Your Loss, pt. 10

hotel balcony

The beginning of the story

That is the moment when Robert finally kissed her. Not until Petra had said the words that showed she got it, that she understood, did he even get close enough to her to touch. She got it. One thought that kept him awake at night was that he was that kind of fool, misjudging the kind of girl she was, misjudging what she was capable of. At some point in the air on the way to Monaco, he had made a decision. He wanted to be with her. He couldn’t live without her and they would be together one way or another. If it were to be, he would dig out the good part of the girl, the heart of her, the place in her being where she was capable of love. After she said those words, he reached her in two strides, grabbing her shoulders hard and kissing her fiercely, almost violently. The waiting was too much for a man to bear and his arms went around her then, not letting her get her breath.

Every rampant thought of Robert’s, every moment of lost sleep over the thought of him, came back in a fury and she exulted in it, even when she couldn’t breathe, holding on and not pulling away until he did first. When he finally broke suction with her lips, he pulled back and stared at her so intently, she could almost not bear to look at him. But she held her gaze steady, not looking away until he did. He deserved as much as she could give to him, and she withheld nothing.

He grabbed her again, gathering her into his arms, and holding her close. She wanted this, but the intensity nearly made her pass out. She forced herself not to say anything yet, just waiting for him. He would talk when he was ready. For now, she was enveloped into his arms, his body warm and smelling like him. She could die like this.

He pulled away once more, still holding onto her, at arms’s length, so that he could see her eyes.

“Do you intend to stay?” His voice was gentle now, but his eyes showed that he insisted on a straight answer.

“Yes, Robert. I will stay.”

He wanted to believe her. He chose to believe her, ignoring the voice inside him that said she knew who killed her aunt. She might have killed her herself, for all he knew, but he never asked her. Why didn’t he ask her if she killed Sadie? Because she might have told him words that he could not un-hear. He pulled away and went to the table to his default position, picking up his cigarette case and popping it open, taking out two cigarettes. When Petra came over to him, he held out the cigarette to her lips to take it. She leaned, pursing her lips just enough to hold onto it. He lit it, then his own, and they stood there, the smoke in a curly billow between them, rising up and settling in a cloud above their heads. Once, Robert’s eyes glanced upward, watching the smoke curl about and disipate toward the ceiling, bit by bit. He coughed, then gestured toward the door.

“Are you hungry?

Petra shook her head no. There was too much here to even consider going out. If she was hungry she had not noticed it yet, and it could wait. Everything else could wait. She sat down at the small table and smoked. When the cigarette was nearly out and burning her fingertips, she looked up at him. He lit another and inhaled it once, the tip glowing in the dim room. He held it out to her and she took it, bringing it to her lips.

“Thank you, Robert.” He sat down then at the table and watched her smoke. He could watch her do that for hours. her dark hair shone against the small lamp, and her red fingernails looked like blood against the cigarette paper.

“We have some plans to make. I don’t know how much time we have.”

“What kind of plans do you see for us?” Her voice was soft and compliant. He could do no wrong at that moment.

“I was thinking about America.” Her chin jutted up and she looked agitated, looking away first, then at his eyes.

“Is that possible?” Petra had never wanted to leave America, not for good. There were only two places in the world that could make her truly happy. Two places that were home. Czecheslovakia and the United States.

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