Uncut: White Flame-20

How to Catch a Woman’s Heart

The Fritz was well-known for its delicious food and good music for dancing.

After a sumptuous dinner, the guests were encouraged to proceed to the dancing room, where a long bar counter with stools lined the length of one wall.

A wide space with a giant strobe light on the center was surrounded by small round tables and slim chairs, designed for couples who wanted to get close to each other. The whole room was dimly-lit.

Audrie could hardly see Nick’s smiling face and yet she’s still feeling relaxed.

She smiled back at him even though he could not see her properly. She was glad because the dinner was a success.

And now, she’s hoping that they’d pass through the next level. If she could dance to sweet music with Nick, her crazy infatuation with Sean Talbot would be history before the night was over.

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“Thank you for bringing me here, Nick,” Audrie said impulsively.

“Are you happy tonight, Audrie?” Nick asked eagerly.

“Yes.”

“I’m glad to hear that, sweetie.” Nick caught her hand and pulled her up. “Let’s dance, darling.”

Audrie did not resist when his arms encircled her slim body. She managed to keep still when Nick started kissing her hair.

She tried hard not to squirm when his mouth began nuzzling her neck. Her skin crawled due to the trail of wetness left by the unwanted caresses.

“Nick, please stop,” she said calmly.

“This is a public place,” she added without thinking. She just wanted Nick to take it slow without discouraging him.

“Then, let’s go somewhere private,” Nick suggested quickly. “Come with me. I have a big bed in my apartment.”

“No.” Audrie baulked when he started pulling her again. “I don’t want to go to your apartment.”

“Why?” Nick scowled.

“Nick, please understand. Don’t rush me.” Audrie used a pleading tone to pacify him.

“Rushing you? I’ve been patiently waiting for you to come around and notice me. I’ve waited for nine months and 28 days, y’know.”

“I didn’t know you’re counting. I’m sorry.”

Nick sighed aloud. He had calmed a bit but still very much irritated.

“Ok, let’s have it your way. But please don’t make me wait forever.” His warning sounded petulant.

Audrie could not answer due to disappointment. And she was fast changing her mind on anything related to Nick.

She thought she knew Nick but the man in front of her had transformed to someone shallow and unpredictable.

“Let’s dance again.”

“No. I want to go home now.”

Nick hesitated for a moment before nodding his head curtly.

“If that’s what you want,” he said as he started dragging her again.

“Please let me go. I can walk by myself.” Audrie was feeling cold from the inside.

The warmth from Nick’s admiration earlier was gone and she felt alone once again.

Nick sensed her change of mood and apologized instantly.

“I’m sorry for being such a grump, Audrie. The only explanation I have is frustration. I’ve been longing for this moment to have you for myself. I admit that I’m wrong to rush you.”

Audrie sighed. “It’s alright. I understand.” She accepted his apology reluctantly.

“Let’s have a drink to help us cool off.”

Audrie hesitated.

“If we’re really friends again, you’d go with me to the bar.” Nick was standing close to her, watching her face intently.

“C’mon, just one for the road,” he added in a cajoling tone.

“Oh, alright.” Audrie was forced to accept. This could be their last time together. Nick was a nice guy…

But she couldn’t just stand his touch — period. She must stop this foolishness before it escalated to something uncontrollable.

Emotions were like explosives. They’re too dangerous to play with… could explode in your face anytime… and many people could get hurt…

Audrie was still deep in her chaotic thoughts when they reached the bar. Nick managed to find two vacant stools.

“Two brandy, please.” He ordered without asking her.

“Just water for me,” Audrie cut in hastily.

“And one glass of cold water,” Nick added, after glancing at her with something like irritation.

Audrie was starting to feel nauseous once again. Someone was smoking beside her and she could not avoid inhaling the cigarette smoke.

Suddenly, she felt like she’s going to puke. Covering her mouth with one hand, she mumbled a hasty “excuse me!” before rushing off towards the direction of the restrooms.

She went there after dinner. She had lost count of the glasses of champagne and red wine she consumed during dinner.

Her cheeks felt thick so she splashed cold water to her face. She knew she was already drunk so she ordered a cup of black coffee.

“I’ll wait for you here.” Nick was reluctant to leave because the bartender had placed the two glasses in front of him.

Audrie just nodded her head once. The sharp movement was a mistake because it caused her world to roll and her stomach to grumble.

She almost stumbled as she maneuvered the crowd in the dance floor.

“Sorry! Excuse me!” She kept on mumbling these words because she kept on bumping against someone.

She was thankful when she went through the door without falling on her wobbly knees. The air outside the dancing room was fresher so she could breathe better.

Her nausea lessened but she continued walking towards the restroom area, until a tall and hard shape blocked her away.

“You’re drunk,” Sean stated flatly. His dark eyes were criticizing.

“Sean!” Audrie gasped when she recognized the deep voice. “What — what are you doing here?”

“Fetching you.”

“But — but how — ?” She was not allowed to complete her query. Long, talon-like fingers clamped around her arm and dragged her towards the main entrance of the restaurant.

“Wait — there’s my car.” Audrie managed to direct a shaking finger towards the service car parked on the opposite side of the long parking space.

“Yours?” Sean sounded disbelieving.

“No. It’s a company car — ” Audrie tried to explained but stumbled because Sean dragged her again.

“It will be safe,” he cut in brusquely after he opened the passenger door.

“Get inside.” Sean didn’t wait for her to obey. He pushed her into the car and deftly locked the seat belt himself.

In a flash, he was sitting in the driver’s seat and turning the ignition key.

“I — I left Nick inside!” She gasped once again.

“He’s old enough to fend for himself.” Sean told her in a cold tone.

“But — ”

“Is he your boyfriend?” The question was sharp.

“No, but — ”

“No more buts. You’re going home now. You have no right to be irresponsible. Drinking while driving, huh?”

Audrie was effectively silenced by guilt and renewed nausea.

Feeling weak, she laid down her head against the softly upholstered head rest. She stared at the dark night outside the window.

“Sulking?”

“What?” Audrie was forced to turn her head towards Sean. He was busy driving the black luxury car.

“Sulking because your fun is cut short?”

“No…”

“Then talk to me.”

“What is there to talk about?” Audrie was hesitant. “We have nothing in common.”

“Why do you drive a company car now?”

Audrie sighed before she replied timidly. “I’ve been promoted.”

“Congratulations.” Sean threw her a mocking smile but his tone was sincerely warm. “Why did you cut your hair?”

“For the new job.”

“Or for the new boyfriend?”

Audrie refused to rise to his bait because her head was starting to swim in pain. She closed her eyes to let them rest for a while.

Sean did not speak again so Audrie was lulled to sleep. She was confident that he would wake her up when they reached home.

UNCUT: WHITE FLAME-21

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