The enemy within 12

The enemy within 12

12

 

Eric was taking pictures at the release party and with one corner of his eye he watched Lena talk to Danny. She looked stunning today. She wore a red top with short sleeves and black loose round skirt reaching to her knees, her long legs excelled on red high heels.

 

He didn't tell her how good she looked. He couldn't get over what she'd done to him and still kept his distance. He couldn't help himself but admire how she held on. She stayed by his side, taking care of him. Every morning she jumped in her car and drove to her place to change her clothes and do what she needed and was back for lunch. Basically she kept house since Thursday when he explained her how he felt and every evening she locked him in the cage and spent all night in the grass next to the cage. Yet he didn't offer her to move to his place.

 

He knew it was hard for her. He was well aware that she loved him. She liked touching him but she didn't dare now and he wouldn't allow it to her. He needed to heal his betrayed heart first.

 

He wondered what she was talking to Danny about. He hoped that it wasn't about him. If she did it again... He shook his head and tried to focus on the work at hand.

 

*

 

Is everything OK, Lena? You look different,“ Danny asked as he led her aside to the window to talk to her.

 

Yes, I am. What do you mean, different? It's still me,“ she smiled, glancing up at him, playing with a glass of wine in her hands.

 

I mean you don't look as happy as before,“ he shrugged. „I know it's you. What about Eric? He didn't hurt you, did he?“

 

No!“ she frowned. „How can you think that? He's amazing. I feel guilty,“ she shook her head. „I'm just tired. Let's talk about something else, please.“ He watched her concerned. He would say he saw tears in her eyes for a short moment but she quickly pulled herself together.

 

Do you live with him?“ he asked in a low voice.

 

Not exactly,“ she took a sip from her glass. „And what about your new CD? I haven't heard it yet.“ She gave him an innocent look, smiling. „I'm curious.“

 

Wait a moment,“ he retreated to the next room and soon was back, handing her the CD. „This copy's for you. I also have one for Eric,“ he looked around the room, looking for Eric. He spotted him and gestured at him to come as he caught Eric's eyes.

 

Thanks. It's nice,“ she put it in her purse. „I'm going to talk to Olivia,“ she informed Danny, seeing Eric made his way across the room to them. She turned around and left.

 

I have a gift for you,“ Danny handed Eric the CD as he came closer.

 

Wow, it's amazing, thanks,“ Eric smiled. „I have a lot of pictures for you. I'll work on them tomorrow, then I'll send them to you.“

 

Good,“ Danny nodded. „Eric?“ he asked as Eric turned around, about to continue in his work.

 

Yes?“ Eric stepped back.

 

Um... do you think everything's alright between you and Lena?“ he ran his hand through his hair. „She seems off. Don't get me wrong, please,“ he shrugged. „She refuses to talk about it but I think she isn't so happy as she was before if you know what I mean.“

 

I think...,“ Eric thought for a moment. „Something happened but we'll deal with it. It will take some time...,“ he looked in Danny’s eyes. „Don't worry about her,“ he smiled faintly, patting Danny's shoulder. „Thanks for your care. She will be alright.“ Danny watched him walk away with unease, wondering what does it mean.

 

*

 

Lena moved to the kitchen as they arrived home at half past nine p.m. Eric walked in his atelier to put his camera on the table and joined her in the kitchen.

 

Do you need help?“

 

Would you pull the bowl with the vegetable salad out of the fridge?“ she glanced at him and put some meat on the pan. He did as she said. Then he took knives and forks and set the table. By the time she placed the meat on two plates and put them on the table.

 

Don't you mind that it's served only with the salad? We don't have to wait till the potatoes will be boiled so we can eat,“ she raised her eyes to him, putting a bite in her mouth.

 

No, it's OK, Lena,“ he shook his head. „Look, you shouldn't stay here overnight. You have to go to work tomorrow, you need to get some sleep.“

 

I can't, you don't understand. I noticed…,“ she put her fork and knife on the plate.

