Don't forget me - Ester Ashton - E-Book

Don't forget me E-Book

Ester Ashton

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Logan Mitchell knows the wounds well, but not those of the heart and soul.Tormented by Cassie's refusal, he left without giving more news of himself, but she has always been a constant reality to fight against. The pain made him a different man: hard, cold and ruthless, not only with himself, but also towards others.Especially with those women who remind him of the only one he can't have anymore.With his heart closed to every emotion, he returns to New York, but everything is put back into play as soon as he sees Cassie again, the only one who is capable of turning his world upside down, built like a fragile house of cards.Cassandra Miller also knows the suffering well, she survived the loss of her brother, but she did not surpass that of the man she loves most of her life.Her escape only made her more determined to forget it, in order not to succumb to that impossible love yet.Fate, however, continues to weave its canvas made of emotions and passions, to question everything and once again take away what has finally been found ...You will have to fight between feeling and reason. He will face the toughest battle of his life so as not to forget her.

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Indice dei contenuti

Cover

Title

Disclaimer

Dedicated...

Quotes

1. Cassie

2. Logan

3. Cassie

4. Logan

5. Cassie

6. Logan

7. Cassie

8. Logan

9. Cassie

10. Logan

11. Cassie

12. Logan

13. Cassie

14. Logan

15. Cassie

16. Logan

17. Cassie

18. Logan

19. Cassie

20. Logan

21. Cassie

22. Logan

23. Cassie

24. Logan

25. Cassie

26. Logan

27. Cassie

28. Logan

29. Cassie

30. Logan

31. Adam

32. Cassie

33. Cassie

34. Logan

35. Cassie

Epilogue

Logan

Extra

Prologue

Acknowledgments

Cover

Title

Disclaimer

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and events are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events and places is purely coincidental. This e-book contains copyrighted material and cannot be copied, reproduced, licensed or transmitted in public or used in any other way, which has not been specifically authorized by the author, in accordance with the terms of purchase or explicitly provided for by law. Any unauthorized distribution or use of this text as well as the distortion of the electronic information on the rights represents a violation of the author's rights and will be sanctioned civilly and criminally according to the provisions of Law 633/1941 and subsequent amendments. This e-book cannot be exchanged, traded, lent, resold, bought on hire purchase or spread without the prior written consent; this e-book cannot have any other form than the original one and the included terms must be observed by the subsequent user as well.

Dedicated...

