One relationship breaks. One broken relationship mends. The possibility of a new relationship lingers.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Willow was worried. The feeling sunk in deep like a bite and made her bleed profusely with fear. Too many bad things were happening all at once and it all overwhelmed her, pushing her closer and closer towards the edge of losing it. Simon was still missing and everyone at work were a wreck about it especially Cara considering her ex-boyfriend was a prime suspect and he was conveniently nowhere to be found. On a good day, you could caught her with a puffy face and reddened eyes, acting like a mechanical robot on an automatic function. On a bad day, she didn’t come to work at all.
Then there was Sebastian. She hadn’t heard from him in days. He hadn’t come to the park in the morning to jog. She had tried calling and sending text messages, but every communication attempt was left unanswered. At first, she tried not to be bothered by it and chalked it up as him just being busy with the demands of work, but then insecurity gripped her tightly by the throat and her self-esteem was lower than ever. Like Cara, it affected her ability to actually do her job. She spent time in her cubicle, concocting up the worst scenarios. What if he had found a taller, slender, prettier woman to be with? What if he was with that woman right now? Curled up beside in each other in bed. Tangled in those crisp white bed sheets that smelled of him and his cologne. His lips slanted over the mouth of another woman, his tongue tasting hers. His hands familiarizing theirselves with the map of this new woman’s slender pale curves…
She blinked coming back to reality, her attention focusing on the blank white canvas of the graphic design application program on her computer screen. She looked over to the direction of where the voice at originated from and saw George, her boss, standing in the mouth of her cubicle.
She cleared her throat and smiled weakly. “Hey, George.”
“You don’t look to good, kiddo,” George said.
Willow straightened up in her computer chair. “No, I’m absolutely fine. I promise,” she said, her voice unconvincing.
George gave her that parental ‘cut-the-bullshit’ look. “I’ve been watching you for a while now. Take the day off. Hell, take a few days off if you need it. Work from home if you have to. Okay?”
Willow opened her mouth to protest and assure George that she was okay, but she decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. “Thanks,” she said softly.
It didn’t take long to pack up her things and leave for the day. As she made her way to her car, she battled with the direction of going home or going to Sebastian’s home. By the time she turned on the ignition, she had her destination in mind. It didn’t take long to get to Sebastian’s warehouse home, but that was probably because her foot got a little heavy on the gas pedal.
She let herself in with a spare key that he had given to her after the whole Post-Golden-Pig showdown. Inside it was cold and dark. “Sebastian,” she called out his name, listening to her voice bounce off the walls of the spacious warehouse. No answer. Maybe he wasn’t home, but she decided to explore nonetheless. She walked over to the spiraling metal staircase that led to the top floor and slowly ascended, gripping the railing as she got closer and closer to the top.
The first thing she was glass walls presented the dreary cityscape before her eyes drifted over to Sebastian’s bed. She saw an outline of one body underneath the crisp white covers and sighed in relief at the fact that he was here—at the fact that he was alone. She made her way over to the bed with soft footsteps, not wanting to wake him. She leaned over the bed from where she stood and slowly peeled back the sheets with a slight smile on her face.
That smile soon after scattered as she stared down at Sebastian’s terribly battered face. “Oh my god,” she gasped. She fought the urge to touch his face, knowing that the simplest of touches could cause him pain. His eyelids were bruised and swollen, but his right was more so than his left. His left eyelid peeled back a little, a green eye peeking out to look at her.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” Sebastian said tiredly, his voice dry and scratchy. Was that shame in his voice?
She recoiled at his statement nonetheless. “I came here to make sure you were dead and I guess my hunch was half-right,” she said defensively. “What happened to you?”
Sebastian sat up slowly, winching as he did. The sheets he was underneath slid down, pooling into his lap to reveal his bare chest and torso riddled with stitched cuts and dark purplish-blue bruises. She realized his left arm was cradled against his chest in a dark blue sling.
“Occupational hazard,” he croaked nonchalantly as he pushed back the covers with his right hand and shifted cautiously so that he could place his bare feet onto the floor. A white wrap bandage was coiled around his right leg from just below his knee to the heel of his foot.
She exhaled suddenly, not realizing that she had been holding her breath. “Occupational…hazard,” she repeated choppily, emotions swelling up in her chest and throat. “This is a…occupational hazard?”
Willow swirled on her heels, crossing her arms tightly over her chest. She bowed her head, taking a deep breath through her nostrils. She turned back to him slowly and asked as calmly as she could, “What do you do for a living, Sebastian?”
