For the second morning in a row, I awake with a start. I sit bolt upright. Then I hear the knock again.
I know it’s very early, the muffled light coming from the window is not bright enough yet. In the haze of sleep, I wait for a voice. Maybe I was dreaming. No, there is the knocking again. I pad to the door. It must be Lisette again.
‘Maddy, please open up.’ I hear his pleading voice, and my heart stops, then starts thumping against my chest. Fight or flight mode is in full swing. I’m torn between yanking the door wide open and running to the bathroom and hide.
‘Maddy, please, I love you. I’ve missed you so much.’
The tone in his voice breaks my resolve not to see him. The decision is made for me before I even know it and I open the door. He stands there, eyes the saddest I’ve ever seen them. A forced smile on his lips. His entire being is emanating sadness and vulnerability. I have to stop myself from hugging him tightly. Instead, I stand at the door staring at him. He looks at my arm, and with hardly any voice says:
‘I’m so sorry,’ and runs his fingers lightly on my bruise. ‘Ishan told me what happened, I don’t remember anything. I don’t know what I did. I’m so sorry. Can you forgive me? Maddy?’ He looks straight into my eyes, and all I can do is nod.
That is his cue that everything is fine again. All swept under the carpet. He takes my hand, sits on the chair on the patio and pulls me down onto his lap. He holds me tight and starts kissing me gently on the neck.
‘I’ve missed you so much, where did you go yesterday? Why didn’t you come to see me? I called you so many times, you never answered. You didn’t want to be with me?’
These questions leave me stunned. Was it not obvious why I avoided him? It clearly wasn’t for him.
‘I need to know what happened the other evening, Kiri. We need to talk.’
’Sure, but I need to go to work, can we talk later? Can you come to White Sands later, please?’
He sounds so needy and is so relentless that I promise him I’ll be over later.
Where else am I going to go, anyway? And then, I don’t want to set him off by spending the day somewhere else. I understand that, deep down, his jealousy and possessiveness is just a defence mechanism. He is protecting himself from hurting. I understand him so well. I know I can help him get over these fears if I show him constant love and trustworthiness.
I’m left alone with my thoughts, and it is a tall order. I have never experienced any kind of violence in my life, and I will not tolerate it again.
‘So how is it going? How is the fairy-tale romance?’ Cindy is beaming down the line.
‘All good. How are things with you? When are you coming?’
‘I think I should be able to catch the last afternoon sun tomorrow. I’ll let you know in the morning. Glad to hear all’s well, I shall want all the gossips when I get there. Have a good day.’
She hangs up before I have the time to reply. I swallow hard. There is no way I can tell her what happened. She will have me packed and on a plane before I can finish the story. There is no need to tell her anyway, it’s all in the past.
I spend the day on the beach with my book. I don’t go to White Sands but settle not far from it so he can see me, but I don’t look like a loved-up teen.
He comes over with juices and various snacks, and makes a total fuss of me the whole day. He only stops bringing me food and drinks when I tell him that it’s enough and I can’t eat anything else or I’ll be sick.
The day is clouding over, and there is a persistent breeze in the air. My towel has been buried under the sand blown over by the wind. As I’m shaking it, ready to make my way back to the hotel, he comes over again.
‘Are you going already? Can you come later? After work. Can you come to me?’
Again, his battered-dog expression demands only one response from me. I nod, get on my tip-toes, kiss him lightly on the lips, and walk off.
I’m still a bit off with him, but I will go after dinner. I can just grab something from the shop and spend the evening on the patio. As I reach the little road off the beach, I bump into Sanka. He looks the other way and quickly walks off. He’s so shifty. What on earth is wrong with him?