Novel ✪ Memory Corruption (R-18) (Book 1 Finished) (Book 2 on release)

Discussion in 'Community Fictions' started by GiBro, Jul 2, 2021.

  1. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2021
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    Forget about chapter today =( gonna try to post it tomorrow. Sorry
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  2. TZia

    TZia Member

    Dec 17, 2021
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    No need to apologize, I am so grateful that you are sharing this amazing story with us.:love::love::love:
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  3. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2021
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    Chapter 33

    Belle explained that she didn't know anything about Emma, just that Noah had been involved in a car crash. She didn't tell anything about the second person inside the car and avoided answering the girl's questions. After promising each other they'd talk more about it later, they walked back to the table and JP shot an annoyed glare at Mia, probably assuming she had told her something.

    The group walked Belle to her next class on their way to their own, and she sat alone on the first row again.

    When she got out of the building, she looked around, searching for Ryan's car. Belle scanned the parking lot from afar as he had instructed her, staying near the crowded entrance. She was turning her head to check the other side when her eyes locked on dark green eyes.

    Leaning on his motorcycle, it was the same guy she had seen before, with another black rock band T-shirt, the same ripped black jeans, the same big black boots. His hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and beside the cigarette a huge scar ran down his jaw toward his ear. It wasn't an ugly scar, it looked more like a surgery scar that hadn't been tended properly. He saw her and that creepy smile formed, as he eyed her up and down. She staggered back when he strode toward her. Her heart was pounding in her ears, and she started to panic when she noticed he was approaching her, way faster than she could move in the crowded space.

    -Hey, Belle, isn't that your husband, right there? -JP poked on her shoulder and she turned her head toward the direction he was pointing at.

    A lot of heads turned along with hers. Maybe more people than she had noticed had been paying attention to her. Ryan was leaning on his car with his arms crossed in front of his chest and their eyes met. He had been observing her. He saw her surprised smile and smirked. She looked back to check the creepy man, but couldn't find him in the crowd, so she just waved goodbye to Mia and JP, then ran toward Ryan.

    He started to straighten his back and head toward the passenger's door to open it up for her, but she jumped into his arms and hugged him tightly, burying her face on his neck. He leaned back against the car, holding her waist with both arms and sniffed her hair.

    -Why are you doing this here? People are staring... -Ryan whispered in her ear, but there was no sign of annoyance in his tone this time, just curiosity. She looked around. Heads turned away from them, but a lot of students had been watching.

    -Are you ashamed of me? -Belle mocked him, kissing his neck. She was so relieved that he was there and had missed holding him so much that she had forgotten they weren't supposed to do that anymore.

    -Let's go. Why were you getting back inside the building? -He sighed, leading her toward the passenger's door with an arm around her shoulders and holding it open for her. -You seemed to be in a haste.

    She waited until he sat beside her to explain, scanning the parking lot for the motorcycle. It wasn't there anymore.

    -Remember a guy with a motorcycle we saw that day…? -She tried to think about a way of describing how they met him.

    -Noah's brother. -He huffed. -Black hair, hazel green eyes, cool Kawasaki and greasy looking. He was leering at you, the asshole. Were you gonna try to get away from him by getting into the building?

    Belle nodded. So he had seen the guy.

    -Good. Just make sure to have witnesses when you do that. Don't let him get you alone inside a room or something. -He sighed and maneuvered. -I thought I'd feel nostalgic about college, but, to be honest, I'm pitying you.

    -I loved it. It's a bit slow paced, but it's nice. And most teachers have planned all the assignments for the term and listed them so I can get everything done as soon as possible.

    He chuckled and she frowned.

    -Such a nerd. -He mocked her. -Are you planning to get into honors?

    -I don't think I can, I got in too late. In high school, at least, my counselor told me I couldn't. If I had followed the normal… -She started to explain but he burst out laughing.

    -I was teasing you! And you can still get in, it will just be a lot harder. -He shook his head. -Did you make any friends?

    -That depends… Are Mia and JP clear?

    -I answered your message. They are ok, but I don't want you near JP, he's Noah's cousin. -He glanced at her, then at the mirror. -I want you to cut ties with that imbecile as soon as you can.

    -They were talking about him today… Do you know something about a girl called Emma? -She checked his expression and flinched when his smile vanished.

    -What were they talking about her? -His voice didn't give away anything.

    -Did Noah hurt her? -She pressed her lips. He stayed in silence, so she insisted. -Apparently she's been missing since Friday, so…

    -If I tell you he did, are you gonna stay away from him? -He said after some thought.

    She thought about it, then nodded. Ryan glanced at her and cursed low. They sat in silence for what seemed like an hour. He was tapping rapidly on the wheel, his jaw clenched.

    -Ryan? -She whined when she couldn't take the tension anymore.

    -She's with me. Not literally with me, but I have her somewhere safe. Her parents know, and agreed. -He sighed, shaking his head slightly, clearly disappointed with himself. -Noah asked for help and I believe that… Shit, why the fuck can't I just lie to you? It would make things so much easier…

    -Why are you hiding her, what happened? -She saw him clutching the wheel tightly with both hands, his knuckles white from the pressure.

    -The less you know, the better. I know you, if I tell you, you’ll want to get involved. -He huffed. -But Noah was just dumb, it wasn't completely his fault. He's just a nosy motherfucker that is too incompetent to do what he entitled himself to do. He fucked up big time and now I'm having to clean up his mess. At least the girl is safe but, still...

    She watched him as he ranted. He was beyond annoyed, but she didn't think he sounded as angry as he was trying to make her believe he was. She reached out and put her hand over his thigh, squeezing it lightly. He shut up and glanced at her.

    -Thank you, Ryan. -She smiled. -I won't ask about it again, for now, it's ok. Thank you for protecting them.

    He frowned a bit, but nodded and forced a small smile into his face.

    -Mia is gonna tell me what she knows about it and about other things that happened involving Noah and a girl… She’s gonna call me later. Do you want to hear what she has to say?

    -You should stop trying to play the detective, you're gonna end up hurt. -He sighed. -Why can't you civilians stay out of our way and let us do our job? You know it hinders more than helps, right?

    -She's gonna call me. -She repeated, a bit annoyed by his scolding. -What I need to know is if it's useful for you to listen to our call.

    -Yes, it might be. -He rolled his eyes and tapped on the wheel. -But I still don't like having you involved in anything related to this. It would lift a ton from my back if you could just cut ties with Noah, Belle.

    -I told you I won't ask about it for now, but you gotta stop giving me reasons to make questions. -She crossed her arms. -If you want me to stop talking to Noah, you have to give me a reason for that.

    -I want you to stop talking to him because it would make me really happy. Isn't that a good reason? -He chuckled, but waited for her answer anyway.

    -No, it's not. -She decided to shut him up for good. -I want you to love me, because it would make me really happy. Do you have anything to say about it?

    He just stared ahead at the road and they both shut their mouths.

    Mia called her only after dinner.

    -Act as if I'm not here. -He leaned back in his chair. Her phone was connected to his computer and she took a deep breath before answering the call.

    -Hello? Hi Mia, how are you doing? -Belle nodded to him. He was wearing his earphones and gave her a thumbs up to confirm it was being recorded.

    Mia apologized for the delay, explaining that she and JP had had an argument about her talking about Noah in front of Belle. She made her promise many times that she wouldn't reveal anything about their conversation to anyone, then went on to explain what had supposedly happened between Noah and Betty.

    Betty had some kind of platonic love toward Noah for a while now, since they were very young, but he had never shown any interest in her. Then, the year before, a party had been held in a frat house near the campus. Betty was high and drunk, to the point of trying to do a striptease for Noah in front of everyone, so he offered her a ride home. Some of the girls advised both of them not to do so, since she wasn’t sober enough to decide if she really wanted to go somewhere with him, but he insisted and Betty gave in.

    By what Mia told her there were more than enough witnesses to testify that they saw Betty getting into Noah's car. On the next day, though, her parents reported her to the police as missing. Noah was summoned to testify and denied giving her a ride or touching her at first, but when she reappeared, naked, bloody and confused, on a farm out of the city’s limits, he became the main suspect and changed his version, saying he had taken her but had turned around and left her at the same party, because she had tried to force herself on him while he was driving.

    -And then, after a few weeks, Betty recovered her memory and told everything she remembered to everyone that she could, because she was too afraid of what he could do to her. -Mia went on. -She said he tried to kill her, first choking her, then with a knife. Her scars aren't so ugly, they were very superficial, but you can see them on the back side of her neck and on her upper back. He wanted to scare her so she wouldn't tell anyone about what he did to her.

