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Leaving was the last thing he wanted at that moment. Though he was not sure at that time why, still unaware of the alien feelings, he knew leaving Lillian was not right. It didn’t matter what felt right or wrong though, as Lillian was handing him the bag and dismissing him, as though they had not just spent the last three weeks together. She spoke with the same coldness she had the night they met when it had been her life or his. It was clear that he really was no more than a wallet and a car to her. [I That is just fine with me, ] He thought, grabbing the bag.
“Nothing to talk about? Right.” Freddie looked around the room, running a hand through his hair in distress, before locking eyes with Lillian. “Fine. You know what, you’re totally right. I’ll go spend some time with people that aren’t completely disgusted by me.” Frederick slung the bag over his shoulder and hovered for a moment, still not wanting to leave. Despite his words, he disagreed with everything she was saying but there was no way in hell that Frederick Lester was about to tell the woman in front of him that he was willing to give up everything to see her safe because Frederick Lester couldn’t accept defeat, especially emotional defeat. “Good luck, Lillian. I hope you get exactly what you want in your new life.” He said, his words cold and impassive.
Frederick couldn’t get out of the hotel room fast enough. He strode out of the room without saying another word and refused to look back at the woman who had caused his chest to feel like it was ripping in two. Anger. That had to be what he felt. Surely this was just anger.
Once out of the hotel he got in the car and drove. The first hour of driving was fine, his rage towards Lillian for dismissing him, telling him to leave, distracted him enough from the actual feelings that he had spent the whole night ignoring. It wasn’t until the adrenaline settled down that Frederick started to really think about the nights events.
The ring now sat on the passenger seat, reminding him that the blonde who had sat there smiling and mocking him for so many weeks would never be his driving partner again. His eyes moved from the ring to the road several times as the minutes passed over. It had been an overreaction. Her comments about the ring and the way she had smiled, as though he had gifted her with something other than just a prop, they were no reason for him to get angry. Frederick knew he had said awful things, kicking him out had been justified it was just that – that…
Frederick slammed his hand against the steering wheel and cursed loudly. It was just that it [I had ] only been a prop. It wasn’t a real engagement ring and she would never smile at him like that with genuine affection. Frederick had played the part of husband and somehow, amongst her quick tongue and clever way of twisting his words, her passion and kindness and selflessness, she had gotten him to want to be more than just an actor in their play. Deep within his heart he had formed a connection to Lillian. Not just a connection or a friendship, not even just a bond. No, Lillian had stolen a part of his heart without either of them knowing and now Frederick had gone and ruined everything.
It made sense, it was why kissing that woman had felt so wrong. It was why his thoughts had been of Lillian and not of losing himself in the brunette. Because he wanted the woman in his arms to be Lillian, not a stranger.
The car lurched under his hand as he swung the steering wheel around, turning the vehicle around. He had lashed out at her because he had been scared. Scared of the strange feeling that he hadn’t understood, but he understood now. Of course, he didn’t plan on telling her that. At the end of the day, he would still need to leave her to start a life without him but maybe he could keep his promise to her, get her to her destination and then he could make his peace with his feelings and return home. It would help him not feel like a total arse. So Frederick tightened his grip on his steering wheel and pressed his foot down harder on the gas, forcing the car to gain speed because now there was nothing else in his head except getting back to Lillian.
When she reached the bedroom she made sure that everything that belonged to Frederick was placed in the bag, making sure that she still had a selection of clothes to last her until she reached her destination. Lillian didn’t know how she would get there without Frederick but she would figure it out. She was a resourceful woman and she would find a way. She would get herself a job and find somewhere to live and she would do so on her own. Not to prove a point but because she needed to let Frederick go back to his life and forget about her. She was sure that he would forget about her easily, especially after the way he had spoken to her. No, he would definitely forget about her easily.
She didn’t expect Frederick to come back to the room any time soon but when there was a knock at the door there was no one else it could have been. Lillian was lying on the bed reading a book when he came in and she tried not to look at him as he entered the room. Lillian sighed and placed the book on the bedside table and she tossed her legs over the side of the bed. “Actually Frederick, we don’t need to talk about anything.” She looked over at the bag and swallowed hard at the prospect of telling him to leave sooner than either of them intended.
“You were right. You’ve given up a lot to be here.” She rose from her seated position now and moved over to pick up the bag. “It’s time for you to go home. We’ve been doing this for weeks now and you’ve but everything on hold for me. I don’t think we have anything to talk about.”
