A/N: Sorry for the long wait...Derek's POV this time around.
And too many
She was beautiful. I watched her from beneath my lashes as she swiftly turned around. Was she walking out of the restaurant? Within the pit of my stomach, I felt the small flip as I gazed upon her long, slim back to her adequate behind, only to reach the lengthiest and most sculpted legs I had ever seen. She was thin, almost too thin, and with her thick brown hair cascading down her back, I realized that she looked extremely fragile.
After conversing for a few moments with the hostess, I saw that this goddess was gliding towards me. Temptation, I thought, although I knew I could never intentionally hurt Amy, especially by being unfaithful, but the thought made my heart race unexpectedly.
Her dress was draped tightly against her beautiful body and her face exuded a sophistication that was rarely found among other Willow Tree residents. Yet, it bore such a familiar look that I had seen in only one other person in the world. Although I knew it was wrong, I could not turn my head, as I looked at this beautiful being walking towards me. She was walking towards me!
Finally, looking at her closely I grasped what was occurring.
"Natalie?" I asked cautiously. Perhaps I was hallucinating. She was gorgeous, and for me there was only one person upon the earth who bore the same amount of beauty as this female before me.
"Hello Derek," she responded. Her face was completely calm and unfeeling. Could she hear my heart threaten to jump out of my chest? Did she visibly notice my sweaty palms? The girl, no, she was the woman I had once thought was my true love. How could she not show any signs of discomfort?
My eyes bore into her electric blue ones. I'd always said I could get lost in her eyes. In the past, they had continuously shone with intense emotion. Today, they were cold. Yet, I could not cease staring into them as her hand lightly grazed my cheek.
Still so warm, I thought, sighing inaudibly. I could not stop myself from reaching out my own hand to her chin. Lee made no move to stop me. She was still so soft. What was happening to me? My arm quickly grew to mush and my heart beat steadily. I love you, my conscious whispered and my mouth almost exclaimed. I love you Natalie Lynn, and I've always loved you. Yet, these words could not leave my mouth as I heard Amy's voice from afar.
"Are you kidding me? That table is extremely unsuitable." Amy always had an issue with seating and I wasn't surprised. Quickly flitting my eyes from Natalie's face to Amy's, I realized the situation I was found in. Standing up to greet my darling Amy, I glared at Natalie. 'Go Lee,' my brain screamed. 'Get to where you need to be before this gets too complicated.'
After a quick peck on the lips, Amy released me, looking down at Natalie. I felt the need to explain. "Um, Amy, Lee and I were just catching up."
"Who's Lee?" Amy's face now harbored a very befuddled look.
"I'm Lee, also known as Natalie, also known as Talia," Natalie replied once she saw my state of discomfort. Talia, she said Talia. That was so familiar…
"You guys know each other?" Amy's voice did not hold as much suspicion as I had expected. "Wow, who knew? My wedding dress designer and my fiancé were acquainted with each other in a previous life."
Lee laughed slightly, but I could see the intense dislike she had for Amy. That emotion she could not hide. Lee was the famous Talia? Lee was the one who would bee staying in Willow Tree for a month to design my fiancée's dress? My mind was on overload.
"We were next door neighbors, best friends, and…well, that's all we ever were," Lee explained, trailing off at the end.
I coughed trying not to look down at my hands in shame. "Lee and I were definitely more then best friends. We were inseparable."
Looking at Amy's face, I could not read her expression. I didn't think she saw anything wrong with the situation at hand, but I believe she knew that we were saying more than what we were verbalizing.
"Hmm, it's a mystery how you two were so close, yet Derek's never mentioned you," Amy said with a superior smirk. Lee looked as though she was about to pounce her.
"Um, Amy, I did tell you about Lee on our first date," I hesitantly declared. Lee seemed pleased.
"No, you spoke about that girl who—oh, so you're the one," Amy whispered making it hard to tell whether she was speaking to herself, or if she was speaking to Lee and me.