Quotes

1

Cassie

That morning some rays of sunshine hit the chair where I was sitting on. It was a beautiful day, it seemed so when I left home, but by then nothing cheered me up. I didn't think that the session with the psychologist I used to see to help me overcome my insecurities and the premature loss of Sam would change something. The pain I confined in a remote part of my mind and my heart emerged stronger than ever. I felt stifled and in that moment, I realized that I’d lived in a limbo where nothing happened for months.Mere illusion.I was aware that those sessions were to open up new horizons: they made me feel more self-confident, so much so that I no longer had problems related to self-doubt. In the end I accepted the small defects of my body and I started loving and enhancing my voluptuous shape.I no longer thought that wearing size 48 was a tragedy. I had to thank my psychologist who patiently managed to make me understand that I had to love and accept myself before I could overcome Sam's loss.The road was long, but I was working on it.But no matter how much progress I managed to make, that was another story with him. My choice to send him away pushed me more and more to hell and the love I felt was taken away from me in a wink. That decision cost me dear, but how could I believe that he really loved me after all the things he did to me? I struggled every day to make him understand, but in the end, he proved to be a bastard, a man unable to express his feelings and accept them.When he revealed his love for me, I realized that the accident made it happen, otherwise he would have never done that. Perhaps what he felt was only a weak feeling, a mere infatuation caused by compassion. Accepting that love would have destroyed me, making me wonder whether he really loved me. For a long time, the fury of his words had continued to swirl in my mind, until I decided to permanently close that door.His behaviour, his sudden escape, without even warning Adam, only confirmed what I thought.There was nothing left for me but to keep fighting so as not to sink even further into pain. But it was strong, much stronger than I thought, because as much as I wanted to make a clean break, that love that it was supposed to be buried in the most remote corner of the heart was more alive than ever.I put a hand on my throat. No, I couldn't let myself be conditioned by this.«Take a deep breath, Cassie» Rebecca suggested. «Don't hinder it, let it come up»«No» I said, feeling like someone was holding my heart as if in a vice.«You must do it; you can't hide it forever» I shook my head. «It's my past and it must stay there»Rebecca smiled and crossed her leg. «Are you sure?»«Yep»«Your love for Logan is still deep»«No»«Denying it won't help you»«It's over, there's no place for him in my life»«What did I tell you when we started the sessions?» I looked at her, puzzled, then opened my eyes wide, remembering. «Lying won’t help you resolve the conflict in your heart» she continued.«I don't feel anything anymore» I insisted, avoiding her gaze.«Cassie» she warned me «Logan is the last topic so that you could get ready for this»«We can do without it»«Don't drivel, it's not like you» she said. «I want you to tell me what you feel for him»«Hatred» I burst out, moving my hand to my chest near the heart.«Why?»I closed my eyes, I wanted to avoid those questions. When I heard his name, I felt deeply upset. The betrayal of an important part of my body destabilized me and made me furious because I was even more vulnerable than I thought.«Breathe, Cassie» she pressed. «You'll see, if you relax a little, everything will be easier»«It won't at all»«The suffering you're experiencing today, after almost a year, should make you understand that such a deep-rooted feeling can't disappear just because you want to» she stared at me and waited a moment before adding: «Why do you hate him? Why did you test him by telling him to leave?»«I didn't»Her sceptical look made me feel a little ashamed. I was a different woman now, but as soon as I heard his name, I cancelled all the progress I had made.«Oh, all right, yes... Yes», I raised my voice as I felt the tears fill my eyes with horror.«What, Cassie?» Rebecca insisted «Do you know that the line separating hatred from love is thin?»The re-emerging pain was terrible, so shooting, as if something was about to annihilate and crush me. I shook my head. «IT HURTS, OKAY?» I cried; tears were streaming down my cheeks.«I know, but you must accept him as part of you and what you've done»«God, I can't, I hate him!»«Why?» She had repeated for the umpteenth time.«I...» I stopped to take breath, I gasped for air. «I gave him all of myself and in return he brought up and demolished that love and he... He»«Logan, you can say it, Cassie»I sank back. «Why am I supposed to feel this pain again?»