(13/8/2012) A/N: After reading thorough Soledad Tintero's review of chapter 2 I've decided to try to re-write it again!
I thought about it, and agree with the points mentioned as I knew there was something missing in this chapter that I couldn't quite put my finger on...
Still, I'd love to hear any other opinions on the story! And I really want to improve it :)
This chapter will be replaced when I have finished it... hopefully along with the next installment!
Fly Me to the Moon
Vi sat in at the kitchen table, with glossed-over eyes, staring at the young man who was at the stove with his back towards her. He had been humming all morning while the bacon and eggs sizzled in the pan, and she had just sat there watching him prepare breakfast for the last thirty minutes or so, with her knees to her chin, and her rear balanced on top of a wooden chair.
The analogue clock on the wall read nine-forty-six as a plate of pancakes, bacon, eggs and toast was set on the table in front of her, and the young man, having removed the sunflower apron he had been wearing, taking the opposite seat at the table. He was still humming as he began piling food onto the empty plate in front of him, and she wondered where the tune was from. It had a well-known ring to it, yet she couldn't quite remember where she had heard it. Even so she thought it was a nice and uplifting tune, and added to the surprisingly refreshing morning they were having.
After taking a bite of the toast he prepared, topped with a rash of bacon and some egg, the young man turned his gaze to her and raised an eyebrow. The girl had been thinking many things, but the deadpan look on her face, which she had been wearing ever since last night, stuck tightly to her face like a mask.
"Did you want something to drink?" He asked.
"No, thank you."
"Have something to eat."
The girl shook her head very slightly in refusal.
"Despite how I look, I'm pretty good in the kitchen."
"I'm not hungry, but thank you."
"Did you want to talk about it?" he asked gently, after taking a brief pause to consider before doing so.
She didn't bat an eyelash either at his question, nor did he seem perturbed by her lack of emotional response, and chose to spear the top pancake from the stack, as he waited for her reply.
After a drawn out moment, she finally said, "No."
"Alright, but you should really eat something," he said, chewing on his own food. He picked up a toasted slice of bread, spread strawberry jam on it and placed it on the empty plate in front of her.
"This will be easy on the stomach, and I'll guarantee you'll feel a lot better," he reassured with a smile, dusting a few stray crumbs from the side of his mouth.
The girl stared at the toast – at the colour, and at the neat and tidy manner he had spread the jam into the shape of a heart. She looked up at him through her eyelashes and saw him looking back at her. His smile grew and she couldn't help but finger the toast awkwardly, getting jam on her index finger. She wasn't completely dissuaded by the sentiment; it just didn't feel real to begin with – he had already declared to be in love with her, but it was all too sudden, and felt more like a childish schoolyard prank. Even if it were true, she didn't think she could return his feelings. She did however feel grateful towards the young man.
She didn't know what time she got home – or how for that matter – but it could have only been the stranger, now sitting at this kitchen table, that managed to get her back here, safely. Vi didn't trust him completely, not yet, as it could simply be a slow day at the police department, and they figured it would be best to locate that serial killer that had been targeting women in the northern suburbs, than deal with a missing whore and her lover. However it was true that the police had yet to come knocking on this particular brick bungalow, so she assumed that he had not disclosed to anyone of what had happened. Not that it bothered her whether the bodies were found or not, she had already decided that her life would be over anyway, and she was simply satisfied that those two were dead. So even if the stranger had any ulterior motives, they would ultimately lead to nothing.
So why was this young man here, in her house, eating with her, and playing the role of a gentleman? Vi couldn't quite put into words the sort of feelings this man gave her, which were both neither pleasant no unpleasant, but the fact that he was there having breakfast with her set him apart from everyone else – for at this moment she felt a sense of normalcy, which had been absent from her life since she could remember. Having given her this simple moment, she felt the mask she wore loosen just a little.
"It'll taste better in your mouth," he mused, taking another bite of pancake, and she watched the young man chew his food for a moment before glancing away.
From an outside perspective, the two of them together made a lot of sense – they were the image of a young couple enjoying their morning; two people sharing breakfast together, and it did appear like two lovers at a table when he reached for the toast, held it up to her face, and asked her to take just a single bite. Feeling obligated to do so now, with his very persistent request that she eat, she reluctantly parted her mouth and had a taste. She licked her top lip where some of the jam had got to, and allowed the flavour to linger in her mouth a while longer. It had only been a simple serve of jam on toast, but it somehow tasted sweeter, and more delicious than any other meal. She took another bite, having realized how hungry she really was, and remembering that she didn't have much at dinner yesterday.
