As I inched closer, I pondered over how I was going to approach the situation, meaning the very man himself. Could I simply come up to him, tap him on the shoulder as if I was an acquaintance, and pretend we had met somewhere? It was my go-to strategy, the very same one I used in all of my mild enquiries. I supposed it had never failed me before, so using the same ploy wouldn’t hurt, would it?
Gaining confidence, I stuck to my guns and swallowed whatever pride I had before slowing down my pace when I was a couple of feet away from him. From then on, everything felt amplified, from the sound of my deafening heartbeat to my shallow breathing and the hot and cold feeling that ran all over my body. Everything felt familiar. From the magnetic pull this man had on me to the trancelike way I was captured by him, it was all too familiar. The heady sensation came upon me in waves, drowning me with nostalgia of what I once had.
Boldly tapping the man’s shoulder, I cleared my throat before saying, “Sorry. I couldn’t help but notice you across the room. You seemed very familiar—” I paused as the man spun around and faced me, eyeing me with sparkling, intense, emerald green eyes, eyes that I used to stare at all night long as they showed me unparalleled love and affection. “Reiss—” I gasped, flabbergasted as my mouth hung ajar before I simply lost my mind and reached out to cup his face, staring wildly at him. “It’s you. It’s you, isn’t it?”
“Reiss—” She looked gob smacked, seeming erratic as she wildly stared at me. “It’s you. It’s you, isn’t it?” The random woman persisted while I gave her a thorough perusal before I cleared my throat and shook my head, flirtingly smiling at the beautiful woman before me.
“Name’s Craig, but I could be Reiss if you like,” I smoothly provided, knowing well enough that women did this sort of trick to get my attention.
She adamantly shook her head, disbelieving. “No. No. Your face—” she stammered the words out, frantic. “And, and your eyes!” Her gorgeous eyes roved all over my face as they started to water. “How is this possible?” she hissed as her tears welled, brimming to spill over soon. “You’re supposed to be dead.”
All right, this had gone too far because she looked like she was about to have a breakdown. Right here. In the middle of a bar.
“Apologies, but you must’ve mistaken me for someone else. I would truly appreciate it if you’d stop and not cause a scene,” I cautiously warned her, not feeling so jovial any longer.
Tonight, of all nights, I decided to come out, even though everything in me protested that it was best to stay out of the social arena. My gut inkling had never steered me in the wrong direction, but tonight I made an exception because it was Brandon’s, one in my small circle of trusted friends, birthday night. I couldn’t very well say no when he suggested he wanted to go for drinks before adamantly suggesting he wanted to have dinner precisely at midnight and not a minute more. It was thirty past ten and we all had been feeling the pangs of hunger even though he had been severely providing us with inconceivable amounts of strong alcohol.
The beautiful, distraught woman shook her head before gently wiping the wetness on the sides of her eyes, trying to regain some clarity and composure. “What did you same your name was?”
Gritting my jaws, I gazed down onto her delicate face. “Craig Chambers, and if you have any more questions, you can easily Google me.
“Chambers …” she reiterated before looking pale.
“Will that be all, miss? We’d all gladly appreciate it if we could get back to our conversation.” My crude, dismissive approach caused hurt to appear in her eyes, as if I had just slapped her.
“Of course,” she apologetically whispered, still looking dazed. “Forgive me.” She stared into my eyes before apologizing towards my companions. “Have a lovely evening. Again, I’m sorry.” She made a tight smile before hastily wiping her face and rushing towards the exit, looking distraught and out of sorts.
Staring after her, I took a moment to clear my head before I heard Brandon’s voice break through my train of thought. “If you don’t plan on going after that poor, gorgeous woman, I will. She certainly looked beyond distraught to be out there on her own right now.” He didn’t need to warn me again before I found myself taking the same route as she had, following her out the door.
The second I stepped foot outside, I reprimanded myself for being so thoughtless. What this woman was going through was seriously none of my business, but all of my doubts vanished when I saw her aimlessly walking with her head bent low, arms wrapped around her as she tried to cross the busy street.
Rushing towards her, I yanked quite roughly as I held a tight grip on her elbow. She gave me a perplexed look just as I reprimanded her for not being watchful. “Didn’t your parents teach you to use pedestrians as a child?” Gritting out the words, I made sure we crossed the road safely before gazing at her forlorn face.
She made a melancholy sigh before gazing directly into my eyes. In the dimness of the night, her beauty was only heightened. “They didn’t,” she answered. “My parents were busy making sure I was going to be a polished and suitable wife when I grew up.” Something changed in her eyes before she gestured to cup my face again with her soft hand, gawking at me with fascination and wonder. “You look just like him. I mean, apart from the slashing scar on your brow …” she trailed off, eyes wandering across my facial features. “You could’ve been his twin.”
“You must be quite saddened to have such a strong reaction to a man who resembles someone who was close to you.”
She seemed teary before she made a cruel, dry laugh. “I was young … and I hadn’t known better then. I suppose you could say he is one of my biggest regrets in life. It’s difficult to live with such guilt and burden even after all these years.”
I made a curt nod, understanding where she was coming from. “We all have our fair share of guilt, any human being does.” Not wanting a full-on heart to heart discussion with her, I immediately changed the subject. “How about I hail you a cab so you can go home and rest? A good rest might do wonders, or so they say.”
“Home is New York. I’m just visiting the Motherland to be with friends and family.”
It might’ve been the light teasing that provoked her to smile, but fuck, what a blinding smile it was. I felt my breathing halt just a tad.