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unplanned-love-6

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Subject: Unplanned love chapter 6 (Revised) Nifty is a free site, but still requires funds to continue operating. Please provide a donation at This story is 100% fictional. Any resemblances to actual people (living or dead), organizations or companies, events are entirely coincidental. Comments are welcomed and would be very much appreciated. Asterisk (*) will be used for past events, dreams or thoughts. …… . …… Chapter 06 I take the train from Frankfurt to Heidelberg and the trip takes almost an hour. Then I take a bus to my parents house. From the bus stop to there is only 5 minutes walking. I spot the yellow house as soon as I turn the corner. The afternoon sun bathes the exuberant garden at the entrance, the great pride of Olivia Weidenfeld – my mother may have memory problems, but her gardening skills remains intact. The house is the cause of so many arguments between my mother and my father’s family. They never accepted her as part of the family for being black. After my father passed away, they filled a lawsuit against my mother to take the house. But little did they know, my father had left a will, leaving the house to my mom. The lawsuit just made us officially cut ties with everyone from father’s family. I still have some contact with a few cousins, but that’s it. I pass through the gate. I admire the rose bushes and the bed of hyacinths still in shy green buds. A face appears in the half-opened window. “Liam!” My mother smiles, surprised, before running to open the door. And there she is. 5’4 tall and deep brown skin. The sky-blue cotton dress with colourful embroidery on the sleeves has that hippy feel she loves so much. Her hair, that was once long and normally styled into a fluffy afro, is now cut short and hidden by a headscarf. The lines around her eyes reveal her fifty-six years, and even without make-up she is still the most beautiful woman I know. She welcomes me with a tight hug. “What are you doing here?” she asks as she lets go of me. “Shouldn’t you be in Frankfurt?” “Don’t worry. I have the day off today. I missed you. And I brought a few things.” I hold up the bags. She looks at the packets of flaxseed, quinoa, salmon, the box of strawberries, the huge bottle of whole grape juice, and grimaces. “I told you not to spend money on these things,” she reproaches. “You don’t earn much. Use your money for your own things. The money I earn is more than enough to keep the house running.” Actually, she isn’t earning any money. She used to teach English language in a private school. But after the accident, she wasn’t able to go back teaching. She doesn’t know that. Everyday she thinks she’s having a day off. It’s welfare and the money I send every end of the month to Lukas that keeps the things running. “Everything was on sale. I didn’t spend much.” I improvise to calm her down. Then I see her pull out the box of the expensive medicine that I only managed to buy now since the accident. “Ah, they’re… umm… Nina’s. Her mom’s actually.” I pick up the little box, stuffing it into the pocket of my pants. “Where’s Lukas?” I ask out of habit and immediately bit my tongue as I see her blink a few times. Shit. Sometimes it slips out. Questions like ‘where is he’, ‘do you remember it’, or anything else that makes her search for an answer, only to be met with an immense void, leaving her in such a state of agitation that it makes my eyes sting. I’m not proud of all the lies. To be honest, I’m sick and tired of the half-truths. The thing is, it isn’t about me, what I want. It’s about my mom and what she can deal with, how to make her day easier, maintain her balance and what little mental health she has left. For a while, Lukas and I tried to give her the truth every time her mind drifted, but we soon found out that it only made it worse, as she would start having panick attacks. And they were so bad, she needed a tranquilizer. Lying, even though it sounds horrible, is the least cruel alternative. “Hey, mom, you won’t believe it! I’ve been promoted!” I quickly say, desperate to distract her. It works. “Liam, that’s wonderful!” she gasps, touching the thin necklace around her neck, from which hangs a little golden doll, before crushing me in another hug and taking me into the house. I leave the shopping bags on the sideboard near the door, to tell more details about the upcoming promotion. The idea is that she won’t get distracted, but I pause the narrative to inhale deeply the scent of the flowers that adorn