Chapter CHAPTER 25
Dinner had begun, and the table is awkwardly quiet but I knew all too well that even if Luke knew how
much tension there was in the air, he couldn't have guessed the reason behind it.
Luke drops his flute, "So, Caleb. I'd like you to share what you do with my family. Let them get to know
you since you'll be staying a few days."
I can't help but wonder how long 'a few days' was. Rocky smiles, adjusting the napkin on his shirt.
"I'm a hotelier. Nothing serious. I plan to acquire assets in popular areas and turn them into hotels. My
goal is to have a chain of hotels, all under the same name, just in different locations as my father
would've wanted. Luke is on the deciding board of the next building I wish to buy and actually he's the
only young person there so I knew that he would be the only I could talk to, to help me get that building,
because I really want that building." He pauses and looks at me, "I'm not a fraud, Mrs. Carrington."
I drink my champagne, "Yes. I know now." I respond.
I see Laurel approaching the table with a salad bowl in her hand. I had forgotten I'd made some
strawberry-orange-kiwi salad in the morning while Luke was gone because I had a craving. She gets to
the table and places it on the table.
"Obviously, I'm no longer allowed to sit or eat at this table. Right, Luke?"
"It's a business dinner, Laurel." He says. I pick a slice of meat from my plate and chew.
She laughs, "So Natalie is a part of that? Natalie's aunt is part of your business too and not me?"
"Yes, Natalie is part of my business, Laurel, because she's my wife." Luke says and I can't help but grin
internally. "Please, go." Luke says and I see tears gather in the corners of her eyes, but she leaves
immediately he asks her to.
Luke takes the bowl of salad and opens it. "I thought this was another dish. I don't eat fruit salad, my
love." He says and my face falls.
"I didn't know, I'm sorry." I say.
"I'll have some. I love fruits." Rocky says and I pause, nervously looking at him. He continues, "I have
an obsession with fruits if I'm being honest." He says and I squirm, knowing fully well what he meant.
He takes the bowl and pours a whole lot into the empty plate beside him. "This will do." He says.
I turn to look at Aunt Ruth who has been silent for a while and I can see she has on a disgusted look.
She gives me a side eye and her signature disapproving nod.
"How was your day?" Luke asks, "And Aunt Ruth, I hope you're as comfortable as you would be in your
Aunt Ruth responds before me, "Absolutely! My bed reminds me of the bed I have in my country
house. So soft and calming."
I drink some water, "My day wasn't all that, but I did think of you. I missed you." I say, as I caress his
left hand on the table. I look at Rocky and I see him, knowing fully well how envious he would be. It
pierced my heart a thousand times being like that with Luke in front of him, but it was the best thing to
do. To save him, and to save Luke too.
"Excuse me, I need to get to the bathroom." Aunt Ruth says as she stands to take her leave.
I take some shrimps from the dish bowl and begin to eat. "I feel like having snails and pizza too." I say
to Luke as I begin to devour the shrimps.
"Snails? Honey, your tastebuds are quite on the high side." Luke says.
"I've always liked trying food— I even have a blog for reviewing ingredients."
"Well, after dad got sick, and with the marriage and everything, I guess I just forgot." I say as I drink
some more water.
"You could always start again, I mean, if you want to."
"Really? I think I might reconsider it." I say as I give him a smile, but as usual, Rocky ruins our moment
as he clears his throat. I could swear I saw him drop his fork aggressively, but Luke doesn't seem to
"Did you hear her?" He asks, a weird smile-frown look on his face.
Luke is confused, "Pardon?"
"She said she wanted pizza." He turns to look at me, "I can order you some pizza, Mrs. Carrington.
May I?" He asks and I feel Luke's gaze on me.
I try to play it cool by laughing mildly, "You were listening in on our tête-à-tête? That's a bit rude, don't
you think, Mr. Dunes?"
Luke looks at him, unable to say anything. I knew for a fact that Luke was definitely processing what
just happened, especially with the tone Rocky used.
"Forgive me, but it's because I read online that Luke Carrington has Turophobia."
I turn to Luke, "You're afraid of cheese?" I ask, stunned, that for the second time, I had no idea what my
husband didn't like.
"Ah," Luke says, finally understanding what Rocky meant. "That was a funny interview."
"I was wondering why you didn't tell her, because it was obvious she didn't know."
"Well, things happened rather fast." He turns to me, "I'll go order your pizza for you," He says as he
stands to leave.
"How do you know what I want?"
"I don't. I'm ordering everything they have." He says as he walks off. I chuckle. Oh, this man.
Immediately Luke is out of sight, I get up from my chair. "You really must be sick. How dare you still
come here after I've told you to stop coming close to me and my family?"
