tagRomanceNothing is Ever What It Seems Ch. 02

Nothing is Ever What It Seems Ch. 02

byAscii©

Hi there,

Sorry for delay, my laptop broke last week so I had a busy week trying to get it fixed. I will finally be getting it back on Thursday, so I can start on the next chapter. Anyhow Jen, I hope you have a speedy recovery, thanks again for the edit -- any mistakes found are my fault. CVC thanks for the insight, again you've made it a better read!

Thanks for all the comments -- it means so much to me and definitely brightens up my day :D

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

30/08/09

He's doing it again.

This time he's really drunk and I can still smell another woman's strong perfume on him. If that's not a clear indication he's cheating on me AGAIN, the fact that his face and neck is covered in bright red lipstick marks definitely can be. The buttons on his shirt are undone, the zipper and button on his trousers are undone. I watch as he staggers in from the front door. I'm used to it- really I am. Nothing he does surprises me anymore. Cheating on me is child's play compared to what he's done in the past...but still I hold on to the flicker of hope that he'll treat me with some sort of respect by at least cleaning up and not displaying his affairs so blatantly. I beg him to not come home and shout when's he's drunk. I beg him not to curse in front of my young son.

I thought at first I had married the love of my life.

But now seeing him looking the way he is, slumped on the kitchen top, no doubt another night out with his 'friends' hopping from strip club to strip club, I feel nothing but disgust towards him. I try to confront him about his way- not to get him to stop, since I was over trying to do that, but I just want him to quiet down and at least have the decency to act appropriately in front of my son. He hadn't been home for a couple of months now, which makes me extremely happy. Whenever he does bother to come home, it always ends badly. Already I could feel a foreboding mood settling in.

He beckons me over and I comply obediently. He wraps one arm around me, his other still holding onto a bottle of wine. Suddenly I can feel his hot breath on me, and before I could react, he kisses my neck. I took advantage of his tipsy state by pushing him away hard.

He staggers and then fell to the floor. I could immediately see his expression change. I should have known better. I knew I shouldn't have provoked him.

In response, what does he do? He gets up, still somewhat unsteadily, and throws the bottle of wine in his hand on the floor- it shatters, the red staining and the sharp glass scattering across the floor. His face is puffed up and he narrows his eyes. I turn quickly towards the door and sighed in relief at not seeing my son there. I was so worried it would wake him up.

Just as I turn back around, he slaps me hard across the face and pulls my hair, dragging me into the living room, and pushes me onto the couch.

I struggle in panic, knowing clearly what his intentions were going to be. I really did try hard to push him off of me- but he gets on top of me and starts to rip my clothes off, slapping me hard across the face when I dared to struggle again... I scream in pain as one of his knees dig into my stomach forcefully. His hands wrap around my neck and he strangles me, warning me to be quiet. I bit my lip, trying to quiet myself as I hear more ripping.

I stop struggling. It would be less painful if I don't struggle.

He rips my underwear off and then I felt him push inside me forcefully. He leans close to me, his head buried in the crook of my neck. I can smell the strong concoction of alcohol and cigarettes on his breath.

It made me sick.

After what felt like hours I felt him tense, his hand wrapping even harder around my neck as he climaxed. Finally he pulled out of me and strokes my face gently and I hear him whisper, "You may be a frigid bitch, but you're still tighter than any whores I've fucked today."

I closed my eyes as I hear him get dressed. It was after a few minutes when I hear him stumble upstairs. I had gotten used to his ways and this time I was relieved that he at least didn't hurt me. I pull my ripped clothing against myself, trying hard to cover any exposed skin. I hear a noise and I turn to see my young son looking horrified.

I hadn't even known that I looked like a mess until the hot fat tears start to fall onto my lap at the shame that my son had to witness the state I was currently in. He rushes over and hugs me tightly.

"Monster," I heard my son mutter as he pulls away to look at me, tears quickly filling his eyes. One small hand reaches out to stroke my bruised face. I lean into his touch.

"Mommy, I'm s-sorry, d-don't cry. He made scary, loud noises down here. He was very loud and I was scared to come downstairs. I'm s-sorry, mommy, I couldn't s-save you" I try to smile to console him; I try to whisper softly to tell him I was okay. But my face hurt. I couldn't do anything but cry. I hate myself for not protecting my son from this. I hate myself because I knew there was nothing I can do.

