“Do you really want to know?” Lillė regarded him seriously.
Jaxen thought for a moment, then nodded once, sure that anything she came up with in the short, fifteen-second video clip could be easily explained away.
“Alright, I will show you.” Moving to sit alongside him on the couch, Lillė motioned for him to give her the tablet. “If you will bring up the video feed once more, please.”
Jaxen begrudgingly did so, slipping the small device into her slender, blue fingers. She held the tablet so they could both see, leaning her small frame into his much larger one. That, along with her soft, floral scent wafting into his senses, involuntarily caused heat to rise within him once again, much to his chagrin. Apparently, living like a monk for three years had weakened his resolve towards the opposite sex, he noted, pushing his indecent feelings away to concentrate on the video.
The first couple of seconds captured Mila just after pushing the record button from the tripod, then dashing over to Tom, who reached out to clasp his arm around her shoulder, pulling her into his side. “Here.” Lillė paused the video, pointing to Tom. “See his expression? His eyes are bright and happy.”
“Okay,” Jaxen retorted, “he’s happy that I’m coming home soon.”
“Mmm, but see, he is not focused on the camera, like he should be if he were thinking of his best friend who is figuratively on the other side of the camera. Instead, his eyes have not left the lovely Mila.”
Jaxen murmured in disagreement, shaking his head adamantly. Lillė pushed the play button once again, watching for a few more seconds before hitting pause. “There. See both of their, how do you say, uh, body language? They are awkward. Restrained.”
“Well, yeah, they’re not lovers, so they’re not going to be all up on each other.” Jaxen was getting frustrated.
“No, Jaxen, they are very good friends who should not be shy about touching like friends do. But the way their eyes meet, the connection is obvious. If nothing were happening between them, they would not act as if they were harnessing their affections. Remember, they are acting as if you are watching them.” She pushed play again before Jaxen could retaliate.
“Hi Jax! Can’t wait to see you. Mwah!”
The video ended, at which Lillė quickly reversed the feed, pausing at the end of Mila’s air-kiss. Turning the device over to Jaxen, she moved, touching her knees to his, facing him a bit more squarely. “You will be home in a week’s time as of this video, correct?”
“Did you make love to Mila before you left for Decári Seven?”
Flustered by the sudden, personal question, Jaxen coughed, “Of course.”
“And have you dreamed about making love to her over the course of your tour?”
“Yes. She’s all I’ve dreamed of for the past three years.”
Lillė smiled knowingly up at him. “Then it is she that you have thought of as you, uh, pleasured yourself on lonely nights?”
His eyes went wide, surprised by her boldness, yet he answered with reddened cheeks, “I suppose so.”
“I see.” Lillė smirked at him with humor. Then, pointing to the image on the tablet again, her expression serious once more, she went on. “They both are happy and excited, but not for you to come home. Mila says she is excited to see you, but her eyes are not overcome with happiness at the thought of you in her arms again. Her equally pent up desires should be plain to see as she peers into the camera. As her lover, when she speaks to you through the video, you should be able to know by just the look in her eyes that you are the one in her thoughts as she pleasures herself whilst you have been away. That should always be apparent.”
Jaxen cleared his throat, anger and embarrassment rising within him. It wasn’t fair for this stranger to say such things about his beloved. She was exaggerating.
“If you had a chance to make Mila a video yourself a week before returning home and only had a few seconds to speak, what would you say?”
Caught off guard by the turn of her questioning, he thought for a moment. “Well, I, uh… I’d tell her that it’s about time and that I can’t wait to see her again and hold her in my arms, and that I love her very much.”
Lillė’s smile burst forth at Jaxen’s words. “There! You said it, and I did not even have to ask you to. You said that you would tell her that you loved her. Tell me, when did she quit telling you that she loved you?”
Jaxen swallowed hard. The anger he’d had at Lillė’s assumptions about Mila began to turn to sadness and anger at the people he loved—who he thought loved him—Mila and Tom.
Lillė continued, “And why does your best friend not say anything at all? It is because he is keeping your Mila warm while you have been gone and is now frightened of what will happen to your friendship when the truth comes out.”
He chewed the inside of his cheek for a moment, looking into space as his stomach clenched, not wanting to admit how sensible Lillė’s words sounded. For months now, he’d thought Mila’s messages were getting shorter and less personal. Yet, he knew she was busy with her new job and had been under a lot of stress after getting laid off from her previous one. But he hadn’t worried—Tom had been there to help her out through the worst of it.
Then it hit him. Lillė was right. “Fuck!” He buried his face in his hand, realizing that the signs had been there for months. “You missed one important clue,” he groaned to her, holding back the intense emotions that wanted to burst from his being.
“What is that?” She cocked her head with curiosity, while sorrow filled her expression.
“Mila isn’t wearing her engagement ring in the video. I hadn’t noticed it before, but she’s wearing it around her neck. She never used to take it off. Ever. And to be honest, I’m not sure she’d been wearing it in the last several videos.” He let out a sad sigh.
“I am sorry, Jaxen. Truly, I am.”
“Fuck.” He blew out a ragged breath, feeling as though his world were collapsing. “It’s my fault. I never should’ve left to go to that godforsaken moon. I just thought if we could make it through a three-year separation, then we would have enough money from my tour to live comfortably for the rest of our lives. Now what am I going to do? I don’t think I can live without her, not after thinking of her like I have, night and day, for the last three years.”
“You want her back, then?” Lillė queried as she moved back, leaning against the arm of the couch.
“She hasn’t left me yet. I love her. I’ve still got a chance to win her over again, right?” He wasn’t sure why he thought Lillė would have the answers, but her expression made him second guess himself. “Maybe I don’t even deserve her. I mean, Tom has been there for her, and I abandoned her for three years.”
Lillė stood to face him, folding her arms across her chest as she frowned down at him. “Look, Decári Seven is a place where only two types of men go. Those who are hiding from something, such as the law, and those who are looking to make big money, usually for the betterment of their family’s lives or so they can climb out the hole life put them into. I do not feel that you were running away, but rather you wanted to provide for your future family so much that you volunteered three years of your life in one of the harshest climates and conditions known to the galaxy. I do not think that you can say you abandoned her.”
He sat up straighter, moving to the edge of the couch. “Yeah! If anything, they both abandoned me! While I was off working my butt off for her, they decided to get all cozy!”
“So, what will you do?” Lillė asked simply.
He didn’t know. “God, it will be weird arriving home now, huh? What are they going to do? Try to pretend it never happened and end the relationship once I get home. Or worse, keep seeing each other behind my back? I’ll never be able to trust them ever again. I’m going to have to break it off with her. And Tom, well, our friendship is dead.” Jaxen’s thoughts were formulating with momentum, then crashed again. “Shit, I’ll be homeless! The house is in her name!” Panic rose in his voice.
“You forget, Jaxen, you are wealthy now with your pension from Decári Seven.” Lillė shook her head with a smile. “You will be able to buy any mansion you want. And before long, I am sure you will be able to move on. Anyways, you deserve happiness. I have seen how hard life on the moon is with my job. You deserve better than what either of them can give you.”
Though she didn’t know him, her words still rang true, and he was suddenly filled with a mix of anger and excitement. “Damnit, when we get to Earth IV, I’m gonna to step off this ship and tell both of them to go to hell.”
Lillė laughed, “I am happy for you then. I do not like seeing people being, what is the phrase, run-over by others. Should we go celebrate your newfound freedom by having breakfast? I am famished, having risen so early this morning, and the Café should be open now.”