a complete gentleman and carried you to bed and he slept on the couch,” he chuckles.

  I glare at him. “You know as well as I do he would never take advantage of me. I woke up in his bed with him beside me and I still had all my clothes on.”

  He props his feet up on the coffee table. “So what did you talk about?”

  “I told him about the girl I walked in on him with years ago.” I let out a long sigh. “He said he never went through with it.”

  “You believe him?”

  “One thing Ashe is not, is a liar.”

  “I know.” He slides to the edge of the couch, placing his mug on the table. “Did you tell him what happened between us?”

  “No. I don’t ever want him to find out. He and I weren’t together, but he’d be hurt.” He slouches back. His lips are pursed together, but he doesn’t say anything. I reach over and touch his hand. “You and I have worked through this, please don’t be hurt.”

  “I love Ashe, too, but I don’t understand why you have never been able to get over him.” He stands and starts pacing. “Why can’t I be enough for you?”

  “I thought you understood that you and I will never be a couple.” I stand too.

  He stops in his tracks to face me. “I love you and you know it. You’re my best friend and I don’t want to lose you, ever. I wish you would find someone else. Anyone but Ashe. Not because I don’t like him. He’s one of the best people I know, I just don’t like him for you.”

  I sit back down on the couch. “I know, I know, you’re right. Why does he have to be such a good damn guy? I wish he would be an asshole. That would make it a lot easier. I don’t want to ruin things. I love the business that the three of us have created. It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.”

  He sits beside me and holds my hand. “You and I talked about this at length before we went into business with Ashe. You have to find a way to distance yourself from him other than at work. I know we all work very closely together, but outside of work, you need to find a balance without him. We can do meetings together and go to social events that we need to be part of, but other than that, you can’t be going home with him and expecting him not to want to be with you.”

  “I don’t know if I’m strong enough to stay away from him.”

  “You can do anything you put your mind to,” he laughs.

  “It’s not my mind I’m worried about. What would be so wrong with giving him and me a try again?” I whisper the last part.

  “Do you really need me to answer that for you?” he glares at me.

  “He’s not the same man. He seems to have it all under control now.”

  “Baby, that is not something I can answer for you. All I know is that you barely picked up the pieces last time. I had to fight you to stay in med school. You were ready to give up on your dreams to not be near him. Do you remember?” He places his arm around my shoulders.

  “I do. I had my bags all packed and you stopped me. You’ve always been there for me.” I lay my head on his shoulder.

  “And I always will, no matter what.” He kisses the top of my head and I close my eyes.

  * * *

  “I love you, Aedon.” His sweet lips are pressed against mine. I feel his cock harden against my hip. It’s the first time he said those words to me and I can feel it in his kiss, devouring the taste of me.

  “I love you, too. Can we hurry up and get back so you can fuck me?” He lets go of me but pulls me close into his side and our pace picks up. A few more blocks and we’ll be home. I swear every time we make love, it gets better and better. We can’t keep our hands off each other.

  He pulls the keys out of his pocket and all but shoves me through the door. “Take off your clothes,” he demands.

  I don’t hesitate, clothes start flying in the air until I’m standing in front of him stark naked. The look in his eyes says he appreciates my entire body. He walks up to me and bites my ear. “Bend over the ottoman,” he says harshly.

  “I…”

  “I didn’t ask what you wanted,” he bites at my lip. “I’ll make sure your needs are met.”

  When I don’t move fast enough for him, he swats me on the ass and I let out a yelp. “Now,” he demands.

  I get on my knees and bend over like he’s ordered. My hands are hugging either side of the ottoman near the legs. He walks over and pushes my legs apart with his knees. The next thing I hear is his zipper being undone. “Don’t let go. Keep your hands right where they are. If you move an inch, I’ll stop. Do you understand me, Aedon?”

  “Yes.”

  His hand lands on my bare ass. “Yes, what?”

  “Yes, sir.” I’ve never been more turned on.

  * * *

  Bam, bam, bam! The knock at the door startles me. Wren is running his hand down his face and I’m blinking trying to shake off my dream. I know who is knocking and so does Wren. He stands and looks at me liking he’s asking a question.

  “You’re right. I need to distance myself from him.” That is going to be very hard when I even dream about him.

  Chapter 8

  Ashe

  The smell of her perfume rouses me. I roll over, remembering that I put her in my bed last night. My eyes open, she’s gone. I grab the pillow she was laying on and hug it to my face, taking in her scent. “Damn it, we were so close to getting things out in the open.” I yell into her pillow. It was the first time in years, I thought maybe we could try again.

