Previously on Move– Read Chapter 18 HERE
Catch up from the beginning HERE
Liam steps into his office a bright smile across his face. His phone sounds a text.
Picking it up he smirks, seeing Aria sent him a picture of her Gatorade with a message that read, “Rehydrating for tonight. ;)”
Liam coughs nervously as he loosens his tie.
He types back, “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
She smirks as she types back, “Tonight, my love. Your place?”
Liam smirks. “Yes. Yes. And Yes. I’ll pick you up at 8?”
Aria smiles excitedly as she answers, “Perfect, I can’t wait!”
“Me either love, you have no idea,” he replies.
“Here’s something to hold you over…”she types back as she sends him a seductive photo of her in her black lingerie.
“I’ll see you on my lunch break. ;)” he responds, laughing to himself.
Aria smirks, “Don’t mess with me! You know you’re probably planning on working through lunch.” she types back.
“Am I that predictable, love?” he types with a chuckle.
Aria laughs as she sends, a “;)”
Liam smirks as he goes to answer back but gets rudely interrupted by his office door bursting open. Startled, Liam looks up to find his mother Gertrude standing before him, as Anne stands nearby, “My apologies, Mr. Whitmore, I tried to tell her you were busy. But-“
“That’s alright Anne, I know how persistently hostile she can be,” he says glaring at his mother as he stalks past her shutting the door. Anne sits back at her desk as she and Marco exchange worried looks.
“She! She! I am your mother. I will not be demoted to a simple pronoun. You have been ignoring my calls, my emails, and my texts….all because of THIS! HER!” she says throwing a magazine into his hands.
Liam looks down and sees the headline, “Manhattan’s Favorite Bachelor Finds Himself in a Steamy Foreign Exchange.” As two pictures of him and Aria in a heated make-out session are displayed.
He sighs, feeling violated.
“This is none of your business, mother. Aria and I are none of your business.”
“None of my business. Liam, you are a Whitmore. And Whitmores do not settle. We do not marry beneath us. You cannot be serious about this girl. You haven’t brought a girl home in years but THIS is who you end up going after. She is NOT suitable for you.”
“Not suitable for me? Mother listen to yourself. I am 32 years old, I think I have the right to make my own choices concerning my own love life.”
“You clearly need help…because you are acting like a boy! It’s time you grew up and finally take your responsibilities seriously. This company is yours! Your father’s family built it from the ground up. All with the intentions that one day you would take it on as your own.”
“And I have mother. I have taken it on for my entire adult life. But I was never asked if I wanted to. Have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe this isn’t what I wanted? That maybe I have other dreams?”
“Like what? Those little drawings you used to do?”
“They were paintings. I love painting mother, and I’ve been told that I’m pretty good. Considering I’ve been around art my whole life, I kind of have a decent handle on it.”
“Liam. I appreciate your honesty. But think logically.”
“I finally am, mother. Logically speaking, I am finally realizing it doesn’t help me live a life worth living if I’m just feeding into someone else’s dream for me. Your dream for me.”
“And where has this new realization come from…this Aria girl?”
“Partly yes, but I have to be honest with you mother, it’s always been there. I was just so afraid of letting you down that I kept up this charade. Especially, after dad passed, it became like a sealed fate. I knew with you and Sky at odds, I knew I was all you had. But seeing Sky go after her dream and watching her pave her own path, I just realized she is the bravest person I’ve ever known. She shouldn’t be punished for that. For loving music, and for being good at it! And I shouldn’t be punished for loving creating art either. Our whole lives you’ve pushed us to be people we’re not. I can’t do it anymore. I’m not trying to hurt you mother. I don’t like fighting with you. I’m just finally speaking my truth.”
Gertrude’s face falls, the wrinkles in her face evident. Bags under her eyes. Her stern steady and cold. She lets out a sarcastic laugh.
“How quickly you selfish children forget.”
“All those years your father and I spent, putting you in the best schools, giving you anything and EVERYTHING you could have possibly wanted. Expensive cars, vacations, parties with the elite and THIS is how you both repay us. Me. Your father is probably rolling in his grave right now.”
Liam stares at his mother in disbelief, “When did you get this bitter mother,” he says his tone low, dark, laced with pain and anger.
Gertrude turns on her heel and walks to the door, she turns back to hit him with one last carefully planted cruel remark, “I hope this girl is worth ruining your life over.” As she stalks out of the room, her head held high, her heels clicking against the black and white tiled office floor. Everyone around her scurrying away.