the small dining table near the kitchen door, of the cinnamon candles on the coffee table in front of the bookcase. “I’m so proud of you son.” she declares as soon as we sit down on the sofa. “It all happened so fast… Not that I expected anything else. You’ve always been brilliant. The smartest, kindest, most creative… Liam, what’s wrong?” she asks, worried, touching my cheek. “Why do you look like that?” “I did something wrong, but I had to do it.” I say, biting my lip. “I betrayed someone today. I mean, I didn’t tell them truth, so it’s like I betrayed them, right?” “Why couldn’t you tell the truth?” I look down at my black oxford shoes, feeling ashamed. “I was afraid I’d lose my job.” “Liam, son, look at me.” She forces my chin up until I meet her dark-brown eyes. “It’s not wrong to fight for your own survival. We often have to do things we don’t like, whether at work or in our personal life. It’s part of human development to learn to deal with frustrations, to live with the consequences.” She glides her fingers, affectionately, on my head and frowns. “I only noticed now. You look different. You cut your hair.” “Yes. It’s more professional like this. How are you feeling today?” I try to distract her. And it works again. It always does. And I die inside some more. “I’m good. It’s my day off, so I’ll take care of the hyacinths later. They’re so beautiful, so blooming.” She looks closely at my face. “I think you’re too skinny son. I’ll get you something to eat.” “Mom, you don’t have to. I…” But she’s already gone. I sigh, sliding down on the couch until my head touches one of the embroidered cushions. Rushing feet tapping on the dark wooden staircase makes me crane my neck, just before a tall man with brown skin and messy curly hair emerges into the stairwell. “Liam!” A huge smile draws itself on the face that looks so much like mine. The perfect combination of our parents: round lively face, hooded brown eyes and freckles that spread delicately around the button nose. Even though he’s two years younger than me, he’s taller and more muscular. “I was in the shower, I didn’t hear you coming in.” “Don’t worry Lukas,” I say giving him a hug, “I just arrived.” After hugging him and hearing him complain about our front-door neighbour, who’s been grumbling about caterpillars because of the trees in our front yard, I get right to the point before our mother returns to the living room. “I brought some of the food the neurologist recommended. I also bought the memory medicine.” I pull the now crushed box out of my pocket and slip it into his hand. “Liam!” He scratches his thick eyebrow with his thumb, the same way he used to do when he got into a fight in school when we were younger, “You shouldn’t have done that. This medicine is very expensive and there’s no guarantee it can do anything for mom.” “Well, now we’re going to take the test.” “I wish I could help you so much.” He sits down next to me, “It kills me to leave all the responsibility on your shoulders. The welfare money is good, but it’s your money paying for everything… It’s a lot…” “You’re talking like you’re a burden.” He stares unhappily at the bookshelves. “I am.” Lukas has always been an active guy. Even at a young age, he was working while studying. He doesn’t like to depend on others. He never asked me for money for anything. If he needs a new phone or wants to buy a game, he will find a part-time job and save enough to buy them himself. Then came our mom’s accident, around the same time he would start university. He’d chosen a school already. At first we thought we could ask for a nurse to take care of mom while I’m in Frankfurt and he’s at school, but she needed familiar faces around her to make her believe that nothing has changed. She needs attention 24/7 and since I was already graduated and had a fixed job, Lukas decided to stay home with her. “It’s nothing.” I move closer and hug him. “Stop it. We have enough problems of our own for you to worry about nonsense. Besides, I’m getting a promotion. I got a very important contract.” The news sweep the melancholy away and an exultant, proud smile breaks out. But before he can utter a word, mom comes into the room with her arms full of clothes and sees me, her lips stretching over her slightly parted white teeth. The next instant she throws the pile of clothes on the round dining table and runs to hug me so tightly that we almost fall on top of my brother. “Son,” she says, squeezing herself between me and Lukas on the sofa. “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be in Frankfurt? Lukas, why didn’t you tell