Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

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Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Lindsss on Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:21 pm

They were incredibly overdressed for an afternoon at the Leaky Cauldron. It was fitting, however, given that they had not spent their day in the pub. She was wearing a blue dress to match his nearly royal-blue tie, and when they entered, it wasn't all that surprising that they drew the attention of the fairly scruffy men sitting to the left of the front door. Not only did they look very strange compared to most of the patrons, but it undoubtedly realized that he owned the place. Her hair was curled and she walked in absurd heels that she probably wouldn't have worn on any casual day, or even to work at the Ministry.

"Declan," she began, lifting a hand to touch his arm as they walked towards the bar, "are you sure you're alright?"

He nodded, but his jaw was clenched. She clearly didn't believe him, as she arched an eyebrow at him. "Just come on," he muttered, letting his hand fall to rest at the small of her back so he could lead her to his office. Once she walked in, he pushed the door most of the way closed, feeling he would only need a minute to gather his thoughts and change his shirt so that he could go out and take the liquor order for the week without looking entirely too proper for his job.

Melena, however, needed to collect her bag, which she had left before their trip to the wedding earlier that day. She was in the process of slinging it onto her shoulder when she saw his head tip back and his eyes lift to the ceiling as though he wanted to sigh aloud but wouldn't let himself. Declan frowned and began sliding his suit jacket off, completely oblivious to the fact that she was still standing there. That is, until he realized he had not heard the door creak open or latch closed.

"Who was she?" Melena asked finally, letting her shoulder sink and her bag droop back down to the floor.

"That's not really your business," he replied stonily, walking around to the far side of his desk. "I don't think it's proper to share things like that with one of my employees."

She scoffed, narrowing her eyes. "But it's fine to take them as dates to the wedding of people she's never met?"

"Sure," he shrugged, refusing to meet her gaze.

Melena, growing all the more frustrated, strode behind the desk as well, crossing her arms at him and standing her ground until he chose to turn towards her. Something about his gaze made her stop. He looked furious, mainly, but there was something cold and guarded behind that. He had never struck her as a man who would be so icy, and yet there he went. They glared at each other for a moment before she caved, sighing and letting her arms fall to her sides.

Declan's brow furrowed at the change, and he seemed to realize how unusually intimidating he might have seemed to someone he had hire-and-fire power over. "That woman made things difficult, and she had no right to address either of us."

Although Melena could not presume to understand exactly what he meant, she got the feeling that she didn't really want to know. "I'm sorry," she mumbled, reaching up to undo his tie for him. Declan looked surprised but said nothing, not moving an inch until he heard the door open.

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Jackles on Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:38 am

Her home looked remarkably unchanged considering the night she had just had.

Roxi had nearly killed Apollo on their exit, but they had escaped, Lily gripped between them. Molly and Christian managed to get to a healer at St Mungo’s, an old friend of Dom’s named Lou, and bring them back to the boy’s flat, where they were setting Lily up. The boy’s had insisted on just taking Lily to Mungo’s, but neither Weasley girl could hear anything of it. They understood better than anyone what sort of attention it would earn the collective Potter/Weasley family for Lily to be admitted under her condition. Either everyone would assume she had gone off the deep end, or the truth about Roxi would get out, giving the latter nothing left to lose. It was too dangerous. This had to be handled like everything else – within the family.

The night had worn on slowly. They all kept trying to take turns watching Lily, but Dom suspected no one actually slept. Still, by six in the morning, Lou was saying Lily was table and would be all right, giving them all the orders they would need to follow for the next few weeks, and the months after to ensure she would recover. He left his card and then they were left to look at the circumstances they had found themselves in.

It wasn’t pretty.

Dom must have drifted off at some point, because she found herself waking up on a couch at one in the afternoon. Christian had made food for them all, and Molly was spooning the oatmeal at the table. Dom blinked out the sleep as the twin handed her a bowl of her own, but she couldn’t think of eating. “Molly, do you have any regular clothes on you?” She was still in her clubbing outfit, the acid wash jeans, the crop top, the heels. Molly nodded and tossed her a backpack. “When did you get this?”

Molly shrugged, saying “An hour ago. Figured I might be staying.”