    Belle lifted her eyes toward Ryan and saw him rubbing his face with annoyance and shaking his head.

    -Didn't they examine her body? Didn't they get some DNA, or anything at all that could connect him to the crime? -Belle asked and Ryan frowned, shaking his head in reproach. -It seems to me that if he was guilty it would be easy to prove it, examining her body and his car… She was bleeding, right?

    -And that's why I don't want you to tell anyone… I don't have any proof about it, but… Everyone believes his father bribed the cops and the labs that were hired to examine the evidence. -Mia’s voice lowered to a barely audible volume. -We believe he would have been arrested if the real results had been disclosed.

    -And why is that, Mia? Noah never gave me any signs of being a rapist… I'm finding it hard to believe he did this if there's no evidence and her testimony wasn't trustful, because she was on drugs and under alcohol effects. -Belle wasn't so sure, but she wanted to know more about it. Ryan signaled her to cut the subject and end the call. -Is there something else, is there another reason why you believe he did that?

    Ryan glared at her but sat back and crossed his arms.

    -I was with him when they came to get him to testify. Me and JP. He was very nervous and he knew it was about her before they told him. -Mia was almost whispering. -He looked like he wanted to cry or run away… But I never told you this, ok? And there's something more… After he came back to college... After all charges were dismissed, he was very mad at her. He started to treat her very badly, as if she was the worst person in the world. Before that he was always very kind to her. Like he is with you today, so I heard. That's why I told you, it's dangerous to get this close to him…

    Ryan signaled that he wanted her to end the call or else he would end it for her.

    -Mia... I have to go. Is there something else you think I should know, about Noah, or about his half-brother? -As soon as Belle said that, Ryan slammed the desk angrily with his open hand. She jumped, startled by his behavior. Mia too seemed to have been taken by surprise by the sound.

    -Hm, Belle, you really shouldn't talk or get near Aaron. We call him Vulture, and there's a reason for that. -Mia murmured. -Really, Zim is… Possible to handle. But Aaron is bad. Don't get near him. And if you feel like Zim is getting impatient or angry, just walk away. He might hurt you, physically, he doesn't care if it's a woman or a man, if it's small or big… He'll hurt you badly. But I really didn't tell you any of it, ok? I’m serious, Belle, this is really dangerous.

    Belle wanted to ask her more about Noah being violent. The idea sounded absurd to her. But she didn't want to test Ryan's patience, so she just agreed, thanked Mia and ended the call.

    -Fuck, Belle! Why did you ask about his brother? What if she was a friend of his? -He scolded her. -Don't ever do that again.

    She nodded and waited as he finished setting the recording and handed her cell phone back to her.

    -Did you get anything useful? -She pulled her chair closer to his. He creased his eyebrows darting his eyes between her legs and his.

    -Not really, I already knew about Bethany. -He shifted in his seat to give her more space to come closer to him, then leaned forward, his leg touching hers very slightly. -But it was interesting to see what it looked like for the ones that didn't have access to all the information, anyway.

    -What other information do you have? -She frowned and leaned on the table with her elbow. He scoffed and brushed her hair from her face, locking it behind her ear, as it had cascaded forward with her movement. She absentmindedly rested her cheek on his palm before getting conscious of her acts and straightening her back. -Don't mock me! What else do you know, Ryan?

    -That you are getting too involved in this shit. That you should be focusing on your studies, and staying away from Noah. And from JP too. -Ryan sighed, sliding his arm over the table toward her and caressing her arm slightly, leaving a trail of goosebumps there. -And that I'm gonna kiss your mouth if you don't back away now.

    Belle looked up into his eyes, confused. He tilted his head and tapped his fingers very slowly over the desk, as if counting down the seconds. She didn't move, so he did.

    His hand fit on her nape and pulled her toward him, while he leaned over her and pulled her chair with the other hand, so it fit between his legs. His lips felt hot against hers and she shivered when the tip of his tongue brushed lightly over her lower lip before she gathered enough consciousness to move too and open her mouth.

    It was a different kind of kiss, with delicate longing, and she felt uneasy. It was as if they were kissing for the first time and she was suddenly conscious of every move, every sound, every breath, as if the slightest mistake could break the moment and ruin it. The most abnormal part was that this time he seemed to be as nervous as her, touching her in a careful way, testing every movement to check for her reaction before going on. Her hand was frozen on his chest, so she could feel his heart slamming against his chest as fast and strong as hers.

    It ended too soon. He parted from her with a delightful smacking kiss and sat back, sliding his hand from her nape to her cheek, then her chin and letting his arm drop to her thigh, which he squeezed lightly before dragging his chair back and getting up.

    -Do you wanna take a walk? I need some air. -He cleared his throat and checked his phone before putting his hands in his pockets. -I can't leave you alone in here, so if you're not coming with me, you'll have to at least leave the room.

    Belle was paralyzed. For a moment she had thought he would confess his love for her or at least admit he felt something, but no, he was literally acting like nothing had happened. She turned her head slowly to face him.

    -Ryan… -She murmured. Her voice was almost gone, so she cleared her throat and got up, taking a deep breath. -Ryan, I need you to tell me what just happened. And if for any reason you feel pressured about having to tell me this, think twice, no, thrice, before mistreating me, because I had enough of your self-righteous rudeness! I’m really done with that, and I mean it.

    Ryan eyed her up and down and smiled. It wasn't exactly a mocking smile, but it wasn't a kind one.

    -I kissed you. -He lifted one shoulder, then dropped it and pressed his lips.

    -I know you kissed me, what I need to know is why you did that. -She was trying to decide if she wanted to slap him or kiss him again.

    -What do you mean by why? I told you I'd do it if you didn't back away, and you didn't, so I kissed you. -He shrugged. -You could've walked away.

    -You're saying the only reason you did this was because I let you? -Her mood was beginning to incline toward slapping him.

    -I didn't say that. I wanted to kiss you and then you let me. Those aren't the same, they are just dependent on each other. -He smirked and she took a few steps in his direction, her hand trembling with anticipation to beat him. -I just said it to remind you I didn't do it alone. I didn't force you. But yeah, I kissed you because I wanted to.

    -And why the fuck did you want to? -Her voice raised involuntarily and he frowned. She took a deep breath and said, more calmly. -You said I shouldn't kiss you or touch you... You said that!

    -You hugged me after that. You also kissed my neck. Twice. -He pointed out. -I like you and you don't really seem to be willing to follow through with that idea of stop loving me.

    She was about to jump on his throat to strangle him, but he raised both hands as if asking for a chance to explain himself.

    -I realized that our concepts of betrayal are very different. -He sighed. -And that I can accept yours, as long as you at least try to adapt it to be a bit more akin to mine. I noticed that you are trying, without me even having to ask you to, and I really appreciate it.

    She tilted her head, a bit confused about where this conversation was heading to.

    -But I thought about it and our concept of love might be completely different too… -He shrugged. -If that's the case, I shouldn't worry about it that much, and you shouldn't be that upset that I don't love you. We can make it work.

    She stared at him blankly, he stared back with a satisfied look.

    -What does that even mean? -She murmured, shaking her head. -What are you talking about? Make what work?

    -This “thing” we have. I thought about our fight and, I fucking swear on my life, I can't explain why I was so upset about you saying you were mine. -He closed in on her and lifted her chin with the knot of his index finger. -You wanna be mine? I’m up for it! I'm totally fine with that. I'm even proud of it, to be honest. It flatters me, even though I still think you deserve better than me. But if it's me you want, I'm yours.

    Ryan kissed her forehead and nudged her temple with his nose. Belle staggered and involuntarily closed her eyes. Her head was spinning.

    -And what does that mean? Are you asking me to be your girlfriend or something like that? -She gulped. After some hesitation, she opened her eyes and looked into his. -Or are you expecting to be back to “friends with benefits” status?

    Ryan wrinkled his nose. She took a step back.

    -Really? Why do we have to give a name for that? -He frowned, looking down. -We're literally married. If it's a title you're looking for, I don't think humanity has established a higher one yet.

    -It's a fake marriage. -She shook her head. It was his turn to take a step back, one eyebrow lifting with worry. -No, I'm not saying we should really get married, I'm just saying we both know it's fake. It's not a real title.

