May chance thee lie wither’d and old
The winter nights that are so cold, plaining in vain unto the moon
Thy wishes then dare not be told
Care then who list! For I have done
--Sir Thomas Wyatt
It was after dark by the time Lara arrived at her place. She slid the key into the lock of her small apartment door. When she opened, the only thing welcome her, was the sound of the clock ticking in the pitch dark. Not that she noticed, not that she cared. She might as well get used to the total absence of light, she thought making her away across the room and then dropping her bag. She collapsed on the sofa still without even bother the lights. For her, it was an apt to remain in the dark as she carried a foul work and it not meant to be seen under the lights.
She was unbearably exhausted today and somehow she just wanted to escape from reality.
Speaking of reality, her mind flew to the moment when she’d faced Tristan this afternoon. Oh, how could she have forgotten his stern face when he had found out that she had served them today? It had seemed for him, he would never have at any rate that seen her there.
Well, unless I’m working there, in spite of only temporary one, she thought.
And the thought of her own melancholy humor, Lara smiled about her recollection of what had happened. How on earth today for all the restaurants in New York, Lara had been hired for substituting another girl, they had bumped into each other there?
Perhaps it was one of those mysteries of the universe that no one would ever be able to predict, she immersed.
Suddenly she heard her house telephone rang. She let it to keep on ringing, wishing whoever called would stop. But it did not stop. It was still ringing, persistently.
She strode out to small console table and even though it was contrary to her mood, she did deign to switch on a Tiffany lamp as in the end she needed the light.
The telephone was on the sixth ring when she grabbed it reluctantly. “Hello?” She greeted.
“Hello Lara, it’s Abby here.” The sound of a familiar female voice replied.
“Hi, what’s up?”
“I’ve been trying to call your mobile phone, but it’s off. Are you okay?” Abby’s voice was half panic, just like her habit to always be concern about something that made her anxious and it seemed that not picking or when Lara’s mobile phone died was also one of the things that made her perform like that.
Lara rolled her eyes disbelief to hear the question from the panicking voice of Abby. “I’m fine, I just finished working.” She answered and hooked the cordless phone between her shoulder and ear, therefore she could go to kitchen then open the refrigerator to pick up the left-over meal.
“Why so late?” Abby interrogated her again.
“I’ve to do two jobs and I then went to the library to borrow some books for my exams.” Lara explained while starting to open the small aluminum packaged. “I didn’t realize that my phone battery was flat.”
“Oh, I see.” Abby said after hearing her explanation. “But, you don’t need to borrow the book from the library. You’re smart enough even if you don’t study.”
Lara laughed. “Wow, you’ve really have a great confidence on me.”
“Of course I have, since I’ve lost it on my own fiancé.” Abby laughed hard.
Vaguely, Lara heard another muffled noise at the background sound, it was nonetheless from Liam who was complaining.
“Abby, why you always insult Liam?” Lara stated giggling.
“It’s not insulting.” Abby laughed heartedly. “It’s the truth!” She added, once again Liam’s voice bawling, then Lara heard the sound of a door closing. “Now, he left the room.”
“Are you fighting?” Lara asked. She was concerned that Liam might have insulted.
“Neaahhh, he’s fine. You know him with his hot temper.” Abby bruised Lara’s worries aside. “I’m just a bit pissed off with him today, that’s all.”
“Alright.” Lara said, still smiling. “So what’s up? Why you’re calling me?” She asked, while warming her dinner in the microwave.
“Oh, now you need a reason to call you?”
Lara felt guilty to hear the remarked, Abby passed on. She had been the one who helped her during the worst day of her life yet she avoided her just because she did not want Abby knew about the dark side of her life. “Of course not.” She replied softly in apologizing tone. “I’m sorry about my question. I didn’t mean what I said.”
“No worries, babe.” Abby said. “But you’re right, I’ve the reason to call you.”
“What’s that?” She frowned.
“What are you doing for Christmas?” Abby asked.
Lara thought for a moment, besides studying for forthcoming examination, she had no plan. “I only need to study, I’ve postponed the exam twice last year. I’ve to do it this time.”
“When the exams will begin?”
“My exams will be conducted few days after new year.” Lara replied.
“Do you need to work during Christmas day?”
“Actually I do, though I’ve asked them to give me some time off as I need to study.” She took her food from the microwave carefully not to burn her fingers.
“Are they okay about it?”
Lara laughed was a bit harsh, thinking about the actuality of her job. She lied to Abby all this time that she only worked in two restaurants all this time instead of in the strip club. “Of course not.” She replied dryly. “It’s the busiest time of the year. And they threatened to fire me or cut my pay. But like I said, I need to pass this examination and I need to concentrate, so I told them at least just cut pay.”
Abby muttered a curse. “Damn! Are you okay with that? And what did they do?”
“Luckily they just cut my pay.” She lied. “And yeah, I’m fine with that.” She cleared her throat. “And why did you ask whether I need to work during Christmas?”
“Fancy to have holiday with us?” Abby asked, there was a tinge of excitement in her voice.
“Eh?” Lara could not disguise the incredulity in her voice. “Holiday with you?” Hearing the word ‘us’ made Lara stopped picking the fork from the kitchen drawer.
