A coffee and a cigarette

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Summary

Hannah is a regular girl that has been through too much. Her past experiences made her a cinical non-believer of love. Lucas has too many secrets and cannot afford to get close to anybody. Their lives start to change when they meet by chance. Will they be able to overcome the challenges coming their way or will it all end in tears and death?

Genre:
Romance / Action
Author:
Élin Casqueira
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
2
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
13+

2 chapters in 1 - disbelief and secrets

We never know when a love story begins, usually because when it finally happens we already stopped believing in it. Love seems bland, fake and empty. All that’s left is all the disappointment we lived, the pain we felt and the scar left in our hearts from all the relationships that were lost…

Somehow we give up and accept that there is no such thing as the love without measure, without boundaries, the love that is forever. We believe that it’s better to keep friends close and to surround ourselves with them.

This might seem to be a grim way of thinking but this was what was crossing my mind as I sat in a garden bench underneath the sun in a hot summer day. It was better to try to achieve a stable life than wait for someone to come along that will scoop you of your feet and forever change our life, make it better and richer every day.

A joyous voice interrupted my thoughts has I felt something hit the bench were I sat. My best friend tossed her blue school bag onto it and then joined me “What’s up bitch???” I looked at her feeling instantly more cheerful just by seeing the dumbest smile on her face “What happened?” I asked, feeling that she came bearing some news (especially because she always had some news, something to tell or gossip about).

Katherine radiated and gave me the sunniest of smiles, her eyes shone bright and her cheeks rose giving the feeling that she had the cutest little nose, one that could easily rival with the one of a baby. She touched my arm excitedly “Do you remember Simon? The boy from my class I told you about?”

I smiled, knowing exactly what she was going to say “Yes, I remember” She beamed again, a dumb grin on her lips “You know that we have been together studying, and we sort of got close, you know?” I interrupted her “Let me guess, it finally happened. Did you kiss? Sex maybe?” I raised an eyebrow at her and winked has if telling her to tell me all of her dirty little secrets and sordid details. A day wasn’t a proper day without the necessary amount of gossip and banter.

Kat shook her long blond hair. That movement alone seemed to spread a bright aura around, enough to get some boys close by to look infatuated at her, drawn in by her charm and inconceivable beauty. She seemed oblivious to it and grabbed my arms with both hands “Yes, it was!!!” I looked at her confused “It was what? The kiss or the sex?” She grabbed my arms harder “Everything! Everything! And do you remember how I told you that I didn’t believe it was possible for a couple to have both things? Have great sex and at the same time have good dialog and mutual respect?” Kat released me clapping her hands excitedly “Me and him, we have it all! It’s perfect! Hannah I swear to you, I never thought it was possible, cause every single time you have incredible sex the emotional part is lacking and if the emotions are strong the sex usually is not great, but not with us! It’s perfect, I swear to you!” She stopped talking and took a deep breath as she laid her arm on the back of the bench and stared dreamily at the infinity and muttered with a deep sigh “It’s so good”.

I looked at her has if she was insane. But then again, love makes you act insane, so who knows? Maybe she truly was in love, maybe, somehow, it truly happens to some of us mortals. Katherine soon realized the awkward way I eyed her and sat straight, staring “You don’t believe me…”

I shook my head neither approving nor disapproving what she said “I don’t know Kat. You know how I feel regarding that subject; I don’t believe in Love and I don’t think I’ll believe in it ever again!” She stared at me, a serious look on her face and this time she was the one who shook her head “C’mon love, that’s because you still haven’t forgotten Peter! How can you say that? Trust me, before you know it someone is going to show up and prove you wrong. And I’m sure that person is going to be way better than Peter is!” I glared at her, my eyes screaming that she was crazy and my voice sarcasm “Of course babe, because you kick a rock and a good man shows up… Dream on!” Kat inhaled and exhaled deeply “It’s been what? Two years? Don’t you think it’s time for you move on and forget about him? You are being an incredible stubborn pessimist and if you ask me what I think?” She pointed at herself and leaned over “I think you should fuck!” I released a dark, sarcastic laugh into the air “Yah, of course. You really think that I’m going to find some random guy that wants to get into my pants and just go? Nope! Not going to happen, not in this lifetime, not in the next one, not even in the one after that. That’s not who I am!” She waived her head refusing what I just said “You misunderstand me. That’s not what I mean.” Katherine breathed profoundly before continuing, as if she was searching for the best words to explain herself “Imagine that you meet some dude. He is attracted to you and you are attracted to him. Play a bit hard to get and then give in! It’s not that hard of an act and I am sure that you haven’t gotten laid ever since you and Peter broke up. And sex is good! It’s important and very much needed! Get that inside of that thick skull of yours.”

