The Angel,The Devil,The Nerd

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Chapter 54 - Cover blown risk

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"So cheers, partner. Another job well done." Heather praised, raising her glass of champagne in the air. We were sitting on the balcony of the hotel room we booked last minute.

I really didn't want to, but she insisted, saying we completed our task much in advance, so we deserved a break. I wasn't really in the mood for anything, after that encounter in the elevator ... in fact, I let my partner handle our target, careful only not to let her enjoy herself too much. She's pretty dangerous when she's in the mood for blood, you know.

"We shouldn't be here." I grumbled, taking my legs off the table. It was a cool night. Parisian summer is really refreshing, I'll admit, though I've been in Paris other times.

When Heather convinced the guy at the reception to give us a room, I was too distracted by the idea of my Natalie popping out of nowhere to keep my partner from shamelessly flirting with the guy. I tried to convince her to change hotel at least, but she said in the early morning there'd be a nice show and she didn't want to miss it. I chastised her, for I knew that with nice show she meant when they found the corpse ... she'd left it somewhere evident. It was our task, yeah, but ... ugh, the more I think about it, the more my own life disgusts me.

Maybe because I've seen a certain someone again. Maybe because I know that someone couldn't even look me in the eyes if she knew how many horrible things I've done. Maybe because I just wanna leave everything and search through this damn hotel, only to find her and crawl to her feet, begging for forgiveness, begging for her love.

But no, I can't. I can't because I'm stuck with this damn job. I can't because she's moved on and reappearing in her life would only fuck it up ... again. I should have stayed away from her since the beginning. Hadn't I entered her life, light would still brighten those hazel eyes. Had I kept my distances, she wouldn't have been through such pain.

I know how much she suffered. I keep track of her phone and everything, remember? That means I practically read every e-mail she receives, every chat she opens on Facebook. My only limit is listening to her phone calls. That, I don't. It's a matter of privacy, right? I know who calls her and who she calls, but I don't know what they say to each other.

I know who befriends her on Facebook, though. I know who they are and why they contact her. I even know she's going to work for the soon-to-be-wife of one of the richest men in America. This Lukas Grant whose background I checked, just in case. I know the background of everybody that's close to her, especially her boyfriend.

One might say, and Heather does, that I'm a stalker, but in truth, I just protect my princess from afar. That's all. It's a miracle I didn't plant a tracking device on her. The thing is, when she left town, the notorious shit hit the fan, and since later on I came to know that not at all recommendable people had dared inquire on me with my father and Kyle, I supposed they'd soon get to Natalie too.

After all, that was his last promise: even if he wasn't there anymore, he'd see to it from Hell that I'd suffer more. In a way, he succeeded. This isn't life. I just go on. Aimlessly. Just because I have nothing else to do or hope for.

People like me, like Heather, we go on with the certainty that at some point we'll meet that enemy that's smarter and stronger or even just luckier than us, we go on with the certainty that we'll die without anybody knowing who we are and where we once belonged. I wake up in the morning knowing that I'll die in a place that doesn't know my name, probably shot by someone I was chasing or simply one of my enemies reaching me.

It's as simple as that. I do not have a life. Not anymore. You quit living when you enter the group. That's what makes us similar to secret service agents, I guess, though even they get to have a pension if they live enough. My group ... nah. As far as I know, practically none of our ... let's say association ever lived up to his pension.

We're like Roman emperors: none of them ever died naturally, none of us either. Sooner or later, we all catch up with that bullet that's directed at us. Me, I have so many fingers itching to pull that trigger against me that it's pure utopia I could just hide forever.

Even if I've been able to ditch my stepfather's friends, doing this job I've made new enemies, most of them don't even know my face, but they're after me nevertheless, and would I be so stupid to put my only reason to live in such danger? She's better off without me. I know, she's not the same as she was, and it's my fault, but at least she lives, goes on, has people that love her ... at least she's not an outlier like me, wandering the globe like a ghost.

Sometimes I think that she loves that show, Person of Interest, so much, well, I'm practically some kind of Reese at this point. We both kneecap people a lot, but while he saves many lives, I take them. Actually, I kind of do his old job, without being CIA.