Dom fished out the most normal looking shirt in the bag, a striped shirt, and tracked down the bathroom. She switched the tops, donned the converse Molly had brought along, and quickly tied up her hair. She looked drastically different from her usual self. There were circles under her usually bright eyes, no makeup to bring out her pale features, and dressed in plain clothes. It wasn’t the best look to win someone back with. But it was honest. And it would have to do.

“Where are you going?” Molly asked, as Dom headed towards the door.

“I’ll be back.”

- - -

She had never been nervous going to the Leaky – why would she? It was known to be a familiar place, a place of solace to each wizard and witch who entered through its historic doors… and, of course, one of her closest friends was probably there. Someone that she had committed to, and then abandoned. Someone that probably didn’t want to see her right now. And she couldn’t blame him.

She slipped into the bar, and cast an eye around. He was nowhere to be seen, but she could see a sliver of light coming from office so she angled that way. She didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t get farther than ‘hi’ in her hypothetical conversation, the one that had been on replay since she had snuck out of his apartment over a month ago. The time to figure out what she was going to say was rapidly disappearing, and soon her hand was on the door, and the time was gone. She stepped inside.

“…Oh.”

She didn’t know what to think beyond that simplest thought. Oh. Okay. That… made sense. Yes. So, she should be leaving, or saying something to explain herself, or asking for an explanation.

Unfortunately, this conversation had never been a hypothetical. So she stuck with the only part she could remember. “Hi.”

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Lindsss on Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:49 pm

[ooc: for you <3 Also, I'm underlining my links because I dunno how to make them change color lol.]

Declan's head swiveled towards the door, an involuntary jerk pulling his head back and his eyebrows together thanks to his shock at seeing her again. Who had cursed him with the unfortunate fate of running into both Danica and Dom in one day? Without looking, he lifted a hand to pull Melena's away, and he outright ignored the confused noise she made as she stepped away.

Before he could say anything, Dom spoke and he drew in a breath, looking down at his desk. "Melena," he began, "I think you were on the way out."

"...Right." She returned stiffly. Her heels sounded incredibly loud now as they stomped across the wooden floor of his office. Declan tilted his head slightly towards her, watching her leave and brush her way past Dom.

He frowned at the rude gesture, fairly unsure as to why Melena would be so angry with him. Or maybe he had an inkling. Still, it wasn't his fault if she felt some sort of attachment he had not approved of. Luckily, though, the redhead closed the door behind her, so he would be able to handle this bizarre situation without any interruptions. Hopefully.

"Do you need something?" He asked finally, stuffing his hands in his pockets for fear of fidgeting and showing his discomfort. His eyes finally lifted to hers, and Declan didn't doubt that he looked guarded and unamused. "I was about to get back to work."

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Jackles on Sat Jan 23, 2016 7:51 pm

((Yummmm))

Dom wasn't known for being exceedingly clever or insightful. To be fair, she had earned that reputation. But she was not blind, and she could put two and two together, especially when it came to people and anything remotely interesting. This bombshell of a redhead, with her curves in the right places, aristocratic nose, and poised style had taken an interest in her Declan. And how could Dom even be mad at her? First off, she couldn't blame her. She had often wondered why more women didn't seem to express an interest in him. And this was the type of woman who seemed fitting of him. Compared to her tomboyish figure, her frumpy style, her goofy posture, this woman was Aphrodite.

And Dom would bet that she wouldn't just leave him without an explanation either.

Declan excused the woman, who seemed a bit put off. She tried not to let herself take it as a hopeful sign, reminding herself of how tactful the former professor could be, how mindful he was of privacy - she should know, as she had so often ruined that. The woman took her orders with a grain of salt, pushing past Dom noticeably, causing the blonde to waver a bit. The door closed a bit too firmly behind her, and silence reigned.

So...

He was cold. He was distant. He was not pleased with her. She, of course, should have expected as much. She had seen this in him before, anyway, but the last time she had seen him... he had been so warm and open, so obviously affectionate. It was a hard switch to accept, but she knew she didn't have a choice. She had already made her choice, and now it was time to woman up and deal with the consequences.

"She's pretty," she said, a bit offhandedly, trying not to sound petty or jealous. It came out more as a sad fact, something she could not help but notice and apply. She swallowed and scratched her elbow, glancing down. "I..."

Missed you.

Am sorry.

Should have said something.

Should have been smarter.

Should have figured out a better way.

Am so so sorry.

"I don't deserve you."

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Lindsss on Sat Jan 23, 2016 8:47 pm

Declan lifted an eyebrow at her comment, only offering, "She works here."

