I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know
I've found out a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you.
I'm sorry that I hurt you
It's something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
That's why I need you to hear
I've found out a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you.
Hoobastank- The Reason
He kept poking her cheek. His fingernail would gently scrape along the smooth rounded curve of her face, before taking the fullness between his fingers and giving a soft pinch.
She tried ignoring it, until he gave a particular hard pinch that made her whine.
"Alex!" Ariel scolded, swatting his fingers away. Alex let an easy chuckle pass through those luscious lips of his, and he stretched his long arm along the back of her chair, noticing the slight shiver that went through her when his arm lightly brushed her back.
The smug grin on his face said it all.
"What're you doing?" Alex asked, as Ariel's small fingers ruffled through a small pile of papers in her lap. She had come into his office to do a quick inventory of all the expenses she had made in redecorating his office.
"I'm sorting through some receipts. I need to get these back to Sayuri for her to check through them so she can file them away as expenses for all the furniture we bought for you and Eric's offices."
"Mmm." He murmured, a little put off by how easily she was ignoring him.
"You didn't come to dinner with me at Maggiano's." Alex said nonchalantly. The Italian family style restaurant was one of his favorite places to eat.
"And you said you would come find me if I didn't come." Ariel pointed out sweetly, "Besides, I decided to save myself the effort. Maggiano's requires that you have at least a party of four to eat there, remember?"
Right. Alex had completely forgotten about that. The food was served family style, with everyone at the table partaking of the food in the middle, and the food ordered was replaced whenever more was desired. Whenever Alex went there, he made sure to stuff himself with enough food to keep him full for days afterwards. The massive portions probably explained why you needed a party of at least four to eat there.
Alex decided to focus on Ariel's first comment instead of his forgetfulness.
"Oh, so was that what it was? You wanted me to come looking for you?" Alex drawled, trying hard to keep up the façade of suaveness with just a touch of arrogance to draw her in. It didn't seem to be working so well, dammit.
"Well, when you say you're going to do something, I would hope you follow through with it."
Alex could feel his frustration growing. He had been trying so hard to get back into her good graces, but Ariel had been a complete enigma all week. She'd be sultry and hot one moment, making Alex think he had a chance with her, then the next, she'd be as cold as a glacier.
She was definitely having a glacial moment.
"Are you going to hold that night we slept together against me forever?" Dropping all pretenses, Alex went straight for the jugular, finally ready to talk about what he had been painstakingly avoiding.
Ariel looked slightly startled by his abrupt change in demeanor and subject matter. She took a heavy breath and replied, "I'm only going to hold it against you until you grow up and acknowledge that it happened."
"Well here I am, I'm acknowledging it. You happy?" He demanded.
Ariel's ire rose, "No, I'm not happy! God, you are so confusing! We sleep together, you're my first, you promise that you're not going to hurt me, and what's the next thing you do? You go and pretend like it never happened at all! Great way to make a girl's first time feel like it was worth something!"
Alex's mouth opened like a goldfish, faltering for a moment, before he regained his footing. He was confusing? Well, she wasn't exactly crystal clear herself.
"I didn't know what to do!" Alex snapped in his defense, "Look, I never meant to hurt you in any way. I thought ignoring it would be the best way to make it feel like we were both comfortable with one another again."
"Ooh, good plan! So avoiding and ignoring people is how you make things comfortable again, hmm? That may fly when you're sleeping with other girls, but it's not going to work with me." Ariel sarcastically replied. She had risen to her feet, her receipts forgotten.
Alex nearly growled his reply, "Oh, because you're completely innocent in all this? It takes two to tango, sweetheart. I certainly didn't have to coerce you too much to get you into my bed. Why is this unlucky situation my entire fault? Then you have the nerve to go sleep with some piece of shit named Walter! Not so virginal, are we?"
That earned him a well placed slap across the face and a gut punch that sent him doubling over. The girl certainly knew how to place her punches to make a man fall to his knees.
"Walter is my dog, you dumbass! I'm not angry with you because of the fact that we had sex! I'm pissed off because you ignored me afterwards. Do you know how that made me feel? Completely discarded. Just another notch in your many bedposts, Alex."