Two months later, I found out I was pregnant.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Ever since Jared found out that Alin was expecting, he was nothing but a nervous wreck. Would he make a good father? Can he handle the responsibilities? He was good at negotiating deals, handling business affairs, but when it came to babies he knew absolutely nada.

Sure he knew how to lavish them with love and play with them, as proved by Alex's eagerness for him to see him more often. He knew how to be the cool guy, but being hands on dad?

That was more Ryan's thing.

Regardless, he was planning to spend every possible waking moment with his baby, not wanting to be one of those fathers that came home when his child was asleep or left before they'd even woken up. Due to his and Alin's work, they feared they would be unable to always look after the baby. They weren't exactly keen on hiring a nanny to look after the baby for most of the day.

There was a simple solution after hours of debate; Alin suggested that a nursery could be built in the BankSafe headquarters. This could also benefit other working parents and a good way to allow staff to balance between work and parenthood. A few nannies would be hired to look after the children. Jared loved the idea. This would also be a big perk for staff and allow talented female staff at the company to stay. Not to mention the time Jared could spend with his child. He didn't like the idea of being apart from his baby for too long. The truth was, he didn't need a nanny to care for his child outside of work hours, but reluctantly he knew with work, hiring a nanny was inevitable.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Hallie glanced at her watch, 2:15 - she was late again. Picking up her pace, she looked down to see Penny still sleeping soundly. She sighed in relief. Her daughter was very much attached to her, and would sometimes cry uncontrollably if she woke up without Hallie. To avoid missing another day of school, Hallie would only leave when Penny was asleep. She feared if she heard her daughter's cries, she would soften and stay with her.

When Penny was born, Hallie had never felt so distant and hard-hearted. She didn't want to spend time with her new-born. Every time she looked at the bundle in her arms, it was reminisce of what happened that day. When her daughter cried for her, she would put her hands over her ears willing for her to stop crying. When she didn't stop crying, Hallie would scream at her to stop, making the baby cry even louder and also upsetting her young son in the process.

The nanny Jack hired would take Penny in her arms and soothe her, whilst trying to hide her disgusted expression from Hallie. She couldn't believe a woman could be so callous to her own baby, and had assumed Hallie to be a stuck up heiress who only had children to tie her husband down.

However, now looking at her daughter's cute facial expression whilst asleep, Hallie knew, if not for what Jack had done, she wouldn't have her beautiful baby. She loved both her children equally, and would do anything for them.

Hallie turned a corner and quickened her pace further. Finally, she entered the BankSafe building. Jared was already standing near the main reception area waiting for her. This was the fifth time she was late for both school and dropping Penny off.

She was ever grateful for Jared's help and the idea of having a nursery built. It meant whenever she had classes, she would be at ease, knowing that her daughter was in safe hands. It was also fortunate that Penny had grown somewhat accustomed to seeing less of Hallie during daytime and spending more time with Jared and the nannies. Though at night, Penny was still very much attached to her, much to Jack's annoyance.

"I'm sorry for being late." She said breathlessly to Jared.

"It's alright, Hallie, don't worry about it. You've given me a chance to slack." He said winking at her.

"I promise I won't be late when I pick her up tonight. I'll come back and pick her up around half five after my seminar finishes, is that okay?" Hallie said as she handed her daughter to him.

"Sure. No problem." He took in her flushed face, "Are you okay? Do you want a drink or something? You're really out of breath."

"No thanks. I'm in a big hurry, Alex had a doctor's appointment and then I had to drop him off at school. I was in a rush to get here so I could be on time for my seminar."

"Hals, if that happens next time, call me and I'll send someone to help you out or I'll come or even Alin to take Alex to school or pick Penny up."

"Thanks, Jared, seriously for doing this for me."

"No problem. What are friends for?" He smiled affectionately at her.

Hallie tiptoed to give him a friendly kiss on his cheek and then moved to kiss Penny on the forehead.

"Bye honey, be good. Don't give Uncle Jared any trouble."

Jared watched Hallie's retreating back and shook his head in sadness. He was happy that Hallie had decided to do something for herself, but there was always something that held her back.