I keep telling myself that those people I end, they deserve it, because that Colombian drug lord is the cause for lots of kids being hooked to drugs and dying of overdose, that other guy has killed his brother and his sister-in-law wants him dead or vice versa ... as a matter of fact, we are killers. Highly trained, professional but not truly legalized killers. Was my aunt to catch me, she'd have to arrest me.

Though she's retired from her job in the FBI. Since her husband died. Uncle Sam, yes. He died. Protecting me. As usual. One more victim on my conscience. That bastard shot him behind his back, when he was freeing me. Well, that bastard got to be a little bit tortured before being relieved.

That day, when I left my friends and my only love, the first thing I did was fight back. I was sick and tired. There was no legal solution to that. It would end in one way and one only. And it did.

Tracking down Robert wasn't easy, but I really enjoyed playing with his lackey Nathan before. The little piece of shit was tailing Natalie, so it was easy to catch him, I only had to go where I knew she was last time. I was able to spot her walking back to the cabin with Aisha and Jamie, all cheerful, when I grabbed Nathan from his collar.

The guy knew how to tail someone while being invisible ... how do you think he caught his victims? Six are the rapes he was accused of, more than 30 are the ones he actually committed. Yeah, he confessed that too under torture.

The good thing about spending your life being tortured, you learn the techniques, and I used a couple on Nathan. Till he didn't resist and begged me to end him.

I've never been that ruthless, even if I've seen horrible things in my life, I've never liked doing those same things, but Nathan ... well, he was tailing my Natalie with his peculiar knife ready, using his usual technique, the one that cost the life and the virtue of many girls ... let's say it was the good payment for his mishaps.

And the same got his amazing boss, Robert, when I caught him. It was one of those duels like you see in movies, I got out of it pretty badly, barely breathing, but I won. If winning means killing the bane of my existence in the worst way possible and then getting to have his friends after me. Though I'd do it again.

You see, Robert was the first life I ever took, and while some Reese would say that you lose a part of yourself, I only felt refreshed. With what Robert did to me and what he threatened to do to my dad and brother and, especially, to my princess, he only deserved his punishment. That's about the only one life I don't regret taking.

Oh, Nathan isn't dead. Not that I know at least. I mean, last time I saw him, he didn't look too good and he was cuffed to a police car, but reliable sources tell me he's got a nice cell in a Mexican prison, which he shares with 347 lbs and 7' of an Indian that misses his wife so much ...

Now, the thing is, I took care of Nathan and Robert, of whom nothing was found, literally, but my stepfather had many friends and they got just a little pissed when I got rid of their whore, you know. You see, Robert was pretty much the janitor in his circle, if they kept him, it's only because he was useful, and since eliminating him, I also brought down his whole organization, they're just a little bit mad at me. Though I was able to bring down a couple of them, the others have lost track of me, thanks to my boss too.

There remain the other people I pissed off in three years. You see, my boss found me that I was barely alive and he saved me, so in three months I was following his trainings to enter his association, also because bad, very bad people were after me and those I loved, so yeah, I needed to become the wicked wolf for real.

Now, I grumbled with Heather: "We might blow up our covers, we ..."

"Relax, Johnny. We deserve a break."

I sighed, rubbing the bridge of my nose. One moment, just one moment to see that one person and every attempt at shutting down pain becomes useless. Because I think she's around here, with another man, they might be in their room, he probably has his hands on her ... and she's so close, but I can't even try to approach her, just to tell her the truth and remind her how much I love her. I can't be close to her. It's like my life revolves around that very simple fact: it was like this throughout school, it is like this now.

At least I got six weeks of bliss. At least I got to be loved by her. Though it cost her too much, as predicted, and I can't help but regret ever getting so close to her. I don't regret our moments neither our love. I regret having entered life simply because now she's broken and it's my fault. Had I never entered her life, by now she'd be happily living her life. Yes, she is anyway, but there's the happy side of it missing.

Though this Chase seems to be the right match for her. He takes care of her and everything, so he might be the perfect husband too. Part of me growls because that should have been me, but the other reminds me that, if I'm lucky, while she celebrates her wedding I'll be who knows where doing awful things to awful people, but it's more likely that I'll be six feet underground in some God forsaken place.

Though maybe, me dying once for all would sedate my enemies' blood thirst and they'd quit seeking the bonds to my old life. Maybe, the only way to save her once for all is to sacrifice myself once for all. Faking my death wouldn't be a definitive solution, I know because I've tried. So maybe ...

