Chapter 12.3: Throw Back Thursday.
Cullen paced restlessly in his rooms at the
house. Emily was gone again. Back to Spain with bloody Nando! The last
two days had been torture. Oh, the Spaniard hadn't touched her once
during the remainder of his visit but Cullen had still seethed inside as
he saw the ready smile on Emily's face as she chatted privately in
Spanish with the man.
Her attitude to Cullen was polite but
reserved. He was jealous of the smiles and laughter she gave to the
other man and to Dorian. He missed that she never looked at him that way
anymore. He cursed under his breath. Who's fault was that? He was the
one who was constantly pushing her away. He had no right to bemoan the
fact when she did as he wanted.
Cullen closed his eyes and thought
of their kiss at the apartment. It had been so sweet, so heavenly,
feeling her mouth tremble softly under his. He had acted on impulse that
night. It was never his intention to kiss her. She had just looked so
sad, so defeated, that the urge to comfort her had boiled up inside him
and he had kissed her and told her not to give up on him.
he done that? Why had he given her some hope? Because even after
everything his heart still broke to see her so sad, he admitted to
himself. Even as his hurt and anger burned him up, he still loved her
and ached for what they had once had.
Sighing in frustration
Cullen decided to go to Karpathia's. Maybe some company would take his
mind off the wreck his life currently was.
Liam was in his customary seat when Cullen arrived.
"I take it you still have not come to your senses?" his friend said as a greeting.
"Leave it, Liam," Cullen sighed. "I've had enough of you and Dorian giving me a hard time every second of the day."
"When you stop behaving like an ass then maybe we will stop taunting you," Liam laughed without humour.
ignored him and closed his eyes. Maybe coming here wasn't such a good
idea after all. Liam was just going to annoy him all night. He could
feel eyes on him and knew the other vampires were watching him. They
were all wondering the same thing, where was their future queen? Why was
she no longer attending the club with him. Their curiosity annoyed
"Oh, heaven's above!" Liam suddenly groaned and Cullen opened his eyes to see what had upset his friend so.
was gliding across the room towards them and Cullen felt himself
stiffen in rejection at the sight of her. She was still as beautiful as
ever. She stood almost six foot tall and was willowy in appearance. Her
long golden hair cascaded down her back in thick waves. Heads turned
watching her approach with open curiosity. Everyone here knew she was
his first wife and that there was no love lost between them.
"Cullen," Elizabeth purred when she reached them. "I just heard the news, darling. I believe congratulations are in order."
"Elizabeth," Cullen said curtly. "You're a bit out of date as usual. The wedding was months ago."
darling, you know how it is," the woman drawled, a smile teasing her
lips. "And where is the delightful new Mrs Cullen? I so hoped to pass on
my best wishes."
"Business trip," Cullen said shortly, his eyes
frosty as he looked at her. How had he ever thought Emily could be like
The woman was cold to the very core. Not the least like Emily
who usually always had a warm, sunny smile for everyone.
pity," Elizabeth smiled. "Maybe she will return before I leave. I'm
sure we would have some very entertaining stories to share about you,
Cullen felt revulsion at the very thought of the woman
being anywhere near Emily. Elizabeth was pure poison. Her acid
personality would be something that Emily would be incapable of
understanding. He looked carefully at Elizabeth, his eyes thoughtful.
She really didn't have one redeeming feature about her, not even her
He thought back to their time together and wondered if he
had ever truly loved her at all. Her betrayal had devastated him at the
time but the hurt he had felt at her hands was nothing compared to the
agony he felt at the loss of Emily.
He stood suddenly and smiled.
"Thank you, Elizabeth," he said, a hint of warmth in his voice, stifling
a laugh at her surprised expression. "You have no idea of the service
you have done for me this day."