«This is reality, you can't escape it»I put a hand to my forehead, I felt exhausted. «I refused him. I was racked by my brother's loss as well as his. How could he kill that love the day before and tell me later that he loved me? If that hadn't happened...» I was breathless and saw my brother's face with wide eyes, as he pushed me hard to save my life. I pushed my hand to my heart, as if I could protect it from suffering, from those memories, from that conversation. «I felt nothing anymore»«Such a strong feeling can't be turned off as if it were a household appliance. You were suffering and weren't able to contain that great grief» she said. «What did you do?»«I told him... that I had nothing more to offer him, that I wasn’t the right woman for him» Eden was. Rebecca looked at my hand, then at my face. «I’ve never been. It was like a dream that faded away, leaving only suffering behind»«It was real, Cassie»«No, it was just an illusion of what I wanted, but not for him»«Why do you think he didn't love you?»«How could he?» I replied angrily, his words of that night and other things were indelible in my heart. «I wasn’t his type, I’d never been, and I'm not sure he knew what the word love means»«We talked a lot about this»«I know, but...»«Your pride and sorrow speak for you»«Maybe, but the result is the same»«What’s the result? Your hatred for him?»Once again that question.Rebecca always managed to reach her goal, despite my reticence, and I knew she wouldn't let me leave, until I answered her.«HE HASN'T FOUGHT! That's why I hate him» I shouted exasperated «He said he loved me, but as soon as I told him to leave, he did without a second thought. He did without looking back, without even thinking of his brother, without telling anyone. Disappeared. That's why what he felt was not love»«You hurt him, what did you expect him to do?»«I was the only one who had been hurt! It's true, I didn't give him a choice» I whispered «But he didn't understand, didn't fight, gave up as if he didn't say anything, turned round and left»«You had more time to accept your feelings, Logan did when he was afraid of losing you in the accident» she said. «Have you ever thought about the conflict of emotions he felt? It must have been difficult for him, who had known this feeling for the first time»«No»«Don't you think you were too rough on him?»«Yes... No... Well, I don't know» I admitted «It was a weak love, it would only have consumed us»«It was as strong as yours, he proved it for two months, when you were in a coma» she said «Do you love him?»«Nothing has changed, my life must go on»«So, you still love him»«No»Rebecca raised an eyebrow, as I wondered when that torture would finally end and I could close my Pandora's box again. «Where's Logan now?»I shrugged. «No one knows, my brother-in-law thinks that if something had happened to him, he would have known»«And how would you feel if something happened to him?»«I would feel nothing. Why should I think about him?»«Good question» Rebecca said, standing up from armchair. «You should think about it, so we'll talk about it next week» “ I won't” I thought, as I stood up too, then said goodbye and went out. Closing the door behind me, I leaned against it and slowly breathed in and out. All the emotions I repressed in those months were overcoming me. The possibility that I would see him again very soon paralysed me. I was afraid of not being able to be indifferent and repress all the feelings he aroused in me, the certainty of not being able to survive the different feelings that he would have caused was torturing me.Despite showing myself indifferent when talking about him, or swearing I didn't love him anymore, I lied. My love for him was deep and total, also because I did know that that night I managed to reach his soul, feeling the perfect harmony with his mind, his heart and his body, and I was sure that he felt the same. But at the same time, I hated him, blamed him for not being the man who knows how to face everyday risks. He was dominated by fear and weakness, instead of making the love he said he felt towards me stand out.I was overwhelmed by the memories of our last conversation in the hospital. God, I was so tempted to throw myself into his arms and believe what he declared, despite the pain for Sam's loss. It would have been so easy, because Rebecca was right: my love would come up again in time. I could have, but I would have always suspected at any time that he would look for another woman, who would satisfy him more than me. “ It hurt so much!”In the last months I refused to think where he was, what he was doing and with whom, if he was okay. I also felt a little guilty that Adam didn't know anything about him anymore because of our row. He didn't answer his calls or the messages he sent him. That behaviour was immature and typical of a bastard, although he knew how much his brother cared about him and his job. Every time I had dinner with Jacklyn and Adam, when we often had a coffee in the living room, I saw my brother-in-law become silent and a sad shadow in his eyes.Adam missed Logan, they had always been close and that clean cut