He held the baby at arm's length, dangling her and watching her gurgle happily. Jared sighed, "Penny, why won't your mommy open up to us?"

He couldn't help but wonder why both Ryan and Hallie had sadness in their eyes. He had never seen Ryan look this depressed. When he finally broke it off with Tiffany, he was also a mess- but nothing compared to what he had become now. Damn! He had seen how fucked up Ryan looked. There was a niggling feeling that the way Ryan currently was had a lot to do with Hallie. It wasn't as if he hadn't reached out to his friend. Jared had tried every trick in the book, but Ryan was never the same after the wedding.

He sighed in relief. At least his friend was willing to come to Tao and May's wedding. It was a consolation knowing that Ryan was willing to at least do something aside from working.

Still, he knew he would definitely use the time in Beijing to talk to him. If not, Ryan was likely to do something they would all come to regret. It was not wise to mess with the Carters after all.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Returning from Beijing, Hallie had received the news that NY Fashion School had accepted her. To be honest she wasn't surprised that her application had been processed so efficiently. Her parents and Jack were against the idea of her going back to school, but had harshly stated if it was her wish to do something so ridiculous, she might as well 'go somewhere affluent.'

NY Fashion School was not somewhere Hallie wanted to go to. Granted it was an affluent and prestigious establishment, but it was also full of pretentious and arrogant people. The school was well-known for 'promoting' students with connections regardless of how shit their designs were. It was clear where her designs were going to end up; since her parents and Jack were against the idea, her designs would never see the light of day. Letting her go back to school was merely a compromise.

In the beginning, just a little over a month ago when she started at NY Fashion School, she was seen as an outcast. She was by no means the most stylish; she was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt most of the time. The school was influential, so naturally the way she was dressed came under scrutiny. No one wanted to 'hang out' with her.

However, when news started to circulate that she was Jack Carter's wife, a close friend of the Valentine's and the daughter of a powerful casting agency, everyone suddenly wanted to be her friend. Even the so-called 'popular girls' in school suddenly acted as if she were their best friend. The idea of popularity never changes even in college.

She tried to concentrate as her lecturer spoke, but she couldn't help her mind from straying. Not only did she not belong in this place, but the past year kept her mind busy. Returning to school was a bad idea. She couldn't concentrate and was a little behind with her some of her assignments. She knew it was stupid to start something she didn't intend to carry through. Her professor's words slowly drowned out and blurred as she thought back to the events of the past year...

"Hallie, Hallie, wake up, are you okay?"

Hallie opened her eyes groggily as she heard his soft voice. He held her in his arms affectionately. Tears started to stream down her face.

"Shh... it's okay. It's just a bad dream." He whispered to her.

She shook her head. Taking a deep breath, she surveyed her surroundings. What the hell was she doing? "No!" She shook her head again; the dream was so real it offered a glimpse of the situation she would be in if she continued to pursue things with Ryan.


She had vowed to avoid Ryan after the kiss they shared that night eight weeks ago when Jared re-united with Alin. How did she end up sharing a bed with Ryan this time?

I was packing my bags ready to leave for tomorrow. I had changed my flight to leave a day earlier. I couldn't stay here. With Alin and Jared honeymooning, and having to leave behind my young child and baby back in New York, I had never felt more homesick. Jack didn't allow me to take the children with me this time, so I had to endure having to constantly worry about them. Luckily, Jack's parents were taking care of them so it eased my worries somewhat. I couldn't wait to go back home to see them.

Just when I finished packing, Ryan walked in without knocking.

"What are you doing in my room?" I almost shouted.

"Hallie, we need to talk..."

I froze hearing those four words. I didn't want to talk. It would end in the same manner. We would be going in circles.

"Ryan, I have to leave tomorrow," I said impatiently. "What do you want to talk about anyway?" I asked feigning innocence.

I heard him sigh in defeat, "Hallie, you've... you've been avoiding me ever since that night. I- I want to know where I stand. I want to know..."

He was silent so I turned around to look at him. He pushed his hand through his hair, avoiding eye contact with me. I should have told him to get out or at least say something to discourage him, but somehow, I found myself walking towards him. I wanted to hold him in my arms as I could see the hurt in his eyes. Finally he looked up at me. "Is this all one sided?" He asked.

