A/N: A huge, huge thanks to KatherineJames, Martin the Waterskier and anniesworld for reviewing!

KatherineJames – Yay! First reviewer! =) I hope this chapter still keeps you hooked

Martin the Waterskier – Love the pen name! I hope it becomes clear throughout this chapter that Malachi is in fact the love interest of Wendi =) I tried to work with your suggestion =.= but I think I'm just incapable of omitting names from my stories =) hope this works just as well though

anniesworld – I'm glad you liked the beginning =D As for what she's going to do about it, I have no idea just yet! Haha I kind of just wait for inspiration to hit me or I force myself to write XD thank you for pushing me to write though =D

Chapter One

"Hey," he said huskily, flicking his hazel eyes in my direction for too short a time, "Can I get an espresso?"

He handed me a ten dollar note and I took it, nodding numbly, tongue tied into knots by his mere presence. There was the faint smell of stale cigarettes in the air that surrounded him and a hint of roses, my perfume. He hadn't showered before coming out. A haze was beginning to form in my mind, clouding all thoughts except for those about him.

I hated knowing that I was helpless and addicted but most of all, I hated knowing that I had placed myself within his sight and gotten caught on his hook, unable to free myself while he reeled me in. Why couldn't I control this endless lust, this incessant thirst for him?

He licked his bottom lip as I was handing back his change and my eyes were immediately drawn to his luscious mouth. Had that been a deliberate action? But his expression was the same as always, unreadable and elusive. Then he slowly lifted one corner of his mouth and gave me a small smirk.

I schooled my expression to make sure that none of the surprise I felt could be seen. That was a new development. He usually ignored me after he received his money.

I felt my muscles clench involuntarily and a languid, heavy warmth smothered my senses as recollections from the previous night assaulted my mind.

A brush of the shoulders, a secret meeting of the eyes.

Hazel seducing green.

People screaming with laughter but in their world, it's full of unbreakable silence.

A small room with an even smaller bed. But she's not even worth the bed.

The wall will have to do.

Heat. It's too hot.

Legs entangled, arms grasping each other, frantic motions.

He slips out, satisfied.

No good-bye kiss for his lover.

She collapses against the bed, aching and tired.

All alone.

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him collect his coffee and take a seat in the lounge area of the café. Soon enough, his group of friends walked through the door, one by one, ordered something to drink and sat in a circle. They all turned to him for advice, for reassurance, for leadership but he just sat back, relaxed, unbothered and unresponsive to their constant chatter. Nothing had changed since high school.

I still didn't know whether he remembered or even knew my name.

It seems ridiculous, I know.

If I were a one night stand, it would be understandable if names were forgotten or not even asked. However, the fact remains that we have spent more than the occasional night together and he has never, ever deigned to call me by my name. There was the occasional 'hey' or 'you over there' but more often than not there was no talking involved at all.

A glance in my direction was all that was needed for us to communicate; he seemed to implicitly know that I was forever watching him, drugged by his alluring sense of self.

There were many times when his name almost slipped out of my mouth.

I wanted so badly to whisper, "Malachi", while we moved as one but I was always too scared. What if I crossed that boundary, that thin line, and lost him forever? The distance between us seemed to keep him close by me.

If it wasn't for the way he slid his hands so familiarly along my body and, even in complete darkness, knew every secret curve and line within me, I would say that he didn't even know who he was holding in his arms half the time. Tears threatened to overwhelm me. A deep ache built up in the back of my throat. Addicted. That's what I was. Maybe it was time for me to try to go cold turkey again even though I knew that it would be futile.

I noticed the sound of chairs scraping on the floor and lifted my head, only to find him staring intensely at me. The moment our eyes made contact, he shifted his gaze to a spot behind my head and blatantly ignored me.

Of course.

There was no acknowledgment of each other during the day. That was our silent agreement.

Still, it didn't mean that it didn't hurt.

The new addition to their group glanced around the room and spotted me. His eyes grew wide with recognition and a wicked smile appeared on his face.

"Wendi!"

Malachi looked startled for a moment, his hair sweeping down across his brow to cover his eyes. He was probably wondering who Wendi was or why somebody would be rude enough to yell in a cafe. Then his face regained his usual impassive look and he looked to be listening in on his friends' conversations.

I frowned, trying to place the hulking figure. That salacious smile tugged at me, the playfulness of it calling out the wispy remnants of my childhood.

He looked exasperated then flung his hands up in the air.

"Only you would forget a face like mine!" he exclaimed dramatically, strode over to the counter and swept me up in his arms in a rush.

Suddenly, it clicked.

All of my fatigue and stress dissipated in an instant and I laughed incredulously.

"Ethan?"

He was absolutely tickled that I remembered him if his almost suffocating hug and obnoxiously loud laughter was anything to go by.

"You're going to kill me you big ox!" I exclaimed, gasping for breath with a huge smile on my face.

Back in high school, Ethan had been my only friend and even after I had dropped out of high school, he had always come by the café to visit me and try to take care of me. It was only after he'd gone to study abroad that we'd lost contact.

"I can't believe you're still working here! How many years has it been, huh?"

That comment stung my pride but I smiled almost too widely and said, "You look good."

I knew from the way he beamed at me with such child-like consideration that he hadn't meant to insult me.

