Forever Black

By: Sandi Lynn

Chapter 8

I spent the next few days going to work and volunteering at the soup kitchen.
Saturday came, and it was a beautiful September day.
Peyton had called and asked me to go shopping with her, but I told her I already had plans, of course she was not happy with my answer, but I was going to Central Park.
Growing up, I would escape my house and find a quiet place to sit and draw.
It was the only time I did not feel lonely.
I liked to draw and paint pictures of places where I could go and hide.
My father used to tell me that I got my artistic ability from my mother.
I thought about her almost every day and how my life would be different if she hadn’t died, but like I say, nothing lasts forever; you can either roll with it or let it kill you.
I grabbed my drawing pad and pencils and headed out the door.
The walk to Central Park wasn’t long, and I enjoyed the fresh air; it made me feel alive.
I’ve spent more time in Central Park since I’ve moved to New York than anywhere else.
The playgrounds were filled with children playing in the warm New York sun.
I made my way to the Conservatory Garden.
The magnolia and lilac trees filled the air that provided a soothing and calming effect.
It was easy for me to escape the world and take in the beauty of the gardens.
It was like a sanctuary for me; a place where I could go and draw just about anything.
I sat down on the bench and I noticed a bride and groom over to the right of me getting their picture taken by the fountain.
She was beautiful in her white wedding dress, and he was equally handsome in his black tuxedo.
They looked happy.
I smiled; this was the perfect place to get married and that would make the perfect painting.
I was half way done drawing them when my phone rang.
I looked at the unfamiliar number and ignored the call.
A second later the phone rang again displaying the same number.
I’m sure whoever it was had the wrong number, so I answered it to tell them to stop calling.
I froze as I heard the voice on the other end.
“Hello Miss Lane, are you enjoying Central Park?”
I started to get creeped out as I looked around from side to side and then behind me; that is when I saw Connor walking towards the bench I was sitting on.
“I am Mr.
Black and it looks like you are to.”
I hung up as he approached me.
I gasped when I saw him.
He had a way of making me do that and I hated it.
He was dressed in a pair of khakis and a button down white cotton shirt with his sleeves rolled to his elbows.
His hair, as usual, was perfectly tousled, and his sun-kissed skin glowed in the sunlight.
I frowned at him as he sat down next to me.
he asked.
“How did you get my phone number; I do not remember giving it to you?”
“I have my ways of finding out anything about anybody Miss Lane.”
“So, you’re a stalker then?”
He threw his head back and laughed, “No Ellery, I’m not a stalker.
I just wanted your number in case I needed you to help me home some night.”
I glared at him but was secretly smiling underneath.
“How did you know I was here?”
“Denny pointed out that he saw you walking down the street, and I asked him to stop.”
I curiously asked.
He pursed his lips together as I could tell he was getting irritated with my questions.
“I don’t know, I just thought I’d say hi, I guess.”
“Then you could have just called, since you have my number and all.”
He heavily sighed, “Miss Lane, enough with the questions please.”
I laughed silently because I was pissing him off again and I loved it.
“Can I ask you one more thing?”
He looked at me and frowned.
God he was sexy when he did that.
It’s a sin to look that good.
“What is it?”
“Could you please stop calling me Miss Lane and call me Ellery?”
He smiled and cocked his head, “It would be my pleasure Ellery.”
I liked the way my name rolled off his tongue.
Connor glanced over at my pad and saw the scribble of two people on it.
“What are you drawing?”
“The bride and groom over there,”
I pointed.
“Why not, they’re a cute couple, and I think it would make a good painting.
I’ll call it A Wedding in Central Park.”
“And what makes you think someone would buy that?”
I rolled my eyes at his bluntness; I knew it was only a matter of time.
“People love weddings and any couple that got married here would buy it as a memory of the beginning of their life together.”
Connor lifted up his chin, “It’s all a bunch of shit if you ask me.”
“What is?”
I asked as I looked at him in confusion.
“Weddings, starting a life together, relationships, all of it, you said nothing lasts forever.”
I was surprised by his words and his hatred for relationships.
I could see the pain in his beautiful green eyes; he must have been badly hurt.
I looked down and continued drawing.
“Well, a lot of people believe in the happily ever after and the fairytale relationships, let’s not take that away from them.”
“Do you believe in any of that?”
he asked.
“I don’t know; I thought once I did, but I’m not so sure anymore.”
I continued drawing.
He took his hand and lightly grabbed my wrist, turning it over and softly rubbing my scar with his thumb.
I wanted to pull away, but his touch froze me; he was so warm and soft and what he was doing sent fire through my body.
“Tell me about these scars,”
he said in a low voice.
My heart started racing as he let go and let my hand fall back to my pad.
I stared at him, why did he care? I have not known him long enough to share my secrets; hell, I don’t know him at all.
“I made a mistake; I was young and stupid; that’s all.”
“Everyone is young and stupid from time to time, but they do not try to kill themselves,”
he snapped.
It was almost as if he was taking this personally.
I sighed and remained calm.
“Connor, you don’t know me or anything about me.
We are not friends remember, so what happened to me in my past is none of your business.”
There I said it.
I put him in his place and politely told him to back off.
“I apologize,”
he said as he looked straight ahead.
I started to feel a bit of regret for my tone.
I got up from the bench.
“I’m starving, would you like a hot dog?”
“No, I don’t want a hot dog; if you are hungry then I’ll take you to a proper restaurant for lunch.”
I laughed as I turned my back to him and started walking away, “Suit yourself Mr.
Black, but I’m going to get me a hot dog from the hot dog stand.”
I heard him mumble something under his breath, and before I knew it, he was walking beside me.
“Do you ever listen to anyone?”
“No, I do what I want.”
“I can tell,”
he mumbled under his breath thinking I didn’t hear him, but I did.
I casually smiled and kept walking.
We reached the hot dog vendor, and I looked at Connor.
“Are you getting one?”
He frowned at me and growled at the vendor, “Give me two hotdogs.”
I grabbed my hot dog and apologized to the vendor and whispered, “He’s mad because I’m forcing him to eat a hot dog when he wanted a fancy lunch.”
The vendor and I laughed as Connor walked over to a wooden table.
I walked over to the condiment stand and topped my hot dog with relish, onions, ketchup and mustard.
I grabbed a bunch of napkins and sat down next to Connor at the small picnic table.
He looked over at my hot dog and then at me with disgust in his eyes.
“That is gross,”
he said as he took a bite of his plain hot dog.
“Gross, no way man, this is heaven,”
I took a large bite and watched him stare at me as I chewed.
“You do realize how bad that is for you, right?”
I put my finger up, “You only live once, make the best of it.”
He tried to hold back a smile, but I saw it and it made me smile back.
I shoved my hot dog at him.
“Here take a bite.”
“No, get that thing out of my face,”
he frowned.
“Not until you take a bite Connor, then you can judge if it’s gross.”
I kept moving the hot dog closer to his mouth as he rolled his eyes and finally took a bite.
He chewed it, and I laughed at the glob of ketchup he had in the corner of his mouth.
I took a napkin and wiped it.
Instantly, he put his hand on mine like he wanted to jerk it away, but he didn’t and he stared at me with fear in his eyes.
I took the napkin away and smiled as if I didn’t notice his reaction.
“You had ketchup right there, and I didn’t want it to get on your shirt.”
He nodded his head, “Thanks.”

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