Her dog? He thought incredulously. He was feeling jealous over a fucking dog? As incredibly stupid as that made him feel, it only fueled his anger further over all the shit she had put him through these past few weeks.
"You know that is not fucking true." Alex growled, "Would I still be talking to you? Flirting with you? Asking you out to dinner with me and waiting for two hours only to be stood up?!"
Alex shook his head, his frustration and anger boiling over, "Do you know how hard I've been trying to get back into your good graces these past few weeks? Chatting up dumb girls I don't even give a damn about just so you'll look in my direction, asking you out, waiting for you. I'm trying here, Ariel. I know I made a mistake, but at least I'm finally owning up to it. You're not the innocent victim here, you've been playing games with my head all week, and you know it. You enjoy it."
"You're only in it for the chase, Alex. You want me because you think you can't have me." Ariel stated stubbornly, her lower lip jutting out in fury and irritation.
"This is going to get me another slap, but guess what darlin', I've already had you, in case you've forgotten. And I still want more."
Predictably, she lifted her hand, but Alex was too quick for her. He pulled her against his body and held her there, while she squirmed to get away from him.
"I'm done playing these games, Ariel. We both know it's not like you, anyways." His face was inches from her own, and his dark green eyes bore into her bright brown ones.
"How would you know it's not like me? You barely know me." Ariel whispered, her breath caressing his cheeks.
"I want to get to know you." Alex huskily whispered before closing his mouth over hers in a brutal, passionate kiss that left no room for argument.
When they finally parted for air, Ariel could feel her insides churning. Was he lying to her? Did he want what she wanted?
"We're going to try this again." His voice was powerful and strong, and it sent a tremor through her small body that he could evoke such emotions of nervousness, longing, and fear in her.
"I like you, Ariel. So will you go out to dinner with me? More than one? Because I'm not playing these games anymore." His eyes were a smoldering dark green, and that hungry look remained in his eyes. She barely recognized him. He wasn't the fun-loving playboy right now; he was a business man who was going after what he wanted.
And the fact that he wanted her thrilled her to her very bones.
She swallowed and looked up at him with a hard look in her eyes, "If you ever ignore me again, I will obliterate you. If you haven't noticed, girls don't take too well to being ignored. So long as you do that, I will go out with you."
"I couldn't ignore you, even if I tried."
Her mouth went dry. She was speechless for one of the few times in her life. Alex took this extra time to bend his head down to meet hers in a sweet kiss that stole her breath. Was this how it felt like to be swept away?
She smiled against his lips when he finally pulled away to look down at her adoringly.
Then he ruined the perfect moment by saying, "I can't believe you made me jealous over a fucking dog."
She had a long time to think about everything. Well, not a long time, a few days to be exact, but the majority of those few days was spent thinking about everything.
She had thrown herself into the finishing touches of the offices, trying to get the hell out of there as soon as possible, but it was just impossible for her to not think about Vincent when everything about the building screamed his name.
Sayuri took several deep breaths, and she knew she must've looked crazy standing inches from Vincent's office door, looking like she was hyperventilating.
"It'll be okay," Ariel assured her, giving Sayuri a quick hug.
"Just do it," Ariel whispered, placing her hand on the doorknob, she twisted it slowly, while gradually pushing Sayuri through the door.
Vincent looked up blearily from his pile of papers. There was a lot to do, and there wasn't much time left to do it.
"Sayuri." He straightened up a bit, and ran a quick hand through his disheveled hair. He didn't look much better than the last time she saw him.
Sayuri bit her lower lip, "I just wanted to come by and formally let you know that the redecorations on Grendel Towers are officially done, so Ariel and I will be out of your hair now."
"Oh." Vincent's face looked crestfallen, and he gave a quick glance around his office.
"If I told you I hated the way my office looked, would it keep you here a few more days?"
Sayuri let out a weak laugh, "Sorry, no. You signed the contract already."
She stood around awkwardly. She didn't want to leave just yet, but there didn't seem to be any reason to stay.
