I flew out of the elevator the minute it opened and half ran half limped barefoot with reckless abandon as I maneuvered through the cars in the underground parking.
"Grace, stop!" Artemis called after me as he got closer.
I didn't stop. I didn't know what I was doing and I didn't care. My brain was a jumbled mess and I was trying to run away from it all.
Something dug into the bottom of my left foot and I stopped to assess the situation when Artemis screamed. "Grace!"
I felt my arm being pulled back aggressively and my whole body landed hard against his as a car honked loudly and zoomed by behind me. Before I could register what happened, he screamed at me again. "What the hell are you trying to do? Kill yourself?!" He asked as he hugged me tightly. After a minute or so, he held my shoulders and pushed me away at arm's length so he could look at me.
"You gave me a heart attack standing there waiting for that car to run you over!" He was still raising his voice and he looked like he saw a ghost.
I couldn't comprehend what he was saying or the fear that he was feeling; all my attention was focused on his hazel eyes as the question was blurted out in a whisper. "Do you know why I'm mad at you?"
His face went from being frightened to being confused. "You saw Samantha kissed me and that I didn't chase after you." His voice sounded sure as if that was the obvious answer.
I shook my head as my lips curved into a sad smile. "That was only a very small part of it." As his face continued to show confusion, I turned and slowly walked away as I laughed bitterly. "You don't even know why I'm mad at you."
He took a few quick steps, grabbed my arm and turned me around to face him. "Then tell me. Tell me why you're mad at me." He begged, his voice low and urgent.
When I didn't answer, he looked at his watch and added. "It's already 1:30 in the morning. Let's go home and we'll figure this out."
Too tired to fight, I allowed him to steer me toward his car and got in. By the time we got out of the parking lot and onto the main streets, it was pouring rain.
I leaned my head against the seat as I stared out the window while raindrops beat against it—one right after the other, louder and louder as if competing to be heard. After that, everything was fuzzy like I just got out of surgery. I didn't remember getting out of the car or how I got in the house or in my bed.
I woke up feeling tired like I haven't slept at all and there was an ache in the sole of my left foot. I sat up and saw Artemis's side was empty. Good. I don't want to see him anyway.
After brushing my teeth, washing my face and securing my brown hair in a simple braid, I walked back into the bedroom and sat down in a cushion chair by the floor-to-ceiling windows.
It was still pouring hard outside as if the sky couldn't stop crying. It was dark and gloomy out—not even one ray of sunshine could pierce through the thick grey clouds—and the miserable weather seemed to mirror my own mood.
I pulled my legs up as I curled into myself. I looked down at my left foot and saw that it was bandaged.
Artemis came in with a tray of food and set it down on the table in front of me. He came over and sat down on the arm of my chair as he put his hand on my head. "Are you hungry?" He asked softly.
I shook my head with my forehead on my knees as I mumbled. "I don't think I can do this anymore."
"What do you mean?" He asked slightly panicking. "If you're worried about Samantha, I've already taken care of her."
My head shot up. "What are you talking about?"
His hand dropped from my head to my shoulder while his other hand combed through his freshly showered hair. "Ever since Samantha found out about Theo, I got more wary of her so I got my investigative team to dig deeper into her past. We found out that she is quite intelligent and manipulative and had been involved in many counts of corporate espionage. However, she was quite good at hiding her tracks and was never found guilty due to the lack of proof. I reached out to the FBI Counterintelligence Division and sure enough they had a case on her. I agreed to provide them all the information I got on her along with getting a confession out of her. I met up with them yesterday in the afternoon to have a wire put in so I could get the confession at the party. That was why I couldn't run after you when you saw her kissed me because I was wearing a wire and had to complete my mission. It took all night to finally get her alone in a hotel room and get her to put her guard down. The moment the admission left her lips, she was immediately arrested and I went to look for you right away."
I stayed silent as my brain processed what he just told me. Finally, I said, "Even though I don't like Samantha and I'm glad she's out of our hair but she was only a small part of the problem."
"I still don't understand." Artemis said as incomprehension etched his attractive face.
I sighed and added. "What about your revenge?" His body stiffened at my question.
"Look Artemis, I know about your mom's death and how it wasn't an accident. Besides what you told me last time when you were drunk, your father had already filled me in with the rest. I know that you've been trying to avenge her this whole time. I haven't said anything because I wanted to wait until you trust me enough to tell me."
"I didn't tell you not because I didn't trust you." He suddenly interjected. "I just didn't want to get you involved."
"But I am involved Artemis." I said passionately as I stood on my knees, turned to face him and grabbed his hands. "Don't you understand that?" Tears filled my eyes as my heart tightened painfully. "I'm your wife. What involves you involves me and vice versa."
"I just didn't want you to get hurt." He continued half heartedly as if some understanding had dawned on him. His hand reached up to touch my cheek as his thumb brushed a tear away.
"And yet, I still get hurt all the same." I countered gently. "You keeping me in the dark didn't help me, didn't help our relationship." I didn't know if he completely understood what I was trying to say so I explained further. "Had you told me about Theo, I wouldn't have been so heartbroken when I saw what he did with Samantha. Had you told me about Samantha, then I wouldn't go imagining the worst."
"But I did warn you about her at the beginning that not everything you see is real." He reminded me.
"I know, but that was not enough." My voice dripped with frustration since he didn't seem to recognize the real problem. "Artemis, it's not enough to just let me assume the worst and then explain yourself later. Relationships don't work like that! You can't expect me to put all my faith and trust in you and patiently wait for your explanations afterward every time."
I got up off of the chair as my voice got louder. “Just like you can't expect me to patiently wait for you until your revenge is over." My heart bled as each word left my mouth.
“I love you, Artemis. And I'm willing to do anything for you. I would move to the end of the Earth if that's where you want to be.” My voice trembled as more tears fell. “But it hurts too much seeing you every day knowing I'll never be your number one priority. I know you love me but is it enough for you give up something else?"
"Are you giving me an ultimatum?" He asked blankly and I couldn’t tell what he was feeling.
I didn't realize I was trying to make him choose between me and his revenge. I didn't want to do that because I didn't want him to resent me in the future but I couldn't help myself. "I don't know. Maybe." I answered indecisively.
“I just know that when people care enough about something, they will have to sacrifice something else in order to get it; some people sacrifice their career for a family and conversely. You rarely see people who can succeed in both." I pinched the bridge of my nose as I tried to boldly plowed forward. I had to tell him how I felt or else we would always come back to this and never really moved on.
"You're working so much right now and for what? I know it's not because you're greedy for money and power. The goal has been revenge all along. And what has it gotten you? Have you felt satisfaction in your life? Do you feel complete as you continue on this road? You're probably one of the most successful people I know who has achieved so much at such a young age. But have you really stopped to enjoy anything that life has to offer?"
His hand ran over his face as he moved to sit in the spot I had vacated. With elbows in his knees and his head in his hands, he grated out. "I've been on this road for so long that I don't know anything else. I can't just quit.” The word ‘quit’ came out broken from his lips like it was something foreign. “Even if I can quit, I would feel like I've dishonored my mother’s memory for not avenging her."
I came to him and knelt in front of him as I hugged him. "No, Artemis, you're wrong. Your mom would want you to live a happy life. That would be the only thing she would ever want for you whether she was here or not."
After a while, I said regretfully. "I can't stay here, Artemis. I'm going to move back with Pru for the meantime. I can't help you figure things out, this is something you have to do on your own. Once you figure it out, you come find me." Please don’t make me wait too long, I pleaded silently.
If you’re enjoying this so far, please like and comment :) let me know what you think. It would mean the world to me :)