 

At least tonight. You look tired,“ he interrupted her. „Danny asked me about you.“

 

But I have a plan…,“ she shot him a look at him. „Danny asked about me? Why?“

 

He's worried about you,“ he continued eating, avoiding her look.

 

What did you tell him?“ she watched him intently.

 

I told him that everything will be alright,“ he swallowed before continued speaking. „That something happened but we'll deal with it.“ Her lips tightened but she said nothing, just nodded.

 

*

 

Lena settled on the steps on the back porch, a mug of coffee in her hands, staring straight ahead.

 

You mentioned that you noticed something before. What was it?“ Eric asked as he took a seat next to her.

 

I noticed that the wolf became calmer. I think it's possible that you remember more of the night,“ she turned her head to look at him. „Or am I wrong?“

 

You aren't. I remember everything,“ he admitted. „And your plan? Tell me more.“

 

It's good. I have a plan not to lock you in the cage,“ she answered in a low voice.

 

No. It's too soon. It's dangerous, Lena,“ he looked at her but she stared in her mug.

 

I have to try. Locking you in the cage every night will get us nowhere,“ she said firmly. „It prevents you from hurting someone but it won't help to break the curse. Dahlia didn't tell me what exactly I have to do but just sitting and watching won't help us.“

 

It's too chancy,“ he shook his head. She said nothing and took a sip from her mug. „Perhaps you could wait a few days,“ he offered hesitantly.

 

Till tomorow,“ she finished her coffee and walked inside. He stayed sitting on the steps for several more minutes then he glanced at his watch and stood up, sighing. As he stepped inside he heard her talking to someone. He stopped in the hall, listening.

 

No, Danny, I'm OK. Take it easy,“ she assured, her voice calm.

 

...

 

I've nothing to hide,“ she sighed. „On the contrary. I already said too much to you and to Eva.“

 

...

 

Right. I made mistake, Danny. I should have gone to New Orleans on my own and I shouldn't have tell you both anything,“ she swallowed. „I feel so bad. You can't imagine. How could I be so stupid? I had no right to spill his secret.“

 

...

 

I don't know,“ her voice trailed off. „Maybe he doesn't love me anymore,“ she let out a sob.

 

...

 

No, I can't. He needs me and I love him,“ she responded and her voice sounded firmly again. „All I can give him is to help him to live a normal life now.“

 

...

 

I'll be alright. Don't worry,“ she took a deep breath. „Don't be angry with me but I can't talk about it. It's horrible how much I hurt him. You can't imagine how painful it feels. If I could turn back time,“ she broke off for a moment. „Everything I can do is to keep standing by his side. And I will.“

 

...

 

Thanks. Good night,“ she hung up and Eric crossed the hall to his atelier. He walked in and closed the door behind him. He was ashamed that he overheard her conversation. He leaned his back against the door and closed his eyes. Even though she hurt him it was killing him how broken she sounded. She's never let him see. Yet he wasn't ready to let her get closer again.

 

Eric?“ he heard her calling him. He opened his eyes, took a deep breath and walked out of the atelier.

 

I'm here. I know it's time,“ he followed her outside. „Promise me you'll go home tonight to get some sleep in your bed, not here in the grass,“ he demanded before he stepped inside the cage.

 

I promise. You're right. I feel a little bit tired,“ she looked up at him. „I'll go home and come tomorrow after work again. Should I buy something?“ He shook his head no, staring at her. „OK. Good night, Eric. Try to sleep and don't be angry,“ she attempted to smile but it looked more like a grimace as fatigue fell on her.

 

*

 

After taking a shower Lena crawled in her bed. She couldn't stop thinking about him. He was alone there locked behind the bars.

