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They really had a problem here, didn't they? There had always been sexual tension between them, but now they were acting the happy couple it was even harder to do so. Yes, it made them convincing, but it also made it really difficult. "Your family really likes to get up early, doesn't it?" she mused before chuckling, "Why do I have to play fair when you aren't? That's not right." After all, he had started it. Still, it was clear he was also in edge in a good way. "This is control?" she asked amused as his hands roamed her body before nodding, "If I have to, I can." It wasn't easy. This pretend life had a wonderful lull and Connor she genuinely liked.
When Connor finally pulled away and fixed her with a slight glare, Lia was surprised, though his tone was still soft. "Okay, sounds good," she agreed, her own alcohol level peaking and it seemed bad to so this on a whim, "Don't be too long." She slowly got up and made her way to his bedroom.
It was strange to be in here again, the memory from that night still fresh. Taking her bags from behind the door where she had hid them before she pulled out her pajama and got ready for bed. As she did she wondered about all this. Why was she attracted to Connor? Was it the escape? Partially, but she also genuinely liked him which made it confusing. It was probably best not to do anything too stupid and try to keep away from anything that was not light pda. Splashing some cold water in her face to calm herself, Lia went back to the bedroom and settled down on one side. She didn't really care which side it was. Leaning against the backboard of the bed, Lia opened up a book to read. A bit later Connor came in. "Almont thought I would have to send a search party for you," she teased, looking up from her book for a moment.
His mother was being sweet and despite the wine she was sober enough to keep an eye out. Still, she was just being the overbearing mother that wanted to make sure her son was alright. Connor looked at Lia and she could practically read his mind he felt. “Well we have to leave early tomorrow,” Connor had started to say but he was distracted by Lia then. “Okay we’re both not playing fair,” he breathed out as he managed to pull from her tantalizing suckling if his ear lobe. Connor sighed out, he was smiling at the comfort of being with her but he knew how this would play out and wasn’t sure if it was right. Still, he was having a hard time going against his desires and wants. Connor’s hands gently roamed the skin of Lia’s. “I think I can control myself,” he joked. “How about you?” Truly, he already felt himself slipping into her spell, and he had to pull away to assure he wouldn’t devour her there in the couch.
Connor came to a stand then, running his hands through his hair as he looked at Rosalia with a certain glare. It would be so easy if this was their actual life and yet he had so much fun pretending. “I do realize we are sleeping in the same bed,” Connor told her then with a small smile. “So why don’t you go and choose your side if the bed while I clean up?” He suggested. Anything to help him calm himself as the liquor was hitting its peak. Connor slowly peeled away and came to a stand. He fathered the dishes then and looked back at Lia. It was clear then how badly he wanted her and he was confused - what was th e reason for this attraction ? Did he actually want to go through with this? Was this just a distraction?
He gathered all the dishes and placed them in the dishwasher, setting everything off and eventually heading up to the bedroom.
Lia had forgotten how good it was to snuggle up against someone and to simply relax. She couldn't remember the last time that had happened and she happily relaxed into him as they watched the movie. There was something so nice and comfortable about having his hand on her back, cradling her in a sense against him. During the course of the movie her hand had Trailer across his torso to wrap slightly around him, making them more a tangled mess than anything else.
When the movie ended Lia looked up at Connor. Oh, she knew that look well and by god she had the same feeling right now. She could have so easily kissed him long and slowly. His mom's words about them being lovebirds made her blush slightly as she wished them a good night back. Lia looked after them for a moment. "Your mom is really sweet," she mused.
That was before his hand trailed up her spine, making her slightly shudder in a good way. He knew how sensitive her spine was to such a touch after that one night. Her arm had stayed around him too as he played with her hair and she looked to him. "Probably a good idea. Or are we still getting up early for practice?" she mused, though she had the feeling that would be canceled for the weekend, which was fine since these were special circumstances.
