Helena - Chapter 10
They didn't stop driving until Joseph was sure that no one had followed them. By that time the sun had begun to fade over the horizon and cast its long shadows over the ground. Reds and pinks filled the sky and faded to purples and deep blues behind them. Helena had lost track of the plume of smoke a few hours ago. A tall dark grave marker in the sky. A tomb stone and at its base, the charred remains of the Directive. She thought of how the fire raged through the building, cleansing the sins of the Directive, destroying their evil work. With one hand resting on her stomach she turned to stare at Joseph. They had pulled over in a lay by at the side of dual carriage way. He had his phone in his hand and looking for nearby guest houses to spend the night. The light from the phones screen highlighted the contours of his face. He had dark ash smudged up the side of his cheek and dark rings under his swollen eyes. There were lines which she had never seen before etched into his forehead. Gently she reached out to touch his face. Her hand cupped his ash covered cheeks. He turned to look at her. His chocolate eyes still tender but full of sorrow.
'Thank you' she whispered. Her voice barely louder that the wind which whipped around the small car. There was so much more she wanted to say. She wanted to thank him for saving her life. Thank him for the sacrifices she knew he had made. His job, his home, his father. She wondered what they would do to Marcus now that his son had deserted. She wanted him to know that she was truly grateful but no words seemed to come to her. It felt as though once again her voice had been taken from her, but this time it was the gods who had removed it, not the devil.
'Helena I...' She stopped him placing her finger over his lips she traced the outline of his soft skin. She ran her finger down his jaw and delicately entwined her hand into the dark hair at the base of his neck. She leaned over and placed her lips against his. She felt him gasp but he made no effort to move. His hands found their way around her back and in her hair. She couldn't say how long they stayed in that embrace. But she couldn't think of anywhere she would rather be. Their first true kiss. In a Peugeot in a lay by on a duel carriage way at sunset.
He saw the fire. He saw the north quarter collapse as they drove away. He saw the tower of black smoke fill the rear view mirror as they drove away. But unlike Helena he didn't see it as the Directive demise. He saw it as a looming reminder. A figure shrouded in black towering over him. Watching them. He still hadn't lost his unease and he very much doubted he would, but he felt better once the towering cloud of ash had disappeared from his view.
Joseph brushed her hair which had fallen over her face. He watched her as she had slept. They had reached the guest house twenty minutes ago but he couldn't bring himself to wake her up. They had been driving the good part of half a day as well as most of the night and he knew that they were at least far enough away for now for the Directive to not find them just yet. He wanted to get as far south as he could, into the city, shielded by the masses. But he could force this woman to sleep another night in a car.
He watched her sleeping, the rhythmic fall of her chest and her breath rippling her blond hair. She looked peaceful. It seemed true what they say and her pale skin really did seem to glow, even if it was smeared with ash and plaster dust. He knew she was the most beautifully woman he had seen and in that moment he knew he had done the right thing. It was just the cost of it all that pierced his heart. He continued to watch her breath, slow deep breaths in and out. He looked at her hands wrapped around her stomach. Around the baby. Should they manage to evade the Directive for the next few weeks at least, that was the next issue they had to contend with? For it true, they truly had no idea what she was carrying. Of course he heard rumours about what they were expecting and that was a conversation that he wasn't looking forward to having.
She looked at him through half closed eyes, her lashes not yet fully open. He was staring at her but in a distant way. She smiled remembering the kiss. She had wanted him to know that she was thankful for everything he had done. A slight cough escaped her lips and this brought him back to reality.
'Morning' her sleepy voice whispered softly.
He smiled. It made a world of difference. When he smiled it looked like he had just shifted the world’s troubles off his shoulders.
'Morning' I thought we could hold up here for a day or two, that is until my more permanent solution is ready.’
She looked out through the window. It looked like an old farm house. A thatched roof, flowers around the wooden door, grey stone work in which ivy had crept its way up and looked like it was trying to devour the house whole.
'I’ve already booked a room in advance and he shuck his phone at her. 'Don't worry it's a new phone they shouldn't be able to trace it, not until they know what they are looking for, I've also shredded my cards I emptied my bank account over the last few days, I've got plenty of cash.'
'I can’t let you pay for everything' she sounded concerned but he didn't care. He had promised his father he would do everything he could to protect to his woman and the child, and he wanted to.
This time he placed his finger on her lips, 'shhh, don't worry about a thing, you stay here and I'll check in'
Her eyes widened, 'no, I don't want to be alone, I mean I'll come with you'
He guessed he understood and rounded the car to help her out. She was pretty big, they walked through the wooden front door and rang the little bell on the desk. A happy looking woman came through and beamed at the pair.
'What a beautiful couple' she gushed. 'And when's the little one due'
'Four weeks' Joseph told her, 'I have a room booked under Baxter'
Helena looked at him but realised should didn't expect him to use his real name.
After the bags had been loaded into the room and they had both cleaned up they lay side by side on the bed.
'So Baxter eh?' She asked looking at him.
'It was my grandfather’s name, I always found it easier to use some element of truth when you’re going to lie.'
'Do you I think we are safe here' her eyes full of hope.
'For now, I've rented an apartment in the city, nothing big but big enough'
She marvelled at his preparedness. The car, the phone, money, apartment but she supposed that was the scientist in him, methodical and practical.
There are few things that we need to take care of for the moment. The Directive will know what's happened by now and they will no doubt be circulating your picture, maybe mine too. They'll be on the lookout for a pregnant blond woman. That's why I got these.'
He opened the small bag at the bottom of the bed and showed her the contents. Three small boxes, each with a woman's faces the front smiled up at her
'Do you want to be a brunette, black or a redhead?’
She picked up the red hair dye, autumn flame she read to herself.
'Well if it was good enough for Walt Disney, it's good enough for me'