My life was splendid. I had a doting husband that loved me to no end; a family who adored me; and a supportive, close-knit group of friends who would keep my secrets to the grave.
Envious people never failed to comment whenever they had a chance that I was a lucky woman. Indeed, I was quite lucky in all fronts of my life.
But as everyone knows, all perfections have their imperfections, whether it’s fully visible or hidden from prying eyes, it’s there, hovering, making one conscious it’s alive and thriving.
My life was fine …
Up until the past decided to give me a vivid reminder of someone I had wanted to forget for a decade yet had never been successful at it.
My parents had once called this “imperfection” a gold-digging bastard without any ambition other than to milk whatever he could from me. For a time, I was swayed by their filthy lies, treating him like the dirt they had described him to be. Mortified though I was, it didn’t stop me from making it known what I believed him to be. For a while, it made me feel satisfied, but as the time went on, my conscience started to waver against my beliefs.
My horrid actions pained him, though he wouldn’t say it out loud because he loved me that much. But shame itself couldn’t hold back from what I felt for him. The shame matched whatever passion I had, loving and hating him at the same time.
My naiveté caused me to believe such lies I knew deep down weren’t true. Realizing how horrific I’d been to him, I halted everything physical because I felt undeserving of his loyalty and love.
Then, one night, tragedy struck and life took him away from me. I was broken, dying with my guilty conscience, and mourning the loss of him. The knife struck so deep I mourned him on a daily basis, even after a decade. There was never a day in which I didn’t think of him.
However, all of this changed when the past haunted me in the form of another man named Craig Chambers.
“Allie, must I really go with you tonight?” I moaned my complaint, knowing my best friend wouldn’t let up, even if I told her I had measles.
She was bent on going to this party due to her newfound love interest, and little, ol’ married me, best buddy in the world with her husband across the Atlantic Ocean, would certainly be the perfect tag along person to make sure she wouldn’t shag him before the night ended.
Allie had this two week no sex rule with a new man. I’m not quite sure why she even went to such lengths since she tended to play mind games that would end up with her almost submitting to whomever she was dating at the given moment.
Placing a hand on her hips, she huffed out a sigh. “You have to. It’s not like you have anything better to do. Besides, aren’t you visiting England to spend some time with me?” She raised her brow before opening my closet, rummaging through my dresses with great scrutiny before finally choosing a short, silver, beaded dress. The design was beautifully intricate, and I couldn’t help smiling, knowing that Allie had intentionally found the perfect dress to entice me to come out with her tonight.
“Shall we?” She directed me a sure-fire glance, certain that I wasn’t about to turn her down. As my best friend, Allie definitely knew how to get me to say yes to her antics.
About an hour later, her latest lover named Maurizio, because she liked them exotic, came by to get us with his flashy car before driving us to this jazzy, private, members only bar that had recently opened in Park Lane. It was contemporary designed; sleek and understated, but with a lot of glamour and class. The soft purple/pinkish lighting that subtly illuminated the background gave enough privacy for people who were always in the media. Park Lane bars always lured the powerful and wealthy for its discreet stylishness and subtlety.
In the private booth, Maurizio, Allie, and I were enjoying a bottle of vintage red and whiskey sours when something caught my eye. I supposed it was my ear that caught it first before my eye. It was a very distinct sound. That one of a kind, deep, throaty laugh that went straight to the pit of my stomach, making it drop before I felt like someone punched me. I felt faint and about to have a heart attack all at the same time. I paled as my hands shook.
Setting down my glass as cautiously as I could, my gaze dropped, staring at the beading and stitching of my dress as hard as I could. Thinking, rationalizing, that I was losing my bloody mind.
He is dead, my mind persisted. There was no way he was here, in the same bar as I was. And more importantly, he wasn’t alive. The very idea itself was absurd.
He was dead. He was gone. Yet, that very same throaty laugh made its way into my gut again, making me shiver as if I was cold.
For Heaven’s sake, Ava, snap out of it! I reprimanded myself, loathing that I was still affected by the memory of him even after a decade.
Ten years—ten bloody years of chasing the ghost of him, and tonight was no different. It had happened through the years, but nothing had come as close as this.
Looking ahead to where my gaze landed upon the unknown gentleman’s suited back, the butterflies’ haphazard effect resumed in my insides.
Goodness, how often had I embarrassed myself each time I had these damning spells? I had lost count. It definitely was too many at this point.
“Ava?” Allie questioned, getting my attention as I dragged it away from the man’s beautiful back. Even from afar, I could tell he was going to be just as gorgeous up close and personal. “You’ve been quiet, my love,” she stated offhandedly, but I could detect the worry behind the words. She knew me too well, way too well for my liking, especially tonight.
Shrugging, I took the liberty in grasping ahold of my drink and took a huge sip before giving her a nonchalant smile. The last thing I needed was for her to question me. Then the newfound lover would start asking questions about my long lost, tragic love from once upon a time. No thank you very much.
“I just had a thought is all. Would you two excuse me for a moment? I need to use the loo.”
Maurizio said something in Allie’s ear that made her laugh, easily distracting her from my intentions.
Slowly getting up, my heart jack-hammered against my chest as I took small breaths through my slightly parted mouth, determined to follow through with my instincts. Making a move, I started to pave my way halfway across the room, unwavering from my decision to meet the very man who held that one-of-a-kind laugh which had gotten me into a tizzy.
Without looking back, I gradually strutted towards where he was standing amidst a few women and a handful of men while I straightened the short length of my dress. Nervous though I was, it had been quite some time since I had felt like something had plugged in some electricity to my drained batteries. Revived and alive was what I felt at the moment. It was as if I was going to get a new revelation. And I knew, the inkling remaining as always, that I would be disappointed after this ordeal was done. It had been ten years, after all. Regardless that disappointment greeted me in the end, I didn’t stop striding forward.