    -The title is only useful for others, not for the couple itself. -He rolled his eyes. -But fine, you want to call yourself my girlfriend, as weird as it seems, I…

    -No, I didn't say I wanted it. What I want is to know what we're doing. -She crossed her arms. -What do you want from me, where do you expect to get to with this. I wanna know if you want to make it last or if it's just a temporary distraction for you.

    -You told me you're not looking for commitment… -He wrinkled his nose again and looked into her eyes. -I'm not. But I promise you I'll do my best to make you as happy as I can while it lasts.

    -Then it'll have an expiring date. When we go back to New York you'll pretend this has never happened, is that it? -Her chest squeezed, but something inside her told her she was overthinking. -Or before, if you get tired of me.

    -You see, they indeed don't train us for premonition. -He mocked her with her own words. -I can't tell you what I will or won't feel in the future, Belle. I can tell you only about how I feel right now. But then again, isn't that how every relationship works?

    She thought about it. He was actually right. Even in a real marriage, no one could be sure it would last forever or even if both parts would want it to.

    -Ok, let's say I agree with that... What are the rules? -She let her arms awkwardly hang to her sides and bit her lower lip.

    -What rules? -He crossed his arms and walked toward the door to lean on the doorway. She could tell he was beyond uncomfortable with her question.

    -Like… I don't know, seeing other people, for example… -She thought about it and felt the sting of jealousy pricking her.

    -No. If we are gonna make this, it's me and you. If we start this, you're all and only mine until it ends. -There was a slight crease between his brows. -This is a real deal breaker, Belle, I don't negotiate loyalty and faithfulness. If you feel like having something with someone else you should tell me beforehand. And there's no second chances or coming backs, I know you think I forgave Samantha, but you don't know the whole story.

    Belle moistened her lips as she gathered courage to go on. Her heart fluttered with the “you're all and only mine”.

    -So, speaking of that… Keeping secrets… That's an issue. -She tried to organize her thoughts so he wouldn't feel too pressured. -Being in a relationship means sharing worries, desires and needs… And not hiding things.

    -No, this won't grant you access to my personal life, Belle. Nothing will.

    -A couple shouldn't keep secrets from one another. -She sighed.

    -Well, take it or leave it. -He smirked. -I don't tell things, not even to my mom, I won't tell them to you.

    Belle watched him for a while, then nodded, walking toward him. He had already told her a lot about himself without them being in a relationship. Something inside her told her she just had to be patient and let him naturally approach her. If she moved too fast, he would just sprint away or attack, like a wild beast.

    -This means I don't need to tell you everything too, right? -She said it just to annoy him, but, to her surprise, he agreed.

    -Just make sure you know the difference between not telling me things and hiding things from me or lying, and we’ll be fine. -He shrugged. -Are we good, then?

    She nodded and took his outstretched hand. He yanked her arm and held her when she stumbled toward him, kissing her mouth alluringly before pushing her toward the door.

    -I really need to get out of here, before I end up taking off your clothes, and doing you over my desk. -He murmured in her ear and she blushed while her body shivered with goosebumps.

    Belle decided to go with him. When they passed by the pool, the women waved at her, inviting her to sit and drink with them, but she refused as politely as she managed to, knowing that what they really wanted was for Ryan to come along. Angel wasn’t with them.

    JP was sitting on the edge of the pool, chatting with the man that had offered her drugs. Betty and Hanna were sunbathing a few feets away from them. The two boys waved hello and she replied it shyly, earning a squeeze from Ryan’s hand on her waist. Betty glared at her but she just looked away.

    They talked about her classes and the students she met. Then, she tried to persuade him into revealing something about the investigation, but he pulled her to his chest and kissed her. It felt weird, almost wrong, since he had never engaged in public displays of affection before. She looked around, embarrassed, and gasped.

    -What? -Ryan followed her gaze, alarmed. -Ah, great...

    Noah was standing with his back to them and, in front of him, the man with dark green eyes looked straight into Belle's eyes and smiled. Noah turned to check what he was looking at and his already gloomy mood dropped even more.

    His eyes darted from Belle to Ryan. She saw fear being quickly replaced by relief, then apprehension. He turned his head away from her again and moved his body so he would block her from the man’s eyes.

    Ryan pulled her to turn around and get back inside the condo, but not before she heard Noah’s voice raising angrily.

    - ...Away from her! I'm not kidding, Aaron, get back here, you owe me this! -His voice raised steadily until it reached a hoarse shout. -What the fuck do you think you're doing?

    She turned to look but Ryan kept pulling her, holding her shoulder firmly. Aaron had taken some steps closer and was about to point the camera of his phone toward her. Her heart started to slam on her ears, but not out of fear for herself. Ryan was right beside her. If for some reason that picture was found by Daniel, he would immediately know that Ryan was alive.

    It all just happened too fast, so much that her panicking mind froze and she couldn't move. Ryan clicked his tongue and looked back too, to check what she was staring at and saw the phone. He immediately let go of her and strode toward Aaron, but Noah was closer and tried to snatch the phone from his hand. The man jerked his arm away and slammed Noah's nose with his elbow. Blood gushed almost instantaneously and the boy's fist raised in a violent blow.

    Ryan stopped and watched the exchange, tilting his head slightly. When he turned to talk to Belle there was a hint of a smirk on his face.

    -Go back inside and lock the door. -He said, tossing the keys for her to catch. -I'll be with you in a couple of minutes. Don’t open the door if it’s not me.

    -I won't leave you two here! -She grunted, using both hands to catch the keys. The sound of Noah's second blow made the hair on her neck stand up. -Won't you stop them?

    -Why would I? He's surprisingly competent. -He shrugged and put his hands in his pocket. -They both are doing great. I won't allow a broken neck, but I'm ok with a broken arm.

    Belle rolled her eyes and headed toward the tangle of arms and legs, but Ryan put an arm around her waist and threw her over his shoulder, heading to the main gate. She squirmed and tried to get down, but he just held her firmly and laughed.

    -Go back inside. Now. -He put her down and kissed her forehead. -I'm serious, Belle. Please.

    She peered at the fight behind him. Aaron had his knee over Noah's throat and was trying to free his arms from the boy's grip to punch him.

    -Help him. Please. -She whined.

    -He doesn't really seem to need my help… -He smirked, turning right when Noah managed to roll over and slam the side of Aaron's face with his shoulder. -But I'll stop this shit, just let me have some fun first, I've been longing to knock their teeth out for so long now…

    She crossed her arms and frowned.

    -Right, go inside and I'll aid him as soon as I can't see you anymore, deal? -He rolled his eyes and crossed his arms too. They both turned when Noah let out a loud grunt of pain and a sound of something popping was heard. -If you want to make sure he won't have to see a doctor, you'd better hurry up, though.

    Belle hesitated, but she could see he was amused by the situation. He wasn't joking about sitting and watching them beat each other to near death.

    -Promise me you'll help him? -She bit her lower lip. -Do you promise he'll be safe?

    -As safe as I can make him. -He took her face in his hands and kissed her mouth very gently. -Go.

    Belle turned and started to run. When she reached the pool, she turned back to check if he was still watching her, but he wasn't there anymore.
  4. Isobel

    Isobel Active Member

    Jul 3, 2021
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    :aww:Yay! More Belle and Ryan teamwork please:cookie:
  5. TZia

    TZia Member

    Dec 17, 2021
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    -“Her mood was beginning to incline toward slapping him.”
    So was mine, I was hoping that she would slap him:whistle::whistle::whistle:
    Talk about Schrodinger’s paradox, he doesn’t love her but he loves her:facepalm:
    However I do have some questions about his relationship with Samantha. Here he says that he never forgave her for cheating, but Magda told Belle that Ryan’s mother would have loved the baby as if it were her grandchild, so I wonder if Ryan had planned to accept the child even if it wasn’t his? It seems that he was willing to go through the wedding too. Also another thing that has me wondering is how Ryan could be sure that it wasn’t his baby? Samantha cheated on him but they were still living together and presumably still having sex, so there seems to be some information missing here. I hope that more information about their relationship will be revealed. :p
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  6. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2021
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    The rest I believe you'd have to wait for Ryan's POV. I haven't planned to have him telling Belle about it, and Roy is dead, so I think besides Magda and his psychologist, the whole truth is buried six feet under.