There had been many times in Fredericks life when he had felt that sudden sickness that comes when you realise you’ve done the wrong thing. As a child he had broken his mothers' vase and hidden it in a plant pot, that sick feeling had stayed with him until he owned up. This was the same feeling that was now swimming in his stomach as he kissed the brunette stranger. Frederick pulled away with more force than needed.
“Sorry, I’ve got to go.” He said suddenly, holding his hand to his mouth with a slight disgust. Was it possible that he was just drunk? Somehow Freddie knew there was a deeper rooted reason behind his guilt from kissing that woman because the moment their lips had touched there was only one thought in his mind. She wasn’t Lillian.
Freddie turned and proceeded to stride out of the room with haste, only to be stopped by the waitress who had served them earlier that evening. The woman was frowning as she placed a hand on his arm to draw his attention.
“It may not be my place to say sir, but your wife has just come looking for you. I’m afraid she saw you with that woman. Maybe in future, you should be more careful.” The woman was clearly not saying something and had he not been in a state of emotional turmoil he would have probed her further. Instead, he continued to walk out of the bar and up to his room.
Once reaching the room, Freddie knocked on the door again only this time softer, not even trying to see if the door was locked this time.
“Lillian I’m coming in.” He said before opening the door. Luckily she hadn’t locked the door. Frederick walked into the room, his hand rubbing his forehead. The effects of the alcohol and their argument were creating pressure on his head and now he wanted nothing more than to sleep.
He would have accepted Lillian to shout at him, maybe even throw something. Going into that room he was unsure of her reaction, all he knew is that his anger had dwindled down, he no longer felt the need to cause an outburst or scream and shout. Instead, all he felt was the sickness. Had the waitress been right? Lillian had seen him with that woman and for some reason, it bothered him more than he wanted it to.
“We need to talk, about today at dinner and about…about the bar.” He swallowed and stood there, slightly dishevelled and slightly intoxicated.
Lillian shut her eyes and waited for him to be done and she felt nothing but relief as she heard his footsteps moving further away from the door. She didn’t move for quite a while as she kept her place on the floor with her back pressed up against the door. Her hands found her face and she was slowly beginning to calm down but only because she had forced him out of her mind for a moment. If she didn’t she was sure that she would never have calmed down. Both of them had said things in anger but there was still some truth to their words, even if there was more malice than there should have been.
“Damn it.” She cursed to herself as she pulled her hands away from her face. Lillian decided to pace the room for a little while and after time passed she had taken to laying down on her bed. A part of her wondered if she slept she might feel better but she also felt the need to clear the air with Frederick. He would likely be drunk and while the last thing she wanted to do was apologise, she would have to swallow her pride. She pushed herself off the bed and made her way towards the door, taking her time so that she could mentally prepare herself to face an intoxicated Frederick. Her face had reddened slightly from their altercation and she was sure that she looked fatigued after their argument but she didn’t care.
As she reached the bar her eyes scanned the room, trying to find him in the crowd. She couldn’t see him face amongst them but when her eyes reached the bar she realises why she couldn’t see his face and that was because his was buried in another’s, locking lips with a woman he had just met. It shouldn’t have made her breath catch in her throat and it certainly shouldn’t have shattered her heart, yet it did. Her eyes lingered on them for a moment longer than she intended and when she ripped her eyes away there were tears stinging them. It was then that she realised the real reason that her feelings had been hurt by his words and his actions. Perhaps she has realised for quite some time but had never wanted to admit it to herself but now the truth was hard to avoid.
The waitress who had served her earlier moved towards her and smiled towards her. “Is everything alright?” She asked with concern in her voice. As a reaction, Lillian wiped her eyes and tried to put on a smile and nodded.
“Everything is fine.” Lillian watched as the woman found the scene that had caused Lillian such upset and without another word exchanged between the two she turned on her heels and started back towards the bedroom. It was time to let him go. She had clearly been holding him back longer than she had intended and it was about time that she tried to figure this out on her own. He was right. He had given up aspects of his life for her and she didn’t want to be that drain on him anymore.
