17 - Leashed

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THE PAST

Hernan gritted his teeth. 

He didn't want to go in. Hell, he didn't want to be here at all, he just wanted to get that fucking syringe and go home. He however wouldn't get it before Clive was satisfied, so he had no choice but to enter the restaurant. A waitress was shoving a chair to the table, arranging everything so the three of them could sit there. In silence, Hernan sat down. Although he was staring at the white tablecloth, he could feel Clive's arrogant smirk. 

"Are you not going to say anything, Hernan? No thank you because you don't have to wait in the cold?"

"It wasn't cold outside," he grumbled. 

"What did you say, Hernan?"

He wished the asshole would stop repeating his name the whole time like he was some retarded child. "Nothing."

"I thought I'd taught you better manners. Norah is a lady, Hernan. Don't make me feel ashamed of you."

Hernan's cheeks were burning. Well, he definitely felt ashamed! "Sorry," he murmured. His own voice made him cringe. Oh, how he wished he could vanish in the air. Even dying had to be more comfortable than this! He peeked aside to Norah, who looked away the moment their eyes met. 

Clive shoved the menu towards him. "Pick a dish. For once in your life you won't have to spend all your savings; I will pay."

Hernan knew it wasn't his fault that he was born in a family with no money, and also that it wasn't Clive's own merit that caused him to wallow in luxury. Nevertheless, his shame was increasing with every second passing by, as if it was his fault that he was living on the streets and that he was following Clive like some damn lap dog because that was the only way he could think of to keep his mother alive. Tears were stinging in his eyes because life felt so unfair, because an asshole like Clive could get anything he wants while Hernan had to humiliate himself to make sure he could sleep at night. 

Suddenly something caressed his leg, and a moment later Norah's hand rested upon his knee, giving him a squeeze. The sympathetic gesture was so unexpected that a shiver rolled through his body. He kept his eyes aimed at the menu, although he lacked the concentration to actually read the words. If Clive would find out about this... he wouldn't be surprised if he would cut off Norah's hand right at this table. 

Despite the risk, or maybe it was because of the risk, her silent resistance hit him hard. 

"I'll go for the lamb chop," he said, doing everything possible to keep the vibration out of his voice. He closed the menu and slipped his right hand into his pocket. The other disappeared underneath the table too; he laid it across Norah's. With his thumb he softly caressed the back of her hand. 

"Excellent," Clive answered. 

Something in his voice made him pull back his hand; he had a feeling the boy could see right through the table. Awkwardly he shifted in his chair; the silence was crushing. Norah took away her hand as well, although it felt like her warmth stayed behind on his knee. 

"So you'd rather been here with Norah yourself, am I right?" Clive asked. 

The mocking in his voice didn't escape Hernan's attention. 

"Not here," was all he said. 

"Of course not here. You even had to borrow a suit." He chuckled softly. "There's a lot you still have to learn, Hernan. Norah is no whore you take to a snackbar to pay for her services."

Again he gritted his teeth, his jaw started to hurt. While he clothed himself in silence again, his eyes shot to the knife next to him. Would he be quick enough to stab it in Clive's neck? 

It would be pointless. He couldn't kill the man here, in this restaurant. His family would retaliate before the sun came up. 

"I have nothing against a snackbar," Norah said, her voice taunting. 

Don't do this girl, he thought. Don't take the bait. 

"Would you rather have had a date with Hernan?" Clive asked. Hernan heard the threatening undertone; his ear however was trained so well he doubted Norah would notice. 

"I like to date someone who asks me to go out with him, instead of ordering me to do so."

She had balls – he had to give her that. The arrogant smirk curling around Clive's lips told him he wasn't the only one who found her boldness attractive. 

"So if I ask you to have dinner with me again Wednesday, that would be more to your liking?"

"At this point, I would tell you no. Would you accept a refusal?"

The silence that fell was so intense Hernan barely dared to breathe. He wished he was still waiting outside. Sure, he would have worried about Norah, but now he felt this constant urge to protect her while there wasn't much he could do. 

"Probably not," Clive answered. 

"So then it won't be a question."

"What do I have to do to change your mind?"

Norah leaned over the table, her elbows planted on the surface while she looked Clive straight in the eye. "This is awkward. You have the social skills of a potato – I'm sure there's not one girl who'd be sitting here for fun."

"Fun is overrated," Clive answered. The boy was way too insane to care about her criticism. "I'm sure there's something I can help you with. Some wish I can grant."

She was silent for a while. Hernan felt that she was looking at him and he risked a quick peek to the side. 

"Let him go home."

"Did I chain him? He's free to leave. Don't you wonder why he doesn't leave? He's close to wearing a leash. Voluntarily, that is."

This time, his eyes shot to Clive. His heart was raging in her chest. 

He didn't want her to know. 

But that was precisely why Clive couldn't wait to expose his secret.

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