As You Please


I was stunned as I stared at the man standing across from me. His words still taking a stranglehold on my brain. Apologize? A fucking apology? After everything we had been through, after all of the things he had done to me and my mental state, he thinks an apology would be okay? He thinks that’s what he owes me?

“I know this won’t fix anything I did to you or give you those years you wasted with me back.” I nodded my head slowly. I could still feel my cell phone vibrate in my back pocket. I could feel Brett’s eyes ripping holes through my skin. “But, it’s been eating me away and I then when I saw you, I knew I had to do it now.”

“What’s the point of this?” The venom smothering my words made me wince. I felt the urge to apologize rush through me but the second I looked up into his eyes, it vanished. I couldn’t stop seeing him stare at me in the hallway of my apartment. I couldn’t stop feeling the skin on my throat burn where he held me against the wall.

I thought about swinging my fist. It passed.

“I started seeing someone.”

“Why would I care?”

“Not like that, like therapy.” I felt my lips part as I looked up at him, my chest aching as I watched the sadness rush through his eyes. “I didn’t realize how fucked up I was until I went to your apartment that night… that walk home kind of threw everything into perspective.”

“I’m glad you took that step.” I kept any emotion from my voice.

Hunter nodded for a minute, his eyes wide and sad. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t realize it sooner.”

I shook my head, the vibrations of my phone running through my lower half. I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. I just wanted to go drink and have fun. I wanted to sit with my friends and laugh. I wanted to take drunk selfies and send them to Auston. I didn’t want this. I was tired of this. I was tired of him always appearing at the most inconvenient times.

“Everything’s fine, Hunter.” I watched as his eyes snapped to mine. “I’m glad you’re getting everything on track. Take care of yourself.”

“I was never good enough for you.” His voice was barely a whisper.

Nodding my head, I looked up at him. “You’re right.” I went to turn around when I heard him call my name again. Instead of ignoring him, I paused.

“Does he treat you well, Tessa?” I nodded. Hunter continued, “I hope everything I heard about him is wrong.”

“And that would be, what?” I turned to him, my eyes full of fire. How dare he pull me aside and try to do this. How fucking dare he try to ruin my day and whatever relationship I was in.

“He’s not a good person, Tessa. He’s going to hurt you. Just be careful.”

“Like you hurt me?” I snapped, my eyes wide. I could feel the anger inside of me surge with every thump of my heart. “Did he cheat? Did he use women for money and a place to live? Did he manipulate them to give up on their dreams? Did he hit them, Hunter? Did he fucking hit them?”

The man in front of me was stunned. His eyes were wide as he went to speak but silenced himself. I had never been one to lash out, I was never confrontational. I was happy he didn’t know how to handle this. I was happy he look terrified. He looked behind me and swallowed hard. His body moved away from me, his hands pressed tightly together.

“Stay out of my life.” I demanded and turned from him. When I saw Brett reaching for my hand, I tore it away and stormed back into the restaurant. Hands shaking, I made a beeline for the bathroom and quickly walked into the first open stall. Leaning against the wall, I pressed my hands against my face and felt the swell of emotions rush through me.

Tears started to fall from my eyes as I let the conversation replay in my head. I was so angry, so furious that a part of me wanted to run out of the bathroom and find him. I wanted to wrap my hands around his throat and squeeze until he took every word and action he ever made against me back. I wanted to see the fear in his eyes. I wanted him to hurt like I did during that phone call.

I spent a few more minutes in the stall trying to calm myself down. With every passing second, I could feel my heartbeat slowing. The shake in my hands started to fade. Thoughts became clearer as I stepped out and walked over to the sink. Pulling some paper towels, I fixed the smudged makeup near my eyes and sighed.

When I looked up at myself in the mirror, a long sigh fell from my lips. I knew what kind of man Auston was. I knew he used that smirk and the look in his eyes to pull girls in. He told me, right to my face, that he had a few month slip. He admitted he was wrong. He looked at me with those big sad brown eyes and put it all on the table.

“Hey, Tessa?” Lilly’s voice broke through my thoughts. As I watched her appear next to me in the mirror, a small smile surfaced on my lips. Letting out a dramatic sigh, I turned to her and pulled her into a tight hug. “You want me to kill him?” She whispered into my hair.

“Nah,” I shrugged a shoulder as I pulled away. “It’s done.”

“Good,” Lilly looked at me with a bright smile. Reaching up, she pushed some hair back to its proper side then grabbed my hand. “We have more mimosas to drink and you have more hot selfies to send your boo-thang.”

Rolling my eyes, I let her pull me out of the bathroom. As I walked behind her, I reached and grabbed my phone from my back pocket. Sucking in a sharp breath, I noticed the what seemed like millions of Instagram notifications and then three texts from Auston and one missed call.

When we reached the table, I sat down and opened them.

Why the fuck is he always around?
Are you alright? Please tell me you didn’t go alone
Tessa, I’m going to have a heart attack, shoot me a text. PLEASE

Smiling a little, I quickly typed back a response.

My guard dog came with me. All good.

The read receipt appeared instantly.

Brett or Lilly? lol
I was a minute away from driving cross country.
You scared the shit out of me.
What did that sack have to talk about anyway?

He apologized for everything. Dropped the ‘He’s not a good person’ about you.

That’s all he could come up with?