 

She missed him. She missed his kisses, his touches, his smiles... Tears started flowing down her cheeks as the tension between them hit her. She hugged the pillow, closing her eyes. She wanted to tell him how much she loved him and stroke his bearded cheek. She wanted to feel his arms wrapped around her, feel the warmth of his body. But she was aware that she failed, she disappointed him and deserved his indifference, she understood his trust would return slowly with time. With her heart full of pain and fear that he ceased to love her and with determination to save him she slowly drifted off to sleep.

 

*

 

What happened, Lena? It's not you. Tell me,“ Eva asked as they sat in that part of the salon where usually their customer waited before their turn. It was half past five and they let the door open because of the heat outside.

 

Eric had had some work in the city. He wanted to pick up Lena and at that moment he stopped in front of the salon and heard her voice.

 

I'm sorry but I can't talk about it. It's just a transitional period, I'll be OK,“ Lena glanced at her, shaking her head.

 

What do you mean, a transitional period? You look sad and tired. I don't know you like that,“ Eva uttered. „Did you have a fight with Eric?“

 

No, I didn't. It's worse,“ she ran her hand through her hair. „I lost his trust because I disappointed him, basically I betrayed him.“

 

Really? How did you betray him? I can't believe that,“ Eva looked at her incredulously.

 

I shouldn't have talked to you and Danny about his secret. I should have gone to New Orleans on my own,“ she whispered. „This is all I can say. I was dumb and I deserve his indifference now.“ Eva stared at her for a moment before she took a deep breath.

 

Well, is this how he feels? Betrayed?“

 

Yes,“ Lena nodded. „And he's right. There's nothing I can do. Unfortunately I can't take it back,“ she sighed. „I think he stopped loving me. I feel terrible.“

 

I see. I'm sorry that it didn't cross my mind. What do you want to do?“

 

It isn't your fault at all, Eva. First it should have crossed MY mind and I should have kept my mouth shut," she touched her forehead with her finger. "I know what I want to do. I have to save him. Then I'll give him a free choice. Once he has no secret anymore he can find a woman that he will love and she will love him, without betrayal."

 

"Lena! Don't you love him?" Lena raised her eyes to Eva.

 

"I do, my friend," she nodded her head slightly. "You can't imagine how much. That's why I have to do what I said." She stood up. „I should go,“ she moved across the room to lock the door and stopped frozen with a knob in her hand as she saw Eric standing there.

 

Hi, is it already closed, or you can let me in?“ he asked, looking at her. She swallowed. How much did he hear? She stepped aside and he walked in.

 

Hi Eric. I think I should go,“ Eva got up. „See you tomorrow.“ Lena waved at Eva, nodding. She closed the door after Eva left and grabbed her purse.

 

We can go home as well,“ she was about to go outside.

 

Wait, I'd like to ask you something,“ she heard him say behind her. She released the knob and turned to him, butterflies in her belly. He came to tell me goodbye. „Do you think you could trim my beard a little bit? I have a feeling I will have it in my mouth soon," he winked at her and her heart started beating like crazy. "I know you're a hairdresser but I thought you might know how to do it. Was I wrong?“

 

Feeling an immense relief she laughed lightly, like she didn't laugh a long time, and put the purse aside.

 

"You weren't. I learned it a long time ago. I'm used to trimming my daddy's beard,“ she took a white cover and gestured for him to sit down. She pulled scissors and a special little comb out of her drawer and started working after she set the rest of the chair for him to lean his head against it. He closed his eyes and she noticed her fingers shaking. It was amazing to touch him again. When she finished and put away the cover, she stood behind him and dared to stroke his cheeks down with her palms. Looking at his reflection in the mirror she smiled faintly.

 

Is it good, Mr. Carr?“ He opened his eyes and nodded.

 

Perfect. Thank you,“ he got up. She held the door opened, waiting for him to walk outside.

 

You're welcome,“ she locked the door. She decided to leave her car on the parking lot here and followed him to his Range Rover.

Autor KeepTheFlameBurning, 21.10.2017
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