As it turned out, anger was not that much better than silence when it came to Lillian. The words that poured from her mouth, the hatred in her eyes, was proof enough for him that despite their time together she had not changed her opinion on him. He hadn’t forgotten what she had done for his sister, it was one of the reasons he was stood outside their bedroom door and in his car driving home at that very moment. He owed her a life debt and maybe that hadn’t been paid yet but it was pretty close. The ring was picked up and slipped into his pocket.
“I do not believe for one moment that you gave me that diamond to save my sister, Lillian. You did it because you knew I would help you find a better life.” His words were quieter this time but still harsh and hateful. “You know what, I’m done. I’m going to get a drink.” And with that Freddie turned on his heels and stormed back down the corridor and down to the bar. He didn’t need to hear more of her vicious words or be reminded again how she felt he was an arrogant, self-centred, womanizer. No, she had made it perfectly clear how she felt and any feelings that had been stirring up earlier have been smothered and replaced by fury.
Alcohol would help. Not in the sense that it would help him calm down and see the error of his words, but it would numb his mind enough that he would be able to sleep. Whiskey flowed and Freddie couldn’t remember where one drink finished and the next started. Although not drunk he had consumed enough that his head had become glazed, his thoughts thick like honey and slow moving. Sat at the bar, he took the ring out and looked it over. It had been a stupid idea to give her it, even stupider to get angry about her reaction.
A tall brunette wearing too much perfume and not enough clothes sauntered up to him, seating herself at the bar beside him.
“That’s a pretty ring.” She purred, leaning in closer. Freddie wanted to push her away, to tell her he was not in the mood for women and their drama.
“It appears she had no use for it in the end, or me.” He muttered under his breath. That was right, Lillian would soon have no use for him, it was why feelings were pointless and attachments were foolish. Frederick sat back and dropped the ring back into the pocket of his jacket before turning to look at the brunette next to him. “I’m sure you can find some use for me though, can’t you darling?” It was as easy as putting on a pair of old shoes. The playboy smile and charming mannerisms surfaced as though only hours ago he had wanted to smash every glass in the place.
They spoke for a while, not long and Freddie barely listened to a dull word that fell from her lips. Thoughts circled his head persistently, this woman was not even a scratch on Lillians beauty, her voice was irritating – unlike Lillians. Her stories were boring and made him want to plug his ears, yet when Lillian spoke he drank in every word. Freddie shook his head, he was angry at her so why could he not stop thinking about her? Why did she take over every thought and why did every woman in the bar pale in comparison.
“So, did you love her?” Freddie blinked and realised he had completely zoned out of Abbie, no Rebecca… Rachels? story. “The girl you nought that ring for, did you love her?” Freddie felt his stomach drop and almost physically recoiled at the words. So instead of giving an answer, especially one that he was not ready to hear himself, he leant forward and kissed the woman.
Just as she expected she was not left alone for too long. Frederick has come to the room to respond to her comment and she could tell that he was angry as his fists collided with the door. She was not about to let him in while he was behaving in such a way and it seemed that the fact the door was shut did not do much to stop him from his outburst. For his entire speech she remained sat on the bed, processing his words and growing more and more angry by the second and she was already reworking her reply in her mind as he continued to spit words that had apparently come from no where. This has been a good day. Now if was far from it. It seemed that the final straw was when he called her selfish and in an instant she had thrust herself from the comfort of the bed and hurled towards the door to open it wide enough that she could see him.
“Me? Selfish? I’ve never even been given the chance to be selfish in my life! All I have [i ever] done was think about other people. It’s how I got into this mess in the first place! I ended up cleaning up my brother’s mess for him and then I cleaned up yours. Or are you forgetting that I am the reason that your sister is safe at home right now? I gave up my life for her... for you... and you have the nerve to call me selfish? I asked you to help me disappear. I didn’t ask for you to pay for lavish hotels and meals and god damn it, I certainly didn’t ask you to buy me a ring!” She held up her hand where the ring was now sitting and she used her other to pull it off and throw it at him.
“Of course I have thought about what happens when you leave. You get to go back to your family, to your women and to your life. Sure you have had a month of absence but that was your end of the deal. You get to go back. You get to forget about all of this. Don’t you dare tell me I am selfish when all you have done is get frustrated by the fact that I’ve inconvenienced you for a small portion of time that you can more than make up for. I’m sorry that you have to abstain for your women for a while but even though you are a heartless bastard I thought your sister meant more.” Lillian couldn’t look at him anymore. The door closed again and she pulled the lock across the door. She didn’t want to see his face anymore and her breathing had grown erratic and she was sure that there were tears forming in her eyes. She pressed her back against the door and allowed herself to slide down to the floor.