Right? He could have given statistics or something.
Not a very compelling argument

I watched the bubbles appear. Biting down on my lip, I let his voice float back in my head. Auston had laid it on the line the first night we spoke together. He told me he made mistakes. He told me it was over.

I mean
I don’t have anything to worry about, right?

The bubbles stopped immediately. It was silent for a minute. I could feel my heart starting to race. Was he right? No, he couldn’t be. Auston isn’t that good of an actor. I trusted him. I trusted the look in his eyes when he looked at me. The way he held me at night, the shimmer in his eyes when we rolled around in my sheets. I could hear the shake in his voice when he complimented me. You can’t fake that. You can’t.

Tessa Lawrence, I would marry you tomorrow.

All of the air in my lungs left me as I looked up and grabbed my mimosa. Taking a long sip, I looked back down and watched the bubbles going. For a few minutes, I snuck back into conversation. I laughed along with everyone and made believe I wasn’t on the tail end of a crisis. When the food came and everyone ordered another round of drinks, I looked down at my phone.

Opening the conversation, I noticed he didn’t say anything else. I typed a quick response, smirked, and then watched the read receipt appear.

Say it to my face.

Give us a year

My heart nearly stopped as I stared at his words.



Monday brought me a continuous headache, seven hours of back to back meetings, and four new pitch folders on my desk. Instead of pleading ill, I drank a gross amount of coffee, grabbed my laptop, and went into each meeting with a bright smile. As I sat there and listened to clients and other coworkers flip flop over ideas, I kept one thing in mind; the bright light at the end of the tunnel.

In a few hours, Auston would be in my bed and I got a full twenty-four hours to spend with him. Then, in three more days, I got to waltz into some fancy party with his arm around my waist. The only tiny problem with that was I didn’t know anyone outside of their comments on Instagram and I had no idea what to wear.

It was around six when Auston sent me a text that the plane had landed. Even though I stressed again in my reply that he should get a good night’s rest, he informed me that he would pick me up around seven and he felt like ordering pizza for dinner.

Rolling my eyes, I went along with the idea and smiled to myself. How could anyone even think Auston would cheat on me? He didn’t know Auston. He knew what he did, who he was to the world, but he didn’t know him.

I felt my blood start to run cold as my eyes ran over the words on my laptop screen. I read them over and over again but none of them made sense. Nothing would stick. All I could think about were defenses to Hunter’s words. All I could think about was proving him wrong.

Or was I trying to prove myself wrong? Would he just get bored of me and move on? Even if he did, that happens to everyone. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. I got bored of plenty of guys before I dated Hunter. I even got bored of Hunter, I was just too focused on school and my career to disrupt anything.

“You leaving soon?” Robyn stepped into my office, bundled up in his coat. “It’s cold, you need a ride?”

“Nah, I’m getting one.” I whispered, my cheeks burning up as I felt him stare at me. “Should only be here a little while longer. I can lock up.”

Robyn nodded, his eyes examining me for a few more minutes before he let out a small sigh. Taking a step into my office, he shut the door and set his laptop bag down. Running a hand through his short hair, he looked up at me and smiled.

“Enjoy your day off tomorrow, I won’t bother you unless it’s absolutely necessary.” We shared a laugh as the man sent me a wave and then headed off down the hallway. When I heard the door close, I let out a long sigh and pressed my hands against my face,

The next half hour felt like years. All I could do was stare at the clock on my screen, watching as the minutes ticked by. I could feel my heartbeat increase with every passing second. I was so nervous to see him. My skin started to burn as I thought about him pulling me into a kiss. My head was floating as I watched the clock morph to 6:55.

Exhaling, I closed my laptop and unplugged all the wires. Packing all of my things, I set my purse and laptop bag on the top of my desk as I shrugged into my coat. Wrapping my scarf around my neck, I shoved my phone into my pocket, grabbed all of my things and headed out of the office.

Once the alarm as set, I shut the door and headed toward the stairs. Every step made my body temperature go up. I felt dizzy. I felt like I was going to collapse to the floor. Thoughts were rushing through my head so fast I swore I was thinking in a different language.

When I reached the lobby of the building, I saw him. His name fell from my lips in a soft sigh that was just loud enough for him to look up from his phone. His fingers stopped mid type as his eyes darted to mine. I felt my mind racing as his lips curled into a huge smile. Those big, beautiful, brown eyes were sparkling in the fluorescents.

I felt weightless as I quickly walked up to him and set my things down. The brunettes huge arms were wrapped around me before I could manage to speak. I could feel his face press against the skin on my neck.

“I missed you so much.” His voice floating through my head relaxed every muscle in my body.

“It felt like forever.” I whispered as I watched him pull away from me and then catch my lips in a fiery kiss. His hands slipped to the small of my back as he pulled my frame against his and then pressed his forehead against mine.

He was intoxicating.

“You have to tell me all about those pitches you did over dinner.”

“What did I do to deserve you, Auston?” I whispered, tears filling my eyes.

The brunette shrugged as he grabbed my bags and pulled me under his arm. “Well, you like good drinks and shitty bars.” Auston gave me a cheeky smile as he walked me to the car and opened the door. “And you’re funny, and you’re smart, successful, talented, drop dead gorgeous, need I go on?”

“I mean, if you want...” I laughed as the brunette rolled his eyes and then pressed a kiss to my lips.

“Get in beautiful, we have pizza to eat.”