Chapter 24

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A/N: I've never done a triple update but... I'm so excited to show you this chapter. ;)

p.s. I think you guys think i'm a lot crueler than I actually am. haha. 

I open the door to the private lounge in a swift movement, knowing hesitance is not the way to handle this situation.

Tristan turns, hand in pocket as he hears me enter and I'm relieved to see that he is, in fact, alone. He stares at me, silently as I keep a firm hand on the knob. I'm staring at this man- a man I never thought I'd encounter again- a man I've yearned to talk to, to touch night after night- and I can't think of a damn thing to say to him.

Blinking a few times, he grunts softly and looks down. "Could you please close the door?"

I shake my head, pressing my lips together. "No, I don't think I want to do that."

His eyes are resigned. "Please."

I'm doing it before I even realize it. When it clicks, I cross my arms, feeling absolute terror in this moment. Every memory I've ever had with him is swarming my brain- making me feel again... feel for him. For us.

I look down, realizing how stupid I'm being. There is no "us". There will never be an "us".

"There's so much I have to tell you... and so little time. I-I have to be downstairs in a couple minutes. She thinks I'm purchasing a painting."

I nod, shrugging as if it will make me look detached from the situation. "Well?"

"I know how much you must hate me and I know perfectly well that what I'm going to tell you may not mean anything anymore but I have to. I couldn't do this... I couldn't do this anymore."

I wait, silently... not sure how to handle this. I already know I have to hear what he has to say.

"That day- at the Harbor, when I got that phone call, it wasn't just about the article Casey put out. My lawyer called me saying he had a suspicion that Casey's investigator had manage to get his hands on something about my father."

"... What was it?"

"I can't tell you... I don't want you implicated in this mess. It's bad, really bad and it-it has the power to send my father to prison for a really long time." He sighs, running a hand through his hair. "Anyways, I had to find Casey. She was on her way to London so I had to fly there and try to convince her to not release any of the documents."

My arms slacken slightly. "... That's why you said you had things to do."

He nods, continuing. "She's blackmailing me, Genevieve."

Shit. "Blackmailing?"

"Yes, she's completely insane. She's gone completely insane. I had to go back to her, she moved back in- that's the only way she wouldn't have him arrested."

This mother fucking bitch. "Oh my god."

"I shouldn't even be telling you this but I- I just couldn't do it. I had to see you... Try to explain. Your voicemail-"

I look down, remembering my hate-filled, tearful voicemail after hearing his late night confession on that talk show.

"And I still completely deserve what you said. I do but I care for you... so much. I did that talk show to try and get the press off of you. She had me send that letter- so she could know it was really over... Every day, I've thought of you, wanted to tell you... But I couldn't find a time to do it where she wasn't watching. I know she still has someone watching me. I've never gone through something like this- where I'm completely helpless- I can't do anything to change this."

My arms are now limply by my sides as I stare at him, feeling an immense amount of pity. God, to be stuck with a woman like that...

"I'm-I'm sorry, Tristan... I really am... Does your father know?"

"I told him this morning about the blackmail, yes."

I nod, shrugging nervously. "Well, thank you for telling me... Explaining."

"How-How have you been?" he utters, stuttering. Jesus, I've never seen him nervous before...

I smile, rubbing my arm. "I've been good. Busy."

"Yeah," he chuckles, swallowing. "This- this was absolutely amazing, Genevieve."

My heart warms against my will. "Thank you."

He stares at me with an intensity that has me shifting from foot to foot.

"And God, you're fucking beautiful." The words escape his lips as if he were trying to keep them in but lost the fight. He looks down, uncomfortably and settles his hands on his waist. "This has been a lot harder than I expected it to be."

"I-I need to go and- and so do you." My feet refuse to move. He nods, stepping closer to me and I feel my face contort with fear- fear that my wall is about to come crumbling down.

He stops in front of me and that's when I notice his chest heaving up and down. He's just as scared as I am. I exhale loudly and close my eyes as his hand lightly caresses my cheek. His fingers drift lower over my mouth and I relax as if he were now suddenly on a familiar route.


I tilt my head up, already breathless and sigh when he presses his lips to mine... And it's as if not a day had gone by. I feel everything all over again in one kiss. He gasps slightly, clutching my face between his hands with longing as our mouths collide against each other with desperation.

I pull on his tuxedo, forcing him closer.

"I'm not okay. I'm not okay, Tristan," I utter against his lips, shaking my head. He nods slowly, pulling back and I immediately rest my head against his chest, embracing him tightly.

"I miss you so much," he whispers.

"I thought- I didn't know... This is so much harder now."

"I'll find a way out of this, Genevieve. I will... Just wait for me."

I pull back, looking up at him. "Trist- Tristan, I-I care for you so much..."

"Please, Genevieve."

"I can't... I can't."

He stares at me, wide-eyed. "Gen-"

I look down, seeing his arms around me. In one way, these arms are the safest place I've ever known but in another way, they are also the most dangerous. "This is only going to end bad for me, Tristan... What if you never find a way out of this? What are you going to do? Turn your dad in?  ... No, I can't- I can't do this to myself."

I grab his hands off my jawline and kiss his palm softly, feeling painful tears spilling over my eyelids. "I'm s-sorry."

I release him, turning as they trail down my cheeks.

"Gen-" he repeats once again as I shut the door behind me, closing my eyes. I hastily make my way down the hallway towards the stairs, wiping my eyes. I grab the railing and hurry, desperate to breathe air that he hasn't. 

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