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Playing With Fire

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Playing With Fire
by
OKDeanna

     

Chapter Fourteen: Six Weeks Later

Antonio took a swig of his beer then looked glanced over the crowd at the pool hall. He couldn't believe he let Luis and Sheridan drag him out here tonight. He wasn't in the mood to socialize tonight. Granted, the beer was good, but the company? The company was a totally different story. Not that he didn't love his brother and sister-in-law, because he did, they just tended to get on his nerves lately. Actually, everything and everyone tended to get on his nerves lately. It didn't matter what he did, he just couldn't seem to get her out of his mind.

Some days he would be fine not having a care in the world, and then other days... Other days someone could say something to him and bam, an image of her face would pop into his mind and he would lose all focus and concentration. He had practically memorized every facial expression she had and they all seemed to play in his head like a never-ending movie. The worst part was... there wasn't a damn thing he could do to stop it. He'd already tried everything and nothing had worked.

He'd tried drowning himself in booze, but all that did was make him melancholy and miss her even more. He'd tried burying himself in his work, but he couldn't seem to make himself concentrate long enough to design anything. But the worst thing... the worst thing had been last night when he'd tried taking a woman out to dinner. The woman was absolutely one of the most beautiful he had ever seen and yet the whole entire night he had found himself comparing her to Gwen. He had compared everything from the clothes she wore to the way she ate her dinner and in his eyes she hadn't come close to the woman that Gwen was.

Gwen. The woman had definitely done something to him, he thought tightening his grip on his bottle of beer. She had to have cast some sort of spell over him. What he was feeling now was ten times worse than it had been when she had left him sleeping in that New York Hotel room all those months ago. At least then, he had been able to work and get her off his mind, but now... now she seemed to follow him everywhere. She had gotten under his skin in the worst way and he had no clue how to get her back out again.

He had wanted to end things between them, but he hadn't been prepared for her to do it or for how it would make him feel. He hadn't known she had such a heavy hold on him. Hell, how could he have? He had merely thought himself on the verge of falling for her and that was the reason he had wanted to end things, but what he didn't know... what he didn't realize was that he had already taken the tumble over the edge of the cliff. He hadn't realized it was too late, that he was already in love with her, until he saw her drive off into the distance that night six weeks ago. He'd actually gotten in his car and started to go after her, but then he'd realized what he was doing and stopped. He wasn't about to chase some woman that didn't want him.

"Antonio," his brother said interrupting his thoughts. "Why don't you just go after her?"

"The hell I will!" Antonio yelled slamming his beer down against the table, causing Sheridan to jump in surprise. He sent her an apologetic smile then turned back to glare at Luis. "I will not chase after a woman that doesn't want me. And she already proved she doesn't. Hell, she's left me twice now!"

"Okay I'll give you that." Luis said nodding. "But did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, she left because she didn't think you wanted her? Hell, for all you know she could have been hoping you would stop her."

Antonio stared at his brother sitting across the table, but it wasn't him that he was seeing. He was seeing Gwen and the look in her eyes as she told him goodbye. Could she have really wanted him to stop her from leaving? He had never understood why she had left in the first place. She hadn't given him a reason either. All she had said was that it was time for her to go. He had taken it to mean her business was finished, but what if there had been more to it than that? What if Luis was right and she had thought he didn't want her?

That night he had planned to tell her he couldn't see her anymore, but then her father had showed up and he hadn't had the chance. Could she have somehow caught on to his feelings anyway? Then took them to mean he didn't care about her? He remembered how happy she had been when they were dancing together and then he remembered how the light had gone out of her eyes after dinner. That was when everything had changed, he thought. Something, between the time they were dancing and the time they finished dinner, had happened to upset her. He had known it at the time and had meant to ask her about it. But then he had showed up at her hotel and seen her placing her suitcases in her car. He had been so angry that she was going to leave without telling him goodbye that he had forgotten the reason he had wanted to see her in the first place.

Damn, he thought as an image of Gwen's tear stained face flashed in his mind, how could he have been so stupid? The tears that had filled her golden brown eyes hadn't been because she was leaving. They had been because she hadn't wanted to leave. The only question was, now that he knew, what he was going to do about it?



Gwen raised her right hand to her head and rubbed her temples hoping to rid herself of the headache that had been plaguing her all day. She had already taken some aspirin, but they hadn't helped any. She supposed she should have eaten something this morning, but her stomach had been acting up and she wasn't at all sure she could have held anything down.