He turned to Liam. "I'll see you later, Liam. I have something important to do."
strode from Karpathia's and headed home. He walked to the study door
and hesitated. He hadn't been inside this room since the night Emily had
last been here. His hand shook as he opened the door. A deep groan went
through him as he smelled the scent of dried blood. Emily's blood. He
forced himself to enter the room and close the door behind him.
eyes roamed over the room. There was blood on the corner of the coffee
table and on the carpet beside it. There was a cloth on the carpet,
stiff and dry with Emily's blood. He closed his eyes in pain. He had
done that to her. He had hurt her in this room and hadn't even known he
had done it. He had left her here, alone and bleeding, and she had been
forced to turn to Dorian for help. He'd never be able to forgive himself
He opened his eyes again and saw Alexander's vial lying
on the carpet where it had fallen that night. He reached down and
picked it up, staring at it with a mixture of wonder and loathing. He
searched his memories of the trial. He felt again the pain as Emily
rejected him so publicly. He forced himself to try and examine the
He could hear Emily's gasp of surprise at
the King's words to her, see her eyes searching anxiously for him before
she finally took the vial. Her surprise had been genuine, her hesitancy
real. Emily was a terrible liar and a hopeless actress. Her reactions
had been genuine. She didn't have a deceitful bone in her body, not like
Cullen groaned in pain. He was the most colossal fool
on the planet. He had everything he had ever wanted and he'd done his
best to destroy it. He might even have succeeded if Elizabeth hadn't
shown up tonight. One look at her and it had finally sunk in that Emily
could never be like her in a million years.
Was he too late? Emily
had stuck with him even as he must have been breaking her heart on a
daily basis with his coldness and rejection. That night in her apartment
she had almost given up. He had seen her concede defeat. Had his plea
to not give up on him been enough? Would she still want him after
everything? Cullen prayed that his beautiful wife would forgive him and
take him back into her life. He knew he didn't deserve it but he had to
Emily sighed tiredly and relaxed back in the bath. She'd
taken an earlier flight home and had arrived about an hour ago. It was
too late to head to the office so she'd gone home instead.
merger was finally complete. Everything had gone smoothly and now she
had nowhere left to hide. She had to deal with her personal life. She
had no idea what was going to happen with Cullen. Her intuition was
strangely quiet. When she had left to go back to Spain she had felt a
spark of hope at his words but the total silence from him in the last
three weeks had dented that hope until it was almost gone.
done everything she could. She had stayed close to him, forcing him to
see her on a daily basis. She had shown him that other men found her
attractive. She had told him that she couldn't wait forever for him to
decide what he wanted to do. What more could she do?
out the bath and dried herself off. She put on a white, silk nightdress
and matching housecoat and brushed her thick curls. She had no intention
of going out tonight. She was so tired she knew she would probably fall
asleep soon. She'd deal with Cullen tomorrow.
Her cell rang and she stared at it apprehensively when she saw it was Cullen. He hadn't called her in months.
"Cullen," she said into the phone. "This is a surprise."
Emily," he replied, his voice sounding a fraction warmer than it
usually was when he spoke to her on the rare occasions that he did.
"Dorian said you were coming home soon."
"And?" she prompted.
"I was wondering if I could come over when you're back. So we can talk."
"Do we have anything left to talk about, Cullen?" she sighed softly.
"You said you'd give me until the merger was complete," Cullen said.
I heard nothing from you, Cullen. Not a phone call, text message or
even an e-mail. What am I supposed to read into that? I've reached out
to you time and time again and all you've done is push me away. I'm
tired, Cullen. I can't do this anymore. You've won. I concede defeat."
don't want to win, Emily," he said, his voice full of pain. "Please,
hear me out. If you still want to walk away then I'll let you go. But
please let me try."
Emily's heart thudded in her chest and she
felt hope surge inside her. Was she opening herself up to more
heartbreak? He sounded sincere. His words sounded as if he still wanted
her. Could she take that risk and listen to him? Her intuition screamed
yes at her.