She grabbed her phone; looked at the time and got up “Well gorgeous, I got to go, time for my driving lesson” She kissed my face profusely and left me alone to think about the past and what she said.

Part of me couldn’t go against her words, but on the other hand… Love was nothing but an invention that human beings created. We are social creatures and the idea of being alone is scary. Nothing else! Besides, life had shown me the good and the bad side of love, had shown me the crazy, uncontrollable lust, the impressive sex and when I say impressive, I mean, really impressive. And… it also showed me what was to live for someone, to love that person so greatly that you wish they never leave your side. And that feeling is so strong that you do everything for them, give all that you are, all that you have and more… And guess what? It showed me it doesn’t end well. For countless reasons you lose that person you are crazy for. For countless reasons you lose that person you can’t live without.

Then life loses its glow and you fall into this dark pit and you don’t know how to get out or if you are ever going to get out. The memories become the drug of every day, the motivation to have some strength to get up in the morning, in the hope that someday he returns and everything goes back to the way it was.

In the past was already so hard to look at the empty bed after Peter had been there, after having felt his warm body envelope mine, after feeling his touch. And trust me, the fact that I have the ability to remember precisely how his fingers trailed skillfully my body doesn’t help. Just by reminiscing it becomes hard to breathe, it's like I can feel him all over again. The touch of his fingertips that made my skin burn has if I could ignite into flames at any given moment.

He was this incredible skilled pianist and I was the piano, and oh boy, he knew exactly which keys to press.

He was carved in me and I wanted him forever.

Peter was my prince in a white horse, was the man that saved me from myself and the fear that chased me wherever I went. He was the one who rebuilt me when I was nothing but a shadow of the woman I used to be. He allowed me to become stronger when the entire world seemed dark, grim and scary.

I can easily say that he found me at the worst stage of my life, I lived terrified of my ex-boyfriend and it was the kind of fear that gets better but it’s never truly gone. After all, the two years I spent with that prick were pure terror. I lived afraid of everything; I knew how he was if he got mad and even if I wasn’t the person he was mad at, I would be the one paying the price.

I remember one time that I was so scared that I locked myself in the bathroom and somehow he managed to break it down. I remember the sharp pain in my head when he dragged me out of it by my hair and how he punched me over and over again at the same time he gave me the worst kind of insults.

Back then, I tried to run away and break up but he always made these big promises, he said that he was going to change and get better, that he would never hit me again. He kept telling me that nobody would ever love me like he did. And I believed him… Call me stupid if you will, but his influence was too strong and he made sure I had nobody to turn to. So I kept on staying, until I finally got enough courage to run as fast and far away as I could, but it still wasn’t enough. Moving to a different city, miles away from where I lived initially didn’t stop him from coming after me and nearly slicing my neck open, because “if I wasn’t his, I wasn’t anybody else’s”.

Peter often said that he never saw anybody more scared than me, just being touched caused me to flinch. I was always waiting to get a slap, a punch or a kick, even from him. However Peter was patient and kind and gave me time to heal, time to start to trust again and to believe that not all men are the same. I loved him because of it.

But he couldn’t be with me, he cared but didn’t love me back or enough to stay and that’s why he left. Although he was incredibly affectionate, it wasn’t enough. I wished to believe that we were just best friends but it was so hard to erase all that had been.

On the other hand how could I? How could I move on if we spoke religiously every single day? Our calls lasted hours, entire nights talking about everything and nothing at all. Conversations in which we both cried and shared secrets; things none of us dared to tell anyone else but each other. Why couldn’t we be together if I was the only one he felt comfortable taking out the mask of the strong and insensitive men he pretended to be? If I was the only one he trusted enough to show what was underneath. How couldn’t he feel the same if he said time and time again that I was the only person he trusted and that made him feel safe enough to open up and cry? How could I be the most important person in his life and at the same time be nobody at all?

I got up from the bench feeling angry “Hannah, you are thinking too much! Go eat a cake, its sugar you need!” I grabbed the car and set for a viewpoint that overlooked the city below and the ocean that stretched out of view. Close by was a small café that resembled more a tavern than an actual café. Dark wood covered the walls and the empty tables were nearly covered in darkness. There were only two men sitting by the counter whispering to each other and the waiter behind it polishing glasses. There was no music playing which made the place seem grimmer than it already looked. So I bought what I went there for and got out.

