Lizzie grinned brightly as she gestured to the window. “I’m going to try Bubble Gum flavor,” she announced, a finger pointing at the tub of blue ice cream. “What about you?”
I smiled at her, pulling out my wallet. “Butterscotch.”
“You always get butterscotch, Daddy,” she teased. “You should try something new for a change.”
Who knows, perhaps she was right.
I was just too lazy to even bother considering my other choices. “No, I’m just fine with the butterscotch,” I replied, shooting her a big grin. My lovely Elizabeth… what would I do without her and her brother? It seems they’re the only ones keeping me going these days.
I’ve been a complete utter mess these past few months; ever since that devastating afternoon at that small coffee pastry shop. I sauntered in there full of energy, with such hope. And I trudged out, completely shattered. There are few people in your life powerful enough to completely destroy you. For me, it has always been the beautiful Mirella Keates. Ever since I first set eyes on her, she has enticed me, has intoxicated me. I have been beguiled, subject to her whims, shackled, powerless.
I went into absolute hysterics when she uttered those dreadful words. Such a lovely mouth, spewing such nonsense. I lost control. I wasn’t myself.
“I want to end this,” she began and the busy space we found ourselves in seemed to spin in circles around me; a blur of colors and noise. I didn’t need to hear anything else. I knew she was being impulsive and irrational. How could she end what we had so abruptly? Did she not cherish it as much as I did?
At the mention of Gabe’s name, I was swept into the kind of anger I have never felt before. It was so sudden, and so strong. It shook me to the core. I was certain he had something to do with this abrupt decision. As strong as Mirella is, she can be easily lead, easily influenced. I knew she loved me. I couldn’t let her make this hasty decision without a fight.
She insisted this was her decision, and hers alone. Her lovely eyes seemed so genuine – I knew she was telling me the truth. I knew this was her choice. And that cut all the more. She did not want me anymore. She had had her fun, and evidently, she could toss me aside, so easily. I wasn’t charming enough. Not handsome enough. Not exciting enough. I had deluded myself into believing that she had fallen in love with me, just I had with her. But those eyes told me I was wrong. They expressed something I did not want to hear, for it was too inconceivable.
I told her no one would ever love her like I do. I spoke these words because I truly believed them. With every fiber of my being. I still do.
I grasped her delicate wrist, applying such force, it stunned the both of us. The whole of me, down to my very soul had been crushed. A foreign being; a stranger took over. I stared into her eyes, and I saw apprehension. She was afraid of me. Despite knowing this, I barreled on. I wanted to shake her up, to make her understand. I asked her if she wanted me to drag her to the washroom and fuck her senseless. The filthy words spilled out of my mouth, uncontemplated, unfiltered – the heated words of a fuming stranger.
The quick flicker of desire in her eyes aroused me, and I desperately wanted to do just that; fuck her senseless. Yearning flickered in her expression for a fraction of a second, but swiftly morphed into anger and fear. Regardless, I trailed my hand under her silky skirt, grasping the soft flesh of her thigh, hard. I wanted to inflict pain. I wanted to wake her up. I had no intention of letting go. In fact, I had every intention on dragging her into that small powder room and making her forget all about her husband.
Thankfully, I was not able to move forward when a young man intervened. “Is everything cool?” he asked. At the sound of his concerned voice, I finally came to my senses – it happened in a flash. When my inexcusable behavior became crystal clear to me, I was mortified and ashamed. How could I have treated her this way? I am not that kind of man. I am a gentle man. A kind man. My actions come not from hate, but from love.
As Lizzie and I settled into a booth, I studied my daughter again. The girl looks exactly like me, and the narcissist in me loves that, loves to be able to see myself reflected in another human being. And a beautiful one at that.
“Thanks for this, Dad,” she muttered between licks, her mouth already blue.
“My pleasure, sweetheart.” I replied with a heavy heart. The truth is, I never have given enough of myself to them. I haven’t been there for her and her brother as much as I should have. Years have gone by, and it seems like I’ve missed it all. I’ve always been too caught up in my work to truly be a good father. But in recent weeks, that has changed. I’ve made a vow to make family a priority.
Following the horrible turn of events at the coffee shop, I understood I had to let Mirella go. I did not want to, but I knew I had no choice. There were others to consider; namely a husband and two sweet beautiful girls. And my own lovely wife and precious children. I could not be so greedy, so selfish. I attempted to call her repeatedly to let her know this, to tell her that I would respect her wishes. I desperately wanted her to know that I would do the right thing and let her go.
She dodged all my calls, and that broke me to pieces. I plowed on nevertheless, wanting to reach her. That last good-bye was so bittersweet. I apologized wholeheartedly… for everything. Her voice was soft, and understanding. She had forgiven me. That was all I needed. She wished me well, and I told her that I loved her, that I would always love her.
I’ve worked very hard with my therapist these past few weeks, and she has made me realize that I have been using Mirella as an escape. To be with her is to be in an alternate reality. The sight of that sweet smile of hers always lifts me – it’s magical. There’s so much pureness in her, so much curiosity, a natural playfulness that I’m drawn to like a moth to a flame. She’s a breath of fresh air in the body of a beautiful, sensual woman. I never stood a chance.
With her, I forget all my problems, all my worries. She is my drug, my clutch. And Dr. Salehi has made me realize that I need to let go. Like any addiction, this is a grueling and slow process, to be tackled one day at a time. It was excruciatingly difficult at first, but as the days went on, it became easier. Each day gets better.
Lizzie was uncharacteristically quiet, too busy enjoying her treat to talk. At the end of a lick, with a mouth full of blue ice cream, she asked, “How’s your butterscotch?”
I smiled. “Fantastic.” It truly was.
It was a perfect moment. But just then, my mobile rang. It was tucked in the inside pocket of my jacket, and for a second, I considered letting it go to voicemail. Unfortunately, being a workaholic and curious to a fault, my phone always beckons. I am at its mercy.
My breath hitched and the beating of my heart seemed to halt as I spotted her name on the display. I could hardly believe my eyes. “Mirella?” I said, forgetting myself and my surroundings. “Hello.”
Lizzie eyed me with a curious look. But I didn’t care about that right then. I desperately wanted to speak with Mirella. I needed to know the reason she was calling. Had she missed me as much as I had missed her? Had she realized that she couldn’t go on without me? That she loved me? Did I want this?
I heard a snippet of her voice, and just as my ears struggled to latch on to it, it left me abruptly as the line went dead. My heart pounded a mile a minute as I attempted to process what had just happened. Lizzie’s gaze was still glued to me, confusion written all her face. Her ice cream was melting, slow drips travelling down the length of her cone. But she didn’t seem to notice.
“It’s a friend of mine,” I explained. “I think something’s wrong. I just need to check, okay?” I stood and walked toward the back of the ice cream shop for a little privacy. I tried to reach Mirella again, but there was no answer. We rushed home, and I tried again once I got there. And again, later.
With a single call, Mirella has managed to crumble all my efforts.
Damn you, my beautiful Mirella.
You’ve broken me.
Author’s Note: This is NOT an excerpt from Book 3, but rather an extra POV scene.