It felt like paradise.
Such a wonderful Sunday morning with raindrops knocking on my window. It lured me, it directly encouraged me to curl up into my duvets even more. To moan contentedly, enjoying the warm around me. And I enjoyed it, oh, I enjoyed my laziness. No plans, nothing to be worried about. There was nothing I was missing.
Except that my brain had a completely different opinion on the whole situation.
Don’t you dare to think about him again!
His teddy bear tempted me, begged me to take it in my arms. And I obeyed those pleas. Just as I obeyed my heart, persuading me not to make a slightest movement this morning. I only kept lounging, listening to a rain song.
I refused to get out of my bed.
I didn’t have to do anything, there were no duties awaiting me. And that was the most divine feeling in the world.
I´d finished my homework already yesterday, as I needed to keep my head busy with other stuff than were demons and similar, far too handsome things. And my Uncle was working again. His colleague called sick or something, he took the shift for him today. I felt sorry for Jim as it was the second shift this week. But yeah, on the other hand, with an empty house, and no need to cook, I didn’t really need to get out of my bed at all.
And I also intended to follow this perfect plan.
After another nightmare that had tortured me just like every night, this supposed to be my way of compensating. Hell, I deserved it!
Fog behind the window…
And my ringing phone.
I wanted to decline the call right away. I was one hundred percent determined to do so when I saw an unknown number flashing on the display. But then it came. That annoying whining somewhere inside me that made me question my decision. Because phone companies with amazing deals don’t call you on Sunday mornings. And I started to worry that something might have happened. That it could be important.
“Hello princess, are you already up? Or should I send a prince to you? I´ll bet his kisses wake you up.”
I came around immediately when I recognized the voice of the female version of my demon. And I failed to suppress the long moan coming somewhere out of the deepest corners of my lungs.
“Tammy,” I exhaled. “What can I do for you on this wonderful rainy morning?” I was sarcastic, I know. But she deserved it.
For that prince.
And for those kisses.
However, Tamara didn’t seem to be bothered by my not very excited mood. I understood that as she just burst out laughing.
“I’m glad you asked,” I heard her suppressing another laugh. “I want to join a fashion design course in Rome next summer. And in order to pass the entrance exam I need to present my own dress collection. I´m almost done with making but I still have to work on details.”
“Oh, that´s great! Good luck! I´m very happy for you!” And I was, I really meant it.
“Thank you, Lara. But I need a model. I won´t be able to finish it until I see how the dresses look on somebody.”
Oh, there it was. The premonition hit me like an unexpected lighting. And yes, it was bad. Very bad.
“Could you please be my model?”
Here we go!
I exhaled, defeated, pulling the duvet closer to me. The soft, warm duvet she wanted to tear me away from.
“Isn´t there someone who would suit you better?” I had to ask. Because hope dies last. Because the idea of having to get out of my bed really brought tears to my eyes. “Someone prettier?”
“No, I don’t,” she admitted, and I didn’t like the sincerity in her voice at all. “And my brother claims that he hasn’t seen anything prettier than you in his entire life.”
I already know why I made such a fuss about it.
She had a brother.
“Is…” I got stuck as I suddenly realized I really wanted to call him my demon. Aloud. In front of his sister.
“My little bro?” She understood me anyway. “Not if you don’t want to. I’ll kick him out.”
“From his own house,” I didn’t believe her.
“Yes,” she stood her ground. “He rolls his eyes a lot at me right now, but in the end he´ll go. He loves me. And his cars too.”
She made me burst into guffaw. Yet, despite my reluctance to meet him after our last encounter in lunchroom on Friday, I found it cruel to force him to leave because of me.
“I´m begging you, Lara! Please!” her whimper distracted me from my intention of telling her that he didn’t need to go anywhere. “I´m like down on my knees, I swear!”
“Give me an hour,” I snorted, inwardly singing a mourning song for my laziness. “And there better be a coffee awaiting me!”
“Stop fidgeting so much, or the needle will hurt you!”
It must have been at least two hours that the sister of my secret love had been torturing me. Because yes! This was a torture! She just let me stand, nothing else but stand, while correcting the details and examining every part of her handmade dress.
Well, yeah, I must admit that they were truly beautiful. That the girl truly had a sense of fashion that she was born for this. But… The heels! I was dying here!
“Can I at least take off those damn shoes?” I beseeched a little, convinced that I wouldn’t be able to walk next day. If ever, of course.
“No!” She hissed at me, as if I wanted to take the devil to church.
Focused Tamara frightened me, I preferred not to protest anymore.
