Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Reluctant Love Ch 12.3.

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.

Why had 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.

Cullen 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 Cullen greatly.

"Oh, heaven's above!" Liam suddenly groaned and Cullen opened his eyes to see what had upset his friend so.

Elizabeth 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."

"Travelling, 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 Elizabeth?

The woman was cold to the very core. Not the least like Emily who usually always had a warm, sunny smile for everyone.

"That's a pity," Elizabeth smiled. "Maybe she will return before I leave. I'm sure we would have some very entertaining stories to share about you, darling."

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 beauty.

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."

He 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.

His 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 for that.

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 memories objectively.

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 Elizabeth.

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 try.

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.

The 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.

She had 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?

She climbed 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."

"Hello, 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.

"And 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."

"I 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."

Emily 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.

She 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.

It 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.

Cullen's 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.

Emily 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.

"You 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.

"It 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.

"I 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.

"Alexander's 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."

He stopped 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 inside him.

"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.

"I 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.

"We 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 from me."

"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 to you?"

"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."

He 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.

"I 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."

"Oh 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."

"I'm 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.

He 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....


  1. I've been checking your website every single day lol loved it sooo much :)

  2. I'm sorry. I had to stop reading this as soon as Emily said to Cullen, "As long as you come home to me in the end, I will always forgive you." Please understand, I have been a fan of yours for many years, since the very first chapter of Fighting the Inevitable came out. I am still a fan. I will continue to read your stories, because, frankly, I love them. :) I'm not trying to be rude. It's just that, I have been in an abusive relationship before. It took everything in me to leave him. He apologized, much like Cullen did, but for Emily to just forgive him... It's was just too much for me. I do hope that I'm not coming across as disrespectful, but Cullen hurt Emily, both physically and mentally. I just don't think that she should have been so quick to forgive him is all. I hope that this makes sense, and I hope that I did offend anyone--especially you. Like I said before, I love your stories and I will continue to read them. I just wanted to share my opinion. I hope that that is okay. Thank you!

  3. I hope that I DIDN'T offend anyone!**

  4. Another great installment now for the wait for more! Still think you are making Emily a little holier than thouish... She was the one that made him look like a fool in the first place infront of his people by sending him back when he wanted to stand beside her, she ignored his feelings completely and then he is the one who has to grovel for HER forgiveness. I adore him though. Hehehe waiting for more.