Perhaps that wasn't the best thing to say, looking back at it. If she was concerned about him potentially having interest in Melena, it probably didn't help that the woman spent several hours a week, if not a day, in the same building as him. But did she have the right to be angry with him? Declan didn't really think so.

It physically hurt him to be in the same room as her. That was likely the reason why his shoulders seemed to curl forward and into him, his hands curling into fists within his pockets and his chin tilting down towards his chest. His gaze flew back to hers when she spoke again, however.

Somehow, it made him irrationally angry. Henry had said the same thing, but coming from her it felt defeatist. On that note, Declan had a feeling that she and Henry would not get along. But perhaps that wouldn't matter if this interaction went as poorly as he expected it to. At this rate, neither of them would get out of this feeling anything better than shitty.

"Perhaps," he mumbled finally. "But I don't know if that's really up to you. What you deserve is still in question, but I think it's fair to say that I deserve an explanation."

Just to make things harder on her - and yes, he was fully aware that it would do so as he moved - he sank into his desk chair and crossed his arms over his chest. Declan had the feeling that, if Dom felt she had few chances to redeem herself, she wouldn't mince words. He only hoped that he had read that part of her correctly.

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Jackles on Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:16 pm

Right. They worked together. Just like they had. She would have voiced this if she had been more sure that she wouldn't fuck it all up by betraying the jealousy that she had no right to bare. She chewed this inside of her cheek instead and nodded, blinking a little aggressively, trying to be brave in the face of her terrible mistake.

Still, she had tried hard to figure out a way to get to him, to tell him, to explain, to make things a little bit better. But she couldn't. Her fear of Roxi exceeded all else, her fear and anxiety in attempting to reach Lily before something horrible happened cast a shadow on even the smallest glimmer of hope. Maybe he would see that. Maybe he could forgive her.

Honestly, she just wanted to see the cloud lift from him. He looked so much nicer without it.

He sat down and she felt eerily reminded of being called into be berated by a professor during her Hogwarts years. She even felt herself unconsciously folding her hands in front of her, her eyes straying downwards, a strand of platinum blond falling in front of those large eyes. She cleared her throat, toeing a nail in the floorboards. Where could she even begin.

"Roxi took Lily." She coughed. So there it was. "I got a letter, that night. Said I had to find her. Said if I told anyone, she'd... She didn't say, but it didn't sound good."

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Lindsss on Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:28 pm

Declan unfolded his arms immediately, using one hand to push himself away from the back of the chair and the foot that had rested atop his left knee thumped loudly to the floor. His free hand rested atop the table, though he really wanted to grab the arm of his chair tightly instead. He was still angry, though, he reminded himself quickly, knowing that he was someone she could have trusted with this. After all, he was hardly the type to spread secrets. Didn't she know that about him by now?

Several questions came to mind. You don't trust me? Is Lily alright? And, perhaps the most nagging: Where is Roxi?

He didn't feel like asking any questions, though, because although she was being straightforward with him, he didn't know how much leeway he wanted to give her just yet. This woman had promised him something different and then ended up proving that she was nothing but more of the same. He had convinced himself that he deserved this torment he was likely causing, at least until the guilt became too much.

Instead of the questions, then, he took a different route. "So you're either here for one of two things. First, you've found her and feel guilty enough to come back. Or you need help, after failing to trust me in the first place. It'll sound terrible, I suppose, but I almost hope it's the second one."

He couldn't really want that, obviously. Dom should've been able to register that, he felt. But the digs Declan put into his reply hopefully were enough to trigger.... Well, that made it difficult. He didn't know what he wanted. An apology? An admission that she should have trusted him? For her to go? He told himself that he wanted all of those, but he just wasn't sure now that she was standing in front of him. Yes, he was furious about Roxi and would help if necessary - and not just for Lily's sake, either. But this was more than his pride being wounded.

Dom had lied to him. Or, if she hadn't, she just lacked the faith in him that he had dared to hope for. Perhaps she hadn't known him long enough. Or well enough. Or perhaps she just didn't care enough. Either way, all signs pointed to No when it came to the two of them, and there was a part of him that wanted to prove it wrong but just wasn't being allowed to.


