Henry ran for miles and miles on Orchard Beach in Bronx, he was trying to get rid of Mila's images in his head, like the one of her slightly crooked smile before bidding him goodbye last night. They were driving him crazy. He had to jerk off twice last night because he couldn't stop imagining banging her against the wall on which she was leaning last night, he imagined hiking up her dress, ripping off her panties end entering her so slowly that she would beg him to start moving faster.
He ran until his knees started shaking, but the images of her never went away. Need for her developed in both his body and his soul. He waited until his breath evened out before calling Ruth. There was absolutely no way he could wait for two weeks, the period she said she would be absent. "Good afternoon, Ruth."
"How are you?" Ruth was quickly becoming very dear to his heart.
"Still hangover, but good. How can I help you? I guess you didn't call me just to chat. "
"I want to thank you for the last night first." Henry was walking towards his car, he was in a desperate need for a shower. "And second, I'd like to know whether Mila arrived safely."
"She did, but didn't you exchange phone numbers last night, couldn't you ask her?"
"Last night was... I don't know, I forgot to ask for her phone number, I wasn't thinking clear. I have her e-mail, but he doesn't really respond to anything I send her. Can you tell me where she is?"
"Yeah, she is in Italy, why? Do you want to go after her?"
"Italy, huh? I thought she could be somewhere in the Caribbeans. But, yes, I do." He sat in his car, slamming the door behind him.
"You can't be serious." Ruth's voice turned colder and firmer.
"She said I could join her."
"And yet she didn't tell you where she was going?" Ruth became suspicious.
"I asked her if I could join her and she said, and I quote: "Only if you manage to figure out where I am."" He put on a seat belt, but didn't want to start the car before ending the conversation. "I'm really lucky to have you and I'd be really grateful if you told me exactly where she is."
"You and I both know that she said that only to blow you off, but still, she did say it, she can't deny it. You know, I really want to see her happy and I deeply believe that she won't be truly happy unless she is with you, so I will tell you, but under one condition."
"Just name it."
"You wont go there yet, let her rest for like a week. I don't know what her reaction will be and I don't want to ruin her vacation completely if she gets pissed off when she sees you there."
"Okay, I promise."
"She is in a small village, I will send you a message with the exact address, I've stayed there for a couple of times with her. You can try your luck with finding a room there now, but I'm not sure that you will be able to do it. Mila is in a small house on the coast."
"Thank you. I owe you big time."
"You bet you do because Mila will kill me."
7 DAYS LATER
Henry couldn't wait to get out of taxi he took at the airport, he would be lying if he said he wasn't nervous, maybe this wasn't such a good idea - that thought crawled inside his mind as soon as he landed. He kept staring at the sea from the moment it appeared before them. The taxi driver tried to chat him up a bit when he figured Henry spoke Italian, but his thoughts were aimed in Mila's direction, so he wasn't really involved in the conversation. Once they reached their destination, he gave the taxi driver a fat tip and ran to the entrance of a hotel he booked. Ruth was right, it was really difficult to find anything in this location, so he was ecstatic when he actually found a room. He was even happier when he figured out that the hotel was really close to the house Mila has rented.
He was grateful that check in process was done pretty fast, so he could drop off his bags and take a quick shower. Just minutes later, Henry was walking over a gravel path on a side of a road, following Google maps direction to the address he typed in. Soon he stood in front of the gates of a house that was his destination, Ruth was kind enough to also include some photos of the house and its surroundings, so he knew he was in the right place. He took a few deep breaths and his index finger hovered over it for a few second before ringing a doorbell on the gate. He expected Mila to show up at the house door, but nothing happened. He rang it once again and still nothing. He contemplated his options, but the most logical one at that moment to him was to try to go down a very steep bushy slope on a side of the house, so he could reach the stairs leading to this villa's private beach. He hoped Mila would be there.
He immediately cursed himself for wearing flip flops and a swimming shorts after making the first step. He almost slipped and those were some thorny bushes. The next few steps weren't easier at all. Have I gone insane? I could be charged for breaking and entering. He took a few more steps and his heart swelled, he saw Mila in the distance and he no longer cared whether he was committing a felony or making the wrong decision by coming to Italy. After taking a couple more steps, he was able to jump over a wall and then jump down to the stairs leading to the beach. He went down the first set of stairs, focusing solely on Mila. Soon her voice became audible to him, she was humming at first and then she started singing, she felt and looked so carefree in a one piece white and indigo blue horizontal stripes swimsuit with her long wavy hair falling on her back. He knew he would have this image engraved in his memory for good.
She was singing her heart out, being completely oblivious to Henry's presence. There were only a few steps left before he reached Mila when felt a huge mood change and a pang in his heart and he knew exactly why when she started singing the next song and he knew right away which song it was and why she felt the way she did. The pain in her voice sliced his soul in half.
