How did she know he had paid? She had no idea. She didn’t remember him actually doing it, she just knew he had.
‘I don’t know. I just know you did.’
She saw Can looking at her with hopeful eyes. She was feeling a little elated. But she certainly didn’t want to have to deal with his emotions on top of her own.
‘Please don’t get your hopes up. I don’t even remember doing it.’
Veronica and Osman walked up, but Veronica was the one to speak.
‘Are you guys all right? Did you buy it, Emma?’
‘Yes. I got it. At a good price too.’
Can interjected, and she almost wished he hadn’t.
‘Emma remembers that I paid last time we were here.’
Veronica looked at her for confirmation, and even though it was a big deal, Emma did not want to talk about it right now. She wanted to process it a bit first.
‘I did. I don’t remember him actually doing it, but I know he did.’
‘Well, that’s great.’
Her cousin gave her a penetrating stare before she continued.
‘Now, I’m starving. Should we get ourselves some lunch?’
Veronica knew her well. Which is why she downplayed it and tried to change the conversation. And she loved her for it.
They pulled up to the house. And all Emma wanted to do was escape to the bedroom for a short while. She wanted to be alone with her thoughts. But Veronica was on her heels. As soon as they shut the door, she could not contain her excitement for her.
‘I can’t believe you actually remembered something, Emma. This is fantastic.’
‘I know. But it’s not much is it.’
‘No. But it’s something. More than you’ve had before. How did it feel?’
‘I don’t know how to explain it. At first, it was just like a feeling of remembrance, and all of a sudden, the information was there, without me even knowing it. No memory of it happening, just a knowledge that it had happened.’
‘Ok. I could tell you didn’t want to talk about it there, but this is huge, Emma.’
‘I know. But I can tell Can…I just do not want the pressure. That’s all. Remember what you told me before coming? If it happens, it happens if it doesn’t, it wasn’t meant to be.’
‘I know. I still want you to look at it like that.’
‘I do. I don’t think Can does. Things have gotten so complicated. I just don’t know what to do. I struggle with him. I can’t see myself being with him, but when confronted with him being with someone else, I don’t like it. How is that possible?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe your subconscious is telling you that you do have feelings for him, why else would it bother you to see him with someone else?’
‘But then, every time he starts talking about love, and how we fit together, and we belong together, my mind completely rejects it, and all I can see in my mind is Brad. It feels like it’s too early to meet someone else.’
Veronica gentled her voice and looked at her with compassion.
‘Emma. I know it feels like Brad has only been gone a year. But it’s been three. And one thing I do know is, he wanted you happy. And I have to say, I believe Can. I believe you stayed because he made you happy. I believe he loves you. And that you loved him. He knows too much about you, for you not to have trusted him completely.’
‘I know. It’s disconcerting to have someone know you like that. When you don’t know them back.’
‘So, get to know him. For all you know, he’s the link to getting your memory back. Spend time with him and get to know him again. What do you have to lose?’
Emma took hold of Veronica’s hand and looked at her with all her insecurities on display.
‘Hand on heart Veronica. Look at me, and then imagine him. What could possibly come out of a union like that? He’s a super gorgeous hunk. He has crowds of women wanting him, throwing themselves at him all the time. I don’t know what he saw in me, but I don’t think it will sustain long term. We’re too different.’
‘So, what you are saying is. You don’t think that even if you were in love a year ago, it would have gone anywhere long term? Because you’re not beautiful enough to have staying power?’
The incredulous tone wasn’t lost on Emma.
‘Well, I probably wouldn’t have put it quite like that, but I suppose that’s true. Not just looks, though. I am suited for a quiet life, and he lives a public one. And he enjoys it. I can tell. How would we ever be able to combine that?’
‘So, not only are you not beautiful enough, but you’re also boring in the long run?’
Emma was getting frustrated.
‘You’re taking everything that I’m saying and twisting it.’
‘I’m not twisting anything, Emma. Do you hear yourself? First off, I don’t like that you’re putting yourself down like this. And secondly, you don’t know him. To paint him as a womanizing, shallow attention seeking man with no emotional depth is pretty harsh after only two days acquaintance. Especially when that man has made it very clear, you’re what he prefers, above anything.’