me your brother was home?” “I was just about to do that.” Blog İçerik Tabanlı Sosyal Ağı Sitesi He smiles at her. “It’s okay.” She laces her fingers through mine. “I knew you’d come. Something told me I’d see you today. I have the day off.” “Really?” She nods, smiling. “Yes, your brother told me Mr. Waltz called this morning and gave me today to rest. Although I miss my students, I’m glad to be off. I’m going to take advantage of it to take care of the garden. The flowers are very pretty…” I continue holding her hand tightly, hoping that a feeling of security will come over me like it used to when I was a child. That the certainty that everything will be alright will envelop me with the delicate perfume of my mother, leaving all the pain outside my bubble. But it doesn’t work anymore. I wish more than ever I can go back in time and stop her from getting in that car. Sometimes I fantasize a different reality, where she’s okay. She’s not lost within herself. In that parallel reality, she’s still teaching English to the children at the school she loves so much. But the reverie is short-lived and I’m soon thrown back to reality, and the pit of despair at seeing her imprisoned forever in that eternal fifteenth of November. The neurologist didn’t give us much hope of a cure; even the expensive medicine doesn’t guarantee improvement. Even so, both my brother and I hope that a miracle can happen at any moment. What choice do we have? So does it really matter that I feel so bad for not saying anything to Bianca and agreeing to plan her wedding? “…are you listening to me? Liam?” My mom calls, shaking my hand, worried. “Son, are you all right?” Over her shoulder, I catch a glimpse of Lukas frowning questioningly. I just shake my head at them both. “It will be.” I blink through the hazy cloud that blurs my vision. “Now it will be.” …. … ….. The only advantage of being an adult is that we’re allowed to drink as much as you want without owning anyone an explanation, I ponder, taking a sip from what is left of the beer in my glass. I left Heidelberg and went straight to the opening of a jewellery shop in the mall. And thank god it only lasted for a few hours. Realizing that I wasn’t feeling well, Nina pressured me into confessing the whole story about Bianca. She was so horrified that she threatened to go after Fred with a hammer. She thought it was a good idea to bring me to bar. She invited some of our old classmates that are still part of our friends circle and one of them suggested a gay bar. Katya being curious about going to one, made herself invited, dragging Erik and Michael with her. Erik is bisexual, so he was okay with it, but Michael was a bit more difficult to convince, but he eventually gave in when Katya offered to pay for his drinks. So there I am, occupying one of the tables of the bar, with their annoyed looks fixed on me as I tell Bianca’s story to the others. “You’ve gone mad, you know Liam.” Thorsten, one of my old classmates says, “You can’t organize this wedding.” “That’s what I told him,” Nina agrees with him, “Fred lied to you about being gay for a whole year.” I sigh, “I know, but I had no choice. I either accepted organising this wedding or I could kiss Fontaine goodbye. And I’m not going to be unemployed and living off welfare because of Fred.” Sitting at the end of the table, Erik takes the last sip of his beer before turning to me, “You’re going to hurt yourself, Liam,” he warns apprehensively. “Don’t do that. There’s still time to give up. Bianca didn’t sign anything yet.” “I already said that to him!” Nina crosses her arms, snorting. “But it’s just like talking to a wall.” I play with my empty glass, watching the rest of my friends having fun on the dance floor. “I will hurt myself more if I give up on my career because of a guy.” I explain, exhausted. “I have twelve days to plan the party and present it to Bianca, manage to please her and get her to sign the contract. I’ll organise the wedding of my dreams. And get a nice pay and a promotion.” Nina narrows her eyes, drumming her fingernails on the dark wood top. “Was the groom in this dream your ex-boyfriend, by any chance?” she asks. I shrug and she throws her hands up in the air, roaring. Erik just shakes his head. He gets up, excusing himself, and goes chatting with a guy he was checking out since we arrived. Katya grabs the last fried potato from her plate and stuffs it whole in her mouth. “If Liam thinks he can handle the situation, he must know what he’s doing.” She swallows the food, licking the ketchup from her fingers. “Take it easy, Nina.” Nina’s