Luiz’s mouth was open, he looked stunned. Peter looked from the stranger, the stranger who had a key, to Alexis who looked sick, and the penny suddenly dropped. She’d moved on, and why wouldn’t she? He recognised the man as the same one who’d left, and allowed him to sneak in, oh such irony! It was him she’d expected when she’d pulled open the door, all excitement and glitter in her eyes, it wasn’t at seeing him, it was because she expected this young, dark and admittedly handsome man.
"Luiz!" Alexis gasped, striding towards him, "this is not what you think!"
Peter had a split second to act, and he knew he had to make this right, he’d hurt her enough, SO many times, and suddenly he realised how selfish he’d been, how childish and simplistic in his motives, he honestly believed that without him she’d be sitting in still waiting for him!
Spinning around to face her, he sighed, “Sorry Alexis! I should never have come! I didn’t intend to make things so awkward." He turned to the other man, "I’m sorry, Luiz is it? This is entirely my fault! I thought a woman as beautiful and enchanting as Alexis would be sitting alone pining over me! I should have guessed that she had moved on!" The other man looked stunned, so he reached out and grasped his hand shaking it firmly, "take care of her. She’s special and deserves the best, don’t leave it too late to realise!"
With that he was gone, tail between his legs.
Luiz was watching Alexis could feel his eyes on her as she watched Peter leave. Taking a deep breath she fought the urge to cry, that would be the worst thing in the world to do. So she met his eyes and tried to smile.
"That was the complicated thing you mentioned? The one that made you reluctant to become involved with me?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.
She nodded sad that this was hurting him, "It was over months ago. I swear. I’ve not spoken to him since before I came here, and I had no idea he was coming here, he just knocked the door. I thought it was you coming back."
He lifted the bags he carried, eyes diverted, "food for two as requested!"
Walking up to him, she forced him to meet her gaze, and she could see the hurt in his eyes, so she took the bags, placed them on the floor, then swung her arms around his neck, "I’m sorry if that upset you! But it was nothing, he’s nothing, I swear!"
Luiz sighed, staring at her eyes, "You didn’t answer him though Lex. Was it special? The kiss I walked in on, because it looked pretty steamy from where I was."
She shook her head, "I didn’t know he was going to kiss me! He was my teenage crush Luiz, nothing more. I thought at one point we had a future, but we didn’t. I knew that before I came to Rio. I like what I have here with you. It’s real! THIS is what I want YOU are what I want."
He nodded knowingly, "real as in not the fantasy!"
Lex groaned, he was reading between the lines, that time with Peter would always be a luxurious fantasy, that was true, but Luiz offered her everything that Peter couldn’t, he was a partner, not a crush, and she had to make him see that. She tried to change the angle, "Luiz, don’t be silly. I’m happy with you; I’m looking to extend my placement, purely for you. You know that!"
He lifted her arms from around his neck, "I left you twenty minutes ago and everything was good. But I don’t know now, I really don’t. I need some time Alexis."
"Don’t go, not like this! Luiz please!" she felt the tears that threatened to fall prick at her eyes. “You’re wrong over this, but you shouldn’t have had to see him here, and he shouldn’t have kissed me!”
“It didn’t look that one sided from where I was stood. I want to believe you Lex, I really do. But I need to think, I need some time."
As he reached the door, she cried out his name and he turned to see her looking devastated.
"Please don’t go. Don’t walk away, I need you!"
She could see he was torn, for a moment he almost came back to her, but as the door closed and she took in the empty hallway she knew that yet again Peter Marlow had ruined everything.
She fell to the floor in a heap and started to cry.
Lex called in sick the next day, the first time in her life she’d ever run away from anything, and the first time she’d ever missed something through illness. She hadn’t slept, and she couldn’t eat. There was a pool linked to her apartment block, and she took to the water to try to ease some of the tension out of her body. It didn’t really work. The only thought that would satisfy her anger, frustration was to take it out on Peter.
After picking at a lunch that didn’t entice her, and several calls to Luiz’s answer phone, she knew she had to take it head on. So she called around the major hotels, it didn’t take long to find him; he was checked into a large expensive hotel on the Copacabana beach front. After giving herself a shake she left the apartment wearing dark shades and a scarf over her hair in too much of an Audrey Hepburn disguise hoping that no one saw the bags under her eyes and the pain in her heart, and headed to his hotel.
The man at reception was really helpful, calling Peter’s room without question.
“Mr Marlow would like to welcome you upstairs. It’s room 451, fourth floor, right turn out of the elevator.”
Lex sighed, she’d hoped to do this on neutral grounds, but then she wasn’t keen on arguing with him in public, and it was likely they would argue. Taking a deep breath, she headed for the elevator. She wondered whether she was doing the right thing, if Luiz knew she was here, it would make things worse. It would hurt him, but she HAD to tell Peter how it was, what he’d done. Maybe then she’d get some sleep.