baffled me. Once, during a dinner with my friend Eveleen, when Ethan was with us too, I saw them talk and I knew that they were working in the same base now. I was happy that Ethan could somehow reassure him and I was grateful to him for being there when I needed him most. He was a precious friend for me.Sometimes I forgot he was a marine too, his attitude was totally different from Logan's, who always had a harsh and ruthless expression, but I had no doubt that he was like that and much more in the field. He risked his life too and was ready to do anything to fulfil his duty. When I saw him, however, I often wondered if he was afraid of love too, and if he would have behaved in the same way. There wouldn't have been answers for those questions, because I lacked the courage to ask what he thought about it. He knew what happened with his friend, and this was too much. «Cassandra?» someone called me.I immediately straightened up and tried to seem less shocked as I turned my head towards that voice.I smiled when I saw Jack coming towards me. It was the physiotherapist who helped me for three months after the accident and who had been attentive since the first moment I met him, until he asked me to go out for dinner a few days after I finished physiotherapy.He was a charming man, but he had nothing to do with Logan's majesty, physique and sensuality, which nailed and made you melt with a single glance of his piercing blue eyes.Jack was almost 1.80 m tall and his build was thin, with a harmonious musculature that shaped his body. His hair was light brown, chin-length, with a tuft that fell rebellious over the golden eyes. Sometimes when I looked at him, I seemed to be staring at a small ray of sunshine, captured by that slightly almond-shaped eye, with long light lashes.His nose was aquiline, his cheekbones were marked, a well-defined jaw with a sparse beard and two dimples on his cheeks appeared when he smiled. The mouth was thin with the lower lip a little fuller, often posing in a smile when he saw me.He advanced towards me, smiling. «Hi Jack» I greeted him. «What are you doing here?»He stopped in front of me, looked at me for a moment, then bent slowly and kissed my lips. His scent of cologne with lemon and sandalwood penetrated my nostrils and there was no explosion of senses, as usual, which used to happen when Logan approached.I looked at him as he moved aside: he was wearing a green T-shirt, a fairly clinging pair of jeans, slightly down at the hips, and a sports jacket.Undoubtedly, he was a handsome man and in the last few months he had made me understand that he felt something for me. Yet I was aware that I wouldn’t be able to experience the deep love I felt for Logan with anyone else. All that he caused me would remain unique and that was fine with me.I couldn't ignore Jack's attempts to go beyond and date. His patience in waiting for my decision made me understand how deep his feelings were, but also totally opposed to mine.«Are you okay? You're very pale»I nodded. «Yes, I've just finished a session with the psychologist»«I know, I called you and when I saw you didn't answer me, I realized you were here» he said. «I know how hard it's for you»«Yes, but I'll be okay» I had lied for the second time that day. He raised an eyebrow as I nervously bit my lip. «Did you want to tell me something?»He reached out his hands and surrounded my waist with his arms, his face brushed against mine and I saw a gleam of desire in his eyes.«How about picking you up and dining at mine?»No doubt about his intentions.Until that moment I avoided making him come up to me, there were too many things and too many memories that could destroy me. But in that moment I realized that I had to face the intimacy with Jack if I wanted to move on; if that evening had represented the start of something new, I wouldn't have opposed, there was no point in tergiversating and taking time. «Okay, what time?»I surprised him, perhaps he expected some objections as usual, but this time I had none.«Is it too early for you at eight?»I laughed «No»«Cassie» he whispered, before pressing his lips on mine and giving me a passionate kiss. I kissed him back, opening my mouth and looking for his tongue. Jack was impetuous, his lips moved on mine with passion, involved in long and deep kiss. He moved away, pushing his forehead against mine, our gasps, I saw the desire still mirrored in his pupils, as I felt my aching breasts and turgid nipples, which pushed against the bra fabric.«You're a temptation» he whispered. «If I kissed you again...».«We could be arrested» I joked, moving away from him and taking a step back.«I'll let you go for the moment, but tonight... You'll be mine»I learnt from the past that I would belong to no one but myself.I turned my head to look around «See you tonight»Jack nodded and led me out of the building. «Want a lift?»«No, I'll take a taxi. I'm seeing Eveleen at lunch time» he kissed me on the cheek and left, as I started towards the taxis.