"Nevertheless, we shouldn't be here. We have been reassigned and ..."

"The job was to be done by midnight, we're two hours early. We can take a break, don't you think?" Heather argued.

I sighed, shaking my head. "You'll never change, will you?" Heather grinned, coming to sit on my lap, another glass of champagne in her hand. I know she can hold her booze all too well, so that didn't worry me, but I could see it in her eyes that she felt tipsy tonight, and not because of the alcohol.

In fact, holding her glass far, she pressed her lips on mine, tasting them before sliding her tongue inside my mouth. Not the first time we get to this, you know. In our line of work, your partner becomes your shadow, so Heather and I are always together and little things like kisses and touching happen now and then, but never anything too far.

"I'm still up for that bet, you know." Heather whispered sensually in my ear, biting my earlobe. Normally I'd take her in a heartbeat because, I mean, she's what any man would die to have: redhead, perfect body, curves in all the right places ... a goddess, but ... tonight I didn't really feel like doing anything, especially not after ...

I heard a noise of a balcony opening, presumably the one next to our room, and a girl came out, going to lean on the balustrade, well, gripping it as her eyes fixed on the full moon. From where I was I could see her black dress and her long brown hair ... shit. I'd recognize that beautiful face even in the dark. Gee, is there really a wicked plan of the destiny against me?

"Nat, hey, you sure you alright?" The same man that was with her in the elevator, that Chase, asked as he got out. Now that I better looked at him, I could see his dark hair kind of reached his neck and curled to the end, glasses on his nose, thick eyebrows. He had the exact face of the good guy. Much like my brother.

Actually, I would have preferred she ended up with Kyle, at least I knew he was reliable, so she'd be in good hands, but he was in deep for Aisha and as far as I know their relationship, while quivering, resisted, though I'm not sure if they're still together. I lost track of him when I was sure he was safe.

Apparently my enemies mostly went for my girlfriend, following the pattern. I mean, in every movie the bad guys are after the protagonist's girl, right? Normally he saves her and they live happily ever after. Normally. In reality, in my reality, the lovesick heart shatters at the sight of his only love in the arms of someone else.

Heather pinched my arm and I turned to her. "It's not polite to spy on people, you know." She joked, although voice lower, still leaning in to me. I sighed, closing my eyes for a moment. More than not polite, it's not safe neither healthy.

I might do something really irresponsible or she might turn around. Judging by how he was cradling her, she needed comfort, which means she was upset ... whether she thought she hallucinated or she was sure of who she saw, it hurt her anyway, didn't it?

"We should get inside." I suggested, not wanting to watch the love of my life being cuddled by another man and not wanting to add fuel to the fire by letting her see me again and be sure I'm alive. It's better if she believes me dead, I guess. Maybe this way she'll be keener on going on with her life.

"Why?" Heather asked, pouting, her arms still around my shoulders. At least she was shielding me from their sight.

"Because ..."

"Honey, come on, tell me what's wrong." I heard the man on the other balcony plead. Half hiding behind Heather, even though I had darkness by my side, since the only light came from the full moon, both rooms being dimly lit, I peeped and saw her turning around in his arms, sighing as she leaned her head on his chest. That's already something I could kill him for, because that should be my place, I should be the one lulling her in my arms, not him.

"It's just that ... I feel a little overwhelmed, that's all." She replied, smiling, better said, faking a smile. I know that tone and that expression too well. She does that when she's trying to hide her true emotions not to worry others. So she's trying to hide to him that she's hurting inside. I wonder how many times did she have to do this.

I know her cousin, that Jake Watson, took care of her, and I know she has neighbors that love her too, though she's moving to New York. I know she's seeing a therapist every three months because Jake wanted her to, considering how down the gutter she was.

The first months after I left, I didn't know what happened to her, I'd been busy doing my best to escape to death, you know, but then I tracked her down, just to see how she was, and I was able to connect to her phone, which allowed me to see her texts and everything ... you know, how spies do, though with the help of my boss.

I caught glimpse of her once, when I cloned her phone (for these things you gotta be enough close) ... and my heart dropped to the unbelievable as I saw how broken she was. Those were the first months, something like six or seven months after I left. I was still nursing bad wounds that weakened me not little, but I travelled all the way to Boston anyway, just to see with my own eyes if she was fine.

