This man, p.72
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       This Man, p.72

         Part #1 of This Man series by Jodi Ellen Malpas
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Page 72

  Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

  ‘No!’ I shout.

  I watch as he closes his eyes, clearly trying to gather some patience, but I don’t care. He can force me to do many things, but I’m not going to The Manor. I sit on the worktop, waiting for him to disintegrate under my disobedience.

  ‘Ava, why do you insist on making things more difficult?’

  ‘I make things more difficult?’ I gape at him. It’s him that needs some sense fucking into him. He’s deluded.

  ‘Yes, you do. I’m trying really hard here. ’

  ‘Trying hard to do what? Send me crazy? It’s working!’ I beat him away from me and storm out of the kitchen, hearing him curse as he follows me up the stairs.

  ‘Okay!’ he yells from behind me. ‘You will wait here. I’ll be as quick as I can. ’

  ‘I’ll go home. ’ I shout over my shoulder, continuing on my way and shutting myself in the bathroom when I get there. I’m not waiting around for him to come back. His being reasonable and relenting to my refusal to go with him has just been trampled by the follow up of “you will wait here”. I WILL do no such thing! I splash my face with cold water to try and cool down my raging temper. Why has he not given me the countdown? That’s what he usually does when I don’t conform. I hear him in the bedroom on his phone. Wondering who he’s talking to, I open the door.

  ‘See you in a while. ’ He hangs up, throwing his phone on the bed. Who is he seeing in a while? He stands with his back to me for a long time, his head dropped. He’s thinking, and I feel like an impostor all of a sudden.

  Eventually, he exhales heavily and turns towards me. He watches me for a short time before heading into the bathroom to take a shower. I stand in the middle of the room wondering what to do. He’s acting strange. No countdown; no manhandling. What’s going on? Yesterday was so perfect, and now I’m back to mind meltdown. It looks like I didn’t need Sarah to yank me off of Central Jesse Cloud Nine after all. I’ve managed to do that all by myself.

  Ten minutes later, I’m still stood twiddling my thumbs, trying to work out what to do with myself. I hear the shower shut off. He comes out of the bathroom, heading straight into the wardrobe without a word. I’m troubled by his defeated expression that also harbours a bit of sorrow. I think I actually want him to explode or give me the countdown. I have no idea what he’s thinking, and it’s the most frustrating feeling in the world.

  He appears at the wardrobe door. ‘I need to go. ’ he utters regretfully. He looks completely tormented. ‘Kate’s on her way over. ’

  I frown. ‘Why?’

  ‘So you don’t leave. ’ He goes back into the wardrobe, me following swiftly behind.

  Pulling some jeans on, he looks up at me briefly but gives nothing away. He grabs a black t-shirt from a hanger, pulling it on over his head quickly, before he sets about getting his Converse on.

  ‘I’m going home. ’ I assert, but he still doesn’t look at me. What’s wrong with him? I can feel my temper flaring at his lack of receptiveness, and not knowing what else to do, I start pulling down my clothes from the hangers, draping them over my arms as I do.

  ‘What are you doing?’ He takes them from my hands, hanging them back up. ‘You’re not leaving. ’ he growls.

  ‘Yes, I am. ’ I shout, yanking them back down.

  ‘Put the fucking clothes back, Ava!’ he yells.

  I hear a rip of material as I fight him away, and within a few seconds, my arms are free of clothes and I’m being hauled from the wardrobe. I’m pinned to the bed, struggling against him in complete defiance, but I go nowhere. If he tries to fuck me, I’ll scream!

  ‘Calm the fuck down!’ he yells, grabbing my jaw and pulling it to the centre so I have to look at him. I slam my eyes shut, puffing and panting like an exhausted greyhound. I’m not going to let him manipulate me with sex. ‘Open your eyes, Ava. ’

  ‘No!’ I sound so childish, but I know if I do, I’ll be swallowed up in lust.

  ‘Open!’ He shakes my jaw slightly.


  ‘Fine,’ he shouts, while I continue to struggle. ‘Listen to me, lady. You’re not going anywhere. I’ve told you repeatedly, so get fucking use to it!’ He shifts his body so he has a firmer grip of me. ‘I’m going to The Manor, and when I get back, we’re going to sit down to talk about us. ’

  I stop struggling. Talk about us? What? Like a proper discussion about what the hell is going on here because I’m desperate to know this.

  ‘Cards on the table, Ava. No more fucking about, no more drunken confessions and no more holding out on me. Do you understand?’ His breathing is heavy, his tone determined.

  This is what I’ve wanted all along – clarity and understanding of our relationship. I’m so bloody confused. I need to know what all this is and then, maybe, I can work out whether I need to break away. And what’s this about drunken confessions and holding out?

  I open my eyes to sludgy green gazing down at me. He relaxes his grip on my jaw. ‘Come with me, I need you with me. ’ He’s almost pleading.


  ‘I just do. Why won’t you come?’

  I take a deep breath. ‘I don’t feel comfortable. ’ There, that’s the truth. He should be able to figure out for himself why I don’t feel comfortable at The Manor. He can’t be that stupid.

  ‘Why don’t you feel comfortable?’

  Okay. Maybe he is that stupid. ‘I just don’t. ’ I snap.

  His brow knits and he commences lip chomping. ‘Please, Ava. ’

  I shake my head. ‘I’m not coming. ’

  He sighs. ‘Promise me that you’ll be here when I get home then. We need to sort this shit out. ’

  ‘I’ll be here. ’ I assure him. I’m desperate to sort this shit out. I’m not going anywhere.

