Uncut: White Flame-18

Unraveling the Dark Mystery of Attraction

Audrie could hear the telephone ringing from inside the living the room while she was opening the gates.

She decided to leave the car outside so that she could answer the telephone fast. She guessed the callers were her parents.

And she was right.

“Hello, Audrie.” Ron Jacobs greeted cheerfully.

“Hello, Dad.” Audrie was a bit breathless. “I just came home. Sorry to keep you waiting.”

“It’s alright, child. This is my first try. How are you?”

“I’m fine. How are you and Mom? And also Anne?”

“Oh, we’re all fine. Are you getting lonely there?” Her father asked with concern.

“No, of course not. There’s no time to get lonely here, Dad. I’m in the office all day.”

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“That’s good. We talked to Aimee earlier. And she said she won’t be home until next week.” There was a small pause and a short clearing of the throat.

Audrie guessed her father was going to tell her something important. She remained silent.

“We’re also always out here,” her father continued awkwardly.

“Anne plans to buy a house, and she wanted us to accompany her on house-hunting.”

“Oh, that’s great news, Dad!” Audrie was genuinely surprised. “Please give my congratulations to Anne.”

She also felt a bit ashamed because she had been so quick to assume that Anne was in deep trouble when their parents rushed to New York.

“I will. I’ll try to call early again tomorrow night. We didn’t call you last night because it was very late when we got home after Anne’s show.”

“That’s ok, Dad. I’m a big girl now.”

“Yeah, I know that. I really have to go. Bye for now.”

“Bye for now, Dad.” Audrie sighed as she put down the receiver.

Anne was buying a house in New York.

What would Sean say?

She shook her head firmly. It’s really none of her business!

She went out to park the car just inside the gates. The family van and Anne’s mini-car were both parked on the driveway.

She could buy a tent or cover; but she’d rather wait for her father to decide on a parking space solution.

She was locking the gates when she heard the telephone ringing once again.

With puckered brows, Audrie rushed into the front door for the second time that night.

The caller was Leila Talbot, Sean’s mother. Her hand shook at once. She felt shy and nervous.

Mrs. Talbot was a regular caller to their home but this was Audrie’s first time to talk with her.

“Is this Audrie?”

“Yes, ma’am…” Audrie swallowed to clear her throat.

“Good evening, ma’am. Dad and Mom are not here right now. Can I take your message for them?”

“Oh, I know that Ron and Marie are not home. I called to invite you to have dinner with us tomorrow night.”

“Tomorrow is Friday…”

“Yes. Do you have a prior arrangement?”

“Yes, ma’am… I’m sorry.” Audrie bit her under lip. She was not really sorry.

For the first time, she was glad Nick asked her for a date.

“That’s alright, dear. I just thought to invite you because you missed the dinner party last time.”

Audrie blushed when she recalled the reason why she missed the party.

“That was entirely my fault, ma’am. Please, accept my apologies.”

“There’s nothing to apologize for, my dear.” There was a short muted silence, as though a hand covered the mouthpiece then Mrs. Talbot was talking again.

“I hope you have some free time on Saturday or Sunday?”

Audrie felt cornered.

“Uhm, yes, ma’am…”

“Thank goodness. I really want to have you with us, dear. Can you come over here for lunch tomorrow?”

“Lunch is ok, ma’am,” Audrie accepted reluctantly.

“Thank you for the invitation, Mrs. Talbot.” She felt trapped but she couldn’t get out even if the door’s open.

Her parents would be very angry if she showed rudeness to their good neighbors.

“I promise, you and Aimee will have a good time.” Leila’s voice seemed smiling.

“Good night, dear.”

“Good night, ma’am.” Audrie put down the phone slowly.

It was too late to correct the wrong assumption that Aimee was here. Sighing heavily, she went to the kitchen to fix some dinner for herself.

At the Talbot Residence…

Leila Talbot threw her son a knowing look.

“You owe me an explanation, Sean,” she stated with a hint of challenge in her lilting voice.

