Here it is at last! Never before posted chapter, right from under my fingers! Sadly, a blog post can’t give out ‘the new book smell,’ but I hope you enjoy the idea of being this chapter’s first 😉
Comment section is still open to your suggestions; and your comments are answered a week after, before the next chapter is posted. If I haven’t answered you, feel free to contact me again, or message me on my writer’s Facebook page.
And now to the world of Wrennie and world renown neurosurgeons!
You dial Thea first. No one picks up. She’s either at a do in the Halls, or shagging Jimmy. It’s been on and off with the two of them the past few months; and mostly off, but she seems to sustain some sort of tortured monogamy.
You hang up and take a sharp painful breath in. The air is cool, but heavy and humid in your throat and lungs. What the sodding hell just happened?!
He isn’t going to follow you. It’s below his sodding majestic self, and he isn’t a character of a romance novel. Somehow you clearly imagine him calmly go to the bathroom, brush his fucking perfect teeth, and go to bed, in his boxers, just as always, his clothes thrown on the floor.
You look up. There are no stars, of course, but the sky seems dark and deep. All sorts of childish thoughts rush through her mind – something very middle school like ‘if he loved me, he’d never let me run out in the middle of the night.’ Or ‘if he loved me, he’d apologise and agree and we would be shagging right now.’ Or something very grown-up like ‘if he truly loved me, it wouldn’t feel as if every time I’m with him, it’s like taking a test.’
And you ask yourself the same question you asked when going into his flat, but the tone’s quite different now. Why is it always so hard with him? Isn’t love supposed to be – at least a wee bit – simpler? And against all laws of logic you make a deduction: if it isn’t easy, is it love?
You shake your head. You’re clearly in no state to make any sort of conclusions. You just had the biggest row you’ve had with your fiance, and you’re shaking.
Killian is the next on your call list. His mobile sends you into voicemail right away, and you hang up without leaving a message. It’s half past four, and you’re standing in the middle of the street, under the windows of the flat of the man you’re marrying in a few weeks.
Lan picks up after six tones. You guess, the life of a med students taught him to rise and if not shine, then at least talk at any hour of the day.
“Um… Yeah… What is it?” he mutters, and then loudly clears his voice.
“Lan, hi. It’s Wren.” Your voice suddenly breaks, and you realise you’re going to bawl now. It’s a strange feeling. You remember your teen years psychologist calling it disassociation: your mind just took a step aside, allowing your emotions run havoc. “I’m sorry to call so late…” Sodding, sodding fuck, your voice is shaking! You sink your teeth into the bottom lip.
“Wren, what’s wrong?” He’s immediately awake. “Are you alright?!”
“Yeah, yeah, I just need to stay somewhere…” You swallow bitter flavour in your mouth. “Can I..?”
You don’t get to finish, because he’s already answering, “Sure, sure! Get a cab!”
You know he’s lodging somewhere North East, and you ask for his address. You’ll have to pay like for a plane ticket, but at least you now have a place to drop.
You start crying five minutes into the ride, and then sobs are so loud and uncontrollable, that you catch the cabbie’s eyes on yourself in the mirror all the time. You only hope that doesn’t lead to your ridiculous demise in a car accident.
Lan opens the door in tracksuit bottoms, and somehow it’s very funny. Maybe, because you know how his Father looks; maybe because Lan himself looks like royalty. He tells you to shut your gob and shows you to his tiny flat. It’s somewhat messy, cozy, and every surface is covered with papers and books. You feel right at home.
He has no extra bedding, and you jump and hug him. You’re crying again, and mumble how grateful you’re for the spot on his old sofa, and for asking no questions. He calls you an idiot, and kisses your forehead. The two of you go to the respective corners. You pull your clothes off, crawl under the quilt, and stare at the ceiling. You don’t notice how you fall asleep.
The next day is Friday, and you need to go to work. You take a cold shower. You try to avoid it, but you catch your reflection in the mirror – you look like shite. There’re deep purple shadows under your eyes, the lids still red and puffy. Lan makes you coffee, apologises for not having anything else in the kitchen, and the two of you sit down in front of each at the tiny table, between some lab reports.
He suddenly sharply exhales, and asks in a choked voice, “OK, you can tell me to fuck off, but what happened? I mean, you don’t have to tell me what, but just tell me if you’re safe! Did he hit you?”
You’re staring at him in shock. The idea itself is absurd. You could’ve sort of understood the question if you were sporting a giant shiner, but what?!
You’re so confused that you feel that you need to ask, “Who he?”
“Fuck it, Wren, I don’t want to meddle…” His lips twist; he’s so uncomfortable that he squirms on the chair. “Did Thorington threaten you? You know… Did he hit you?”
