As You Please


Hunter and I stood in the hallway in silence for what felt like hours. I stayed there, my eyes in his, waiting for him to talk, waiting for him to give me a reason not to call the building security and have him removed from the premises. I wanted to rip his heart out. I wanted to scream until I choked up blood. I wanted to make him feel how I did. I wanted him to feel the worthlessness I had been feeling since that phone call. I wanted him to cry himself to sleep.

I wanted him to feel the loneliness that consumed me every night.

“You, uh, ordered take out?” Hunter ran his hand over the back of his arm as he looked down at a few of my credit cards scattered across the floor. Following his gaze, I nodded my head once and used my foot to swipe some of the cards back under the door.

I brought my eyes back to his.

He looked away.

He knew.

“You have people over?” The words that left his lips were smothered in disappointment. It sounded like he expected me to be here, crying alone in my apartment. It sounded like he expected me to welcome him back with open arms.

“Just one.” I replied, pulling my bottom lip between my teeth as the skin on my face started to go numb from the memory of his touch. As I stood there in front of the man that had just ripped out my beating heart, all I could think about was the feeling of Auston’s lips brush against my own.

Hunter nodded for a moment before running a hand through his hair and sighing. “You’re really just moving on like this?”

I was stunned by his question. All of the words I had lined up disappeared. My mind was blank as I stared at the man, the emotions in his eyes slowly shifting from disappointment to anger. My mouth was dry as I pushed puffs of air from my mouth.

He knocks on my door, unexpected, after not reaching out to me for three days, and expects me to be okay? He expects me to be sitting here, waiting for him, alone?

“What… Did you expect?” I mumbled, my body still in shock. I couldn’t comprehend the situation I was in. I couldn’t believe that I was face to face with him, having this conversation while Auston sat inside.

“You’re not even upset?”

I shook my head, my eyes wide and lips parted as I gawked at the man. Part of me wanted to tear the skin from his face, the other half wanted to punch myself in the face until I woke up from this nightmare. It had to be a nightmare. All of this. This couldn’t be real life.

It just wasn’t possible.

“I’m tired of grieving over someone like you, if you want me to be honest.” I hissed, the shock from his words finally morphing into an intense hatred. “You’re not worth the time.”

“You can’t do better than me,” Hunter snapped, his fist clenching at his side. As I looked from him to his hand, I tilted my head to the side and shook my head.

Swallowing hard, memories started to flood into my brain as I looked into his eyes again. They were glassy. They were angry. They had little pink lines running from the edges to his irises. They were eyes I remember looking into one of the first nights after we graduated from college. They were the same eyes that hit me.

The same eyes that left bruises on my body.

“Hunter, you’re drunk.” I felt my breathing grow shallow as I looked around the hallway. This couldn’t be happening. This wasn’t fair. He can’t come here and do this to me. He can’t come here after everything he did to me and do this. I had ended it. It was over.

It was all over.

The man in front of me moved closer. When he was a few inches in front of me, I could smell it. I could smell the alcohol on his breath. I could hear his rough heartbeat, his ragged breathing. I could feel the anger.

I could feel the danger.

“Just leave, Hunter.”

“You’re the reason I cheated.” His words were sharp. They sliced deep into my chest as I looked up at him, my limbs trembling. As he took another step toward me, I backed up, my body colliding with the apartment door. “You were always so selfish.”

He was too close to me.

“All you ever cared about was your fucking career. All you ever cared about was yourself.” The smell of the alcohol on his breath mixed with my overflowing adrenaline was starting to make me dizzy. My stomach knotted tightly, my senses were burning. I wasn’t sure if I was going to pass out or throw up.

“You should have told me,” I whispered.

Hunter slammed his hand down against the wall next to me. My heart was in my throat as I thought about the last time he touched me like this. The last time I had to hide the giant bruises on my body. He said it was a one-time thing, he said it would never happen again.

As long as we loved each other, it would never happen.

“I liked fucking her in our bed.” He whispered in my ear.

In a moment of pure adrenaline, I placed my hands on Hunter’s chest and shoved him across the hall. As he stumbled back against the opposite wall of the hallway, his eyes snapped open and zeroed in on me. Swallowing hard, I pressed my body against the wall as he lunged forward and put his hand around my neck.

As he applied pressure to my throat, I reached up and dug my nails into his hand until he released his grip. Kicking my heel back against the door, I gave the man a shove again and felt the lump in my throat explode.

“Just fucking leave, Hunter.” I cried, tears rushing down my cheeks. “It’s over. Everything is over, just let it be.”