Sat at another bench below a canopy where purple flowers that resembled thin paper bloomed. The shadow provided by it was very much appreciated and the view below was wonderful. The sun shone high and bright in the blue sky and the ocean mirrored its light, the houses painted mostly in white gave the city a light and breezy feeling.

Some pigeons moved around me eating breadcrumbs they found scattered on the floor and it was so quiet that not even the sound of traffic was heard. A light warm breeze carried the smell of salt of the ocean in the distance. It was peaceful.

After taking it all in, I opened the paper bag, took the sweet pastry out and gave it a bite, a string of liquid egg custard dripped and ran down along my chin. The precious liquid was far too good to be wasted so I collected it with a finger and licked it with pleasure until I realized that a tall, broad men observed me with a smirk on his face.

I instantly felt the urge to punch him because of the way he looked at me but instead I felt myself blushing because I knew that the way I licked and sucked on my finger could be seen as somewhat sexual and therefore I controlled my impulse, so I placed the pastry at the side and grabbed my purse to look for a tissue I could use to clean myself with.

“Can I sit?” He asked “It’s a public place” I retorted grudgingly. Damn, I really was in a bad mood; unintentionally I was so rude to him and he didn’t do anything that deserved that sort of treatment, so I could only expect for him to act with the same rude demeanor. Surprisingly he smiled, sat next to me and took out of a bag the same kind of pastry I was eating.

I gave another bite trying to keep the custard from dripping down but it didn’t work. Feeling embarrassed I looked discretely at the man sitting by my side to see if he noticed my lack of ability. He pointed at the one he was holding “Don’t worry, the same happens to me every single time. You are not alone. At least it is a sweet that makes it worth getting sticky.”

I looked at the orange half eaten pastry I was holding “Yah, at least one good reason to be happy for being here. But if this is my solution every single time I’m feeling down; I might end up being both miserable and fat…” He raised his eyes in my direction while taking a bite out of his cake “Should I assume you are new here? Work?” I shook my head “Yah”

“Any particular reason to why you don’t like it here?” It was a reasonable and logical question “No, there is no particular reason, I just find myself dreading it. Maybe I’m just not that keen on change.” I stopped talking and looked at the gentleman in front of me. He had dark brown slightly long hair with some grey sprinkled around and despite the fact that he seemed to be a mature, developed man, his face gave the feeling that he was in fact, not that old. Maybe because of his lively eyes that seemed to smile although his mouth wasn’t. He wore a long black coat (which was weird, given the fact that the day was particularly hot) a dark olive green shirt and jeans.

Something in him made me feel that I already knew him, that I could trust him and that was a really weird sentiment to feel towards a strange man I just met. He sat leisurely at my side as if he was on holiday and observed me with a seemingly honest smile.

“What’s your name?” I asked as I placed what was left of the pastry in my purse, saving it for later. Not because I didn’t wanted to eat it, but because I didn’t feel like doing it with him staring. He took a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and pointed it in my direction, making a gesture for me to take a fag and taking another one after I did. He lit it up calmly, inhaled its smoke with visible pleasure and lent me the lighter “Lucas, you?”

Time seemed to fly while we spoke on that bench overlooking the town and ocean below, enjoying the shadow and beauty of that canopy with purple flowers all around. I forgot my bad mood and my sadness; I found myself laughing and speaking about things so outrageous that most people wouldn’t even dare to listen, much more talk about it. Somehow we were on the same wavelength; we shared the same dark, sarcastic and sexual humor and we found ourselves laughing even more because of the horrified faces people made when they walked by and happened to overhear our conversation.

Suddenly my phone rang, I picked it up from the purse and stared at the screen, it was Peter. An instant tingling of joy crossed my entire body and I forgot the man that sat by my side. “Hello?” on the other side of the line a familiar, warm voice spoke “I’ve just been at your house, I planned on making you a surprise but another girl opened the door… Where are you?”

I just couldn’t believe what he was saying. Now that I didn’t live there, he decided to show up? My heart felt heavy all of a sudden and tears were dangerously close to fall down my face. Words seemed to be stuck at the back of my throat and it took me a while to finally be able to reply “I moved a month ago. I’m four hours away from there. I told you!” There was a deep sigh on the other side of the line and I felt so tense that I felt my hand running out of blood from holding the phone so hard “I thought we could spend a week together since I’m on holiday, but since you are that far away I’m going back.” I took a deep breath trying to steady myself and hold onto every little bit of hope I had “If you want I can go there. At least we spend the weekend together.” However as soon as I suggested it, I regretted it. What was the point of doing everything I could to see a man that spent an entire year without visiting? What was the point of loving a man that didn’t made the smallest effort to be with me? Why should I hold on to the hope that we were going to pick up where we left off? It was a weekend, in a week holiday. He was going to be with me, give a little bit of love and care and then leave! It was what he did, time and time again… So, what’s the point?