“Go home, Willow,” he said.
“Not until you tell me what I want to know,” Willow replied stubbornly.
His tongue licked his cut and cracked lips. “Go home, Willow,” Sebastian said in a sternly voice, emphasizing each word carefully as a warning to her.
“Not. Until. You. Tell. Me. What. I. Want. To. Know.”
An angered roar tore from his throat as he used his spare hand to swipe the glass lamp off of his nightstand, crashing onto the gray concrete floor in thousands of little pieces. She watched in horror at the sight of him. Nostrils flared. Lips snarled. Muscles bundled and tightened, ready to attack at any given moment even if he was in no state to do it.
Willow took careful cautioned steps in his direction until she reached him, standing in between his parted legs as he sat on his bed. She lifted her fingers to gently touch his bearded face, but he turned his head away from her touch.
“I don’t want you to see me like this,” he admitted, his demeanor relaxing.
She asked softly, “Like what, Sebastian?”
There was a long moment of silence between them before he finally spoke, “Weak.”
Willow blinked as she looked down at his battered face that refused to look at her. The four-letter word he uttered from his lips surprised her.
“I don’t want you to see me like this,” he said.
Willow sunk down to her knees, shivering as the coldness from the hard concrete floors seeped through her dark skinny jeans and into her brown skin. She stared up at him. “You want me to leave because you don’t want me to see you like this? You’ve been there for me during my darkness moments…why can’t I be there for you,” she asked as she leaned up, grasping his chin to navigate his attention back to her. “I want to be there for you, Sebastian. I…I…love you.”
“Don’t say that,” he said gruffly.
“It’s true, Sebastian,” she whispered. “I really do.”
Sebastian shook his head slowly. “No, no. You shouldn’t love me.”
“But I do,” she whispered as she leaned in, brushing her mouth against his bruised dry lips.
“Would you still love me if I told you that I hurt people for a living?”
She pulled back slightly. “What?”
“What if I told you that people pay me to hurt other people,” he wondered bitterly. “To teach them a lesson. In ways worse than what happened to me.”
Her brown eyes increased significantly in size and her heart quickened in her chest at his confession. She fell for a man who harmed other people for money? His bread and butter was the blood and tears of others? “Why,” she whispered breathlessly. She had a piece of the truth she had desperately wanted to know and now she wanted to know all of it even if it hurt hearing it.
“A debt,” he answered, his voice shaky with emotion, “to my father. A long time ago, it was my job to protect people, but my dedication to the job and my eagerness caused me to lose the very two people that were my entire life: my wife and daughter.”
“You have an ex-wife and daughter? Why didn’t you tell me?”
At one point in his life, Sebastian was married? Not only was he once married, but he had a daughter? All kinds of questions filled her head about his ex-wife and daughter. How long was he married to his wife? How old was his daughter? Where did they live now? Did he ever get the chance to see his daughter often?
“Had,” he corrected. “I had a wife and a daughter.”
It took a moment to realize what he meant. His words hitting her like a ton of bricks. Had. The word had was past tense. Past tense met his wife and daughter were…
“Oh my god, Sebastian,” she gasped as she cradled his face. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“If I take about it, people pity me. People pity the man who lost his wife and daughter. I don’t deserve anyone’s pity because that would be too kind. It was because my actions that caused their deaths. So I keep that demon to myself and let it torment me. I let it remind me of my selfishness,” he replied.
“Sebastian,” she trailed off, biting down onto her bottom lip for a moment.
“I do what I do as a debt to my father—a faustian of sorts. The only thing he had ever given me required my complete loyalty to him,” he said. “That loyalty has a set of rules to it and if those rules are known then there are consequences. The reason why I didn’t tell you about what I do is because you could get hurt if anyone loyal to my father knew. I wanted to protect you from that possibility.”
He paused for a moment. “They were willing to hurt you to get to me—to keep me away from you.”
The reality of his words sunk in and she didn’t know how to stomach them. This was what she wanted: the truth. Her persistence paid off, but at what cost? She was in love with a man who hurt people or worse, killed them. In that moment, all the missing dots began to connect. His god-like physique, his luxury warehouse home, his mysteriousness, his expensive cars, his possessiveness, and his dark side that she had only saw glimpses of. The late phone calls into the night which prompted the late night jogs and the out-of-town trips. When he told her once that he was an animal, she understood now that he meant it.
Bubbling salty tears burned the corner of her eyes. “I don’t know what to say, Sebastian.”
