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Playing With Fire

















(bonus chapter-rated R)

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Blast From the Past
Fan fiction and fond (mostly) memories
of soap days gone by


Playing With Fire


Chapter Thirteen

Gwen looked at Tony over the rim of her wineglass and wondered what was going through his mind. She had never seen him so quiet before. He'd hardly said two words to her the whole way through dinner. In truth, he'd barely even looked at her. She knew her father's comment about them being in love had upset him, but he had been upset before that too. He'd told her as much while they were dancing. She didn't know what he was upset about, but she had this nagging feeling in the back of her mind that said it had something to do with her. He'd had such a serious look on his face earlier like he was about to tell her something, but he wasn't sure quite how to do it. Actually, the look had reminded her of Ethan when he had...

Gwen lowered her glass to the table and accidentally knocked her silverware off her plate into the floor, startling both her father and Tony. She quickly apologized then leaned down to pick the silverware up. As she raised back up her eyes connected with Tony's and her heart suddenly stopped beating. He was smiling at her, but she could tell it was a forced smile. She could tell he did not want to be there any longer and she had the strangest feeling that she already knew the reason why.

She didn't know why it surprised her really. She had known the type of man Tony was the moment she met him in New York City. Just because she had felt things she had never felt before didn't automatically mean he had. God, she thought closing her eyes and trying to hold off the tears that were suddenly threatening to fall, she should have known better. Falling in love with him was the worst thing she could have done. He wasn't the type of guy to want a serious relationship. He wasn't the type of guy that believed in happily ever after. Thank god, she had never told him she loved him. Thank god, she had at least had a chance to salvage her pride.

She took a deep breath and when she was sure no trace of the pain she was feeling in her heart was showing her face, she opened her eyes. She could feel Tony's eyes on her, but her father's voice suddenly filled the air and saved her from having to meet them.

"Gwen, are you ready to go? I have to catch an early morning flight back to Chicago. I have an important meeting to attend tomorrow afternoon."

"Of course, father." She said pushing back her chair and allowing her father to help her to her feet. She was more than ready to get this evening over with. She needed to go home and get a good night's sleep and think about what she was going to say to Tony the next time she saw him. She knew she couldn't tell him she was in love with him, not when he didn't feel the same way. The only thing she could do was say goodbye and let him go. She knew she could do that tonight, but she knew if she did she would be unable to stop the tears from falling and she refused to let him see her cry.

"Tony," her father said interrupting her thoughts. "It was nice to meet you and I'm sure we will see each other again."

Tony nodded then stood and held out a hand. "It was nice to meet you too, Mr. Hotchkiss."

Gwen felt him turn toward her, but she didn't know what to say. So instead she walked toward him and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek. "Thank you for dinner Tony."

He nodded and gave her the signature Lopez-Fitzgerald grin. "Anytime, sweetheart, anytime."

She forced herself to return his smile then turned and followed her father out of the restaurant. She felt Tony's eyes on her the whole time she was leaving and it took all of her willpower not to turn around and look at him. She knew the pain she was feeling would be written all over her face and she didn't want him to see that. When she saw him again, she would be in total control of her emotions and that would be when she told him goodbye.

After Gwen and her father had walked out of his view, Antonio sat back down in his chair and motioned for the waiter to bring him the check. He fought the urge to ask for another drink, because he knew if he did, he wouldn't stop until he was good and drunk. Something about the look in Gwen's eyes a few moments ago was bothering him. In fact, it was all he could think about ever since she got up to leave. The light that had been in her eyes earlier in the evening had been replaced by a dull sadness that left him feeling... empty.

He was trying to determine when the change occurred, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. She had been fine through dinner, but then she had dropped her silverware and... and that's when it happened, he thought running a hand through his black hair. When she straightened back up from retrieving her silverware, the look in her eyes had changed. The only question was why? What had happened to make the light in her eyes suddenly go out? Had he done something to upset her? He couldn't remember doing anything, but smiling at her. What could have upset her about that?

Sighing in frustration, he stood up and pulled out his wallet. Then he pulled some bills out and placed the money inside the pay book the waiter had just laid on his table. He didn't bother waiting around for his change. It wasn't that important. What was important was finding out what was wrong with Gwen and he planned to do it right now. He knew he should probably wait until morning, but for some reason, he felt he had to go now. Something in his gut was telling him that tomorrow would be too late.

Gwen shut the door to her hotel room then grabbed the suitcases at her feet and made her way down the stairs toward her car. She knew leaving was the best thing she could do. The whole way home in the limo she had thought of nothing, but Tony and how she had fallen head over heels in love with him. It didn't matter that she didn't really know him that well. She knew him well enough to know that she loved him and that was why she had to go. She had thought she could stay long enough to tell him goodbye. But that was before she had stepped inside her hotel room and the memories of last night had filled her mind. After that, she knew facing him again was totally out of the question. It would be too hard knowing that she was in love with him, but that he didn't feel the same way about her. She just wasn't strong enough to deal with that.