Peter’s voice interrupted my trail of thought “That is not going to work out. Only if I went there this week but it’s too far away to go now… sorry I got your hopes up.” He hung up and I curled my body as I pressed the phone on my hands and stared at something without actually see, desperately trying in vain to stop the tears from falling.

I just couldn’t be sitting down any longer so I got up and walked towards barrier painted in white of the viewpoint and pressed my body against it. The sun was starting to set and some shades of pink and orange were starting to color the sky. A soft breeze played with my nearly black hair and caressed my face as if nature itself was nurturing me, knowing the harrowing pain my heart felt.

A gentle voice came from behind me “Are you ok?” Lucas placed his arms on the wall and gave me another fag and the lighter. I accepted the offer and waved my head “No, I’m not…” “You really love him don’t you?” That sentence somehow caused me to release a sarcastic, weak smile as I rolled my watery eyes, still trying to keep the tears from falling “What is the problem between you two? In the beginning when he called you glowed and now you cry…”

“There is not much to talk about” I replied dryly while inhaling the smoke from the cigarette and feeling it burning as it descended into my lungs. The sharp pain on my chest was making it really hard not to fall into a full on, ugly cry “Girl loves a man she doesn’t see for years… she knows she has a shot at being with him and falls at his feet with no exception. The girl knows that she has to forget about him and stop falling to his feet but can’t.”

He lit another cigarette looking thoughtful “You are an idiot. You know that there are loves that are worth waiting for and there are others that no matter how much you fight are already lost. Only the people involved know which one is which. They may deny it, try to lie to themselves, but deep down they always know. Tell me, is he worth it?” I looked at him, I wanted to see his eyes and find a reason to acknowledge the resolve set on those words he just pronounced. However Lucas just stared at something I couldn’t see, my answer perhaps.

For some strange reason I couldn’t shake the feeling that he already knew what I was going to say, yet I still opened my heart to him and shared the dark tempest inside me. “The distance and the time we are away from each other tells me it’s not worth it but…” New tears ran down my face “I can’t! I can’t forget the good moments. I can’t forget all the times he stayed by my side and endured my break downs, every single time I needed help and support… I know he can be called arrogant and even narcissistic by most people. I know he can be stubborn, a sarcastic asshole and he can tease me just for the fun of it, but he never, ever abandoned or betrayed me.”

My tears where now overflowing. I let out a sob as I felt that I couldn’t hold on any longer but still trying as much as I could. Lucas maintained his half-aware demeanor but I knew he was listening. The way he replied was calm and understanding “He deserves your love, I get that. But you also have the right to be happy and if you keep yourself chained to him, you are not going to be. You’ve been waiting for too long now and you already shed more than enough tears.” He stopped talking for a second as if to gather his thoughts “I don’t know you, not really… and I definitely don’t know him, but if he actually cares about you, and for some reason I believe he does… He must have told you to forget him… Am I wrong?”

In that moment I hated that man I had just met. He seemed to have the ability to see more than he should, to know more than he should and worse, the ability to put salt on wounds. It was true what he was saying and the truth hurt… a lot. “Maybe it’s time for you to do what he says”.

The tears finally started to freely roll down my checks and I felt another sob trying to release itself from the bottom of my throat that was aching for holding the cry for so long. It seemed as if a knot was formed there. I trembled and struggled to breathe, my face surely was red and snotty. My chest was hurting so much that my heart seemed to be slowly crushed by the heaviest of stones. I hugged myself struggling to win back control of my own body and emotions when suddenly I felt myself being pulled by Lucas warm arms.

I felt far too weak to pull back and to be honest I didn’t wanted to; the comfort was welcomed and very much needed. So I let my head rest on his chest. With his own head down I heard him whisper softly in my ear “calm down, everything is going to be ok”. Gradually as his body heat moved onto mine, both the spams that crossed my body and the tears started to subside. After they were gone, he kept hugging me a little while longer as if afraid I would break again.