Liam let’s out a heavy breath as he slinks into his office chair.
Anne cautiously eases her way into his office as she closes the door behind her.
“Mr. Whitmore…I’m so sorry-“
“Anne, it is not even close to being your fault,” he says sighing and shaking his head.
“Are you, alright? Can I get you anything?” she asks.
“How about a bottle of whiskey,” he says with a slight chuckle.
“Bottom right draw,” Anne says with a small smile as she leaves his office, closing the door behind her.
Liam opens it, and laughs, and he grabs it, taking a swig, he makes a wincing face.
Aria finishes her routine as her song ends. She laughs with a sigh of relief.
“Finally. I’ve got a real routine. Thank you GOD!” she says throwing her hands up and doing a little dance.
She walks over to the radio to shut it off and checks her phone.
“Oh my god, I have to hurry, Liam is picking me up soon!” she says to herself as she rushes out of the rehearsal space.
Aria looks in the mirror dressed in a black lacey lingerie set. She turns checking herself out. She smiles as she sprays some perfume on her chest and steps into a pair of high black heels. Fluffing her lightly curled locks, she touches up her red lipstick. Aria grabs her trusty little black dress and pulls it on.
Aria sits in her apartment, checking her phone constantly. Nothing from Liam.
“Ok. Don’t freak out Aria. He’s probably just running late. He’ll be here,” she says trying to calm her insecurities.
“Ok now, I’m getting worried, what if something happened.” she says to herself as she grabs her phone to dial Liam’s number.
His phone goes to voicemail after a few short rings.
“This guy thinks he is standing me up! Think again” she says angrily as she stands up and storms out of her apartment.
Aria storms into Liam’s office with more fury then a woman scorned.
But her anger is brought to a crashing halt when she sees him passed out on his desk, an opened bottle of whiskey sitting on his desk.
She sighs as she walks over to him, she shakes him gently.
“Liam?” she says. Liam doesn’t move.
“Liam!” she whispers forcefully in his ear.
“Ah, no please, not too loud, my brain is pounding,” he says grabbing his head.
“Yea I bet,” she says leaning against his desk, as she folds her arms. Her glare in place.
Liam looks up once he hears her voice, “Aria, love. Oh my god! What time is it?” he says looking around, confused.
Aria takes his wrist and shows him his watch- 10:45.
“Oh love, I am so sorry.”
“Yea, me too,” she says shaking her head.
“I didn’t mean to miss our date, love…”
“Liam, what happened?” she says confused.
“My mother stopped by-“
“Wow. Ok, so this is how you deal with that. Getting wasted at work?” she says rolling her eyes, “Good to know,” she says starting to walk to the door.
“Would you just wait? You never let me explain. You just make your own conclusion and you run.”
“Quite frankly, I am tired of your explanations.”
“Ok, fine. Leave. Everybody does,” he says grabbing the bottle of whiskey and chugging it again.
Aria watches him as her face softens, she walks back over to him, taking the bottle from his hands.
Liam looks up at her, confused yet broken.
“What happened Liam?” she asks concerned.
“You don’t have to pretend to care, the door is right there love,” he says standing unsteadily.
Aria catches him as he loses his footing.
“Ok, you know what -let’s get you home.” she says grabbing his briefcase and his phone.
Aria and Liam exit the building, Liam’s sleek black car parked right outside. His driver rushes out to give her a hand.
“What happened?” he asks worried.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” she says.
“I was just about to check on him, he usually works late but not this late!” his driver says.
“So this is not a regular occurrence then?” Aria asks as they get Liam into the back seat of the car.
“No. Mr. Whitmore is more of a social drinker. Never drinks on the job.”
“Can we drop you somewhere on the way?” he asks kindly.
“Um actually I think I’m going to stay with him. Just to make sure he’s ok.” Aria says climbing in after Liam.
Liam wakes up on his couch, his head pounding, his apartment dark and silent. He goes to get up, and grabs his head, wincing.
Finally his eyes adjust to the darkness as he sees Aria sleeping in his nearby love seat.
He smiles slightly and quietly walks over to her, kneeling down he strokes her legs softly with his hands, “Aria,” he whispers.
Her eyes flutter open, as she sees him kneeled before her, “Hey,” she says cupping his face. “How are you feeling?” she says her eyes focusing on him, her face worried.
“Not great. What happened?” he says confused.
“You really don’t remember anything?” she says.