    PS: Chapter 16 has some serious insights about it... I didn't make it clear, but it's possible to theorize.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2022
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  7. imeren

    imeren Active Member

    Dec 12, 2021
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    I thought that Schrödinger's paradox was about the release of the chapter:bloboh:
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  8. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2021
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    It was xD I think @TZia just used it as a punchline =P
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  9. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2021
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    So, I was writing this chapter, where Ryan tracks back all the times he lied to Belle... And while I was writing I was rethinking if it would be interesting to readers. I always loved to read the same scene from two different points of view, but I don't know if it's the same to everyone else.

    Do you think you'd like to see his POV of situations they've been through together? The dialogues would be the same, just the thoughts and general point of view would be his part, instead of hers.
  10. TZia

    TZia Member

    Dec 17, 2021
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    :ROFLMAO:Hell yeah! We could definitely use Ryan’s POV, especially in all those times when he pushed Belle away and verbally mistreated her. I’ve always wondered what was going through his head to drive that kind of behaviour, and I think we need that just to be able to peel back all those layers and get to the heart of his character. It will probably help in not wanting to slap him so much:giggle:
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  11. pepinomama

    pepinomama Member

    Dec 17, 2021
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    Definitely yes!
  12. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2021
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    Chapter 34

    -Please, be careful, it's still very hot… -Belle sat in front of Noah after sliding him a cup of tea. -Are you sure you don't want Ryan to drive you to the hospital?

    Ryan glared at her. She winced. He was leaning on the wall behind Noah with his arms crossed in front of his chest. The knuckles of his right hand had red marks but she couldn't be sure if it was his own blood or Aaron’s. Aside from that, he looked like nothing had just happened.

    -I'm fine. Thank you, Belle, you're an angel. Damn… I shouldn't have done this, he's gonna retaliate and he won't come alone… -Noah shook his head, pressing the ice bag against his cheek. The paper he had shoved inside his nostrils was all red, but the bleeding seemed to have finally stopped. - Thank you for your help, Mr. Herrera, but you too shouldn't have exposed yourself.

    -I need you to find a way of giving this back to him. -Ryan slid the phone in front of Noah. He clearly couldn't care less about the boy's worries for him or for himself. -I would do it myself, but I expect the next time I have to touch your brother to be the last.

    Belle shivered. The fact that she believed his words meant a lot. Noah sighed and put the phone in his pocket.

    -Half-fucking-brother. He won't use this anymore. -He shrugged. -Aaron doesn't trust you, thinks you're a cop. He will be paranoid and believe you put something in it.

    -Make sure to warn him that I'm way worse than a cop. -The dark eyes squinted. -And give the phone back to him, anyway. What he'll do about it later doesn't concern me.

    -Fine. Thank you again. -Noah nodded and got up. -I should get going… My father wants to talk to me. He just texted me and he's not one to take tardiness lightly. I really can't stay anymore.

    He gulped the rest of the tea, even though it was probably still too hot to be comfortable to drink.

    -Belle… JP told me you heard things about me. -He turned at the doorstep after she walked him out. -It's probably not true, not all of it, at least. I'm not a saint, but I don't cause harm to people. I know it's ridiculous to say this after what you just saw, and I'm very ashamed for acting like a primate like that, especially in front of you. But I'd never hurt a woman, ok? I'll soon dedicate my life to saving other people's lives, not destroying them.

    Belle nodded. By his tone and his choice of words she could swear he had rehearsed it.

    -Do you wanna talk about it? -She murmured as low as possible, hoping that Ryan wouldn't hear it. -Do you wanna tell me what really happened?

    -No. It wouldn't do me, or her, or you any good. Let's leave things as they are. -He pressed his lips. -If I can ask anything of you, just, please, don't stir that up again. I mean… People are starting to forget. The only reason I haven't been expelled was because my father intervened and the parents stopped complaining for fear of revenge from his part…

    Belle didn't have any intention of harming him, but she still thought that if he was really innocent, avoiding the subject wouldn't help fix his reputation.

    -Noah… I know it's not my place. But I really think that the least you could do was make amends with Betty. -She sighed. -If you really haven't done anything to her, and if you know who hurt her, you should tell her. She has the right to know and to seek justice for herself.

    -She knows exactly who did it to her, Belle. And she was the one who… -He started to say, then shook his head. -Shit, you lead people into telling you things, did you know it? She knows, that's the only thing I'm gonna tell you. She knows and she hates me because I know too and because I know that she knows.

    -There must be more to it! Mia told me you two were very close and she's clearly jealous of you… Noah!

    Noah just shook his head and walked away, ignoring her.

    Therapy had hit a wall. She couldn't concentrate enough to get into trance, so the two psychologists tried to identify what had changed since the last session, when they had been successful with the hypnosis. After some chatting, they decided to cease the regression for now and focus on Aaron and Noah.

    Although she loved to learn new things, college so far had been an uncomfortably weird experience. Some students went out of their way to try to befriend her, most of them men, around her fake age. After she turned down a bunch of invitations, including three parties, two dates and a “priceless opportunity” to join the chess club, JP and Mia became the only ones who truly expected to spend more than five minutes beside her.

    -You should show up at some of our parties, Belle… -JP nudged her biceps with his elbow while he chewed on his hotdog, after watching her shy refusal to go to a frat party in an apartment near the campus. -You're not a real Gator if you don't get wasted at a party with us.

    -I'm never gonna be a real Gator then. -She shook her head, earning some displeased looks from students nearby. -I really can't attend those parties… Sorry.

    -Does Ryan keep you on a short leash? -The boy wrinkled his nose. -He should understand you still have much to live, we're twenty two, that's the best age ever.

    -He says that same thing every year… -Mia rolled her eyes. -But he's right, if you’re just married, you gotta show him now that he can't keep you so uptight. You'll probably soon get into a club or Greek, you look like the sorority girl anyway… He'd better get used to it.

    -No, she doesn't. -JP wrinkled his nose. -Ignore her, she's totally underestimating you. But she's right about showing that you rule the house… We should go to a party as soon as Zim's ass is healed…

    -I'm not going anywhere with Zim. -Mia crossed her arms. -And I don't think Belle should, either.

    -Fine. I'm not gonna fight with you because of that again, talk as much shit as you want. -His face stiffened and he looked away.

    They didn't say a word until they had to part, but Mia looked torn between pleasing JP and defending her beliefs.

    After lunchtime, she was walking on a crowded corridor and noticed with her peripheral vision when a girl dropped a huge pile of papers she was carrying because the string that was holding it together broke. She reacted almost instinctively and managed to grab most of it midair, holding them against her chest with both arms.

    -Don't touch my things! -Betty screeched. A lot of heads turned to them and Belle quickly adjusted the papers in a stable block and offered it back to her, with bright red cheeks and trembling fingers.

    Betty snatched it angrily, dropping a few sheets of paper. Belle crouched and gathered the rest of the sheets that were scattered on the floor, then put them on the top of the pile. Her eyes involuntarily scanned one of the fliers.

    -I like cats and dogs too. If you need help, I'm in. -Belle murmured as she took some steps back to put space between them.

    -I don't want your help. -Betty was clearly disconcerted about the girl being kind to her after she mistreated her. -We already have enough volunteers. If you want to, you can donate.

    -I will, thank you! -Belle smiled and took a flier for herself from the pile.

    Betty left, balancing the pile of papers with difficulty, but with her nose up.

    At night, Noah knocked on her door to invite her for a walk. Ryan wrinkled his nose slightly when she looked for him in his study to inform him she was leaving the house to walk with Noah, then answered nonchalantly that she didn't have to inform about it, that he had nothing to do with it.

    She caught herself musing about some things. First of all, his door was unlocked and he invited her in when she knocked, instead of keeping her outside by opening the door and blocking the doorway with his body as usual. Then there was his mood, taciturn and impatient, that signaled her something was wrong. It could be something about the case, it could be Aaron, it could be jealousy of Noah…. There was the fact, too, that she had refused to have sex with him even after they started “dating”, or something akin, because she was still testing waters and trying to decide if she wouldn't feel used if they did. Whatever it was, it had quickly brought the worst of him to the surface, and she didn't have the courage to ask him.

    But now something intriguing has just happened. His reaction when she had smiled and murmured a shy “I love you” before closing the door had been odd. His frown had noticeably softened and he smiled kindly, nodding slightly. It had been the best reaction until now.

    -Hello? Is anybody there? -Noah waved his hands in front of her face. She looked up and gave him an apologetic smile. -This time you went so far away… At least it seems like it was a good memory. May I have a peek?

