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Secrets and Favors

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26 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:43 pm

I nod slightly, sniffling again as I keep my eyes peeled on the sidewalk as we walk. 

"They're just things." I repeat quietly.

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27 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:09 pm

I hesitate at that, my lip catching between my teeth for a moment before I look over at her and lean in to put a light kiss on her shoulder. It's a subject I've wanted to talk to her about for a long time, but I'd never been able to bring myself to broach it. Yesterday was as close as I had ever come, and it seems the accidental talk had had more of an impact than I'd meant at the time.

"You made Jean very happy, though," I say lightly, bumping her gently with my hip as we walk.

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28 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:23 pm

"Seemed fair, though, didn't it?" I ask as I look at him, "He gave me all of those old photos... I sort of owed him."

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29 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:31 pm

"Maybe," I shrug, a faint smile on my lips. "I guess it sort of worked out, didn't it? If he hadn't given those to you, they'd have been lost along with all the others."

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30 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:36 pm

A small pang of guilt settles in my stomach as I nod, thinking back to when I'd shuffled through Jean's stack of photos and the ones that'd been lost. 

"Yeah," I nod, "You're right. At least we were able to save some of them."

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31 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:43 pm

"And now he has the locket," I say, glancing toward her with a small nudge. "You both got something that made you happy. That's good."

My ear tilts toward Jean as I hear him scooping up another handful of snow, something he's been at since we started walking. He's trying to clean the locket, a task I can tell even from here is going to be a challenge. Sighing, I pull my coat around me more tightly, my head tilting up a little to enjoy what little sunlight there is on my face. 

"This is gonna be a much longer trip than I anticipated," I admit after a moment of quiet. "I thought we'd be well past Andover by now."

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32 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:46 pm

"I have no idea how we're going to find a ride..." I confess, shuddering a bit as I hug my arms around my front. "I've barely got enough notes for a room for the night, let alone transport across the country."

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33 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:21 pm

"We'll manage, don't worry," I say as I pull my scarf up to protect my face. "When I left Richard, it was winter then as well, and I didn't have a penny to my name. And with you and Jean, it opens up whole new groups of people we can talk into working with us. Much as I hate to admit it, I've always been a bit disadvantaged when it came to sweet talking the ladies. They find me charming enough until they realize I can't see. 

"Somehow, I'm more than certain Jean will rise to that challenge, though. And I know of at least a couple of hopeless dopes who'd absolutely melt at the opportunity to give you a ride. Real nice fellows, but they are dumb as a box of rocks - twins, to boot. You'd think nature would have favored at least one of them with a brain, but no. Chances are they're still working the roads, too stubborn and stupid to yield to the snow."

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34 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:33 pm

"I think you over estimate how charming I am," I smile over at him, slowing a bit so he has to bump into me. "You're the only one who ever flirts with me, ya know."

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35 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:34 pm

"That really is a shame," I smirk, nudging her hip with mine as we walk. "You're smokin' hot. Why do you think I'm walking so close?"

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36 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:34 pm

"It's certainly not because you're hopelessly blind." I grin, "I think you're trying to rub your stink off on me because blind blokes are the only ones who'd be interested in me."

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37 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:41 pm

"Nonsense," I scoff. "You're as much of a pariah as I am, not even the blind blokes would go near you." I snicker at the teasing as I tuck a hand into Ljuba's pocket as we walk. "Truthfully, though? I'm kind of glad you don't have more people buzzing about for your attention."

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38 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:18 pm

"Oh?" I can't help but smile as I feel his hand sink into the pocket of my sweater. "And why's that? Were you one of those kids who never learned to share?"

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39 Re: Secrets and Favors on Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:24 pm

"Apparently," I laugh as I listen to the sounds of people moving about inside their homes. It's too cold for anyone with any sense to be out and about. "I don't know, I'd never really noticed it until Jean showed up, but I get this feeling that starts in my gut and then goes up my spine until it's gotten into everything, and I don't like it in the slightest. Then I turn into an asshole, and I don't know how much of it is me being a jealous dick or what's just misplaced from being annoyed that I feel that way. I've felt it every now and then when you're off chatting with your hands with someone, but never so much as when Jean waltzed in, charming as all hell with his stupid ugly face."

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40 Re: Secrets and Favors on Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:02 am

"You really don't like him," I laugh, "Are you jealous of Jean?"