"Depends on what you mean when you say 'the one,'" Natalie replied raising her eyebrows in a smug look.
Our waiter soon arrived with the wine I had ordered before the girls had arrived and a basket of rolls. He was the same waiter who had served Amy and me the night I had proposed. His dark eyes settled on Natalie and I watched grimly as his eyes gazed over her. Jealousy stirred within me and I had to withhold myself from commenting on this waiter's discreet act of impropriety.
After he took our orders, we began to talk once again. There was a thick tension in the air and I knew I had to do something to cut through it.
"Amy, did I tell you that Natalie and I were born in adjacent hospital rooms, on the same day? Can you believe the coincidence?" My remark made Lee smile slightly while Amy just appeared disinterested.
"How quaint," she whispered sipping on her wine.
Lee, who seemed to be in much better spirits after the waiter had flirted with her with his eyes, decided to help me in my efforts to make amiable conversation. "So Derek, how did you meet the lovely Amy?"
I opened my mouth to answer, but I could not get a word in. "Well, we literally bumped into each other at the office. I had been admiring Derek from afar for a very long time," Amy enthusiastically told Lee.
"That doesn't surprise me. I'm sure Derek had to beat the girls off with a stick," Lee whispered gently touching my arm. I felt as though she had burned me, and helplessly, I gulped.
Amy gave Lee a tightlipped smile. "I'm guess you can say that the best woman won," Amy exclaimed slowly, accentuating every syllable. I could feel the tension accumulate once again.
Lee made no comment as she silently watched our appetizers arrive. "When was this restaurant constructed? I don't remember there being a Grotto's when I lived here."
"About two years ago," I replied twirling my fork in preparation for my petite mushrooms. "It's been a staple in Willow Tree. Lots of people from the city come to eat the fine cuisine."
Lee nodded. "I'm glad some things have changed," she whispered holding my gaze for a lingering moment.
Then an uncomfortable silence took over the table and Amy, Lee, and I were all committed to talking about trivial subjects such as the weather, our occupations and the food for the rest of the night. It was certainly difficult and I was glad when the night ended, although I would miss being able to see Natalie. Secretly, I had always hoped we would be able to reestablish our good friendship.
After the desert had been eaten, Amy looked longingly towards the door. "I have to get some sleep, you know, the McGonagall trial's tomorrow."
I nodded sipping on the last of my wine. " Would you like me to drive you?"
Amy shook her head, a disturbed look upon her perfect face. I hadn't even noticed how beautiful she looked tonight. Her hair was up in a tiny chignon and her makeup was flawless accentuating her beautiful hazel eyes. Her petite body was dressed in a tight navy blue sweater with a casual black skirt that covered her knees. "I'm going to get a ride with Harris." She then looked at Natalie. "I'm sorry Talia, but you'll have to leave with me so that Harris can drop you off first."
Lee's eyes glittered with mischief. "Don't worry about me dear. I'd much rather stay here catching up with Derek. Derek, you wouldn't mind driving me to my hotel later, would you?"
My heart pounded heavily once again. I didn't even want to look at Amy. I already knew the disapproving look I would find there. "Um, I guess that would be no problem."
"Good," she responded placing her hand upon my arm once again. "We can take a walk in the park like we used to."
I nodded, actually enthused by the idea. Amy guffawed getting up then and jetting towards the door. Lee's face reacquired that smug smirk, and I frowned at her as I got up in order to follow Amy.
"Ames, why did you leave like that?" I asked once I found Amy standing outside, waiting for her driver.
Amy's tearful eyes looked up at me. "As if you don't know," she replied hatefully. "You were flirting with your ex-girlfriend right in front of me."
I smiled cautiously and placed Amy's tiny face within my large hands. "Amy, what are you thinking? I love you and only you. Natalie's just someone from my past, a good friend, but you're my future."