    -It's nothing, just thinking about something Ryan told me before I left home. It's nothing, really. -She blushed. -Speaking of that, I forgot to tell you…. Ryan doesn't want me to go with you to college anymore. Sorry…

    -Yeah, he told me. -He sighed. -Actually I might have to live there for a few weeks… My father is pissed with me, so he won't get me another car. Not for free, at least, and I'm not working for him just to get a car. I'll gather the money with my investments and get it on my own. I mean, still with his money, but from my own bank account.

    Belle wanted to ask him what he would have to do for his father, that felt so bad, but knew Ryan would be upset with her if she did.

    -I think you could get a ride with me and Ryan…? -Halfway through the question, she wasn't sure anymore.

    The pinch inside her belly made her flinch and her face contorted with pain, but she arched her back and stretched to try to control the irradiation and pretend she was just adjusting her back.

    -I don't think so. He literally told me to stay away from you when he's not around. I had to negotiate meeting you in college. -He sighed. -He thinks I'm a threat to you, and, to be honest, he's right. Aaron is really intrigued by you, I don't know what got into him...

    -He'll be inside the car with us, so it wouldn't break his rule… -She pointed out, trying to hide her embarrassment about Ryan threatening him. -I'll talk with him and let you know, ok?

    Noah hesitated, but nodded.

    -No. Fucking no. -Ryan rested the barbell on the spotter and sat up, wiping his face with the towel.

    -Why not? He'll be safer if you're there to protect him and I won't be alone with him. -She tried to convince him. -Everyone wins.

    -I said no. -Ryan grunted and adjusted his bench to a sit up position. -You're not gonna convince me. He can afford a chauffeur, I'm not one!

    -What's the problem? We'll have to go anyway… -She pouted. -Please, for me...

    -Don't. That's one kind of lie, don't pretend you're hurt if you're not. -He frowned as he sat back and lifted one leg. Belle bit her lower lip, trying to ignore the lascivious thoughts a deja vu sensation was bringing. -I'm not taking that parasite in my car, he has a father to do that and he has enough money to afford a cab to take him everyday till he can get a new car.

    -I'm not pretending, I'm really upset that we'll give our backs to a friend in need just because you're jealous. -She murmured, sitting on the floor beside him, over her legs. -Please, Ryan, give it a try and if you don't like it…

    -I'm not jealous. Why can't he get a ride with JP, Bethany and Hanna? They go together everyday and there's one vacant seat, as far as I know. -He lifted one eyebrow. -Ah, no, forget it, I know why: because not even his own cousin wants to take the risk of being near him, because he's a fucking menace to everyone around him!

    -JP takes Mia too. -Belle explained. -Besides, Betty hates Noah. That's why.

    -Bethany is dying to ride Noah! She would straddle him the whole trip if she could. -Ryan scoffed. -Which she wouldn't have to, because, you see, the car has five seats…

    -She's not dying to… That's very disrespectful! -She frowned and pushed his shoulder. -Take it back and stop talking shit about women, at least in front of me!

    -I'm not, she is crazy for him! But ok, I'll take it back. -He looked at her with a puzzled face. -What is offensive in what I said? What's the problem about a woman wanting to ride a man? You are the judgmental one here…

    -First of all, I'm not being judgmental. Even if she wanted to have sex with him, that's none of your business and if you're gonna talk about it, you should be more respectful. - She felt a bit satisfied about being able to scold him for once. -Don't say things behind people’s backs that you wouldn't on their faces.

    -Ok, Miss Perfect, I'll take it back, then. I would totally say it on her face, though. -He shrugged. -Am I allowed to say that you are dying to ride me?

    -W-What? -She blushed and looked away.

    Ryan tugged at her wrist slightly. She got on her knees and let him guide her toward him, leaning on his soaked chest with her other arm. Her wrist was still locked by his fingers and he tenderly caressed her arm up to her biceps then back to her wrist after resting it beside his head. Her skin felt hot against his wet hair.

    -What? Did I misinterpret it? Am I being judgmental? -He mocked her, then reached out and pinched her hardened nipple over her shirt. -Are you gonna deny it? Or are you gonna admit a woman can get horny too? Shall I express myself more politely when I refer to the burning flood of desire between your legs too, miss?

    Her face was red, but she didn't flinch.

    -You're being rather inconvenient, therefore you'll not get what you want, sir. -She wrinkled her nose to emphasize her displeasure with his attitude and got up to leave him.

    -Oh no, you're throwing a tantrum because I told you you're horny! What am I supposed to do? -He grabbed her other wrist and pulled her down toward his chest. -It's impossible that you don't know how much you turn me on when you act all shy and innocent while I know you're soaking your panties because of me…

    -Ryan, we were talking! -Belle complained when she lost her balance and ended up laying over his sweaty torso. -It's not fair that you'll simply ignore what I'm asking you, through pure jealousy, and expect me to want to be with you this way…

    He dismissed her words and kissed her mouth tenderly, pulling her up by her arms to fit her body to his. She didn't even try to resist. They kissed for a while, his hands caressing her back, thighs, nape and butt, kneading here and there. When he laid back to take a breath, brushing her hair with his fingers slowly while she laid her head over his chest, she took the opportunity to sort her thoughts out.

    -If he decides to live there, I'll be alone here… -She murmured. -I'll have no one to talk to.

    -You'll still have me. -He sighed, with a tired voice. -But I got what you mean. It's only until he gets a new car, the asshole might be richer than you, it won't take long, you'll survive.

    -He will be alone. -She already knew what he would answer.

    -And why the fuck would I care? -His mood was back to grumpy.

    -I care. -That was exactly where she wanted to get. -I'm gonna feel really bad about it. I'd be sad.

    He stared at her, indecision dancing in his dark eyes.

    -We'll talk more seriously about it after I get out of the shower, ok? -He pulled her back to get up, pausing only to smack a light kiss on her lips and brush her cheek with the back of his fingers.

    She nodded, but followed him upstairs. He turned at the bathroom door to scold her but smiled and moved to let her in, as he found her holding her own towel to her chest and the condoms on her hand.
    pepinomama, Isobel, TZia and 2 others like this.
  13. TZia

    TZia Member

    Dec 17, 2021
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    Is it my impression or this chapter was shorter? Anyways it seems like the balance of power has shifted and Belle has the upper hand and I can see how she is also manipulative. So she has refused to have sex with Ryan since they reached their new understanding and it’s fine if she needs time to rebuild trust so that she doesn’t feel used again, however she is going to use sex as a way to get what she wants? ( Ryan to drive Noah to university). I’m wondering if their relationship is heading to another level of crazy and messed up?
    Again so many questions, why was Aaron trying to take a picture of Belle? I’m beginning to wonder whether he has ties with Daniel’s group and I can’t for the life of me understand why Belle is clinging on to Noah, after Ryan pleaded with her to cut ties with him and after Mia warned her that he is dangerous. He has obviously lied about things and the rumours of her having an affair with him should be red flag since these were spread probably by him, or he hasn’t done much to dispel the rumours. And what was the story about Betty, did Noah really try to hurt her? Same with Emma, we still don’t know what happened, all we know is that Ryan has her somewhere safe. There are so many plot twists that every chapter leaves me begging for more:confused:
  14. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2021
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    Chapter 35

    Ryan sighed. He couldn't bear much more of it. Noah's laugh sounded like a punch in his ear and the fact that Belle was the one making him laugh wasn't helping a bit. I should've let this motherfucker die when I had the opportunity to.

    He wasn't jealous. He didn't really mind about Belle having male friends. The problem with Noah was that besides being a magnet of danger, he was perfectly made to capture her attention in a way that turned her totally blind to his countless flaws.

    He couldn't remember how he got himself in this unbearable situation where he had to sit for more than one hour and hear the two of them chatting, like two schoolgirls, about the most stupid subjects. At least now he knew that the boy didn't go to parties and was consistently discouraging her to go to one, too. One point for fucking Mr. Goofy!

    Still, the boy was slowly trying to impregnate her life with his abhorrent existence. It was infuriating that she wouldn't notice how odd and exaggerated were his efforts to make sure she would include him in practically all her plans. And in a creepy way, that three months of friendship weren't enough to justify.

    When he thought about it, their own relationship was quite odd too, in comparison. Ryan could say he knew her quite well, although she still managed to fascinate him with new information about her every time they shared opinions about any subject. He had watched her close, for months, trying to get any hint of what was her part in the terrorist group her supposed “husband to be” was leading. But, no matter how much he tried, he couldn't understand how she had fallen for him so deep and so fast. He was constantly waiting for the day she would wake up and tell him she had finally realized it had been just a momentary delusion, a huge mistake.