My legs ached, my back ached, I felt hot, I had to stand. Yet, I really complied her. Actually, I froze completely in an instant. At the moment my gaze fell upon the photo frame that was standing, along with other memories, on the table next to the sofa.
My demon was on the picture in it.
He looked like a World War II soldier, wearing an aviator hat. I didn’t know where it was taken but it didn’t matter at all. Because of his smile, it was his smile that fascinated me the most. His lips laughed, his eyes laughed, he was so fucking beautiful and cute that not only did I stop moving but I also forgot to breathe.
“So, my little brother, huh?”
I froze even more as I heard Tamara asking. I know, it would be weird if she didn’t notice what caught my attention so intensively. But I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to talk about him. I felt completely exhausted after Jessica´s interrogation on Friday. I really had no strength left to discuss this topic again.
However, the presumption didn’t leave me. That Tammy wouldn’t let herself to be deterred by my refusal. Neither my silence nor my dissenting attitude. My only advantage over Friday was the hope that her little brother was now at least two hundred miles away and couldn’t hear us.
“I want it,” I said. “I want the picture.”
I had no idea why I said that. I mean, I really longed to have the photo only for myself. Yet, at this second, I guess I said it to avoid the talk which would involve my feelings. Or actually any feelings.
And Tamara looked at me from below. She stopped adjusting the skirt at my feet, and her rising eyebrows definitely weren’t a good sign.
“He looks so happy there,” I shrugged, trying to look indifferent.
“You bet!” She laughed. “The photo was taken after he´d flown a biplane.”
I couldn’t stop it, the surprise overwhelmed my expression, my whole face.
“What?” She asked, as if she didn’t understand why I stared at her with my mouth open. “He told you about his passion for flying, didn’t he? You gave him a F-16 model kit, didn’t you?”
But I had no idea he had ever flown a plane!
“I would like to keep it,” I asked again in a much more determined voice.
Or I rather begged.
“Okay,” she was very quick to agree, returning her attention back to the skirt. “It’s yours.”
And just like that, suddenly, the determination left me.
Because it seemed that she didn’t deal with my request at all, that she didn’t attach too much importance to it. That it was just a normal, usual thing for her, which she could mention to her brother over morning coffee.
And I was afraid of that.
“You’re not going to tell him, are you?” I had to ask, I had to make sure.
Cause´… that would be weird, right? After all what had happened. After our separation which he´d wanted at the first place.
And Tamara raised her eyebrows for the second time.
“I don’t know how much longer we’ll stay in touch, you know,” I tried to explain my point of view to her. Or I tried to make an excuse for myself. “One day, we´re gonna say goodbye to each other. And I would really like to keep a memento of him. And the photo´s really nice.”
She took a breath; the sister of my secret love just shook her head in defeat and let her hands fall down as she sat on the floor. As she said quietly: “Goddammit, you two are absolutely preposterous!”
And I froze completely again.
I had no idea what she meant, but in the corner of my soul I sensed that she was simply right.
“You should ask him about that picture. You should stop talking about saying goodbye! You two should make memories together! And instead, you ask me to keep a secret that you want a piece of him when he could belong to you entirely!”
I got stuck, I opened my mouth, but I didn’t manage to say something. To react somehow. She completely shut me down. With the dissenting expression on her face, with the tone of her voice. With everything she´d just told me.
“I’m sorry, Lara,” she exhaled softly. I only assumed that the look on my confused face forced her to apologize. Her shoulders dropped and she added just as quietly. “Of course, I won’t tell him. The picture is yours.”
However, it didn’t help me feel better. And even though Tamara´s gaze returned to the skirt; she didn’t make a slightest movement. She didn’t go back to adjusting it.
“I’ll show you something,” she said instead, getting up on her feet.
She left me standing there alone and disappeared in her wardrobe room. And maybe I was grateful for that minute as I needed to collect myself. But I didn’t manage to do that either when she returned with a huge box in her hand. Without a word, she placed it on the sofa in front of me.
“Your uncle and I have one thing in common,” she opened it.
There was a dress stored in it. A damn beautiful dress that couldn’t be compared to any other. This was a bridal one.
“His name was Jack,” she only uttered as I looked up at her.
The moment that followed struck me in a strange way, as it didn’t bode well. She fell silent, and I had absolutely no idea what to say. Whether I should say something. I had no idea whether I wanted to know more, and right after that I wished I would never find out. When she finished her story: “We were supposed to get married and then he died.”
