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Chapter 15- Tightrope

Tightrope

Cecilia Scarlette Locke’s Point of View

 

I could not help but feel curious. Am I just seeing things, or was it really a picture of the two of us back then? It’s not like I’m feeling sentimental now. I simply wanted to have a look. So that’s what I did, walking over to the living room. 

 

I’m sorry, stomach. I have to make a quick detour to the living room before I can feed you. 

 

I picked up the wooden frame, and there I saw two kids with big grins across their faces. One might imagine my childhood in cute little dresses with a big red bow clipped into my hair. Although that might be true, Kinsey and I always had our little sneak-out adventures when those pretty dresses turned into pond clothes along with Kinsey’s mud-soak suspenders. It was fine while they lasted. 

 

It was those times when being dirty doesn’t matter and having fun was so much more fun than I thought I’d ever known. 

 

“But if I remember correctly, his brother is supposed to be in the background of this one… What hap-“

 

“Cecilia” 

 

I almost dropped the frame on my hands as I quickly peered away from the fireplace after hastily placing the frame back to its original place. I felt the strong vibration on my chest as if I was caught red-handed for murdering someone. I was always the clumsy one too, and I always have to work hard on trying to be cool so that the media would be able to portray me as something better than what I really am. 

 

“Kinsey” I breathed out, alarmed. What am I to say after that even? I promise I didn’t touch anything else but the frame? I was just looking for something to eat and magically stumbled through your living room to take a peek at the old photos? Don’t judge me, I was only bored since you were sound asleep all morning? I’m sorry I promise I didn’t steal anything?

 

“Good morning, Cecilia.” Kinsey smiles sheepishly. I blinked back at him before clearing my throat and returning the gesture. 

 

“Good morning… You slept on the couch? That must’ve made your body sore. I am sorry for intriguing into your home.” I replied to the conversation as casually as I could. I guess I did overthink way too much about him being annoyed. I mean, who does get angry at someone just because she looked over at the photos on the fireplace?

 

Lucky for me, not Kinsey.

 

“Don’t worry about it. I am used to sleeping on a chair even whenever I am in the middle of checking papers.” He flashes me another tired smile. The thing about yesterday must’ve taken its toll on him too.  

 

I followed him as he made his way to his humble kitchen. As expected, shiny metal and white cupboards welcomed me in. It’s much smaller than back at home, but if you’re a man living on your own then this is very much suitable already. “I hope potato salad sounds good for you. I’ll flip a couple of pancakes as well just in case you still haven’t had your fill.” 

 

Base on my experience with Kinsey’s food, the meals that came from his kitchen are supposed to make my palette and empty stomach excited. A few additional calories won’t stop me. At least a bite or two would make me happy. “Okay! Thank you! I’ll make sure to return the favor one of these days.” Ahhh. Just the mention of food was enough to make me feel cheery. 

                                                              

“How was your sleep, though?” Kinsey opened up as he rinsed the leafy greens. Meanwhile, I pulled out a chair for me to sit on. 

 

“I appreciate that you got me to sleep on your bed, but I don’t feel fully rested. I am still in this tracksuit from yesterday.” I pointed out as I leaned myself against the empty table. As if on cue, Kinsey turned around, opening his mouth to speak before closing it yet again for a split second.

 

I’ve raised a brow towards him when he didn’t seem to have an excuse in his arsenal.

 

“Oh…that. I tried waking you up, but you were out of it already. I also couldn’t strip you off and change you by myself.” He reasoned.

 

I looked him dead in the eye as I sat up straight. “You could.”

 

Silence.

 

So I continued on with speaking, “I’m going to be your wife. You would eventually see all of this if not sooner than later.” I replied. Besides, a goodnight’s sleep is an utmost essential in human life since it’s one of the factors that dictate one’s productivity.

 

“It doesn’t work like that at all.”

 

“Pardon?” I asked when I heard him murmuring something as he turned back to what it was he was doing.

 

“I-I said, I will keep that in mind.” Kinsey cleared his throat before I heard him chopping again. Our conversation did not resume after that. But I did see a glimpse of the text printed on the apron he was wearing.

 

‘Kiss the Cook’ huh? 