    He took his eyes from the road just long enough to imprint her beautiful smiling face in his mind. Today she was wearing her hair in a ponytail, which meant he could see her whole clavicle and neck as she kept her head turned to look at Noah, sitting behind him. He knew she hated it, putting her hair up, but today was especially hot, and even though the air conditioner made the trip pleasant enough, the heat would hit her mercilessly as soon as she stepped out of the car.

    Ryan smiled involuntarily. He liked her hair like that. It gave him ideas that he shouldn’t have. Not in a car with a third person inside, at least. His smile widened when he remembered how she had managed to force him into this stupid position. The image of her hands flat on the wet wall of the bathroom was fresh in his mind as much as her moans and sighs. His hand unconsciously moved from the wheel to her thigh and squeezed it gently.

    Belle stopped talking and looked at him, assuming he was trying to call her attention. He glanced at her and smiled. She blushed and put her hand over his, rubbing her thumb repeatedly over the back of his fingers, resuming her conversation with Noah after a few seconds. His hand didn't leave the spot until he dropped them at the campus, and he made sure to pull her for a long breathtaking kiss, before unlocking the doors for them to leave the car.

    He hoped that was a punishment severe enough, to compensate for the torture Noah had put him through, by accepting that damned ride. Ryan wondered how far he could go with her in front of the boy to make him feel the most amount of discomfort possible, without her getting too ashamed or realizing his intentions.

    One thing was sure: it would take so much more than a quickie in the shower to convince him to take this piece of shit with them again the next morning. Even if it was another unforgettable quickie with a second round on the edge of the bed. He could still feel her wet hair whipping his chest as she moved up and down in his lap... He wouldn't bend that easily this time. Her hands closing in fists around his hair, while her perfumed wet body melted in his arms... He had to stop this cycle of letting her have whatever she wanted from him, using sex or tears as leverage.

    Ryan sighed as he noticed the small purple bruise on her neck, under her earlobe, that had been hidden during the trip, since she had her head turned toward the back seat almost permanently. The bruise looked like a signature. A mark on his territory. Unintentional, at least he liked to believe it had been. Still, he hoped it would serve its purpose, since it was already there. Mine. He savored the word. At least for now, all mine.

    Before he could hold himself, he was pulling her for another kiss, ignoring the fact that Noah was still struggling with his seatbelt and a few students were discreetly observing them as they chatted, sitting by the stairs right in front of the car.

    -Bye… -Belle breathed the word with her eyes still closed as she fumbled for the door handle behind her back.

    -Please, be careful. -He held her chin between his fingers to nibble at her lower lip, unfastening her seatbelt, which she had forgotten about. -I'll come get you at three o’clock, and I'll try to park in this same spot, ok?

    -I love you. -She nodded.

    His eyes darted toward Noah's back, who was leaving the car with an embarrassed expression.

    -If you really did, you'd never put me through this kind of shit. -He whispered in her ear and licked her earlobe slightly, feeling her jerk against his hand, that was now holding her nape, and watching the goosebumps raising through her arms and neck. -I expect compensation when we get home, you hear me?

    She giggled and got out of the car, with her face all red.

    Noah finally showed her the campus. With his large coffee in one hand and pointing now and then with his other, he took her to all the important checkpoints. The two of them were alone, which meant a lot of angst and guilt for disobeying Ryan's orders. Her nerves were at its peak almost the whole time. When they got into the half filled class and sat on the front row, her back was hurting badly from the tension and there was an acute sting inside her belly that made her want to curl up and hold it, but she endured it, hoping no one could tell. Now that she thought about it, she had been feeling this same sting for almost a week. Maybe she was suffering from real food poisoning. Or maybe it was stress. That would explain her nausea too, and the impression that her body was swollen. She had been so overwhelmed about the recent events that she never thought about the possibility of getting physically affected by them.

    -I can't believe I'm having this class with you! -Noah whispered when the teacher asked them to write down a brief essay about the subject he had just introduced so they could discuss it in the next class. -I'm so happy, really, this teacher is brilliant and I can't wait to study with you for his finals.

    Belle nodded and smiled, but a voice in the back of her mind kept reminding her that she would probably be gone before finals. She didn't expect the FBI to take more than the whole term to find and arrest Daniel.

    The crowded street felt comfortably safe as they headed for her next class. Noah would walk her to philosophy and then head to his own class.

    -I should've known you would prefer to hook up with rapists. -A voice barked too close to her ear and she jumped away from it, bumping against Noah's arm. He put the arm around her shoulder and pulled her against his chest, but quickly took the arm away when she frowned at him, as if asking “what are you doing?”. They both apologized at the same time.

    -Get lost, Caesar, or I'm gonna land one right in your ear. -Noah circled her to get between them. -Leave her alone.

    -I'm just saying that it makes sense. Someone that rapes a girl, then tries to kill her and drops her naked in the middle of nowhere couldn't be “too judgmental”. -The unbearable man named Julius Caesar grunted. -Good thing I jumped off before that one got clingy…

    Belle stared at the boy as if he was a giant cockroach and Noah burst out laughing.

    -I'm not even gonna argue with you, Caesar, look at her face and if you still believe a woman like that could ever cling to you, I recommend that you drop psychology, because you need a shrink. -He shook his head and poked Belle's arm. -If he keeps bothering you, let me know.

    Caesar looked like he would say something, but then he saw JP and Mia approaching the group and turned his back to them, heading in the opposite direction.

    -Good morning, lovebirds. -JP mocked. Mia just waved hello to Belle and avoided giving any sign of acknowledging Noah's presence.

    -JP… Please, don't. -Noah sighed and looked away.

    -Good morning, JP. -Belle took a deep breath and tried to sound calm. -I don't like it when you imply I'm cheating on my husband, could you, please, stop?

    -Sorry, I hadn't seen it this way. -He scratched the back of his head. -Now, that's a way of ruining the mood, I'm really sorry, Belle.

    She just nodded, avoiding his eyes.

    -Caesar had started it, but you added the icing on top. Congrats. -Noah huffed. -This week sucks.

    -Since I already started, what happened to your forehead? And to your cheek too... Did you pass out while shitting? -JP frowned, pointing at Noah's fresh bruises, still swollen and purple.

    -I hit my head. Mind your own businesses. -Noah murmured.

    Mia examined his face for the first time. Her eyes flew to Belle's and she gave her a look that made it clear that she believed he had been with Emma when the bruises were caused.

    -Noah, if you want to, you may go to your class... Mia and JP both take Philosophy with me, I can walk with them. -The last thing she needed was to have Mia confronting him in front of everyone because of things she told her. -I don't want you to get late because of me.

    -Nah, I planned it all, I'll get to my seat ten minutes earlier, don't worry. -He faked a smile.

    The four of them walked to philosophy, then Noah waved at her and hi fived JP before leaving for his class.

    -I didn't mean to offend you. -JP grimaced when they sat on their usual spot, with the corridor between them. -It's just that we always mock him about you, I shouldn't have done it in front of you, sorry.

    -Doing it behind my back is as bad as doing it in my face. If I find out you're mouthing about me again, I'm gonna tell Ryan. -Belle crossed her arms. She wouldn't do it, but she hoped that was enough to shut him up.

    -Ok, I'll try to stop, I'm really sorry. -He sank into his chair. Mia sat beside him and started to draw something on his cheek with her eye pencil. He huffed, keeping his head turned straight ahead to let her have a comfortable angle. -It was just a joke anyway, you should chill out a bit. Let's go to a party, ok? Tonight. I'm gonna find out which one is having the best beers, and I'll let you know.

    -I'm not going to a party. -Belle tilted her head, trying to get a glimpse of the drawing as Mia silently giggled.

    -Yeah, you're right, you're not the type who would come to class with a hangover, right? Tomorrow, then.

    -I'm not going. Ever. -Her mood was especially bad today and the pinch inside her belly wasn't helping a bit. -I wanna go home and stay with Ryan.

    -Oh, you're so boring! -He grunted and turned to look at her. Belle gasped, then looked away. There was a drawing of a hairy penis all over his cheek. Mia put her pencil away, satisfied with the girl's reaction.

    Belle's face was red, but she couldn't hold a smile, then a shy laugh. Mia winked at her.

    -What? What did you do? -He frowned. -What did you write?

