C3 Chapter 03
I have no idea what made me come here to see her. After she left I was so con-fused by what happened but so consumed by thoughts of her that at around three a.m. I told Pete to get rid of everyone. I planned to get some sleep and prepare for the team training in the afternoon, but every time I closed my eyes I saw her. I didn’t have a plan about how to go about this, but I couldn’t put it off or I might have chickened out. Hungover and still slightly high, I needed to see her. Mike mentioned that Dora worked for her father, so she was easy enough to track down.
I have been up all night thinking about what I wanted, so here I am. I’m standing in the reception of the law office where she works. Dora screwed me over so badly and I’ve been a mess since we went our separate ways. So I stand here in the recep-tion area asking myself—why the hell do I want to scratch at old wounds?
That guy, Mike, told me stuff about her, but he was smart too. He wasn’t prepared to tell me anything about her, until I explained why I was so adamant about seeing her. We traded information and in the end I managed to find out where she worked and how I could get ahold of her.
When we were together in University, she always said that she wanted to be a bar-rister, and it looks like she achieved that and more. We separated at very different stages in our careers, but over the years I have thought about her probably more than I should have. I needed to see her again, without a doubt.
Now, I’m sitting on the comfortable leather sofa, trying to act cool, but my heart hammers loudly in my chest, reminding me that I’m falling apart again. I cut her off, drowned myself in drugs and booze, and now I’m back to square one. The blond re-ceptionist doesn’t take her eyes off me. She is pretty, but not really my type. Dora must already know that I’m in the building, but I have no idea if she even wants to see me. Last night she ran away without really talking to me, and now I’m stalking her. I spent too many years fucking around, destroying every other relationship that I ever had. Last night everything changed. I felt like I was struck by lightning, awak-ened, lucid for the first time in years.
I know that she is walking towards me before I even lift my head. The hair on my neck prickles and I can sense her. This is really fucked up. She is still my ex, a toxic girl from the past, but my mind keeps rehashing the same shit over and over. What the hell am I doing, chasing after her?
“Jacob. I didn’t expect to see you here this morning,” she says softly, standing right in front of me. I really need to get sober and stop smoking pot. I promised Maddie that I would sort myself out.
She looks even sexier than yesterday, wearing a slim-fitting charcoal grey suit, her dark brown hair flowing softly around her shoulders. My pulse is skyrocketing. Even after so many years I still want her.
“I need a solicitor and your mate Mike said that you have a reputation, so here I am,” I say casually. I needed an excuse to see her, a good reason. Now I have one, but this uneasy feeling in my gut pokes at me, telling me that all those years ago I missed something. The cheating didn’t make any sense; we were so happy.
She looks around, uncertain. A few ladies that are now hovering around reception are staring at us. I bet they recognise me from that damn article.
I might have just ruined Dora’s morning, showing up here, surprising her like this. Her eyes tell me that she is petrified seeing me here in her office, but her body language … well, that’s a different story. Maybe lady luck finally beat the shit out of fate to bring her back to me.
“Mike told you where I work?” she asks awkwardly, folding her arms over her chest and biting the inside of her cheek. She used to do the exact same thing when something was bothering her. It dawns on me that she doesn’t want me here. Maybe this was a mistake, coming in here, demanding to talk to her.
“Yep. We traded information. It was a business deal. The truth is that I really need a lawyer, and I thought that since we know each other already, it could make my life easier with someone I can trust,” I say, getting straight to the point. She doesn’t need to know that I was curious.
She presses her lips in a hard line and exhales sharply.
“Jacob. I really don’t think that we have anything to talk about,” she says.
I get up then. “Well, I can always go to another practise, but I heard that your fa-ther hates giving business to his competition—”
“Fine, just shut up and come with me,” she snaps, irritated, cutting me off rudely. I’m winning this battle.
Her father’s offices are top notch, and the staff looks professional. Well, maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all. A few women peer out from their offices when I pass through. Even after months away from the spotlight, I’m still recognisable. Life in the spotlight can be hard if you haven’t got anything to fall back on. In the past I hated the paps. The fact that they had constantly been chasing me around document-ing my path to destruction wasn’t lost on me.
Dora takes me to a large conference room at the back with a magnificent view of the city. I want her to take my case, to tell me what to do. I have been meaning to do this for a while and now it’s time. She points at the chair opposite and I sit, hoping that we can be civilised.
“Jacob, what are you really doing here?” she asks, when the awkward silence set-tles between us.
“I told you. I need a lawyer and you coincidently fell into my lap, well, my bed-room last night, so this morning I thought what the hell,” I state, wondering if she re-alises how much she screwed me over.
“Okay, so you thought about it before you shagged that blonde bimbo or after?”
I laugh. Nothing has changed. She is still the same hard-nosed Dora.
“The issue I am referring to has been on my mind for some time. I kind of forgot about Kim when I saw you,” I say, with a wink. She stares at me for a long moment, weighing up my response and probably deciding what to say next. Getting her on board is my number one priority; maybe when this case has been put to bed and I get my closure I can finally move on.
“Jacob, you must know that I’m engaged and very much in love. Robert is rich, handsome, and once we get married we are relocating to Miami,” she says unexpect-edly, giving me a fake triumphant smile.
My stomach makes a funny jolt. I didn’t expect her to be getting hitched to some-one, but maybe that’s even better. I clear my throat, pretending that I’m not fazed by her news.
“That’s too bad, but that won’t make any difference. I want you to represent me. I know I can trust you. I know that you will have my best interests at heart,” I insist, stating the obvious. Seeing her again helps me make up my mind. At first I came here because I was curious, but now seeing her so comfortable and obviously settled—she has her life already sorted—I kind of want to mess it up. Payback’s a bitch, but then, so were you, Dora.