I felt my eyes sting. He had no idea.

Still, I couldn't answer him. Instead I let the tears fall, hoping he'd understand why. His arms were wrapped around me and then his lips were on mine.

Immediately I feel so much better. It felt exactly like last time.

He embraces me, stroking my hair affectionately as I cry in his arms, "Hallie, don't cry." Ryan whispered, his voice strained, as he wipes the tears away from my eyes.

Taking my hand he led me to the bed. Gently he urged me and he went with me. Ryan didn't touch me or do anything that was 'inappropriate'. He just let me rest in the crook of his arm, my head resting on his shoulders. We should have 'talked' like how we intended to, but somehow the silence was both soothing and comfortable.

He brushed his lips against my forehead and whispered goodnight to me. As I drifted off to sleep, the last coherent thought was how nice it was to feel safe in someone's arms.

So now thinking how they ended intimately embraced on the bed, Hallie turned back to Ryan.

"Ryan, what are we doing?" She said as she disengaged herself from him. Although nothing had happened last night, Hallie knew it was hard to say what will happen if they continued

"I-" Ryan started, but he didn't know what to say. This was definitely not the reaction he had hoped from her.

Hallie got out of the bed, avoiding his intense gaze.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm trying to pack my stuff."

"Hallie, I can't let you leave tonight. We have to talk."

Hallie bit her lip and continued to search for her clothes, "No."

"Please? We can't leave-"

"No." She turned around started to tidy the remaining things from her luggage, "Ryan, I think it's best if we forget this ever happened."

"What...what are you talking about?" He asked in shock.

"This!" Hallie shouted and gestured to the imaginary connection between them. She instantly saw the hurt expression on his face. Her words came out too harsh.

"Ryan, you said we needed to talk. We did talk." She whispered.

Once again, she turned her back to him and resumed packing. She felt the tears stream down her face. She wanted to put on her jacket and leave this place.

"Hallie... I, l-love you."

She froze. He was coming closer to her, and before she knew it, he wrapped his arms around her. "Would you ever give me a chance to be w-with you?"

My son on the floor crying out to me, his arms outstretched, reaching for me, but instead I choose to leave him behind so that I can be with another man while he suffers the abuse from a monster.

Hallie snapped back into reality, the images were so real it haunted her. If she left, she knew her children will take the brunt of it.

"I can't."

"Hallie-"

"No." She gently removed his arms from around her waist and turned around to face him, she tried to keep the tears in, but inevitably she let them fall freely after trying so hard to hold it in. "Ryan, please. Nothing good will come of this if we continue to pursue something that will not end well. I'm too selfish. I don't deserve you. There are plenty of girls who are much more suited to you than I could ever be."

Ryan turned her around and took in the tears flowing freely down her face. She tried to hold it in, but he could see this affected her as much as it affected him. She loved him. Why the hell is she not admitting it?

"You have no idea!" He said feeling his temper rise, "I want you." He saw as she turned away from him. "I don't care if you don't want to hear this, but I've wanted you... I've felt this way for five years, Hallie. Do you know seeing you with that sad excuse of a man, Carter... do you know how much that hurts me? To see you so devoted to a man like him?" He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down.

"As for nothing ever happening between us, I respect you. There's a difference. You have no idea how much I want you, how much my body, mind and soul needs you." Hallie tried to turn away, but Ryan used his fingers to gently tilt her chin, so that she was looking at him,

"But I know we can't," He said, his voice slightly rose, "because I love you too much to even contemplate hurting you or doing something you'd regret later. Jack Carter doesn't deserve you. I want you to come to me willingly and as a free woman. I don't ever want to be the person coming in between you and him. But it's not is it? You want me as much as I want you. So... why won't you give us a chance?"

He searched her expression, waiting for her answer. After a few minutes filled with tension, he heard her whisper, "-I love my husband"

"...Hallie, Hallie?"

Hearing a soft feminine voice, Hallie snapped back and slowly surveyed her surroundings. Students' were filing out of the lecture hall and people were waiting for her to get up so that they can leave. One of her friends was smiling at her, but with curiosity. Of course, her attentions were divided yet again as she thought about the same thing over the past few months. She looked at the fresh page in her notepad.

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