response is to take a long sip of her beer and then slam the glass down on the table so violently that some of the drink splashes onto Michael’s hand, who tries to lick it. “Can we forget about this and go for another beer?” I beg, swirling my empty glass. “That’s why you dragged me here. To get me drunk, and I’m still forty percent sober.” “You’re one hundred percent crazy.” Nina crosses her legs under the table, kicking my ankle. I’m pretty sure it isn’t accidental. Ignoring her, I try to call the waiter. The bar is full, and it’s no surprise that I get completely ignored. “Let me get another round for you, Liam.” Michael says, standing up. As he goes to order more beer for us, I notice him garnering quite a few appraising looks. “Wait, Michael. I’ll go with you…” Katya gets up and goes after him. Thorsten looks between me and Nina and gets up as well, “Er.. I think I’ll go dance a little with the others.” As soon as he goes away, Nina begins bouncing in her chair, clasping her hands firmly between her thighs. I laugh as I watch her squirm. “Go to the bathroom, Nina.” “No, we still need to talk.” She gives me a long look. I take a deep breath. “Do you think I should tell Bianca? About Fred’s sexuality? And that we dated…” “Are you out of your mind? Stop and think for a second. What will Bianca think once you tell her everything?” “That Fred is a son of a bitch?” I venture, twirling the glass between my palms. She shakes her head, “Not at all. Firstly, she won’t believe you. At all. If what Fred said about you being the only guy he’s ever dated is true, then what proof do you have against him? It’s your word against his. Noone ever saw you guys together besides me. There’s no physical proof of your relationship. That’s why you need to give up on this crazy idea of organising his wedding. But since this is not an option for you then find a way to speed up the process of getting over him, so it will be easier for you to face the pain that is coming your way. Get yourself a little adult fun, no strings attached and no expectations. I’m sure it will be easy because look at you Liam, you’re so good looking. Believe me, if you were into woman I wouldn’t let you escape. And I’m not saying that only because I’m your friend. I mean it.” She smilies at that. “Did you see that hot black, in the entrance, turning around when we entered this place? I’m sure if you go talk to him….” “Oh, yeah.” I cut her off, exhausted. “It’s just what I need right now. Getting involved in another relationship without even leaving the last one.” She frowns. “That’s not really true. You never get involved. It didn’t even happen with Fred. You don’t show yourself to anyone because you don’t believe you’re worthy of happiness since…” “For fuck’s sake, Nina, you can be really annoying sometimes.” Nina continues to watch me, but there’s anger in her face, only a deep sorrow. “I thought it had really worked, you know. The spell,” she murmurs, her eyes watering. “I feel horrible for making you think Fred was going to propose to you. I’m sorry, Liam.” “Stop it.” I reach across the table and squeeze her arm. “I never believed that it would work anyways.” She sniffles, smiling a little. “I know. Just checking.” Since she has brought up the subject… “Shouldn’t you be at home helping Daniel with the moving?” I want to know, leaning back in my chair. “I should.” She makes a funny face, pressing her thighs harder together. “But then I’d have to help him pack up all his stuff and I’d rather drink with you. Oh crap, I can’t hold it in anymore. I’m going to the bathroom, be right back.” She stands up so fast the chair tips over onto the next table. I stretch to straighten it up, apologising to the people on the next table. One of them, a bald guy with long beard, winks at me, only to then be elbowed by another guy next to him, so I decide to sit with my back half turned to them. Mentioning Daniel’s moving carries my thoughts to Marcel. With everything that happened that day, I forgot about his proposal. Away from him, the idea isn’t terrible at all. Why did it even seem so crazy to me? I look around the bar. Watching other people having fun, and my whole body softens, while my heart skips a beat. Maybe Nina’s idea isn’t exactly bad. I also should have some fun. *No strings attached…* She said. I check the place once again, looking for the black guy she mentioned, but he’s nowhere to be seen. However my eyes catch someone else. A tall, handsome man in a grey button Sesli Kitap Dinle up shirt and blue jeans standing on the bar counter talking with the bartender. His angular face