The hotel was the epitome of luxury, ever surface the most elaborate marble, gilt, and expensive woods. The staff were beyond courteous as she searched for the room. Then she stood for a moment taking in the large oak door. It took her a while before she plucked up the courage to raise her hand.
He answered on the second of three raps on the door, meaning she was stood there with her arm still raised attempting to knock the door that had been pulled open, stood face to face with a very po-faced Peter.
"Alexis!" his voice was a breath as he so obviously took her in from head to foot.
"Don’t! Don’t look at me or talk to me! I just want you to listen!" It was no consolation that he looked awful, pale, unkempt, and sorrowful.
Shrugging he fought a smile, he’d not expected to see her again, and she was even more vibrant angry.
"I can’t believe you came here.” She shook her head, “I want you to leave me alone. You proved you had little regard for me when you screwed me then couldn’t be bothered to even let me down gently! I have taken so long to get to this place Peter, where I have my own life, away from my family, and free of you! Then you turn up, and ruin the best thing to happen to me in years!"
"He’s gone?" Peter struggled to contain his elation, though her sad face made him realise this wasn’t what she wanted.
"Luiz needed time Peter that’s all. He’ll be back, and I just have to try and explain how I came to be kissing a past acquaintance whilst he’d gone out to buy me food."
He grabbed her hand, and they both felt the spark again, "but don’t you see? It’s meant to be! Don’t fight this Alexis."
She saw red, he was almost ignoring her plight with his insistence, deluded was the word, deluded!
"Peter! Stop! This is ridiculous. Just because you changed your mind, doesn’t mean I have to go along with your plans.....shit I don’t even know what your plans are other than they’ll end up hurting me!"
He stopped dead, "I’ve never meant to hurt you!"
Lex finally calmed a little, “Yet it just keeps happening! You have to let go of this! I thought I’d never get over you avoiding my birthday, disappearing...then you come back into my life and did it all over again. Only this time it went a whole lot further than empty promises. There’s no come back from that. Don’t you see?"
He rubbed his forehead, "it’s complicated Alexis. I was part of your family, I’m a man of honour.....I found it so hard to walk away from you back then. I suppose I didn’t want to get involved this time, as I knew how much the first time had hurt us both!"
She shook her head, "don’t lie to me. You’ve never cared about me! Never cried yourself to sleep with heartbreak, longing...I’ve done that for most of the last seven years. It stops now Peter, I walk away and never see you again!" As she stormed to the door, her piece said, she heard him talk softly.
"You’re wrong. I did miss you, I did hurt!"
She paused for a second at the door, but then let it slam behind her.
Peter was devastated as the door slammed, he’d all but told her he’d fallen in love with her as a sixteen year old school girl, but she had no idea how that made him feel. How wrong it all was. And he’d definitely never reveal what happened between him and her father back then, there was SO much she didn’t know, would never know. And he knew he was wrong, but it seemed the promise of his love wasn’t enough. He just had to get over that.
Alexis had left so many messages on Luiz’s phone that when the evening arrived, she thought it was all over. So when she heard a knock at the door after she’d eaten her dinner, she steeled herself for another confrontation with Peter.
This time as the door swung open it revealed Luiz, looking rather embarrassed and presenting a very large bunch of tropical flowers. "Does sorry come close?"
She shrugged coyly, he’d not listened to her for a moment, and that had hurt her a lot. What was the point of a relationship with no trust?
He sighed, leaning against the door frame, "My last girlfriend cheated on me, it took me an age to get over. I didn’t think I’d ever trust another woman again. When I saw you kissing him last night..."
"HE was kissing ME!" she interrupted angrily. “And if you truly trusted me you’d have believed that!”
He closed his eyes and looked at the ceiling, but he couldn’t hide the emotion that was there when he looked at her again, but she couldn’t feel pity for him, you abandoned me, didn’t listen, WOULDN’T listen...and I deserve better than that. If I judged you by previous relationships, the fact that you ran away last night would see you NEVER come near me again. But I know part of it was my fault, and I’m sorry you had to see what you did. But I did nothing wrong.”
He was humble, she could tell that he was genuinely gutted, but she’d berated Peter twice for doing exactly the same thing, why wasn’t she screaming her agonies at him too?
"Ok, ok, I was wrong on so many levels. Do the flowers come close?"
Taking his hand, she smiled in a way that made his heart race and said, "as long as they come with love!"
He pounced on her with all the passion of a man who’d fought his demons over the last twenty four hours, and his desperation matched that of Lex’s. But later in bed, she curled up into his chest, his arms protectively around her she dreaded to answer her own question from earlier, but part of her realised that Luiz abandoning her was nowhere near as painful as Peter doing it. She suddenly wondered if she was doing what was right, rather than what she really wanted?