"Okay. Spill!" Pru snapped.
"Spill what?" I gave her a confused look.
We were currently in the library studying for our upcoming exam. Our classmates, Mike and Jessica, also joined us since we were all in Biochemistry together. This was the third time Jessica had participated in our study group since she switched her major from Psychology to Biology.
"Did you do something different with your skin routine? Or did you have really good sex recently? Because your skin is glowing." Pru said as she scrutinized me.
I blushed fiercely at the insinuation. She was quite intuitive since I had been thinking about what happened last night all day. I kept replaying it in my head and every time I did, a stupid smile would spread across my face.
My first time wasn't the best but it was still magical. Had I known it'd be so great, I would have done it sooner...Well, maybe not, but still. I finally understood why some women would get attached to their men after a night of sleeping together. It was a sacred act and I felt like we had bonded—physically, mentally and emotionally—and that it somehow brought us closer.
I gasped. "Pru!" I exclaimed. "For the love of...can you not say that so casually?"
Luckily, we were in a study room or else everyone would be looking our way and shushing us.
"What?" Pru pretended to look left and right, unfazed. "What's the big deal?" She asked no one in particular and then turned to me. "It must be the sex or else you wouldn't be so defensive about it."
Mike and Jessica laughed while I pinched the bridge of my nose. "Can we please get back to studying?"
"You finally lost your V-card and you didn't even tell me." She continued relentlessly and I wanted to strangle her. I would’ve told her eventually, I was just not the type to give out such information at the drop of a hat.
"Can we talk about this later?" I hissed at her. She should know that I was not comfortable divulging such personal information; especially in front of Mike and Jessica—they were friends but not close enough for me to openly talk about my sex life.
"Mike and Jessica wouldn't care if we're talking about it." Pru pushed the subject.
"Nope." Jessica and Mike answered in unison with knowing smiles on their faces.
"But I do." I said finally.
"I don't but I think Grace is right, we should get back to studying." Mike said helpfully.
I gave him a small smile and Pru ultimately backed down. Something was up with her and I planned to find out after our group session.
Two hours later, Jessica stood up and stretched. "Well, that's it for me. My brain is fried and I need food."
I looked at my watch and it was 5:00 p.m. I was ready for dinner as well. I was surprised my stomach didn't growl to remind me.
"Yeah. I guess I'm done too." I started putting my stuff away in my bag. Pru and Mike soon followed and began stuffing their bags.
We said our goodbyes at the library entrance. Pru and I separated from Mike and Jessica since we parked in the opposite end of the parking lot.
"So what was that in there?" I asked Pru. "You were fine this morning. What happened?"
"Sorry." She seemed apologetic. "It was my jealousy talking."
"Jealousy..." I was trying the word out and it sounded weird in my mouth.
"Yeah." She answered sheepishly. "I was slightly jealous that you married a rich guy who happened to be young and handsome. And it didn't help that Erin kept talking about you during lunch."
I gave her an odd look which prompted her to explain. "I think he has a crush on you because he always asks about you whenever I see him."
"No, he does not." I stated. "He's just friendly."
"Can I tell him you're married so he can give up any idea he had?" She asked hopefully.
"I don't know if he should know that yet. And he probably won't believe you since I don't have a wedding ring." I paused and then said thoughtfully. "Just tell him I'm in a complicated relationship."
"Complicated?" She asked dubiously. "It looked pretty simple to me the way you guys were acting during lunch yesterday."
"Yes, complicated! Just because things might seem great on the outside doesn't mean it is on the inside." I tried to explain further after seeing her skeptical countenance. "We finally did it last night, and it was amazing! But I couldn't help but feel like he was still holding something back."
"That's it?" Pru rolled her eyes, unimpressed.
"Yes! And it's a big deal to me!" Pru just didn't understand. I felt like I finally moved up a step from square one to square two but Artemis was still rooted in square one as if unwilling to move forward with me.
Even though he made love to me, I felt scared that the love might be one-sided. I know maybe it was my paranoia talking but I couldn't help feeling insecure.
Suddenly, my phone dinged. I took it out and saw a text from the Playboy. I opened it and read: Will be home late tonight.
I sighed, not surprised. He did tell me last night that he would be flying out tomorrow morning for another business trip. At least this time he had told me two days ahead instead of last minute.
"Something wrong?" Pru asked beside me.