  ‘Thank you. ’ he whispers, resting his forehead on mine and clenching his eyes shut. I feel immense hope blossoming inside me at his determination to sort this shit out. He lifts himself, without so much as kissing me, and leaves the room.

  I stay on the bed, recovering from my pointless physical battle, wondering what’s going to be established from the laying of cards and sorting of shit. I’m torn between admitting to him how I feel, or waiting to hear what he has to say first. What will he say? So much needs clarifying. What is us? Intense hot affair or more? I need it to be more, but I can’t cope with his trampling and unreasonableness. It’s exhausting.

  There was no denying the look of pure torment on his handsome face. What’s running through that complex mind of his? Why does he need me? So many questions…

  I close my eyes, trying to re-establish some steady breaths, and find myself drifting into a semi-exhausted coma.

  The phone next to the bed starts ringing, snapping my eyes open. Kate! I scramble up the bed and answer. ‘Send her up, Clive. ’ I fling a t-shirt on and run down the stairs, throwing the door open as Kate exits the elevator. I’m so glad to see her, but why he thinks I need babysitting is beyond me. I run at her, flinging my arms around her desperately.

  ‘Whoa! Is someone happy to see me?’ She returns my violent hug, my face buried in her red locks. I didn’t realise how much I needed to see her. ‘Are you going to invite me into the tower, or are we staying put?’

  I pull away. ‘Sorry,’ I blow my hair out of my face. ‘I’m a mess, Kate. And you’ve been letting men rummage through my things again. ’ I add on a scowl.

  ‘Ava, he turned up at six in the morning, banging until Sam answered. I just let him do his thing, it’s not like anyone can stop him. The man’s a rhinoceros. ’

  ‘He’s more than that. ’

  She looks at me all sorrowful, taking my hand and leading me back into the penthouse. ‘I can’t believe he lives here,’ she mutters, directing me into the kitchen. ‘Sit. ’ She points to a stool.

  I rest my backside on the seat, watching as Kate refreshes her memory of the
impressive kitchen. ‘I can’t make you tea because he has no milk. The housekeeper is on holiday. ’

  ‘He has a housekeeper,’ she says to herself. ‘Of course he does. ’ She shakes her head and goes to the fridge, collecting two bottles of water, before coming to sit next to me. ‘What’s going on?’

  ‘What am I going to do, Kate?’ I rest my head in my hands. ‘I can’t believe he called you here, just so I don’t leave. ’

  ‘Doesn’t that tell you something?’

  ‘Yes, that he’s a control freak! He’s so intense,’ I look up to Kate, who’s smiling faintly. What’s to smile about? I’m in turmoil here. ‘I don’t know where I am with him. ’

  ‘Have you told him?’ she asks, with a perfectly plucked brow arched at me.

  ‘No, I can’t. ’

  ‘Why?’ she blurts, totally surprised.

  ‘Kate, I don’t know what I am to him. He can be so gentle and loving, saying things I can’t get my head around, and the next minute, he’s brutally fierce, unreasonable and controlling. He tries to control me!’ I open my water, taking a swig to moisten my dry mouth. ‘He manipulates me with sex when I don’t jump at his command, tramples anyone, including me, if they get in the way of him. He’s bordering on impossible. No, he is impossible. ’

  Kate looks at me with compassion in her bright blues. ‘Sam told me he’s never seen Jesse like this before. Apparently, he’s famed for his easy going nature. ’

  I laugh. I could describe Jesse with many words. Easy going would not feature anywhere on my list. ‘Kate, he’s not easy going, trust me. ’

  ‘You obviously bring out the worst in him. ’ She smiles.

  ‘Obviously,’ I agree. Easy going? What a joke. ‘He brings out the worst in me too. He hates me swearing, so I do it more. He has an issue with exposing my flesh to anyone other than him, so I wear shorter dresses. He tells me not to get drunk, so I do. It’s not healthy, Kate. One second he tells me that he loves having me around, the next I’m his current fuck. What am I supposed to think?’

  ‘But you’re still here,’ she says thoughtfully. ‘And you’re not going to get any answers if you don’t ask the damn questions. ’

  ‘I do ask questions. ’

  ‘The right ones?’

  What are the right questions? I look at my best friend and wonder why she’s not kidnapping me from the tower and hiding me away from Jesse. She’s seen him in action – surely that would be enough for any best friend to intervene. ‘Why are you not telling me to leg it?’ I ask suspiciously. ‘Is it because he brought you a van?’

  ‘Don’t be stupid, Ava. I would toss that van right back at him if you wanted me to. You’re more important. I’m not telling you to leg it because I know you don’t want to. What you need to be doing is telling him how you feel, negotiating acceptable levels of intenseness. ’ She grins. ‘In the bedroom is fine, yes?’

  I smile. ‘He said he’d make sure I’ll always need him. He has. I really need him, Kate. ’

  ‘Talk to him, Ava. ’ She gives me a little nudge on the shoulder. ‘You can’t go on like this. ’ She shakes her head.

  I definitely can’t go on like this; I’ll be in an asylum within a month. My heart and brain are being yanked from one side to the other by the hour. I don’t know my arse from my head. If it means slapping my heart down on the table for him to trample all over, then so be it. At least I’ll know where I am. I’ll recover…eventually…I think.

  I stand up. ‘Will you take me to The Manor?’ I ask. I need to do this now before I bottle it. I need to tell him how I feel.
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