He had hoped for an outburst. For anger and venom, like the first time they had argued and the many times after that, he needed her anger to soothe his own conscience. Fighting fire with fire. Instead, she was quiet, her words were spiteful and what made them worse was the Frederick believed she meant them. His eyes stayed on her as she moved away from the table and turned to leave the restaurant. How [I dare ] she just walk away after a comment like that? When she had shouted at him, he had apologised, taken it to the chest and let her vent her anger. Yet now the tables had turned and he was unhappy, angry, confused and she just simply felt it acceptable to walk away.
Frederick didn’t wait for the waiter to reach him, nor did he apologise when he took the glass of whiskey the man was carrying him, mid-step and drink it before putting it on another couples table. His feet were moving, following after Lillian without any thought. Upon reaching the bedroom he tried the door, letting out a string of curses when he found it locked.
“Lillian, god damn it woman let me in my bloody room.” He shouted through the door, fist banging against the wood before turning away and pacing back and forth.
“Incapable of feelings? Do you realise what I’ve given up to bring you out here, to drive for endless hours with you and keep you safe? I should be at parties and events, I should be with women who don’t cringe when I suggest sharing a bed and eat at restaurants that don’t have sticky tables. Bloody hell, I’ve put my whole life on pause for you.” Frederick could feel the heat rising in his face, but he hadn’t finished. “You tell me you don’t want my money, that I can’t buy you, but you’re forgetting why we’re here Lillian. A deal, an exchange. The diamond for my money and services, to get you somewhere that you can start a new life. Maybe I can’t buy you but if I withdrew my money we both know you’d be gone in the blink of an eye.” Frederick spat. He breathed in, catching his breath, feet still pacing, hands clenching and unclenching.
“Have you ever actually thought about what happens when I leave? You get a new life, a fresh start and I get to return home to people that I’ve abandoned for months with no explanation. I get a mess to clean up and lies to untangle all the while I will spend every day not knowing if someone’s recognised you and everything is ruined. Me, incapable of feelings? I think you need to take a look in the damn mirror Lillian. You may be beautiful but you’re selfish as hell.”
She thought, or she hoped, that would be the end of his outburst and that he would allow them to enjoy their food in peace and perhaps forget about what he had said but it was clear that he had no intentions of letting it go. What made matters worse was that he had planned to keep himself lubricated with alcohol for the duration and their meal and probably well into the night.
Lillian looked up at him when he started to speak, indicating that he found something funny. She raised her eyebrow as if to ask what he could possibly find so funny and that was when he seemed to jab the proverbial knife further into her chest. She swallowed hard and shook her head before placing her hand on the table before her as if to steady herself.
“You [i cannot] buy me. I have no interest in your money and I certainly don’t have any man lined up when you leave! I’ve had enough of this.” She pushed against the table so that she could push her chair back and she found her feet. “Just because you are incapable of feelings or even caring about anyone other that yourself doesn’t mean you have to hurt everyone around you.” She said simply and quietly so that no one other that Frederick could hear her. Lillian made sure her anger was clear in her voice before moving away from the table.
As she made her way back towards the room she found the waitress and asked if her food could be sent up to her room. Rather than drawing attention to her argument with Frederick and told her that she simply had a headache and felt as though she needed the quiet to recover. She didn’t spare a look for Frederick then, instead simply made her way to their room and locked the door behind her before letting out a frustrated groan as she made her way over to the bed.
Frederick could have calmed down if the waitress hadn’t walked over just as he had closed his mouth long enough to breathe. Although he had been staring at the menu with an intensity that suggested he had been evaluating every item with a critic’s eye, he had in fact, been staring at the words without registering what they meant. Freddie didn’t look at Lillian as she ordered her food, instead, he simply smiled at the waiter and ordered two of whatever Lillian had ordered and a whiskey.
“I don’t want to see my glass empty.” He joked, though the lightness to his voice was forced and to someone who knew him better they would hear the anger brewing. The waiter looked at the two, smiling with a friendly warmth and told them how in love they looked. Feelings surged in Frederick and it took everything in him not to get up and walk away without a single word. Instead, his shouldered stiffened and he tensed his jaw, holding back the flurry of words and emotions that were threatening to spill out. Emotions that Frederick still did not understand.
