Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 52

Beck

If it weren’t for Margo’s desperate plea to leave our party, I’d probably be sitting in jail for assault on my own brother. I don’t know what happened between him and Margo, I’m afraid to ask for the risk of going mad with rage. Whatever happened has her messed up.

She doesn’t utter a single word to me in the car. Ezra even tries to make a joke as he opens her door in front of our building and she doesn’t even crack a smile at him.

I fidget the entire elevator ride up, wondering how to even approach what happened out on that terrace. If I hadn’t been so fucking consumed with fear at the sight of Ruby at the party, I wouldn’t have ever left Margo alone. None of that would’ve happened, whatever did transpire. I hate myself for leaving her alone—at our engagement party no less.

As we walk into the penthouse, I lose the grip on patience, needing to know what happened with Carter. “I need you to talk to me, baby,” I plead. “I don’t want to make you talk about it, but I spent the entire car ride picturing all the worst scenarios about what could’ve happened. I just need to know…”

She stops in the kitchen, her hands grabbing the lip of the island. For a few agonizing moments, she just stares at me. Her eyes are full of defeat. It kills me I don’t know what put it there.

“Who was that woman you were talking to earlier tonight?”

“What?”

“The woman in the blue dress. The blonde. Did you know her?”

My jaw snaps open and close as I try to piece together what she’s getting at. My question had nothing to do with Ruby. I don’t know why she answered with a question of her own, especially one like that.

“Beck,” she pushes. “Did you know who that was?”

“Yes,” I answer. “I told you. She was just an old friend.”

“Do you know what she does for a living?”

Where the fuck is this going? A pit forms in my stomach when I come to the realization that Carter had shown up with Ruby. Maybe I should be worried on what he could’ve shared with Margo. Her line of questioning has me wondering if Carter knows more than I thought.

“No,” I lie, taking a step closer into the kitchen. “I don’t know off the top of my head.”

“You’re lying,” she accuses.

“Why are you asking?” Nerves replace my anger as my fingers fumble with the knot at my neck. In one swift motion I loosen the tie all the way, pulling it off my neck and throwing it onto the island.

“You know exactly what she is. She’s a reporter.” Her eyes go wide in realization. “But you know that already.”

I sigh in defeat. “Okay, fine. Yes, I know who she is. I don’t understand what that has to do with anything. What happened between you and Carter?”

“Would you say you and her talk a lot?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Did you pay her to run that article on you?”

My jaw drops. There it is. She knows.

Fuck me.

“No.” My answer is half-hearted, not fooling either one of us.

Margo’s eyes instantly well up in tears. She screws them together tightly, as if she’s trying to hide that they misted up in the first place.

I close between us in a few simple steps. When I try to pull her into me, she stops me. “No!” she yells. “You’re lying to me, and I want to know why!”

“Margo,” I whisper. I never thought it’d come to this. I’d planned on one day telling her the truth, but not like this. Not in this way.

Mascara streams down her cheeks as she stares up at me. I fucking hate myself for being the reason for the tears, for lying to her. It wasn’t ever supposed to happen like this.

“You did,” she confirms, biting her trembling lip. “You’re the one who did it. You knew your board would see the article and give you an ultimatum. Why’d you do it, Beck?”

My silence only angers her. It’s not that I don’t want to answer her, it’s that I don’t know how. I don’t even know how to begin to give her the answers she’s trying to force out of me.

“There’s so much you don’t know,” I answer remorsefully.

“I know everything,” she seethes. “Carter told me it all. How you saw me first, wanted me first, and you hated him because he’s the one who got me.”

“That’s a fucking lie,” I spit. I want to grab her and make her listen to me, but her body only just stopped trembling from whatever the fuck happened with my brother. I don’t want to do anything to startle her, even if my entire body needs to feel her skin against mine. To know she’s still here with me.

She laughs sadly. “God, I can’t even believe you when you say it is because you’ve been lying to me this entire time. You just couldn’t handle him having something you wanted, could you, Beck? Did you ever really want me or was it that you knew it’d piss him off to see me with you?”