A disapproving cough came from behind him and we both looked in that direction.

Shit.

My manager stood there with his beer belly and stained apron, looking pointedly at me and Ethan.

"If you want to keep your job, you should keep pleasure and business separate."

He then walked past us and lumbered into the back room. I couldn't afford to lose this job.

"You should go. Your friends are about to leave anyway," I pointed out, noticing that Malachi had already vacated his seat.

"Do you still live at home?" he queried.

I grinned sardonically at him.

"What do you think?"

"I'm going to take a wild guess and say no," he said in a wry tone, "I'll come pick you up after work. You finish at six, right? Let's go out for dinner."

Was it just me or did that request sound like a command?

I hesitated but when my eyes accidentally fell onto Malachi, my answer was quick to surface.

"Sure. Sounds good."

Perhaps this was what I needed to start getting away from him. Maybe all I needed was another distraction until my attraction to him faded.

My eyes slid back to Ethan but that hesitation had been long enough for him to furrow his brows and notice that Malachi had been the object of my scruples. He had a curious look on his face but remained silent. I knew that he suspected something.

.

.

As I was just finishing mopping the floor, I felt a pair of eyes burning through me. I looked up and saw hazel eyes peering through the closed windows. Shock electrified my body and I lost my grip on the mop. It clattered to the floor and I knew that my face was bright red. I could feel heat even in the tips of my ears. If I had magical powers, I would chosen that very moment to transport myself to another dimension or change myself into an animal so I would have no conscious thoughts, no humiliation to deal with.

I didn't know what to do. What was he doing here?

His hazel eyes looked at me levelly then he knocked on the door, softly.

Ignoring the fallen mop, I hastened my steps until I reached the door and quickly opened the door.

"Hi…you look nice." He shifted awkwardly on his feet and coughed into his hands.

I narrowed my eyes at him. Was he making fun of me? What right did he have to make fun of my job? I bet that he didn't even have a job considering his family was wealthy enough to feed a couple of third world countries. Righteous fury building up inside me overrode any feeling of attraction. I made a show of looking over his shoulder to see if Ethan had made an appearance then turned my attention back to him. Within that moment, something in his face shifted and a frightening, predatory look masked his features.

Suddenly, he leaned forward and gripped my shoulders tightly. I was stunned. It was still light out and he was acting in a way that was contrary to his normal self. I felt myself leaning forward ever so slightly, both my body and mind betraying me as my anger slipped away. His eyes held mine so intimately, bright and possessive. I yearned to touch my lips to his, reconnect my soul to his.

"Stay away from Ethan," he commanded in a low growl.

Our faces were so close by then. So torturously close. I was dizzy from his closeness, drugged by his scent. I knew I should have been angry, but all I wanted to do was concede to his wishes. It didn't strike me as strange then that he was suddenly so interested in my life when in the past he'd ignored me. I was about to say yes but that was when I smelt something different in his normal scent.

Aftershave.

He only wore aftershave if he was going to meet his girlfriend. And that fact broke the spell. I broke away from him, calmly picked up my mop and began cleaning again.

"Do I know you? Should I know you?"

The wolf in sheep's clothing stood before me. And sucked his bottom lip under the pretense of being deep in thought. My eyes were seduced from the wooden floors to his shining lips. I shook my head slightly and resumed mopping.

He placed his hands on my hands and stopped me from cleaning. Waves of heat washed over me even after he released me.

He opened his mouth to say something but a voice from behind him cut him off.

"What's going on here?" Ethan stood in the doorway, looking at us in confusion. "Do you guys know each other?"

"Fuck," Malachi swore under his breath. I could tell he didn't know what to do. His usual method was to stay silent and hope somebody did his dirty work for him.

I thought it over. The truth of our relationship was so incredible and unbelievable that even Ethan wasn't going to buy it. The sole heir to millions and the high school dropout? Who would believe it?

I smiled brazenly.

"Of course we know each other. We're fuck buddies."

Ethan's mouth dropped open. Then he burst out laughing.

"No, really. Do you guys know each other?"

"Nah, I've just served him coffee occasionally," I answered casually then winked at Malachi, "but I wouldn't mind hitting that." I threw a thumb in his direction.

Ethan laughed hysterically.

"I would have an easier time climbing Mount. Everest than you would if you tried to get with him," he choked out between giggles, "No offense, Mal."

Malachi glowered at him.

Ethan had completely forgotten about his previous questions and now cheerfully helped me clean up. I noticed that Malachi had disappeared after we had finished cleaning. My heart dropped a little.

"Hey, you okay?"

I looked up into Ethan's twinkling eyes and a small smile formed at the sight of his wicked, wicked smile.

"Yea, I'm okay."

.

.

While we were eating and joking around, I found my thoughts lingering on Malachi.

Why had he chosen this day of all days to ruin the silent agreement between us? Why did he tell me to stay away from Ethan?

I closed my eyes and pictured him looking at me lovingly, gently, tracing the curve of my neck with a finger so soft that it tickled. Even if he treated me like a side dish, I wanted and desired him to no end.

Opening my eyes, I found hazel eyes ringed in gold staring back into mine, less than an inch away from my face.

"Wendi," he breathed.

He knew my name.