The waiter returned with his drink shortly and the moment the glass was clasped in his hand, he emptied it with a single gulp.
“We are celebrating.” He said simply, looking at the waiter, who didn’t comment, only picked up the glass and walked back to the bar.
Frederick should have stopped there. They should have eaten in silence and then slept it off, the likelihood was that he would feel better in the morning, once the initial confusion and anger had subsided he would have seen how unfair he had been towards Lillian. However, he did not stop there.
“Isn’t it funny?” He said, leaning back in his chair with a feigned casualness. “You once told me I can’t buy you. The waiter seemed to think otherwise. Give you a bit of glitter and suddenly you’re in love with me.” Frederick laughed. It was a cold, harsh sound and so different from the real laughing he had done in the previous three weeks. His eyes found Lillians and instantly he wished they hadn’t. How could someone who caused such anger in him be so beautiful, how come he was raging inside and yet his heart was still thrumming in his chest?
Perhaps she shouldn’t have reacted in that way. It was simply a ring to stop people questioning their relationship but the fact he has spent time picking one out that could act as an income later down the line if she needed it meant a lot of her. If he would have done this a couple of weeks ago she might have refused it and pushed it back towards him and when she saw his reaction she wished that she had.
Only moments ago he had been a completely different person but now he seemed to change and his words were cruel. Lillian’s smile disappeared and she retracted her hand to pick up the menu again, trying not to show how hurt she was from that fact that he had accused her of being just like every other woman who was just after him for his money. She asked for his help. Not his money. Lillian pulled her eyes away from him and looked down at the menu so that she didn’t have to see the cruelty in his eyes as he spoke. This was not the right place to argue, especially since they were supposed to be keeping a low profile but every single word cut her like a knife.
When he finished talking she was grateful that the waiter had made their way over to them to take their order. At that point she had to reign a smile and told the waiter what she wanted and waited for Frederick to do the same.
“I just wanted to say that you two make such a good couple. From the moment you walked in here I could tell just how much you love each other.” It wasn’t what they needed to hear right now, especially since Frederick was already on edge. Lillian swallowed and forced another smile before looking up at him.
“Thank you. If you wouldn’t mind speeding up our meal I would appreciate it. I’m feeling a little tired this evening and I would like to retire to our room as soon as possible.” Lillian was grateful that the waiter seemed to understand and when they were left alone again she looked around the room, allowing the silence to surround them. If she said anything to him now it would blow up and they would be arguing in the middle of the restaurant.
Her reaction was more than Frederick could have hoped for but more than he wanted. It was a strange feeling, to have been the cause of the smile on her face. Frederick should have felt pride, happiness and relief that she approved of the ring. He should have held her hand in return and told her that it was a ring worthy of its wearer, both beautiful. Instead, Frederick felt something else, a feeling of tightness in his chest and fire on his skin where her hand held his. His mouth felt dry and the breath in his lungs seemed to be insufficient. It was the same feeling he had gotten when he saw his first sunrise, sat on the roof of his parents’ house. That beautiful scenery had caused his breath to catch and his heart to beat like a tiny hummingbird. No, what Frederick was feeling was far from relief.
Pulling his hand away with an unnecessary sharpness he picked up his menu again. Before he could think about the words coming out his mouth or the sudden irritation that had crept up his back that made anything he said next so much harsher than intended, he spoke.
“If I had known all it would take was a bit of jewellery to get to you warm up to me I would have given you that a long time ago.” Frederick ignored any reaction, his eyes staying trained on the menu. Damn her, he hadn’t wanted to come on this blasted trip in the first place and the last thing he wanted was to feel this way. Not, that Freddie understood what he was feeling, all he knew was he was now angry. Angry at Lillian for getting so soft over a silly ring, making it out as if it was more than just a prop to their play.
“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Girls like you always swoon when there is money and diamonds involved.” Freddie clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth in annoyance and dropped the menu onto the table. “I don’t doubt that you’ll have another man with deep pockets lined up within moments of me leaving, will you?” The words kept coming and if he had stopped to think about them, he would realise their deeper meaning.
Deep down, Frederick didn’t think Lillian was like other girls. He also did not believe that she had another set of pockets lined up ready to empty once she was done with him. However, Freddie was confused and instead of contemplating the feelings that had risen up in his chest he pushed them down and drowned them out with an emotion much more familiar to him. Anger and hurt.