2

Logan

Time should heal or at least alleviate wounds, instead every single minute, hour, day that pain did nothing but take deeper roots into my heart, depriving it of any emotion.The infernal moments characterizing my missions as a marine were nothing compared to what I had felt since I lost Cassie. I burnt in that fire that she banked up with desire, passion and the deep love she gave me, taking root in me with no way out.I knew and lost love in a breath, burnt by the fear of not being myself anymore. My sleep was broken, crowded by her: by her sweet face, her eyes burning of passion, her heady scent, her body against mine; all that gave me no respite. Only in those moments I had the illusion of feeling her still mine, but the awakening was sharp and bitter.I understood that I loved Cassie more than my life, but her refusal caused me such rage to destroy my heart. I changed, I felt it deep down, but all I had to do was look at the faces of my companions to understand what demons I was fighting with. If I closed my eyes, the memory of Cassie's green and clear ones, who looked at me painfully, continued to haunt me. I wanted to see them again shine with that boundless love she transmitted to me when she placed them on me.Almost a year had passed... Twelve long months without seeing or touching her. But even if it had been possible, I wouldn't have trusted myself anyway, because if I had seen her, I wouldn't have been able to let her go, thus ignoring her warning.The promise made to my best friend Sam weighed heavily like a boulder. I wasn’t able to carry out the task he assigned me: to be Cassie's prince, her knight, to help her overcome the suffering of that loss and the accident that almost killed her.I missed Sam so much, every day it was heart-breaking to know he was gone. Sometimes I thought that if he had been still alive, he would have told me off for my careless behaviour. I often seemed to hear his voice urging me to think, to reason, as he always did, but I couldn't.Pain was always with meand the only things that didn't make me think at any time of what I left behind were work and my missions. Since that fateful night when Cassie's awakening made me fall into despair I had asked to be assigned to each task. I didn't mind being in danger, as long as I could stay away from New York, from her and my family. I left just that evening, without looking back, spurred on by an irrepressible fury, because the only thing that interested me at that time was to put as much distance from everything.My struggle was incessant: I struggled to be unemotional, clear and have full control over my mind in order to exclude Cassie's memory. I struggled against myself, so as not to humiliate myself again and declare my love for her.I wouldn't have done it anymore.Of course, I didn't fall into the oblivion of the feeling I felt for her, I didn't limit myself and I gave myself to any woman who aroused my interest or was interested in me. Only one rule: satisfying my body's need and losing myself in pleasure, without any emotion or passion, because everything was frozen and sealed in my heart. I didn't intend to allow anyone else to hurt me that way. I was a bastard, I wanted to be to the end, without any hesitation.I shook my head as if to shake off those thoughts, which surfaced just as the plane landed in New York and I got off.Even then, as I trained with John, the feeling of Cassie's body against mine tormented me. I stiffened and regained the rigid control I always had when I faced someone while I was on a mission.«You're lowering your defences again» I warned my companion «What the hell is this blow? You're acting like a sissy, where's the experienced and deadly marine? Hit hard, with your leg straight and kick your opponent's chest with your foot. You must be ready to repel the hands and arms of those in front of you, who will try to hinder you. You know it very well» I pushed him back vigorously, taking his leg, squeezing it tightly and turning it, to make him understand the mistake he was making, since he paid no more attention.The moan of pain penetrated my mind, as if it opened the passage to a memory, and I immediately let it go.«Logan, bloody hell!» he yelled at me.«You would have your leg broken in three parts and would be useless» I told him off «As well as screwed» John gave me a dirty look. «You've never been so aggressive in training» I shrugged. «Next mission won't be a picnic»I avoided his gaze and bent down to take the towel from the bench, but he came up anyway. He was one of the best friends I could have, we had known each other since I started my career in the marine world. We often watched each other's back during high-risk assignments. I trusted him, he had been awarded several times like me and I wanted him as support when they entrusted me with a team I would be the commander of.Since I asked to be assigned to other missions, he had followed me without delay. If my purpose was to forget, John instead - I had no doubt - did so to keep an eye on me.«You can't sleep, can you?» he said.«I sleep very well»«Sure, I can see that» he teased me. «You have a diabolic light in your eyes as a ruthless murderer. Do you think I don't know you well, to notice that you have so much adrenaline in your veins supporting you? You work out to the point of exhaustion, you've doubled your musculature, anyone who faces you must think it over, if they want to come out alive»«You're exaggerating, John» I said, putting the towel around my neck and walking towards the changing room.«You should go to her»I got tense like a violin string. «To whom?» I replied indifferently. «There's no woman in my life, no one worth returning to» I lied. «You like acting like a bastard» he said. «You’ve got a family. Your brother is waiting for you»«Adam is used to distance between us»«Does your brother know you've been back for two weeks?» he asked, shaking his head in denial. «Useless question, isn't it?»«Stop behaving like my mum, I'll call him soon»«When? After you leave again?»I banged the door so as to hit the wall, making my companions spin round, each one had a weapon in his hand. The tension I aroused made me calm down a bit.«Sorry» I said as I came in, heading for my locker. «It's good to see that you never drop your defences, unlike John». Without waiting for their answer, I undressed quickly and went to the shower. I turned the handle and placed myself under hot water. I closed my eyes for a moment, staying still, while I felt it slip on my body, soothing and partially relieving my tense muscles.I clenched my fists; I had the insane desire to punch the wall in front of me because of what John told me. I hadn't been in touch with my brother anymore, he didn't know where I ended up or whether I was back. I had never answered Adam's messages and I felt a little guilty about it, because it was the first time I had behaved like this with him. I knew my brother would ask me questions I didn't want to answer. I reached out and took the shower gel. I was soaping myself when I felt someone behind me. No matter how quietly he came in, I was used to the smallest changes taking place around me.I had no doubt about who he was, he seemed to have become my shadow in the past few months. I turned and saw him moving forward naked towards the other shower. I was about to speak when I saw his gaze on my chest.