"Well, I guess I should be-"
"No, stay." Vincent said suddenly, his voice strong, "Just stay, Sayuri. Talk to me for a few minutes. Take my mind off all this." He gestured to the mountain of papers atop his desk.
It was hard being in the same room with him, but she couldn't stop herself from taking the seat across from him.
For a few minutes, he just stared at her, and Sayuri felt herself begin to squirm beneath his intense gaze.
Sayuri gnawed on her lower lip, debating with herself. Should she say it? She would feel like a fool if she did. But she'd regret it even more if she didn't.
She tentatively glanced up at Vincent, her eyes clashing with his silver eyes. Eyes that she loved so much. She had to. The regret would be worse than anything she'd feel if she didn't.
"I have to say something, and I want you to listen because it's important, all right?" Sayuri said slowly. Vincent nodded, leaning forward.
"Ever since I was young, I've been the way I am. Anti-social, but I can play the part of the social butterfly when I need to. Overly confident, because that's what people respond to best. And I didn't…let many people in because that's just my way, but you already know that, right?
"I never thought there was anything wrong with that. I mean, some people just aren't as open and friendly as others. But then…maybe I just wasn't around the right people. Maybe I hadn't met the right person to open up to, maybe I used to believe in things that are completely wrong, and I'm babbling now, but my point is…
"I didn't tell you a lot of things because I was afraid. Afraid of letting you in enough to hurt me, but you just completely ignored all that. You kept coming into my life, ignoring all my boundaries because you know from experience how to get around them."
Sayuri paused and she suddenly looked nervous, "No one understood me the way you did, and no one probably ever will, and Vincent Grendel, I think I may love you."
She said it so quickly that Vincent almost didn't catch it, "I mean, I thought I loved a lot of people. I thought I loved Lary, I thought I loved Eric. That was completely off base," She let out a nervous laugh, "and maybe what I'm feeling for you right now is just as crazy, but what we have-"
With a painful gulp, she cut herself off suddenly, and her eyes fell to the floor as a pang of hurt went across her.
"-had, I mean, was as close to love as I'm ever going to get, so thank you."
Sheepishly she lifted her gaze from the floor and looked back into Vince's dark eyes, and when he opened his mouth, she quickly cut him off, "And please, don't tell me you love me. Don't. It's just…too hard to hear it if we're not going to be together, and like I told you last time, actions speak louder than words."
"I just had to tell you this because I know I'll regret it if I don't let you know what you're losing."
She had spilled her heart out onto the floor, something she had never ever done before, and as scared as she was, she had never felt more liberated. A huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders, and her newfound willingness to accept her own vulnerability emboldened her.
Seemingly finished with her soliloquy, she looked him straight in the eye, "I'm going to go now, and if I never see you again, Vincent Grendel, then I hope you have a wonderful life. I truly and honestly do."
She leaned across his desk, touching his rough cheek with just the barest brush of her fingertips and lightly touched her lips to his in one last painstakingly tender kiss. She moved quickly out of the office, the fear of stripping herself raw overtaking her.
"I take it back." The younger one looked pained, and his dark head hung in shame.
"I don't care. It doesn't change anything between you and me."
"I haven't been the best brother, and I'm sorry for that. But you had no right to say what you did to me the other day."
With a flick of his wrist, he handed the other a thick sheaf of papers with the insignia of the Grendel family name embossed into the sheets.
"Let's just end this the way you proposed."
The other looked shell-shocked. White, save the two twin spots of crimson that dotted his strong cheeks. He couldn't hide the anger and utter sense of betrayal in his voice.
"It's because of her, isn't it?"
"No, its not. This is between you and me. It always has been."
It was thundering outside, but Sayuri didn't care. Months had passed. She had mourned but she poured herself into her job to make things better.
She had been made a partner at Chrysanthemum and the money was just rolling in prolifically.
She couldn't lie. It hurt that he had given up so quickly. She had told him to fight for her, but he hadn't. He said he would prove it to her, but it looked like he was all talk and no action. If she was closed off before, now she was just plain anti-social. She hardly left her house except to go to work, and she spent the majority of her time being a couch potato and eating anything and everything in sight.
