Chapter Sixteen: The Art of Deceiving
The lady’s smile dropped off her face faster than a free falling body would drop off of a cliff… yes, that thought was running through my mind at present. “You’re not here to meet Hayes and…” she trailed off and looked down at her appointment book.
‘Have to take care of some family business,’ my used-to-be-perfectly-rounded arse. I couldn’t move any part of my body. I was… well, I was part-veela and, damnit, I was not mad. Mad was when James and Louis fill your shampoo bottle with honey or hair dye; mad was when Roxy hid in your closet before she was potty trained, took a dump, then tell you that ‘Fred said this was the potty;’ mad was when Rose and Lily and Lucy tried on all your make up and dresses for a fashion show… in the rain. I was so far past mad that I couldn’t even make it out as a speck left in the dust behind me.
I was furious. And upset and betrayed and all I felt like doing was yelling and crying.
Finally finding my voice and taking a deep breath to convince the lady that I was not going to murder anyone (though it was technically still an option), I managed to speak. “Could you please show me to the table?” I asked in what I thought to be a very not-frightening voice.
Apparently she disagreed, “Er – I’m not supposed to… really shouldn’t have… but I just assumed…”
I fixed her with a Stern Look, “If your boyfriend was cheating on you, what would you want this situation to end with?” I asked her as I stroked my swelled stomach (yes, I was using a false assumption to get my way and I didn’t even feel bad about it).
She shot a glance at my pregnant belly before looking at me with a determined face, “Follow me,” she said with an evil (and therefore oh-so-appropriate) smile.
As I followed her, I felt myself shaking with anger and betrayal.
He’s cheating on me.
The resonance of the new revelation hit me like the Knight Bus. And, as we walked past the main dining area and into the back, more private, area, everything seemed to make sense.
No wonder he was so sweet to me all the time even if I was slowly becoming more and more useless – he had someone else to fulfill his desires. Someone who wasn’t fat and swollen and moody; someone else to have sex with and take out on the town uninhibited by backaches or nausea.
The only perfect thing about him was his acting.
In the back of the restaurant there were three private dining rooms that could be rented out for group meetings, private conversations, etc. and it was in the middle of these rooms that the lady stopped in front of. She turned to face me, “I’m sorry; guys really are stupid dicks sometimes.”
I nodded, too afraid of both yelling and crying to speak.
“Go get ‘em,” she said encouragingly, putting her hand on my shoulder briefly before turning to head back to her position up front.
I take another deep breath and try to summon up more anger than hurt before I push open the door and take in everything before me.
The room is nicely furnished and dimly lit. There is a small two-person table lit by two candles to the right with a roaring fireplace against the wall opposite the door. There is a black-leather couch on the left wall with a tall lamp next to it. Hayes and the other women are sitting at the table and freeze when they hear the door hit the wall in its wide and violent swing. Her hand is atop his and she is leaned towards him in a way that makes me want to pull all of her short hair out in small chunks.
She’s pretty enough, and it pains me to realize this. She looks taller than me, about the same height as Hayes (using a short black dress to emphasize her long, slender legs), and has short straight brown hair that stops level with her chin. She turns to look at me and I notice both her eyes and her nose are too big for the rest of her face and her lips too small. Despite the fact that I admitted she was pretty, I conclude she looks like a horse.
“Dominique?” Hayes sputters and rips his hand away from his little whore. “What are you doing here?!”
He makes to stand up but I charge forward (which must be scary due to the fact I’m the size of a double-decker bus), “Me?! What am I doing here?” I cry, feeling a very strong urge to hit every inch of him I can reach. “What the hell is going on!?” I bang my fist on the table instead, thinking that I shouldn’t punch him until I don’t care if he ever talks again. “Who is this?” I point at the other girl who has leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs looking slightly amused to say the least.
Maybe I’ll hit her.
“I’m his wife,” she says primly, crossing her arms too and staring arrogantly at my stomach as my jaw hits the floor.
“Ex-wife,” Hayes yells hastily before I can even begin to respond to what Little Ms Bitch has said.
The whore shrugs, “Not yet… not officially.”
