Posts tagged “Revelations

Chasing Truth: Chapter 49

Posted on 26/06/2020

Calories in a Glass of Wine

Mari was practically coming out of her seat by the time she and Reese arrived at Julia’s place. She dreaded dancing around the truth with her best friends, but she was excited to be able to bring them in at least a little. She needed their insight.

Her leg bounced restlessly while she waited for Reese to open her door. She hopped down the second he did and just barely restrained herself to keep pace with him. They were walking up the pathway when the door swung open to reveal Leilani. She didn’t come out.

“I knew it was you. I checked out the window and again out the peephole,” she rushed to say since she knew she wasn’t supposed to open the door until Reese was actually at said door.

Reese shook his head. Mari just grinned. Leilani latched onto her arm the moment she was within reach. 

“You can have the living room, Reese. We’re not going to watch TV and this way you’re between us and the door,” Leilani continued as Reese closed the door. “We’ll be in the kitchen.”

“Is anything that comes out of the kitchen going to be edible?” he called after them teasingly.

Leilani turned to stick her tongue out at him but didn’t stop herding Mari to the kitchen. Julia stood at the stove, frying fish when they entered. Leilani let go of Mari to retrieve a wine glass, which she filled generously.

“Okay, spill,” Leilani prompted and handed Mari the glass.

Mari laughed, settling onto the nearest stool and taking a sip. “Well, at least I got wine first.” Leilani’s mock glare made her laugh. “It’s nothing that extreme. Really. Things with Tyler have been…off lately. I don’t really know how to explain it. Things don’t feel the same anymore.”

“Feel the same like how?” Leilani pressed. “Like you  don’t feel the same way about him as you used to or the relationship feels different?”

“I…both? The relationship feels different, distant almost. I think that’s affecting how I feel.”

Julia cut straight to the heart of the matter. “You’re having second thoughts.”

Mari dropped her head to stare into her wine. “Yeah. Maybe it’s just me and I’m imagining things being different, but…” She hated lying to her friends, but this was the closest to the truth she could get. She lifted her gaze. “I was kinda hoping you two could pay attention when he comes back. You know, tell me if I’m just being crazy.”

“I’ve never known you to just be crazy,” Julia said as she laid fish onto a plate.

Leilani glanced toward the doorway before leaning forward. “How much of this maybe has to do with you spending all of this time with Reese?” she whispered.

“I don’t know,” Mari groaned. “That’s part of the whole problem. At first, everything seemed simple. Things with Tyler were great. They changed some even before I met Reese, but when he showed up, things got even more complicated. I wasn’t expecting to interact with him at all. And then when he stayed, I wasn’t expecting to actually enjoy talking to him or anything. I was just planning to put up with him so Blake wouldn’t hassle me.”

“But now it’s more?” It was a statement from Julia, not a question.

Mari opened her mouth to deny it, but there was no point. Julia and Leilani knew her too well. 

“You two have gotten close over the last couple of weeks,” Julia continued. “Nothing that crosses the line, but he fits. You two fit in a way Tyler never did.”

“My life is out of control,” Mari whispered as she buried her face in her hands.

“So take back some control,” Leilani suggested. “End it with Tyler.”

“I can’t just end a relationship with a guy I’ve been seeing for months just because I think another guy is attractive. Reese doesn’t even live here. This wouldn’t even be a discussion if he and I weren’t attached at the hip these last few weeks. He’ll go home and this…this will wear off.”

“You don’t believe that, do you?” Leilani chided softly. “Maybe the closeness got you here faster, but it’s not just going to go away. It’s not like you’ll never see him again. If nothing else, he’d be back whenever your dad visits and there whenever you visit him.”

Mari waved off her words. “He doesn’t even like me that way. He’s here doing a job. That’s it.”

Julia snorted while Leilani rolled her eyes. 

“Oh, please. He totally likes you.”

Julia checked the doorway before approaching the island. “There are things he does because he’s here to keep you safe, but there are things he does that don’t fall into that. He almost always brings you your food, even when we’re just in the house. When he calls you Ellie, it’s not because he’s trying to come off as a close friend. He caters to you in ways that have nothing to do with protecting you.”

“We were talking about Tyler,” Mari protested weakly.

“And now we’re talking about Reese,” Leilani returned without hesitation. “Allie really likes him. She told mom Raoul does too and that you guys had a great time camping.”

“They like him because he’s keeping me safe and they know that,” she pointed out.

“Mari, stop being deliberately blind. He would have been perfectly capable of coming here and pretending to be a friend without ever getting as close to you and people that matter to you as he has. We’ll pay attention when Tyler comes back. You know all you had to do was ask. You’re not going to be able to sort out things with Tyler if you can’t be honest with yourself about what’s happening between you and Reese though. Start there.”

Wisdom imparted, Julia turned back to the stove to finish preparing dinner. Even Leilani found nothing else to add.

Be honest about what was happening between her and Reese? Now that the girls laid it out, it was harder to ignore. It had already been hard enough to dismiss before today. 

Mari drained the rest of her glass. It was going to be a long night.


<< Chapter 48

Chasing Truth: Chapter 16

Posted on 03/10/2014

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Mari snuck what felt like her fiftieth look at Tyler as he drove toward the Drake estate. He was subdued, his jaw set and eyes hard just as they’d been that night on the beach and then again with Sam. This time she had no clue what caused it and it unnerved her. He’d already been in his mood when he picked her up from work ten minutes ago. Unbidden, her father and Gage’s concerns about him came to mind.