The young man smiled to himself as he watched her delicately eating the breakfast he had spent the last hour preparing. The slight flutter of her eyelashes, lips delicately pressed together, puffing cheeks and semi-surprised glint in her eyes as she consumed the toast made him smile even more, and he was pleased that she didn't immediately turn away and spew it all out on the floor – considering she was obviously new to murder and all that unpleasant business, which from his experience, was not something many people are able to stomach so readily.
"Thank you." The zombie-like stare she had all morning had softened.
Though she was still rather soft-spoken, and appeared rather timid, the young man concluded that that was simply just the girl she was. He made a mental note to himself to treat her carefully, else she scurry away like a frightened mouse if he were to bear his claws.
He smiled. "It's your house. That would be rude of me."
The young man was at the fridge now, grabbing the flask of orange juice, as he said, "And I hope you don't mind me helping myself to your kitchen."
"No, of course not," she said, spooning some egg onto her plate, and tossing them around with a fork. For a second she visualized that the scrambled eggs were her mother's golden hair, and that she was running her fork through them cruelly – scraping and balding the scalp with the blades, and drawing fresh blood from delicate veins. The thought disappeared when she heard the fridge door close, and began taking small bites instead.
The young man poured the juice into two cups, and returned with them to the table. She grew more conscious of him staring at her eating as more minutes ticked past, and she raised her eyes again and met his from across the tall vase of daffodils that she had neglected to notice till now.
"I love you," he said.
She froze for a second, before continuing to eat the food on her plate and casting her eyes down. "Why are you saying that now?"
"Just felt like it," he answered, sipping the juice. "You're very beautiful."
"What happened last night?" His last statement made her feel a little uncomfortable, so she thought it was best to change the flow of the conversation.
He shuffled his position in the chair, elbows on the table, with his upper torso leaning forward, while mentally noting that the girl didn't want to discuss his sudden confession nor did she particularly like taking compliments. He found that rather amusing.
"You passed out not long after I met you," he started, eyes watching her flip some crispy bacon pieces. "You had some car keys on you, and there was only one car at the park, so it didn't take a genius to figure out whose car it was. I let you sleep there, while I took care of the rest."
"How did you take care of it?"
"You'll find out eventually." His smile appeared more playful, but still very mysterious.
Vi took a paper napkin and wiped her mouth. "How do you know where I live?"
He chuckled at her questioning of this, but it was soft and kind. "So that car, it belongs to one of the people in the garbage bags? A man I'd think."
She hesitated, but nodded in response.
"I found a piece of paper with an address written on it in the glove box. It took me here. Which reminds me, you didn't lock the door before you left last night? That could be dangerous, you know."
"I'll remember next time."
"Do you want to know why you are in a nightgown right now?"
"My dress was wet, I assume you thought it would be better to change my clothes. I should thank you for that too."
He raised an eyebrow again, at her blatant explanation of what happened. Of course he hadn't done anything to her. He had wanted to though, the thought of a beautiful young girl, lying naked before him, unconscious and defenseless would make a wonderful dream come true. Except it wasn't a dream, and he didn't want her to get sick, and put her into something warmer before tucking her into a bed. All of which occurred with the lights off, and only by the seeping light of the moon could he make out the form of her slender body once his eyes had adjusted. He dreamed of angels that night, in the few hours of rest he had taken.
"Can I ask you a few questions now?" he asked, politely. "You don't have to answer, but if you can I'd really like you to try and be honest with me."
She stared at him, harder this time. "OK."
"Good," he smiled. "What's your name?"
She didn't respond.
"I'd like to put a name to the face, or else I'll have to just keep calling you 'Beautiful' until you get use to hearing it," he said, teasing her a little.
"It's Vivien," she replied, not having to think about the possibility of him giving her such a ridiculous nickname. He repeated her name after hearing it, and she found herself feeling a little embarrassed. "Just Vi is fine."
"Vi, then. How old are you, Vi?"
"When is your birthday?"
He took a second to just study her face and consider other small facts he had gathered while she had been resting, before saying, "Oh, happy birthday. I'll have to get you a present then."
"No, you've done enough. Thank you."