“I assume alcohol was involved, but I’m not much of a drinker so I’m kind of…yea details are a little hazy,” he says confused.
“Well…” she says getting up and taking his hand leading them to a seat on the couch as she clicks on a lamp.
“We were supposed to have our…special….sexy….night…”
“That I remember,” he says smirking.
“Well that didn’t really happen.”
“I missed it?” he says sadly.
“Oh yea,” she says her eyes widening. “You were supposed to pick me up for 8 and time just kept slipping by and you never showed. At first I just figured you were running late at work, then I was worried something happened, but then I got in my head and decided that maybe you were standing me up.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” he says taking her hand in his.
“I don’t know, I just got so mad at you and I went to your office, and there you were passed out with a bottle of whiskey.”
“Oh lord, yes, that um, that sounds vaguely familiar,” he says stroking his scruffy chin, as he winces in embarrassment.
“Do you remember why you all of the sudden decided to drink?” she asks.
“My mother stopped by.” he says rolling his eyes.
“You did mention that,” she says. “What did she want?”
“She came to discuss her disappointment in me. How I should be falling in line and doing what is expected of me.” Liam says looking away.
“Oh Liam-” she says cupping his face.
“She also came to show me…this,” he says reaching into his briefcase and pulling out the magazine.
Aria takes it and reads the headline.
“Wow!” she says her eyes wide, “we look hot,” she says smiling up at him.
Liam looks at her confused, “Wait you’re not mad? I thought you’d be offended. I know I was. And I’m used to having my picture in the papers.”
“I mean look, I’m not thrilled to have my private life plastered across the cover of a cheap tabloid. But I mean it was bound to happen. You are part of rich elite society. And the headline, at least it’s clever, right? You have to give them credit for trying.” she says shrugging and tossing the magazine on his coffee table.
Liam laughs as he lets out a sigh.
“Did you really think I would hold this against you? I mean it’s not your fault.”
“I just didn’t know how you’d take it? I didn’t know if you’d feel like it was too much to deal with and walk away.”
Aria looks down, suddenly ashamed. She exhales, annoyed.
“What?” he says worried.
“I completely understand why you felt that way. I run. A lot. When it comes to feeling anything even remotely romantic, I run. It’s sad that you already know that about me. I mean even last night after finding you like that, I just wrote the end of the story myself and decided you were an alcoholic who couldn’t be trusted and almost didn’t let you explain.”
“Wow. Ok, well I’m not an alcoholic. Just to clarify. I just had a bad day, and drank on an empty stomach. But I can see how it would look bad. But I’m glad you stuck around. Even though I don’t exactly remember how I got you to stay.” he says smirking.
“You showed me a little vulnerability,” she says shrugging.
“What does that mean?” he asks starring into her eyes, as he strokes her cheek, she leans in placing a kiss on his lips.
“In the midst of calling me out for always running off, you sort of implied that you’ve been left by a lot of people. And just the way you said it, it broke my heart. I knew I couldn’t leave you that way.”
Liam nods, clearing his throat, he looks away, his hands pulling away from her as he stands up.
“Well um, thank you again, love. I appreciate it. And I am so sorry about missing our night. I will make it up to you,” he says looking at her.
“I know you will.” she says smiling as she stands up, she kisses him.
“You look ravishing by the way,” whispers against her lips, before kissing her again, his hands pulling her waist toward him.
Aria laughs, “You should see what I’m wearing underneath this,” she says raising an eyebrow as Liam sighs, he kisses her again.
“Trust me, if this hangover wasn’t punishment enough already, I am now mentally kicking myself for not being able to get you out of that dress,” he whispers in his husky, sexy, voice.
Aria laughs, “Aw, well don’t do that. We’ll get our night soon.” she says kissing him. “I should get going. My cousins are probably freaking out, it’s like 4 am.”
“Ok, well let me call Will, so he can give you a ride-“
“It’s ok, I’m fine-“
“Aria, love, its 4 am, shut up. You’re taking the ride,” he says placing a kiss on her shocked face.
“I’m sorry love, it’s just that you protest so much. I just want you to be safe.” he says with as sweet smirk.
“Nice save,” she says smirking as she pulls him into a kiss.
Liam laughs as he wraps his arms around her waist.
“Bye,” she says smiling up at him.
“Bye love, Thank you again,” he says smirking.
“Anytime,” she says blowing him a kiss as she leaves.
TO BE CONTINUED…
*I do not take credit for the images used in my edits or otherwise.*