Hell, she was female, and the way she dealt with stress was to eat and stuff her face with anything and everything she could get her hands on. Such was the way to cope with heartbreak.
Luckily, she had Alex and Ariel to keep her company and cheer her up and make her social again.
Breakfast at Tiffany's had never been more fascinating to her. Audrey Hepburn channeled a timeless grace that Sayuri wasn't sure she would ever have. Clothed in only an overlarge tshirt and a pair of blue girl boxers, Sayuri watched Audrey Hepburn's standoff with George Peppard.
The doorbell rang noisily and with a frustrated groan, Sayuri pressed pause on her dvd player. Her Thai food had picked the completely wrong time to come.
Humming Moon River to herself, Sayuri grabbed her Balenciaga from her couch and opened the door, revealing the poor, soaked teenager who had brought her Thai food.
"15.44" His teeth chattered, and Sayuri winced as she fished through her bag, looking for her wallet.
"Here, keep the change." Vincent's voice sent her head snapping up, and all she saw was his fingers handing the poor kid a hundred dollar bill and quickly taking the bag of Thai food from his hands.
She shuddered, as she felt the cool air of the night storm brush over her skin. The soft light from her living room illuminated Vincent, but he looked so dark and menacing that Sayuri felt her breath leave her body in one quick take.
He was holding a broad umbrella over his head, but he still looked soaked to the bone, with the angry storm raging around him. He filled the doorway, looking powerfully imposing. He looked like a Greek God, coming to claim what was rightfully his.
"Can I come in?" He demanded, shifting on his feet.
"What're you doing here?" She choked out, not caring how her voice sounded.
"I had to see you. Can I come in?"
Too surprised to protest, she stepped aside, and he swept past her. He fumbled with his shoes for a moment, taking them off to keep from soaking her carpet, while she went to retrieve a few towels for him to dry himself off. When she came back into her living room, he was standing in front of her television screen.
"Breakfast at Tiffany's. Ariel said you liked this movie." He noted, placing the Thai food on her coffee table.
"Yeah, I do." Sayuri said stiffly, handing him the towels. He patted himself down, but his clothes were still wet.
Heaving a deep sigh, she said quietly, "Just take them off, and I'll toss them in the dryer."
He looked up in surprise, but just a second later, pulled off his jacket and tugged at the buttons on his oxford, until his tanned broad chest and arms were revealed. With some hesitation, he went ahead and took off his pants, as well, leaving him clad in only his boxers.
"What the hell, you've seen it all, haven't you?" He said softly, offering her a small smile, which she found she couldn't return. It was all too surreal, to have him standing in the middle of her apartment, wearing only his dark blue boxers. He handed her his clothes, and she tossed them in the dryer.
His body wasn't a distraction she needed right now, so she gave him a throw blanket to keep warm.
"What're you doing here?" She asked again, trying to keep her voice steady. She missed him, and she wished she didn't.
It was too hard to see him in her apartment, clad in nothing but his boxers, and to realize that she couldn't have him at all. That he wasn't hers, and that he never really was.
She longed to run her fingers along his hard, lithe body and to kiss him and just be with him. She tried to suppress the feelings going through her, but she knew it wasn't working. If he looked at her right now, he could read clearly how much she wanted him.
He rummaged through his briefcase and tossed a thick sheaf of papers onto her coffee table.
"I'm going to talk now. I'm going to say a lot of things, and I want you to listen because its important, all right? Will you listen to me?" Vincent asked.
She recognized all too well where the beginning of that speech came from, but she felt angry and pathetic for still wanting him after all these months. Half of her wanted to throw him out to save her wounded pride, but the other half of her realized that she would rather throw her pride out the window to listen to what he had to say to her. So, she nodded her head slowly.
"My dad died when I was twenty one and Eric was 19. Is your father still alive?"
Sayuri gave a quick nod of her head, and Vincent sent her a warm smile, "For a man, the death of his father is…one of the few times a man can cry, and it'll be okay. When my father died, everything fell on my shoulders. My mother was hysterical. She couldn't deal with anything. Eric was just a kid still, barely 19. My dad had all sisters, no brothers. It was just me."