“Of course I fucking wanted you!” I shout angrily. “I wanted you from that moment you walked into that grimy fucking bar! You were wearing that terrible NYU sweatshirt, the one from that picture you had in your room. You were the least dressed up person there, and I couldn’t stop fucking looking at you.”

Her chest heaves. “And then what? Your brother spoke to me first and you couldn’t get over the fact I was his?”

“You were never his,” I hiss. “You were always meant to be mine.”

“I’m not fucking property!” she screams, shouldering past me.

I follow her into the dining room, not letting this conversation end until I’ve come all the way clean.

“No. You’re not property. It doesn’t change the fact you were meant to be mine from the moment you walked into that bar. I sure as hell have been yours from that very moment.”

She spins on her heel, jabbing her finger into my chest. “Then you should’ve done something about it.”

I grab her wrist. “I did.”

She shakes her head. “No, you lied. You schemed. I still don’t even know what to believe. Carter says you hated him for dating me. That you told me your board was on your back because you wanted to rope me into your elaborate plan to get back at him.”

I laugh, my fingers letting go of her arm. “And you’re going to believe him?”

“So, you’re telling me he was wrong about you giving that reporter the green light on running that article?”

“He wasn’t wrong about that. But he’s wrong about everything else.”

“I should’ve never trusted you,” she snaps, climbing the stairs to her old room. I’m her shadow up the stairs, not letting her out of my sight.

“You’ve got everything wrong. If you’d just fucking let me explain, I can tell you how wrong you are.”

“I don’t care anymore, Beck.” She stomps into her room, half attempting to shut the door in my face. It doesn’t work. I push it right open, ambling after her into her room.

She goes straight for her closet, pulling her suitcase from a dark corner.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

She gives me a dirty look. “I’m packing. I’m leaving. And you’re going to let me. I can’t stay here knowing I was some sick sort of revenge on your brother.”

My hands grab angrily at my hair. “It was never about Carter!” I roar. I’m completely deranged at this point, but I can’t handle the thought of her leaving. I only just got her. There’s no way I can let her go now. I wouldn’t be able to survive it. Not after knowing what it was like to have her.

“Too bad I can’t believe you because everything about us was a lie. God, I fell in love with you, and you were lying the entire time.”

My throat clogs with emotion. “You love me?” I ask hoarsely.

“I thought I did,” she answers quietly, walking past me and throwing the suitcase on her bed. “I thought I loved you more than I’ve ever loved someone else. Now I don’t know what I feel. It’s hard to love something when everything’s a lie.”

I desperately reach for her, needing to cling to her to know that we can salvage this. “It wasn’t all a lie,” I plead. “All the best parts of us were the truth. Everything between us was the truth, Margo.” I press my palm to her racing heart. “In your heart, you know everything was real. The way we feel about each other could never be fake. Could never be a lie.” I grab her wrist, holding her palm against my erratic heartbeat to try and prove my point.

She looks up at me sadly. I’ll never forgive myself for hurting her. I won’t get over it. I just need to know that we can come back from this. That she’ll listen to my explanation and understand why I did what I did.

I take a deep breath, my fingers pushing her into her chest even harder as I cling to her for dear life. “I’ll tell you everything,” I promise. “I just need you to let me.”

Her only answer is a nod. I don’t care that she’s silent. It’s enough for me.

Pulling in a shaky breath, I try to gather my thoughts, trying to think of the best way to explain the real reason how Margo and I came to be.

“Carter was right about one thing. Like I just told you, I noticed you before he ever did. No person had ever captured my attention like you had that night.”

“You didn’t do anything.”

“You looked so young. So carefree. Like someone who was just starting college and having fun. I didn’t have the nerve to speak to you while knowing our lives were vastly different.”

“So then you just got angry because Carter got to me?”

“I was fucking furious when I learned of the two of you. I don’t think I’ve ever been as upset as when he’d called me to let me know you’d slept together. That you were his girlfriend.”

‘Well congratulations, you got your revenge. You put a ring on my finger.” She looks down at the ring sadly. She obliterates my aching heart when she slips the ring off her finger. Her eyes are filled with tears as she inspects the ring her grasp. “You beat him. You won.”

