I looked out the window, the bright yellow sun was casting a warm orange glow across the treetops. I sighed as I quickly glanced at the clock on the stove. I pushed myself away from the table and collected my jacket off the back of the chair. I tugged it on and shoved my hands into my pockets.
As I made my way out the back door, I could feel my heart pumping in my chest. My hands that were balled into fists in my pockets were beginning to sweat with nerves. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Rupert. His letter and gifts made it seem like he was truly sorry for his actions and wanted to make it up to me.
I walked out the back door and down the steps that lead to the yard. The air was cool, a slight breeze blew through the branches of the trees that towered over me. The air smelt like a crisp winter night. Fall was officially here. I made my way to the back of the yard and stepped into the dark forest. Tall pine trees surrounded me, I walked in a little farther and found the thick, tall willow tree. I looked around. I saw a shadow move to my left, he moved from the thick shrubs that covered his figure.
He was wearing a pair of light washed jeans, and a grey jacket. Like me, his hands were shoved into his jacket pockets. His hair was styled back, something I had never seen him do before. As he got closer I could see the dark lines under his eyes, clearly, he wasn’t sleeping. His eyes held many emotions, uncertainty was one that I could see.
“I-I wasn’t sure if you were going to come.” His voice was quiet.
“I almost didn’t,” I said honestly. “You’ve been ignoring me for a while. I almost didn’t come out of spite.” I looked away from him.
“Well, I’m glad you did.” I looked up at him, a soft smile spread across his lips. “Will you come with me?” He asked.
I shrugged my shoulders and followed beside him as he made his way past the willow tree and deeper into the forest. I followed him without question. Despite my anger towards him, my trust never dwindled. We moved along a thin path, one similar to the one we took the night I was brought to Emerald City. After a few short moments, the path became thicker. The dirt that I walked along turned into a flat stone path. I looked around once we hit the stone path. Ahead of us a small little cabin sat in the middle of a clearing. The sun was casting a warm glow across the long grass, and wildflowers.
“What is this place?” I asked.
“My home away from home.” He replied as he looked over at me with a smile.
We moved towards the cabin, he held the door open for me as I walked in. The space was small. To the right of the cabin a small kitchenette was placed. To the left of the door would have been a sitting room, but instead was an artists den. Plastic sheets lined the floors, canvases were hung on the walls and stood on easels. Dirty brushes and cups stained with paint sat on the small table to the side.
I walked over to the paintings that hung on the wall to dry. The brushwork was beautiful. The use of oil on the canvas was remarkable. Oil paints were not easy to work with. I wanted to reach out and feel the paint beneath my fingertips but I restrained myself. I took a step back and looked at each canvas. The blue, green and red hues warmed my sight. Each piece was beautiful on its own. I looked back over at Rupert. He was watching me. He smiled at me like he was happy with my reaction.
“D-Did you do these?” I was astonished, almost at a loss for words.
My eyes caught painting behind him. I had completely missed it on my way into the room. A large canvas hung on the wall behind him. I moved over to it. He moved to stand beside me as I looked at the work. It was striking, beautiful, haunting at the same time. My heart twisted in my chest as I looked at each detail of the painting.
A large green and purple iris stared back at me. Greens, whites and blacks were swirled throughout her iris. The closer you looked you could see the violet and royal purple flecks that danced around her pupil. Her eyes shined with playfulness, happiness. I looked around at the rest of the eye that was painted on the canvas. I looked at the partial bridge of her nose, and up over the arch of her eyebrow. Soft strands of strawberry blond hair came across the corner of her eyebrow and swooped down to the side of her eye.
I squeezed my eyes shut before I turned to face Rupert. He was lost in the painting, lost in the memories that he had with the person those eyes belonged to.
“When did you paint her?” He looked at me, then quickly looked away as if he was ashamed that I knew who he had painted her.
“I made this one probably about seven years ago.”
“And the one that you gave me?” I asked. “When did you do that one?”
He looked at me surprised. “H-How did you know I painted that?”
“I majored in Art History and minored in anthropology.” I smiled. “I know my art.”
“The one I gave you is a newer piece. I finished it right before I brought you here.” He turned to move into the room.
“How come you don’t sell your own pieces at the makers market? Why get someone else to do it?” I wondered.
“I like staying being able to walk the streets and not have art lovers harass me for my next piece. If they want something commissioned they speak to Sharron at the market and she passes the message along.” He shrugged. “It’s also nice that when I want to come out here I can, I’m not always obligated to because of work that’s been asked of me.”
“I get it. It’s your hobby in a sense, but also your job when you want it to be.” I sat down in the chair that he had shoved into the corner by the large bay window.
“Yes.” He said. “I wanted you to see a part of my life that others don’t know about.”
I frowned. I could feel my frustration begin to bubble inside me. “Why now?”
He paused, his mouth moved into a tight line as he clenched his jaw and pressed his lips together. “I…ah…I talked to Nix-”
“Talked or yelled at each other?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Well, both.” He shrugged. “But we talked and I realized how unfair I was being with you. It’s not your fault that you’re seeing things about my childhood, about my life-mate. It’s not fair that I was taking out all of my mixed emotions on you.”
I looked down at my hands that lay folded in my lap. I picked at the skin around my fingers as I waited for him to continue. “I know it wasn’t okay for me to do that, so I wanted to formally apologize to you in person for that.” I could hear the emotions in his voice, I looked up at him. “Nix told me about the possibility of having a second life-mate…”
My heart began to race in my chest, my breath hitched at the mention of a second life-mate. I watched him as he began to shift from foot to foot.
“I can’t wrap my head around it. It doesn’t make sense, I don’t really believe that it’s possible.”
Ouch. Glad to know where you stand. I said to myself as I felt like my heart had been cut open with a butchers knife.
“That make sense. There’s no history of it.” I tried to smile, to fake my emotions. “Besides, I didn’t think that was what was happening. I mean we’re friends, that’s all we are, and that’s why it hurt.” I looked over at the paintings next to him. “We were friends and then you stopped talking to me. I didn’t understand why.” I shrugged.
It took everything inside me not to burst open, to scream, kick, cry at his actions and emotions towards me over the weeks leading up to this. I wanted to call him a liar, a selfish asshole, but I didn’t. I played pretend. I was just a friend, only a friend, nothing more. Never anything more.
“I know.” He whispered as he looked anywhere but me. “That’s why I wanted to talk. So you would know how sorry I am. I know I have a lot to make up for, but can you at least forgive me, so we can go back to normal?” He looked hopeful.
“Of course!” I smiled, I could feel how fake it was as it spread across my lips. “That’s what friends do.”
Back to normal my ass…I can’t wait to have my own space. I thought as I pretended to hear the empty words coming from his mouth.