"Emily?" Cullen said softly, a plea in his voice. "Please."
"I'm home, Cullen," she breathed quietly. "I got back about an hour ago. I'm at the apartment."
"Can I come over?" he asked, sucking in a deep breath.
"Yes," she whispered. "I don't know if tonight is a good night to talk though. I'm very tired. I was just about to go to bed."
She heard him suck in another deep breath. "I could wait until tomorrow," he finally said. "If you really need to rest."
could tell that he didn't really want to wait, that he was only saying
it because he could hear the tiredness in her voice.
"No, tonight is fine," she said.
hung up and sighed deeply. It seemed Cullen wasn't going to wait until
tomorrow after all. Maybe it was better this way.
They could come to
some kind of decision about their marriage so they could both get on
with their lives. She wondered whether she should change into some
clothes but decided against it. She had no idea how long this was going
to take and she really couldn't face getting changed again.
didn't take Cullen long to get there. He knocked on the apartment door
this time and Emily took a deep breath before she opened the door to
him. His expression was unreadable as he entered the apartment. He
looked almost as tired as she felt. Still so incredibly beautiful. She
could feel his eyes on her as she closed the door and turned to him.
heart was pounding in his chest as he watched Emily. She looked so
exhausted when she opened the door to him. There were deep circles under
her eyes as if she hadn't slept properly in weeks. She looked so
beautiful too in her white, silk nightdress with her thick auburn curls
flowing as she moved her head.
"Have a seat, Cullen," she said quietly. "Can I get you anything?"
Just you, he wanted to say but asked for wine if she had any.
poured two glasses of red wine and handed him one. She sank down onto
the sofa and pulled her feet up under her. She grabbed a cushion had
pressed it against her chest in an unconscious defensive position.
wanted to talk?" she prompted when Cullen sat silently in the armchair
across from her. She sipped her wine as she watched him.
"I saw Elizabeth when you were away," Cullen said quietly. "She came because she'd heard I'd gotten married again."
"How did that go?" Emily asked softly.
was enlightening to say the least," he replied, his tongue tripping
over the word enlightening. "I looked at her and I suddenly couldn't
understand why I had ever been with her. She was so cold, so hard. Even
her beauty was offensive to look at."
Emily didn't know what to
say. This was the woman who had broken his heart so badly. She was as
surprised by his reaction to her as he was.
"I looked at her,
Emily, and I suddenly thought of how you were so completely the opposite
to her in every way. I couldn't believe that I had ever mentioned you
in the same breath as the woman. It was laughable that I ever had."
He paused and she watched as his eyes darkened with emotion.
went home immediately and went into the library for the first time
since that night," he whispered. "Your blood was everywhere. I could see
it and smell it. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my long
life, walking into that room. I'll never forgive myself for what I did
you, Emily." His eyes were haunted as he spoke. He swallowed hard and
then sipped from his glass.
Emily remained silent, sensing that he needed to talk without interruption.
vial was lying on the carpet," he finally said. "I picked it up and I
hated it. I wanted to crush it in my hand. It brought back the memory of
your rejection and it hurt as much as it had when it happened. I tried
so hard to think objectively of the trial. I took a long hard look at
what really happened that day and my reactions to it."
again and closed his eyes. Emily wanted to go to him, to wipe the misery
from his beautiful face. It was an effort to sit still. Cullen needed
to do this. He needed to bear his soul and look deep inside himself.
They didn't stand a chance if there was even a fraction of a doubt still
"I was reeling from your rejection that day," he said
quietly. "I was stunned by it. Your face was so cold, so set, when you
sent me away from your side. And then Alexander smiled at you and
offered you his protection and you took it. You rejected me but accepted
him into your heart. I was not only enraged, I was insanely jealous
too. I felt betrayed by you and the hurt that festered still from
Elizabeth's betrayal came flooding out. You were just like her. You
didn't really love me. You were just using me."