I turn back to Hayes and feel as though I’m about to explode, “You’re married!?” The two wine glasses on the table shatter and it vaguely registers that I haven’t accidentally made anything explode in nearly eight years.
“No, no,” Hayes stands up now and grabs my hands. I rip them out of his grip. “No.” he says, switching his glare from me to her.
“I can’t believe you,” I spit, backing away. “I seriously can’t believe you.”
“‘Nique, no, baby, let me –”
“What is there to explain, Landon?” I ask him, narrowing my eyes and trying not to cry. It might kill the whole intimidation factor I have going.
“I don’t know about you, but this sure explains a whole lot for me,” says a third voice and both Hayes and I turn. “You already knocked her up, then, did you? Our baby dies so you leave me and have another one with this little girl? That’s low, even for you.” She looks slightly scary now; amused and angry at the same time… it’s almost maniacal.
“I – That’s not –” Hayes’ hands twirl around trying to say what he obviously can’t. He turns to me desperately.
I laughed a laugh of unbelief, “You cannot be serious! What was I?” I asked, tears leaked from my eyes now. “What was she?” I demand, cradling my stomach. “Your replacement baby?”
“Dominique, no,” Hayes says with such vehemence that I almost believe him. “You know I’m not like that! You know –”
“I don’t know anything about you,” I cry. “I don’t know anything.”
“No, it’s not what you think!” Hayes pleads.
I glare at him, “Are you married to her?” I ask bluntly.
Hayes struggles, “I – well… technically but she just –”
“Did you have a child with her?”
“I… you…” he looks at me with sad eyes. “Yes, but –”
“That’s all there is to know,” I say, still crying (blame the hormones… blame the hormones…). I turn on my heel and walk towards the door.
“Dominique, that’s not it! Let me explain!”
I don’t turn back.
“Please, I… I love you!” he says, effectively freezing me as my hand slips over the cool doorknob.
I take a deep breath,
I don’t look back,
and I walk out of the room.
“Em!” I cry, banging on the door to her flat after apparating from the street. I know that apparating this late in my pregnancy takes more work, more concentration, and more energy that I simply don’t have due to the fact it’s becoming more and more like side-along, but I needed my best friend right now.
And I really had to pee.
Seriously, water was about to be leaking from my nose, eyes, and … well, you know.
“Open the door!” I cry pathetically resisting the urge to slump against the wall of the hallway. If I did, I doubt I would get up and then I would soon be sitting in a lovely pool of my own misery and urine.
The door finally swings open and Emmelyn glares out the door, her hair a mess and her eyes tired, “What the bloody fuck – what’s wrong?” her tone changed drastically from angry to worried when she saw the state I was in.
“Wife… baby…” I managed to sob as she wrapped her arms around me and somehow also managed to pull me into her flat. I soon manage to detach myself from her to run to the bathroom.
When I emerge again she’s waiting by the bathroom door. “Shhh,” she soothes as she helps me ease onto the couch. “Calm down, this stress isn’t good for your baby,” she tells me softly.
And that’s just about the only thing that can make me actually focus on calming down – my daughter. I don’t want him to cause anything to be wrong with her. I lean back on the couch and take deep, ‘calming,’ breaths. I feel Emmelyn get up and soon light fills the inside of my eyelids and I assume she has started a fire.
Having finally calmed down enough to function, I lean forward and allow Emmelyn to help me take off my heavy coat and boots. She sits back down beside me and gathers me into her arms. I lean into her (with difficulty) and close my eyes as she smoothes my hair soothingly.
Tears start to leak out of my eyes as I think about what a good friend she is. Here she is, stroking my hair and calming me down after I woke her up from her early bedtime sobbing, and she hasn’t even asked me any questions. This is what a best friend was for; this is the kind of friendship that everyone hopes to find and keep and maybe even marry into.
And the sweetness of it all is just making me cry harder.
I wake up when I smell cinnamon. Now, let me say right now that cinnamon is just about the greatest smell associated with food (besides chocolate chip cookies) that exists. I open my eyes (or rather, I try and fail so I reach up and rub the gross sleep boogys out of them before opening them for real) and realize that I am still on Emmelyn’s couch.
I begin to roll onto my back before remembering that I can’t do that anymore; instead, I use my arms to push myself into a sitting position and rub my puffy eyes irritably.
