“We’d be normal.”
Until now Eve hadn’t been able to process anything Villanelle was saying. She felt as if she was deep underwater, and the only recognizable sounds were her own heartbeat and the damp crunching sound of the axe as it entered the Raymond’s skull, playing in the forefront of her mind on manic repeat. She could still smell the metallic tang of blood, still hear his garbled screams and pleas for mercy. If she closed her eyes, she could still see him scrambling away from her with the head of the axe nestled deep between his shoulderblades.
When she was a child she used to go up to the attic in her grandmother’s house and search for spiders, usually daddy long-legs. Once she found them she would methodically pluck their legs off one by one, releasing them for a moment after each amputation to see if they would still try to hobble away from her. They always did, even if they were down to their last spindly little appendage. It was a pathetic sight, one that fascinated Eve to no end. Why didn’t they just give up? If you only had one leg, if you had just been struck by an axe, if you had been stabbed in the gut by the MI-6 agent who’s been tasked with hunting you down, why would you bother to keep going? What was the point in fighting so hard?
As she wondered this, Villanelle’s words began to creep through the edges of her reverie.
...cabin in Alaska…
I have money…
We’d be normal.
What the fuck was normal?
She and Niko had supposedly had a normal life, complete with a mortgage and a junk drawer in the kitchen filled with takeout menus and old batteries, and look where that had left her —rooting through some simpering slut’s underwear drawer like a demented raccoon. Past experience had given her a less-than-positive association with the word normal.
At the same time, there was something undeniably alluring about the prospect.
For a moment, just a moment, she could see it. A cozy little cabin on the edge of a lake. Snowshoe tracks leading up to the front door. A fragile column of smoke rising from the stone chimney. Warm amber light spilling out of the windows and into the surrounding twilight.
Maybe they could get a dog. She and Niko had always talked about getting one, but the townhouse was too small and neither of them was home enough to give it the attention it would need. But that wouldn’t be a problem on an Alaskan acreage, where they could take it on hikes through the surrounding foothills.
The kitchen would be small, but Eve would make due. She would cook dinner for Villanelle every night. Maybe she could ask Niko for his shepherds pie recipe, if he was still talking to her. Villanelle would like it, or at least pretend to like it for Eve’s sake. She saw herself holding out a spoonful of sauce to Villanelle, saw Villanelle’s eyelids flutter shut as she wrapped her lips around the spoon. Saw the two of them getting distracted and letting the pies burn.
In the evenings they would lie by the fire with their ankles tangled together. They would read in companionable silence, or have long philosophical discussions about the nature of good and evil. She would shout out accents — Irish, Bostonian, New Zealander — and Villanelle would do them, making up characters and stories for each one. Eve would laugh until tears streamed down her face, which Villanelle would wipe away before trailing kisses along her cheeks and jawline.
The sex would be incredible. Violent, passionate, and frightening sometimes, and achingly tender other times. They would have safewords, spend thousands of dollars on all manner of exotic toys. (Oh god, what would it be like to get fucked by a woman with a strap-on? she wondered. Or better yet, what would it be like to be the one wearing the strap-on?) They would fuck on every flat surface in the cabin, and try every position they could come up with. Except missionary. Never again.
It would be so easy. All she had to do was lean into Villanelle’s touch. All she had to do was take Villanelle’s hand and never let go. They could start running and never stop, hide away someplace where Carolyn and The Twelve and Konstantin and Niko and even fucking Kenny couldn’t find them.
Eve took a deep, steadying breath.
When you’re drowning, your natural instinct to hold your breath works against you. As the carbon dioxide tries to claw its way out of your windpipe your lungs burn, causing every muscle in your body to tense up. When you finally exhale, the tension release creates a feeling of euphoria like the most powerful orgasm you’ve ever experienced, just before everything goes black and fuzzy and numb.
Eve exhaled, and Villanelle’s tiny, shy smile felt like sunshine on her skin.
“I’ll take care of you. It will be amazing.”
And for one perfect, shining moment, it was.