I cut all ties after I found her in bed with another dude. Maybe now it’s my turn to get a little revenge, to ruin her little love story that she has created for herself here in London.
She looks dumbfounded, like she still doesn’t get it that I’m being serious.
“Represent you? Why? I don’t think we should even be in the same room.” She sneers, tossing her hair over her shoulders. God, even that makes me instantly hard. I want to have her in my bed again, maybe just for a short while.
“I want to sue one of the papers that ran a story about me a while ago. They were the reason that I got fired from the club in France. I need someone good, someone that I can trust. So no, Dora, this isn’t about the past, but my life,” I say, moving closer, blissfully aware of her perfume. Fuck, it’s the same one that she used to wear when we were going out. It’s been five fucking years, but I will never forget the way it clung to our bed sheets, or the smell lingering in the hallway before she went out.
She grabs my hand unexpectedly and pulls me closer to her. Our faces are only inches away from each other. I can see the tiny scar on her lip that I loved to kiss. There is no way that she wants to be with that Rob guy. We still have a connection. I can feel it zap between us.
“No, we are done, Jacob. We were done a long time ago. I’m in love and I don’t want you to ruin this for me. Last night was a mistake. I had no idea that I was in your house,” she says shakily, barely in a whisper. I smile wolfishly, scanning her full lips that I used to kiss.
“I was in love, too, a long time ago, but she betrayed me, fucked me over. I never got over her,” I tell her, brushing my thumb over her cheek and into her silky hair quickly before she snaps at my hand with rage. “But as I said before, this isn’t about the past. I really need you to sue these bastards.”
She shivers and I want to fucking jump on the table and dance like crazy. Even in love with another guy, she is affected by my touch. It looks like this whole revenge thing is just getting started.
Jacob Radcliffe is melting my insides. I don’t know why I just lied to him about being engaged and being happy. I do it all the time, but with him it’s different. Is this my way of dealing with seeing him? God, I hate the way he is looking at me right now, so turned on and curious. Shit, I’m losing control around him and this is not good. Love? What the hell do I know about love? I’ve been searching for it my entire life and I only ever felt love from Jacob. With every guy that I dated I wanted to feel love; I always hoped, but none of them ever made me feel the way Jacob used to.
“Stop touching me like that, Jacob. I’m committed to another man and I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to take on this case. Maybe I can recommend another—”
“Dora, I don’t want anyone else. You’re the right woman for the job. I’m glad that you moved on. We had a blast in the past and that’s about it,” he adds, grinning, do-ing something to my stomach. I need to get out of this room. It’s suddenly too hot and he looks so good. His strong shoulders seem wider and his waist narrower. His cheekbones are pronounced and the stubble on his face frames his mouth. Even his lips are way sexier now than before. He used to do this thing when we kissed when he would bite an old scar on my lip—god, I loved it. I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself. I pushed him away once, so I can easily do it again.
“All right, fine. Obviously you’re trying to be difficult,” I tell him, straightening my back. His eyes fall on my boobs.
“Oh, Dora … Dora, I’m not being difficult, but I have to admit, I’ve been a bad boy. Trouble seemed to find me. I abused drugs and overdid booze, but it’s all be-hind me now. That story the papers published ruined my relationship with my moth-er, and it nearly jeopardised my transfer to London. Sarah Willcock and the newspa-per need to pay for the bullshit that she made up about me. I won’t let this go. The fees won’t matter. I’ll pay whatever you want,” he says, nearly enough slamming his fist over the table, then giving me his most charming smile.
My anxiety is rising and I’m afraid that he’ll see through my act. Last night I thought I would get drunk and forget about the crappy day that I had. Jacob ruined that, and now he’s sitting in front of me looking like a wet dream.
“Good. I’ll gather all the necessary information and we will discuss this further. I don’t have a secretary, so I might be slow in getting back to you,” I explain, hoping that he’ll stay away for a bit, give me some breathing space.
“Of course, but I want to keep in touch, so how about you give me your number?” he suggests.
“Jenny will give you all the office contact details. That should be enough to get us going,” I say, not wanting to take this further than necessary.
“What? Are you a little worried that I might call you during late hours, when you are cuddled up with your fiancé in bed?” he teases.
My palms are getting sweaty. Jacob keeps playing a game with me. How do I know that he has a case? A month ago when I was on holiday I remember being so calm and relaxed.
The lies, the lies are going to be the death of me. Now that he thinks that I’m tak-en, he might want to pursue me, maybe out of spite, maybe because he wants to re-member how good we used to be together.
“No, you can call me at home if you want. Rob doesn’t mind,” I mutter, getting up. Maybe I should get in touch with India, find out if Oliver has had any contact with Jacob over the past five years. I know those two are happily married, but I need to know what Jacob is trying to achieve showing up so unexpectedly.
“Dora, you might be practically hitched, but I can see that even after all these years I still have that effect on you, and besides, I already have your number. Mike gave it to me last night,” he says, giving me a wink and rubbing his hands up and down on my arms. In that moment I stop breathing and my heart freezes in my chest. He is way too close, and old memories are slowly slipping in. “You’re shivering. I remember how much you loved it when I pushed you against the wall and fucked you really hard. I’d just push your thong to one side and take you. We had good times, Dora.”
He pulls away and walks to the door before I have a chance to take another breath. His words ring in my head.
“See you around, Dora,” he adds, and leaves me completely stunned. Then I’m alone, lost and utterly crushed, knowing that five years ago I made the biggest mis-take of my life. I betrayed the man I still love.