This man, p.75
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       This Man, p.75

         Part #1 of This Man series by Jodi Ellen Malpas
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Page 75

  Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

  ‘Oh no, not me,’ He holds his hands up, shaking his head. ‘It’s more than my life’s worth. Anyway, I need to talk to you. ’ He jerks his head towards Kate.

  We all jump at the sound of an almighty crash at the door, my heart promptly leaping into my throat as I look at Kate. Sam groans, and it’s not because of the pain Kate’s inflicted on him.

  ‘You dirty little turncoat. ’ she mutters angrily, piercing Sam with her sharp, blue eyes.

  ‘Hey, I didn’t say a fucking word!’ He’s on the major defensive. ‘It wouldn’t take a fucking rocket scientist to work out where she is. ’

  ‘Don’t answer it, Kate. ’ I plead.

  A combination of more bangs play out on the front door. God, I don’t want to see him. My defences are not strong enough right now. I jump at a succession of more bangs, followed by a chorus of car horns that sound off all around.

  ‘For fucks sake,’ Kate yells, running across the room to look out of the window. ‘Shit. ’ She pulls the blind up, getting up close and personal with the glass.

  ‘What?’ I join her at the window. I know it’s him, but what’s with the racket?

  ‘Look!’ she yells, pointing down below. I force my eyes to follow her hand and see Jesse’s car abandoned in the middle of the street, his driver’s door wide open and a line of traffic starting to build up behind it. He’s not left enough room for cars to pass, causing tempers to flare and car horns to honk. It’s all clearly audible from up here.

  ‘Ava!’ I hear him bellow. He proceeds to thump the door a few more times.

  ‘Oh, fucking hell, Ava,’ Kate carps. ‘That man’s a walking, talking detonate button and you’ve just pressed it!’ She starts stalking out of the lounge.

  I rush after her. ‘I pressed nothing, Kate. Don’t answer the door!’ I lean over the banister, watching Kate fly down the stairs to the front door.

  ‘I can’t just leave him out there causing anarchy on the street. ’ She carries on her way.

  I panic and run back into the lounge, passing Sam, who’s still sat in the chair rubbing his sore spot, mumbling inaudible words.

  ‘Why didn’t you tell Kate?’ I ask him sharply on my way back to the window.

  ‘I’m sorry, Ava. ’

  ‘You need to be apologising to Kate, not me. ’ I turn back, finding no trace of the fun loving, cheeky chap that I’ve become so fond of. Instead, there’s a tense, uneasy, timid man.

  ‘I have apologised. And I couldn’t very well tell her until Jesse told you. You should know, this has been eating away at him since he met you. ’

  I laugh at Sam’s attempt to defend his friend and look out of the window again. Jesse is still pacing outside, clearly desperate, smashing the buttons of his mobile. I know who he’s calling. And, like I knew it would, my phone starts shouting in my hand. Should I answer it and tell him to go away? I stare down onto the street, panic flooding me when a driver from one of the held up cars gets out. Oh God, don’t challenge him!

  Kate walks out, waving her arms at Jesse. He ignores the driver that’s approached, turning to Kate instead. His hand gestures are urgent. What’s he saying? What’s Kate saying? After a few minutes, Jesse gets in his car. Relief washes over my entire being, but he only moves it slightly so it’s parked in a more considerate fashion, allowing the other motorists to pass.

  ‘Oh God, Kate! What have you done?’ I yell at the window.

  ‘What’s going on?’ Sam asks from his chair. I don’t answer him.

  I stand, unable to move, watching as Jesse leans up against my car, his head dropped in defeat, his arms hanging by his sides. Kate’s arms are wrapped around herself as she stands in front of him. He looks up at her, and even from here I can see the anguish riddling his face. She reaches over to him, rubbing her palm up and down his arm. It’s a gesture of comfort. It’s killing me.

  After an eternity of watching them on the street, Kate finally turns, making her way back to the flat, but to my utter horror, Jesse starts to follow, and Kate makes no attempt to stop him.

  ‘Shit, no!’ I exclaim, throwing my hands to my head in dread. What’s she thinking?

  ‘What?’ Sam shouts anxiously. ‘Ava, what?’

  I quickly consider my options. It doesn’t take long because there are none, except to stand here and await the confrontation. There is only one way in and one way out of this flat. And with Jesse on his way in, any plans to escape the inevitable altercation are totally floored.

  Kate walks into the lounge, looking rather sheepish. I’m furious with her, and she knows it. I pin her with my most filthy stare as she smiles at me nervously.

  ‘Just hear him out, Ava. The man’s a mess. ’ She shakes her head sorrowfully, then looks at Sam, her expression changing instantly. ‘You, get in the kitchen!’

  Sam scowls. ‘I can’t fucking move, you evil cow!’ He rubs himself again, rolling his head back on the chair. Kate huffs and pulls him out of the chair. He groans, closing his eyes and gingerly limping from the room.

  I can’t believe her. The treacherous cow! She backs out of the room, giving me eyes full of sympathy. She wouldn’t have to act so fucking sorry if she hadn’t of let him in – the stupid, stupid woman. I turn to face the window before he walks in. I can’t look at him. I’ll dissolve into tears if I do, and I don’t want him to have any excuse to comfort me or wrap his big warm arms around me. I brace myself for his voice to wash over me, every frazzled nerve ending buzzing and every muscle tense. I hear nothing. But as every hair on the back of my neck tingles, standing upright, I know he’s near. My body’s response to his potent presence has me closing my eyes, taking a deep breath and praying for strength.