I shake my head at her, closing her fingers around the ring before she even gets the idea to try and give it back to me. Our grasped hands shake. I don’t know if it’s hers or mine that tremble. Maybe it’s both of ours. “I don’t give a damn about winning. It wasn’t about that. It was never about that. When he brought you home to The Hamptons, when we finally spoke for the first time, I knew I’d do anything to have you. I’d never once cared what my brother had, yet in that moment I wanted everything he had. I wanted you. When I found you drawing me, when you almost kissed me on that beach, I realized I’d spent my whole life saying I’d never fall in love, only to fall in love in an instant with a woman who wasn’t mine.”

“You didn’t,” she breathes, her breath hitching.

“I did. I’ve been in love with you ever since. Fuck, Margo, I might’ve fallen in love with you from the moment you walked into that bar. I just didn’t know what it was.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I knew Carter was cheating on you that weekend. I wanted to tell you so bad, but I didn’t want to hurt you. So I kept my mouth shut.”

“Beck…”

“But I knew that weekend that eventually, you’d be mine. That you were never supposed to be his, and if I waited long enough, we’d happen.”

“So, you realized you were my new boss and thought hey what the hell, I should tell her I need a fake fiancée?”

“No. I told you I bought the company to have an excuse to talk to you. I didn’t lie about that.”

Her mouth pops open. She watches me carefully, trying to fit the puzzle pieces together in her mind.

“I tried getting you the old fashioned way. I contacted you for months and you never answered, so I came up with another way to get your attention. That started with Ruby. I knew if something ran on me being some kind of womanizer instead of attention being me and how I run my company, that it’d sound logical that my board threatened me.”

“So even that was a lie?”

I nod. “The board saw it. They told me to be careful, but they never threatened me with investors or anything like that. They just told me to be careful of too much negative attention. I spun it to my advantage, which I know was wrong, but I was forced to do something dramatic to get you to even speak with me. If I came to you asking for help, I put my money on that I thought you wouldn’t say no.”

“So you manipulated me?”

“Yes,” I answer sadly. “I guess you could say I did. At the time, I hadn’t thought of it that way. I was so hellbent on getting you in my life that I didn’t think of it as manipulation. Every feeling, every moment between us was real. It was for me and I’m pretty fucking convinced it was all real for you too. I didn’t see the harm in the way we came together being a lie if it meant everything else was real.”

“So the article, the board story, everything was all just some massive scheme made by you so you could corner me into being your fiancée? I can’t even leave you right now. Not after all of New York attending our engagement party. You were trying to trap me, Beck.”

“No. Never. I was just trying to have a shot with you. That’s all this was ever supposed to be.”

“It doesn’t feel like that. It feels wrong and fucked up.”

“I’ll do whatever it takes for you to trust me. I love you, Margo. I love you so much that I would ruin everything I’ve ever created just to call you mine. I’m so fucking in love with you.”

She sobs. Mascara smudges her face, ruining the makeup that’d been meticulously painted on her skin. I feel like I can’t fucking breathe when she pulls her hand from mine. In one gentle motion, she pries my fingers open and sets my grandmother’s ring in my palm.

“Please don’t,” I beg, my voice going hoarse. “Please don’t do this.”

She closes my fingers around the ring. “This isn’t love, Beck. Love shouldn’t feel like this. It shouldn’t be based on a lie.”

“Don’t give up on me.” My fingers tighten around the ring in my grasp. “Let me fix this, baby. Please.”

Her eyes are red from crying so hard. “I should’ve never agreed to being your fiancée. I should’ve never had anything to do with you after everything happened with Carter.”

“Don’t bring him into this.”

She scoffs, pulling her headband from her hair and throwing it to the ground. “You know you’re just like him. I knew not to trust one Sinclair brother, I just hadn’t expected I couldn’t trust the other.”

Her words take me so off guard I take a few steps backwards in shocked hurt.

“I want you to leave, Beck.” It’s like she’s pouring salt in an already gaping wound. I can’t do anything but grant her wish.

With my heart shredded in my chest, I look at her through bloodshot eyes. “I’ve only ever loved you, Margo. I couldn’t help it. I’ve always loved you uncontrollably. Maybe a little too much, but everything I’ve done was always out of love.”

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