Her words hit me as painfully as a slap. Despite living in almost the same situation in Jim’s house for six months, she disconcerted me so much that I wasn’t able to make even a sound.
“I’m nineteen years old, Lara,” she smiled faintly at me, “but I still know I’ll never meet someone I’d love the way I loved him.”
She threw herself heavily on the sofa as if her knees had broken and I immediately sat down next to her. “I´m so sorry, Tammy,” I hugged her.
“If I had the opportunity,” she leaned her head against my shoulder, “I wouldn’t hesitate. If he was here, I wouldn’t hang back even for a second. And that’s why I don’t understand both of you. I’m sorry I came out at you, but I just don’t understand what’s wrong with you two. Because something must be wrong when both of you act like two strangers. You can, Lara. I´d give anything if I could.”
If I thought I didn’t know how to react a minute ago, now there was a total blackness in my head.
Her remark strongly resonated in me, and I knew she was right. But he…, I… Fuck!
Why does it have to be so complicated?
“Lara,” she interrupted my lost thoughts. I mean, they weren’t lost, they ended up at my demon again. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find a cure for my broken heart anyway.
“Could you do me a favor?”
There it was.
The third premotion this day literally rolled me over.
Cause´ this one was extremely bad.
I beg, it´s not what I thi…
“Could you put on the dress for me?”
And I almost didn’t manage to suppress the horrified look on my face.
“I would love to see it again. But I… I can´t… The last time I wore it…”
Jack was still alive.
Although I understood her, I swear I did, I considered her plea as a very bad idea. She wanted to reopen wounds that don’t heal easily. But one look at the despair in her eyes made me get up and start taking off the clothes I was wearing now.
Maybe this was her memento of Jack, maybe she needed to remind her of him. I didn’t believe that this would make her happy, not at all. Yet sometimes it doesn’t work any other way and I couldn’t refuse her.
She helped me to put on a stunning princess-cut bodice, decked with lace and lustrous sequins. The skirt was puffy ball-gown tulle with a satin lining. Oh yes, the dress was stunning indeed. Yet, it didn’t take me even a second to realize that it didn’t belong to me.
But Tamara just pulled a silver tiara out of the box and tangled it in my hair. She turned me to a huge mirror, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t touched. The dress was a masterpiece. I felt so wrong and so beautiful at the same time.
And I understood how Tamara felt upon seeing me when the tears started filling her eyes.
I expected them to come, I wasn’t surprised. It couldn’t have ended otherwise. But I wished I could ease her pain at least somehow.
“Tammy, are you okay?” It was a stupid question, I know. I had to ask anyway.
“Yes,” she nodded unconvincingly. It was plain as the day that she was lying. To me, to herself. Even her attempt to smile failed epically. “I just… I… Forgive me Lara, I need a minute.”
She disappeared in her wardrobe room before I managed to even take a breath. I didn’t blame her though. I wouldn’t blame her even if she let me wait an hour or the whole day.
Although I was sorry. I wanted to go to her, I wanted to comfort her somehow, but wearing the dress that made her cry in the first place definitely discouraged me from doing so. My attempt to reach my back with my hand and untie the lace-up back closure ended in fiasco.
I wanted to turn with my back to mirror as the idea crossed my mind. That maybe, if I could see at least something in its reflection, I would be able to coordinate my hand. But no, not at all. I had a way bigger problem as I really turned and faced the hallway.
I was no longer alone.
I stiffened, I completely froze as I saw him standing there, leaning against the door. That leather biker jacket he was wearing told me that he must have returned from somewhere. Damn, he looked so hot in it that it really took me a little moment to collect myself. To realize that this wasn’t just a weird dream.
My demon was staring at me with narrowed eyes. Hell, it was a pretty intense gaze he imprisoned me in. But he didn’t say a word. Nor a slightest beep.
And a strange silence surrounded us.
You can, Lara. I´d give anything if I could.
Those words, only those words were replaying in my head, preventing my brain from thinking clearly. I just… I was confused. Tamara was talking about love of her life, while me and her brother… well, right. Noone had been so close and yet so far from me.
However, regardless of the last two or three days that we talked to each other, there still were the previous two weeks. I had no idea what the boy wanted from me.
The boy who kept watching me like I…
I don’t know, like I was the only one for him.
I didn’t want to feel this way, I didn’t want it to be like this. And most of all, I didn’t want him to be forgetting about me.
I intended to say something, to break the silence. Maybe to ease the situation somehow. And only then did I realize that I was standing in front of him in Tamara´s wedding dress.
“Could you please help me take off the corset?” I managed to ask shyly.