"Do you think you could fall in love me, Vi?" He asked in a forward manner. She certainly didn't see that question coming.
She looked at him. Although this time she let her eyes take in his appearance once more, now that she could clearly look upon him without having to share it with the light of the moon. Her eyes drank in the very sight of him – those enchanting light brown eyes, hair that fell freely and delicately in waves, and a face that was not overly gorgeous, but beautiful in its own right. Any girl or woman could fall for such a man based solely on his appearance. What an odd question to ask, she thought.
"Yes," she said honestly, yet her response sounded cold somehow and he sighed a little.
The young man looked towards the daffodils on the table. There were three of them, sitting in the blue glass vase, and he thought they were extremely brilliant. They had only cost him a dollar from the market when he went to the grocery store that morning, and thought they would be well suited to the blue-eyed, raven haired girl, that had been in a deep sleep all night like a sleeping beauty. He had been correct; she would look lovely in a field of wild daffodils. The imagined scene in his mind blended in with very scene before his eyes, which allowed him to focus through the blurred shapes in the background and have Vi's face come into view, as it was lined by the blossoms of golden daffodils. She had been gazing back at him in the same manner, albeit showing a hint of curiosity in her eyes.
His eyes pressed into hers a little more fiercely as he asked, "Do you want to love me?"
Her eyebrows creased in the middle, and for the first time that morning, her face showed confusion and uncertainty. Somehow it made his heart flutter.
"I…," she began, unaware that she had the edge of the table cloth in hand, and was swirling it awkwardly around her fingers. She didn't find the logic in his series of questions, and she found that the only answer she could come up with was, "I don't know."
Unexpectedly, the man's smile brightened, and he got out of his seat and kneeled on the floor besides her chair. He took her free hand as he had done the previous night and held them delicately in his own, as if she were a fragile mythical creature, and any sudden movement would break her. She was a young girl, and he knew it would be best to treat her in the way most girls would like – but hardly ever get to actually experience.
"Then is it OK for me to love you, until you do know?" his smile was so earnest that she could not imagine him doing something as heinous as becoming an accessory in murder. It would be unthinkable, except for the fact that he actually did. Even so, she did not trust him – but nor did she hate him or was even frightened of him as any normal person would be under the circumstances. She did indeed feel something for the young man, but was it love? She couldn't be sure, because she had never loved anything, let alone a man.
"What if I can't answer?"
"Then I'll stay by your side forever," was his unhesitating response.
She caught his gaze once more. He had a hand pressed over his heart, and the fingers of his other hand had been gently massaging her fingers, but all she could feel was the hard, wooden seat of the chair, and a strange tingly sensation that crept up against the back of her neck.
"That was a cheap answer," she whispered, casting her eyes aside.
Her mother was now dead. She had never known her father, and she didn't have any friends or relatives that she could call upon. Even the neighbours were complete strangers to her, and the only relationship she still carried was with the stray cat that would often visit her on humid nights in summer, and she would offer it a little bit of water and whatever bits of food she could spare. She was alone, and she felt that he used that to his own advantage. Unknowingly or not, that was unfair.
He was still smiling as he held her trembling hand, and raised it to his lips. He could only imagine what she was thinking at this moment, and was determined to win her over.
"I'll never leave you," he said into the back of her hand. "I promise."
There, he laid a gentle kiss, allowing the warmth of his lips to transfer to the rest of her body through this brief connection. Although she could barely feel the touch of his hand, she felt this, and it passed through her like an electric shock. The mask she wore shattered – but it was still holding together with the smallest of bonds. Another sudden move and she knew she'd be completely at this man's mercy.
It was a frightening thought to the girl, not in a horrific sort of way, but it were as if she was standing on the edge of a cliff. The cliff would be infinitely high, with strong winds and slippery stepping, with only a thin metal railing at its edge. She felt like she was pressed right against the rail and she could feel it bending beneath her weight, and although she was so high, somehow she felt like the drop wouldn't hurt. She was not scared of heights and she only had to jump, and it would be OK – because there was no ground. She was a single push away from one limitless drop.
A kitchen symphony had begun to stir. There was the slight humming from the refrigerator, the dripping of a loose tap as droplets fell on the pots and pans in the sink, outside there were birds chirping in a chorus, and it was the beating of her heart took the lead. At first the rhythm was soft, then it got louder and louder and quickened in tempo when she realized that the young man had guided them both to their feet, he had captured both her hands in his, and was smiling at her – in a way that she had never seen anyone look at her before. What was that look?
