The Pucking Wrong Guy: Chapter 24

BLAKE

I woke up, my chest heaving as I stared around the room. Our room. He’d brought me back in here. Again.

I was wrapped in his arms.

And I didn’t try to get out of them.

It was the only time I allowed myself to relax in his presence–when he was asleep, and couldn’t see the automatic reaction I had to his touch, the way his heartbeat was my nighttime soundtrack, the way my body basked in his warmth as if it didn’t have a touch.

I’d woken from a nightmare. I’d been trapped in a speeding car, hurtling down an unending, treacherous road. The brakes had been useless, the steering wheel stuck, and I’d had no choice but to endure it. To wait for the tragedy that lay at the end of the journey.

I didn’t need someone to tell me what the dream had meant. I was well aware of the lack of control I was feeling in my life at the moment.

“Blake,” he whispered in his sleep, pulling me closer to his chest, his nose sliding along the back of my neck.

A soft sob slipped from my mouth and I slapped my hand on top of it, trying to stop the sound.

I didn’t want him to wake up. I didn’t want to break the spell of these nights, when I could take comfort in his arms, pretend that he was just the love of my life and not the man who’d destroyed me.

The next morning, I stood in front of the mirror, just staring at myself. He was at practice, and I…I was alone with my demons. I had a shoot in an hour. But instead of getting ready, I was standing there, ripping myself apart.

I had almost started to like myself. Because Ari had liked me. Not just liked me, he’d told me I was perfect.

But now I knew he was a liar. And all the pretty words he’d said…the ones that I’d let in, allowed myself to start to believe…

Maybe I couldn’t trust them.

And so here I was, the soundtrack that had haunted me since I was a little girl, once again blaring loudly in my head.

The lines around my eyes, were they too pronounced? Were they supposed to show like that? And my cheeks. They were rounder today. I’d gone back and forth between binging and not eating lately. The fucking chubbiness…it was tangible proof of my lack of self control. My lips were too thin. Today was a fucking lipstick shoot. They were going to take one look at my old, fat face, and my scarecrow lips, and kick me out.

I screamed. And the echo of it was everywhere, breaking open the cracks in my heart until they felt more like fucking ravines. I was dying. That was the only explanation for how much all of this hurt. Humans were meant to be able to withstand pain, but not like this. Not pain that bled you out.

There was just shame sitting with me in the car as I drove to the shoot. Because the only reason I hadn’t purged myself this morning, the only reason I hadn’t hovered over that toilet until my insides were aching and bloody…was because I was going to be late.

I was right back to being the weak basket case that I’d always been.

And deep down, I knew it wasn’t Ari’s fault. I knew I needed to fix myself. Knew I needed to stop doing this.

I just didn’t know if I could.

When I walked out of the shoot hours later, I was defeated. Every shot had been bad. The photographer had tried everything. But there was no spark, there was no life.

How could there be?

I felt like a walking corpse.

My phone buzzed, and for a second…my heart lifted.

But it wasn’t Ari. It was Clark.

And I had no use for him.

I pulled into the driveway of the house I couldn’t stop myself from returning to.

And I wept.


A few days later I was staring at the television blankly, watching who knows what, when Ari suddenly stormed in, holding up my phone.

“What’s this?” Ari spit.

“Give that back!” I snarled, lunging for it.

But he held it up over my head.

“Clark’s texted you twenty fucking times this week. Why haven’t you told him to fuck off?”

“So what if he’s texting me? What are you gonna do, Ari? You gonna plant drugs in my car? You gonna block his number without telling me? Replace it with your fucking own? Or track my phone so you know when we talk? Oh wait, are you going to put him on the fucking no fly list?”

“Maybe!” Ari yelled.

I flinched and stepped back, agony slipping through me. It was the first time he’d ever raised his voice to me.

‘How could you do this to me? To us?’ my father raged before he released a harsh sob, the sound absolutely terrifying.

‘It’s not what you think, John. Nothing happened,’ my mother’s voice quivered.

Why was I thinking about that right now? Was it because my parents had once been the embodiment of a perfect love too? Until they weren’t.

My mother’s betrayal had shattered that illusion and left me with scars that still throbbed with pain. Now, I couldn’t help but wonder if history was repeating itself.

Deceit was an awful thing.

Ari took a step towards me, his hand reaching out. “Blake,” he said in a much calmer voice. “I understand you’re upset. I even understand that you don’t understand. But you’d better understand by now that…You. Are. Mine. If you care about Clark at all, you’ll make that clear to him.”

I stared at him, a tear sliding down my cheek. He was watching it fall, a look of complete and utter ruin as he did.

There wasn’t a part of me that missed Clark. Just like there wasn’t a part of me that regretted choosing Ari. But I didn’t say that. I couldn’t.

I couldn’t tell him that his love had changed me. That I knew if I ended things with Ari, that if I didn’t have him, I’d never want anyone else.

Ari didn’t have to worry about Clark. Because his only purpose nowadays was to serve as a haunting reminder that Ari had manipulated me. Pulled the strings and gone behind my back.

It was Ari or no one.

Always.

“I love you, Ari, but you can’t manipulate people you love. You can’t trick them. It’s wrong.”

“I’ll say I’m sorry a million times, sunshine,” Ari whispered in a broken voice.

I flopped back onto the couch in utter defeat.

“The problem is, you won’t mean any of them.”

He didn’t deny it.


I stared at the ring, buried at the bottom of my dresser drawer. Its beauty didn’t fit in with the socks it was hiding under.

I’d told Ari that I’d thrown it away. That I wanted nothing to do with it.

And then I’d felt like a complete bitch because I swore he almost cried.

This ring was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Its only flaw…was that it now belonged to me…without my consent. I would’ve loved this ring…if he’d done it properly. If he’d gone down on one knee and proposed when I was coherent enough to accept. Now, I felt like it was tainted. And I hated that.

But it really was beautiful. And I couldn’t deny the fact that I loved it because he wanted me so badly. That much was clear from the lengths he’d gone. I slowly started to slip it on my finger……right as Ari walked into the room–his gaze immediately locking onto my diamond clad hand.

“I guess we’re both liars, aren’t we, sunshine?” he murmured as he continued to stare.

His words whipped across my skin and I flinched.

Because he was right.

His expression was perfectly blank so I couldn’t read what he was thinking at all. That was so different from how it had been, when I could read every emotion that came across that beautiful face.

But the worst part of it…was that his eyes seemed dead. No emotion, no mischief…all the awe I’d treasured like a previous gift…gone.

I had killed it.

My father may have killed my mother, but I’d learned over the years that there were a lot of ways to destroy someone.

I was watching it happen right in front of me.

I didn’t understand how the mere thought of living without him was like a thousand pound weight on my chest, yet the idea of continuing in this state of mistrust and despair could feel just as heavy.

I laid in the darkness that night, once again wrapped in his arms, tears silently staining my pillow.

And I felt paralyzed.

The only thing I knew for sure…

I would love Ari Lancaster for the rest of my existence either way.

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