All things considered, moving in with Brigitte only made his life more comfortable.
It seems that even she, the shameless pervert that she was, realized that she was pushing him too far with this move of having him on-site 24/7, so now he had no cameras in the bathroom or bedroom. A step forward from his previous conditions.
In addition, his atelier was now larger, his clothing, food and shelter provided for at excellent quality, and he no longer had to cook, clean or do the laundry. And the only price he paid for all that was the loss of some dignity and a housemate. Not a bad trade at all.
Brigitte, however, had started to behave even more audaciously than before. She would hug him to say good morning, she would hug him to say good night, she would hug him before leaving the house and once she returned, she would hug him to say ‘thank you’ and to say ‘sorry’ — in short, she would hug him whenever given half a chance. Other than that, she started testing nicknames on him. She would say “baby”, “dear”, “precious” among others, at any moment, excusing herself by saying she was a naturally affectionate person who used such words with all her friends. Which was obviously nonsense, until she pointed out that he was her only friend, so he couldn’t call her words a lie. At the time, he couldn’t choose between feeling irritated that she had once again beaten him with her stupid perverted logic, sorry that he was her only friend, or warm for the same reason. He decided to stoically ignore the last two emotions for the sake of his mental stability.
The beeps of a locking car came from outside the house, so Tristan turned off the TV and made for the front door. Their house was quite a bit far from their closest neighbours, so the sounds of a parking car could only belong to Brigitte. Looking at the time — 17:30, — she had just finished work. He opened the door and waited for her to come in. He helped hold her bag and coat as she removed her shoes. The first time he had done this, Brigitte had stared at him in a mixture of awe, disbelief and affection that had confused him as to the reason. He was only being polite, but she had embraced him fiercely for a few minutes right at the door. Now, he very naturally placed her coat on the hanger and the bag on the small table in the hallway, before Brigitte hugged him again as her “I’m home!” for the day. The fact that the disbelief and awe in her eyes reduced every day, giving way to more affection, was one of the things that he chalked up to Brigitte being a silly obsessed puppy, and that he refused to examine more closely.
“I made lamb chops for dinner tonight,” he said once the hugging session was over. He massaged the skin over his heart as he spoke. It always beat irregularly fast at times. Maybe his arrhythmia was getting worse? But Tristan’s illness should be getting better with him taking his pills regularly. He frowned. He should check that soon.
“Bored with chicken?” she teased, knowing his habits well. Tristan was the type of person to overindulge in one food for a week or two, then get sick of it for a month. Until he moved over to another food and repeated the cycle.
“A bit,” he added with a small tint of pink covering his cheeks. He knew he was a bit childish when it came to his eating habits, but he wasn’t about to stop.
“I can’t wait,” she said, smiling, before going to undress and wash up.
Once they were seated at the dinner table (the small, homely one in the kitchen, not the large, formal one in the dining room), and Brigitte stopped gushing over the food he made (like she always did), she dropped an unexpected bomb on him.
“My parents will be coming over the weekend.”
“Oh,” he says after a while, feeling stupid that he hadn’t foreseen her plan such a cliché move until now. “Should I leave for the night then, so that you may have some private time with them?” He was grasping at straws here.
She guiltily (“Faker!” he wanted to shout) glanced at her empty plate, before continuing. “They are actually coming to meet you.”
“As the friend who you are helping out by protecting him from his stalker?” he tried to gently hint.
“As my... boyfriend,” she finished, and she couldn’t hide the joy in her tone at those words.
He wanted to plunge his face into his hands before slapping her into normality once or twice. Instead, he just sighed. “I didn’t know we were in a relationship.”
“We aren’t,” she rushed to assure him. The unspoken “yet” in her eyes was obviously his overactive imagination playing tricks on him. “But, they have been pushing for me to get into a relationship lately. Always introducing and mentioning one person after another. It is getting tiring.”
She really did look very troubled and irritated at her parents’ behaviour. Now, if only he didn’t know for a fact that her parents couldn’t even make a phone call with her without scheduling an official time with her secretary days in advance, let alone have any say in her life, he would feel some sympathy for her.
“And I thought, since you are already living here, it would make a convincing story for them to stop for a while,“How could someone lie so openly for something so shameless, he couldn’t understand.
“It will only be until the police solve your case.”
For a grown woman, she had quite a skill for puppy eyes. A skill she often used when speaking outright falsehoods.
“Right.” He put as much derision as he could in that one word.
“Do it for me?”
Did she have so little ability to feel humiliated that pleading like this could become a pastime? He pretended to be deaf.
But he ended up getting taken advantage of again. With the skill of an experienced hunter, she suddenly hugged him tight, her cheek over his, and he could feel himself blushing at the intimacy. This stupid pervert!
“Please, beloved?” she whispered, breath tickling his ear.
His heart started beating weirdly fast again. He really had to schedule an appointment with his doctor.
He pushed her away.
Tristan coughed, face red, trying to calm himself down. “Okay,” he surrendered, not wanting her pleading to become a long-term campaign. He didn’t know if his heart could take it. Or his sense of shame.
Her grey eyes lit up, and although her fingers fidgeted wanting to hug him again, she restrained herself. Once he looked away, unable to bear her gaze when she became like this, Brigitte smirked. Her beloved was always so soft-hearted. Acting tough and uncaring but giving in to her unreasonable requests every time.
She looked at his pinked cheeks, face down to cover it from her sight in shyness, and she had to lick her lips, suddenly feeling quite thirsty. It was really... so cute.