"No." I uttered. “Artemis will be home late and he’s flying to Europe tomorrow to meet a college friend who wanted to invest in his new project.” I informed her and then my lips slowly curved when a thought occurred to me. "So...you like Erin?"
Pru blushed. What? Pru never blushed. "Maybe.” She reluctantly admitted. “I just thought he was cute at first, but now that we hung out more, I'm starting to like him."
"That's great!" I beamed. "He seems like a great guy."
"I don't know. I think he might be too good for me." Her shoulders slumped with a lack of confidence.
"Since when did you have an inferiority complex?" I asked once we made it to our cars.
"Since Erin. I don't know how to explain it but around him, I feel less than for some reason." Her voice laced with frustration and uncertainty.
"You're thinking too much." I reassured her with a hug. "You’re smart, beautiful and funny. He'd be lucky to have you."
"I hope you're right."
"Mr. Jame." Nate called and had to repeat it louder. "Mr. Jame!"
"Sorry." I jerked my head up. What the hell. I kept zoning out all day. Nate stood in front of my desk waiting for my approval for tomorrow's trip.
Concern etched in his brows as he commented, "Are you all right? You don't seem like yourself today."
He was right. I've been preoccupied.
Last night's images kept replaying in my head like a time loop and I couldn't turn it off. I kept seeing Grace's flushed face as her beautiful grey eyes bored into mine while she called out my name.
I remembered how her soft smooth skin felt against mine and how sensitive she was to my every touch. I could feel myself getting turned on just thinking about it.
I suddenly stood up, making my chair reeled back, as my frustration grew. I walked to the floor-to-ceiling window and looked out at the city below but not really seeing. My mind was bombarded with thoughts of Grace all day and it was a distraction I couldn't afford.
Last night, as I held Grace in my arms after our love making, I had felt content. I haven't felt like that for a long time—so long that I don't even remember the last time I felt like this.
I was shocked when she told me she loved me. I knew I had arrogantly told her that I would make her fall in love with me at the end of a month but I had said it in the moment—it wasn't planned.
However, now that she said it, I didn't know how to react. It was not that I didn't care about her, I did. I probably cared more about her than anyone I knew. I just couldn't say those three words back. Did I love her? I didn't know since I've never loved anyone.
I couldn't bring myself to say it even though I knew that was what she wanted to hear. I wanted to make sure that if something were to come out of my mouth, it had to be sure and true. She deserved at least that much.
I had been focusing so much of my attention on getting revenge that I never cared for anything else, or anyone else for that matter—there was no room for it. For the last 7 years, there were only 3 things on my mind—work, money, and revenge.
Since I was 19, revenge had been my one purpose until now. I knew I needed money in order to accomplish my plan and that was what I worked toward—building my company and making money. I couldn’t ask my father for money since we disagreed on how I would use it.
Now that I had the resources, I could finally start buying shares and will eventually take everything that belonged to my great uncle away from him.
With Grace in my life, it began to feel different—a good difference. However, it kind of scared me at the same time. It was an odd feeling having someone around who cared about you and your well being. I marveled at the thought.
The hole that had been in my heart ever since my mom passed away had never went away. However, it had slowly gotten smaller with the presence of Grace.
I stood with my hands in my pockets for a while when Nate finally spoke up. "Mr. Jame, the..."
I brusquely cut him off. "Yeah. I've looked it over and the proposal seemed promising."
Nate nodded and grabbed the folder on my desk and left. I ran a hand over my face as I contemplated what the next few days would be like.
I looked at my watch and it was 10 at night. I figured I should go home, shower and get ready for tomorrow's early departure.
I got home and didn't find Grace in the bedroom. I went looking for her in the office since that was where I found her last night.
I found her sleeping curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her lap. I smiled as my heart warmed at the image. God, she was beautiful—her long brown hair fanned out around her and her pink lips slightly parted as if waiting to be kissed.
I walked over and knelt in front of her as I gazed at her a little longer. I grabbed the book and put it back on the shelf before I picked her up and carried her to our bed.
She snuggled into my chest and let out a contented sigh in her sleep. My heart skipped and my step faltered. I tightened my grip as I looked down at her before placing a kiss on her forehead.
I put her down on the new bed sheets and pulled the covers up to her chest. “I guess I won’t see you until next Friday. I wonder what it would feel like not seeing you for a whole week.” I said regretfully as I touched her cheek.
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