A tear slid down his face as he relived the memories as if they had just happened.
stood in the library clutching that hated vial and tried to push away
the hurt and pain. It was so hard to do but I kept firmly in my mind how
different you were to Elizabeth. Finally I was calm enough to think
about it objectively. I registered the surprise on your face, the
anxious look you gave me before you accepted the vial. You always were
the world's worst liar, Emily. Lying is just so alien to you. I don't
know why I was so quick to believe you. Your body language was
completely at odds to the words coming out of your mouth. The more I
thought about it the more I realised what a colossal fool I'd been."
Cullen opened his eyes to look at her. She was watching him intently, sitting as still as a statue.
spent all our time telling you how much we needed you," he said softly.
"Dorian, Liam, myself, we were all so smug because we knew how
important you were to the future of our kind and no one else did. I was
so smug that it never crossed my mind that our King would look into your
beautiful soul and instantly see the very same thing we did. Alexander,
who is the oldest and wisest of us all. I should have been bending on
my knees before him, praising him for taking my wife under his
protection. Instead I was jealous of him, hating him for taking you away
"I've wronged you so grievously, Emily," he said sadly
after a long pause. "Even as I drew blood from you and rejected you and
pushed you away you came back, day and day, offering me your heart for
me to cruelly break it each time. Why, Emily? Why did you let me do that
"I gave you my word," she whispered softly. "I promised
you I wouldn't run away, that I would stay and fight to fix any problems
we had. I'd already broken your heart once. I couldn't not try, Cullen.
I had to try no matter how much it hurt."
Cullen groaned and
closed his eyes again as more tears fell down his face. "You let me
break your heart because you gave your word to me?" he exclaimed his
tone anguished. "I can't bear this pain, Emily. I can't bear the guilt I
feel for what I've done to you these past months. How can I ever hope
that you'll ever be able to forgive me?"
"I'd forgive you
anything, Cullen," Emily said softly. "Don't you know that, my love? As
long as you come home to me in the end, I'll always forgive you."
looked at her, his sweet, beautiful, Emily and she was smiling at him,
her eyes shining with love. His breath caught in his throat as she put
down her wine glass and held out her hand to him.
"Come here, Cullen," she whispered. "It's been too long since I've felt your arms around me. Come home, my love."
With a cry Cullen fell on his knees in front of her. He wrapped his arms around her waist as hers cradled his head tenderly.
"I don't deserve you," he wept, his body shaking as months of pain and heartache poured from his soul.
don't think you've ever truly believed that you deserve to be happy,
Cullen," Emily sighed softly kissing his hair. "You do deserve it, my
love. You deserve it as much as anyone does. Forgive yourself, Cullen.
You made a mistake but mistakes can be fixed if you try hard enough."
God, Emily, I love you so much," he cried. "I didn't know how I would
be able to survive without you. Deep down I was secretly pleased that
you stayed. I hated it when you went to Spain. I told myself it was what
I wanted but I missed you so terribly when you were away."
home now," she whispered, tilting his head up so she could look at him.
"You're home now. Everything is going to be all right, Cullen. I love
you and I always will. There is nothing we can't work through as long as
we both work together."
"Emily, my sweet, beautiful, Emily," he
breathed softly, his lips trembling as they brushed against hers gently.
"I am nothing without you. You complete me."
"As you complete me,
my love," she sighed against his mouth. "I've missed you, my husband.
Will you stay with me tonight? I'm so tired. I badly need to sleep. Will
you hold me in your arms as I rest?"
"I'll hold you in my arms forever, my wife," he said standing and scooping her into his arms.
kissed her tenderly as he walked through to the bedroom and placed her
gently on the bed. He quickly took his clothes off and then lay beside
her, holding her close to him.
"I'll never leave you again, Emily," he promised. "I'll stay and fight, no matter what life throws at us."
He stroked her hair gently as she fell asleep, her body curled trustingly against his.
To be continued....