“Then go home, Willow,” he said in a low tone. “Leave before you get hurt.”
One tear rolled down her cheek and the longer she stared at him, more tears cascaded down her cheeks. She felt pathetic being knelt at his feet, staring up to him like he was a god who had cursed her. Nothing good would come from loving a man who hurt others. Slowly, she brushed away her tears and rose to her feet ungracefully, stumbling.
She sniffled as she turned to leave, making her way to the beginning of the metal staircase. She gripped the railing and took a last look at him, opening her mouth to speak even though she was still unsure of what to say. Goodbye? Don’t ever speak to me again? I hate you? I love you? Hold me?
Willow descended down the staircase and left Sebastian behind.
Willow didn’t not to go to work for the rest of the week. She refused to be like Cara and arrive to the office with reddened eyes and a puffy face as evidence for all to see that she was a broken woman. She preferred to stay within the comfort of her bed, crying on and off while watching sappy romance movies that made her feel even more pathetic than she already was. Her chest hurt and she had chalked it up to be that her heart was ripped out.
To make matters worse, Farrah had been calling her nonstop, but she refused to answer. Not because she was angry with Farrah, but because she didn’t want to be bothered with anyone. Finally, she received a very vague text message from Farrah requesting her presence at a bridal boutique about nine blocks from Paws and Protect. At first, Willow decided that she didn’t want to go at all. After giving Farrah an ultimatum about the size ten maid of honor dress their mother had ordered as a crude method of encouraging Willow to drop two dress sizes in time for the wedding, they hadn’t talked to each other since then until the hurricane of calls from Farrah.
Willow hadn’t been sure if her older sister was giving her a silent treatment for jeopardizing the desired outcome of the fairy tale wedding or if she was reevaluating her priorities by thinking over the after-breakfast ultimatum. However, Willow realized that she couldn’t stay locked up in her house forever. It had been four days since she left Sebastian—since he told her the truth. She decided that she needed something to take her mind off of Sebastian and what better way to do that than to spend the afternoon with her wedding-obsessed older sister.
She put on a Paws and Protect beanie, her red OSU zip-up jacket, a pair of black gloves, and insulated dark brown boots before she stepped out into the cold December day. The sky was dreary and snow was everywhere.
It took her twenty minutes to go to the bridal boutique called Goddess Gowns. She found an empty parallel parking space directly in front of the establishment and stationed her SUV there. She slipped out of the vehicle and closed the door, staring at the beautifully dressed mannequins posing in the store’s front display windows. Though Willow liked the fashionable gowns that draped the mannequins, the place did not reflect Farrah’s taste for luxury in the least.
Eventually, she made her way inside of the boutique. A tiny silver bell jingled as she entered. Farrah was talking to a boutique employee when she arrived. They both stepped talking and turned their attention to her.
“Don’t say I’m late,” Willow said grumpily as she walked over to her sister.
Farrah smiled at the employee and asked, “Could you excuse us for a moment?’
After the employee walked away, Willow sighed heavily, “What did I do this time? Are my clothes too embarrassing? Have I put on too much weight for your liking?”
“You didn’t do anything,” Farrah frowned with a pause. “I’m actually surprised you came.”
Willow’s eyebrows shot upward. “You’re not going chew me out or take a few cheap shots at my already low self-esteem?”
“Wow, do you think I’m that much of a bitch?”
Guilt smothered Willow from all sides. She crossed her arms over her chest and sighed softly, “No, you’re not. I’m just not in a good state of mind right now. That’s all.”
Willow stiffened at the mention of him and proceeded to busy herself with walking over to the nearest clothes display and filtering through the section of mermaid-silhouette gowns.
“Uh-oh,” Farrah said, following her from behind. “Relationship troubles?”
Willow clenched her jaw for the moment and picked up an off-white mermaid-silhouette with a sparkling bodice curving into a tulle finish. She pressed against her body and turned to a nearby mirror for distraction to see how it would look on her. Briefly, she pictured herself in this dress walking down an aisle with Sebastian waiting for her at the end of it. She snapped herself out of it. The dress was like three sizes too small anyway. She frustratingly shoved it back onto the clothes rack. “More like relationship over.”
“Wow, Will. I’m so sorry,” Farrah responded genuinely, which caught Willow off-guard.
“It’s alright,” she cleared her throat, shrugging. “We were bad for each other.”
“Well, he seemed like an alright guy,” Farrah said.