  ‘Please, look at me, Ava. ’ His voice is quivering, full of emotion. I swallow the tennis ball sized lump in my throat, fighting back a barrage of tears that are pooling in my eyes. ‘Ava, please. ’ I feel his hand brush down the back of my arm. I flinch at the contact.

  ‘Please, don’t touch me. ’ I find the courage I need to turn round and face him.

  His head is dropped, his shoulders sagged. He looks pitiful, but I mustn’t be swayed by his sorrowful state. I’ve been influenced too many times by manipulation, and this. . . this is just another form of manipulation…Jesse style. I’ve been so blinded with lust, I haven’t been seeing straight. His glazed eyes pull themselves from the floor to meet mine.

  ‘Why did you even take me there?’ I ask.

  ‘Because I want you with me all of the time, I can’t be away from you. ’

  ‘Well, you’d better get use to it because I don’t want to see you again. ’ My voice is calm and controlled, but the pain that slices through my heart in response to my own words is enough to floor me on the spot.

  His eyes swim, searching mine. ‘You don’t mean that. I know you don’t mean that. ’

  ‘I mean it. ’

  His chest is expanding on each deep inhale, his hair in disarray and his frown line a crater across his forehead. The distress splashed across his face is like an ice spear through my heart. ‘I never meant to hurt you. ’ he murmurs.

  ‘Well, you have. You’ve trampled into my life and trampled all over my heart. I tried to walk away. I knew there was more than meets the eye. Why didn’t you let me walk away?’ My voice starts to trail off as the gravel in my throat starts to win the battle and tears start to pinch at my eyes. Damn me, I should have listened to my instincts.

  He starts chewing his bottom lip. ‘You never really wanted to walk away. ’ His voice is barely audible.

  ‘Yes, I did!’ I blurt on a sniffle. ‘I fought you off. I knew I was heading for trouble, but you were relentless. What happened? Did you run out of married women to fuck?’

  He shakes his head. ‘No, I found you. ’ He steps forward, and I remove myself from his reach.

  ‘Get out. ’ I say calmly, my body shaking, my brea
thing hitching – all evidence that I’m far from calm. I barge past him, knocking his shoulder.

  ‘I can’t. I need you, Ava. ’ His pleading voice is going to haunt me for the rest of my days.

  I swing around violently. ‘You don’t need me!’ I fight to keep my voice solid. ‘You want me. Oh God, you are a dominant, aren’t you?’ Flashes of all our sexual encounters pass through my mind at a hundred miles an hour. He’s truly fierce in the bedroom and pretty fierce outside it too.

  ‘No!’

  ‘Why the control issue then? And the dominance and commands?’

  ‘The sex is just sex. I can’t get close enough to you. The control is because I’m frightened to death that something will happen to you…that you’ll be taken away from me. I’ve waited too long for you, Ava. I’ll do anything to keep you safe. I’ve lived a life with little control or care. Believe me, I need you…please. . . please don’t leave me,’ He walks towards me, but I step back, fighting the instinct to let him swathe me. He stops. ‘I’ll never recover. ’

  What? No! I can’t believe he’s being so cruel as to use emotional blackmail. ‘Do you think this is going to be any easier for me?’ I scream, the tears starting to flow rapidly.

  The little colour that was left in his face drains out before my eyes. He drops his head. He has no come back to that. What can he say? He knows what he’s done to me. He’s made me need him.

  ‘If I could change how I’ve handled things, I would. ’ he whispers.

  ‘But you can’t. The damage is done. ’ My tone oozes contempt.

  He looks up at me. ‘The damage will be worse if you leave me. ’

  Oh God. ‘Get out!’

  ‘No,’ He shakes his head frantically, taking a step towards me. ‘Ava, please, I’m begging you. ’

  I move away from him, mustering up my most determined expression, swallowing constantly to keep the lump in my throat at bay. This is so incredibly painful. This is exactly why I couldn’t see him. I’m so angry with him, but seeing him so whitewashed is heart-breaking. I have to keep reminding myself that he’s let me down in the cruellest way. He’s misled me, deceived me and, essentially, bullied me into bed with him.

  You let me fall in love with you!

  He stares at me, the pain in his sludgy eyes immeasurable. I’ll cave if I don’t look away –so I do. I drop my gaze to the floor and silently beg him to leave before I fall apart and welcome the comfort he always gives me.

  ‘Ava, look at me. ’

  I take a deep breath, turning my eyes to his. ‘Goodbye, Jesse. ’

  ‘Please. ’ he mouths.

  ‘I said, goodbye. ’ The words carry an air of finality that I really do not mean.

  He searches my face for such a long time, but eventually, he abandons trying to find any scrap of hope in my eyes, he turns, and he silently leaves.

  I provide my lungs with the desperate rush of breath they need, walking on my unstable legs to the window. The front door slams, vibrating through the house, and Jesse appears, dragging himself to his semi-abandoned car. I flinch, letting out a sob as he smashes his fist through the window of his car, sending shards of glass spraying all over the road. He throws himself in and repeatedly punches the steering wheel. After what seems like years of watching him pound on his car, he roars off, tyres screeching, car horns blaring.

  ***

  I get out of the shower and dry my hair before resuming fetal position on my bed. I’m completely numb. I feel like my heart has been ripped out, trampled on and shoved back into my chest a battered mess. I’m somewhere between grief and devastation, and it’s the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. My life has fallen apart. I feel empty, betrayed, lonely and lost. The only person that can make any of this better is the person that’s made it all happen. I don’t feel like I’m ever going to recover from this.
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