Sean’s expression remained impassive as he looked back at his still beautiful mother. “About what?”

“For requesting me to call Anne’s sister. What’s up?”

“She’s Anne’s youngest sister. And Ron asked me to watch over her while they’re away.”

“Hmm, that’s fine. I’m glad to hear that.” Leila’s smile seemed relieved. “Any suggestions for the lunch menu?”

Sean shrugged.

“Anything that goes with the famous Jacobs salad will do.”

Leila’s lovely eyes widened with surprise.

“You mean, she knows how to make Marie’s heavenly salad.”

“Maybe. You should’ve asked her.” Sean turned his back to pour another shot of whisky.

“Where’s Dad?” He just arrived from town about twenty minutes ago.

And he had been standing by the window while sipping alcohol very slowly.

He was forced to sit down and pretend to relax when his mother joined him in the library, which became his home office since graduation from college.

“He’s still in the clubhouse but he promised to be home at eight thirty.” His mother was busily punching numbers on the telephone while speaking.

“Dinner will be at nine. Or would you like to eat now?”

Sean shook his head.

“Nine will be fine.” He turned towards the window again when his mother started talking to the telephone.

His eyes automatically strayed at the spot where an unfamiliar car was parked earlier.

Who brought Audrie home tonight? He asked himself again.

The darned car could be owned by one of Aimee’s many guy friends… or Audrie’s boyfriend…

The youngest Jacobs daughter was still an enigma to Sean even though he knew Audrie since a little girl.

Anne and Aimee were always at the center of attention while Audrie always managed to stay invisible.

He had dismissed her as an extremely shy and introvert type of person a long time ago and he had just grown accustomed to ignoring her after a salutary greeting every time they met.

He would just throw a slight nod or a bland smile towards her direction. He realized now that he had never learned to feel at ease with Audrie.

Maybe, his subconscious had already sensed the dangerous magic that Audrie possessed.

“I’ll be in the kitchen, Sean.” Leila informed his son before going out of the room.

“Yes, Mom.” Sean replied absently. He was still thinking distractedly about a maddening witch named Audrie.

‘Audrie, why can’t I forget your kisses?’ he asked himself irritably.

He was losing a lot of sleep on someone who didn’t deserve even a bit of his attention.

Sean clicked his tongue when he realized how callous the thought was.

His mother would surely be disappointed if she heard any of the sarcastic words he threw at Audrie’s expressive face.

He had been brought up as a gentleman. He had been taught good manners since childhood.

He had very good self-control. He had always been self-assured.

But after he met that witch his image of himself was destroyed within mere seconds.

Sean closed his eyes to relive the incredible, unforgettable, illicit kiss he shared with Audrie on that fated night.

It was a kiss that was unique and very much unlike any kiss that he had tasted in any woman’s lips.

Not even Anne could kiss as passionately and as intensely as Audrie did.

Audrie’s kiss was warm and voluptuous and utterly intoxicating like a double shot of century-old whiskey.

Damn, how could a mere red-blooded man like him forget something as tempting and decadent as that damned kiss?

Sean shook his head again, and then walked back and forth restlessly.

He should be thinking about Anne alone. He was going to marry Anne next month.

The problem with Audrie should be solved as soon as possible before it turned into an obsession… but how?

Every time he saw that witch, all sensible thoughts would fly like ashes in the wind.

‘Damn, damn, damn!’ Sean cursed himself as he combed frustrated fingers through his short black hair.

He just realized that Audrie had become an obsession without him knowing it.

He was always sarcastic and boorish to her because he was subconsciously fighting the attraction.

Something dark and mysterious had blinded him while the small seed of temptation burgeoned and bloomed secretly.

He just hoped it’s not yet too late to get his life–and sanity–back on the right and proper track.

Sean poured another shot of whiskey and swallowed it in one go.

“I wish you all the luck, Talbot,” he muttered to himself tersely.

UNCUT: WHITE FLAME-19

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