‘I’m not painting him out to be anything. I am just saying that you yourself delete all traces of your holiday flings. Why? Because you said that you almost always, romanticise it in your head. He’s had a year of doing that. And if I wouldn’t have had the accident. If I would have come back, there is nothing to say that this would have lasted more than a couple of weeks, that’s actually the most likely scenario. We are too different. And then I really would have gone home, heartbroken, and sad. And that just seems so unnecessary to go through at this stage.’
Emma could tell that she had at least been able to make Veronica understand what she meant. But she didn’t agree with her.
‘Look. I get what you’re saying. And maybe your right. We don’t know that. What I do know is that Can is fighting hard for someone who was just a fling. And maybe he has romanticised everything. We don’t know that either. You might fall in love with him again, and it doesn’t work out. Or better yet, you get your memory back, realise you loved him like crazy, and it still doesn’t work out. My point is Emma. You can’t not try because you’re scared of failure. You can’t hide from life. You have to live it.’
‘I know. It just feels like I have the gift of objectivity and foresight. And I should use that to make rational and clearheaded decisions that will be better for me long term.’
‘But you don’t make matters of the heart with a clear head. That’s the point. Love is not rational or comfortable.’
Emma had never been comfortable with rash and emotional decisions.
‘Look at it like this, Emma. Brad died. If you would have known that when you met him at nineteen, that you would only have six years together. Now, at this minute, if you could, would you erase him? Take back the decision of ever knowing him. Just so you could save yourself the pain of losing him?’
Emma felt like Veronica had just hit her.
‘Of course not. What a thing to say. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. You know that, Veronica.’
Her cousin just looked at her with gentle eyes. She had intentionally been cruel to be kind.
She had a lot to think about. That’s for sure.
‘Complete change of subject, and this is probably not what you want to hear right now, but Osman wanted to take me out to dinner on our own. And I was thinking that maybe I would stay with him tonight?’
‘Stay at his place?’
‘Yes. I won’t if you tell me not to. But I really want to.’
‘Then go. I don’t like it, but you have a life to live as well.’
Veronica gave her a long hug and then kissed her cheek.
‘Everything’s going to be fine, Emma.’
She wished she had her confidence.
Can was in the kitchen preparing dinner. He and Emma would be eating alone today. And he for one was happy about that. Emma? She had been hiding out in her bedroom since they got back, but he would assume she didn’t like it much.
He needed to keep things light tonight. He’d been pushing. A lot. He couldn’t help it. But she had remembered today. It wasn’t much, but it gave him hope. And he knew that showing that hope to Emma was making her feel pressure. And he was sure she had enough of that right now. So tonight, there would be no pushing and no talk of love. He would be a friend.
It took her another twenty minutes to make an appearance, and he was almost done with the food.
‘What’s smelling so good?’
She looked cute. And a little unsure of herself. Lethal combination. Who was he kidding, everything about Emma was a deadly combination to him.
‘Spaghetti Bolognese. I didn’t want to disturb you and ask what you wanted to eat. So, I went with a safe card.’
‘I love Spaghetti Bolognese.’
Her face turned a little red.
‘But I suppose I don’t have to tell you that. It’s a safe card because you know I love it.’
‘I’m sorry. I should have come out and helped.’
‘That’s ok. You needed a break. From me as well.’
He gave her a smile, so she knew he didn’t mean it in a bad way. She had been through a lot in the past two days.
‘How are you feeling?’
He wasn’t going to argue with that.
‘Can I help with something?’
‘Only have the salad left. You can chop up some cucumbers and tomatoes if you want.’
She took a place at the island and pulled the cutting board and vegetables closer to her.
‘Do you have a knife?’
He handed her one, and when she went to grab it, he told her seriously.
‘It’s sharp. Be careful.’
She just nodded, and they worked silently together, soft music playing until he was ready with everything.
‘I’m ready. Is the salad done?’
‘I’ve seated us outside. Do you mind?’
‘Not at all. Let’s go.’
They walked out, and he poured them a glass of wine while Emma took a seat.
‘This is a beautiful house.’
‘It’s quite remarkable to have such peacefulness while knowing you’re technically in the bustling city. Is that what attracted you to it, to begin with?’
‘Yes. And the fact that it was so private.’
‘You live a hectic life.’
‘Not really. I know it’s not the norm to what most other people have, but it’s not that different.’
‘If you say so.’
He would not under any circumstances be pulled into a disagreement tonight. He didn’t want to fight with her.
‘I do. I am just like anyone else, Emma. Just because I have a job that makes me recognizable to people when I’m out, doesn’t mean that I’m not just like anyone else.’