Last edited by Lindsss on Sun Jan 24, 2016 2:54 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Jackles on Sun Jan 24, 2016 2:48 pm

She felt something quiver inside of her, a cool, runny feeling in the pit of her stomach, something good inside of her turning a little rancid. She could see small disruptions to his usually stoic body language, small tremors in his forearms, a clench in his jaw. But he was interested - it was a horrible way to reducing whatever he was feeling, but it was all she could actually know for certain. He wanted to hear more, wanted to know what had happened and where they were at. He was willing to listen to her.

She didn't even deserve that.

His question stung, and the cruelty of the final sentence rattled her, but she could not bring herself to be upset with him about it.

"We've got her," she said. "Just a few hours ago. Last night. She's finally stable." The implication rang loud - she had done it all on her own. "If you could see her, you would see why I was scared. Roxi has eyes and ears everywhere. She would have known. She knew I was looking. She knew our cousin had figured out, and she punished Lily for her. It had nothing to do with not believing in what you could do, and everything to do with believing what Roxi would be willing to do."

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Lindsss on Sun Jan 24, 2016 3:33 pm

She said "we." As in her and the cousin? Molly, maybe, or one of the older ones? Declan didn't pretend to have spent any time wondering after the Potter or Weasley ages, as frankly it hadn't mattered to him before. But now he was supposed to be curious. Actually, that wasn't totally true either, was it? If he and Dom had worked out, he would've. Because birthdays and age-appropriate gifts and everything else. But that was just a case of Declan thinking much too far ahead and then remembering that he was not, in fact, insane, thus drawing himself back to the appropriate level of curiosity.

He didn't say anything at first. It likely took him much longer than Dom would've wished for him to even open his mouth and begin his response, but that was because he was playing out a series of potential scenarios in his head. None of them included him immediately forgiving her. But her body language, even without her discomfort being evident in her voice, suggested that she felt truly guilty and wanted some sort of positive reaction to her being there.

From what he understood, Dom wasn't wrong. She had told him about Roxi before, and if this was true, which he genuinely believed it must be, perhaps she had been right not to tell him. But there was still the case of the club. That didn't look like a step towards finding someone who had been kidnapped. Did it? Declan's eyebrows pulled together, conflict changing his expression.

"Dom," he started, shaking his head and looking down at his desk. When he looked up again, there was a great deal more pain than anger lingering in his eyes. "I saw you at that club. And I'm pretty sure you saw me, too. I don't see why you didn't say something, or..." He sighed, reaching up to rub at the space between his eyebrows for a moment. His first two fingers trailed across his forehead and settled at his left temple, his thumb pressing against his jaw. "It just seems like you haven't changed much if you're going back to those things. I wanted to believe you had done."

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Jackles on Sun Jan 24, 2016 3:48 pm

He sounded so in pain to even be saying her name. In this moment, she hated Roxi more than anyone else in the world. She didn't see this. She saw the wasted away version of Lily, she saw the fear in people's eyes when they tried to defy her, but they didn't see all of the fall out. If it did, it would be like feeding a gremlin after midnight, she was sure, just feed into her power. But part of her wished she could. However, it was the same part of her that wished her cousin, once a close friend and confidante, had a heart.

The word club escaped her lips and she pressed her eyelids together, her lips parting as she remembered the moment, realized what he must have assumed. When her eyes opened, they were full of desperation to explain, the painful desire to make amends.

He had said her name like one might utter the name of the disease that had stolen a part of their life. She said his as though it were the cure. "Declan." She shook her head, so keen to clear away the insecurities and heartbreak that must have been plaguing him. "That's where we found her, a club. The days were spent going to places we thought she might be living, the nights were spent searching clubs and bars, anywhere we knew Roxi had ever been. And in the end, that's where we found her. Declan, she was almost dead. Roxi was letting her die-" her voice caught. "Don't you think I would have loved to have you by my side? I'm not a strong person. I was constantly scared. Not just for me, or for Lily, but for Molly, for you. It didn't take me seeing it to know she was a real threat, but seeing it showed me what she was willing to do. I would much rather risk you hating me than risk actually losing you. I made a choice, and a shitty one, but I've seen the alternative and as much as I hate having to make that choice, there's not another one I could have made."

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Lindsss on Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:36 pm

Something in her voice gave him pause, and he felt that he needed a moment or two to process what she was telling him. He liked to think that he could have taken on Roxi, but if all of this was true, he wasn't so confident. After all, he was rather like the Connolly man in some ways. Neither were particularly efficient or skilled when it came to magic, though Declan would argue (without Oliver's agreement) that the younger man was better off in dangerous situations.