Thank goodness it was Saturday and she didn't have to worry about having to work today. She could just stay home and rest. She supposed she needed that more than anything. She had been so tired lately. She couldn't remember the last time she had a decent nights sleep. She supposed working all those extra hours hadn't exactly helped her any. But working was the only thing that seemed to help keep her from missing Tony so much. She still didn't know how he had managed to get such a strong hold on her heart. One minute her heart was her own and the next minute... the next minute, Tony was holding it in his hands.

Gwen dropped her hand from her head then leaned back against the couch and closed her eyes. She had been doing so good the last two weeks, she hadn't thought about him nearly as much as she had when she first came back to Chicago six weeks ago. At least, she hadn't until Tuesday, she thought opening her eyes again. Ever since then, he had been on her mind constantly. She figured it normal considering all that happened. Still today... today the memories of him seemed to be invading her mind more than usual. In fact, they had been coming to her all morning long. Maybe that was why she had such a headache. The ache that had been in her chest for weeks now, ever since she had told Tony goodbye must have somehow managed spread to her head as well.

She groaned as another image of him flashed in her mind and knew that she had to do something to get her mind off him and fast, before she did something totally insane - like call him. Gwen gripped the arm of the couch then stood and walked over to her stereo hoping some music would help clear her head. She started flipping through the different radio stations and stopped when she heard the music to one of her favorite songs.

They read you Cinderella
You hoped it would come true
That one day your prince charming
Would come rescue you

Gwen sighed then turned and walked into the kitchen to get something to drink. This song was exactly what she was looking for. She wanted someone to rescue her... to rescue her from being alone. She wanted someone to love her like with the same kind of passion the artist was singing about. If only Tony had felt that way about her... if only he had loved her like she loved him. If he had, she never would have left him.

You like romantic movies
You never will forget
The way you felt when Romeo kissed Juliet

All this time that you've been waiting
You don't have to wait no more

I can love you like that
I would make you my world
Move Heaven and Earth if you were my girl
I will give you my heart
Be all that you need
Show you you're everything that's precious to me
If you give me a chance
I can love you like that


A knock on the door dragged her attention out of the past and away from Tony and she was glad of that. If she listened to the song much longer, she would start to cry again and she didn't want to do that. She had cried enough tears over the past six weeks that she didn't think she had any more left to cry. She shook her head, sat her glass of water on the kitchen counter then walked to the door, and opened it. She gasped in surprise when she saw the last person she ever expected to see again, leaning against the door jam. "Tony."

"Hey, sweetheart." He said giving her his signature grin, the one that had haunted her dreams every night for the past six weeks. "Mind if I come in?"

I never make a promise I don't intend to keep
So when I say forever, forever's what I mean
I'm no Casanova, but I swear this much is true
I'll be holding nothing back when it comes to you
You dream of love that's everlasting
Well baby open up your eyes

Gwen blinked in surprise then shook her head and stepped away from the door. The minute Tony walked past her and his arm brushed hers she shivered. When she finally shut the door and turned to him, she found him staring at her intently. "You've lost weight."

"A little." She said walking over and shutting off the stereo, unable to deal with the music and Tony too. "I haven't had much of an appetite lately and plus I've been working a lot."

"What does working a lot have to do with your losing weight?" He asked furrowing his brow.

"Nothing, except a lot of times I -" She broke off when she realized she didn't owe him any explanations. She decided to change the subject instead. "What are you doing here, Tony?"

"I wanted to see you."

She sucked in a breath then searched his eyes. "Why?"

"Because I -" He stopped then lowered his eyes. She watched him furrow his brow in confusion then went wide-eyed when he leaned down and picked something up off the couch. She didn't have to look to see what it was because she already knew. She had been reading it earlier, but had laid it down when her headache had gotten worse. She should have had more sense than to leave it lying out, but how was she to know Tony was going to show up?

"Gwen?" He asked raising his eyes to hers in question.

She swallowed hard knowing she had to tell him, but when she opened her mouth, she couldn't seem to get the words past the sudden knot in her throat. Ever since she had found out four days ago, she had wondered about what she was going to do, whether or not she should tell him. She knew he had a right to know, but she didn't want him to feel obligated to her. She shook her head, realizing that she didn't have a choice now, he already held the book in his hands.

Damn, she thought putting a shaky hand to her forehead, this was not a conversation she was prepared to have. Over the last few days, she had imagined a thousand different ways to tell him, but none of them seemed to fit the moment she was facing right now. Then again, she didn't have to say anything - he already knew. So instead of trying to come up with the right words, she met his eyes and nodded then watched as his eyes widened and he fell back against the couch in complete and total shock.

She knew exactly how he felt. When she had gone to the doctor on Tuesday and gotten the test, she had been so sure her missed period was just a fluke. But then he had come back and she knew without him having to say the words. She knew that for the second time in her life, her world had just tilted right off its axis.

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