Chasing the Shadows
By Caylee Jacobs
Date: July 6, 2021
Ch. 22

I looked around to see familiar faces that were giving me smiles of acknowledgement. This party wasn’t for them. It was for Les, whom I couldn’t see anywhere yet. I roamed around to see if she had made it here, shaking lots of hands in the way. She was nowhere. What if she didn’t come? What if she’s still offended by my debased personality? I wasn’t that guy anymore, for heaven sake. I was a twenty fucking seven adult now. I no more gave flirty smiles or grins to charm girls’ panties off. That was all done and gone down the lane. “Nice party, Mr. McLain.” Someone commented. I just nodded. Not really paying attention. And then she appeared at the doorway. Dressed in long black evening gown with pearls around her slender neck and her lips painted red, she walked with grace and confidence to die for. Her eyes were big and arched and her head was high and pointed. She was just as beautiful as I always thought of her as. And she was going to be mine. I kept my eyes on her and began to walk in her direction. Our eyes met and I didn’t break away the contact. “Leslie.” I greeted her. “I am glad you could make it here.” I forwarded my hand in which she placed hers and I brought it up to my mouth to place a small kiss. “You can throw a good party,” she said looking around. You are the reason behind. I said mentally but just nodded my head physically as if it was nothing. I grabbed two flutes of Champaign and handed one to her. Taking a sip myself, I let the liquid calm down my unsettled inner system. Just then my marketing team began the presentation that was prepared for the launch. I’ll ask her after it. I told myself.

The hall filled with applauds as presentation ended. I took a final sip of my drink and cleared my throat to finally go for it. “Leslie, I want to …” I began speaking when there was a tap in speakers and then a voice filled. “Need your attention for a minute here, folks.” I looked back to see Brandon, my younger half brother standing on the stage with mike in his hands. What the hell? “Sorry for crashing your party, brother.” he grinned at me. I had an urge to kill him right then. He wasn’t crashing my party. He was crashing that moment for what I had waited eight years. Wait for a few more minutes McLain, it wouldn’t hurt. “So guys I need you to help me out here.” He said. “There is a pretty lady whom I want to say something.” The crowd cheered and his eyes were stuck behind me. “I want you all to know that there is one woman I love. And I am here to ask her if she’d marry me.” He stepped down from the stage and began to walk. The crowd made way and spot light followed him. He was coming towards us. “I love you, Cara. You are the best thing that could ever happen to me. I look at you and my world brightens. I want to wake up next to you every morning and sleep every night buried inside you. You make me whole. You make me complete. I want to spend every second of the rest of my life with you.” he stopped just in front of where I was. “I love you with all my heart. Will you make me the happiest man alive and marry me, Leslie?” Brandon bent on his knee and extended his hand to my Leslie who stood right next to me. What the fucking hell on earth was this? I gasped and tilted to see Leslie. Her face was bright and filled with joy. Her lips broken into a big smile and her hands were on her chest. “You are killing me here, darling.” Brandon said. I wanted to fucking kill him. Say no, Les. Please. I begged inside. “Yes. Of course I’ll marry you, my love.” I stared in shock as Les curled her arms around Brandon and he kissed her. The people were cheering and clapping and I was burning – in rage, in hurt. Brandon slipped a big rock on Leslie’s finger and kissed her again. Fucking hell! I turned and stormed out of the hall and then out of the hotel. Instead of waiting for valet to bring my car up, I snatched my keys from him. Seconds later, I drove the fuck out of that place.

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