Finally he stepped back and allowed me to wipe my face and then his jacket. I turned to him with a weak but honest smile “Sorry, because of me you have snot all over you coat” He shrugged “Don’t worry about it, I make a habit of letting women cry on my shoulder. It’s a great seduction technique.” I gave a hearty laugh while punching his shoulder “Idiot” He pretended to be hurt and replied in the same playful manner “just because of that you are paying for it to be dry cleaned” I laughed again “May God pay you cause I’ve got no money.”

We moved to sit on the bench once again, shared another cigarette until I decided it was finally time to leave. I got up and leaned in front of Lucas, looked him in the eye and kissed him on the forehead “Thank you for everything, despite all the bad, you made my day a whole lot better” then I got up and headed towards the car.

“Don’t I get your number?” He screamed. I turned and smiled at him “Why should I do that?” That tall broad man laughed “You still have to pay for the dry cleaning of my coat” I laughed again as I got inside the car “I may actually run away now. Look me up on Facebook. I’m Hannah Davies.”

That man caused some impact on me and I still couldn’t exactly pinpoint the reason why. What I knew for sure is that somehow the sorrow and sadness and even a bit of my disbelief in love subsided and although probability dictated that Lucas might not be as great of a man as he seemed to be, (after all he was a stranger I had just met) I laughed, cried and truly opened my heart for the first time, in a very, very long time and I felt that the world might not be as dark as I made it to be.

Despite it all, I knew I would never forget him, cause stranger or not, Lucas opened my eyes to see things in a different view. And I really, truly, found myself hoping he would look me up on Facebook.

Chapter 2 – Secrets

Lucas remained on the bench for a while longer, engrossed in his own thoughts, somehow part of him seemed to have chattered as that girl walked away.

He never met her before but why was his heart aching? Why was he feeling like he lost something? Was he becoming untrained in the art of being cold and devoid of emotions? Wasn’t it his job to pretend to care but never actually bond with anybody? Maybe he was getting old, who knows.

In an annoyed movement he pulled his black hair back with his fingers without really understanding what was causing him to be so damn emotional. He almost felt the urge to get home and actually create a Facebook profile and send her a friend request.

A man dressed in black suddenly blocked his sight of the sunset and instinctively Lucas looked up. He already knew that face but dared not say a thing and just made some room on the bench for him to sit down.

The insanely tall and skinny gentleman sat beside him and crossed his legs. He was dressed entirely in black, with a hat that covered his bald head and wore sunglasses that hid his eyes. Although his body seemed fragile, he had the aristocratic demeanor of someone used to be in power. He removed his hat and then his sunglasses, while pulling a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe them. Not once he looked Lucas in the eye.

“Number One…” He said “Zero…”Lucas replied respectfully. The man that apparently went by the name of Zero continued talking “I can see you’re making friends, have you forgotten what’s expected of you in your line of work?” He stared calmly at the sun; his voice although serene carried a tinge of a threat. Lucas ignored it, or pretended to ignore it “As far as I know, I’m on holiday, I can do whatever I want.” Zero finished wiping his sunglasses and placed them back on his face “There is a reason why you are number One. You were not trained to be led astray, not even on holiday. You are the number One and you are supposed to lead by example. To know, enforce and take part of the rules” He made a short break and then continued “Do you mind repeating the rules to me again? Just to make sure that we are still on the same page so I don’t have the unfortunate need to decommission you” There was the undercover warning in his voice again. Lucas, or rather say, number One, started reciting the set of rules he had learned to live by “Never do or say anything that might risk be traced back to you or the agency. Never share company secrets or details of an upcoming mission. Be silent regarding previous ones. Never get involved with anybody both inside and outside of the agency. Your name is out of boundaries for anyone, a fake identity should be used at all times and one will be given to you by the agency in case of need. Failure to do so will cause early termination of contract. Never desert your post, the price for leaving will be your death” Zero waved his head in agreement “Six simple rules don’t you think? Shouldn’t be too hard to comply shouldn’t it? After all, it is your job.” Even though the way Zero pronounced those words seemed very soft and composed on the surface, Lucas knew that he was intimidating him once again, the same way that he knew that early termination of contract meant death. If anyone broke any of the rules, they would meet their demise rather soon. “Don’t worry, I haven’t stranded” Lucas sounded confident however he didn’t felt like it. That was a small town; it was highly probable that he would see Hannah again. What was he thinking? Hugging her? Giving her advice? Since when did he became so emotional and started acting by impulse? That truly wasn’t what he was trained for. “Happy to know. You are still one of our top agents so I hope you don’t fail, I’m sure you are aware of the consequences” Said Zero while he placed his hat on his head and shifted the legs he had crossed “However unfortunately for you, I’m here to cut your holiday short.” He reached inside his long black jacket and pulled an A4 envelope and gave it to Lucas “This is the data for your next mission, a new passport, plain ticket and detail on the team working with you. You are to leave tomorrow.” Zero got up “I’m counting on you”