  Sitting, I grab my cell phone from its charger. Her name is at the top of my screen. It rings and then goes to her voice mail. I quickly shower and dress in jeans and a button down. My limo driver is off on Sundays, so I call for a taxi to take me to her apartment. She and Wren live in the same building just a few miles from me.

  I know where it is but I’ve never been inside her apartment, only Wren’s. I punch in the code and take the stairs two at a time until I’m standing in front of her door. I knock twice and wait. No answer, so I knock again. “Aedon.”

  I try the knob, but it’s locked. I try her phone again, but it goes straight to voice mail this time. “Damn it, where are you?” I take a flight up and beat on Wren’s door.

  The door flies open to reveal Wren in a pair of shorts, pulling a t-shirt over his head. His hair is a mess. “Hey, man. What’s up?” He looks either concerned or guilty of something. I’m not sure whi
ch.

  “I can’t find Aedon. She’s not answering her phone and she’s not at home.”

  He pulls the door open further and steps aside. Aedon is sitting on his couch with her arms crossed over her chest. I take one step inside. “Am I interrupting something?” I ask, behind a bite of jealousy.

  Wren responds. “No, she came over for a cup of coffee.”

  “A cup of coffee, huh?” I chuckle. “I guess you needed it after how much you drank last night.”

  They share a look, then she gets up and walks past me. “I’ll see you later, Wren,” she says as she walks by him, air-kissing him on the cheek.

  I don’t say anything to him as I follow her out. She storms down the stairs and unlocks her door, opening it wide and glaring at me.

  “Can I come in?” I ask, matching her glare.

  “I don’t think that is such a good idea.” She straightens her spine like she’s ready for battle.

  “Why not? Because you are with Wren?” I grit my teeth.

  She steps back and tries to slam the door, but I stop it. “Don’t do this, Aedon.”

  “You’re an asshole.”

  I inhale deeply. “You’re probably right, but you and I still have something between us, and you know it.” I take a step closer. “Are you running scared because of Wren?”

  “He has nothing to do with it. We are friends, nothing more. We’ve been over this.”

  “Are you sure about that? I’m not convinced when I find you at his apartment with him half dressed. I’ve seen the way he looks at you.”

  Her arms fall to her sides. “Look, it’s been a really long week and all I want to do is get a long, hot shower and go back to bed.” One hand goes to her curvy hip.

  “You could’ve stayed at my apartment and in my bed as long as you wanted to.”

  “I know we had a moment last night, but that’s all it was. You and I have been over for a long time.” She steps back from the door and heads to her kitchen, pouring herself a glass of water.

  I step inside and look around. It’s very feminine, with tans and pops of blue. Long sheer curtains cover the sliding glass door leading to the balcony. My hand goes to a vase of artificial orange flowers sitting beside a lamp. I remember these from her dorm room years ago. She watches me as I take in her space.

  “You can let yourself out. I’m getting that shower I’ve been dying for.” She sets her glass in the sink and walks out of the room.

  I stand in place, not knowing what to do. The sound of the shower turning on tempts me to join her. I slowly walk into her bedroom. Her bed is covered in silk linens. I run my hand across them, remembering how they feel beneath her. My cock hardens at the thought. I turn to join her in the shower, but a picture on her night stand catches my eye. It’s a recent picture of me. I pick it up to get a better look. She must have taken it on her phone when I wasn’t looking. The three of us met for coffee to agree on the name of the company. I have a big smile on my face, shaking Wren’s hand, but Wren is not in the picture, only our handshake.

  “We only had a moment, huh? I think this picture proves otherwise, doll.” I place it back down. Slowly opening the door, I see her silhouette behind the shower door. The steam is already floating in the air, fogging the glass. I stand outside the door watching her watch me. She washes her body, facing me. I splay my hand on the glass like I could reach through it and touch her. My cock hardens when her hand dips to her most private parts. She lets out a moan and I want nothing more than to break the glass between us. I could do it. I could crash through it and fuck her, but it would only be a moment. I want more than that for us. I want her to need me as much as I need her. Picking my hand up off the glass, I see her eyes through the handprint that I left behind. “This thing between us, it will happen, but not until you’re ready to admit that you want it is bad as I do.” I walk out and shut the door behind me, hoping like hell to hear her call my name, but all I hear is the sound of the water running.

  I’ve thought all these years she didn’t love me anymore, but the picture on her nightstand says differently and I plan on getting her to tell me.

  Monday morning rolls around way too soon. Ander is the first one in the office. “I thought you were going to take a few days off?” I say as I walk by his desk.

