Chapter 16

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I walk through the streets in a blur. My apartment is nine blocks from Tristan's and since it's so late, I haven't been able to hail a taxi. It's nearing midnight by the time I grasp the railing of the stairs outside my building. I suck in a breath and bring my hand to my lips, unable to stop the contractions in my chest. I'm horrified and embarrassed- belittled... I sit down on the steps, dropping my head into my hands.

I'm so stupid. He honestly was too good to be true.

"Genevieve."

I look up, finding Tristan standing before me in a t-shirt and jeans. His car keys are in his hands.

"Oh god, just go, Tristan!" I utter, wiping my eyes. I stand up, turning but he grabs my hand.

"Just listen to me, Genevieve. Please."

"No! No, I trusted you!" I shout, tears escaping my lids. They burn my cheeks as they travel down at the speed of light.

"I have never lied to you."

"You didn't even have the guts to tell her about me! I felt like a fucking whore, Tristan! I know I'm a hell of a lot more than just a lay for you! I'm not some piece of shit nothing just because I don't have millions to blow."

"You are everything, Genevieve! You are beautiful and pure and smart. You intimidate her! That is why she did that."

I stare at him, my chest heaving against my will. "Why does she still think you're together, Tristan? Why? Why did she say you were cheating with me in Thailand?"

He looks down, running a hand through his hair, aggravated. "Because I told her before I left that I wanted to take a break. I told her to see other people... I officially ended it after the airport incident so I have no idea why she's still carrying on with this."

I look down, shaking my head. He was on a break in Thailand. "I can't- I can't do this... I'm sorry."

"Why?"

"Because I've dealt with this bullshit all my life, Tristan!" I shout, pulling my hair. "Because I feel like I can't trust you!"

"You can trust me, Genevieve. I care for you so much... more than I have for anyone! I just met you and I already feel like- like-" His words fade as he looks down, his hands on his hips. "Look, Genevieve... Please. I know what happened back there was bad- I know it looked really bad... She had another set of keys made. That's the only reason she was able to get inside."

I stare at him silently. I want to believe him. I really want to but my past and Casey's words are fresh on my mind and all I want to do is be alone. "Goodnight, Tristan."

"Why are you doing this, Genevieve?" he asks, reaching hesitantly for my hand. I don't let him take it. "I know this isn't what you want either."

"Of course it's not!"

"So why are you pushing me away?"

"Because-"

"Don't say it's because of what went down in my apartment. I know it isn't that." I stare at him, unmoving, arms crossed in front of my body. In a brave move, he steps forward and moves my mangled hair away from my face with a gentle pull of his fingers. "Tell me."

"I don't want to get hurt anymore, Tristan and- and as good as you are as a person, I'm just scared that as a lover- I'm scared you're going to hurt me."

"I would never want to hurt you, Gen." He rests his hands on my arms softly, rubbing. "... I'm just going to have to show you that I'm not those other men."

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