"The board of trustees could have taken over until I was ready to handle the company, but in my dad's will, it explicitly stated that I was to inherit the company if I was of age."
"Well, I was of age, and I…" Vincent's voice shook for a moment, and instinctively, Sayuri moved from her spot across from him to sit next to him instead, "I guess my dad never anticipated that a heart attack would take him away from us so soon."
Sayuri felt herself inhale sharply, and without realizing it, she had placed her hand on his cold, bare shoulder.
"There were a lot of things in the will. Stating that Eric and I both had to run the company or else it would be dissolved, which you already know. He wrote it just in case anything ever happened, but I know he didn't expect to die so soon and leave all this in my hands. If he had, he wouldn't have done it.
"I had to take over the company, while finishing off school, and it was the hardest time of my life. So can you see where I'm coming from when I say how important this company is to me?"
She nodded her head, as he leaned forward to take the thick sheaf of papers from her desk. She hadn't even glanced at it.
"I'm dissolving Grendel Finances."
"It's not just because of you." Vincent stated calmly, as if he was proposing a business transaction, but it was his words that mattered to her. He was dissolving his company, and while she couldn't understand why, she did understand that in some way, it did have something to do with her.
"The first reason is that Eric's miserable. He took back the shitty ultimatum, but I told him it didn't matter because I was dissolving the company anyways. He's miserable working at the company, I know. His heart's not in it, and all he wants to do is live a stress free life with Laryssa. So I'm giving that to him. He helped me get here, and now its time I repaid him."
He stopped talking for a few moments, and Sayuri took this moment to digest all that he had said, "And Eric's okay with that?"
"Yeah, he's more than okay. We had a long talk. I talked to him about our dad, about everything, and while things aren't perfect, we're working on it. I'm working on it. I told him my reasoning for dissolving it, and he's happy. He took back the ultimatum a while ago, you know, when you were still working at my offices. He said he was stupid and angry and that he now knows that it's impossible for you to ever forgive him-"
"Which is abso-fucking-lutely true." Sayuri interrupted.
"But it was me that kept us apart these past few months. This whole dissolution is what I've been working on. I'm starting a second company instead with another business partner. It'll operate much the same way it does now, except with my friend taking over Eric's position. It'll be stronger because he's better than Eric at what he does, and his heart's in it, and the majority of my employees will be transferred over to the new company.
"So this way, I'm still keeping the company going, but now, I'm finally looking after my little brother's interests, as well."
She could feel herself holding her breath, waiting, pleading for him to say the words she was waiting to hear him say. The anticipation was murdering her, and she could feel herself inching nearer to him, as his eyes hypnotically held her gaze.
"I did all this because I realized that I want to be with you."
His hands coming up, he cupped her cheek, and she leaned into his touch. The warmth of him electrified her.
"As ironic as it is, you're the one who made me realize that my relationship with Eric was messed up. That all the relationships I've had with other people are messed up. Hell, even the relationship I have with you is messed up, but that's why we're perfect for each other.
"Remember how you told me that you thought you loved me? And that you weren't sure what love really was and maybe you'd never felt it, but what we had was the closest thing to it? And that you didn't want me to tell you I loved you until I could back it up with my actions?"
"I love you. And if I don't, well, this is the closest thing to it that I've ever gotten."
It was all too much for her to process at the moment, but she was getting the gist of what he was saying. She wasn't sure how she felt. Angry that he had made her wait for so long mired in her own misery. Happy that he had finally grown as a person to get his act together. Overwhelmed that he was finally saying the words she had been yearning to hear all her life.
"You're not getting me back that easily. Do you know how miserable I've been these past few months?" She demanded, as his other hand snaked around her waist.
"As miserable as I've been?" He guessed, pulling her closer, while she pulled away.
"Worse. I thought you had given up on me. I thought you decided I wasn't worth it." She leaned back, as he moved forward.
"I would never."
"I gained ten pounds eating junk food-"
"You're still the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."
"I cried myself to sleep-"
"It's not going to ever happen again."
"You're going to have to work to get my trust back."
"Did I ever really have it in the first place?" He deadpanned, pulling her to him so that she was flush against him, the moistness on his bare chest soaking through her large t-shirt.