Lia chucked. "It's okay. Wasn't like you planned this and it would have been hard to explain why I was living with you," she assured him, smiling back at him, "Though you are clearly enjoying pranking them." It was easy to tell with how he smiled. Him kissing her neck made her bite her lips softly to stop a sound, but that didn't help as it slipped through anyway. "Now that's not fair," she pointed out as they shifted lightly to sit up, but still close, "That would be like if I did this." She leaned in to gently nibble on the lob of his ear for a moment. Oh, they were both clearly hungry for this. "You realize we will be sleeping in the same bed," she pointed out amused, "Or are we supposed to make this act very convincing?" She gave him a inquisitive, but curious look. These were extraordinary circumstances after all. They were supposed to be an engaged couple. Lia wasn't sure how he wanted to play this.
Connor could see Lai having a conversation with his mother and it was nice that they were getting along. It was all a bit of a lie though a part of him felt bad, but what was the harm in just playing a little make believe to ease the tensions from the past few days. Besides, his parents were going on a trip and wouldn’t be back until close to the event, which he always invited them to. So, he wouldn’t have to keep up this charade pass the weekend. It would be different actually having someone to brig with, Connor was usually the third wheel and his parents were not shy about teasing him for it.
Connor watched as Lia san into the couch beside him, snuggling close and it felt good, honestly. H smirked and wrapped his arm around her, not sure how far was too far as his hand rested along her back gently. He could smell the scent of her shampoo, smiling at how her hair tickled his skin when she laughed. Connor thoroughly enjoyed the movie but having someone to hold after so long felt like it made things ten times better. He didn’t want to let her go truly, even when the movie was coming to an end. Connor looked down at Lia, “Me neither,” he said with a chuckle as he looked into her eyes. He could kiss her then.
“Well, we better get to bed. I’m making breakfast,” his mother said as she got up slowly, a bit dazed from the wine. His father was already on it, holding her close. “Goodnight lovebirds,” his mother crooned, and Connor shook his head and chuckled as they headed upstairs. Connor still had his arms around Lia, the only dishes left from dessert to pop into the dishwasher. Connor looked to Lia then, his hand traveling up along her spine, before resting at the nape of her neck and playing with her hair. “So,” he said in a whisper, “Time for bed?” They did have quite the drive the next day and his mother was serious about staying out of the kitchen which meant they could sleep in a little.
“I’m sorry I kind of threw everything at you about this,” he said with a smile. Connor licked his lips then, giving a kiss to her neck, as though that would help with the hunger, he had for her. “We should sleep,” he said, fighting his urges and pulling away. Gently sitting up, but still holding her close.
Of course his mom wanted to know that she was serious about her son. Considering the bit she did know about his past, it was even more important for his mom likely. Still, Lia was glad that she seemed to have past the test of sorts as his mom patted her hand. "I certainly try to. Maybe I'll get him that far that he will actually not look at his phone for one day at the weekend," she couldn't help joking, "Yes, it was nice to talk. Though you will have to tell me more about what he was like as a child. If it were up to him, he would have been born an adult with a suit and tie." After all, any girlfriend wanted to know the scoop on her fiance about their childhood from their mom. Still, Lia couldn't help feeling a little guilty. She knew that his mom wanted grandchildren and it wasn't like she would give them to her.
Lia watched Connor and his father in the kitchen, talking and having some scotch. It was a nice sight to see and she couldn't help a small smile. She poured her and the mom another glass of wine before they too made their was to the couch to watch the movie. Seeing Connor's gaze on her, she could tell he was finding this all very amusing. Lia smiled back and settled in beside him, simply sitting close to him. Though she quickly corrected that considering that they were supposed to be engaged. Lia turned to snuggle more against him, resting her head on his shoulder lightly.
The movie was good and the more time past the more it almost felt natural to be snuggled up to Connor like this. To smell his scent and to have her head shake lightly when he laughed. The more time passed the more, she sunk into snuggling him. She found herself laughing too a lot and it felt so good to forget the craziness that was her life for a bit. When the movie ended she didn't instantly pull away from Connor, instead staying snuggled for a moment longer. "That was a good movie," she said, "Can't remember laughing that hard in a while." She smiled up at Connor.