That day I almost wanted to come out of my hideout and go to her, but it'd only be worse, as my first partner, the one that died, the one that taught me all I know, suggested. I was to let her go. For her own good. If she believed me dead, she had a chance.

"You sure?" The man asked her and she nodded, then he better embraced her in his arms, making my blood boil. Knowing she has someone else is one thing, seeing that someone else keep her in his arms like I was supposed to do, that's a whole different thing.

"Wanna ask them to join us?" Heather asked all giggly. Yeah, she was definitely tipsy tonight. I turned to her and she crashed her lips on mine once again. Here goes the being more lesbian than bi, I guess ...

I didn't really respond to her kiss, though. Hell, there was my princess right on the other side of the balustrade, how could I?

"Let's go inside." I suggested, though. Heather grinned, I guess thinking I wanted something specific, but I only wanted to get out of that balcony, one because I might act on impulse and jump on the other, snap that man's neck and claim her to myself, as it should be. Two, because she might look our way and she'd see me and ... you know, cover blown, enemies all over the globe and blah, blah, blah.

Heather placed her glass on the table and wrapped her arms around my neck, kissing me again. I tried to deepen it, just not to raise suspects in her, but really, I couldn't, and neither did her better leaning in and sensually whispering in my ear change my mind: "I've got handcuffs in my bag." Normally it'd turn me on instantly and I'd waste no time, but tonight ... with my Natalie just on that balcony, all wrapped up in another man's arms ...

When I didn't reply, Heather pulled back and looked me in the eyes. "Ok, what's wrong?" She asked. Hell, it's been six months and we practically live in symbiosis, so she obviously knows me all too well. She even knows about Natalie.

It's something encouraged in our group: sharing your deepest secrets with your partner, helps create the necessary bond. So I know she ran away because her father was abusive and tried to rape her while her mother was a druggie, and she knows the story about me and my stepfather, me letting him cuffed to a tree while I knew they were bringing down that said tree because of I don't know what new building they wanted, though Robert didn't quite make it to that, wolves arrived first.

Heather knows about Natalie, no details, she just knows about my deepest bond to the past, just like I know hers, namely, her friend Louis, who was, just like my Natalie, her grip on life in the middle of that hell. Heather didn't give me details like I didn't either, we just know there are these two people that represent our weakest points. Though her Louis was found lifeless a few months ago, right after she joined our group.

I sighed. With the corner of my eyes I could still see the other two cuddling, which only angered me. I have no right over her anymore, I know, but it still angers me. Because that was supposed to be me.

"John? What's wrong?" Heather repeated.

I sighed, leaning back in my chair. "I'm just tired."

I lied, but of course, she busted me: "Bullshit. What's wrong?"

"Heather ..."

"You gotta have one hell of a reason for turning me down, Riley." If I hadn't known her like I do, I would have thought she was hurt, but it was just her pride talking. Glancing once more at the other balcony, I wondered if I should tell my partner the whole truth. We are not supposed to have bonds to our old lives. I cut them all off when I joined, well, much before than that.

Although I trust Heather. In our line of work we can never trust anybody but our own partner. And we've been working together for six months now, I know I can trust her, be it only because she's grateful to me for having taught her everything she knows. We're even the same age, so we can kind of relate.

"Ok, let's just say I'd rather disappear. Real quick." I muttered, always an eye on the other balcony. Heather arched an eyebrow at me, clearly confused, therefore I sighed and explained everything in three words: "Cover blown risk."

I hate having to refer to the love of my life like that, but she's already most certainly recognized me in the elevator, and while, if I'm lucky, she might think she was hallucinating, if she sees me again she'll have no doubt and let alone that she'll be more hurt and angry if she gets to know the truth, but she might blow up my cover and if she does, not just me, but Heather, that guy and especially my Natalie herself will be in danger and I can't allow that.

In a moment, Heather leaped to her feet, grabbed my hand and dragged me into the room. I only had time to torture myself by witnessing the loving kiss my Natalie exchanged with that other guy. That guy who should have been me, hadn't odds been so hostile.