The words she used softened him a bit, whether or not that was her main intention. Loved. Losing. Scared.

Declan pushed himself out of his chair and moved around to the other side of his desk, leaning back against it as he faced her, closer now than they had been in several weeks. His hands initially fell to the edge of the desk, his fingers curling underneath. But he watched her for a moment before relaxing a bit and offering an understanding nod. "That... makes sense. I wish it didn't, because there's a part of me that is still irrationally angry at you. I was scared too, you know," he informed her.

"You told me in that note to trust you, and I did for a while. I know I should have, given the circumstances, but after everything that happened? After what happened earlier today?" He visibly bristled. "I was ready to just send you out the door. But now... I don't know if I can."

Then, he did the thing that genuinely scared him more than his first day trying to run the Leaky on his own.

He held out his hand and said, "C'mere."

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Jackles on Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:20 pm

She could feel her whole body bristled in anticipation, scared of what was inevitable, that this was all too much, much more than he had ever anticipated. He would remember all of those dreary warnings she had given him, the promises that she would break his heart, her assurances that she was more trouble than she was worth, and he would finally see her as she was and realize that this, in all of her mistakes and confusion, was one time in which she was right. Because she wasn't worth the trouble. She had accepted it. And perhaps he finally would too.

He drew nearer and she raised her chin a bit, forcing her body language into a calmer position, though she could feel her fingers clenching, nervous, not ready for her sentencing, even though she expected the guilty verdict.

And he said something that she did not hear very often, that her words, her logic, made sense. She blinked, a bit relieved to hear it. Part of her was terrified that no one would ever believe that she had truly done the thing she considered to be the best option, that they would chalk it all up to her being stupid or dramatic, that they wouldn't appreciate the weight of the decision she had been forced into making. But he understood. That was more than she had hoped for.

He prefaced it all with how his trust had, naturally, wavered, and she nodded, her eyes cast downward. She swallowed, because it was going to hurt. It was going to hurt more than she was willing to admit.

But the blow didn't happen. And two syllables, soft, genuine, reached her unbelieving ears. She didn't raise her head, instead allowing her eyes to rise to see a hand outstretched for her. And then her chin tipped upward, and she met his eyes, saw that he wasn't kidding, that he wasn't punishing her. She blinked, and then her instincts took over. Her hand came out, took his, and she pulled herself into him, digging her face into his chest, arm reaching around him, tears leaking out of her eyes. Because she really didn't deserve this. She choked a small sob back and gripped him tighter. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I missed you so much."

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Lindsss on Wed Jan 27, 2016 1:08 pm

Declan knew he shouldn't have been surprised, given that he had initiated it, technically, but he still sucked in a breath as they collided, lifting their connected hands to his chest so that he could wrap his free one around her comfortably. For a breath, he just let himself revel in the fact that it was happening at all. Then his chin tilted forward and he let himself settle his cheek atop her head.

"Easy, love." He murmured it into her hair with no clue what to say next. He hadn't exactly planned this out or imagined it in his head. Okay, he had. But it had more or less stopped on the heels of seeing her outside of that club. Henry had told him off to the point where he knew it wasn't healthy to think about it anymore. Perhaps he should have.

Giving her a bit of a squeeze, he just let himself say whatever came to mind. "I missed you, too. Loads. And I am incredibly sorry about Lily. I hope you'll let me know how she's doing." He drew in a breath, trying to relax his nerves enough to say something more, but was interrupted.

A loud knock at the door startled him, and the arm around her back slid over to her waist so he could draw away enough to glare at the door. "Dec. Fam, I heard what happened."

"Henry," he muttered, more for her benefit than for his. Louder, he addressed the man on the other side of the door. "Hold on, mate."

Declan turned enough to reach for the box of tissue on his desk, passing it to Dom even as he brushed his fingers across her cheek. "Sit down if you'd like. If I don't let him in, he'll just come on in anyway." He pressed a kiss to her forehead before releasing her, giving her a moment before he turned the doorknob and pulled the door open.

Immediately, a scruffy-haired man barged in, reaching a hand towards Declan's shoulder. "Why didn't you tell me what she did?" Henry questioned, frowning deeply at his friend. "You won't believe it, but I heard about it from Ryan."