Willow stopped exploring the clothes displays and turned to peer carefully at herself with a quizzical expression. She pressed her palm against Farrah’s forehead. “Are you okay? You don’t sound like yourself.”
“So you’re saying I only sound like myself when I am consistently bitching at you?”
“Is that a rhetorical question? Because if it isn’t then yes,” Willow said.
Farrah closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath through her nostrils as if she were collecting her thoughts. “Okay, I’ve thought long and hard about what you said to me in the kitchen. About whether I wanted you in the wedding as you are or whether I needed to find another maid of honor to fit that dress Mom ordered.”
“I decided that I wanted…my little sister in the wedding as my maid of honor,” Farrah revealed, “as she is.”
Willow blinked with a dropped jaw. “A-are you serious? Dad didn’t put you up to this or something, did he?”
Farrah shook her head, grabbed Willow by the shoulders, and said, “No, Dad had nothing to do with it. I got so carried away with this idea of a perfect wedding with me as a perfect bride and Jeffery as the perfect groom and everything just had to be picture perfect. When Mom and Dad said that I had to have you as my maid of honor, I felt like my wedding wasn’t going to be perfect anymore. At least, not until you lost a few pounds so you could fit into my wedding perfectly, but it wasn’t until you gave me that ultimatum did I realize that you shouldn’t change yourself for me, Mom, or anyone.”
“I’m just sorry for not realizing it sooner,” she finished. Willow pulled her sister into a tight hug and buried her face into the crook of Farrah’s shoulder as she cried as a storm of emotions swirled inside of her: happiness and sadness all rolled into one. Happy that Farrah finally accepted her for who she was. Happy that she had an older sister to hold her in a time of weakness. In the back of her mind, she thought of Sebastian.
She reminisced tiny moments of him wrapping his strong arms around her. Burying her nose into him to smell his earthy cologne. Melting into the warmth of his body.
She pulled away from Farrah, brushing away her tears with a pathetic chuckle. She sniffled, “Are you sure you’re my sister?”
They both shared a brief laugh. “Yes, I’m your sister.”
“You know Mom is going to have a fit.”
“Fuck her,” Farrah blurted out before she clasped her hand over her mouth. Willow gasped at her sister’s boldness before they both burst into a fit of laughter. Little did Willow know, Goddess Gowns had a wide selection of plus-size wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and other formal gowns.
She and Farrah spent three hours at the boutique, looking through the provided selection of gowns that came in a color of Farrah’s wedding scheme. Willow tried on several gowns until they came strapless knee-length dress with a flowing tulle skirt and a lace bodice.
“I think this is the one,” Willow said as she presented the dress to her sister, her fingers giddily smoothing with the tulle skirt as she approached wall of mirrors, admiring her reflecting.
“I’m gonna have to agree with you,” Farrah said, an awestruck look on her face as she stood behind Willow. “You’re absolutely glowing, Will.”
She was, glowing that is. It wasn’t even her wedding dress, but she was glowing like it was. She felt confident and womanly unlike that dress she squeezed into for Darlene’s cousin’s birthday. Her memories of that night bulldozed her. The emotions she felt that night came back to her as she relived those moments in her mind, her smiling face melting away. She remembered Darlene’s cousin telling her that she was nothing but a pawn in a sickening bachelor game. She remembered confronting Simon about his betrayal. She remembered driving to Sebastian’s house, pounding on his door in the cold night wanting to know if she was nothing more than his golden pig. She remembered how he carried her up his staircase like she weighed nothing and how he made love her in his own possessive way.
Her bottom lip quivered as she felt the verge to cry. She looked at her older sister’s reflection and cracked, “I miss him, Farrah. I miss him so fucking much.”
She turned around to face Farrah and slung her arms around her sister, pulling her into a tight embrace as she sobbed. Farrah held her over to a set of waiting chairs in the dressing room area and they both sat down.
“Do you love him,” Farrah asked.
Willow sniffled and brushed away her tears, but it didn’t do any good. “Yes, I do. I love him so much it hurts.”
“Then did you two break it off?”
Willow bowed her head, fidgeting with her hands in her lap. “He’s not good for me. He’s not good for me at all,” she said before tilting her head back and closing her eyes, “but God, he’s addictive, Farrah. He’s so addictive. The way he treated me was just unreal. The way he looked at me was surreal. He wanted me.”
She tapped a finger on her chest. “Me, Farrah. Short, fat, lumpy family fuck-up Willow Carter. But he was giving me wasn’t enough and I wanted more. I kept begging for more. And he gave it to me and it wasn’t what I expected it. It changed how I looked at him, so I left,” she sniffled, shaking her head. “He wanted me to leave anyway.”