He stretches and picks up my glass of water and drinks. "Family?"
"Don't answer my question with a question, Rocky. I mean it. I've told you countlessly, there's no hope
for us," I raise my fingers in the air for him to see, "I am happily married! Why won't you get that?"
He gets up and walks to where I'm standing. He holds my right hand tightly. I frown, "Leave my hand,
"Family?" He chuckles, "I was your family, no, fuck that. I am your family! You're just blinded by all the
wealth that fool has. I'm rich too, Natalie, what more do you want? When did you become so greedy?"
I'm struggling to get my hand out of his grasp, "It's really sad that you think I'm with Luke for his money,
but if that's what your demented self believes, I won't argue, and don't forget, Luke is way richer than
you are. He's richer than the both of us combined."
He grinds his teeth together, "Have you forgotten? Have you forgotten how we made love beside the
river? I'm the first man who loved you, physically, emotionally— we shared a mental connection. You
still love me, right Natalie? You can't deny it, I know you do."
"Yes, I do love you. I love you and there's no denying that, but I love my husband too. I love Luke, more
and more everyday. I love him more than I love you, Rocky and he's going to be the last man in my
life." I say, looking at him straight in the eyes so he knows how serious I am.
"No, you love me more. I know you're scared. I'll show you, I'll remind you of how much you love me."
He says and suddenly, he drags me closer to him and rubs his lips on mine as I feel his hands entering
my skirt. I moan, "Ah," my eyes closed. His other hand lands on my rump as he begins to caress it.
"Do you feel it?" He asks, and as I see a mental image of Luke's face, I regain composure and I shove
him away as fast as I can.
"I feel nothing!" I yell as I leave. As I'm leaving I bump into someone.
"What was that about?" I hear as I look up to see Laurel's face. Bloody hell.
"I heard you yelling at him. Why were you yelling at him?" Laurel asks, looking back and forth. Maybe I
was being paranoid but I swear, I could see suspicion plastered all over her face.
"I have a headache." I say as I move past her and make my way to the stairs. My palms are sweaty, my
heart racing, and my vision was getting blurred by the water threatening to fall out. I hurriedly rush into
my room and lock the door. I rush to my bed and I sit, placing my hands over my face as I bend. I begin
to cry uncontrollably. I was stressed physically, emotionally and mentally. Rocky's behavior was truly
scaring me because I'd realized that he'd become so obsessed with the idea of us getting back
There's a knock on the door and for a moment, I'm afraid as I panic thinking who it could be. As I
hesitate to answer, I hear the knock again.
"Natalie, open up! It's your aunt Ruth!" Aunt Ruth whispers. I sigh in relief as I get up to open the door.
"Oh, my darling." She whispers and hugs me immediately she enters. I lock the door. We sit on the
"Honey, pardon me, but I think you should just be honest. Tell Luke the truth, please, for the love of
"You think so? It's easier said than done, aunt."
"The truth sets you free, my love. It's your best bet, trust me."
I hold her hands, "No, aunt. I have seen just a glimpse of what Luke can be like when he's upset,
especially when it concerns me. He goes mad with rage when he's upset or when he feels betrayed." I
say, as I have flashbacks of how Luke forced himself on me and how he threw the glass cup in a fit of
rage. I remember him breaking the door just to get to me.
"Luke has a temper, a very very bad one. Dangerous, even, and that was just a glimpse, aunt. Telling
him the truth is not an option." I say. I don't tell Aunt Ruth about all the awful things that happened
between Luke and I all because I tried to escape and his jealousy towards Rocky when I tried to run
"But it's better he finds out about Rocky from you than him finding out from—she gestures to me,
meaning my current state. She continues, "Or, from Rocky himself."
"Or from Laurel." I add, as I wipe my tears with the back of my palms.
"The girl who set the table."
"That obnoxious witch? I can tell she has evil intentions against you. So much bad energy."
I chuckle, "You noticed." Aunt Ruth always made me smile even in the most saddest situation.
She smiles, "So, why did you mention her? Does she know?"
"No, Aunt, I don't think she does, although she might've heard my conversation with Rocket after
Aunt Ruth gasps, "All of it? Jesus. That's bad, Natalie."
I nod, "I doubt it. She'd have said so if she heard the sensitive part of the conversation. If she did, she'd
have brought it to Luke's notice immediately because she wants me out of this house. The house is still
calm, so I'm guessing she didn't hear anything important."
"Why does she want you out of the house?"
"Well, she's in love with Luke. She's been in love with him for the longest."
"And? What are you going to do about it?"
I lay on her laps, tired. "Nothing, aunt. Nothing."