Is it all for James? Can he win Nicole’s heart again, and win her back? What will Nicole do? Find out.
I arrived at the address of Nicole’s workplace in the South six hours later. About twenty past three. I stopped the car in front of a gray and white building that was most likely the building I was looking for. I got out of the car and took a better look at it. It made me nervous somehow, that building. It was the place where Nicole was right now. It was the place where she found her long lost love. The place that made her have a change of heart. I had a sudden chill as I continued staring at the building. As if it was, too, staring back at me, with its evil eyes and demonic smile. As if saying, ‘You don’t even stand a chance, now go back’. I took out my phone, shaking off the thought, and called Nicole.
There was no answer. So I took the paper with the address of Nicole’s workplace out from my pocket and looked for a number to call. A friendly receptionist answered when I called. A few moments later, I heard Nicole’s voice on the phone.
“Nic, it’s me,” I said, swallowing an empty air down my throat. It tasted bitter.
“Jimmy?” she replied, sounded surprised. When I said I was just outside of the building where she worked, she sounded much more surprised. By then I had left my car and was already walking toward the lobby of the building. I heard her taking a deep breath and let it out slowly. And then back to her usual calm voice, she said, “You wait down there, okay? I’ll get down in a minute.” When she said that, she sounded like the usual her. The her I always thought would be mine forever. The her I had kissed goodnight so many times. The her that whispered love back to my ear. The her that I had forgotten the birthdays one too many times.
It suddenly brought me back to the night of my birthday two years before. Nicole had made a special reservation for us in one of the finest restaurants in the city. She dressed in a stunning black dress, looking fine with her glistening necklace. After we sat, she took out a men’s wrist watch and put it in front of me.
“Happy birthday,” she said, and leaned over to give me a kiss. The watch and the reservation must have cost her a lot. It was not something we did frequently. But she said to me, “Don’t worry about the money, Jimmy. What we have together is worth more than money to me.” It was her conservative take on love and money. Still, I forgot her birthdays. Still, I prepared last-minute Valentine’s gifts for her, year after year.
I waited for Nicole in the lobby as she asked me to earlier, and when I finally saw the figure of her body, walking slowly toward me in the lobby, I had to fight the urge to run to her and pull her into my arms, to tell her I was sorry, so sorry.
She stopped in front of me and said my name in a kind of regret. She smelled fresh but she looked tired and worn out. There was visible dark circles under her eyes which struck me that she might not have been sleeping well lately. When she was about to open her mouth again, I asked her; “Do you still love me?”.
She looked around, aware that someone might have heard us. And then she brought her view back to me and let out a heavy sigh. In her eyes I saw bitterness. Without saying anything, she led me outside of the lobby. “I want to meet him,” I said. “I want to meet Jacob.” By then we were already standing outside of the building. She did not say anything. She dropped her gaze down to the pavement in front of us. And then we stood in silent. In silent, I had a lingering thought that this was all a mistake, that I should not come to the South in the first place, that I looked nothing more than just a pathetic man in her eyes now. She was probably staging the kindest way to get rid of me in her mind. Finally I said, “Do you really… want me gone?”. Even in my own ears the words sounded distant.
She flinched and quickly looked up to my face. “Jimmy, please…” she said gently, touching me in my arm. It was her pleading eyes and her furrowed brows when she looked at me that made me realize that she still loved me. She just loved him more.
“Wait here, don’t go anywhere, okay?” she said to me softly, but quite earnestly, locking her eyes to mine until I gave her a nod. Then she left me and went back into the building. When she finally came back down, her coat was in her left arm, a set of keys in another. “Come on,” she said, and I followed her till we reached her car. We got into her car and she drove off, leaving that white and gray building behind. I saw the building in the rear view mirror getting smaller and smaller as the car sped off. I forgot about my speech that I rehearsed before reaching the South, forgot about my own car, forgot about Jacob, I just wanted her to take me far away from everything, far away from any human being, to the world that was unknown to mankind so that it would be just the two of us.
She didn’t take me to the world unknown to mankind. Instead, she took me to the apartment she was staying in the South. It was a fairly small apartment. I saw the bed as soon as I entered the apartment, far back by the window, with kitchenette on its opposite ends. Before it, was a small living area where the TV set and the couches were. The long couch was what divided the hall into a living and a sleeping area. To the right was a narrow hallway that connected probably a bathroom. The place smelled like her, giving me a sudden sense of familiarity. Everything was kept neat and clean like how she always kept her place.
She walked slowly to the far end window where the bed was and sat on the bed facing the window. I followed her and stood by the window in silent like a helpless man. The silence grew, it went on and on. It drew a distance between us. I felt bitter, distant, far, from her. Suddenly she was no longer sitting on the bed within my reach, she was now yards away from me, and I could only see her and the bed from far away. They were so small, shrinking smaller and smaller, and then gone.
“Come here,” she said, startling me. I turned and there she was, still on that bed within my reach, reaching out her hand to me. I came closer to the bed and sat next to her. She felt so close and warm. And then she raised her hand to touch me in my cheek, and pulled me closer to her. My head fell to her shoulder, and that was when I realized she was right there beside me, never felt as close and warm, and I said, “Don’t leave me.” She tightened her grip on my head, and I wrapped my arms around her, repeating; “Don’t leave me”.
Continued Here: PART 5
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