“You awake in there?” I hear Emmelyn call from the kitchen. I take a deep breath to answer her and with the inhalation of cinnamon and sausage, my stomach lurches. I barely make it to the bathroom before what little contents my stomach did hold are present no longer. Emmelyn rushes in and holds my hair as I begin to dry heave.
Leaning back against the wall what feels like forever later, I will myself not to start crying again. “Oh, love, I’m sorry. I was just trying to make breakfast for you and –”
“No, no, stop,” I tell her, smiling weakly. “It’s not that. My stomach just doesn’t like me in the mornings… even though I’m starving right now.”
Emmelyn grins sympathetically and we sit in a comfortable silence for a few minutes before I sigh and stand up, “I think I’m good for now… Do you have your wand? I really need to rinse my mouth out and I don’t know where mine is,” I smile sadly.
Emmelyn jumps up and I follow her into the kitchen where I’m pleased to find that my stomach seems settled enough, even though delicious-looking bacon and cinnamon rolls are cooling on the counter.
She glances at me worriedly before handing me her wand, “You still look a little pale.”
“I just vomited my guts up, genius,” I grin. “Be right back.”
After I wash out my mouth, I decide to go ahead and take a shower while I’m at it, so it’s nearly fifteen minutes before I return to the kitchen.
“I thought you might have drowned yourself,” Emmelyn says with a little too much seriousness for my liking. She’s perched on the couch with a half-empty plate of food watching the telly. I don’t answer her as I grab two cinnamon rolls and forgo the bacon – the greasy smell is still making me slightly nauseous.
I set her wand on the coffee table before I lower myself onto the couch next to her and set my plate on my stomach. Before I can take a bite of the cinnamon-y goodness, Emmelyn grabs and waves her wand to silence the telly and I watch as it goes blank.
“Do you want to tell me what happened?” she asks me. I take a bite of my cinnamon roll to satisfy my stomach and to postpone answering. I know she’s been dying to ask ever since I arrived sobbing last night; it was out of respect for our friendship and me that she’s let me have my space while trying to make me comfortable for this long. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have been able to do the same for her given my (somewhat insane) temper and impatience, so I know that I owe her.
She’s really too good to me.
Like I thought Hayes was…
And just like that I’m crying again. Emmelyn takes my plate from me and sets it on the coffee table before taking my hands in hers, “Honey, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”
I shake my head, “It’s not that.” I manage to say. “You’re too good to me, Em.”
“‘Nique, you know that’s not true. The only reason I’m here is because it gets me off work at the hospital,” she teases me, which makes me feel worse.
“I don’t want you to miss work; is your boss mad?”
Emmelyn shakes her head, “I’m working under Hayes and –” She pauses at my sharp intake of breath. Emmelyn’s voice suddenly goes dark, “Did he cause this?”
I nod and take a breath before launching into the explanation. Emmelyn looks more and more angry as I continue on with my story, and when I explain what Hayes’ … wife said, she damn near loses it. Her wand shoots sparks dangerously close to my legs as I speed through one of the most painful parts… Hayes’ ‘I love you.’
I don’t know why it hurt me so much – as much as nearly everything else – but thinking about those words made my chest constrict and breathing difficult. It was a feeling I’d never experienced before and I didn’t want to think about why it affected me so. I didn’t think I’d like the answer.
“That. Little. Bastard.” Emmelyn stands up and begins to pace. “I should have known. I should have guessed – I bloody worked with him! I trusted him! I thought he was good for you… never would have… but they always are… castration is always an option… Fred… Bill… James…”
I decide to cut off her mutterings before they get more and more violent and involve more family members who would be likely to murder, “Em, stop.” I am ashamed at how pathetic I sound, at how pathetic I feel lately. She stops and turns to look at me and her expression softens noticeably. “I’m sorry,” she tells me and sits back down next to me.
I look at my hands, which are crossed over my stomach. “Here, eat,” she continues, picking up my plate and placing it on top of my hands. “I didn’t make this food for nothing.”