I took advantage of Chase sleeping to sneak out. I needed fresh air, and not just the balcony, fresh air for real. So I put my dress back on and decided to take a walk around the block. I know, it wasn't really wise, being 2 am already, but I really needed fresh air.

I'm hallucinating. That's the only possible solution. I mean, that guy in the elevator, that couldn't be ... that couldn't be Eric. By no means it could be him, because ... because ... oh, I've prayed God so many times to have a definite answer, at least to know if he was really ... really gone or not.

I've never wanted to believe he was gone for real, I always hoped he was out there, I forced myself to remember he left for a good reason, even if I didn't know what that was, I forced myself to keep away from the idea that he quite simply wanted to leave me, because h never would. Eric was always honest and sincere with me, he would have never left me like that if it hadn't been necessary.

Every night I step onto my balcony and gaze at the sky, trying to think that, wherever he is, he's still under the same sky as I am, so there's still something connecting us. But every day, it gets harder and harder to believe in happy endings, because three years have passed and he never came back. Live your life. He told me. And I tried, but I still harp on our memories and him, even if it hurts badly.

It's not unlikely for me to see him in the streets. I mean, I've seen him in every blond man I spotted, but tonight ... I could never mistake those eyes. The man I saw in the elevator was slightly different, a bit harsher in his countenance, but come on ... it was my Eric. It couldn't be anyone else.

But then why did he act as if I didn't exist? Why was he so cold? The Eric I know would have pushed my own boyfriend aside and pulled me in his arms, claiming me as his and his only. Actually, the Eric I know would have punched Chase only for being so close to me. Instead that man didn't even want to look me in the eyes. That man fled as soon as the doors opened, clear sign he didn't want to be in there with me.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I hallucinated. It wouldn't be the first time. But maybe that was really my Eric and he ignored me like I was nothing. Yes, he's used to that. He used to do that before we got close, but that was before I fell. That was before he gripped my heart tightly, making me his and his only for life.

My Eric would know that acting like that with me would hurt me. My Eric would know I'd cry. My Eric would know I couldn't rest at peace after such encounter. Maybe that's why he did everything not to look at me, not wanting to be recognized. Maybe that's why he fled without a word, afraid I'd stop him.

Or maybe I was truly hallucinating. Maybe that was just someone that resembled him. Maybe that wasn't my Eric. There's plenty of blond men with blue eyes, and though I am absolutely sure, deep inside, that I could never mistake those blues, I have to believe, for my own sanity, that I hallucinated. That wasn't my Eric. That wasn't my one and only love, because he'd have seen the hurt in my eyes and he'd have chased it away, as he always did. He'd have healed me, not shattered me furthermore.

Uncontrollably, I crawled to the floor and burst out crying, even in the elevator. It's been three years and he's still there, still in my damn weak heart. Always will be. Maybe I should force myself to forget. Maybe I should let go of our memories, because while now I might have the certainty that he is out there, I am also certain that he wants nothing to do with me.

Or maybe he can't. Maybe he's still in deep with his troubles and can't talk to me. Otherwise he'd have reached me. He'd have found a way to reach for me. But he didn't. And that can have only two reasons: one, he cannot talk to me because it'd be dangerous, two ... well, he might have just moved on from me.

But he didn't. Eric, my Eric never would. He loved me. He loved me more than anything, he always said. He wouldn't forget me just because we're apart. He wouldn't forget me just because we're no more kids. Eric was always honest with me. Only believing he lied since the beginning would justify doubting of his reasons. Because only if he played me since the beginning would justify his moving on.

Unless I'm that forgettable. Unless I was so easy to forget. But his promises, his vows, what he told to my mother ... Believe me, if we'll ever separate, it will only be because it wasn't in my power to do else. So he left because he had to. He left because there was no other choice. My heart will bleed just as much as she will be hurt. Every tear falling down her rosy cheeks will be my heart losing a drop of blood. So all of this, all of this distance, this pretending ... it's hurting him too. But why didn't he give me an explanation at least? Why did he never told me the whole truth? I know I always overreacted, but he could have tried ...

When the doors of the elevator opened, I weakly straightened up and got out. Wandering all alone at night in Paris wasn't a great idea, and given my pathetic state, it was only worse, but, let's be honest, I'm already dead inside, what would change?