“What will be the duration of this mission?” Lucas questioned, which caused Zero to tilt his head back before answering and walking away “Undetermined”

Lucas got up from the bench, and stared at the small bright spot on the horizon. The sun had nearly disappeared almost as if it had been swallowed by the Atlantic Ocean. Carefully he placed the envelope inside his coat and marched quickly towards the top floor flat he rented above the viewpoint.

He went up the stairs. Upon walking into the living room he threw the envelope onto the table and his jacket onto the sofa. He went towards one of the windows, opened it and placed his elbows against the ledge, pulled another fag and lit it up “Fucking Bastard” He muttered to himself.

Lucas remained there for some time, his mind torn with all kinds of thoughts, the girl he met, Zero and his underlying threat. However, what he couldn’t shake off was his own words “Don’t worry, I haven’t stranded” Was that sentence really true? If it was, why did he feel like he was drifting deeper and deeper into the abyss? For once he just wanted to be a normal human being, to be loved by someone the same way Hannah seemed to love the other guy; however that was something he couldn’t afford…

He turned his back against the window and allowed himself to drop onto the wooden floor, elbows on his knees. He stared at some blank point on the wall and inhaled the smoke of his cigar before letting it out slowly. He did it like a ritual, every single time he expelled the smoke, he was expelling all the stress, doubt and fears. It was the only way he could gather the strength he seemed to be losing.

Lucas put out his fag, got up and headed for the kitchen, his eyes landed on the envelope on the black glass table and after a moment they wandered to the computer next to it. He instantly recalled Hannah, who, for some reason, he believed to be waiting for his friend request to pop up on Facebook. He looked once again at the envelope and decided he would read it later since he wasn’t in the right mind frame to go over it yet.

He strolled to the fridge and opened it trying to figure out what to cook that evening. There were still enough ingredients for two more meals; nevertheless Lucas was a keen believer that food should never go to waste, so, he just had to find a way to make it all into one dish. Grabbed what was left of Portobello mushrooms, peppers, spring onions and spinach, placed it all on the counter and went back to pick up a piece of pork loin. After placing it in the oven with salt, lard and pepper, he skilfully started to cut the vegetables.

The knife moved fast in front of his fingers making a rhythmic sound when the blade hit the wood board. The sound and repetitive movements caused Lucas to become absent minded, nonetheless he kept cooking and chopping in such a graceful way that he almost seemed to be dancing.

He twirled around the kitchen, dropping each of the ingredients inside a fry pan after they were sliced, adding garlic powder and salt as if they were little grains of magic. Lucas topped it all with some olive oil and raised the heat on the stove, stirring it from time to time, allowing the vegetables to cook evenly before putting it on slow heat to let it simmer and let all the aromas and flavors be released.

More than eating, cooking was one of the few things Lucas could afford to enjoy; it served both as a hobby and a way to relax, for a while he could focus only on the task at hand and forget about everything else.

Yet Lucas still needed to release some of the tension that had built up inside him so he grabbed his chef knife, turned it on his fingers and threw it in the air; he circled himself as the knife revolved on its descent.

Lucas closed his eyes and suddenly all his senses heightened, the hair on his arms lifted as if an electric charge went through them, his heart seemed to pump on his ears, the bubbling of the vegetables cooking and the hot wind coming out of the oven were louder and in the middle of all those sounds he could hear the wheezing of a blade steadily cutting through air. When he opened his eyes again, Lucas had already his hand behind his back, holding the handle of the knife, before turning once again and with a twist of the hand throwing it at the dart board he placed over the sink. With a strong thud the knife landed on the bulls’ eye and twang for a minute before finally stopping.

“Still got it” Lucas thought as he poured himself a glass of Portuguese red wine, it had fourteen per cent volume and was from the region of Alentejo, it ought to be good.