"Kind of." She said breathlessly, her body molding to the hard planes of his chest.
"See? You never really opened up yourself to me either. I had to pry it out of you."
"I'll work on that, but the point is, so what if you dissolved your old company, you're still going to put me second to your new one." Sayuri argued, his hands still firm on her waist, as she rocked away from him.
"I've learned my lesson that my job isn't everything. I'm putting the people that matter in my life first from now on."
"Does that include me?" By this time, she was lying on her back on her couch, and Vincent was hovering over her, his lips just inches from her own.
"You're at the top of the list." He brushed his lips against hers, soft and rough, a contradiction that made her shiver.
"I'm sorry for being an asshole, Sayuri. I'm sorry for making you cry, I'm sorry for taking so long to let you know how much I care for you, and a million other things that I've done and will do in the future." He said his words against the skin of her neck, kissing and caressing her delicate collar bones.
She reached up and gave his lips a quick kiss before saying, "I'm sorry about the way we met, about being a bitch to you, about shutting you out time and time again, and I'm sorry for probably being a bitch later on in the future, as well."
Then, she gave him the brightest smile that showed all of her happiness, "I can't believe you gave up your company for me…kinda."
"I'm worth it." Sayuri said smugly, a cheeky smile playing on her lips, her legs wrapping around Vincent's waist.
"We're worth it," He corrected, before his lips finally met hers in an explosive kiss.
A/N: Yep, that's it. I actually have an idea for an epilogue i could write to tie things up a bit more, if you guys are interested in reading it. But i warn you now ahead of time: if i write an epilogue, it's going to be sappy (with just a touch of cynicism) and going to be placed a bit more in the future. I always like finishing stories! oh, and a shout out to Silent Inspiration for giving me the song for this chap (it's an oldie but a goody), and thanks to all the other reviewers who sent me your suggestions!
I really have to thank every single one of my reviewers for all of your support. I wouldn't have been able to improve and really have the motivation to finish the story if it weren't for you guys. I'm always a little scared to read reviews, because it can be hard to take criticism, but everything you guys have told me has been so amazingly helpful, and I will take all of your advice and knowledge with me onto my future stories. I know there were a lot of things I could have done better with Jilted, so I guess as my last plea for you guys to leave a review, i hope you'll tell me what you honestly thought about aspects of my story. Were the lyrics at the top annoying? I'm probably not going to do it for my next story, but i thought it went kind of well with this one. Were the characters believable? Did my pacing totally suck? epilogue or no?
I really, really, really try to respond to you guys individually, but my finals are coming, and i know that i'm not going to get around to it for a while, so thanks to: Love is a Ring Toss game, jell0, Alexa, xx Sakura Kiss xx, Gigi, Rikayla, )(latTe)(, xxxstarlightxxx, vocecara, justlikeme91, lil, Aragorn is mine, Aicha, anonymous reader (, kat6528, elukazina, nathanlvr, luv me like no other, Streetcar, StaciePVU, I can't Tell, Miss K Ree, JudeVanderhall, SweetForever, , CATpuccino, Oyuki, anonymous, Cherrypiesizzle, akc, Lexxa, anonymous, anon, babyonyee, Demoness Brighte, Simply Complicated, Lexx, Eternal Dream, You' .Know, becxfok01, springfiry, P.B., Em Wolf, Hawk Dancer, Momochi Zabuza, lool, anacharlie, killerbitch26, Chandy, Violet-Eyez, ind-fam, Rayne Logan, vballgurl, Alenor, Tempest116, chocolategoodness, mythweav.r, cowow, bananasplit, britty-sum41, Melika Elena, Secret Heart 01, akaCHEEKS, givelifeyourall, IrishBri, Joelynda, What Lily Did, Lexi Elizabeth Walker, blondiexoxo, xPink Blossomsx, Sun2Storm, sin of darkness, xsecretrainx, summers-end, Missy Nina, Allison, Fades, ALY55A, and swimchickslam.
If i've forgotten anyone, i'm sorry, and its not intentional. just know that i love and appreciate you all the same!