Of course, every mother wanted to know that their son would find a woman good enough and that came from a place of sincerity. She also hoped that she had raised Connor well enough that he would treat any woman he chose to date or spend is life with love and respect. She knew how hard it was to bring up Connor after his tough childhood and he hadn’t really understood the idea of love and being cared for and caring for other people. When he was younger, he really felt the world was against him and everything was about him. Though, slowly he opened up his heart and they were able to show him that caring for someone could hurt, but it wasn’t a terrible thing and sometimes people needed that one person that was strong enough to be dependent on and Connor became that person. He was always extremely focused in anything that he did, and though he didn’t seem that social, he was pretty popular amongst his peers.
“Well,” his mother said as she gently patted Lia’s hand. “That’s all I could want. Maybe you can bring some life to his house finally, sometimes I wish he’d just step out of his comfort zone.” Though the red headed woman before him certainly proved Connor could step out of the blonde and brunette category. “Oh, you’re fine, it’s nice to talk. I think I’ve only met one of Connor’s other serious girlfriends and she was so quiet. That didn’t last long.”
Connor and his father was talking business of course, but that didn’t stop his dad from prying in.
“So, marriage?” He asked with a chuckle, as he took a sip of the scotch. He had planned to take a few relaxing shots with Lia after the day they had but figured maybe they’d get a chance when his parents slept. He finished the drink before pouring another to have during the movie, getting the dessert setup, brownies and ice cream.
“Marriage, yeah I decided to take the plunge and we just figured – were perfect for each other.”
“What about work?” His father quipped.
“I can take a break when I want you know; I am the boss.” Connor chuckled, his father patting him on the back. They soon moved toward the dining area, where Connor fixed the couch, so each couple had their own section. He put on some comedy, taking a sip of his drink as he took a seat then, eyeing Lia and it took everything in him not to laugh when he motioned for her to come sit as his side.
Lia suspected that she was insane for agreeing to this. After all, honesty was the best policy. How was this helping anyone? Connor would have to tell his parents eventually, at the latest when he found a woman he actually wanted to spend forever with.
At least she was glad that her choice in clothes at least seemed to be correct, judging from what Connor now wore. Still, she could see the look in his eyes as he saw the ring on her finger. Lia didn't want to imagine what he had to be thinking at this moment. Of the woman that had broken his heart, at what might have been. Lia felt sorry for him, but hid it behind a smile.
Taking her seat at the table, Lia looked around, smiling softly at the conversation. His parents were really sweet and it made her realize how much she missed her parents. If only she could call them. Forcing herself to forget that thought, she tuned back in to the conversation. They really had to get their story straight though, she realized. "Yes, quite busy," she agreed with a nod, taking a bite of the food, "This is really delicious, darling." She gave him a soft smile. Though soon she didn't have time to eat, because his parents always asked so many questions, but she happily indulged them, answering all of them as truthfully as possible in this situation.
Once dinner was over Lia almost had the hope that heh hard part was over now that they would be watching a movie, but instead his mom came with that kind of question. Answering questions about her past was easy, but that... Lia looked to Connor, as if to admire him while she used that moment to gather her thoughts. "The engagement has been great. It's a big step, but I feel I couldn't have given my heart to a better man. I am really happy with Connor. He is the most caring, selfless, smart man I know who is incredibly determined. He would do anything he can for the people he trusts," Lia told her, knowing that those were all traits he definitely posed, "Yes, he's a workaholic and yes, sometimes I would like to throw that phone of his away, but I know if I ever truly needed anything, no business meeting would be more important than me. I accept him like he accepts me with all of my faults. That's why I love him." Her gaze had rested in him the whole time. It all had bits of truth in it and it was so easy to make it sound believable. Almost too easy if Lia had to admit it.
Lia blushed slightly at the thoughts and ran a hand through her hair. "Sorry, I sometimes have the tendency to ramble," she said slightly sheepish, "So yeah, engagements been good. You raised a really good man." That was an understatement considering the things he was doing for her. She took a sip of her wine, hoping his mom was happy with that answer.
Connor smirked seeing how Lia had given him a cheeky look and agreed to going along with his little pretend engagement. Just a weekend, that should be easy enough for the both of them he suspected. He had come back upstairs to change into something a little bit more presentable than sweats and an old shirt, still a bit casual but dressy which was complemented by Lia as she came down from her shower in a casual dress. He smiled in her direction, she was beautiful, and it was only a moment of feeling odd, once noticing the ring on Lia’s finger but that wasn’t to say that it didn’t look stunning on her hand. It made him think then, how it would’ve looked on Lucy’s. She had never met up with, nor responded to his letters and left without a trace it seemed.