“No! No, he didn’t! We… We just had a row, and I had nowhere to go, since no one was picking up…” You mumble and mumble, and he exhales in relief. And then you stop, think about it, and ask, “Wait, do you actually think it’s possible? I mean, for him to hit me? It’s John we’re talking about…” Lan shifts his eyes, avoiding to meet yours. “Lan, do you know something?! Was there a story, or something?” It still sound surreal to you – John hitting a woman!
“No, no!” He energetically shakes his head. “No, never… But he is sort of…”
“Sort of what?” you press on, feeling confused and apprehensive.
“He seems like the type.” Lan’s voice is low.
“The type to hit a woman?!” Yours is squeaky.
“Not to hit a woman, but… Listen, Wren, we all know it, right? He’s crazy about you. And sort of… possessive. Controlling.”
You want to tell him that ‘no, we all don’t know it.’ Sometimes it feels like you don’t know nothing, like Jon Snow. Sometimes you think you don’t know if he loves you; and most of the time you don’t know why he does. On the other hand, in retrospect, he’s proposed; he’s done everything possible to keep you near; and yes, he’s controlling.
You drink the cheap coffee and think. Lan can’t wait for this breakfast to end, but you have one more question. You twirl the empty mug in your fingers. You could ask whether he thinks that you and John will last; and whether you’re making the right choice; and whether you’re making any choice at all, or one is made for you. But you think you know his answer, and you think no one knows the right one.
“Lan, did John arrange my transfer to the lab I’m in now?” You don’t need to elaborate that you mean the lab in his project division, with the office near his flat.
Lan is quiet for a few seconds, and then he nods. You don’t need any more explanation.
You go to work, and ring up August Anderson. You invite him to a lunch under the false pretense of needing to clarify a few more details of the contract. He gleefully agrees, and you suspect he’s just gotten the wrong idea about this lunch.
He invites you to the restaurant in the lobby of his hotel. You’re unpleasantly reminded of the Hilton incident of the last year, and you change it to a small pho place not too far from his hotel – just far enough for him not to expect the two of you to walk back to it, but close enough to be polite.
You chat about this and that while studying the menu, order, and you’re twirling a napkin ring in your fingers.
“Could I ask you for a favour?” you ask, and he chuckles softly.
“You could try. I can’t promise anything, but I’ll do my best.”
You like it that he didn’t agree right away. That was an honest answer, and you need honest answers.
“Tell me what your personal history with John Thorington is.”
He theatrically raises his eyebrows, and you’re waiting.
“Well, well, you don’t beat about the bush, do you, Ms Leary?” He leans back in his chair and studies you. “I assume you aren’t asking about those couple times we played golf together in Japan.” You shake your head, keeping your eyes locked. Despite everything else, you can’t deny that being with John taught you a lot – the art of power struggle included.
Auggie Anderson grins widely, and shakes his head in some sort of amused disbelief.
“There were a couple of contracts stolen from under my nose. He was lobbying our rival’s offers; he was successful.” His grin grows only more cheery. “And couple time I did the stealing. I’ve heard a lot about him, but I can’t say we actually have personal history.”
“So, no stolen girlfriends, no heartbroken sisters?” you ask, and he emits a hearty fruity laughter.
“I have four brothers, and one of them would actually consider an offer from Dr thorington, but I’m afraid he’s not Thorington’s type. Judging by Dr Thorington’s current favourite.” He rubs the right side of his jaw with his left hand in some sort of a very Auggie way. There is something from those Western film characters in him, something Gary Cooper-ish perhaps. “No stolen girlfriends either. I’ve never had anything stable enough to steal, and if a woman moves to another man after a week of fun with me, that’s her business. I never ask questions about the past, either.” He shrugs and takes a sip of his green tea.
So, John lied. There’s absolutely nothing dangerous about August Anderson. At least, not more than about an average male in the Western society. And if your intuition is right, even less so when it comes to Auggie. His flirting with you is exactly that – flirting. No hidden agenda, no vendetta through the loved ones.The expression in his eyes is earnest, and the line of his full lips is relaxed.
“Wren, are you OK?” he suddenly asks. “Is there something I could do..?”
“I’m quite alright, thank you,” you interrupt, and busy yourself with the tea. “Let’s talk about the contract.”
After the lunch, which you wrap up as quickly as proper manners and good business practices allow, you say goodbye and plod back to the lab. You need to think. Some sort of a decision is almost made in you. It’s always like this with you. First, you’re shell-shocked, numb and confused, almost dysfunctional, and then a decision comes; and though it might seem out of the blue to others, it’s just your mind having finally processed and presenting you with the decision that you will make and won’t regret.
It’s big, and scary, and you’re 99.9% sure.