“Forget about him, Will. There’s a better guy out there for you. Do you know how many guys I dated until I found Jeffery,” Farrah asked, lifting an eyebrow as she placed a hand on Willow’s back, rubbing in a soothing circular motion.
“Seven,” Willow sniffled.
Farrah blinked in surprise, “Yeah, seven. I went through seven guys to get to Jeffery and when I first met him, I didn’t even like him, but I gave it a try and this upcoming April, I’ll be Missus Jeffery Rogersen. For all you know, you could bump into Mister Right the moment you walk out of his boutique!”
“Maybe,” Willow said as she rose from the chair. “Let me get redressed.”
After she changed back into her regular clothes, she handed the dress now on a hanger back to the boutique employee. While Farrah and the boutique employee ironed out the details of the dress size, color, and estimated arrival of the finished dress, Willow absentmindedly wandered around the store, shifting her attention between her cellphone and the fingering through the clothes displays. When all of the details were finished, Farrah and Willow were prepared the store with the intentions of going to a café down the street for lunch.
As they walked out of the boutique chattering while walking down the sidewalk, Willow accidentally bumped into someone. She stumbled backwards, but strong hands gripped her forearms to prevent her from falling. She looked down at those hands, they were lightly tanned and big.
“You alright, beautiful?”
The voice made her shot her attention up to the face of the man she had bumped into. “Um,” she said, completely at a loss of words. The man looked to be somewhat older than her like in his late-thirties/early-forties, but he was drop-dead handsome and his eyes were a piercing blue.
Farrah butted in with a bright smile. “She’s perfectly fine. Aren’t you, Will?”
Willow nodded her head slowly before she cleared her throat, finding the words to speak. “Yes, I’m perfectly fine.”
The man let her go with a charming grin. “Well, if a beautiful woman like you ever needs someone to bump into to make their day, just give me a call and I’ll be happy to oblige. Alright?”
He then began to walk away and Farrah looked at Willow with widened excited eyes and mouthed ‘Mister Right’ while pointing to the departing man’s back. Willow shook her head and mouthed ‘no, let’s go’. Farrah gave her a matter-of-factly wink before she wondered loudly, “How can she give you a call if she doesn’t have your number?”
The man halted in his steps and turned around to face the two sisters. “If you have a phone, I’d be happy to provide,” he said, his blue eyes locked on Willow and for a moment, she thought about how his eyes were breathtaking, but she loved Sebastian’s green eyes more.
“Will, get out your phone,” Farrah said, nudging her elbow into Willow’s side lightly. Willow smiled nervously and fished for her cell. When she found it, she began the process of creating a new contact. He told her his name and number and she typed it all in.
“You got it all,” he asked, his blue eyes twinkling as he smiled.
“Yes, thanks,” she said uncharacteristically, nodding her head.
He gave her a wink and they said their goodbyes, going their separate ways on the sidewalk. Farrah squealed, “He’s very attractive! You should give him a call.”
“I don’t know,” Willow said, trailing off. “I think it’s too soon.”
“Okay, maybe it’s a little too soon, but maybe that’s what you need. You need to learn how to take leaps, Will,” Farrah advised. “And that guy was totally into you, so you should definitely call him. It wouldn’t hurt.”
Willow bit down onto her bottom lip for a moment. “You think?”
“I’m your big sister, so I know,” Farrah assured. Willow glanced down to her contacts list and found the new contact she had made mere moments before.
A slight smile quirked onto her lips.
Maybe she’d give this guy Jasper a call.
A new update. I figured that I'd squeeze out this update before school starts back tomorrow. Now all of my stories have officially been updated and I am so happy!
If you have read the first version of this story, this chapter did not exist. In that version, Willow and Sebastian had their ups and downs, but they never broke up. In this version, Willow and Sebastian have broken up. Sebastian drives her away because he thinks he's protecting her, but look who she bumps into on the street? Good ole' Jasper, Juliette's right hand man. So in essence, Sebastian potentially drove Willow into the arms of his enemies, which puts her in even more danger.
The next chapter with skip forward a few weeks into January or February, so Sebastian is nice and healed. And when he finds out what's been going on, you can only imagine what's going to happen especially if he finds say...Jasper kissing on Willow. ;)
Have a lovely Sunday evening and I hope you enjoyed this update and the cliffhanger. ;D