He stepped forward.
And I almost shivered.
There was something in his face. I could see the emotion grow as he refused to take his eyes off me even when he approached me. But he didn’t stand behind my back to untie the closure, my demon stopped right in front of me. With that fucking strange look that was drilling a hole into my brain.
“You…,” he only muttered, reaching for my hand to kiss it. “I am…”
But he didn’t finish it.
And I was suddenly speechless.
There they were, the most beautiful eyes I´d ever seen. I was looking right into them; I was looking only to see that something changed in them. They reflected so many things I didn’t understand. Countless amounts of emotions which were changing so quickly that I didn’t have time to notice them properly. But I recognized the inner struggle he was waging, the uncertainty that had slowly grown into a determination. It was as if he realized something, as if he understood something. And now he came to terms with it.
Or my eyes were lying to me.
They must have been lying to me.
Because he just pressed my hand to his heart as he whispered softly: “Lara, marry me.”
I was still standing there…
What the fuck did he just say?
Is he kidding me?
He´s kidding me, right?
Why doesn’t he laugh?
I was completely taken aback, I was just standing here, here in front of him, and he could have knocked me down with a feather.
My brain was smash to smithereens, the thing in my chest was pounding crazy. I was looking at him, but I was incapable of hearing what his eyes were whispering to me now.
I was staring at him; I was trying so damn hard to find some hints of teasing. But no, the demon there who´d stolen my heart had seriousness written all over his face.
I swear he waited! He really expected me to answer him! And he expected me to give him a serious answer as well.
I was disconcerted.
Totally thrown off balance.
I only perceived my hand pressed to his chest. Damn! I swear he wasn’t breathing at all!
This must have been some kind of a joke to him!
I’m standing here in a fucking wedding dress! Who wouldn’t make fun of it?!
But why does he keep looking at me like that?
Please! Say something!
C´mon, girl! Come to your senses! Something! Anything!
I took a breath.
I opened my mouth.
I had absolutely no idea what I was about to tell him. I just knew I had to speak out. Yet, I got stuck as the disappointment overwhelmed his face. I froze even more but my demon exhaled heavily and cut off our eye contact to look behind me.
“Tamara,” he said to his sister.
My Gosh! Tamara!
Tamara is here with us!
“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” I heard her voice coming somewhere behind me. However, it took just a couple of seconds and she emerged next to me, ending the weirdest minute of my life.
“You overestimate beauty, little sis,” he whispered answering her, though he returned his captivating gaze back at me. “I´ll bet, beauty must be green with envy.”
I couldn’t believe it, I simply couldn’t but yes, there was sadness filling his eyes now. There was hopelessness shining from his expression.
And I still didn’t manage to collect myself.
“Is everything alright, Tammy?” he asked, redirecting his attention to his sister. I only assumed he hinted at the wedding dress. He must have known her story.
What the hell did just happen?
Tamara only nodded, saying nothing. I had the impression as if she didn’t want to talk about it. “What’s going on?” She asked instead. “Why did you come back?”
It surprised me a little bit. Cause´ it sounded like a little rebuke. Like they had made a deal and my demon didn’t keep his word by coming here.
“I wanted to switch the cars,” he said dryly. But then a piece of tenderness crept into the tone of his voice as he squeezed my hand gently. “And I needed to pick up something valuable.”
Yes, that was the perfect moment for me to realize that he was still holding my hand pressed to his heart. I didn’t dare to pull it away though.
I had no idea what they were talking about, and it didn’t make much sense to force my brain to start working. In fact, I was pretty sure it would take me longer. To start thinking again or to breathe properly at all.
“Then go,” Tamara burst out laughing. “We have a plenty work to do.”
Oh, damn, thanks heavens!
He released me from his grasp, and I was aware of how reluctantly he obeyed his sister. And all of a sudden, I didn’t know whether I was relieved when he turned around or it was actually tormenting me to see him leaving again.
“And don’t forget what I told you, okey?” she managed to add before he approached the door. “You need to be careful. It might be the last chance you have.”
It confused me even more as he looked at me. But he only nodded before he disappeared in the hallway.
And the silence that followed became strange again.
I knew that!
I knew I had to stay in bed!
“Thank you, Lara,” Tamara whispered, forcing me to return with my thoughts to reality. “That you did it for me.”
“You’re welcome,” I tried to stop my voice from trembling. And I truly meant it. Especially when she smiled at me, reaching her hand to my back to help me out of her dress.
“So, let´s finish the blue dress, what do you say?”