clad in fair skin carries a grim expression, but it’s softened by the vibrant blue eyes… Hold on. I squint my eyes, examining more closely the contours of the subject I’m eating with my eyes and… He caches me and smiles, partly surprised. Quickly, I try to hide behind the empty glasses, but that doesn’t stop him from excusing himself to the guy he was talking to and coming towards me. “Do you also think that it’s a bit weird?” Marcel ask, standing in front of the table in flesh, bones, lots of muscles and that smile that makes me hot for no reason. “It doesn’t matter where I go, you’re always there. I’m starting to think something keeps throwing us in each other’s way.” “Yeah. Probably bad karma.” I grumble, annoyed. His smile grows wider. “I don’t know much about it, but if that’s the case, I think we’d better get it over with once and for all, right?” Without waiting for an invitation, he pulls a chair away and sits down facing me. The guy at the next table, the one who was angry with the bald man, stares at Marcel, licking his lips. But Marcel doesn’t notice it, interested in the unoccupied chairs and the mess of glasses and plates on my table. “Are you celebrating something?” He pushes some glasses out of the way, clearing the space between us. “My funeral, according to my friends.” “What’s wrong?” He frowns. “That important meeting of yours didn’t turn out the way you expected?” I blink, surprised that he remembers the meeting I mentioned so vaguely. “Ah, I got the client.” I pick up my glass and bring it to my mouth, only to remember that it’s still empty. I grunt as I return it to the table. “So what’s the problem, then? Difficult client?” He signals for the waiter to bring another round. Of course he’s noticed and his order is taken. That’s what life is like for Marcel: easy and servile. “Well, she wants to get married in Rugen.” I slide the tip of my index finger down the still sweaty glass. “It gives me the chills just thinking about the unforeseen events we might have. But that’s not the problem. It’s Fred, my ex-boyfriend. He fucked up even that. I will never forgive him.” The confusion creates two deep creases between his eyebrows. “What does your ex have to do with…” he Interrupts himself. I realize the exact instant he makes the connection. His eyes widen “You’re joking. The client at the meeting is your ex’s pregnant fiancee?” I nod. He already knows most of my degrading story. What’s the point of hiding the outcome? I’m almost certain I won’t think the same way the next morning, but at that moment I just want to pull the weight of that story out of me without anyone yelling at me. I begin to release everything, every detail, including my inability to tell the truth about Fred to Bianca. I speak quickly, splicing one sentence into another. Marcel gets lost a few times, but makes no comment. He just keeps listening to me with an amazement that borders on incredulity. “Oh, shit!” He rubs his mouth as I conclude the story, half breathless. “And you’re going to go along with this?” “I have no other choice.” I laugh, even though I really want to cry. “You were right. And it’s because of what you said that I haven’t given up on Bianca. I guess I should thank you.” All he does is blinking, so I hurry to explain. “You mentioned that I shouldn’t give Fred so much power. And so I did. I’m not going to be unemployed because of that jerk.” Marcel can’t look more stunned, as if I just told him I’m responsible for the death of baby penguins. He even opens his mouth to retort, but it takes him three attempts to, half laugh and half groan, “Liam, when I stated that you shouldn’t give your ex so much power, I didn’t mean that you should subject yourself to a situation so…” “Degrading?” I help. “Ridiculous? Humiliating?” “… Hurtful.” He says, “But I guess a bit of that stuff too.” I square my shoulders. “I’ll be fine. I intend to focus on Bianca, just on her, and forget Fred exists.” Tilting his head slightly to the side, he admires me in a way that implodes my walls and go straight to my core. I think I catch a glimpse of admiration in his expression, but it can be the effects of the alcohol. “Still,” he goes on, in serious tone. “And, having nothing to do with it, I would like to ask you to reconsider. I don’t know\… maybe explain the situation to your boss and pass the party to another professional in the agency?” he advises. “It wouldn’t do any good. Bianca wants me in charge. And my boss has a rock as her heart, she would never understand. Maxine made it clear that if I lose this client, she’ll throw me out.” “I’m sure your