    Mr. Park fortunately didn't notice the drawing, since JP kept his head down while taking a long nap. They joined Noah for lunch and JP came up with the party idea again, which was dismissed by the three of them. No one warned him about the obscene drawing on his face and people around kept a straight face in front of him laughing only when he couldn't hear it anymore. It was a bit blurred but was still very recognizable. Betty passed straight by them without a glance, but brushed her elbow against Belle's head, messing up her hair a bit.

    Belle ignored it and kept eating as if nothing had happened. She was used to dealing with bullies and knew that showing she felt hurt or annoyed would only encourage them to go on. Noah, though, seemed extremely angry and burned the blond girl with his eyes for the rest of the meal.

    -You should talk to her… -Belle murmured low enough so only Noah could hear her.

    -To tell her to back off and leave you alone? -He grunted. -I think that would only make things worse, but I could try if you really want me to…

    -No, to tell her you're sorry and make amends. She's clearly trying to get your attention. -She looked at his face and smiled gently. -She wants to talk to you, but wants you to make the first move.

    The boy sighed and concentrated on his meal. She did the same, since she felt like invading his privacy by insisting so much on the subject.

    -We won't have our last class. -Noah grumbled while he wiped his mouth with a paper napkin, after checking his phone. -The teacher had an emergency and had to leave in a hurry. Let's resume our tour, then?

    Belle agreed, even though she knew Ryan would be pissed if he caught them walking alone through the streets while driving to come pick them up. They set a meeting point, then the group walked her to her next class. She wondered if Ryan had instructed Noah to escort her to her classes or if the boy was doing it just because he wanted to.

    -And here we're getting into the department of chemistry’s territory. I'm gonna spare you of the stupid Breaking Bad jokes. -He smirked as he led her inside the imponent building.

    -Isabelle? -Belle heard some girl shouting her name and her heart struggled to keep beating as she stopped herself a millisecond from turning her head to answer it.

    Her face was crimson and her breathing was shallow, but she had managed to avoid looking at the person that kept screaming her name and her nickname over and over. Why does that girl have to have that name?

    -Are you ok? Do you wanna go back? -Noah noticed her discomfort. Her belly ached terribly and she felt nauseous again. -You don't look so well, let's go outside so you can take some air.

    When they turned, Belle's face grew pale. Daniel's sister was trying to get to them, squeezing her way through the students.

    -Oh my God, please, no. -Belle whined and took some steps back. -Noah, is there another way out of this building?

    Noah nodded, confused, pointing to the other side. She grabbed his hand and started to run.

    She heard her name again and again, then it just stopped, but she didn't have the guts to look back. When they got out of the building, Belle ran to a bush and vomited.

    -Are you… Are you ok? -Noah murmured as he patted her back softly. She held her lower abdomen and vomited again, the pain piercing even stronger. -Do you want me to call Ryan?

    Belle nodded as she held her messy ponytail away from her mouth, desperate, trying to hold back the tears. She had to get away from this building. Now.

    -Let's go, please. -She started to cry. Noah’s eyes were full of pity and helplessness. As they walked fast away from the building, people shot angry glances at him, probably assuming he was the one that made the girl cry.

    -He was already coming, he said he'll arrive in ten minutes. -Noah brushed her shoulder up and down with a trembling hand. Belle grimaced and shook her head, knowing that it meant Ryan would drive like a madman to get there faster. -Belle, what happened?

    -I had a panic attack. -She answered, but she knew it was a lie. It had been totally different from a panic attack, although she didn't know how to explain, even for herself, that she had been terrified of Daniel's sister.

    -I'm sorry… Was it something I said or did that triggered it? -He sighed. -I'm so sorry, really…

    -No, Noah, please, let's not talk about it now. -She sniffed.

    When Ryan arrived, he got out of the car and ran to her immediately, leaving the door open.

    -What happened? -He had his arms around her before she had finished getting up. -Are you hurt?

    -No, I just had a panic attack. -She averted his eyes and he frowned. He lifted her head and gave her a look that let her know he knew she was lying. -Please, let's go home?

    Ryan took her in his arms, even though she told him she could walk. Her legs were still trembling, so she didn't complain. Noah followed behind with worried eyes.

    -This isn't normal, you should take her to see a doctor or something. -Noah murmured as he watched Ryan fastening her seatbelt while he fastened his own. -She panicked out of nowhere. And then threw up a lot. I mean... Is there any chance of her being pregnant?

    Ryan froze, then looked at her face.

    -Why are you asking that? -He huffed when he recovered his composure, then started maneuvering with one hand while fastening his own seatbelt with the other. -She has panic attacks now and then, it has nothing to do with pregnancy.

    -Well, she's having cramps. The whole morning. -Noah shrugged and looked out the window. Belle shot him a questioning look and blushed. -And she was having them yesterday too. Now that I think about it, she had it on Sunday too, although today it looked way worse.

    -It's not… I'm not pregnant, Noah. Shut up. -She looked down when Ryan glanced at her with a slight crease between his eyebrows. -I'm ok, really. I was just nauseous.

    Ryan offered her some mints, then tapped on the wheel, pressing his lips for the rest of the trip. Noah looked out the window and sighed from time to time.

    -Do you want me to take you to the hospital? -Ryan murmured when they got inside the house.

    -No. I'm fine now. -She sat on the sofa and leaned her head back.

    -What did he do? -He sat beside her and pulled her to his lap, resting her head on his shoulder. -Don't tell me it was just a panic attack, something happened.

    -He didn't do anything. He was right, I've been having cramps for a while. -She sighed, then held his neck firmly, hiding her face in it. -Maybe I ate something that didn't go well…

    -Why did you tell him about your pain but hid it from me? -He murmured after a while, placing his open palm over her lower abdomen. The heat felt so good she sighed.

    Belle looked up to check his face, but there was no sign of emotion.

    -I didn't, he must have noticed it on his own. -She thought about it. -Or maybe Mia noticed and told him something, I didn't tell anyone. Didn't think it was important.

    -How long?

    -A few days. Five or six. -She sighed. -But it's gone now. Maybe throwing up helped. Must be food poisoning.

    -If you feel it again, we'll go to the hospital, ok? Are you sure you don't know what caused it? -He pinched her waist when she tried to avoid his eyes. -The supposed panic attack, do you really believe it was just the pain?

    She just nodded. Ryan held her and kissed her cheek, brushing her hair away from her face. She knew he didn't believe her, and that lying to him would only push him away, but she couldn't tell him about Daniel's sister.

    She had thought about it during the trip home, as she felt more calm. Sarah wasn't close friends with her brother, and it was absurd to think that she would call her parents to share the news about bumping into Belle in college, especially because, as far as she knew, her parents had disinherited her when they found out that she was coming to Florida to live with her boyfriend's family and to study.

    There was close to no risk added by being in the same campus as Sarah, at least that's what she wanted to believe. She knew that if she revealed it to Ryan, he would go insane and move them, and so she would lose everything, her new friends, her first time at the beach, that Ryan had promised would happen in July, her classes… She didn't want to leave, unless it was necessary for their safety.

    -Belle… -He whispered against her hair. -Tell me what made you feel this bad, please. I won't hurt him, just let me deal with it, please.

    -He didn't do anything, Ryan. I'm fine. -She murmured and lifted her head to kiss his mouth, but remembered she had vomited one hour or so ago. -I need to drink water and brush my teeth.

    -Go brush your teeth, I'm gonna make some tea for your stomach. -He sighed, clearly upset with her for lying to him.

    Belle slept until they had to leave for her therapy session, getting there five minutes late. She talked about Daniel's sister to her psychologist and asked for advice.

    -What are the consequences of hiding it from Ryan? -Dr. Fontaine asked her without answering her question.

    -Hm… He gets upset when I lie or hide things from him.

    -Is that the only problem?

    -I could be exposing us both to risk, because of the protection program. If she talks with Daniel… He could come after me, he would know where to find me unprotected. -She thought about it. -But I don't believe she would, I don't even believe she still talks to him, because her parents mistreated her a lot and they gave their backs to her, too. Daniel wasn't a good brother, he never stood up for her and he always rebuked me when I tried to prevent her mother from beating her.

    -Still, the risk exists… Or at least Ryan would be certain that it exists if you told him about it, right? -The psychologist went on. -Do you think it's possible that he will find it out on his own?

    Belle thought about it.

    -No, I don't think so…

    -If he did find out, what do you think would happen?