My sight was fogged by tears, so I didn't really know where I was going when I got out, but, if anything happened, I had my phone and ... well, a taser with me. Jake bought me it, saying this way they could be sure I was always safe. Although I took some self-defense classes as well, better said, Silvia taught me, she's into boxing too, just as much as her husband, and since my cousin didn't want to hear reasons about him teaching me, I resorted to the second best chance.

We girls spent whole afternoons training in their new house's basement while Jake and Lukas, because Tara joined us often too, were left with the kids. Both of them argued there was no need for such thing, they'd always be there to protect their beloved ones, but both Silvia and Tara affirmed they wanted to be able to care of themselves. Silvia already knows her way round actually, it was just me and Tara to need to learn.

I remember a Sunday, we all six united for lunch, as we often did, and we girls, in the mid-afternoon, taking advantage of the kids taking their nap, headed to the basement to train a little but soon enough the boys joined us, saying there was Serene upstairs keeping an eye on the Nicky and Leanne, who were barely 18 months back then (now they're both two and a half). Back then I'd just started seeing Chase but he was with us, my cousin wanting to know my boyfriend better.

Now, Chase isn't into such things, he's such a calm and sweet boy, so he remained there watching, but Jake and Lukas ... eh, my neighbor isn't exactly a real fighter, but Tara mentioned his punches did hurt a lot of people back in high school, and my cousin, well, he's been boxing since he was a child, to the extreme level too, though he never said much about it, only Silvia knows, I think.

So the boys remained there watching us for a few minutes, both Jake and Lukas giving suggestions to enhance our exercises, till Tara got tired and, grabbed Lukas' arm, she leveraged on his own weight and knocked him down, straddling him to block him to the ground. My cousin laughed about it, but he soon got the same treatment from his wife. Long story short, Chase and I remained sitting as we watched and did the referees for the two couples fighting. Kind of like a small tournament.

Lukas and Tara ended in a tie, but Silvia won ... though she punched her husband in the stomach when he said nothing about it, which made her understand Jake had quite simply let her win not to hurt her. She said he is always like that, even in the beginning, when he trained her a little, he always held himself back, and I blushed when her tongue slipped and she admitted that in the beginning he would also hold back in bed ...

I pretended not to hear as I asked Chase something stupid, just not to listen to the two girls exchanging comments about their men's stunts in the bedroom. Both Jake and Lukas complained about that being a private matter, but I did see their smiles, as they knew neither of their women would complain.

Me, I tuned them all out, as I always do when Silvia and Tara, and especially Tess, Silvia's best friend, talk about sex. The latter girl is worse than Jamie and Aisha put together, I swear. And as for Silvia and Tara ... well, Lukas is my neighbor and a really close friend, I don't want to look at him and think of dirty things, it's already enough to have to resort to loud music in my ears sometimes when I can hear them ... and Silvia, well, just like Serene, I don't want to know about my cousin's sex life.

When we all girls unite it's awesome, really, but many times Serene and I end up covering our ears, because every time there's Tess, sex is a must-topic, and we'd maybe enjoy joining the conversation, weren't they so ... specific. Silvia and Tara say they were never so at ease with such topic, but talking about is fun and harmless, so ... I know it is, because with Aisha I also talked about it, but never giving details neither wanting them from her.

Now, I walked and walked, trying to ease my mind, letting the summer night breeze soothe me, or at least attempt to. There were very few people outside, even if Paris seems to be a lively city, but after all our hotel was pretty fancy so this one was a wealthy burg. I met Chase's friend when we arrived. He seems like a nice guy, actually, the very face of a wealthy boy: perfectly cure in both aspect and manners, elegant and everything.

His name's Pierre Delacroix. Delacroix as the name of the hotel of course. Said we arrived in a pretty busy moment because there was an important gala they were hosting, but he'd booked us the best room. And it was true, our room was really nice, on the upper floors, so I could admire Montmartre from the above and it was simply amazing, I could even spot the Tour Eiffel in the distance. Chase and I were there just yesterday, it was the first thing we went to see.

That reminds me of how truly amazing my boyfriend is. And I left him alone in our hotel room just to be free to pine over my past love all alone. I don't deserve one like Chase. There are so many girls that could, but he sticks to me. Because he loves me, he says. He loves me and doesn't want to lose me.