boss knows that the events market would celebrate if you left Fontaine. I’ve seen you in action under the worst possible circumstances.” The memory of Derek’s wedding comes to mind. So many things could go wrong but I made sure everything was perfect. Marcel was there. He knows it. “And you did everything you could to make it easy for everyone, even though you were visibly exhausted. I admired you so much then, Liam. I never got a chance to tell you this, but it’s true. You took my breath away.” Somewhat surprised… no, very surprised. Shocked even… I watch his pupils expand little by little. A warm sensation envelopes my chest, spreading rapidly through the rest of me, and it seems to be born from Marcel’s gaze, connecting us. “You’re only saying these things to make me feel better,” I joke, desperate to break the connection that seems to link my chest to his gaze. If it’s possible, it seems to intensify as soon as Marcel holds up his hands, laughing. “Now you’ve got me.” A restless silence falls over our table. I think he’ll finally realize that we have nothing in common to talk about and leave, releasing me from the unnerving frisson that grows thicker and thicker by the second. Instead, he stretches his legs under the table and crosses his ankles. “Derek told me Sarah contracted you to organise their baby shower party. I suppose that’s one of the things that’s been taking up so much of your time.” he chuckles. “Yeah.” I shift position, keeping my legs away from his. A baby shower isn’t really my thing, but i decided to accept organising it because it’s Sarah and Derek. I couldn’t say no to them. It’s a simple party. Nothing too crazy. Only for family members and a few friends. It really doesn’t make me worry. “I still can’t believe it. It feels like it was just yesterday I met Derek.” he says with a pitying grimace. “I lost a good soldier. I know he’s happier now but I do miss the time we were younger and carefree.” “I’m sure your time to tie the knot will arrive soon.” I quip. “Maybe.” he agrees, with a wink. Then something changes, seriousness dominates his expression and shoulders, and he leans towards me without a trace of mockery. “Have you thought about my proposal?” I get confused for a second, then I remember what he’s talking about. And although I didn’t have time to ponder the matter, the buzzing in my chest is more than enough answer to my question and his. “Yes.” I reply, “I’m really sorry but I can’t lie to Helga.” He watches me for a full minute, and I fear he might see more than I want to show. “I’m also sorry,” he murmurs, a little disappointed. “I thought the apartment search had come to an end.” He stands up. “Well, since this is the first time we’ve talked without arguing, I’d better not push my luck.” I stand up as well, not really knowing why. However, as soon as I do it, all the alcohol I ingested do their job and make me lose balance. I wobble to the side and almost fall over the table behind me, but Marcel acts quickly and holds me by the elbow. “Steady there, Liam.” “I’m ok.” However, to my embarrassment, my knees decide to disagree and wobble, forcing me to curl my fingers around the front of his shirt. He laughs again; his ribcage vibrates under my fingers. I lift my face and I’m surprised by his closeness. And how beautiful he is. A little dull – and a little hot – I turn away from him. I don’t notice the waiter approaching with our drinks until I bump into him. The tray the boy is carrying tips over, wetting my arm, his apron, and Marcel’s shirt. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” I murmur, not sure which of the two men I’m addressing. “It’s okay, relax,” answers Marcel. “I’ll get a cloth for you,” hurries the waiter. I look at my shirt and pants, seeing if they as well got wet, feeling less embarrassed. Marcel’s shirt has huge wet stain on it. “Ah, damn it, Marcel. I ruined your shirt. I swear I didn’t see him on my side. I swear!” “It’s okay, Liam. You didn’t do anything wrong, except wasting good beer.” he jokes. My drunk brain doesn’t think it’s funny. It’s too busy feeling guilty. I stuff my hand with paper napkins and press them against his wet shirt. But as much as I try to get rid of the stain, all I manage to do is making a few napkins fall apart. “Liam, really, it’s not necessary…” “I think it’s going to stain.” I bit my lower lip Exxen in frustration. “You’re going to stink of beer if you don’t take it off.” I bring my hands to the button under the collar and removed it from the opening. “I’m going to put it in the washing machine and dry it on…” White, manly hands