Uncut: White Flame-15

Never Trust the Twisted Humor of Fate

Audrie reached the Jacobs Residence while the sun was drowning in the horizon.

The skies had the color of dark orange and murky yellow.

It was early evening but the air blowing against her face was still warm.

The fragrance from her mother’s small rose garden wafted around her as she pushed the motorbike on the driveway towards the car park located at the left side of the house.

There were three vehicles already parked right in front of the pull-down steel door.

The garage was used for storage these days. And, soon, her beloved motorbike would join the stored items inside the dim room.

“Sorry, pal,” Audrie whispered as she rubbed a clean cloth on the motorbike’s bulky gasoline tank.

“Maybe, we could still ride around during weekends.”

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“Good evening.”

Audrie’s knees buckled at once when she heard Sean’s baritone voice. Her fingers grasped at the handle bar before turning her head towards the unwanted visitor.

“What are you doing here?” she asked defiantly.

“Checking on you,” Sean replied sardonically.

He was standing in the shadows with the street lights behind his back so she could not see his face.

“Your Dad called me last night. He asked me to look after you while you’re home alone here.”

Audrie exhaled a short and loud sigh, not hiding her impatience.

“Thank you. You can go now. I’ll be locking the gates and the door once I get inside the house.” She remained motionless because her legs were starting to turn to jelly.

“I’m also here to fetch you.”

“Fetch? Why?”

“We’re having dinner at seven tonight. Didn’t you receive the flowers?”

“I received them — ” Audrie took a deep breath. She wanted to ask why he sent flowers but stopped herself.

“I don’t want to have dinner. Thank you for the invitation but I’m sorry. I’m tired and all I need is an early rest.”

“You need to eat first. At least, something light.” Sean moved like the wind.

In an instant, his long fingers had clamped like vice around her elbow.

“Come inside the house.”

“Let go of me!” Audrie struggled but her bones had melted. Sean dragged her away effortlessly.

“I’ll walk alone.” Her sneakered foot jabbed at his shin when he ignored her.

“Ouch! That hurts,” Sean exclaimed but did not stop.

“You’re always almost invisible that I seldom notice you. I never expected you’d be as stubborn as a mule.”

Audrie did not like the comparison to an unglamorous creature and suddenly found so she dug her heels on the ground.

“Please let go of my arm.” She tried to speak firmly but her voice was shaky.

“And leave me alone now.”

Sean did not speak but continued on walking and towing her at the same time.

“You’re hurting me!” Her long hair was quite disheveled from her struggle.

“Give me the door key,” Sean commanded calmly.

“Let go of my arm first.”

Sean shrugged before dropping her arm like a hot potato.

“Open the door,” he ordered in a cool tone.

Audrie just realized they were standing in front of the service door that would bring them directly into the spacious laundry area.

This part of the house had a glass roof installed so the mixed colors of the skies due to the setting sun gave an eerie illumination in the surroundings.

She stopped when she reached the second door to the kitchen. Reluctantly, she turned towards Sean.

“I — I can manage from here. Please go now.”

“Let’s go inside.” Sean took the keys from her cold fingers and opened the kitchen door.

Audrie gasped sharply when she felt a jolt of electricity-like sensation in her fingers that passed to her arm and traveled throughout her body.

It was like a white-hot heat had enveloped her. Small beads of perspiration started to ooze from the pores of her skin.

Her heartbeat quickened. Breathing fast didn’t help because she just inhaled more of the intoxicating smell of Sean’s masculine perfume.

“Should I carry you inside?”

Audrie shook her head hastily. Her back was flattened on the smooth exterior wall when she quickly moved away from him.

“Please go,” she uttered in an insistent tone.

“I’m hungry.” Sean pushed open the door and walked inside the kitchen.

“I’m expecting to have my dinner at seven so you have to feed me first.”

“If you insist.” Audrie sighed to gather strength for her weakened legs.

“I can’t offer you anything elaborate,” she warned as she followed him inside.

Sean flicked the light switch.

He chose to sit on one of the stools surrounding the breakfast counter. He seemed determined to wait for food.

“I’m starving. A steak with salad will do.”

“Steak and salad…” Audrie shook her head once again while opening the freezer.

“You don’t have to wait for your dinner. Just go home,” she muttered.

She took out two packages of pre-marinated steak and placed them inside the microwave to defrost.

From the fridge, she pulled out the ingredients for a green salad and a packet of fresh strawberries.

While waiting for the meat to thaw, Audrie chopped some herbs that would be grilled along with the steaks.

After she placed on the meat on the electric grill, Audrie started preparing the salad.

Her movements were economical. She always knew what to do next because she had developed a system on food preparation.

Grilled steak was her father’s favorite dinner so Audrie was able to cook it in just under one hour.

“I will eat here,” Sean said while watching Audrie pouring hot gravy on the sizzling piece of steak.

“That was fast,” Sean commented as he picked up the knife and fork.

“So you really know how to cook.”

“It could taste like ash,” Audrie murmured calmly.

Cooking was always a therapeutic activity for her. The smell of food always has a soothing effect on her.

She turned back to the kitchen counter prepared a steak sandwich for herself.

“Your steak tastes delicious, don’t worry,” Sean said after chewing and swallowing a small slice of grilled meat.

“Not salty, too. Just perfect.” He winked at her. A small smile danced briefly on his lips.

“Thank you.” Audrie could not control the blushing of her cheeks so she turned away to fetch the salad bowl from the fridge.

Sean forked some of the crispy lettuce leaves and ate them with a bite of steak.

“Mmm, Mother loves the dressing in your salad. Is it a family recipe?”

“Yes…” Audrie was slow to answer because she was beginning to suspect that something was not right.

Sean’s recent behavior was starting to confuse her. Again.

“Why did you send the flowers?” She blurted out the question without thinking.

“Why not?” Sean asked back. He seemed unperturbed, as though he was expecting her to ask about the flowers sooner or later.

“It’s not appropriate,” Audrie stated firmly. “Please don’t send anything again.”

“Let us see.” Sean shrugged his wide shoulders.

His blazer was hanging on the back of a dining chair behind him. The thin material of the white polo with long sleeves was stretched on the bulging muscles of his shoulders and chest.

He had removed his neck tie and unbuttoned the first three buttons. He looked more relaxed and more approachable but his sex appeal became more dangerous and lethal.

Audrie tried hard not to stare at the exposed skin of his throat and upper chest. She focused all her attention to her food.

Fortunately, her appetite was not ruined by the strange situation she was in.

“Actually, the flowers are meant to arouse your curiosity.” Sean spoke again after devouring half of the steak and half of the salad.

He continued eating smaller morsels of meat but he was paying more attention to her now.

“Curiosity?” Audrie couldn’t hide her eagerness to hear more.

“You can ask me why.” Sean was smiling. His eyes seemed twinkling.

Audrie’s eyes widened. Was Sean teasing her?

“Uhm, why?”

“I want you to be curious about me… I want you to get to know me better…”

“W-what do you mean?” Audrie was flabbergasted.

“We’re going to be family soon. I just realized that you’re still a mystery to me.”

She opened and closed her mouth without saying another word.





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