Glass in hand Lucas walked to the living room, picked up the envelope and returned to the kitchen, pushed the knife out of the bull’s eye and used it to open the casing. He then threw the knife on the counter and took the papers out. Like Zero said, the envelope contained a passport with a new identity, apparently his new Alias was French “Jean Luc Pelletier,” Placing down the passport, he grabbed the rest of the documents to examine, among them was a plane ticket to Dubai that left at 1:15 in the afternoon, other than that, the envelope had a key with the number twenty-six on it and two pages with an article about the Textile Souk at the Bur Dubai Market. At the top of the first page was a written note “Great place for taking pictures. Enjoy your trip to a different culture” Lucas smiled as he waved his head slightly “These guys are getting less creative each day that goes by” Picked up the reading glasses and looked through them, on the next page, two words that were invisible before appeared like magic “Find Noor”

Lucas stored the passport and the article pages on his back pocket, then placed the key around his neck before taking the pork loin out of the oven and turning off the stove. He placed the chunk of meat with crispy skin and the vegetables that released a gorgeous smell on a plate; he then helped himself to a piece of homemade bread. Just as he sat down, Lucas felt that the flat was drown in silence and even with the bright lights turned on, it felt incredibly lonely. Throwing the napkin onto the table, got up and moved in the direction of the CD player he had on the opposite side of the room. He looked through the number of boxes he had stacked on the side and finally picked the one that held the CD “I’ll wait and pray” by John Coltrane. The sound of a sax being played filled the room and Lucas made his way back to the table, the jazzy song seemed somehow fitting for how he felt that moment.

He ate in silence observing the details of the room where he was, it was a mix of a living room and a dining room, newly painted in white and with brand new light colored wooden floors. Windows filled the wall overlooking the viewpoint, the city and the ocean below and half of the wall that cornered that one. A large yucca elephantipes was on the corner. The striking indoor plant gave a touch of green to the room and he could swear it had gotten bigger in the two weeks he lived there. Next to it was a cabinet with the CD player on top, a stack of CDs, mostly classic rock, jazz and blues and a shelving unit with a wide selection of books. Six feet away from it, on the wall that faced the windows was a TV stand with a large plasma screen on top. The sofa was a large red chaise lounge and it sat on top of a black carpet with two end tables with matching statues on each side. Further away, closer to him, was a large cast iron fireplace with wood stacked next to it and finally the big rectangular dark glass table with eight chairs. There were two large oil paintings on the room, one between the TV and the fireplace, and the other occupied most of the wall closer to the table. The image on the fireplace wall suited more his tastes, it showed a rainy autumn night, a couple walked next to a river underneath an umbrella and the light reflected the different colors of the leaves on the water; the other seemed to be near opposite of that one, while on one the background was black and different bright colors brought it to life, the other had a white background with a forest of naked black trees, the only colour on that painting was a single lonely tree with red foliage. Lucas didn’t like that one. Although it was incredibly beautiful and even the shades of white were incredibly well achieved it made him feel sad. Though he was no art critic, his best drawing was a stick man and probably a five year old would do it better than him.

Still he liked that place, the large windows that covered the walls, from the living room all the way to the kitchen. He particularly enjoyed the modern and shiny designs of all rooms and the fact that the main colors of the place were black, red, white and grey. The person that worked on the interior decoration of that house definitely did a great job and he would love to keep living in it. The flat was a rental, but how much money would be needed to get the owner to sell? Suddenly Lucas came to realization. He did want that place. What would happen if he came back to that city and the flat was already rented by someone else? He looked at his watch it wasn’t too late to call the owner.

He called a solicitor first. Since he had to leave the next day, it was better to have someone other than him taking care of the paperwork. Then he reached the landlord. After they agreed on a price, he gave him the number of his legal representative so they could arrange everything over the next few days, he would keep the key he had and the owner would return the ones he had to the solicitor. Lucas found himself smiling, that flat was going to belong to him and despite his way of life and the fact that he spent most of time away he would finally have a place to call home.

Lucas spent the rest of the evening sorting details to ensure that everything went accordingly. When he finished, picked up the plate, took it to the kitchen, washed it, then refilled his wine glass and went to the small balcony and sat on a chair drinking, the moon had risen and he could see its reflection on the ocean. The sound of waves crashing could be heard faintly and for the first time that day, Lucas felt oddly at peace.

It was already three in the morning when he got up and went to pack. Mentally he started to see how many hours he would spend on the journey. It would take him roughly three hours to get to the airport, plus the time to check in, go through security and all the shebang, Lucas had to get out of the house at least five hours and a half before the flight, meaning he had just two or three hours at most to sleep, on the other hand, the flight was roughly seven hours and a half long, so he could sleep on the plane. He felt that it would be easier to stay awake and make some time than sleep some hours and stay awake for the entire duration of such long trip.