closes around my wrists, preventing me from continuing to open his shirt. “If you intend to take my clothes off, you could at least offer me a drink first.” And he gives me a crooked smile. Then – just then – my fogged mind realizes that I’m trying to undress Marcel in public. Embarrassment washes over me. He doesn’t push me away, as I imagined he would. What he does is suspending my hands and lodging them against his chest. Without any invitation, the contours of his naked body surfaces in my mind, reminding me at the most inopportune possible moment of all that the fabric is hidding. “It’s all right, Liam. Really.” he affirms gently. “It’s just a shirt…” He says something else, but I don’t get to hear it. I’m too distracted by his thumbs, stroking leisurely over the inside of my wrists. The touch is warm, imperative, and yet delicate. My heartbeat whistles in my ears, drowning out the noise from the music inside the bar. I open my lips, searching for air, because Marcel’s proximity made all the oxygen on the planet disappear. I suspect that he realizes we are practically glued together at the same instant as I do, for his heart beats faster under my palm, his eyes become darker, and I swear the temperature rose several degrees in mere seconds. A sharp alert sounds in my mind. I’m in danger. Worse than that, I’m facing danger, allowing it to hold me close, and longing for… I’m not sure. I’m always prudent, I calculate and plan everything twice, I never act on impulse. I don’t like to take risks. But at that moment I can’t tear myself away from Marcel, or break the connection that formed the instant our gazes lock and our skin meet. It’s without thinking that I slide my hands around his neck. Surprise crosses his expression, bringing a little lucidity to my alcohol induced mind. Oh, no. I break away from him immediately, taking a few steps back until my hips hit the back of the bar chair. “I… ah…” I wish I can say something, maybe a joke or something clever, but I’m still out of control and do nothing but articulate indistinct mutterings. It doesn’t help much that Marcel holds a grave expression, and his eyes, a shade darker, fixed on mine. I wanted to kiss him. And I almost did. In the middle of a crowded bar, for God’s sake! What’s happening to me? Why does he have the horrible ability to make me lose control? And why the hell is he still staring at me like that, as if he wanted to kiss me too? Has he forgotten that he isn’t interested? I rub my temples hard to rid myself of the disturbing thoughts. I must have a reason for the imperious impulse that still drags me to him. Yes, surely there’s a logic explanation behind it all, I’m just too drunk to figure out what it is. Or maybe alcohol is speaking – and trying to kiss people – for me. It’s a possibility, right? Annoyed by all the things going on inside me that shouldn’t be happening, I think it’s best to impose a distance between us. However, before I can take a step, a boy (whom I recognize to be the train attendant) stops behind him and touches his shoulder. Marcel turns around and seems genuinely confused by the twink boy’s presence. “Oh you’re still here. I’m so sorry for being late.” he smiles, a little ungraciously. “I just left work now…” Marcel steps to the side and resumes his usual irreverent posture. “It’s okay, Niklas. I didn’t wait long.” He doesn’t introduce us. Still, Niklas, a little predictable, but nothing surprising, appraises me from top to bottom and twitches his nose. He doesn’t seem to recognize me. If he does, then he pretends he’d never seen me in his life before. If Marcel notices the displeasure on the boy’s face, he doesn’t let it show. He seems to want to tell me something, but he presses his lips together, gives me a quick nod and tells Niklas if they can go somewhere else. It’s a good thing Niklas showed up. It only reinforces that I made the right decision in putting an end to that ridiculous proposal of moving in together, and not just because Marcel sleeps around. I’m not interested in him. Not interested at all. What happened is… is… ah, I don’t know. I’m not interested, period. It doesn’t take long for my friends to return to the table. Luckily, they’re too drunk to suspect that my agitated state has anything to do with Marcel, and we continue drinking for quite a while longer. Near midnight, they srart leaving. Katya and Michael leave together; Erik finds a date and leaves with him; Torsten and the rest leave together. Nina goes to get her car while I scrap my wallet to pay my share. Then I go outside to wait for her. Alone and half-drunk, a