Amy's perfect smile appeared and her shroud of sadness completely vanished. It seemed almost as though she had been faking her disappointment. "Oh darling, I love you too."
Softly, I kissed her velvet lips and sighed. I did love her very much, didn't I?
Harris soon arrived after our display of affection, and after a quick peck, Amy was headed home. As I turned around to reenter the restaurant, I saw that Natalie had been standing outside already. The look on her face could only be described as that of complete serenity. Her smile opened up as she raised one eyebrow. "I guess we can get going to the park then," she whispered, gently taking my hand into her own. Quickly, I was reminded of Amy, but I could not bring myself to tear my hand away.
The walk to the park was short, and silent. Throughout our stroll, I couldn't help but look over at Natalie. She looked so beautiful by the pale moonlight; she positively glowed. I closed my eyes for a moment, remembering our last walk to the park with our hands entwined in the same manner as I kissed her with all that was within me. I remembered her smooth skin against the callousness of my rough hands and I almost melted. Again, I turned to look at her and saw that she was looking at me as well. Her eyes bore into mine and in the midst of the cool night, her blue eyes had the intense quality of coldness. How long had it been since her eyes burned with the passion she had once had?
"My mother told me when your father died," Natalie said, gripping my hand a bit tighter. She was leading me to a tiny park bench. "I wanted to call, but I didn't know what to say,"
My eyes clouded a bit. I remembered that it had happened in my last year of college before heading to law school. I had felt so lonely. My father had been living with prostate cancer for over five years, and I knew he wouldn't last another day. "It was strange, because the moment that it happened, that he died, I could only remember thinking 'I wish Lee were here.'" I looked at the ground for a moment in disbelief that I had said something so personal. "I didn't even care that my mother was screaming and my sister was confused. I just stood there silently, wishing you were there."
Natalie placed a solemn hand on my forearm. Looking up, I saw that her calm façade had been broken and hot tears were gliding steadily down her pink cheeks. "I'm so sorry Derek. I was so selfish and involved in getting my design career up and running."
I nodded, my jaw tightening. I suppose I couldn't blame Natalie for her lack of contact during her absence. I hadn't attempted to contact her either. "Don't worry, life happens."
We sat staring into the dark woods for what seemed like hours, comforting each other with our entwined hands. We had not separated and my hand as well as hers had grown slick with sweat, but I still did not wish to separate.
"I wish I could have been there when you needed me the most," she whispered settling her head down on my shoulder.
"You were," I said, impulsively kissing her recently exposed forehead. Her bangs had dipped to the side. "Remember all of those nights when my mother had driven my father to the hospital. You always kept your window open, no matter the hour."
"Yes, but I wish I could have done more for you. I wish I could have given you the world." Natalie looked up at me with those arresting eyes and I knew that she was slowly making me fall into her trap.
"Hey, I had the world for a moment," I whispered, placing one hand swiftly around Lee's waist, pulling her closer.
Again, silence struck. There was a small stream nearby and we could hear its movements clearly. Off to our left was a small sandbox where we had spent the majority of our childhoods.
"Do you remember the first time we kissed?" My voice was low and surprised me.
Natalie murmured softly. "The night of the dance," she said in a dazed state.
I shook my head, chuckling lowly. "Nope," I declared pointing towards the sandbox. "It was in that sandbox, when we were eight years old."
"Really, how did this happen?" Natalie looked up at me, and I noticed her eyes were drying up.
"Well, you had just discovered cooties and wouldn't play with me. I was so upset and I knew I had to get my playmate back, so I decided that the best way to do that was to show you cooties didn't exist, so I kissed you." Natalie laughed, nuzzling into my neck. Her soft breath upon my skin was too much for me to handle.
I released her from my grip, and to my astonishment, she took my formerly free hand and wrapped it around her waist once again. "Don't ever let me go again," she whispered kissing my jaw. My eyes closed instinctually to the feel of her. I felt my breath catch as Lee continued her torture on my neck.