"He knows?" Declan replied, a quizzical look taking over his features.

"I know! Mental." Henry shook his head, stopping suddenly as his gaze fell on Dom. "For a second, I thought you were-"

Declan nearly chuckled, the sound escaping through his nose. "So did I, originally."

"Cachu," the Welshman muttered in disbelief. He pulled his hand back and kicked the door shut with one foot. To Dom, he added, "Did he tell you what happened today? By the way, who are you?" Henry ignored Declan's noise of disapproval, crossing his arms over his chest and waiting for the blonde to explain herself.

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Jackles on Wed Jan 27, 2016 6:52 pm

And just like that, he had taken her into his arms, making her feel safe and welcomed, two emotions she still wasn't sure she felt she deserved, but she couldn't help herself from soaking it in. She had felt so alone and so frightened for so long, that this sudden intimacy and warmth was almost more than she could bear. He was attempting to calm her, still her nerves. She could feel his gentle touch against the top of her head, the strength of his arm around her. She clutched him, clinging more tightly to him that she had done in years. She had been so unwilling to hold on to someone for so long, to trust them and keep her strong. She had always stood on her own. It was foreign. It was nice.

She trusted him.

She flinched at the sudden noise at the door, but nodded. Her eyes fluttered closed as he pressed a kiss to her forehead, and she smiled warmly, eyes sliding open to watch his retreating back. She settled onto the edge of the desk, slipping her arms around her chest, taking in a shuddery breath, ready to smile and look brave for whoever was interrupting them.

She wasn't following the conversation at all, but it made her feel uncomfortable, uneasy. They couldn't be talking about her, could they? Some woman who had done something to him? She doubted it was, as that was old news and... she was right there... So what women had done something to Declan?

She met the eyes of the scruffier man, her eyes widening significantly as she stared into those menacing headlights. She blinked, "Uh... no. No, he didn't." She glanced in confusion at Declan before being redirected by the other man. "Oh. Sorry, right. Hi, I'm Dom." She smiled and straightened up, thrusting a hand out to shake hands.

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Re: Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

Post by Lindsss on Thu Jan 28, 2016 6:53 pm

Declan passed his exasperated look from Henry to Dom, letting her know he was displeased with his friend. When she introduced herself, however, Henry's eyebrows lifted and he looked between the two of them as well. Declan could practically feel himself deflate. This was going to be a mess. Indeed, the younger man reached out for her hand, saying, "Oh, really?"

Declan reached over and whacked him upside the head before he could lean all the way down to press a kiss to the back of her hand. Henry let out a cry of dismay, but released her hand without question.

"Come off it," Declan warned him, stepping over to Dom's side. "He's just... He's always like this. You'll get used to it," he assured her, hopping up onto the desk beside her. "He's talking about the reason Melena was in here earlier."

"There was a wedding this morning for some of Declan's friends," Henry started off, "and my brother's wife was there." His eyes jumped to Declan's jaw clenching. "Ryan showed up after you left, to help Danica clear everything away."

Declan's hand moved to the small of Dom's back to steady himself, letting out a frustrated sigh. "I can't believe she told him. She cannot be serious."

"Ryan found out from her co-worker, actually," Henry explained slowly, a frightened expression flashing across his face for a moment. "Danica, of course, was unhappy."

It was slightly unfortunate for Dom, Declan realized, that the two of them could have conversations whilst dropping entire words or explanations. They had known each other too long to bother will long sentences or extra explanations. Turning to the blonde beside him, Declan slid his hand to her waist, nudging her in front of him so he could settle his chin on her shoulder. Was he hiding from her a bit? He supposed so, but he chose to tell himself otherwise. He wondered for a moment if he should ask Henry to leave, but the two men were like brothers, and it didn't really feel as strange for Henry to be there as it did for Dom to be. But that wasn't really her fault.

"Dom," he began, next to her ear. "There is a reason why Henry and I are like family when he and Ryan aren't. Danica is-"

"The bitch that broke his heart and tried to break my family," Henry butted in, leaning back against the door and glowering at nothing in particular.

"She showed up at the wedding because she has a catering business. And she approached me while I was with Melena. Said she wanted to leave Ryan... for me." His gaze shifted to briefly to Henry before dropping down to the floor between Henry and Dom, not particularly enthused about seeing either one's reaction.

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