“I want to go inside,” he looked passed me at the door. “I want to see who you’re fucking.”

“No one, Hunter. Just stop. This is insane, don’t you realize this?” My voice was rough as I took the man by his shoulders and pushed him away from me again. “What are you trying to do? What are you trying to prove, huh?” I was nearly screaming, begging him to leave.

The man I had been battling with went to speak when the apartment door flew open. Heart racing, I turned around and went to tell the man inside to leave, when the brunette wrapped his arm around my waist, pulled me back into the apartment and then took a step in front of me. My hand just fell short of his lavender shirt as he took two steps across the hallway and looked Hunter dead in the eyes.

“Leave, or we’re going to have a problem.” The tone of Auston’s voice was deep and stern. It made my hands shake just hearing it.

Hunter squinted at the man, his eyes running over every inch of him. After a few seconds, he came to a realization and looked at me. Just as he was about to speak, Auston slammed his hand against the drywall next to Hunter’s head. I could see the veins in his forearm. I could see the rolled up sleeves of his dress shirt clinging to his biceps. “Why are you going after her, huh?” Hunter hissed in a low tone, “You?”

“Because I’m not a blind, ungrateful, selfish idiot like yourself.” Auston snarled. He leaned in closer to the man, his voice dropping in volume. “You honestly think you’re ever going to do better than her? Do you see her?” Hunter’s face was void of color as he looked at me. “You’re never going to come close.”

Hunter and Auston shared a gaze for a few moments before Auston slammed his hand against the wall again. As Hunter flinched, Auston took a step back and motioned down the hallway. “I will always be here. If I ever see you again, this is going to end a lot differently.”

“You wouldn’t do that. I know you, you wouldn’t. You can’t.” Hunter swallowed hard and took a step away from the brunette. “I know who you are.”

“You have no idea who I am. You have no idea what I would do.” Auston snapped. “I suggest we not find out what I can get away with.”

With a few choice words, Hunter walked to the end of the hallway and stopped. After a few seconds, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the two keys he had to the apartment. Holding them for a moment, he tossed them on the ground and turned on his heels.

Without another word, he was gone.

Once the sound of the stairwell door opened and slammed shut, all of the air I had been holding in my lungs left me. The adrenaline that had been coursing through my veins started to make me sick. The actions and words started to replay in my head. I was dizzy. I was queasy.

I felt myself start to disassociate. I felt the world around me start to lose color.

Auston guided me back into the apartment and slammed the door shut. Turning to me, he put both of his hands on my cheeks and looked into my eyes. The calm brown orbs were dark. They were full of rage, worry, and confusion. He seemed terrified now, like I had seen a side of him he never wanted me to see.

His thumbs ran across my cheeks a few times before I felt my legs start to shake beneath my weight. Sucking in an uneven breath, I parted my lips to speak but all that I could push up was a sob. As tears rushed down my face, Auston wrapped his arms around me and pulled me tightly against his chest. He didn’t say any words, he didn’t try to get me to smile or look at him. He just held me, running his fingers through my hair as I cried into his chest.

Every inch of me was numb.

I was riding emotions through a rough panic attack. I was convincing myself I was dying. I was convincing myself I had to move. I couldn't stay here. He couldn’t know where I was. He knew who I was with.

He knew who Auston was.

My head was quiet as I looked up at the man holding me tightly. When he noticed my movement, he took a step away from me and looked down. As his eyes held mine, I furrowed my eyebrows and looked over him a few times, Hunter’s words running through my head.

Steadying my voice, I licked my lips and pushed the words up my throat. “How did he know who you were?”

Auston looked stunned for a moment before he shrugged a shoulder and blew out a sigh. “I don’t know… Maybe we worked together, maybe we have a mutual friend. I’m… I’m not sure.”

Shaking my head, I felt the corners of my lips dip down. “You’re lying.” I accused, my hand shaking as the world around me started to crumble. “Who are you?”

“I don’t know what he was talking about.” The brunette was nervous.

“Stop!” I yelled, tears rushing from my eyes. “Stop doing this!” I was hysterical as he reached out to hold me. Stepping away, I pressed my shaking hands together and shook my head. “Tell me who you are.”

“Matthews.” He whispered, his hands shaking as he reached out to me. “Auston Matthews.”

I stared at him, my mind blank as his name echoed in my brain. Shaking my head, I swallowed hard and felt my body press against a wall. “I don’t know…” I whispered, my mind almost completely consumed in flames. “I don’t know who you are.”