Gwen sat her bags down by her car then pulled the keys out of her purse and unlocked the trunk of her car. She had just hoisted the bags into the trunk and reached up to shut it when a strong masculine hand clamped onto her wrist. She would have been frightened had she not recognized the furious voice that spoke in her ear. "Running away again, sweetheart?"

She sucked in a deep breath as his angry breath hit her ear then gasped as he swiftly swung her around to face him. Their faces were just an inch apart, but the anger in his quickly filled the gap. The look in his eyes was as cold as steel and his jaw as hard as a rock. He was furious and he wasn't bothering to hide it. His breath was coming out in angry huffs and his body was stiff and rigid. She could practically see the steam coming out of his ears.

"Tony I -" Gwen broke off when she realized she had no idea what to say. In truth, there wasn't anything she could say, because he was right, she had been running away.

"Damn," he said releasing her and jamming a hand through his hair. "You were going to do it again! You were going to disappear on me again!"

He shook his head. "Why? Why Gwen? Why were you going to leave without at least telling me goodbye first? Didn't I deserve that much?"

Gwen closed her eyes and lowered her head to look at the ground. He was right. He did deserve a goodbye. It wasn't his fault that he didn't love her. Love just wasn't something you could force on someone. It was either there or it wasn't and in this case it wasn't. And no amount of talking, wishing, or praying would change it. Tears started to well in her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. She was not going to let herself get emotional. It wouldn't help anything. In fact, it would make matters worse.

"You're right. " She said raising her head to look into his eyes. The anger was still there, but now there was also hurt. The hurt is what struck her heart the most. "You did... do... deserve a goodbye."

He nodded. "Well, at least you admit it. Now how about you tell me why you're leaving?"

She knew he had a right to know that too, but she couldn't bring herself to tell him. She didn't want him to know what a fool she was. She didn't want him to know that she had fallen in love with him. It wouldn't change anything. The only thing it would do was make her look even more pathetic than she already did.

The knots in her stomach grew tighter and the pain in her heart grew sharper. She turned then and rested her palms on the back of her car. She wasn't at all sure how much longer her legs would hold her up. In fact, any moment now she was sure she was going to fall to the ground in a puddle of tears. She wanted so much for Tony to take her in his arms and beg her not to leave, but she knew he wouldn't. He didn't care enough to do that. That was the whole reason she had decided to leave.

She knew her father wouldn't be happy that she left, but she figured he could get another associate to come and handle the business. It wasn't fair of him to ask her to come back here in the first place. Yes, she had made amends with Ethan and Theresa, but she was once again about to leave Harmony with a broken heart. Only this time, she had no one to blame but herself. She had known Tony was not the type of guy that gave a woman his heart. His body was one thing, but his heart... his heart wasn't even on the market. He hadn't told her that, but she knew it was true just the same. Her leaving was just going to save him the trouble of having to tell her.

"It's just time for me to go." She said reaching up and shutting the trunk with a loud bang. The sound pierced through the night air and she was sure she would remember the empty feeling it caused inside her for the rest of her life. She heard Tony walk up behind her, but didn't bother turning around. She wasn't sure she would be able to say goodbye if she had to look at him.

When he laid a hand on the small of her back, she had to steel herself from screaming out in torturous pain then again when he brought his other hand to her side and slowly turned her to face him. Their eyes locked instantly and then they both seemed to lean into each other at the same time, needing one last kiss. The moment his lips touched hers, the tears she had been fighting slowly slipped down her cheeks. Her arms stole their way around his back as he raised one hand to cup the back of her head and used the other to pull her body closer to his. Her lips parted on a moan and his tongue darted inside. She knew without a doubt she would remember this kiss for the rest of her life.

They finally broke apart a few seconds later and rested their foreheads against each other letting their breathing slowly return to normal. Once she finally had herself under control, she stepped back from his embrace and gave him a small smile. "Goodbye Tony."

He nodded once then gave her the infamous Lopez-Fitzgerald grin. "Goodbye, sweetheart. Take care of yourself."

"You too." She whispered closing her eyes and turning to walk toward her car. Her hands shook as she unlocked the door and climbed inside. Once she was settled she looked up into the rearview mirror and saw him walking away toward his car. He didn't turn around and she was grateful for that. If he had, she wouldn't have been able to stop herself from jumping out and running toward him, begging him to love her.

Gwen shook her head as the tears continued to fall then started her car and slowly made her way out of the hotel parking lot and out onto the highway. She knew that once she had put a safe distance between her and Tony she would be able to see that leaving Harmony and him really was the only choice she had. It would take awhile, but she knew one day she would wake up and the pain she was feeling inside would no longer be there. She just hoped she had enough strength to last until then, because something told her the pain in her heart right now wouldn't go away for a very, very long time.





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