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41 Re: Secrets and Favors on Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:07 am

"No," I scoff, a sharp exhale coming out of my nose before I hesitate, my lips pressing together as I listen to the man ahead of us. "Yes... maybe a little? I don't know, I sort of liked it just being the two of us... the damaged duo, only have each other because nobody else would have us. With him around, I d'know... I just feel sort of... alone? I forget sometimes that you weren't always like this. You used to be like them."

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42 Re: Secrets and Favors on Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:10 am

"Like them!?" I gape at the statement, bumping into his side as I shake my head. "What does that even mean!?"

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43 Re: Secrets and Favors on Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:14 am

"I don't know," I laugh, bumping back into her to shoo her back onto her side of the road. "Normal, you know? You had friends and family and you went out and had a laugh, dated people, talked... you were a different Ljuba, a Ljuba I would have been too intimidated to talk to six years ago. You'd have had no reason to talk to me, not when you had blokes like Jean hanging around, hanging on your every word."

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44 Re: Secrets and Favors on Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:22 am

"Blokes like Jean never hung on my any word," I retort, tugging my arms into the body of my sweater to better get warm. "No, they hung on Maja's every word and I just sort of existed in the background."

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45 Re: Secrets and Favors on Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:50 am

"Other blokes did, though," I say quietly, my thoughts wandering back to my own youth. "Or they noticed those shorts you wore, at the least. I just mean... I don't know what I mean. You're out of my league... you've always been out of my league. And sooner or later, you'll remember it all and you'll ask yourself what the hell you're doing with me when you could be with someone like Jean or - or whatever the hell his name was with the plant in the photo. Someone who can buy you a dress and have you try it on and tell you how lovely you look, someone who doesn't choose it because of it's stupid fabric and how it might feel on your skin because they haven't got anything else to go on besides how the world feels and smells and tastes."

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46 Re: Secrets and Favors on Fri Feb 05, 2016 1:16 am

"Don't be ridiculous," I frown, my lips curling slightly as I continue, "The only reason I tease you for being so unforgivably ugly is because if you had any idea how handsome you were, you'd be chasing the Maja's of the world. I don't know who's gone and done it, but somewhere along the line, you've been convinced you're somehow undesirable. 

"Surely the gropy women in your laundry room should've convinced you otherwise by now."

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47 Re: Secrets and Favors on Fri Feb 05, 2016 1:28 am

I snort at that and shake my head. "Plenty of people want to bed me," I scoff. "Unfortunately, getting bedded is only - fourth? maybe fifth? - on my list of criteria for a happy relationship. And unfortunately, numbers one through three or so take about six years to get through, apparently. Not that I'm ready for that yet." I add as I glance at her with wide eyes. "Maybe eighty or ninety percent ready, but not quite there yet."

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48 Re: Secrets and Favors on Fri Feb 05, 2016 1:35 am

"You've a real way with words, you know that?" I tease, hesitating as Jean comes to an intersection and pauses to scoop up more snow. He's in his own world up there, aimlessly wandering towards the right as we let him get a ways ahead before following behind him. 

"I know you sort of went into it before, but remind me - Why have you remained on your own for so long? It can't just be because of... Him."

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49 Re: Secrets and Favors on Fri Feb 05, 2016 1:57 am

"A lot of it is him," I sigh heavily. "I know I don't show it often, but... I don't know, there's always a fear there. Whenever I meet someone, I question their every motive... Richard was so kind and so charming when he first came into my life, and even after I saw his true colors he still had his moments where he made me feel... well good

"So when someone is nice, I just... tense, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like Itsy and her enamoration with me, or that soft-spoken fellow on the other side of town who helps me sell my wares. I could easily flirt back with one of them, but then I always recoil at what might be hiding under the surface.

"Plus, you know..." I shrug, clearing my throat self-consciously. "Why force something uncomfortable when I've already got someone that makes me feel safe? I mean sure, there have been times when I really needed the intimacy of another human being, but it's always been sort of... I don't know, lacking? I know you don't want to hear about her, but the closest I've ever come to comfortable was with Luella, and even then it just doesn't feel right. I'm still on edge."

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50 Re: Secrets and Favors on Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:01 am

I tense a bit at the mention of the prostitute, a faint frown settling on my face as I nod. 

"I suppose I know what you mean. I kept telling myself that, in time, everything would be normal again, but it isn't. It's so much easier to just... Not seek it out. So much safer."

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