pair of blue- blue eyes insist on infiltrating my thoughts. To escape them, I decide to check my e-mails while Nina doesn’t show up. I find one from Bianca, with photos of her family’s beach house, and I almost laugh. The place is huge. The swimming pool is eight times the size of my apartment. I can put the altar near the pier, with the sea framing the place where Fred will wait for his bride… Ignoring the tightness in my chest at the thought of him, I put my phone in my pants pocket, staring at the dark sky, without any star that night. I ask the universe what I’m doing with my life, and if there’s any chance of surviving it. Even though I’m furious with Fred, I can’t ignore the hurt. The betrayal covers our story with a dark veil, but the good parts are still very clear. And it sucks because, even under the violent current of anger and hurt, I still remember the anxious way he always waited for me to get off the elevator at his apartment door, as if he couldn’t wait another second to be with me. Or how he always ordered mushroom pizza – even though he hated it – because it’s my favourite. Or when we were on the couch and he’d pull my legs over his thighs, and play with my foot while we watched something on TV. I don’t want to remember any of that. I shake my head. Then my eyes spot a man emerging from behind a tree and walking resolutely towards me. “Fred!” I gasp. “We need to talk.” he huffs restlessly, spying the movement at the entrance of the the bar and hidding his face as if he doesn’t want to be seen there. For an immeasurable second, we stare at each other from less than a meter away and… well, it’s weird. Part of me hates him. The other misses him. Fuck. Fred, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to suffer any kind of romantic conflict and pulls me away from the entrance of the bar, taking me to a more tree-lined and dark part of the street, where no one can see us. “How could you?” A vein jumps in his neck. “I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing. But you’re going to stop this right now.” I square my shoulders, my vision blurred by a red haze. “I don’t take orders and I don’t play games, Fred. I do weddings, and very well. That’s why your fiancee hired me. Believe it or not, my life doesn’t revolve around you.” He ignores my sarcasm and comes closer, until only a few inches separate us and shoots me an angry glare. “Give it up in the name of everything we’ve lived and the love we shared.” “The big lie you created for both of us, you mean?” He cringes, “Don’t you understand? It hurts to be away from you, to know that I hurt you. I’m already getting the punishment I deserve. You don’t have to bother punishing me. What do I have to do for you to give up on this idea of organising my wedding?” I look at the man, who until the night before symbolized some normalcy in my life, and want to cry. “There is nothing that will make me give up, Fred. I’m not giving up my career for anything. You’re the one who got us into this. You should’ve known there’d be consequences. Everything always has.” I start to walk away. He grabs my arm and spin me around. “Who was that guy who almost kissed you in that bar?” His blue eyes flare, “Are you seeing someone already?” “Were you spying on me?” I ask, stunned, releasing myself from his grip with a jerk. “I had to talk to you.” He merely shrugs. I lose patience for good. “What goes on between me and that guy, or with anyone else, is none of your business.” I growl, “Does Bianca know her future husband is at a gay bar right now stalking another man?” When he doesn’t reply I start walking again, but the sound of his shoes against the cobblestones continue to follow me. I keep my pace, going as fast as I can to a corner, which is brighter. Damn it, where is the Nina? “I can’t let you go on with this,” he says behind my back. “If you won’t give up this idea, I will be forced to interfere.” I intend to keep walking, but his last sentence reverberates through the night and into my thoughts, so I slow my pace until I stop under the beam of a streetlamp and watch him over my shoulder, lost in the shadows of the trees. “You wouldn’t dare.” I mutter. “You leave me with no choice.” He opens his arms, helpless. “I can’t lose Bianca. If you won’t give up on my wedding, all that’s left is for me to make Bianca change her mind about having you in charge of everything.” Without sketching any guilt or regret, he turns his back on me and practically runs down the pavement, disappearing into the darkness of the night.

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