“Me, Liam, Blake and Tristan.”
“What?” She gasped in a whisper. Now, Lara was frozen in shock hearing his name.
“Rosalie and Phoenix are still tentative when they’ll join but they definitely will. It just a minor certain thing that Rosalie needs to solve first.” Abby kept on blabbering did not notice the shocking voice in Lara’s. “So what do you say?”
“Ah…” Unrealized, a garbled moan escaped her lips. She was torn in between the fright of meeting him practically everyday during the holiday and a certain undeniable excitement to be able to see his handsome face just a little bit more even though from the distance.
“What’s wrong?” Abby asked.
“Nothing.” Well, it was everything, for her sake!
“Great, so you can come with us! Abby exclaimed enthusiastically.
“I don’t know, I’ve to really study to pass this exams.” She said carefully as she sat on the kitchen stool. She did not want raise any suspicious on Abby’s point of view.
“Why?” Abby paused, obviously picking up the reluctance in her voice. “You can study here. I promise I wont nag you, I just want you to come.”
“Where are you going? And when?” Lara inquired as she shifted the telephone back to her hand. She did not want to use the term ‘we’ since she knew her answer.
“We’re going to Switzerland, on the twenty-third.” Abby replied.
“Switzerland?” Lara echoed almost chock on her meal. Wow, from all of the places, they decided to go there. The place where she wanted to go…Well since she had not been any part of the world, it seemed Switzerland was a great place.
“Yes! There’ll be a lot of fun! And it’ll be a lot more of fun if you come also.”
Abby’s exciting words started to give some oddly mixed feelings. For so long, her life had been consisting of surviving and study with no time left for having a little fun. She concentrated to keep on asking her friend the questions. “Where’s the city? So you guys are renting hotel room or Liam has a place there?”
“We’ll be going to Klosters and staying at Tristan’s chalet.”
“Tristan’s?” To hear the words, spoken so casually, left her momentarily floundering.
“Yes, isn’t great?”
“Yes, sure.” She said finally managed, putting down the fork. She lost the appetite to eat. The excitement she had felt so briefly earlier had vanished.
“So, you can come, right?” Abby’s voice sounded full of expectation and suppliant.
Lara took a deep sigh. She didn’t like to crush her best friend’s hope, however it was a matter of her heart. How could she stay in the same roof with him even though it’d be for few days? Oh, watching him in distance was another fact, she could handle that. But not staying in the same house. “I can’t Abby.” She finally said shaking her head although Abby couldn’t see her gesture. “I don’t have ski equipment or sort like that.”
“Shit, it’s not a big problem. I’ll lend you.” She retorted without hesitation.
“Abby…” Lara warily called her best friend’s name. “It’ll be great but I won’t be studying if I’m going there.”
“That’s nonsense! You can still study and I think this holiday will a good change for you after…” Abby’s voice trailed off but she finished it. “After Aunt Theresa passed away.”
“I don’t know.” The conjuring of her mother’s death brought another pain in her heart.
“Come on. It’ll be great and I won’t nag you, I promise.” She persistently demanded her
“But…I…” Lara sighed restlessly and gave up trying to explain something to Abby that she didn’t know or understand. It was not that Abby’s nag or her study. It was because Tristan. It had always been about him. What if he disagreed? She did not want to get another cold shoulders or she did not want him to think that she would take this opportunity to pursue him again. She had already received the message from his cold attitude all this time, including today in the restaurant.
“Come on...Please…” Abby pleaded again.
Lara rubbed the back of her neck. The beseeching voice of Abby really made her having second thoughts. She hated disappointing her. “Fine. I’ll go.” She said half-heartedly.
“Yes! Thank you so much.” The excitement in Abby’s voice return with addition of gratitude sound.
Lara winced. “Alright, see you on the twenty-third.”
“I’ll whatsapp you now for the detail. Bye for now.” Abby said before she was gone.
Lara pulled the phone away from her hear and stared at it blankly. This evening was getting progressively more surreal after what had happened this afternoon.
She cradled the phone to her chest as she slipped off the kitchens tool and wandered to the living room to replace it on its base. She then turned off the Tiffany lamp in the living room and made her way to her room.
She took off her clothes and soaking herself in a very hot shower.
Then the thought dread of spending time together with him, returned.
Oh, she still remembered how he had responded when she had served him and Phoenix this afternoon. It had been the same response that brought in the same chill air as the refrigerator room temperature.
She shivered all over. The hot water seemed suddenly turned into and ice-cold water. Even just thinking about his cold, remoteness could become into reality.
She rested her wet body against the wall. “Oh, God… When can I get be normal when I’m around him?” She whispered but then a form of remorseful and sad smile appeared on her lips. “Well, my life would never be normal anyway.”
Lara felt a single tear welled up in her eyes. Her face constricted. “Get over it!” She muttered, rudely wiped her eyes before she turned off the shower faucet then took the towel that was hanging near by and wrapped it on her body. As she threw the towel on the chair near by then pulled on her comfortable old sleeping gown, the slightly crumpled photo that had been lying face-down on the duvet fluttered to the floor and hid itself under the bed.