    -He would be very mad at me… He wouldn't trust me anymore, possibly. -Her heart squeezed at the thought and her lower abdomen hurt.

    -So, the consequences of not telling him, the possible consequences… Both of you getting hurt, killed or kidnapped by a terrorist group, Ryan getting upset, or mad, or not trusting you anymore… -He counted, using the tip of his fingers. -What are the consequences of you telling him?

    -He would get upset that I didn't tell him sooner… And he would take me away from here… I would lose my friends, I would lose the therapy, and… -She decided to be honest, with him and with herself. -I don't want to leave Florida, I want to stay.

    -In other words, you're putting your personal interests over his feelings.

    His words hit her hard. She wanted to deny it, but Ryan had made it so clear that he wouldn't forgive her if she betrayed his trust, so her mind refused to come up with excuses for doing so.

    -I guess… I'm so ashamed. -She covered her face with both hands. -I think I… I'm gonna talk with Sarah tomorrow and ask her not to tell Daniel about me. If I'm certain she won't say anything… If she won't tell him, then there's nothing to tell Ryan, right? If she seems suspicious, then I need to tell him immediately.

    -Do you think he would be satisfied with that solution? -The old man smiled, knowing his words would stay with her until she made a decision.

    Belle tried to please him every way possible, feeling guilty for hiding the truth about Sarah from him. As he served himself a piece of the chocolate cake, he pretended he was ok with it, but she could tell it was only because he was expecting her to tell him the truth soon. He was giving her space to make the right decision, and she knew the longer she took, the less he would be willing to wait.

    Even though he pretended not to be upset, she knew something was off, from him heading to the gym without a word after work, to him lying with his back to her, his hair soaking his shirt and pillow after getting out of the shower. He let her caress his back and abs, but didn't turn to kiss her and pretended to be asleep when she slid her hand into his boxers to tease him.

    The next day she asked Noah to let her head to her last class alone. He lost his voice for a moment, clearly confused and trying to figure out what he had done wrong, but nodded and went away. She rushed her way to the chemistry main building, hoping she would meet Sarah there. She stood in the corridor, scanning the faces.

    -Belle! Is that really you? Good Lord, look at you, all grown up! You're always beautiful as a flower, aren't you? -She got startled when bright blond hair hit her face as the woman wrapped her arms around her. -I must admit I hoped I'd never see you again, but now I'm glad I did, because you were the only likable person in that horrible city…

    Sarah’s sweet perfume was all over the place and her dazzling smile made Belle's chest feel warm. She was so used to seeing the woman cry or look down that the expression seemed out of place in her beautiful face. She looked a lot like Daniel, but prettier. The woman brushed her hair behind her ear and Belle saw a bunch of earrings there. Daniel's mother would rip them off if she saw it.

    -Tell me, sweetheart, what are you doing here in Gainesville? -The girl examined Belle's body and nodded her head to show her approval. Then her shoulders dropped slightly. -Please, tell me you didn't marry Daniel and you two are living here now… I feel nothing against you, but I don't want to have to tell my husband and my daughter that we'll have to move.

    So she wasn't aware of Daniel being a fugitive and certainly didn't want to have anything to do with him.

    -No, Sarah, I'm married to someone else, Ryan. I'd never marry Daniel, why would you say that? -Belle was baffled by the idea. -You look wonderful, by the way, and I didn't know you had a daughter.

    -Ah, I'm glad you wouldn't, but you were always around him and he was always telling everyone you two would get married, I thought you had some sort of religious pact. -Sarah wrinkled her nose. She clearly hated her brother. -Rose will be four in July, my little chubby princess. Of course you don't know, and I would appreciate it if you didn't share it with him… If my parents find out about it, I'm afraid they might try to reach me to try to take her from me. Ah, I'm pregnant, four months!

    She smiled broadly and pointed to her own belly, stroking it gently with her palm. There was no sign of pregnancy in her flat model-like belly.

    -Congratulations. -Belle faked a smile. She wasn't an enthusiast about the idea of people having children, especially if they grew up in a messy environment as Sarah did. Still, she seemed to be quite happy now, so maybe her husband had had a healthy childhood, at least. -Sarah, I'd like to ask you a favor…

    -Of course, sweetheart, you were always so kind to me, tell me, do you need help with something here? Are you majoring in chemistry? -Sarah's smile looked exactly as Daniel's, and Belle looked away to avoid panicking.

    -Ah, no, what I wanted to ask you is that you call me Belle, not Isabelle. I mean, never call me by that name again, please. -This would probably be enough. -And I don't think I need to ask you, but I will anyway. Please, don't tell anyone that you saw me here. Please, don't tell anyone, Daniel can't know I'm here, please.

    -Belle, you're scaring me. -Sarah's eyes opened wide. -Did he hurt you? Did he beat you or threatened to kill you? Are you running away from him?

    Belle hesitated, then decided she would rather have an ally than to risk the woman getting curious and end up snooping around.

    -Could you skip this class? Do you mind coming with me for a coffee? -She sighed after some thought.
  15. TZia

    TZia Member

    Dec 17, 2021
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    Oh my dear author, my anxiety level just went through the roof, I have a bad feeling about this:cry::cry::cry:.
    I’m pretty sure not telling Ryan about Daniel’s sister falls clearly in the category of “hiding things” vs “not telling things”.
    Also those stomach symptoms that she has been having kind of raised a flag for me but I wanted to see if they would continue and dear author didn’t disappoint. The first thing that came to mind was ectopic pregnancy, the symptoms of sharp belly pain, nausea, back pain and feeling swollen certainly are consistent with that. But then I remembered that Ryan always insisted on using condoms every time they had sex except the first time where Ryan withdrew and we know that it’s not 100% effective. In terms of timing that would have been about 3 months ago which is about right in terms of showing symptoms of ectopic pregnancy. Talk about bad luck, but Ryan did say that he believed that Belle had bad luck and bad timing in Book 1:p. Maybe I’m wrong, having to deal with this on top of everything else may be too much for our couple and I really would like to have them grow together, not grow apart. I can just imagine the guilt and self-loathing that Ryan would feel if in fact Belle is pregnant (even if it’s an ectopic one).
    @GiBro any spoilers to offer? Are we heading for another “are we breathing moment”? the wait for the next update will be excruciating :(
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022 at 5:33 AM
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  16. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2021
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    Good morning :love:
    I gotta admit you're a much more creative writer than me :notworthy:
    Ectopic pregnancy never crossed my mind. Her symptoms were "mimicked" from a person I know that went through something similar what she's going through now. Not gonna tell you what, though, you're gonna have to find out reading or guessing :censored:

    I don't know if next chapter fall under "are we breathing" moment, but they certainly gonna raise a few eyebrows :p:cautious::whistle:
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  17. TZia

    TZia Member

    Dec 17, 2021
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    @GiBro - you are definitely the creative one, I just overthink things:p I thought about ectopic pregnancy because since she is now clean from the drugs which messed up her hormonal system, I guessed that her reproductive system was balancing itself. Anyways I’m glad that it's not pregnancy and I’ll just wait and read further, anticipating to have my mind blown:LOL: I’m really curious about what events will “raise a few eyebrows”.
    On another note it was really nice to have a bit of Ryan’s POV. So he was/is holding back because he is convinced that this is a passing whim for Belle and he is just waiting for her to come to her senses and end things. She on the other hand is afraid that the relationship is just a temporary distraction for him. I really hope that they are going to have an honest conversation at some point.
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  18. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2021
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    Aw, thank you:love:, nah, it's a plausible guess. Cancer would be too, although it would be terribly dark from my part.
    I just need to point out I didn't say it's not pregnancy, I said it's not ectopic pregnancy:cautious:

    Next post tomorrow at noon, after I feed the stray cats :giggle:
    They'll have to, at some point, right?:p
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  19. TZia

    TZia Member

    Dec 17, 2021
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    OMG??? If what you are suggesting as a plausible cause is what I’m thinking….. I really fear how these 2 or going to deal with it and I wonder how it happened (for the reasons previously mentioned). Anxiety rising again :cry::cry::cry:
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  20. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2021
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    I didn't say she is either :ROFLMAO: I just wanted to point out I hadn't discarded it, but, since you asked:
    1- condoms can fail. It's extremely rare, but it can have holes or break, especially if the user is stupid enough to leave air inside it.

    2-they started without it a bunch of times, most of them because Belle started it.

    3-On their first night that would be pretty possible to happen. Pull out is definitely a stupid birth control method, and Ryan should know better.
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