Uncut: White Flame-6

Living with a Shamed and Broken Heart

Wearing a thin bathrobe, Audrie went down to the kitchen.

Her mouth and throat were parched dry. She just wanted to drink some water.

After a cold shower, she’d drive to town to find more distractions.

For her peace of mind, she must forget Sean’s kiss as fast as she could.

She was putting back the water jug inside the refrigerator when the doorbell rung.

She padded towards the front door on bare feet.

Visitors of her parents often drop by during weekends so she did not bother using the peephole.

When she saw Sean standing outside, she tried closing the door again.

Her face paled and her hands both shook at once.

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“Wait!” Sean held the doorknob and pushed open the door until he could come inside.

“They — they’re not here,” she stammered while looking at the marbled floor.

“Please come back later.”

“I want to see you.”

Surprised, she made the mistake of looking up at him. She was instantly caught by his magnetic eyes.

The dark depths were like whirlpools where anyone could drown.

And if it was still possible, Audrie went paler.

Her body swayed like a fragile tree being swept off by a strong gust of wind.

“Don’t you dare faint on me again, woman!” Sean growled under his breath as he moved in lightning speed to stop her from falling on the hard floor.

“We have to talk.”

“No…” Audrie stepped back while trying to push him away.

He was getting too close for comfort.

“There’s — there’s nothing we can talk about.”

“I’m going to marry your sister.”

Audrie winced. “I know!” she gasped because the statement created so much pain.

“I will be your brother-in-law.”

Audrie couldn’t speak anymore so she just nodded her head.

She tried to look away but her eyes remained impaled by his thunderous stare.

His frequent and hot glances at her mouth always made her heart jump and skip.

“You will be my sister-in-law… and yet…” His speech was becoming slurred as he slowly moved towards her.

“Stop — ” Audrie croaked weakly as she shook her head.

Her sweating palms faced him, begging him to stop.

“Don’t — Please!”

The husky plea that left her trembling lips stopped him on his tracks.

He shook his head as though waking up from a bad dream.

“No, this is insane,” he uttered to himself. “I’ll go now.”

He turned towards the front door without looking at her again.

He looked as confused as she felt earlier this morning.

Audrie crumpled on the nearby couch after Sean slammed shut the door.

The sharp noise echoed around the living room but her ears were listening to his words that her mind repeated over and over again.

‘Brother-in-law, sister-in-law, marry Anne, Sean and Anne, Anne and Sean…’

She must always chant these words to herself for protection.

She must never forget that her attraction for Sean was forbidden and must never be exposed ever again.

A repeat performance of her shameful behavior last night would destroy her self-respect completely.

After regaining enough strength on her knees, Audrie went up to her bedroom and took a very cold shower.

She yanked off the white gauze that covered her ankle.

Should she trust a man like Sean who had the presence of mind to create an alibi for both his and hers absence in the party?

Wasn’t it a sneaky move?

It seemed unfair when her mind was numbed with shock and humiliation.

Sean must be an expert with dealing on such awkward encounters.

There must always be lots of willing women to get rid of.

The thought made her feel jealous so she shook her head at once.

A few minutes later, Audrie was guiding her motorbike outside their gate.

She was wearing her old jeans, old shirt, and old jacket.

Somehow, the old clothes that were hers alone – and not given by any of her sisters – made her feel like her old self again.

Anne’s purple dress should go to wherever it belonged to from the first: charity or thrift store.

By early afternoon, Audrie reached the next town where she worked and where most of her friends reside.

Nick, a would-be suitor, was among the people who’d welcome her, especially on a Sunday.

“Hey, everyone! Look who’s here?” Nick was smiling and laughing at the same time as he walked towards Audrie.

“I’m glad you could make it this Sunday, pretty lady.” His masculine voice was laced with a warm caress, along with the adoring way he looked at her face.

“You’re a born flatterer, Nick.” Audrie forced herself to speak lightly and to smile widely to everyone.

It was not so hard to pretend because the favorite Sunday hang-out of Nick’s crowd was in a pub, where loud music and laughter mingled with crunchy foods and bottomless beer.

Audrie was served a platter of mixed nuts and a mug of foamy beer.

She pretended to sip the bitter and ice-cold liquid, giggled when foam created a white moustache on her upper lip, and talked about nonsense with Nick and company.

Several hours later, one of Nick’s muscular arms was around her shoulders and he was sitting very close beside her.

Some of her female friends were looking oddly at them because she had never let Nick get this close to her in the past.

Audrie was known as a reserved individual so the sudden display of public affection was a bit of a surprise.

“Let’s go somewhere private, darling,” Nick whispered to her right ear.

“Some other time, perhaps,” Audrie declined but she didn’t move away from him.

“Stay with me tonight, sweetie.” Nick became bolder and planted a kiss on the dainty curve of her earlobe.

UNCUT: WHITE FLAME-7

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