"We can't Lee," I whispered.
"Why not?" Her whine rang in my ears as she continued to kiss me, drawing close to my mouth. She brought her hand to my chest. "Tell me more about the sandbox, about this park."
I gulped, wishing I could let this go on forever. "You pushed me into that sandbox when we were four. I broke my leg and was afraid I would never walk again."
"I'll kiss you now and make it all better," Natalie whispered seductively. What was wrong with her? She had never been so forward ever before. Perhaps New York had changed more than her appearance and her speech.
"Natalie stop this," I stated adamantly. "I'm not going to start cheating on the girl I'm getting married to in less than a month."
Natalie groaned and stood up, brushing off her skirt. She swayed a bit, and I realized she was buzzed from drinking the wine at the restaurant. "Fine Derek, stay with your princess. My goodness, you don't even know, do you? You don't even know that I've been waiting for you all of this time…" Natalie's eyes grow tearful once again.
"Let's get you to your hotel," I replied solemnly pulling her by the arm towards Grotto's once again, and entering her aggressively into my car, once we arrived. Sitting behind the driver's wheel, I headed to the only hotel in Willow Tree. "How many drinks did you have Lee?"
She smiled and closed her eyes whispering, "Three when you were at the table, and three after you left with Amy."
"Man, I couldn't even tell you were drunk," I said shaking my head.
Natalie smiled, despite her closed eyes. "I'm not drunk. I know what I did."
"No, you don't know what you've done at all," I whispered to myself, but frowned when Natalie smirked as a sign she had heard me.
"Of I course I know what I've done. I've made you fall in love with me again," she whispered.
A/N: I love all of my reviewers, and I'm sorry my update took so long. I hope that you've all kept reading and that you continue to give your feedback. It makes me update sooner, trust me. Please tell me what you're thinking!
BridgeAnnWall: I noticed that you liked seeing Derek and Natalie together so I made sure this chapter was full of Derek and Natalie. How is the editing going on your story? I hope you like the speed at which this chapter went because I don't want to go too fast nor too slow, but thins are going to get heated quickly. Please keep reviewing…I'm always happy when I get your feedback.
Jazzy Kitty: I was definitely going for the unexpected reaction to each other. Who knew they would get so close so soon? But, considering they've been harboring feelings for each other for so long, I'd hoped it wouldn't be too surprising. Things will start to get heated up quickly, and that was the reaction I needed in order to get this story going in the right direction. By the way, I am terrible person! I have yet to read your story, although I can tell it's wondrous. Do forgive me, but midterms have attacked me in the worst way, and I have had to read less enjoyable books for class. But I will read and write a rich review once I read "Storm." Soon, I hope.
Shixa Goddess: So what did you think of the reunion? I really wanted to make it different…well, not different, but important and interesting for you! I hope you're still reading and willing to give me some feedback on what you thought.
Alyssa: So glad you're addicted, and I'm sorry I couldn't update sooner. I feel terrible, because my next update may be far away as well, but I'll make the wait worth it, I promise.
Stevshals: Yay! I loved your review. It brightened up a dreary day. Thanks and keep reading and reviewing. Tell me what you think.
It was just a dream: By the way, I love your pen name like totally! But anyways, thanks for the review and I'm sorry my update was so late, but much there is much more to come. Seven chapters down, about seven or eight to go!
Kimber13: I know, I suck. This update was later than any I ever previously posted, but I hope the wait was worth it. It may be a while before I am able to update again, but I'm dedicated to completing this story!
Escrita: Aw, your comment flattered me. Thanks much, I try, but sometimes I'm out of it and can't always write as well as I would like. Really, the whole process is organic. I know what I would like to come across in every chapter, but it's fun to see what the characters decide to do in the end.
City-gal7: A boyfriend for Natalie was originally my plan, but because I want this story to end in 14 chapters, I decided against it. Hopefully I can keep you interested for reasons other than Natalie's BF.