Thank you all for the comments and all the kind, wonderful words! I was absolutely swept off my feet by your generosity! I had not expected so much support for this story, and of course it will continue through the ending of this installment, and into Heal All Wounds.
Thank you again!
“How are you?”
How are you, Wren, actually? Rotten. You want to scream, scream that you love him, miss him, that all you want is to grab him, hide into him, into his smell, into his warmth, and never let go. You want to feel happy, and light, and sexy, and powerful – just like you did in Sheraton, like you matter, like you matter to him! And you want to yell that these were horrible four days, and you don’t do that to a person you spent two days inside of!..
“I’m fine.” You sound lifeless. “Catching up on some sleep.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, did I wake you up?”
“It’s alright.” Isn’t what you’re supposed to say when people call you in the middle of the night, even if they actually wake you up, even at three in the morning? You look at the clock. It’s ten twenty. Very considerate, John. “What time is it in Tokyo?”
“Seven twenty in the morning.”
You shiver. You forgot his sinful voice.
“How’s the lab? Did Maya give you hard time?” Judging by the sounds, he’s in a crowded place.
“Are you having breakfast?”
“Uh-huh.” He might be even chewing. Very mannerly, with his mouth closed.
“Bon appetit. And no, I haven’t talked to Maya. She didn’t show up in the lab actually yet.”
Why are you fucking talking about this? Oh, right, because you are two adults, intelligent and civilized, who just happen to have shagged each other six ways to Sunday on the weekend, and now one of them is having his bloody Japanese breakfast! Apparently that’s how it’s done. Very well, ask a polite question – it’s your turn now, Wren.
“Mental, as always.” He chuckles, “Not my favourite destination. I constantly feel like slouching here. I’m taking too much space everywhere.”
There’s room for an innuendo here, but you feel suddenly tired. There is no spark. You just want to go back under your blanket.
“Wren, are you alright?” You realise you’ve been quiet for a while.
“I expected a pun regarding size and taking room from you here.” He sounds so cheery.
You night actually hate him.
“Sorry, I am just distracted…”
“Are you sure you are alright?” Now he sounds genuinely concerned. You guess he really doesn’t find anything wrong in not calling you for four days. Maybe he’s right, maybe you have teenage ideas about relationships; maybe that’s what adults do. He knew you would get the internal email, and he sent you a flirty text. Were you barmy to expect something else?
“Yeah, I’m fine…” You hear the entrance door bang, and Thea’s voice is ringing in the kitchenette. She’s obviously on the phone, but she sounds strange. Oh bugger, she’s crying!
“John, I’m sorry. I have to go, something came up.”
“Bye! Thanks for calling.” You hang up and jump out of the bed.
Thea is sitting on a kitchen chair, still in her coat, her face covered in black streaks of run away mascara, eyes red and puffy. She’s still on the phone, listening to an obviously male voice in her mobile. You freeze in front of her waiting for guidance. She lifts her eyes at you and shakes her head. You turn around and go back to your room.
Your phone is still in the middle of your bed. Smashing the second one in five days into a wall is a wee bit excessive, so you just shove it into the bedside table. Sod your life.
Half an hour later Thea comes in your room. She’s washed her face and wears a comfy PJs. She crawls under your blanket, and you’re lying holding each other.
“Jimmy called…” Oh bugger. “He says he loves me and asks for forgiveness.” You both are silent for a bit. “What do I do?”
You stroke her hair and hum noncommittally. But she sits up.
“No, I’m serious, you are the one for real relationships. Wren, what do I do?”
You are not sure if you’re supposed to laugh at the irony, or cry for both of you, two daft muppets.
“I do not know a single fucking thing about relationship, Thea.” She’s scanning your face.
“Has Dr Sexy called you finally?”
“And what?” You rub your face.
“Can we talk about Jimmy the Wanker?”
“Don’t call him that.” She suddenly looks shy.
“Thea?” She blushes. God forsaken honest blush! You didn’t know she could. Fuck me! “Thea?”
“It’s not like he cheated…”
No, Thea, just no! Or maybe, yes, yay for Thea?.. What?! Your mind reels, but then you stop yourself. You can’t give advice. You are like a ragdoll right now; you feel broken and scared and insecure; you are the last person in this world to pass judgment on a relationship… You inhale.
“So you are getting back together with him?”
She fidgets with the string on her top.
“I don’t know. I’m considering it.” Exhale. Calm your tits, Wren, just be a good friend.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
She looks hopeful. “Can we? Because I know you have your own drama…”
“Thea, shut up! You had to listen to my emotional rubbish for years. Tell me everything.” She looks doubtful for a second. “I mean everything you want. No gross details though.” She chuckles.
“But that’s the best part…” Here is the shadow of old Thea.
“No, Thea, no graphic descriptions of his penis, please.” She finally laughs. “But give me the numbers, Thea.” Oh, sweet revenge!
You wake up in the morning, and for the first time since Sheraton you feel OK. OK is the most precise way of putting it. Normal, fine, OK, alright. You get dressed and go to your classes. On the way you stop in the Engineering Building coffee shop. Their coffee is like a cannonball to your temple. Boom! Brains out, but you’re very energised. Also, might destroy some of your important internal organs, but that’s exactly what you need before Perkins.
You’re dashing through the hall when a pair of strong hands catches you and swirls you around. The familiar fragrance of Terre d’Hermes hits your nose, and you’re mortified.
Phil’s hands are still on your shoulders.
“Wren, can we talk?” You’re frozen, staring at the collar of his polo. “Wren?”
“I have Perkins now…” Let’s face it, you really don’t know what else to say. Your voice is tiny and trembling.
“I know. I still have your class calendar synced with mine.” You lift your eyes, and see that – fuck your brain – he’s smiling. The warm, sunny, Phil smile. “Just wanted to catch you before it. Lunch?”
What?! What?! Your brain shuts down, and you’re gaping like a guppie. He smiles wider.
“Lovely! I’ll pick you up after Perkins. Stay in the hall.” He kisses your cheek and leaves.
Seriously, you have nothing to say or to think, and you just plod into the lecture hall. Oh sod it.