«Did you get tattooed? I didn't think you were the type»«It was a moment of madness. I was drunk»I remembered that evening well. I had been gone for a week; the pain I was feeling didn't give me a moment's peace. Hellfire was more attractive to me. I was out with some colleagues and drank a lot, hoping that the pain I was feeling would relieve thanks to alcohol. Instead, after a night of revelry, I ended up on the street and saw by chance the lighted sign of a shop still open. It seemed like a strange twist of fate, but I went in anyway and a few hours later I had a tattoo that would accompany me and always remind me my madness.I had my back to my friend as I finished washing, then closed the handle, took the towel and went out.I usually avoided taking a shower with other people because I didn't want them to look at me and ask inevitable questions about what was drawn on my chest.«Logan»I replied harshly without stopping «It's just a goddamn tattoo, okay?» I lied.I wanted to forget I had it, even if I couldn't, it was still a sign of my past. I went back to the locker room and without paying attention to anyone, I got dressed and went away.If I thought I got rid of John's questions, I crowed too early because when I went out of the building, I saw Ethan near my car.I was aware that in the end I would meet him or he would look for me, but I didn't want to give him any advantage. If he had something to tell me, he had to do it.His gaze was hard, arrogant, dark and cold, the same I had seen many times when we were on a mission; this time, however, he bent his gaze on me, peering at me as if he wanted to read me into my soul.«You're finally back» he broke the silence as I went down the steps. «I didn't think I was supposed to announce it» I said, taking a few steps towards the car.Ethan knew that the only chance he had of being able to talk to me was to stand between me and my car.«You went along with her and went away, without thinking about how bad she was and how much she needed you»«I did what she asked me to do»«Logan, she'd woken up from a fucking two-month coma!» he said, raising his voice a little, as I clenched my fists so hard that I felt bad. «She heard about her brother's death, she wasn't thinking, she was upset and what did you do? You surrendered and disappeared» «Ethan, it's not your business» I said in an angry voice. «What do you care?»My friend stretched out his hand and squeezed my shirt, he was angry, but I was more.«Do I really have to tell you, asshole? You said you loved her and you're gone»I narrowed my eyes and anger assailed me, but I stayed still with considerable effort, instead of reacting as I would have liked.«Have you become her defender now?» I mocked him. «You've a free hand now, you can keep coming on to, can't you? I don't owe you any explanation»«You're so stupid, I'm just a friend worried about both of you» he replied, suddenly leaving my shirt and pushing me. «She felt Sam's loss and yours, as well. She felt guilty when she realized you haven’t called Adam even once in these months»«Ethan, once again, it's not up to you to judge what I do»«You're a real bastard» he railed against me. «Call at least your brother!»I passed in front of him, but my friend stopped me by the arm.«Logan, I know what you're going through»«I'm just overworked, I'm fine» I said sarcastically. He left my arm and put on his sunglasses. «One thing remains certain, you're more asshole than I remembered»«Are you done complimenting me?»«I am, for the time being» he said. «I could never get you to listen to me»«I'm willing to listen to you it if it's about work, women...»«What?»«They serve only one purpose»«Logan» he warned me, stepping forward.I shrugged. «I see you don't agree with me»«I don't and I have to deduce that twelve months of tasks have melted your brain, if you speak in this way» he observed. «However, I think there's much more than you want to admit, Logan... Pain sometimes doesn't make you think»I clenched my jaw as I opened the door, cursing Ethan for showing up on that day.«Believe what you want, I don't have the time to listen nonsense»«You can listen to it tomorrow» Ethan said.I got into the car, closed the door without even saying goodbye, started the engine and left, leaving him watch me. “ Damn it!” I swore, contracting my hands on the wheel.Seeing Ethan again made that terrible day even more complicated. I couldn't let myself be conditioned by his words, the only thing I wanted to do was to knock him against the wall and hit him until he was exhausted.Maybe he wanted me to lose control to see my reaction, as if I were a robot put to a damn test.Hearing Cassie's name and Ethan's telling-off was a punch in the stomach, but no matter how tortured I was by her refusal, I realized that a person who loves deeply does not refuse that way.Could I have fought for her? Maybe I didn't all the way, but what was the point of doing it, if she rejected all my attempts to stay close to her and show her how much I loved her? Cassie made a choice and so did I. No, there was no possibility and the grudge I felt became too strong, nobody could blame me for the consequences.I parked the car, got out and went to the lift of my building and as I pushed the button for my floor, I thought of my brother. It would only take a few hours now before Adam knew I was in town too. I knew my brother; I was sure that in those months he tried in every way to hear from me and Ethan was the only one who could inform him.I put the key in the lock and went in the flat, throwing my jacket on the sofa. I ran a hand over my jaw, feeling the skin rough and thinking that maybe it was a mistake not to shave in the last few days.I sat on the sofa and took my mobile phone from my pocket and when the screen lit up, I noticed yet another greeting that Eden sent me, inviting me to call her as soon as I was back.In those two weeks I had ignored them, but because of all the adrenaline I had on me, maybe I could have agreed to go out with her again. I put that thought aside for a moment and devoted myself to another much more important one. At that point I had no choice, I had to inform Adam and I was sure that as soon as I sent the message, he would rush to my house.'I'm back' I wrote without saying anything else, then I answered Eden.'I'm in townSee you tonight at 8'Concise, cold, without asking her if she was available, I knew well that she would have cancelled any other appointment just to see me.The beep of a message lighted up the screen again. I opened it.'Dinner at mine. See you there'And here's the answer, as short as mine. This was what I liked about Eden; we both knew what that invitation implied. Months before we would have gone out - accompanying her to some party - before ending the evening giving us mutual pleasure. Now things changed for me and apparently, she must have understood there was something different in my message.I stood up and went to the kitchen to make a strong coffee, then I decided to prepare something to eat, because that evening I would have done everything except that. I felt a twinge in my lower abdomen, thinking about how I would satisfy the need I had.