‘I wouldn’t exactly say you’re like everyone else. You have this aura about you that screams something. Your presence can be a little overwhelming.’
He didn’t know exactly how she meant it, but in the interest of keeping the peace, he just smiled and said.
That got him a laugh. And he had missed it.
‘This is delicious. Thank you.’
They ate in comfortable silence. He had almost finished his plate before Emma spoke to him again.
‘Did I spend much time here? At this house, I mean?’
Yet again, he didn’t know how much he should tell her. But if he’d understood it right, specific things were in a no-go zone. But general information would be ok.
‘Not really. We were here for four days before we headed south to my beach house. It’s where I intend to take you when Veronica goes back.’
He watched her face; she wasn’t going to fight either. She left that statement hanging.
‘Why didn’t we stay here longer? It’s lovely.’
‘We wanted to live more like a normal couple. And we could do that there. It’s a small seaside town with a small population of good, hardworking, honest people that understand the need for privacy. I’ve had the house for over five years now. I bought it under a corporate name, and the people there have never outed me. They leave me alone.’
‘Oh. Yeah, I guess it’s harder to live normally here.’
‘It’s just a little different. But I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that my fame or lack of privacy in certain situations, was not something you enjoyed.’
‘Not really. No. It had entered my mind that our preferred lifestyles weren’t really compatible.’
‘It’s only in certain countries, Emma. Not everywhere. But you were certainly different in that respect.’
‘What do you mean?’
’Most women want me because of my fame. Now don’t get me wrong. I ‘am aware that I have a certain appeal in the looks department. But you? You loved me despite my fame, not because of it.’
And there was one of his promises to himself broken already. He shouldn’t mention love. But her face didn’t shut down like it had done every other time he brought the subject up. Maybe that was progress.
‘Tell me about yourself.’
‘What do you want to know?’
‘I don’t know, you know a lot about me. I just figured I should know something about you.’
‘Well, I told you earlier what I knew about you. So, in the interest of fairness, why don’t you tell me what you’ve learned about me.’
Emma suppose she could do that. But it was a minefield. She had learned quite a few things about Can in the last couple of days. Some good, some not so good. And she certainly didn’t want to offend him. They were having a nice time.
‘Don’t overthink it, Emma, your honesty is one of the best things about you. And I’m a big boy, I can take it. Just say whatever comes to mind.’
Fine, if that’s what he wanted, that’s what he was going to get.
‘Ok. You can obviously cook.’
She put her hand up to silence him, a small smile playing on her lips.
‘No interrupting. Now, you can cook. You make a decent cup of coffee. You’re quick to apologize when you feel like you’ve behaved badly. You gesticulate a lot with your hands when you get agitated. You have a habit of making a fist, putting it over your mouth and stare at me. You come off as a very emotional person. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. It can, however, be a little overwhelming, being on the receiving end of it.’
Was there anything else? She didn’t think so, after two days of acquaintance, that was some pretty good observational skills on her part, if she may say so herself.
‘I think that’s about it. How did I do?’
Judging by his smiling face, she had done pretty well.
‘Not bad. It’s a start.’
‘Anything you felt didn’t apply to you?’
She saw him thinking it through before answering.
‘Not really. Everything seems to suit quite well, except emotional. It’s not a character trait. It only applies when it comes to matters concerning you.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes. I am emotional about you. But that’s about it. The funny thing is that before I met you, I was pretty laid back and easy going. Took everything as it came and didn’t much care about anything except having a good time and doing a good job.’
‘And I changed that?’
‘Life takes on a different meaning when you find someone you love. All of a sudden, you have something to lose. You’re dependent on someone else. I had spent fifteen years living on my own, since I was eighteen, doing my own things, coming and going whenever and wherever I wanted. Happy with my life. And then, suddenly, you realise your happiness is now wound up in someone else. And for me, that made me go a little crazy. I’ll admit it.’
She didn’t know what her face reflected, but he must have seen something in it because he said quietly and seriously.
‘I know I can be over the top sometimes. Trust me, Emma, sometimes the way I feel about you overwhelms even myself. I love like a mad man. Always knew I would, which is probably why I’ve always tried to avoid it.’
He was silent for a while. He seemed lost in his own thoughts, and Emma didn’t want to get into a discussion about love, so she kept her mouth closed and just let the comfortable silence and the warm breeze wash over her.