Maybe I should really let myself go and forget for real. But every time I try, then I look at the note or the rose or everything related to Eric and I's story and ... I can't make myself forget. It'd mean not just forgetting a huge part of my life, but also leaving behind my own heart.

As I walked, I kept wondering if it wasn't just my mind playing tricks, after all, it's been three years already, but something inside me keeps telling me that I can't be mistaken, it was him, it had to be him. I could never forget those blue eyes, they're still stuck inside me after all these years.

He told me to move on, to forget him, and yet here I am. After three years, feeling like I can't even breathe because possibly, he's still out there and has been keeping himself away from me for all these years. Why?

Suddenly, I felt myself being pulled into a dead end and my heart skipped a beat, knowing that it was someone with bad intentions. Immediately, I reached for my purse, but it was thrown away. Gulping down my fears, I tried to recall every single move Silvia taught me. Yet when I was cornered, I could feel the hands on me were feminine, not ...

"Don't scream. I'm not gonna hurt you." A female voice told me as her hand was wrapped around my mouth. I nodded and she released me. It was all dark, so I couldn't tell her features, but judging from her voice, she was young and maybe even slim and quite pretty. Don't know why did I get that impression, but she sounded like a beautiful woman.

"You don't know me, but I know who you are." She informed me harshly. I could feel her hands at both my sides, caging me, but she wasn't touching me. Inside, I thought, it's a woman, I can beat a woman, can't I? But her words took me off guard: "And we have someone in common."

My eyes widened, knowing instantly and for sure who she meant. But who was she? His new girlfriend? But why would she sneak up on me like this? She could have just met me in the daylight. And in any case, how does she know about me? I've only taken a glimpse of him, even though I'm sure he saw me, because we locked gazes for a moment, and by the shocked look on his face he did recognize me, if it was him, why would he tell his girlfriend about me?

Believe me, the idea of Eric with another woman did hurt, but after all this time, my heart is already shattered, there's not much left to break. Though it did anger me that he left me because he couldn't stay and yet he had another woman. I know, I had no right to expect him to be alone, but still ... I thought I was his one and only. Turns out I was that forgettable after all ...

Tears filled my eyes already, especially at the idea of him having seriously moved on from me, forgetting me, at the idea of Eric simply having wanted to keep away from me. Maybe I was too much of a burden and even when he solved whatever the problem was, he didn't want to come back, because maybe he'd find this other girl that was much better than me and he felt better with her. Pathetic ideas, I know, but I couldn't delete those thoughts.

The girl-or woman in front of me must have noticed I was on the verge of tears already, because she huffed, quite annoyed. I guess she's a badass just as much as him. Perfect match, right? I was too weak for one like him, I should have known. He's found his perfect match. But why was she facing me now?

"Don't cry already." She scoffed, in a quite harsh tone as he better pressed me against the wall, her hands now gripping my arms to keep me in my place. I didn't fear she'd want to hurt me, why would she? But I was confused. She was facing me because of him ... to do like Dana years ago and order me to keep away from him? She has him already, why would she fear me? Though I should first of all ask myself why did he tell her about me and seeing me in the elevator. Then again, if she's here, it means I didn't hallucinate. In that elevator ...

"I'm only here to tell you that, for your own good, and his, in that elevator, you have not seen who you think you have, you got it?" My eyes widened, even if watery, as the girl said that. I was right. It was really my Eric in there. Although he's not mine anymore apparently. He's found someone that can measure up to him, while I was too weak.

"You got it?" The woman repeated, tightening her grip on my arms. I nodded without really thinking and she muttered a 'good', then moved, starting to walk away.

"W-Wait ..." I mumbled, very low, but she heard me and stopped in her tracks, still giving me her back, enough close for me not to have to shout. "Did he ... did he send you?" I asked, maybe naively.

Why would he send her to talk to me? He's not one of those cowards, he'd have talked to me in person ... although, he fled when he saw me, clearly not wanting to be recognized, so maybe he seriously didn't feel like facing me. But even if that's the case, why did he send his girlfriend to tell me I should forget I saw him in there?

Oh. What if I took it wrong? What if this wasn't his girlfriend but ... ugh. No. Those are just movies. This is not TV neither a book. Yet the question remains ...