Lillian opened the door and was greeted with a smile. “Let’s go.” The truth was, she was starving and the quality of food didn’t matter to her. She would eat anything that was given to her at this stage. “Don’t worry so much! It’s not like anyone out here is going to recognise us.” Lillian didn’t hesitate to take his hand and the two walked down to the restaurant together hand in hand. There was a time when she might have argued or refused to take his hand but this was more routine now and it became part of a routine that she had learned to enjoy, especially since their time together was slowly coming to an end.
She smiled and took a seat, thanking him for his chivalry and she extended her gratitude to the waiter who had given them menus. Lillian didn’t really have time to look over the menu properly before Frederick was addressing her again. Her eyes looked up at him over the menu as he seemed to offer an explanation about what business he had been attending to. Lillian flattened the menu on the table so she could focus on him properly but her look displayed her confusion. When he mentioned the incident with the ring she knew exactly what was coming and she shook her head. “You didn’t.” However when he placed the box on the table she knew that he had in fact bought her a ring.
Her heart raced as her hand moved to the box and even more so when he explained why he had chosen that specific ring. “Frederick...” Her voice was barely even a whisper as she opened the box. She could barely keep herself from gasping as she took in the appearance of the ring. Lillian looked up at him as if to confirm that this was actually for her and she ran her finger over the gold band with the emerald. “Frederick it’s beautiful.” Lillian took it out of the box and tried it on the finger it was intended for and she smiled at the sight of it. She moved her hand to take hold of his as it rested on the table. “Thank you.”
Picking a ring had been harder than he imagined. The first thoughts as he entered the shop was that it was small, the rings on display were all generally nice and first thoughts were that it would only take a few minutes to pick one and transfer the money over. Of course, once he really got down to it, none of the rings seemed fitting. Most of them were too simple, a style that suited Lillian more than something extravagant but would not fetch for a good price when she would sell it.
After what felt like an eternity, Freddie finally settled on a gold ring, emeralds surrounded by diamonds. It was cut in the latest fashion, a beautiful rectangle that seemed to catch the light, changing from the darkest of greens to a light transparent glow. The ring was paid for and pocketed. He would give it to her at dinner, hoping that it would put her in a good mood for the night.
Returning to the hotel, Freddie knocked on the door, calling through to Lillian and went inside. She had showered and dressed for dinner, her hair unbound around her shoulders. Even after that night, where he had been irrational and untied her hair, she had worn it up. Frederick smiled and walked over to the mirror, straightening up his shirt.
“Shall we go for dinner then?” He simply said, giving no explanation to where he had been or why he had left her so suddenly after stating that he was sticking to her side all night. “I’m not getting my hopes up for the quality of food but they do have a bar that we can get a drink in, provided there are not too many people in there.”
Frederick turned to face Lillian and held out his hand, whilst he usually waited until they were in company to touch her, the hectic atmosphere of the hotel and bar had set him on edge. They were so close to their end goal and within a week Lillian would be settled ready to start her new life. The last thing they needed was for someone to make a commotion and draw attention to the two.
Once down in the restaurant Frederick pulled out Lillians chair for her to sit, as the waiter seemed oblivious to such courtesies and sat opposite her. Menus were handed to each of them and then the waiter left.
“I’m sorry for leaving so quickly earlier. Do you remember when we had that argument, in the diner? When the waiter questioned why you didn’t have a ring?” Freddie paused to place the menu down on the table. “Well, at the time you were so angry so I didn’t bother asking you about it, but really you should have a ring. If someone were to ask again it could be bad news.” With that Frederick reached into his pocket and pulled out the little velvet box, placing it on the table. “That’s what I was doing earlier. I tried to get one that you could sell for a large sum when you’re on your own. In case you can’t find an income quickly.” Why was his heart racing? It was a strange feeling and he tried to push it down, the butterflies of anxiety circling his stomach. What did it matter if she liked it, or even accepted it? It was all part of their act.
“I got emerald, it reminded me of what you were wearing the night we met so I thought it was a safe bet.” Somehow the words had sounded nicer and softer than he intended. It had been a mans way of thinking, she wouldn’t have wore the colour if she didn’t like it so an emerald ring would be fine.