“Tyler,” she probed gently.

“Yeah?” Short and terse.

She hesitated but pushed on. “Is everything okay?”

He blew out a sharp breath. “Yeah, honey. Everything’s good.”

She didn’t call him on the blatant lie. Obviously something was wrong, but she didn’t push him further. She couldn’t hide a sigh of relief when he pulled up in front of the guesthouse and turned off the truck. For a moment she’d worried he would leave. He stroked a hand over her hair before cupping her neck.

“Let’s get you inside.”

She gave him a weak smile and climbed out of the truck.

“Give me a minute to change and we can go down to the beach. Sound good?” she asked over her shoulder as she unlocked the door and pushed inside.

He nodded and dropped down on the bed, kicking his feet up as she pulled her bathing suit and a pair of shorts from her dresser. She paused in the door of the bathroom to look him over. He was relaxed in the bed, even smiled at her, but there was still something wrong. She smiled back and shut the door behind her.

She took her time stripping out of her clothes. Something was eating at Tyler and she wanted him to share that weight with her like he always encouraged her to do with him. She just wasn’t sure how to coax him into it. Usually he shared so easily.

As she dressed she remembered the night they talked about Sam and how he’d let her in when she teased him. A smile curved her lip as she tied the strings of her bikini top and settled on her strategy. She unholstered her gun to put away and swung the bathroom door open.

She stopped there in the threshold, a frown marring her features. Tyler moved fast, but not fast enough to hide the light of the laptop screen before it went black. She didn’t mind if he used her laptop, but that he tried to hide whatever he was doing immediately raised her suspicions. Her cell phone wasn’t where she left it either. He knew the passcodes, she was sure. They’d been together long enough and she never tried to hide them from him.

Raoul, Todd, and Gage’s words all echoed in her head. They all tried to warn her in their own ways. What would Tyler need with her computer and phone?

He looked up at her and smiled from the chair he relaxed in. She loved that crooked smile, the way his lips quirked up in lazy pleasure. She had a sinking feeling it wasn’t genuine and it wasn’t really for her. Whatever Tyler wanted, it wasn’t her.

“You ready to hit the beach?” he asked pushing up from the desk and coming toward her.

She forced a small smile and let him wrap his arms around her waist. She automatically slid her arms around his back return. It was natural, easy. Everything always was with him, maybe too much so. Why hadn’t she seen that when the others had?

Because she couldn’t imagine having anything he thought he had to seduce her to get.

“What is it?” he asked quietly.

His thumb caressed her lower back as she continued to turn the question over in her mind. Maybe he worked for another touring business looking to expand into Sakina. Something in her ached to believe otherwise, but she wouldn’t turn a blind eye to the red flags. He unsettled the three most important men in her life. She’d seen the hard glint in his eyes on more than one occasion. She knew the way she left her things. She wouldn’t live a lie, no matter how tempting that lie was. She sighed and cupped his face with her free hand as the other tightened on her gun just behind his back.

“Is there a reason you’ve been going through my things, Tyler? Uh uh. Please don’t move.”

“What makes you think I’ve been going through your things, sweetheart?”

“I don’t think. I know. You’ve got one minute to explain before I decide I don’t care and ask you to leave.”

They locked eyes in silence. She felt his abrupt turn moments before he tried it and drew back, instinctively raising the gun and aiming it at him as her heart began to race. For the first time since she met him, she feared Tyler Ross.

“Tyler, please don’t.”

How had it come to this? This was the man who held her in his arms at the end of a long night, teased her, made her laugh, and kissed her senseless. She adored this man. Yet, here they stood with her gun between them.

“You ever use that on a person before?”

“You want to find out how well I shoot at close range?”

They stared each other down until Tyler raked a hand over his hair. “Put the gun down, Mari.”

She wanted to. More than that, she wanted to start the whole night over. She wanted to spend an extra minute in the bathroom and miss the signs that said Tyler wanted something from her other than her company. She couldn’t. The only thing she could do, would do, was face this head on.

She wanted to chuck something at his head. He stood there looking like the same man who picked her up from work and greeted her with the sweetest kisses while simultaneously putting her on edge. What was going on?

“Why are you looking through my things? I won’t ask again.”

His eyes searched her face until he sighed and sat down on the bed.

“What I tell you can’t leave this room.”

“I’ll decide that. Start talking.”

“It doesn’t leave this room.”

There was the security face again. Whatever he was about to reveal she had a feeling it wasn’t as simple as a rival touring business conspiracy and she suddenly wished it were.

“The men on this island will tear you apart if Raoul or Gage don’t get to you first. I decide what leaves this room and what doesn’t. Now start talking.”

“Raoul Drake is not your father.”

“He’s the only father I acknowledge.”

“Your biological father is Blake Mason.”

She stilled. No one knew who her biological father was. It was a secret Miranda Drake kept from her and Raoul, ultimately taking it with her in death. There was no way Tyler could know the truth when they didn’t.

“And what makes you think that?”

“I don’t think. I know,’” he echoed her earlier words and stared her squarely in the eye. “And I know because I’m here to get access to him when he comes for you.”

 

<< Chapter 15 || Chapter 17 >> 

  

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