Beautiful Stranger Ch. 06bytheonlinestalker©
Sorry for the large gap in time. I've had a lot of things going on, but with all the comments and request how could I deny everyone. So I hope you like this chapter.
Your friendly onlinestalker
Aidan had become a new fixture in my life. We talked online almost everyday and when there was time, he would stop by the apartment to talk about the benefits of Cochlear implants. Even with all the facts there was a lot that I had to think about. When I told him that he simply smiled at me and nodded.
In the weeks that I had known him, he had asked Thomas and I to teach him sign language. We started with the simple stuff, like the alphabet and saying one-word responses. By day one he already knew how to say thank you, yes, and no.
His hazel eyes always lit up when he tried to sign, but messed up horribly. He would laugh when I wrote down on the notepad we shared what he had actually said. But even with his failed attempts and several blunders he was determined to be just as good of a friend to me as Thomas was.
By the third week he was practically a pro. Sure there were some things that he couldn't sign and I had to go very slow, but for the most part he had the gist of it. And with the frequency of our visits, I was sure he'd be just as good if not better than he was now.
Also in the time that I had spent with him, most of our conversations with his friend Logan took place at his home. Logan was the doctor who was supposed to give me back my hearing. Just the thought made me smile. I would finally be able to listen to the sound of everything I'd been missing.
I drove up to a graveled road and turned straight onto a large drive way. Before me stood a two story ranch home with the biggest backyard I had ever laid my eyes on.
Walking into the foyer I was greeted with the prism effect of his chandelier bouncing off the hunter green walls. Looking around I was beginning to wonder how someone so messy had ended up becoming a doctor. Not that he was a slob, just that it looked extremely....busy.
"It's organized chaos," he laughed.
I could only shake my head at that. He had the chaos part right. I smiled as I watched him run his fingers through his shoulder length hair for the fifth time since I had entered. I had many failed attempts trying to convince him that no self-respecting doctor wore a ponytail.
To which he responded, "It makes me look suave and debonair."
Grabbing the notepad from him I smiled and quickly wrote, "You do know that's the same thing as suave, right?"
He looked at me and frowned as I struggled to hold in a laugh. "Not funny Isabelle," he signed.
He had become almost like a big brother to me. A six foot three inch white brother. At first it had taken Thomas awhile to trust him, but given my background that was understandable. If it weren't for Stephen, I would have never gotten to know the man known as Aidan Wolfe.
I smiled as I opened my eyes and noticed that the sun was peeking through my blinds. The smell of bacon and pancakes tingled my nose as I threw my feet onto the floor. I hadn't bothered to put on my robe. The only people ever over were Stephen and Aidan.
And there was no way either of them wanted anything more than to make fun of my array of childlike pajamas. Today I had the pleasure of wearing my Mickey Mouse pajamas and a black tank top.
When I entered the kitchen I stopped dead in my tracks. The sight in front of me made my heart stop and my breath catch in my throat. Eyes as green as fresh mowed grass stared back at me. I wanted to turn and run back to my room, but it was too late. He had already seen me.
Finally composing myself, I took a deep breath and walked up to Thomas as if he wasn't there. His eyes never left Michael as he leaned to his left and allowed me to kiss his cheek. I could feel the tension in the air and was slowly suffocating. Time ticked on as we all just stared at each other.
Sighing I grabbed a plate and loaded up with eggs, bacon, and pancakes. The orange juice had already been set out as well as the syrup. If they wanted to have a staring contest, then that was their prerogative.
The syrup drenched my pancakes as I watched it run slowly down the sides. It reminded me of the life I currently had. Cold and slowly drowning me. It wasn't until I saw a hand tapping on the table in front of me that I looked up.
"Yes," I signed.
"I didn't know he'd stop by. If you want him gone just tell me," Thomas signed back.
Stepping forward I watched as Michael furiously spoke with his hands. The way they moved reminded me of something familiar, and a flash of those same hands caressing my face caught me off guard, and I started to choke on my pancakes.
"God Elle, what are you trying to do...kill yourself," he shouted before he realized how dumb it was. But it didn't matter about his memory lapse. I had looked up in time to read his lips. Or at least part of what he was saying.
