‘I don’t have the answers, but I intend to find out.’
‘What really worries me is how safe are you?’
I sigh. ‘I haven’t really had a chance to speak to Blake about many things, but one thing I do know is that if Sorab and I were not safe now, I wouldn’t be here talking to you.’
‘So is Blake the new head of the Barrington empire now?’
‘I guess so.’
‘What about his older brother? Shouldn’t he be the next in line? And if he isn’t, wouldn’t he be jealous and plotting Blake’s downfall?’
I cover my eyes. ‘I don’t have any answers, Bill. I am scared. The future frightens me, but Blake is nobody’s fool. He plays his cards very close to his chest. He never once let on that he knew his father was watching. He let it all unfold in precisely the manner he had decided it would.’
I know that Blake will be home very late because there is so much for him to organize. Even while I was with him the phone calls never stopped. As I promised to do, I call him when we reach the apartment building. We don’t talk for long—he is busy. I put my key through the door and realize that this is now home for me. It is where I live with my little family.
So much has happened here.
I play for a while with Sorab, then feed him and put him to bed. I prepare some food—grilled cheese on toast, and, eat it alone—I clean up after myself and wander about the place. From room to room I go switching on lights. It all feels so still and silent. Tonight I cannot bear any shadows. I see ghosts everywhere. I wish Blake would come home. When the phone rings I grab it with relief.
‘Hello, my darling. I’m missing you.’ His voice is like velvet in my ear.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Nothing. When are you coming home?’
I feel almost tearful. So much has happened that I do not understand. My head is so full of questions and worries. We haven’t made love since that night at the Ritz, and I long to feel him on my skin, and deep inside me. I am desperate to forget, to purr, to lose myself and ride that wave of ecstasy. I decide to have a bath, a really long bath, with bubbles and scented oils. I lay my head back and try to relax.
Everything will work out.
Everything will work out.
But I am unable to relax. I get out of the bath, dry myself down, lather my skin with some lotion that has honey and extracts of avocado in and lie on the bed reading. By ten Blake is still not home. I go to the fridge and pour myself a glass of white wine. I should put some music on. It feels so deserted and strange. I check on Sorab. All is fine there.
I stand for a while in the balcony. For some reason I think of Jack. Ever since that last time I saw him I have not heard from him. I wonder where he is and what he is up to. I look up to the stars and say a silent prayer for him. Wherever you are, be well. The night air is cold and makes me shiver. Eventually I return to the bed and my book. I want to wait up for Blake, but I fall asleep while reading.
Something wakes me. He is home. I see the glow of the little moon-face lamp under Sorab’s door. Softly, I open the door and freeze in the doorway. Blake is standing by the cot staring at Sorab as he sleeps. His hands are gripping the cot so hard, his knuckles show white. He has opened a window and the night outside has become coal black. No stars. No moon. A soft breeze blows in. I feel it on the bare skin of my arms. Goosebumps scatter. The room is full of clinging shadows. My heart hitches.
He whips his head around suddenly, and I am face to face with him. I see his eyes. For a moment it is as if he does not recognize me. I do not recognize him. It must be my imagination in overdrive but it is as if I have interrupted a powerful predator. His eyes burn through me, angry blue.
‘I regret nothing I would do it all again in a heartbeat, if I had to,’ he whispers. The sound is fierce and heady with male dominance.
We are locked in a stare, neither of us blinking.
I am mesmerized by his gaze. Here is the man who has a hold on me, on my soul. And he has the keys to secret rooms I have yet to open. They are full of dark secrets. I am scared. Scared for us. Scared that the secrets will defeat me. That he will not give me the keys. The breath catches in my throat. My heart skips a beat. My head is flooded with so many unanswered questions.
He makes a sound, husky, unintelligible.
And suddenly he is beautiful beyond anything I have seen. He is my man. Mine forever. I love him. I open my mouth and words flow from my heart.
‘I know our lives will never be the same again. I know you are trapped in a world that is like nothing I have ever known, but I am willing to climb mountains, cross rivers, and travel barefoot over thorns and rocks if it takes me to you. I will find you. I promise,’ I whisper.
‘I hope you never find me in the place where I exist, Lana.’ The words are ripped out of him.
A chill runs down my spine. I shiver. Words bubble up in my throat. ‘Why are you always so harsh with me?’
‘I’m not being harsh with you, Lana. For you, I’d die a thousand times. You’ll never know how lonely I was without you, but you have to understand that I am only strong when I am certain you are safe. And you are only safe when you are innocent. You can never come to me. Always I will make the journey to you. The knowledge you are looking for is poison. It will seep into your very essence. Just this once allow me to act with beauty and courage, for you and Sorab.’
He is a broken soul. I walk up to him, and immediately he sweeps me into his arms and presses me against the hard expanse of his chest. I breathe in the scent of him, and feel again that passionate desire to be one with him. When our bodies are so fused together that our souls touch. I need to feel complete again. I have been for so many days unwhole.
He lifts me into his arms, I wrap mine around his neck, and he walks me to our bed. ‘Your fingers are freezing,’ he says.
God, hot tears are trickling down my cheeks.
He bends his head, his shadows spilling over me. I hear the blood pounding in his temples, and he kisses my tears. ‘Dew drops,’ he whispers. ‘I never thought it could ever be like this.’
I swallow and try to stop the tears but they won’t halt.
He lays me on the bed. ‘It always surprises me how silky your hair is,’ he says softly to himself.
This has to be enough to pull us through. This must.
‘It feels like a dream. As if you are unreal. I couldn’t bear it if I woke up and you were gone,’ he murmurs.