He ignored those memories and took to getting dinner set on the table. His parents had already taken their seats. Connor poured them all a fresh glass of wine.
“Oh, it’s quite alright, I’m sure Connor forgot, or he was trying to hide you from us like he has been.”
“I – we get busy.” He said with a smirk toward Rosalia.
Connor started to cut at his lamb, popping some of the side dish in as well.
“Oh, so you two met at work?” His mother quipped. His parents were very curious people and very much involved in their son’s life. To finally meet this mysterious fiancé that they had been hearing about was refreshing as she was starting to think that things hadn’t exactly worked out.
“You can say that,” Connor said to his mother. The rest of dinner was spent with his mother asking Rosalia a bunch of questions, to which Connor was keeping an ear on. It was nice hearing about her life and. Dinner was soon finished and he and his father started to clean up. They were to watch a movie together and then knowing his parents, they would be off to bed.
Connor’s mother Juliet moved to sit next to Rosalia. “So, Lia, tell me – how’re you enjoying your engagement?”
Lia listened as Connor started to explain with his parents. "And this weekend is the lake house weekend?" she asked, finding it strange to have such a weekend, but the story behind it was sweet, "Of course, I get it. I'm my parents only child. I feel responsible for them. My parents work a lot, like I told you before, but when I es young they always carved out time for us. That stayed, even when I still lived in Boston I would make sure to visit them at least once a month." It was sweet that he cared for them so much. "That's what made moving to Seattle so hard. I haven't talked to them since," she admitted, really missing them and wishing she could know if they were okay, but she knew they were safer if they didn't know.
Hearing he had forgotten, Lia chucked. "How can you forget that?" she questioned amused, still confused why they were placing his parent's things in her room. Somehow she had the feeling things would be getting a lot more complicated soon. And she was not disappointed as Connor once again continued to speak. Lia looked to him surprised. She would have never guessed and truthfully she couldn't imagine how anyone could have rejected Connor. And yet, it explained that night, the feeling that she had had that they were similar. They had both longed for love after their hearts were destroyed. "I'm so sorry," she found herself saying, though knew it didn't really help, "And now they think I'm that fiance?" Oh dear god, what had she gotten herself into?
Just then Connor took her hand and laughed in a way that made her forget her thoughts. Lia arched her brows at his suggestion. "You want me to play your fiancé?" she repeated, clearly thinking that he was out of his mind. However, she also found herself wondering. Where could she go? And truthfully, she understood his need to protect his parents. They had seemed so happy to see her. Sighing, Lia ran a hand through her hair. "I guess you got yourself a fiancé," she found herself saying. She had to be crazy to be saying that.
Lia nodded at what he said. "Go downstairs. I'll take care of the guest room and my stuff," she told him, ushering him away. Once he was gone Lia began gathering her things, which really wasn't a lot because of this whole situation. It was easy enough to bring everything over to Connor's room and then putting on new sheets for his parents. After the room was free of any trace of her, Lia went to shower and get cleaned up. Deciding for a casual dress, she dressed and blow dried her hair, cause otherwise it would never dry in time.
Then she moved to drawer, opening it she found the black box like promised. Lia opened it carefully to find the most beautiful ring inside. Connor clearly had loved this other woman a lot. She slipped it on her finger, luckily fitting rather well. It felt a little weird wearing an engagement ring again as the last time it had chained her to a maniac, but she would live.
With one last check in the mirror, she headed downstairs. "I'm sorry that took so long. Had I known we were expecting guests I would have cut the class short," Lia said with a smile, giving Connor a teasing look like this wasn't the first time it happened, "I'm Rosalia Goodwin, but Lia is fine. It's a pleasure to meet you." She smiled to his parents unsure if she was supposed to shake their hands or go in for a hug. First time meeting the parents and suddenly engaged, she had really hit the jackpot, hadn't she?
Upstairs and away from his parents, Connor was able to relax somewhat. Though that didn’t last long as it was clear and obvious that his parents were going anywhere. Well, Connor could just tell them the truth, but he didn’t want to worry them or spread Lia’s business. He could reschedule, but then they would ask questions and he was always a terrible liar to them.