3

Cassie

The taxi stopped in front of Eveleen's boutique, I paid and headed for the shop, thinking about the conversation with Rebecca. I opened the door wide and as always when I went in, it was like being thrown into a fantasy world made of sparkling silk, velvet and lace.Since the very beginning my attention shifted to a champagne-coloured dress on display not far from me.Like a moth in the light, I was drawn to that mannequin too; I couldn't explain, but I was spellbound by it. The front of the dress was very daring. The Greek-style model had the bustier entirely in lace and the champagne-coloured silk beneath was so clear that anyone who looked at it would have wondered if what they saw was fabric or leather and from there it went up with wide straps. The neckline was deep, getting to the breast and reaching a pleated band that continued down to the ground. I got round the mannequin and saw that the back would remain naked to the waist.I heard Eveleen's footsteps approach and stop beside me.«Cassie, honey, are you admiring this masterpiece?»«Mmh... You know very well it's impossible not to notice it»«Beautiful, isn't it? It would suit you»Since I went in, I had imagined myself with that dress on and I also dreamt about who I would impress. I shook my head; I was going into very dangerous thoughts for my mental health. He no longer had to be a constant reflection on what I was doing or what he would say...«You're right» I agreed «I really like it»«Can't believe it!» she said. «You admitted that you like a dress, does that mean this time I don't have to force you to wear it?»I shook my head «No, although I have some doubts about how much that fabric will cover me»«This dress is made to dare, what are we waiting for? I'll help you wear it»The shiny silk slid lightly over my body, underlining my generous curves, as if it was created especially for me. When I turned to the mirror, I hardly believed I was the woman in the mirror.The dress was fabulous, it was elegant, unique in its simplicity and it looked good on me... Rather more than good. I blushed a little, when I noticed that the silk and lace fabric adhered and barely covered my nipples, leaving most of the breasts uncovered and exposed. The pearly colour of my skin stood out against the one of the dress.«You're very sexy» my friend said. «It's perfect for you»I turned my head towards her. «You displayed it before I arrived, didn't you?» I smiled «After all this effort to show it to me I'll take it, even if I don't know when I wear it»«Was it that easy?» she asked incredulously. «Shall I no longer insist? I can't believe it! You'll see, you'll know when it's the right time to wear it»I took off the dress and gave it to her. «I know, you're right, a few months ago I objected until I was out of breath» I shrugged. «The sessions with the psychologist helped me»«They just made you more confident» my friend said. «I'm glad you finally see the beautiful woman you are»At that moment I didn't feel like that.I stepped out of the fitting room and watched Eveleen give the dress to her co-worker, then turned to me and motioned me to follow her.We passed an arch, which fronted onto a long corridor, where there were several doors on both sides used as fitting rooms, then turned right on another, where there were only three doors: her office, the toilet and the third one, where we went in.Eveleen was lucky to find that place. It was a very large room, she had known that the previous owner was using it as a wedding dress atelier, but after restoring it he moved to another city; the not too high rent was the final push that allowed my friend to be able to open the shop she wanted. The room was lit by the early summer sun that came in through the window opposite the door. Two medium-sized sofas were in the centre, on the right corner there was a rectangular table already set, while there was a small kitchen corner with accessories on the left.I closed the door and walked to the sofa.«I took something in the restaurant nearby» She informed me. «I thought we would be more relaxed here»I glanced at her; I had the feeling that Eveleen was hiding something from me. This change of plans was strange, besides she looked tense; on the phone that morning she had another idea of how we would end that day. My friend looked up from what she was doing and smiled at me. Maybe I sensed things that didn't exist because of the emotional turmoil of that day. I was sure that if she had had any problems, she would have told me. I sighed. «No, that's fine» I reassured her, dropping my bag on the sofa and approaching the open window.Despite the fresh air I inhaled, my mood didn't change, I had a terrible headache which seemed to increase minute by minute and staying there, looking out and letting my thoughts wander didn't help me at all.«Cassie, what's up?» her question distracted me from the turmoil that was taking place in my mind.«I'm okay» I replied, reaching her and taking some dishes she gave me, I sat at the table.«Did something happen? Is it about...»I stopped her immediately. «Shut up... Don't say his name»Eveleen sat down next to me and raised an eyebrow. «Why shouldn't I say his name?» she replied.«For one year haven't you always said, until you waste your breath, that you've forgotten him and that you no longer feel anything for him? Saying his name shouldn't mean anything to you»«Eveleen»«Are you okay? I see bags under your eyes that you haven't covered well, can't you sleep?»«I sleep like a log» I said piqued, ignoring her sceptical gaze. «I'm just a little tired, the session with the psychologist wasn't as I thought»«Oh»«What?»«I suppose it was focused on a certain topic or should I say on a certain person?»I raised my eyes «What an intuition!»«Honey, you've made a lot of progress since the accident» she said. «It's normal that you dealt with the Logan topic» she mimed the quotes.