Hello everyone and thank you for reading this far! I just wanted to quickly flag that this chapter contains mild references to abusive relationships that might be triggering for some people! Feel free to skip it if you think that could be the case for you and don’t worry you’ll be able to understand what happened in the upcoming chapters!
James and Karen met in a very private wine bar in Seven Dials, it was their go-to place when they needed some privacy, and after the hug “incident” they wanted to avoid any further speculations.
The two had become close friends during the shooting of The Silent Klimt and the relationship had kept developing after filming was over; since they both lived in London it was relatively easy to meet and talk about their lives and their common interests. Karen had confided in James the secret about her sexuality and he had trusted her first with the real reasons behind his messy break up two years before, and now with the story of him and Lucy.
“She has a boyfriend?” Karen gasped.
James nodded and reported what had happened the morning he’d found out.
“Oh boy. You’ve head dived into a messy hole. So is it over? Have you talked to her?” asked Karen apprehensively.
“No, I haven’t. I meant it when I suggested taking a step back, I need clarity to understand what I want to do about it”.
“And what do you want?”
James scratched the back of his head.
“I believed her when she said it was complicated. I know it sounds like the oldest lie in the book, but I could see she was telling the truth. I mean, I for one know how screwed up things can become in a relationship...” Karen stroke his hand softly. “And I like her, I can’t hide that...I’m just afraid I’m setting myself up for disaster. What if she spoke to this Sam and they are back together?”
“Ok calm down. These are two different matters. If she went back to him, her loss, but not much you can do about it; same as if she decides to be with neither. Question is,” he eyes narrowed slightly. “What if she decides to give it a shot with you? What do you want? Can you forgive her for lying? Can you move on? Because if you, in all honesty, can’t let it go then I think you should just tell her and get on with your life”.
“So you think it’s on me” James sighed.
“Well, she screwed up so it’s on her to make it right. Yet, she might need time to figure out what she wants from life but if you can’t give her a second chance, or don’t want to feel like a second choice then there is no point for you two to even discuss this”.
James took a sip of his wine.
“I like her. And I believe in second chances. I guess I’d at least like to hear what she has to say. You think I’m crazy?”
“I don’t, I believe in second chances too. But boy you’re in for a ride, she’s really under your skin”.
James rubbed his face with his hands.
“That’s a very delicate way of saying I’m screwed”.
The two weeks of holiday had passed quickly and they were coming to an end. It was late at night and Lucy and Harriet were coming back from a night out; they were tipsy but not drunk. The world seemed happy.
They stepped into the hotel lobby and cheerfully laughed about something only the two of them could understand.
Then their laugh died.
“I see you are having fun without me”
Sam was standing six foot four tall before them, his black hair and blue eyes made him look handsome, the dark expression on his face made him look daunting.
Harriet instinctively walked in front of Lucy as if she could stand a chance with that towering figure.
Lucy’s eyes widened and her mouth dried, unable to say anything for several seconds.
“What the hell are you doing here?” was all she could muster.
“I didn’t really like it when you hung up on me Lucy. That’s a massive lack of respect”.
“Why are you here?” her voice was low but stern.
“Because I am tired of you dictating the rules with your princess attitude. You’re not all might honey, you thrive from this relationship as much as I do. You’re just looking for attention and I’ve given you enough”.
Lucy’s initial shock turned into anger.
“So to prove that you don’t want to give me any more attention you fly all the way to Mexico? How did you even find me? You do realise this is crazy...even for you,” she added.
Sam shook his head and scoffed.
“Oh you know I have friends, baby. I’m here to prove that I do care about you, that I love you. To prove that, although you’ve been acting like a spoiled child once again, I am still here for you”.
Harriet rolled her eyes, unable to stay silent any longer.
“Oh cut the crap!” she said.
Sam shot her a hatred filled look.
“You shut the fuck up, I see you’ve done enough”.
“That’s enough!” yelled Lucy and a couple of heads in the hall turned.
“This is madness, you are mad! You don’t love me as much as I don’t love you! We are just crazy people heading for a lifelong disaster! I didn’t have the guts to be clear before but now I do: I’m tired of your mind games, I’m tired of fighting and crying and most importantly I’m tired of the person I am when I’m with you. It’s over. I don’t think I can be any more clear than this”.
It was Sam’s time to be silent now. His face was red and his eyes wide as if she had just slapped him.
He looked at the two girls for a moment, Harriet half-concealed smile set him off.
He grabbed Lucy by the shoulders and pulled her towards him.
“You ungrateful whore...” he said between his teeth.
Lucy remained calm, although her heart was racing fast.
“Let me go, you’re hurting me”.
But Sam didn’t let go, he held her even tighter.
“You little bitch!”
“Let me go!” she said louder.
“Let her go you arsehole!” Harriet yelled.
As Sam saw a member of staff approaching he let Lucy go and took a step back.
“Are you ok Miss?” said the staff lady, a distance behind her stood a man from security.
“I don’t know. Am I ok?” she said looking at Sam with dead eyes.
Sam fixed his t-shirt and cleared his voice.
“Of course you are” and started to walk towards the exit, he turned around
“Enjoy your pathetic little life. Can’t wait to ignore you when you come back on your knees”.
And he left.
“Are you sure you’re OK?” asked the lady again.
Lucy nodded “Thank you...”
“Alright,” the lady smiled. “Just in case you shouldn’t be OK later, we have everything on tape from the security cameras”.
Lucy and Harriet thanked her again and she left.
Lucy passed her hand through her hair and started to cry, then laugh.
“Have I just broken up with him?”
“Looks like it”
Lucy smiled through the tears.
The two friends hugged.
As she lay in bed that night, still shaken by what had happened, her mind kept drifting back to green eyes and a cheeky sexy smile. She didn’t know what to do: she missed him, but was she ready to throw herself into something new and with all the possible complications that dating James could bring? After all that just happened, she was longing for peace and normality.
She grabbed her phone and messaged him.
James jumped through the subway train doors as they closed with a heavy stomp, he leaned against the cushioned bar near the entrance and fixed the earphones that had come loose. He took out his phone to change the playlist and saw what he had been secretly waiting for the past ten days: a text from Lucy.
He dwelled for a moment on the idea of waiting to read it, in case it was bad news, but his curiosity had the best and he swiped on it.
Hey, I hope you are good? Things happened and I really feel like we should talk, preferably in person if that’s alright with you...
James bit his nail, he realised his heart was beating faster and instinctively looked around as if other people could see it pumping through his chest. A toddler smiled and waved at him and he waved back.
I’m good, hope you’re the same! Of course it’s ok to meet in person, whatever you have to tell me I’d rather you look into my eyes when you do. When are you back?
The lady over the PA called the Green Park station and James left the train.
I’m back on Tuesday evening, we can meet then if you’re free, I really don’t want to hold this any further...
James read the messages as he tried to avoid slow walkers and the general crowd in the busy station, when he stepped on the escalator he replied.
Tuesday is fine. You can come to my place.
That was his silly, small payback. If she had bad news at least she could leave right after. It was his way of playing by his rules.
OK. Thank you for hearing me out...
We are adults, Lucy. I honestly have no interest nor time for games. I hope you share this sentiment...
I do. That’s why I really want to talk to you. Need some sleep now. Will see you in a couple of days.
James walked out of the station and finally took a breath of fresh air.
Two more days until he could finally see her again.
Two more days until he might see her for the last time.