“Every month we have a weekend together. You know I work so much and my parents travel, but one year my dad had a health scare, we went to the lake house and – it just became. Anything you know?” You never knew when was the last day with your parent. Connor knew not many people had the best parent, hell he’d been tested and returned countless of times with families. When you had parents loved you and were willing to devote so much into you, it was something to be cherished. Connor never warned to attend a funeral, thinking about when was the last time, he saw his parents or heard their voice.
“I completely forgot.” He said shaking his head as he placed their things in the guest room. Fortunately, Lia was pretty clean and with not many belongings, cleaning up would be easy.
“I also, uh – I mean. I had proposed to a woman. I told my parents I would bring her around and yet – she kind of disappeared and I kept putting off a meeting until finally, I think she just assumed we broke up,” he said referring to his mom. He could tell she was happy, of course always wanting a grandchild. “I guess I should explain what’s going on,” Connor said. Though a smirk befell his lips and he found his hand reaching for her hand laughing almost at what he was considering. “Unless you don’t mind playing along?” She would need a place to sleep and shower, he wasn’t going to send her away it was risky.
Besides, she’d slept in his bed before and things were going well with them.
“There’s uh a black box, in the drawer by my bed.” He still had yet to get rid of the ring, figuring one day Lucy would walk through those doors, but as Connor was allowing himself to open up to different people, he was starting to think that it was time to move on. It would just take cleaning the guest room and sleeping together, everything else had been fairly easy – the cooked together, hung out together – this would just be like their last few days with one another.
Connor soon headed downstairs to get dinner finished and allow Lia a chance to clean up and change.
Lia found both of Connor's parents nice. At least from the photo and meeting them just now in person. His mother reminded her a little of her own with her apparently kind and sweet manner. His father also looked nice and the two made a loving couple. She could see how much they loved Connor and she knew Connor loved them, thinking very highly of them.
She could only blink when his mom squealed about her being the fiance. Her? How did they get that impression? God, she was confused. Lia was about to open her mouth to correct the mistake when Connor called her babe. What the hell was going on here? She looked to Connor, trying to read his expression. Something in it told her to play along. "Of course not. Please, stay here. We'll be right back," she assured them before looking around, finding the bags in the hallway. How had she missed walking past those?
Taking half of them, Lia made her way up the stairs behind Connor. As she did she tried to figure this out. Considering that Connor usually planned everything to a T, they had either showed up uninvited or he forgot. Either way, it still didn't explain why she was now his fiance nor why Connor didn't clear up the misunderstanding. Once they were out of earshot, Lia looked to him. "So sweetheart, what's going on here? And I didn't seem to recall saying yes to your proposal," she asked, slightly amused, "I'm assuming you didn't know they were coming or I would have been locked away. Don't think I ever had such an awkward first meet the parents meeting." She couldn't help teasing him just a bit about the situation, though this was clearly complicating things a lot. Suddenly she went from his assistant to fiancé. How had that happened?
Esther had a lot of faith in Lia and she knew that as long as she kept fighting, Jordan would never win and of course at some point, she had to stop running. Jordan wasn’t the guy who would quit until you made them quit. Esther knew from experience. She could get a guy to get his hands off her without saying a word or lifting a finger. She figured Lia need more friends, especially women to also help with these sort of situations. She herself had found comfort in befriending someone who went through the same as her, where it didn’t take much effort to explain what was wrong or why you were feeling the way you were feeling. She made sure to send Connor a text asking him to send her Lia’s information. She knew the girl probably felt a bit odd, knowing that they both had dabbled in Connor’s pool, but that ship had sailed for Connor and she had no feelings for him whatsoever.
Connor had just placed the food to rest, changing into a black shirt and searching his cooler. He had decided on a nice red wine. He was grabbing the dishes to set the table when there was a ringing at his door. Connor rose a brow and peered at the video setting on an app on his phone. He was surprised to see his mother and father on the doorstep. Connor placed the plates onto the counter and rushed to answer the door.