She closed her eyes just relaxing and all of a sudden, she could hear her own laughter, but she wasn’t laughing. And she saw images of herself and Can in her mind, that she had never experienced. She was wearing a white dress lying on the grass. Can was over her, she was laughing, so was he, and then he kissed her.
Then it was gone. The images that is. Emma opened her eyes and took a deep breath. The feelings that that fleeting glance had made her feel remained. And that is when she could feel the cold sweat coming on.
Can was watching Emma, something was wrong. She looked pale and almost glossy.
‘Are you all right?’
She didn’t answer him, didn’t even look at him. He quickly got out of his chair.
‘Honey? Are you ok?’
He reached her and took her hand. It was cold, something was not right.
She looked at him, first at his eyes, and then her eyes moved over his face and settled on his lips. She pulled her hand from his and put it up to his face drawing it closer, touching his cheek, and moving to feel his lips. But she didn’t say anything. He didn’t know what to do.
‘Emma. You have to talk to me. What happened? Did you remember something?’
‘I’m fine. Please. Just be quiet.’
He did as she asked. She seemed to need a minute, and he didn’t want to break the moment. It felt significant, intimate somehow. She was looking at him strangely, but she wasn’t moving away from him. He used his hands to rub her arms, trying to warm her up. He hadn’t been this close to her in over a year, and he didn’t want it to end.
He didn’t know how long they sat like that, close just watching each other. Until Emma finally broke the silence.
‘I was laughing, and you were kissing me. Do you remember that?’
He didn’t know which particular time she was talking about, but yes. He remembered all of them.
‘I’ve kissed you many times here, and we use to laugh a lot, Emma. So, I don’t know exactly which time you remembered.’
‘I wanted you to kiss me, I wanted…- ’
He could see her face turning a little red, and he didn’t need her to go on.
‘We always had pretty explosive chemistry, a need for each other that surpassed anything I’ve ever felt before.’
She didn’t say anything, but he could tell she felt the same. And he knew even before she lost her memory that she had struggled with that. Because unlike him, she had been in love before. And the love and need they had felt for each other, well, he was pretty sure that it was bigger and more powerful than anything she had ever felt with Brad.
And that had always, not only confused her, but also made her feel bad. Guilty was the word he was looking for. Probably because it had come over them so quickly. She’d had six years with her husband. And even though he didn’t understand it. He had tried, and yes, many times failed to be respectful and patient when it came to her first marriage. He knew Emma had felt like the love they had shared had taken away something from what she’d with Brad.
‘I think I’m going to go to bed.’
He didn’t think she should be on her own.
‘Are you sure? We can just move inside at put on a movie or something?’
She just shook her head.
‘No. I just want to be alone for a while.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes. I’m sorry. I just want to go.’
He let her leave. He could tell she’d had a shock to the system and needed to have a moment to process it. When she disappeared from his sight, he took a moment to process the whole thing himself.
She was starting to remember. He could feel the small seeds of hope he’d had in his heart begin to blossom. He might actually get her back. She might actually remember it all.
Emma laid down and pulled Veronica’s pillow to her hugging it close. She felt unsteady and alone. She wished her cousin were here. She didn’t want to be alone, not really. But she didn’t want to be near Can either.
The flashback or memory or whatever you called it had rocked her, quite badly.
She had loved him, desperately so. Wanted him, with a force she’d never experienced before. She’d only felt it for a few seconds, but it was enough to know that everything Can had told her about them, was the truth.
It was scary. And Emma didn’t know which way to turn. What should she do?
His behaviour in the past few days was put into perspective for her, though. He must have suffered a great deal, not knowing where she was or what had become of her. If his feelings for her were anything like the ones she had just experienced for him, then she felt an even greater level of sympathy for the guy.
The question was, she had felt like that. She didn’t now. And she wasn’t at all sure that she wanted to again. It was powerful and overwhelming. And uncomfortable.
She heard the knock on her bedroom door, and she could not handle another moment with him right now, so she decided to pretend to be asleep.
She heard the door open and a soft-spoken Can.
She kept quiet and laid as still as she could. She heard him move closer into the room, coming up to the bed. She felt the warmth of his hand as he gently brushed away a piece of hair from her forehead and the lingering touch of his finger as it caressed her cheek. When she heard him softly whisper.
‘I miss you.’
She felt it all the way down to her gut. He missed her, and she hadn’t even known there had been anything to miss. She heard him close her door gently, and the one thing that kept ringing in her mind as she drifted off to sleep was.
What the hell am I going to do with him?