Thought I found a way
Thought I found a way, yeah
But you never go away
So I guess I gotta stay now
Oh, I hope some day I'll make it out of here
Even if it takes all night or a hundred years
Henry kneeled next to her and gently tugged one of her earphones until it fell out of her ear, she tuned to him and flinched, but didn't say a word. He continued where she left off, not taking his eyes of hers.
Need a place to hide, but I can't find one near
Wanna feel alive, outside I can fight my fear
Isn't it lovely, all alone?
Heart made of glass, my mind of stone
Tear me to pieces, skin to bone
Hello, welcome home*
He kissed her shoulder softly before placing her forehead on it. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."
If somebody had asked Mila at that exact moment what she was feeling, she'd ramble a whole list - happiness, sadness, love, anger, relief, anguish, fear, hope... "Five years. For five years the first thing I had to every morning, every single one, was to find a way to block you before I could even start thinking about continuing my day. You were so happy most of the time while I was falling apart. I don't blame you for that, I really don't. But, the way you treated me..." Mila looked at the horizon line where sky met the sea. "You broke me into million pieces and I spent every day sticking piece by piece together, but I could never feel whole, not to this day."
Henry cupped her cheeks and turned her face to his, still on his knees, soothing thumb movement wiped away her tears. "Don't cry, please." He wiped away her tears until they stopped falling and her breath evened out. He pressed his forehead against hers, keeping his eyes closed. "I will spend the rest of my life redeeming for this, let me do so, please."
Mila didn't say anything, but she started opening up for his feelings again, feeling genuine sadness and worry. She backed away, leaving his hands in the air. She had moved to the edge of her made-for-two beach towel before lowering herself on it, lying on her hip. She tapped a sun lit part of the towel which was soon to be in a shade and Henry took off his shirt, lowering himself, following her order, not saying a word.
Lying on his back, he turned his head towards Mila. Her stared into depths of her blue eyes an he was sure that no river, lake, sea or ocean had such a beautiful colour. It didn't take long before his eyelids became too heavy to keep them up.
Mila watched Henry's chest rise and fall in even intervals. He must've been really tired because of his flight. Mila was convinced that he belonged at Mt. Olympus in myths, but somehow he was real and he bonded with her out of billions of people. Every muscle of his was hard and well defined, his biceps was bigger than her thigh, she was sure. He still kept his scruff and he grew his mustaches slightly longer, but most of his hair was gone, his sides were pretty short and the middle part was slightly longer and slicked back.
Mila wanted to let him rest, so she took her phone first, sending Ruth a threatening message to stop meddling in her life, but that she was also grateful that she did it this time, then she got back to a book she started reading that morning. She glanced at Henry after reading every couple of paragraphs and he was sound asleep every time. When she lost concentration, she went for a swim, enjoying coldness of the water. She didn't know how much time she spent swimming, but when she got out Henry was in the same position as when she left him.
She kneeled down next to his sleeping body, he was indeed perfect. She bit the tip of her index finger before she decided to trace a knuckle over his eyebrow, barely touching it, when he didn't flinch, she used the tip of her finger to trace the other one too, when she went back to the valley between his eyebrows, she continued her exploring by moving her finger down his nose. She scooched over and reached to the other side of his body, flattening her palm on the ground, keeping her balance. She got braver, so she used tips of all of her fingers to roam over his cheeks and forehead, she scratched his scruff with her nails and he leaned into her touch.
Water dripping from Mila's hair on Henry's chest woke him up, his lips curved in a smile before opening his eyes, Mila's hand remained on his cheek.
"Hey." Mila smiled back at him.
"I'm sorry for falling asleep, I was really tired." Henry started caressing the forearm of the hand on which Mila was leaning. "What time is it?"
Mila moved away to check the time on her phone and he immediately regretted asking. "Almost six."
"Shit. I've been asleep for almost two hours." He set up, rubbing his eyes.
"Yes. I'm sorry, but you have to go now." Mila got up and grabbed her book and phone. "I have a date and I don't want to be late."
"Huh?" Henry also stood up, completely confused, he did not expect this.
Mila felt a hit of jealousy and sadness wash over Henry. "Yes, with you. I'll pick you up at 8. You just need to tell me where you are staying."
Relief washed over Henry as hew as folding the towel. "That little hotel just up the street."
"Okay." She took the towel from Henry and waited for him to put on his shirt. "How did you even get down here?"
He pointed at the top of the hill. "And then I pretty much jumped over the wall right about here," he moved his finger to that point.
"You could've gotten yourself hurt, don't do that ever again."
"It was worth it. I rang the bell, but you obviously couldn't hear me. That's why I need your phone number, you know, to call you in this kind of situations."
"Your phone, please" Grace gestured for him to hand her the phone so she could put in her number.