  “I kept getting pings on the computer from seismic activity in Northern California. I wanted to come in and do some mapping.”

  “Did you find anything out of the ordinary?”

  “Not yet, but I’ve just started.”

  “What do you think about us hiring you some extra hands?” I pat his shoulder, heading for coffee.

  “I think I can handle it without any help.” He never looks away from his screen.

  “You let me know when you need more help. You should take a few days off after every mission.” I walk up beside him. “You know you don’t have to be here early every morning, right? You should take advantage of our down time.”

  He stops typing and turns his chair toward me. “I like being here, it makes me feel useful.”

  I lean on the edge of his desk, blowing on my coffee. “Don’t you have a personal life?”

  He smiles. “Dr. Manning, do you really want to hear about my personal life, like my boyfriend?”

  “If it’s something you want to talk about, well then, yeah, I do want to hear about it. Maybe not here in the office, but we could go have a couple of drinks and you could tell me all about it.”

  “Wow. I have to say I’m shocked. Most people don’t want to hear about my love life, being that I’m gay.”

  “You being gay has nothing to do with anything as far as I’m concerned, other than the fact that I can’t flirt with my Director of Operations.” I laugh.

  “Well, you could, but you’re not my type.”

  “What, you don’t like tall, dark, and handsome?” I feign hurt.

  “I didn’t say that. You’re totally hot, but I prefer my men available and you, sir, are not.” He turns his chair back around and continues typing.

  “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m very single,” I say, walking back to my desk. I plan on changing that situation.

  He wheels his chair in my direction. “When is the last time you’ve been on a date?”

  “I date plenty.” I huff.

  “Really? So tell me, when was your last date?”

  “I took a hot little redhead home a few months ago.” I lean back in my chair.

  “I didn’t ask you about meaningless sex. I want to know the last time you took a woman out on a date because you were seriously interested in getting to know her, not getting under her skirt.”

  Only one name comes to mind, but I don’t dare say it. I lean forward and place my elbows on my desk, clasping my hands together. “It’s been awhile, but that has nothing to do with me being taken.”

  “Keep telling yourself that, Dr. Manning.” He spins back around in his chair and starts clicking on his keyboard again.

  Damn kid is way too observant. He’s right, part of me has waited for Aedon all this time. I keep thinking that one day, she will see me for the man I’ve become, not the messed up young man she remembers. I choose to remain silent and work through my emails.

  Half the day is gone when Wren makes it to the office. There’s been no sight of Aedon. I keep checking my text messages, thinking maybe she will talk to me.

  “Did you get all the paperwork done?” Wren asks, setting his bag in his chair.

  “Yeah, I worked on it all day yesterday.”

  He stands in front of my desk for a moment, staring at me. “Look, I think you and Aedon should keep things professional,” he says only loud enough for me to hear. “We are all friends, and I don’t want to see either one of you hurt. I was there for both of you last time. It took a long time for the two of you to pick up the pieces and move on. You’ve done that, and now we’re all partners.”

  I take a deep breath in. “You’re right. I don’t want to mess that up.
” He was there for me and I need to let it go. “I don’t want to risk our friendship or our partnership. It means too much to me.” I want to ask him how he really feels about Aedon, but now is not the time.

  “Uh… I don’t mean to interrupt what the two of you have going on back there, but my entire computer screen is lit up.” Ander quickly transfers what’s on his desktop to the clear screen on the wall.

  We turn to face it. “Is that the Cascadia subduction zone?” Wren asks.

  “Yes, it is, and it’s lit up like the 4th of July,” Ander says.

  The NEIC radio starts to alarm. Aedon walks in almost unnoticed as we stand stock-still listening to the news.

  “A small 6.0 magnitude quake was felt in western Washington, but aftershocks are being felt down the entire coast of Washington and Oregon. The warnings for further massive quakes are imminent.”

  “Ander, send out a page for our teams to get to their departure locations. You are to dispatch their destinations in flight. Get the jets ready and on the tarmac. The three of us are going to Northern California. We’ll need as many hands as we can get if this thing is as big as they think it is. Meet me at the private airstrip in one hour.” They both nod and head out the door.

  Chapter 9

  Ashe

  As I’m loading my bags into the trunk of the limo, my phone vibrates in my pocket. Wren’s number is on the screen.

  “You on your way?” I say, answering it.

  “We can’t get a cab for an hour. Can you come get us?”

  “I’ll be there in ten.” I shove the phone back in my pocket and slam the trunk, instructing the driver to pick them up as I climb into the car. I pull my phone back out and call Ander.

  “Real busy here,” he answers as his Bluetooth screeches through his phone.

 
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