“Thanks,” I take my plate from her and look at her. Her green eyes are pooling with care and concern. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“It’s what friend are for, ‘Nique. If Fred was here, he’d say the same thing,” she pressed a kiss to my temple. “Actually, he’d probably say something entirely inappropriate and then have to be sedated so he didn’t kill the cheating bastard.”
I smiled knowing she was dead on, “Maybe we shouldn’t tell him all of the details, then.”
Emmelyn nods, “That’s probably best.”
I pick up my roll and examine it in silence, “What am I going to do, Em?”
“What do you mean?”
I set my roll back down, “I thought it was all going to work out, you know?” I admit to her and to myself. “I thought that this baby might actually have a semi-normal life if Hayes was in it. He seemed so okay with it and me and…” I trail off, unable to continue.
“He doesn’t deserve you or your daughter, Dominique,” Emmelyn says forcefully. “And she will have a great life! You know that Ginny and Fred and your dad and I won’t allow anything less than that! Plus you’re smart and you have your own flat, now with a nursery, a paying job… all you have to do is stop worrying.”
“Easy for you to say,” I mutter.
Emmelyn made a noise that was so surprising I stopped trying to protest. “Good,” she smiled at me. “Now eat and watch the telly.”
She turned away from me and flicked her wand again turning the television on and leaving me no choice but to watch and eat.
I went home that afternoon when Emmelyn revealed to me that she had had someone cover her shift that morning to stay with me, forcing me to force her to go to work. I thought about making her promise not to torture … him … but conveniently forgot when I left.
I walked up to my flat in a large sweatshirt I’d gotten from Emmelyn but was sure had been Fred’s and the pants I was wearing the day previous. I worried that my neighbors would assume I was taking the walk of shame before my daughter decided to elbow me in the bladder; no one takes the walk of shame six months pregnant.
I threw open the door to my flat and as I shut it behind me, I smelled him. Sure, I smelled the stench of alcohol and maybe even vomit, but under all of that was one smell I know I’ll never forget. The just-out-of-the-shower smell mixed with cinnamon and aftershave that always seemed to make me smile.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, trying not to tear up as I turned to face him. He stumbled off of the… no, my couch and stood up.
“‘Nique,” he breathed.
“Get out,” I said levelly. “I don’t want to talk to you –”
“I don’t want to see you –”
“Listen I –”
“I don’t want to smell you –”
“Please!” He begged, and I saw that his eyes looked red and bloodshot, though I’m sure it was just from the drinking.
“You’re married.” I all but growled. “You aren’t who I thought you were. I need you to get the hell out of my apartment right. now.”
My fists were clenched and I willed myself not to cry.
“But I love you,” he whispered.
And it almost broke me. I almost went to him and let him hold me and comfort me and tell me everything was okay.
“Well that’s too damn bad,” I told him as I walked past him and into the bedroom. I slammed the door and slid down the other side and listened until I heard the crack that meant he was gone nearly five minutes later.
Then I fell apart.
A/N: So, I know that it's short and that you probably hate me but GUESS WHAT?! I JUST GOT AN EMAIL AND I'M A TRUSTED AUTHOR AS OF NOW! OH MY MERLIN I'M SO EXCITED! I don't think you understand, guys. This is just about the best graduation gift I'll get... hey, I said just about, haha. I'm really pumped. I don't think you understand how long I've been wanting this, guys. So thanks to the staff who has put up with me for so long and now trusts me. Ahh. so excited. So, basically, you guys are reading this RIGHT AFTER I post it. No more queue waits. WHO IS EXCITED?! This girl. That's who. :)
Secondly, I told you Hayes wasn't perfect. He has a wife. And his wife and him just lost a baby. Hmmm... mysterious, eh? I'd say so. Just what poor Dominique needs, right?! Not. Poor thing. If she came to life she'd probably shoot me. You guys probably want to shoot me. If you do that you won't know what happens, though. Keep that in mind.
Thirdly, SORRY FOR THE WAIT. I'm graduating on May 29th though, so then I have until September before I start college! Ahh. So pumped. But I should be able to update more. This summer isn't looking to jam-packed with random things.
Fourth...ly, PLEASE REVIEW. I'll love you forever.
over and outt.
HPsmartone32 (WHO IS NOW A TRUSTED AUTHOR!!!!!!)
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