Lucas grabbed is coat, left the bag with his clothes and hygiene items close to the door and got out of the flat. He made his way to one of the few nightclubs the town had.

It was Tuesday so even though they were open, they would be mostly empty. After walking for a while in the oceans direction Lucas finally came across a gin bar called Obladi Oblada that despite the late hours was still open. The place was painted mostly in white and black, on the white walls you could read some alcohol related sentences like “According to chemistry alcohol is a solution”. Blue lights were placed strategically around the room; as Lucas went in he saw that only two people were there, the bartender and a girl that sat at the counter, he was leaning over it and seemed to be seducing her. The moment the young man with spikey hair saw him enter changed his position and welcomed him.

Lucas sat on one of the chairs next to the girl and analysed the choice of whiskeys the place had, eventually his eyes fell on a 12 year old bottle of Old Parr “I’ll have that one” he said at the same time he pointed to the bottle. The bartender grabbed it and turned to him “Would you like ice with it?” Lucas felt his eye twitch at that sentence however still replied playfully “That’s sacrilege, old whiskeys are always drank neat” The young gentleman, smiled embarrassed and pretended to know what he was talking as he free poured the drink in a glass “I know, but there are always people that still want ice or water with it, so I always ask”.

Lucas observed the young chap in front of him; he shouldn’t be older than twenty-two years old, from the way he moved around the bar trying to figure out what was where, either he was new or didn’t had much experience. The girl sitting by the bar was around the same age with light brown hair. She was distracted playing on her phone and was either the bartenders’ girlfriend or a friend that he might be courting.

“So what brings you here today?” he asked as he put the bottle back in place. Lucas stirred the drink in his glass before taking a sip “I’m travelling tomorrow morning, thought I might make some time” The bartender raised is eyes and opened his mouth as if he was going to ask something, but the girl spoke first “Where are you travelling to?” She leaned towards Lucas with clear interest “Dubai”. The spikey haired chap opened his mouth even wider before talking “Dude, why would you go there? Don’t you know that a war is nearly breaking out? Things are really tense out there!” The young lady inclined herself even more in Lucas direction; her eyes trained on him “I think he would be able to handle himself in a war zone” She then turned to the bartender at the same time she groped Lucas arm “Have you seen the size of these muscles?” He gently released himself from her grip trying not to be rude, especially because he understood that she was already tipsy, at the same time the young guy behind the bar reached to stop her “C’mon Joan leave the gentleman alone, you’ve just met him. Behave yourself!” The light brown haired girl let out a laugh “C’mon I’m just playing around, there is no harm in it” The poor guy looked really embarrassed when he spoke to Lucas “You’ll have to forgive her, when she drinks she tends to forget the line of what is acceptable and what’s not. By the way, I’m Charles and the girl next to you is Joan. Once again, I’m really sorry; she shouldn’t have groped you just now” The young lady let out an insulted shriek “Are you by any chance saying that I’m drunk?” The young gentleman behind the bar raised his hands in the air as if surrendering and tried to reason with Joan, but she seemed to be particularly stubborn and unwilling to let go the subject, so Charles tried to defend himself the best he could but to no avail. Lucas on the other hand found the entire situation amusing and stood there observing the “argument” with a half-smile.

They settled after a while and continued to ask questions, fascinated by the fact that he was going to Dubai when the situation was so tense and a conflict could start any minute. Lucas declared himself as a National Geographic photographer and it was his job to record the culture and any major events that might happen there or whatever place he was sent to. The couple listened fascinated unaware that what he was telling them was nothing but a cover story for the real reason he was going to Dubai. Finally it was nearly time to go to the airport, so Lucas said his goodbyes and left.

The journey, checking in and going through security was uneventful, so already sitting on the plane he prepared to relax and sleep throughout the trip.

The plane had already reached a stable altitude when Lucas woke up by something being placed beneath his hands. Still half a sleep he saw a brown envelope. This made him become fully awake instantly and look around trying to figure out who left the casing but he saw no one, he then turned and carefully opened it. Inside was the picture of a beautiful Arabic looking woman. Her skin color resembled a light gold and her almond eyes were so intense they seemed able to cut someone’s soul; she wore a see-through orange scarf over her brown hair that she was holding with one of her hands and she appeared to be looking analytically at something which gave her an aura of mystery.

Lucas stared at the picture feeling surprised and slightly taken aback “So this is Noor…” He muttered. He expected it to be a man, but after all it was a woman… An incredibly beautiful woman…


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