I waved him away, letting him know that the food had simply gone down the wrong way. I said all of this while failing to avert my eyes from Michael. I could feel his gaze burning a hole into my body. And the only thing I could feel was longing and something else. Sadness?
Standing up without warning, I walked towards my bedroom and closed the door. I needed time to clear my head. Besides, he was still a stranger. A stranger who had man handled me the last two times I had spoken to him. But when I closed my eyes, all I saw was those emerald eyes staring at me.
Michael waited until Isabelle had left the kitchen before he turned to face Thomas. He didn't like the fact that his lapse of judgment five years ago had opened up a spot for him. He had always been Isabelle's shoulder to cry on. The one person that she could depend on when there was no one else around.
When he spotted her in his club, he had been filled with rage. How dare she walk in looking even more beautiful than the last time he saw her. He had wanted to rub in her face that he had done something with his life. That she was no longer needed to make him whole.
But when she looked at him with confused eyes as if she didn't remember him, it had only fueled the anger he felt for her.
Now he didn't have to worry about apologizing to her. She didn't remember any of it anyway. That thought made him frown and turn to look at Thomas again. The dark haired man glared at him before taking a step around the counter and sitting at the bar. Following suit, Michael sat down beside him.
"Who are you," Thomas finally asked.
His blue eyes looked cautious and weary. Michael could tell that he was a true friend, but that didn't erase the memories and hurt that he felt. He picked up the pitcher of orange juice and poured a cup before he contemplated his answer. Who was he?
Finally he said, "No one."
"That's obviously a lie. Or else you wouldn't be stalking Elle."
He flinched at the sound of that nickname. She had always been Izzie to him. Always his Izzie. But now she was someone's Elle, and that was almost as bad as her not remembering.
Michael cleared his throat before he said, "Izzie and I have a very complicated history together."
"Well obviously she doesn't remember. So why don't you fill me in on your 'complicated' history," Thomas gritted between his teeth.
"Shouldn't I be talking about this to Izzie? She's the one I want to speak with. Not her wanna be bodyguard."
It was in that moment that the bar stool toppled over and Michael was been hoisted off his seat.
"Now you listen to me cuz I'm only gonna say this once. When I met Isabelle she was quiet and shy. Never spoke to anyone. I didn't know she was deaf till later. She's had to build everything from the ground up since her accident, and then you walk in to her life accusing her of...of who knows what. And you want me to just let you mess with her mind some more. I don't fucking think so."
Both men were breathing hard as they stared at the other. The once calm blue eyes that glared at him were now an icy inferno. The room had been rendered silent and the only thing echoing in the air was the sound of their haggard breathing. As if they were both gasping for the right response, but failed horribly to verbalize it.
Brushing his hands off of his shirt, Michael picked up his cup of orange juice and took a generous sip. His eyes swept back to the tall man standing beside him. He could see that he hadn't relaxed his stance and this made Michael sigh loudly.
"I'm just an old friend," he whispered.
"Old friend my ass," Thomas gritted out.
Michael looked up again and opened his mouth, but quickly closed it when he heard a knock on the door. "Aren't you gonna answer that."
But before Thomas could answer his question, the sound of a key being placed into the lock and turned floated towards them. The door opened slowly and quietly hit the wall as it flung open wider. Two big paper bags obscured the view of the carrier and he relied solely on his peripherals to maneuver through the small living room to the kitchen.
"Dude, traffic was fucking insane," came an unfamiliar voice.
When the bags were finally placed on the counter, the man behind them turned away and walked towards the fridge. "I almost got run off the road by a seventy year old woman. I mean what kind of world do we live in when sweet grandma's start flipping you off as they speed by."
Aidan looked up from the open fridge door and paused for a second, "Oh sorry. I didn't know you had company. I should have called first, but Izzie told me to come over last night."
Turning towards the unfamiliar voice, Aidan smirked a little and nodded. "Yeah. She's making me go to some movie with her. I've already seen it four times this week, but she keeps insisting." Laughing at the thought he continued by saying, "I keep telling her nothing's gonna change. The main character--"
"Always dies in the end," Michael whispered.