Auston nodded, his eyes shimmering in the light. He looked sad, like he was looking at a field of beautiful flowers being torched to the ground. “I don’t do anything special, okay?” The brunette went to grab my hand when I jerked it away. “I’m Auston. I’m twenty-one. I play hockey. I have a hockey mom, remember? I’m just a hockey player.”

I nodded, my mind flashing back to the night we spent at the bar drinking whisky together. After a few deep breaths, I looked up at the man again, my eyes running over every inch of him. The suit jacket and watch were gone. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. His tie had vanished from his neck and the first two buttons were undone.

One of his forearms was covered in tattoos.

When my eyes met his, he smiled at me. “What’s your last name?”

“Lawrence. I’m twenty-three.” The shake in my voice started to fade away.

“Robbing the cradle a little, aren’t we?” The brunette sent me a dazzling smile. Shrugging, I felt the tension in my body start to vanish. Taking a few deep breaths, I took a step into Auston and let out a sigh as I felt his arms loosely hold me against his chest.

We stayed in silence for a while until there was another knock on the door. Jerking my head back, I went to speak when Auston gave me a small smile and pushed some hair out of my face. “Pour yourself a glass of wine, it’s just the take out. I’ll get it.”

I did as he said. As he walked to the door, I headed into the kitchen and grabbed the bottle of red wine. Walking over to the couch, I pulled the wine stopper out and carefully filled the two glasses to the halfway mark. When I was done, I heard the door shut.

Auston walked back in with two bags full of styrofoam containers. Wiggling his eyebrows, he informed me to stay on the couch. Nodding once, I pressed my back into the cushions and watched as he opened a few drawers before he found some forks and turned to me.

The brunette placed the food and forks down on the coffee table in front of us. Sitting down next to me, he placed his hand on my knee and gave it a small squeeze before ripping the bags open and placing the containers all over the table.

“Thank you.” I whispered as I watched Auston open his container and start to eat the contents inside.

“Of course, Tess.”

“I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t here.” I whispered, guilt washing over me. He just wanted to do something nice. He just wanted to buy a sad girl a drink, and now look where he is. Walking into the middle of a level ten mess, almost getting into a fist fight, holding some pathetic girl while she cried hysterically. “I don’t know why you stayed.”

Auston took a long sip of his wine before turning his body toward me. As his eyes met mine, I set down my fork and stared at him, my eyes instantly getting lost in his. “I lived in Switzerland when I was seventeen.” His eyes broke from mine and traced over his hands. “I dated a girl there. She was the first stable thing I had in a completely different country. She meant a lot to me. I thought I was in love with her.” He looked pained. “I moved to Toronto after a little more than a year of living there. She said she was coming with me, she promised to move with me.”

“Oh, Auston.” I looked up at him, but his eyes were still on his hands.

“We spent a year apart. I called her whenever I could. I went back whenever I could. I told her I could pay for her to move here with me. I told her I could give her whatever she wanted.” He let out a long sigh.

“I went there for Christmas. I found her in our bed with another man.” My heart broke as Auston shrugged his shoulders and sighed. Rubbing the back of his neck, he looked up at me with tired eyes. “She said I was selfish, that I cared more about my career than her. She told me I was the reason she cheated.”

“Sounds familiar,” I sighed as I grabbed my glass of wine and took a long sip.

Auston nodded, his hand finding mine. “So I understand.” I looked up at him, my heart pounding in my chest. “I’m here for you. I want to be here for you. I get it. I care about you.”

I nodded, my heart swelling in my chest as I looked down at our hands.

Heart racing, I looked back up at the brunette and felt all of the blood rush to my cheeks. “Can you… Can you stay here tonight?”

The brunette paused for a moment. His big brown orbs searched mine for what felt like centuries before a small smile appeared on his lips. Nodding, he grabbed my hand and brought it up to his lips. Leaving a soft kiss on my knuckles, he set it down and then turned to his food. “I have gym clothes in my car, I’ll get them after dinner.”

Nodding, I grabbed my food and set the container in my lap. Biting down on the inside of my cheek, I moved over on the couch until my body was pressed against Asuton’s side. The brunette glanced over at me once before taking his arm and wrapping it around me. Pulling me in a little more, he turned his head to face me and bit down on his lip.

He was so close.

So. Close.

“Do you remember what I said,” his voice was barely a whisper as he locked his eyes onto mine. “In the hallway?”

I nodded once.

“I meant every word.”
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