The woman sighed, clearly frustrated."No. He doesn't know I'm here and would most certainly kill me if he did." I blinked my eyes, more than confused. She was a few steps away from me and I could barely tell her silhouette: slim and skinny, the perfect kind of physique, I guess.

I don't know why, but even while I couldn't really see her features, she gave me the impression of being kind of like the Black Widow, the one from the S. H. I. E. L. D., you know, Marvel and everything ... in a word, Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers. Yes, that's they impression she gave me.

I would have said Person of Interest's Shaw, but this girl was taller and I could tell she was maybe a redhead, I mean, her hair seemed brighter than black, if that makes any sense. Ugh, why do I even think of these things? The point is ... "Then why ..."

I barely uttered those words and she let out one more sigh as she quickly turned around and came back to me, too close even, cutting me off, her voice softening a little, but still being quite harsh as she explained: "He means a lot to me. And I know you mean a lot to him." She came enough close to hiss in my ear. "That's the only reason why you're still here among us, Natalie."

I gulped, trying not to think that she'd just indirectly threatened to kill me. Why? What did I ever do to her? And what kind of psycho would threaten someone like that only because ... wait, I cannot be right.

This is no movie. She couldn't ... maybe I was dreaming. I lost the ability to daydream long ago, but maybe ... I mean, it'd be absurd to think that she and Eric belong to some secret organization and that's why I have to forget I saw him in that elevator.

The woman smirked evilly, even if I couldn't see her, always due to darkness, as her long fingers skimmed over my cheek, so that I could feel her nails and I was beginning to panic, because she seemed either not exactly in her right mind or quite determined to do everything and beyond to protect the one person we have in common. To protect Eric.

"Relax, girl. As long as you do what I said, you're safe." She informed me with an evil grin.

"A-and if ... i-if I don't?" I stupidly asked.

She grinned more devilishly. "Listen, Natalie ..." Already my name came out venomous and her fingers on my skin were making me shiver. "I know that, even after all these years, he still cares. But I care about him too. He's possibly the only one person I care about and, believe me when I say, I will find you anywhere if I happen to believe that you might be a threat to his cover."

In a bit of light, I could see her green eyes boring into me, with a very dark glint that meant nothing good. As if she wasn't threatening me aimlessly, as if she really meant it, if she thought I was a threat to Eric's cover (what cover, I really don't know, but I can't think about the most absurd possibilities), she'd really kill me to protect me.

And yet I managed to find my voice: "W-what cover?"

She grinned, her fingers travelling to my neck and I swallowed as I felt her long nails digging a little deeper in my skin, not enough to hurt me, but certainly enough to make me feel she could wring my throat just with those. And given her threats, maybe she would. "No questions. Just do what I say and you'll live." She ordered.

Gulping down my saliva, my heart beating fast, Silvia's lessons about self defense all forgotten, I stammered, trying to find a safe line: "I-if ... if he cares ... he won't ... he won't let you ..."

"Of course he won't." She cut me off, her grin becoming really evil, and my heartbeats increased dangerously as she wrapped one hand around my neck, slowly adding pressure. "But he doesn't need to know, does he?"

I hardly swallowed as she put more pressure. Was she seriously going to kill me only to protect him? And from what even? What cover? Why am I a threat to him and his cover? What the hell is this all about?!

I tried to move her hand as I was starting not to be able to breathe anymore and in her eyes I saw now a murderous glint, clear sign she'd changed her mind and had no will of letting me go, so I fought, trying to get her to let me go, but despite her being probably thinner and smaller than me, she was definitely stronger.

I tried my best to take her hand off me, kicking her even, but she blocked me against the wall, and with the dim light now coming from the full moon having turned to brighten that dead end a little too, I could see the girl was grinning evilly, as if she liked watching me wriggle to get away from her grip and save myself. But it was impossible.

She was choking me and I was barely able to breathe at this point, I could feel life slipping away. Part of me, the most skeptical, wondered if Eric could ever want this, if he could ever forgive his ... friend here for doing this. But where was he? He didn't know she came after me, so he had no idea.

He had no idea his redheaded friend here was in a Parisian dead end, grinning wickedly as she choked his ex girlfriend to death.

Strength was abandoning me, my arms weren't able to fight anymore and I couldn't breathe, this time literally, I saw little white lights floating around me, I felt life leaving my body ... I was, as a matter of fact, dying.

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