Lillian laughed at the way Frederick reacted to their accommodation for the night. It was so typical of him to say that she was not to leave his sight and even though she wouldn’t admit it, she had grown to enjoy his protective nature over her. While she was still strong enough to survive independently, she like their new found relationship and a part of her was sad about the fact that their time together would soon draw to an end. In a week he would likely leave and she would never see him again. She shook her head to allow the thoughts to escape her mind. She didn’t want to think about that just yet.
Lillian looked up and smiled as Frederick came around to the door and she took his hand so that she could climb out of the car and took the opportunity to look around at their environment. “I’m sure we will fit right in here.” She said with humour lacing her tone of voice. Considering that he said that he wasn’t going to let her out of his sight she was surprised to hear that he had business to attend to. Lillian looked around and raised her eyebrow. “Here? What business could you possibly have here?” She took his arm as he led her to the hotel and they followed their usual routine of man and wife as they checked in to the hotel. They had gotten quite good at it over time but they would have blamed that on the fact that they had plenty of practice at this point.
Once they were in the room he was preparing to leave once more. “Got it.” Lillian locked the door behind him and did exactly as she was told, allowing herself a shower before getting herself ready for dinner. She didn’t dress up too much and she even decided that this was the kind of establishment where appearances did not matter all that much, so she had decided to leave her hair down. When she was ready she sat on the bed waiting for Frederick to return from whatever business he had to attend to.
Frederick would never admit it, but he had enjoyed the three weeks on the road. Despite the dingy hotels, bad food and the constant ache that had settled into his back from sitting up for long periods, he enjoyed his limited time with Lillian. Even amongst the fights, the heated arguments and the furious silences, Freddie still somehow still found amusement in their time. As the days ticked over it was becoming clearer and clearer to him that leaving Lillian was not going to be easy. There were moments where he wanted nothing more than to dump her on the side of the road, especially when she was in one of her moods. However, most of the time he wanted slow his driving, just to possibly drag their adventure out another day.
As naïve as he was, Frederick believed that his reasons for enjoying their trip were because of the fantasy-like notion behind it. Being on the run, staying in hotels and eating in isolated cafes. The actuality was not glamorous but it was like living out of a book. For a man who had been given everything and wanted none of it, something as simple as taking an unplanned trip to save someone’s life had given him the excitement he needed. The reality was that Frederick had formed a bond with the girl. Though he had not opened his heart, she had somehow started chipping away at the edges. When they had their good days, he laughed and teased and relaxed into himself without feeling the need to put on appearances as he so often did around his own family and friends.
Lillian spoke her directions and Frederick automatically followed, the days of hesitating at her map reading had passed. His eyes fell on the hotel and his jaw tensed. Not because it looked like the kind of place someone could get murdered or catch a disease, but because of the thriving bustle that was surrounding the bar. The car pulled into the lot and he turned the engine off, glancing over at Lillian. Another week. That was something he didn’t have the heart to comment on. They were closer to their destination than he realised and the thought of driving back home without her company was ever so slightly depressing.
“I’ll grab the bag and we can go check in. I’m not letting you out of my sight today.” He said, assessing the amount of bodies that were outside the hotel and bar. “There are too many people here and we can’t risk anything.” Frederick got out of the car and went around to open the door for Lillian, taking their bag off the back seat once she was out of the car. There were a few shops lined up opposite the hotel and his eyes fell on a small jeweller. The sight sparked a memory and his eyes instantly dropped to Lillian's hand. She had been playing the part of his wife for three weeks and he still had not gotten her a ring.
The ring wasn’t just for the part she was playing but it would also be a small income for her should she get into trouble financially. Something she could sell once he was gone and no longer able to fund her new life.
“Actually, once we’re settled in the room there is some business I need to take care of. It shouldn’t take long so you can bath and get ready for dinner.” He said as he took her arm, a habit he had gained from their little act. They walked into the hotel and Freddie did his usual smiling and chatting to the reception desk, giving their fake names and putting his arm around Lillian in an overly friendly gesture. They had been lucky that no one had questioned their relationship since that first time.
Once in the room, Frederick put the bag down on the bed and without even resting for a moment, turned to Lillian and smiled.
“I’ll be back shortly Kitten. You know the drill, lock the door and don’t open it for anyone.” Without waiting for a reply he turned and left the room, making his way out of the hotel towards the jewellers to buy something he had never imagined ever purchasing in a million years. An engagement ring.
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