Chapter Nine: Nerissa

The dinner had finished hours ago, after we'd indulged in a delectable tiramisu. Afterwards, we'd continued the evening by having drinks at the bar. One had turned to two and two had become three. Anything to make the night last longer. But now here I was, finally standing outside Italia wrapped in my jacket, gazing across at Killian and trying to hide my sadness. Just like seven years ago. It was late, close to midnight in fact. And yet I still didn't want the night to end.

     This evening had proven that he was still the same, sweet Killian from my memory, only with a dream fulfilled and more money. He had insisted on paying the bill, despite my insistence on splitting it. He'd said it was the least he could do for all the years spent apart.  An idea flitted through my mind. Maybe, just maybe, I could get him to agree to another dinner or something. Here goes everything. 

“It's only fair I pay next time. I need to contribute to the lost years too." I stated casually, though inside I was screaming. 

"Next time?" Killian asked, a hint of a smile on his face.

“Yes, next time. I mean, you’re here in Osegate for the foreseeable future, so why not?" I continued in the casual tone, but wrapped my arms around my chest as I spoke, as if protecting my heart from an imaginary rejection. 

“You’re right. I'd love to see you again Nissa." The hint had now become a glowing grin under the street lights. "How about...Sunday? If you have no plans that is?" 

“This Sunday?" My breath hitched. So soon? He must be keen, not that I was complaining. 

“Yep, this Sunday. We have a lot of time to make up Nissa. I want to be friends again." His dark eyes seemed so soft as they gazed at me. It was hard to imagine they were the same eyes that made business men tremble in negotiations. Then again, Killian could be thinking the same thing about me and the courtroom. 

"I'd like that. Very much." I smiled back, blush adorning my cheeks again. 

"Excellent. You have my number and I have yours of course. How about I text you some more details tomorrow? You picked Italia, it's only fair I pick the next place." Killian said, the grin still in place. 

"Sounds perfect." I didn't care when or where, just the fact he wanted to meet up again was good enough for me.  

        Silence hung in the air for a few moments. I shuffled slightly as a light breeze brushed by and I could see Killian awkwardly moving his feet from side to side. It was nice to know he felt the same as me. Not wanting to leave, for it to be over, but knowing we had to. Resigning myself to breaking the quiet between us first, I opened my mouth, about to utter something to do with finding a taxi, when Killian suddenly beat me to it. 

"Would you like a ride home? I have a driver, Maurice. I've already sent him a text and he's on his way. It'd save you having to find transport this time of night." He said, hope lacing the words. "And I want to make sure you get home safe."

"Er sure." I answered. I didn't know why I was surprised at the fact Killian had a driver. Jeez, the man could have a personal jet for all I knew. A driver was no big deal in the grand scheme of things. 

"Good, good," He murmured, quickly glancing down at his phone before looking up again. "He'll be here any second."  

        Suddenly, a sleek, shiny, large car rolled around the corner with great care. My eyes widened as it pulled gently to a stop right by us. Killian stepped towards it. This was the car? It was half the size of a limo! "Are you coming?" Killian asked with concern after turning back when I still hadn't made any movement towards the car. 

        His words shocked me out of my stunned stupor. "Yeah, sorry, coming." I mumbled, walking towards the door. Before I knew what was happening, an older gentleman dressed in black and wearing a hat I'd only ever seen in tv shows appeared in front of the door I'd reached out to open. His gloved hands pulled the handle, opening the door for me. "Thank you?" The words came out as a question. 

The man tipped his hat in response. "My pleasure Ma'am." 

       I settled into the seat as Killian slid in on the other side beside me. As I buckled the seat belt, the man who'd opened the door for me resumed position at the steering wheel.  

"We'll be dropping Nerissa off first Maurice." Killian called to the driver. 

"Very good sir. The address if you please." 

"Oh of course, it's 412 Westgate Street." I rambled quickly, still scrabbling with the seat belt. The engine sprang to life as my sentence finished and the car pulled off, travelling down the road. 

                                                                                      ***

As the car pulled up by my house, it was the first time I regretted living fairly close to everything. It was convenient and easy, but right now it meant that the ride home had been far too short. "Thank you." I said to Maurice with courtesy. I had no idea if it was customary to thank Killian's driver, but it seemed rude not to. He had technically gone out of his way for me after all.

"No problem Ma'am." Maurice smiled at me through the rear view mirror.

      Fumbling with my seat belt, it finally clicked apart and I turned to meet Killian's gaze. "And thank you for a lovely evening." I breathed out. Even though we'd stood fairly close to each other while having drinks, for some reason, our proximity in the back seat of the car seemed far more intimate. 

"No, thank you for such a wonderful time." Killian smiled back. "Sunday?" He murmured, with almost a hint of uncertainty. 

"Sunday." I repeated firmly. 

      Delicately, he reached for my hand, softly encasing it in his warm fingers and giving it a quick squeeze. I could hear the blood pounding in my ears at his touch. 

"I'll see you then." He mumbled, seeming fascinated at our connected hands.

"Yes, I'll see you then." I repeated, feeling as if a fire was alight beneath my skin. I returned the squeeze before regrettably releasing myself from his touch. His soft, wonderful touch. "I have to go now." My voice was barely above a whisper. 

"Goodnight Nissa." He spoke softly still, as if talking any louder would break the atmosphere between us. 

"Goodnight Killian." I reiterated in the same tone, reaching for the door handle. If I didn't get out the car now, I probably never would. My shoes hit the pavement and I slid from the seat until I was standing between my house and the car. I closed the door and Maurice pulled away in that careful, elegant way I'd quickly come to associate with his driving. 

       A sigh spilled from my lips as the cold air brushed over my fevered skin. Killian may have said he wanted to be friends again, but I already knew deep down, I wanted more than friendship. The idea of Killian touching my cheek flittered into my mind and I almost dropped my keys. It felt as though a bucket of ice had been dropped on my head at the image. 

       In haste, I unlocked the front door and stepped inside, relocking and throwing my keys on the table. Darting upstairs, I headed to the bathroom and pulled out some make up wipes, first going over my dark lips and eyes before doing one big swipe across my cheek. 

       Staring back from the mirror, was the enormous, unmissable pinkish white scar in all its glory. Only two people knew the story behind it. One was me and the other was dead. 

       How oh how, could I ever tell Killian? Telling him about the scar would be bad enough. 

       Telling him Cyrus gave it to me would be even worse. 

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