"Yeah," Aidan slowly said before he turned to give a puzzled look to Thomas.
"It was always her favorite movie. I guess some things are ingrained in you."
"Guess so," Aidan whispered back. "I'm Aidan. You must be an old friend of Izzie's."
Taking his hand he glared at him. How dare he call her Izzie! "Something like that."
"Well nice to meet you." Turning away from him he looked at Thomas again, "She asleep?"
A snort was the only reply needed. "Of course not," Aidan laughed. "Can't actually sleep in on a Saturday, the world might come to an end. Oh, nice to meet you--,"
"Michael," he answered, filling in the blank he had intentionally left earlier.
Aidan smiled again and picked up an apple before he made his way towards Isabelle's room. Michael fumed inside as he thought of what he could possibly want with her so early in the morning. Dressed in just a pair of running shorts and a white t-shirt. His eyes never left the door as it opened and closed. The sound of laughter was the final straw as he began walking towards the closed door.
He was stopped in his tracks by Thomas, who was now blocking his path. "Move."
"Don't forget you're a guest in my house."
"Is that her boyfriend? Is she dating him?"
"I don't see how that's any of your business. You two were only friends...right?"
If looks could kill, Thomas would definitely have been dead now. The only thing stopping the conversation from getting out of hand was the sound of the door closing. "Did you know your front door was open, babe?"
The voice lingered into the kitchen and immediately Michael knew whom it belonged to. When Stephen saw that his friend was there he tried to keep his composure, but was finding it harder by the second.
"How many people have keys to this place?" Michael asked incredulously.
"Mikey, what are you doing here? I thought we talked about your obsession with Elle. It's not healthy."
Michael's eyes finally looked towards his friend. "I was just leaving."
Finishing off the juice in his cup, he placed it back on the counter with a hard thud. He looked at both Thomas and Stephen before he grabbed his keys and began to walk from the kitchen. He had made it halfway to the door before he turned around and yelled out to them both. "Tell Isabelle that we're not finished yet."
And with that he quickly opened the door and walked out of the apartment, letting the door shut with a thud.
Later that night I thought of nothing but Michael Sanders. The way his eyes looked over my body as if he was caressing it. The way one side of his mouth lifted slightly higher than the other in a smirk when he thought he was winning. And for a moment earlier that day he had been winning, though I wasn't sure what.
Aidan had asked about him when he walked into my room, but I was in no mood to talk about him. He was a stranger and I was glad to keep it that way. Of course, Aidan wasn't buying it, but like the good friend that he is, he kept his mouth firmly shut.
Now here I was tossing and turning as I tried to find a comfortable place to lay. After half an hour of fighting with my pillow, I finally began to drift off to sleep.
Looking around me I could see that I was in a hospital. Michael was beside me and he looked as if he had been shaking.
Was I dreaming?
"He died a few minutes ago," the doctor told us both.
The words had left his mouth in almost a whisper, but there was no doubting what he said. He had just told him that his father was never coming back. I watched myself lean forward to tell him that maybe we needed fresh air, to calm ourselves down when he snapped at me.
Part of the conversation was muffled as if I was listening to him underwater. But the look on his face said it all. He hated me. My best friend hated me and there was nothing I could do about it.
I backed away as if I had been burned. Realizing that he was serious, I nodded my head and whispered my apologies as I walked as fast as I could towards the exit. Once I had made it a block away from the hospital I sat down on a curb and cried.
They were sobs that attacked my body with such force that I couldn't walk any further. I had wanted so badly to tell him about my hearing loss. But that wasn't going to happen now. As I wiped the tears from my eyes I stood and began walking again. I'd just give him time to calm down. Yeah...time to cool down and think straight.
A few days passed and it was a little after seven in the morning, when I went to his house. Walking through the very familiar gates and up the stairs to his porch, I knocked on his door. There was no answer. Maybe he's in the back. I knocked harder and was shocked when the door was thrown open with such force. Standing in front of me stood Michael in a black suit and tie.
His green eyes were blood shot from crying. Even though I hardly ever saw him cry, I could always tell when he actually had. I wanted so badly to reach out to him. To hold him close to me and console him. Instead, I stood frozen looking at him with wary eyes.