 

 

 “These paintings on the wall… they’re yours?” I asked as we just finished eating our meal, and let me tell you this, it’s more than exquisite. 

 

“Yes…” I could see the way his cheeks brighten a little. It made me smile just a little as well. “… They’re not that good still, but it’s not like anyone else would see.” He added quickly as he scratched the back of his neck subconsciously.

 

“We could go to the museum next time.” I said, remembering how much he loved playing with paints when we were little. Maybe that way, he’d warm up to me again, and I could convince him more in going back with me. 

 

“But I do not think there’s a museum established here already.” Kinsey said out loud as he played with his fork. My eyes drifted down to the way he rocks his chair back and forth as if it was a rocking chair. Can’t he afford a rocking chair? 

 

I’ll make sure to drop off one for him later. He kept cooking extremely delicious meals for me, after all. 

 

“I’ll take you outside of town.” I replied almost immediately. Having him out of this place is so much better. I’ll pick a place where I could persuade him best. I’ll plan the perfect day for him this time! 

 

Kinsey raised a brow at me. “Hmmm? Is that so?” He leaned over to the table as he wriggled his brows. 

 

“D-don’t think of any funny things. I only want to return the favor.” I answered as quickly as I could. I’m not sure what he was implying about that exactly, but I had the urge to deny it almost instantly. No way I’m going to admit that I’ve enjoyed yesterday so much with him, that I’m already eager to have our next stop. 

 

“Sure. This will be our last, alright?” Kinsey smiles. 

 

I furrowed my brows at him “Last?” 

 

“You’ve said you wanted to know why I wanted to stay here, and I showed you.” Kinsey answered briefly as if that would magically solve everything. His reasons were still unclear to me, to be honest. Because if the park is the only part he wanted, then I’ll make sure to build him one just so I could bring him home.

 

I narrowed my eyes on him. He is serious about getting rid of me. “I don’t think you understand the situation we are in. You could return here occasionally if you wanted the place so badly, but do you know what would we two lose if you didn’t go? If you don’t want to marry me so badly then just come with me. I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen soon. You being stubborn will cost you our freedom.” I tried to explain it to him more urgently, more desperately. It will cost me more than my freedom. It will cost me so much more than I’ve been working on all these years. Alexander would make fun of me. 

 

I saw the way Kinsey’s expression went hard. “If I return there, I still won’t have that freedom you are promising me, Cecilia. This is non-negotiable. I wouldn’t return back there. No matter what you say, with or without the marriage thing. This is not about you!” I blinked back at Kinsey in surprise. 

 

We are arguing, aren’t we? And as soon as I caught that, I know I should hit the brakes and take the higher road. But my blood had reached its boiling point that I could not shut my mouth and close my lips tight. 

 

“This is about us! What the hell are you even saying? Do you think I love my everyday life there?! I’m so sooo tired. I’m so tired of trying my best to be the best. Everyone wants to take me down as soon as they see faint of flaw!” I yelled back, feeling my cheeks burn in anger.

 

“That’s your call, Cecilia. You’ve chosen to live like that, and I refuse to do so. Try to be a little bit honest. You’re only doing this for yourself.” Kinsey spotted out with a deep frown upon his face. If gaze could actually kill, I could feel that maybe I’ve been stabbed five times already. That’s how dangerous and scary his look was. But what made me even angrier is that what he had just said was true- all of it. It was the painful truth even I couldn’t even admit to myself, and I hate that he could just lay it there in the open. 

 

I gritted my teeth, balling my fists together as my hands kept shaking uncontrollably. “I-I hate you… I hate you! You’re just like your big brother!” I yelled, slamming my hands against the table so I could carry my weight and run up the stairs to collect my things. 

 

I do not care about the hurt look on his face. I do not care whether he thinks I’m desperate. I do not care if I live my whole life like this. And I definitely couldn’t care less that my heart feels like tearing itself into two. 

 

I surely have a long way to go before I could take over the family business. If I still lose my emotions like a hot ball of fire, sizzling eruption with such a small argument like this, then I’m nothing more than a rookie. Maybe my grandfather was right into throwing me out of the company. 

 

 

 

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