She wanted to say something, but she didn't know exactly what she wanted to say, else it spoils the kitchen performance.
So the girl was a relieved when she heard the sound of the doorbell.
Without another word, she let go of the young man's hand, and walked out of the kitchen, glad to be relieved of his almost suffocating presence. No, suffocating was not how she would describe it –overwhelming would be more accurate.
She hadn't been aware that he had also followed her until they almost reached the front door and just as she was about to open it, she felt him grab her arm.
"Are you sure?" his voice was so soft, that had he not practically had his lips against the inner edge of her ear she would not be able to hear him, especially against the increasing heartbeats. Was it her heart? Or was it his?
She gave him a confused look, but almost immediately realized the possible mistake she could be making in the next moment had he not stopped her. Who could it be at the door? And what did they want? These would be normal questions – save for the fact that they were coming after the day she had murdered two people.
The young man cocked a smile, and gave her a wink. She didn't know exactly what he had meant by that gesture, until, to her surprise, he opened the door without letting her think the situation through another minute.
There, stood a man in a suit. He was overweight, with terribly waxed comb-over hair, smelt like cigarettes and too-much cologne, and he wore a green-coloured necktie. Vi recognized him immediately when she saw the tie, and she took a step back. She wanted to back-away but the young man was standing right behind her now, and she noticed that he had a hand securely around her waist. It was a little forceful, as it kept her where she was, but also so she wouldn't bend at the knees which she felt had become weak.
The other man also noticed the unnatural coupling, and he immediately made an uneasy face, though he did take notice of Vi more than he should, and noted that she was still wearing her sleepwear although it would be noon very soon.
"Erm, is Veronica home?" the man asked. His eyes darted from Vi, to the hand at her waist, then to the young man. Then in that order again.
The girl's right hand began to shake, and she put it behind her back so that no one would notice. However, someone did notice and she felt a little more stable with the young man holding her hand.
"Veronica?" The young man repeated the name, and glanced over at Vi who was not making any eye-contact, save for the green tie at the other man's throat. She did, however, unconsciously squeeze his hand at hearing the name. It wasn't hard to work out who Veronica had been.
"Oh, she didn't come home last night," he continued, feigning a surprised sort of look, as if he had only just realized the fact himself. "She said she had business in the next town over, and she didn't say when she was coming back."
"Ah," the man said.
"Would you like us to take a message?"
This time the man just stared at him. "Uh, n-no, it's ok." He appeared rather confused, and made to turn away, but before deciding to actually leave, he adjusted his gaze and looked at the young man straight in the eyes and asked, "Just wondering, mate, but who are you? I've not seen you around here before."
The young man smiled, and without any hesitation, he pulled Vi closer to his body and kissed her fondly on the cheek. She reciprocated the action by blushing.
"Bartholomew Arthur Stanton, but people just call me Art. I'm going to be staying here for a while."
The girl took note of the name.
"Ah," the man continued studying the two of them. "Why here?"
"Oh, I met Vi online about half a year ago, and recently I had some business in this town so I decided I should pay her a visit," he said cheerily. "Only came in the other day and now I'm thinking of staying here permanently."
Vi did not find the young man's lies uncomfortable, but she did dislike the other man's curiosity. She wished the tie had been a snake and it would constrict around his neck and kill him.
The overweight man made a huffy sort of noise. "Well, um, hope you enjoy it here, and ah-," he looked at Vi once more. "It's good to see you again. Please give me a call when Veronica gets back."
Art agreed to do so as Vi didn't show any sign of wanting to answer, and said his farewells as the other man left in a shiny new sports car. The minute the door shut, Vi practically dropped to the floor, yet he caught her by the arm before she hit the ground.
Clearly that confrontation made her uneasy, so he led her to a seat in the lounge.
The encounter was only for a few minutes, yet she felt as if she had been standing there for hours. She hugged herself and let the shivers run themselves out of her body.
"So, Veronica lived here?"
"Who was she?"
There was a long pause, followed by, "My mother."
"I see. Who was that man?"
Art suspected there was more to it than that, but he knew it would do no good to push her any further. He sat beside her on the sofa, and pulled her silky hair behind her ear, so that he could look upon her profile. She was lovely to look at – even when she was panicked and unwell.
She grew conscious of his gaze and turned to him.