"Mikey...I mean Michael. I'm so sorry," I whispered.
His eyes lowered to the ground before they lifted and stared at me. He had the same look as before. Pure hatred. My heart broke to think that I was the reason behind that look. Never in our lives had he looked at me as if he wanted me gone. And now that's all he wanted.
"Why'd you come," I heard through my thoughts.
Looking at him I took a step forward and attempted to hug him. When he took a step back I stopped and lowered my arms. "I know today's the funeral. I wanted to be there for you."
The saddest laugh escaped his mouth as he shook his head. "You want to be there for me? Kind of like I should have been for them?"
I didn't respond. Instead I simply nodded my head numbly. He took a step towards me pushing me back slightly as he closed the door behind him. "I don't want you near us, Isabelle. Go home."
For the second time that week my heart broke. But instead I stood there and took another step towards him. "Michael..."
That was the last time I saw him. I went to the funeral out of respect. But the next day when I went to his house I found that he wasn't there. Instead there was a realtor. She informed me that he had called her a week ago to let her know he wanted to sell the house as soon as possible.
They had finally gotten it on the market and he would be in touch. When I asked how to get in touch with him, she asked if I was Isabelle. When I nodded my head she simply frowned at me and handed me an envelope. I took it with shaky hands and watched as she turned her back and continued going through the house.
He had left most of the furniture. Obviously he didn't want any memories haunting him. Instead he had left all of them to me. I looked down at the note again and hugged it to my body. I'd wait to open it when I got home. Turning around I walked out the door, listening to it creak for the last time. Silently wondering if I would ever see him again.
Thomas sat in the dark staring at his computer screen. After their first encounter with Michael Sanders, he took it upon himself to investigate him. He hadn't talked to Isabelle about it because he knew she would ask him to drop the issue.
Now he stared at what the private investigator had sent him. Both parents had died by the time he was eighteen. There was also a picture attached of a girl, but it hadn't finished downloading yet. In the back of his mind, Thomas already knew the girl was Isabelle. Now he just had to figure out what had happened between the to make him so angry and her unknowingly gravitate towards him.
The phone beside his bed broke his reverie as he turned to see who was calling. Smiling, he flipped it open and in the sexiest voice he could conjure whispered, "Hey Sexy."
"I love when you call me that."
Laughing, Thomas said, "You love everything I call you."
"True. But you always say just what I want to hear."
Sighing he looked back at the screen. "Stephen, what do you know about your business partner?"
"He's a good guy. A little impulsive but he's got a good heart."
"What about his past?"
"He doesn't talk about—what's this about Tommy?"
A sign left his lips again as he listened to him say his childhood name. It had never sounded sexier than flowing off his lips.
"Baby...you still there?"
"Oh. Yeah. Sorry. It's nothing."
Really. Just forget I asked."
"For now," Stephen answered.
"For now," he repeated after him.
I woke up thinking about the dream I had. It had felt so real, and yet I wasn't sure how much of it I should believe. The sun hadn't made its way through my blinds yet, which meant it was early enough for me to get ready. Aidan was coming over early to talk about the surgery. I smiled to myself every time I thought about it. I had taken to referring to it simply as 'the surgery'. My feet hit the floor and instantly cold met it. I seriously needed to buy a rug.
I walked towards the door and opened it slowly. Self conscious of the noise it probably made. When it was finally open I smiled as I saw that Aidan was already there. His back was to me as he spoke to Thomas. Thomas simply nodded periodically at whatever he said.
Slowly I made my way to them both and covered my hands over Aidan's eyes. His body stiffened before he relaxed and lifted his hands. "Tiffany?"
He flinched as I removed one hand to pinch him. His body shook with laughter as he turned around and hugged me.
"What are you doing here so early," I signed.
He looked at me carefully, weighing the response that he should give to me. "Honestly," I signed.
"Honestly? Thomas called me. But my story is that I couldn't wait to see your pretty face," he signed back.
I smiled and told him how flattery would get him everywhere with me. This made him laugh a little as well. When I looked up at Thomas I could see that he hadn't slept much. I wanted to ask him what they were talking about, but I knew he wouldn't give me an answer. At least not the truth.