«I know, but I didn't expect the pain to be stronger than a year ago»«What did you think? Not to try anything anymore?» she answered back. «You can say and repeat like a mantra that you don't love him, but I'll never believe it as you can't lie to yourself»«Stop, I hate him»«Yes, I know» she said sarcastically. «I told you months ago and I'll repeat it until you get that into your fat head. I've never fully agreed with you, how could you do it? I'm sure that you would have found another less drastic solution together than the one you chose»I dropped the cutlery on the dish. «But which side are you on? He’s never been the man for me and I found out in the worst way»Eveleen put the cutlery on the dish and gave me a dirty look «I've always been on your side, but you've been stubborn. I should speak to your psychologist to ask her if she can take action on this»I twisted the napkin on my legs. «You of all people know what I went through...»She nodded. «Yes, and I also know how long you've been waiting for him to finally notice you» she reminded me. «Years, Cassie. You've been waiting and hoping for years that Logan will notice you»Anger assailed me. «It's true, but things didn't go as I always wanted» The memories were very bitter, I could still feel the echo of the sensations he gave me and took away. My heart was beating fast in retracing those moments, the tumult of emotions that I was feeling were exhausting me. «Pain has blinded you»I shook my head. «No, it opened my eyes» I objected. «I realized I would do and justify everything for him, but Logan wouldn't be able to do the same for me»«You can't be serious» she murmured. «Logan was afraid of his feelings, we know, in spite of everything, however, he was willing to live them for you»«You can't really believe it»«Honey, I'm not supposed to be the one to do it» she reached out and squeezed my hand «But you»I slumped down onto the chair; I was really exhausted. «It's over, Eveleen»«You've been saying this for almost twelve months, do you want to convince me or yourself? I see how much you suffer»«I miss Sam»She shook her head in denial «I'll go along with you and I'll let Logan subject drop, but that's not the end of the matter, you know»«I'm done, Eveleen, life goes on»She stood up and I saw her go to the coffee machine «Tonight I'm having dinner with Jack» I informed her.She turned to look at me. «Where?»«At his house»Eveleen was silent, poured the coffee into the cups and returned to the table. When she sat down, she stared at me «Are you sure that's what you want?»«Jack is a charming and kind person» I tried to justify that decision.«That's not what I asked»«I am»«Why today, Cassie?» she insisted. «After suffering this morning in remembering, you could take a decision more to fill the pain, than for personal pleasure»«It's a dinner»«We both know it won't be just that, you've always kept your distance from going to his house» she said. «It's an important choice, Cassie, and it may not be what you expect»«I like Jack. He's quiet, he makes me feel safe and carefree» I listed what I thought were qualities «He helped me in an unhappy moment of my life, I started laughing again and I don't have to be apprehensive when we meet» I had the impression I was justifying myself.«It's like you're talking about a puppy rather than a man»«Eveleen!»«Are you listening to yourself? He makes you feel safe from what? There's no emotion in your voice, only a cold analysis» she objected in an accusing tone. «If I didn't love you as a sister, I would ignore it, but I just can't, honey»«I want a quiet relationship»«No, you just don't want to try something anymore» she said. «Have you thought about the consequences of your choice, made by a wrong reason?» she leaned forward with her bust, reaching out a hand, taking mine and holding it in hers, then I saw her take a deep breath. «Did you think about when you feel his hands on your skin tonight? Did you think about his mouth which will give you no respite, or when his sex sinks inside you? Can you banish your feelings? Will you convince yourself that this is the right solution? Logan isn't here now, but what will happen when you see him again? It seems easy now that he isn’t here, but it won't be the same when he decides to go back to his brother. Believe me, nothing will be easy...»I was puzzled and opened my mouth to say something, but I closed it again staring at my best friend. The serious and pained expression and her sad speech left me stunned and with a thousand questions inside my mind.Why did she react that way? It was the first time I had listened to something like this from her and even though it was directed at me, it seemed that something touched her from the bottom. Was it possible that strange feeling I had felt before was reality?I held her hand too. «Eveleen, I don't know» I admitted. «I didn't wonder what this dinner with Jack will entail. I just accepted that something more could happen tonight»«Someone had to open your eyes»«And you know it very well, don't you? I said «I...»«We're talking about you, not me» She said. «I just want you to really know what you're doing. Well, what are you going to wear tonight?»«Do you really want to talk about this now?»She nodded and smiled at me, letting go my hand.«A dress, I think»«Great choice, it's easier to take off»«Eveleen!» my friend seemed again the same as ever, as if that conversation never happened. «What? It's important to be practical and not to waste time»I laughed «You're impossible»I had stayed with her for several hours, but I refused to choose something sexy to wear. We laughed until we cried at the thoroughness of her stories about some things that happened with customers, making me more serene than when I went in the shop and I was still amused when I decided to go home.

4

Logan