"Did you know it was going to be nothing?"
He guessed she was referring to him confidently answering the door, after teasing her about the possibilities of getting caught. "I did. I would make a horrible accomplice if I were to get you into trouble the next day. I'm not only good in the kitchen, you can rely on me." He intended to charm her a little with the last line, but it didn't seem to have much effect.
"Was that your real name?"
He noted that she was trying to change the subject once again. Was it a habit of hers to do that when she felt uncomfortable? His thoughts lingered on that for a bit as he said with a smile, "It is."
"Oh. How come you don't call yourself 'Bart' then?"
"Well, 'Bart' is too strongly associated with a certain yellow skin hell-raiser that I'd rather not be associated with."
"Oh." She began to ease up.
"Vi, is what I said ok?"
"Is what ok?"
"About letting me stay here with you."
She looked at him blankly before turning away. "I guess."
He moved closer to her, so that the sleeve of his shirt was brushing against her bare arms. She looked up and caught his gaze again.
"I asked you if you want to love me and you didn't give me a straight answer," he began. She took in a deep breath. "But is it alright for me to love you? I really do think I can."
"How can you say something like that so easily?"
"Because it is easy. It is the truth. I think I can love you," his face moved in closer, and she found she really didn't mind him being so intimate – which was a bit of a surprise. She had nearly no affection for intimacy, the thought of being so close to someone – a stranger – disgusted her more than anyone could know. Then why did she not find him disgusting? She wondered this as he drew his lips so close to her own that the air they were breathing began to mingle and dance between them. Was it because she felt indebted to him somehow?
"I will not make you unhappy, I promise," he said, pressing his lips against her forehead, and cupping her face with the palm of his hand. He had resisted the urge to kiss her on the lips, as much as he would have liked too, it just wouldn't have been proper – after all, he had barely known her for half a day, and he was a gentleman.
His kiss was certainly warm and she unwilling gasped slightly at his gentle caress of her neck and shoulders.
"Art." This time he corrected her, as he looked into her eyes and pressed their foreheads together. He caught her with those hazel eyes that seem to look through her as if she were made of glass. Fragile and transparent, that was how she felt beneath his gaze. She would have also added vulnerable to the list of adjectives, had he not made her feel stronger instead. How was that possible? This young man knew what she had done, and instead of condemning her actions or question her moral sanity – he accepted it?
"Are you a psychopath or something?"
He laughed, heartily this time. "Maybe."
"Why are you so nice?"
"I'm not," he answered, this time averting his eyes. "You just don't know me yet." The defenceless look on his face made her chest ache, though it lasted only a second as he quickly shot his eyes back to her, smiled and said, "I've done a lot worse than you ever have."
Upon hearing this, her mask fell to pieces. It shattered before his very eyes. It was not as if her face had changed or anything, but he could hear it – her heart was syncing with his own. That didn't mean that she loved him or anything like that, love would take time and work, but this meant that she grew an unspoken affiliation with him, and they both knew that whatever it would become would be infinite and unpredictable.
"Art," she began to say, letting her lips memorize the form of his name, and drawing it out for as long as the single syllable would allow. "I..."
But before she could say anything further, a crying sound came drifting from another room in the house. It began softly, moments before, but it was now ringing in both their ears and it made the young girl back away from him in a one sudden movement, which took him by surprise.
Art had already been through the entire house that night so he wasn't taken back by the sounds of the mewling. He did however feel her reaction to be a little odd, as she wrapped hugged herself and shuddered at the opposite end of the sofa. It was as if she had just awakened from a pleasant dream and thrust into a bleak reality where there was only pain, violence and other unpleasant things.
Were the screams of a hungry baby that frightening? He wondered.
A/N: I realize this scene was probably draining to read... so I apologize, but I really had no idea how to go about it...
And I didn't want to cut out anything (yeahhh this is why I should get an editor hahaha), but I hope you have enjoyed it anyway!
I have not started on the third installment yet, so who knows when that will be out (if ever!) and I think I might want to still work on how this part ends... feels a little rushed to me, iunno... could also do with a little more quirk. Anyway, I do hope that its not confusing ^^ I know the characters seem a bit... odd?... But that will definitely be cleared up as the story progresses and you get to learn about the two of them :) I am trying to go for an overly-cute relationship here, so I hope it doesn't sicken you too much in the future hahahaha...
Till next we meet xoxo.