“Mom, dad what are you-“
“I told you he would forget,” his mother said with a shake of her head. It only took a second for him to remember that it was the weekend of their family trip to the lake house. Connor had been so wrapped up in everything, he’d forgot to put it in his calendar when his mother reminded him.
“Right, right I did.” He said with a chuckled, of course stepping aside to let them in. He took their jackets to hang and brought in their luggage.
Connor knew that this was going to be hard to explain to Lexia. Especially considering his parents would be spending the night, which meant the guest room was needed.
“I’m sorry, work has been so crazy,” Connor tried to excused.
“I can understand why. Hey Eddy, tells me you have a client that’s bound to make you guys bigger and richer,” Connor tried not to show his distaste at that.
“Yeah dad, it’s still in the works you know?”
“What’re you cooking?” She asked, already grabbing the cork to open her wine. “Two glasses already set out Connor?” His mother asked with a smile. She figured the proposal must have gone well.
It was then Lia’s voice rang out, louder as she came closer to the kitchen before, she fell into silence.
“Hi,” his mother said with a smile. She had soft brown eyes and embraced her white hair. Despite being adopted, Connor was often told he did resemble her. His father was clinging onto his youth as long as possible, but he was still well fit for an older man. They were an active couple and made an effort to make sure to always be in contact with Connor. “Finally, we meet the fiancé,” she said with a squeal.
Connor didn’t want anything to go any further without clarification.
“Babe,” he said as he walked over to her. “You mind helping me take their luggage up?”
“Oh no Connor, we can –“ he shook his head at his father. “You guys relax, dinner will be ready soon. We’ll be back,” he said as eyed that Lia play along and follow him.
Lia blushed slightly at the praise. "Thank you, but you are an amazing teacher," she replied before chuckling, "Yeah, he definitely is, but he's a good guy." She didn't mention that Connor actually came to the gym every morning it seemed, though that again seemed like something that she shouldn't disclose, even to someone like Esther. He was a lone wolf for a reason.
Understanding, Lia fell in next to Esther and they walked back to Connor 's apartment. She was relieved though that Esther wasn't offended. Silently she listened to her story. The part about how they met at the club was a little awkward, especially cause even though it hadn't been spoken out it was clear that they had both slept with Connor. When the part about the attack came Lia felt chills run down her spine and her hand trembled, understanding the feeling that Esther had felt all too well. Though the next part about Connor made her smile softly, feeling strangely proud that she knew him. "Yeah, he's like that, isn't he? Even now... It's a huge risk for him to take me in, but he did so anyway and he's been helping me in more ways than I could ever repay. Heck, he could have fired me and been rid of this problem," she mused softly. Instead he was in his apartment cooking dinner for them.
The last part made her look to Esther. It felt like she could look into her soul. Like she read the words that were in her heart. "Before Connor accidentally found out... I never told anyone... I was so ashamed and embarrassed. How I could have fallen for such a guy? Let him ruin my life...," she said softly. Her grip on her towel tightened. "I want that. I don't want him to win. To keep controlling my life," Lia agreed firmly, "And somehow I will." Talking... Was she prepared to talk? "Talking isn't easy though is it?" she asked, finding that to be the case. It felt good though that Esther believed in her.
Reaching Connor's apartment, Lia smiled. "Yeah, we should definitely do that," she agreed with a nod. Lia actually liked Esther and maybe she could be her first friend outside of work.
Unlocking the door, Lia stepped inside. "I'm back," she said, closing the door and making her way to the kitchen, "It smells delicious. What's for...?" Lia stopped dead in her tracks upon entering the kitchen. There was Connor, but also two other people that she recognized from the photograph in his office. His parents. It was never a good time to meet anyone's parents for the first time. Being sweaty, bruised, tired and frankly looking like she had come out of a fight, which she kind of had, it was probably the worst. Her hair definitely wasn't in a neat ponytail anymore and some strands stuck to her face from the sweat. Her cheeks were flushed from the exercise and sports clothes didn't exactly scream anything good. Self-consciously Lia ran a hand through her hair, though she knew that was no help anymore. She looked to Connor, wondering why he hadn't mentioned his parents coming for a visit. Then she would have stayed away or something, or at least looked presentable. "Um... hello," she said slowly, having absolutely no idea what she was supposed to say or do.
“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself,” Esther said with a smile. “You definitely area fast learner. You have great from too, I’d love to have you for our next class, free of charge of course. Connor barely uses his membership, he’s like a lone wolf sometimes.” Though of course that seemed to eb changing with Lia being here and she was here quite often of course, at this point living with Connor it seemed. She could understand why Connor was so invested, Lia did come off as a nice and sweet girl that unfortunately got wrapped up with the wrong guy. Esther blushed then listening to Lia’s inquiry. Of course, she wasn’t ashamed of her past or her attack, it did serve to make her stronger in a sense and she learned a lot about herself and of course how to prevent something like that from happening again. Then again, she had the ability to protect herself as well and that certainly didn’t stop at her fist.
Esther made the move, suggesting she could walk her to Connor’s apartment, since hers wasn’t that far. “It’s alright,” she responded to soothe any worries that Lia had offended her. Esther wiped her face with her towel, pulling on a shirt and adjusting her shoes to head back to her place. “I used to be an exotic dancer,” she said. “In fact, that’s how I met Connor. Well that’s where we met again, ironically. We both attended the same university, but it’s no clue on who dropped out right? He’d brought some really important men there, you know; the boy’s club type of guys. Anyhow, Connor was very sweet, he didn’t touch me or anything, just watched and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t melt whenever I met his eyes. I could feel them burning along my skin.” She chuckled, taking a sip of her water and smiling apologetically. “We went on a few dates, but things just never really clicked. One night we had some drinks at the bar, I got a little reckless with my mouth about his current girlfriend and he left me. I got super drunk, all I remember was walking the street, waving down a cab. I got in and he’s driving and suddenly I’m fighting for my life on the gravely floor in an alley.”
It used to be that Esther couldn’t tell this story without crying. “Connor was really nice, and I was still so bitter, I blamed him for everything, and I think he felt the blame as well. But he helped me pay for my bills and therapy and I thought he had ulterior motives, but it was just like when we were in school, just a friendship and that really helped me. He even got me this job. I started going to therapy, I started telling my story more and not being ashamed with myself. I told myself shame was keeping me back and scared and every time I was scared, that son of a bitch won. I was not going to give him the satisfaction of taking my life, after already taking so much. It takes time, but you’ll get there.”
They’d reached the apartment then. “It was real nice having you, we should hang out sometime. You know, when you’re ready,” she said with a kind smile before heading to her place.
Lia had to chuckle at the thought. "Yeah, I could see that happening," she mused, giving Connor a sidelong glance, "See you at home." This time he had said it. Home. Of course, it was his home, but she didn't recall he had said it before. Lia herself wasn't worried either. She didn't think Jordan knew where she was and she was in a class full of people. Plus, the way back to the apartment wasn't far so she felt fairly safe. Besides, she couldn't always depend on Connor to be there.
Lia listened to what Esther said, finding it incredibly fascinating and logical. "You mean in the sense of, if you project confidence while walking on the street you are less likely to be mugged?" she asked, remembering that she had read that somewhere and it made sense. If you looked strong, people would be less likely to mess with you.
Being introduced to the group Lia gave a small wave, finding it weird to suddenly be the newbie, but she found this exciting as well. She loved doing new things and she hadn't done that in so long. Stretching and watching the moves was fun. The actual practice was a lot harder, especially because she had not been on the receiving end of hits since Jordan. Luckily, the padding and gloves seemed to help and forcing herself over and over again to remember that she was fine and that no one wanted to hurt her, she got through it without an episode, though one or two more harder hits had definitely left her trembling for a moment.
At the end of class Lia was physically and mentally exhausted, but she did smile. It had been a lot of fun. Gathering her things, she went over to Esther. "Thank you for today. It was great. I think I'll join next time too," she said, pausing as she recalled what Connor had said, "He told me that you had had a bad run in with a guy. How did you get past that?" Her hand tightened around the towel in her hand before realizing that that was perhaps insensitive. "Sorry... Of course you don't have to talk about it, if you don't want to," Lia quickly added. After all, it wasn't like she freely gave away information on her situation. Still, she wanted to know how people got past it, past the nightmares and whatever else. She should probably get home. Connor was likely already waiting with dinner.
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