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“You know there is a door.” I said to him
“Yes, and this is one of them.” He said as he walked in and sat down on the stool. He looked at me and smiled, almost a nervous smile and it was at that moment I had realized I was in my underwear.
“Excuse me for a minute.” I shot up quickly, I could feel my color drain quickly from my body, and I ran into the bathroom in a frenzy to find my robe to cover myself. I waited a few moments before going back to the room, as if it would somehow lessen the humiliation.
I sat down next to him; I was still a little embarrassed.
“So what brings you here so late?” I asked him nonchalantly.
“I was in the neighborhood.” He said sarcastically. I raised an eyebrow to him.
“So I suppose you were just out for a walk around town?” I asked him. “In your pajamas?” I added. He looked down at himself and laughed.
“It would appear so.” He replied.
“I stopped by to tell you that tomorrow evening there is an Art Show being held at the Art Gallery just outside of town, some of my pieces will be featured there and was hoping you would stop by, I could use some friendly moral support.” He said to me.
“Sure, but you walked all the way over here to just ask me that?” I said to him.
“Not like I can call you, remember?” he said.
“Oh yeah, sorry about that.” I said to him. I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote my number down on it for him.
“Here, I promise I won’t change it this time.” I said. He laughed.
“I’ll hold you to that promise. Good night.” He said as he walked back out on the balcony and climbed back down the building.
I walked out on the balcony watching him make his embarrassing exit, I giggled a little, he looked ridiculous.
“Again, you know there is a door.” I said to him.
“I know but I wanted to make a dramatic entrance and exit, think I’ll leave that to the guys in the movies next time...” He said as he chuckled.
“See you tomorrow evening.” He said as he jogged down the road. I waved goodbye to him and settled in for the night.
I spent most of the next morning going from boutique to boutique looking for a perfect outfit to wear to the art show. I must have tried on 50 or more outfits until I settled on a beautiful strapped gown with matching shoes. I was off to the hair dresser next to make an appointment, after I dropped my things off at the dorm. As I was headed out the door, there stood Rene.
“What…what are you doing back so soon, I didn’t expect you for a few more weeks.” I said to him.
“Well it’s nice to see you too.” He said unhappy with my reaction. I couldn’t say I was happy to see him, ever since that stint with his mother, it had made me rethink the basis of our relationship. How far could this really go, if he had a disapproving mother? It also didn’t help that his business always seemed to get in the way as well.
“I felt so bad about how things went at my parent’s place that I came back to make sure you were ok.” He added.
“I’m fine.” I said to him. “I’m sorry I’m in a little bit of a rush today.” I added
“Got a hot date or something.” He said jokingly.
“No.” I retorted as I gave him a halfhearted smile.
“I have to get to the hairdresser to set up and appointment, a friend of mine is down from the states and his art is being featured at the gallery tonight.” I explained to him.
“An art show, sounds like fun, what time do you want me to pick you up?” he asked. My heart sank, I didn’t plan on asking him to go, I really wasn’t in the mood to be around him, it annoyed me, him showing up here acting like nothing had changed since we left Paris. He was never really interested in art, anytime I would talk about my photography he would find a way to change the subject, I really started to question his sincerity , but I could see he was trying to make an effort to show interest in it hoping to make up for what had happened at his parents. So I allowed myself to excuse his behavior for the evening.
“5’oclock.” I said. “Please don’t be late and wear something nice, I’m pretty sure it’s a formal event.” I added. He nodded and kissed me on the forehead, and I scrambled to the salon.
I ran into Ella at the salon, she was getting her hair done; they looked like they were doing some last minute adjustments. The man called over a heavier set woman and gave her strict instructions on what to do.
“Hey Ella.” I said. “Going to the art show tonight I take it?” I asked her. She nodded.
“Haven’t missed on yet!” she said excitedly. “You know he’s a very talented man, I’ve never met anyone with as much passion for art as he has.” She added.
“I have.” I said under my breath.
“Who?” she asked. I really didn’t mean for her to heart that. I choked a little.
“My mother.” I said sadly. “She was very talented as well, when I look at Ari’s art I feel as if she is in there looking back at me. Their styling is very similar.” I said.
“Oh yes, Ari told me, you must miss her very much, I’m sorry for your loss.” She said to me in a soft disheartened tone.
“It’s ok.” I said to her. Of course I was lying I didn’t think things would ever really be ok.
“It must be really tough.” She said. “I couldn’t imagine not having my parents.” The expression on her face had more to say then that.
“Did they fly out for Ari’s show?” I asked. I had to admit I was a little intrigued about their parents, Ari and Ella were such wonderful people, I couldn’t wait to meet the people who raised them, then I thought about Rene’s parents and how his mother was completely different from him, and decided I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
“Their plane should be arriving anything now, that’s why I am here now, I won’t have the time later.” She said.
“All done Ariella.” The stylist said. Ella looked in the mirror and smiled with satisfaction.
“Trčs Magnifique. Merci!” she said as she wrote out a check and left it on the desk.
“I have to get go the airport now.” She said to me, she looked over to the stylist and spoke in a stern tone.
“Take good care of Dani, maker her beautiful, but not too beautiful, wouldn’t want my brother to have a heart attack.” She chuckled. I shot her a glare.
“I’m making myself look good for Rene, he’s coming along with me tonight” I said putting her in her place. She rolled her eyes at me and she handed over another check.
“This should cover it. My treat.” She said winking at me. “See you at the show.” She exclaimed as she disappeared onto the bustling streets of downtown Paris.
I made my appointment and went to grab something to eat. I called Rene to remind him to be no later than 5.
“Bonjour.” He said
“Hey Rene.” I replied.
“Hey sweetie, did you need something.” He said in that perfectly sweet French accent I hadn’t realized I missed so much until now.
“Just wanted to call and remind you to pick me up at the salon at 5’oclock.” I said.
“Yes sweetie, just picked up my tux at the dry cleaners, I have a few calls I need to make so I can’t talk long.” He replied.
“Ok I’ll let you go, 5’oclock not a minute later.” I reminded him again.
“Yes mademoiselle.” He said. “See you then, bye-bye.” And the line went dead.
I closed my phone and looked at it. “Bye” I said.
I started heading back to the dorm to collect my things when I ran into Ari in the garden square.
“Hey what are you doing here shouldn’t you be getting ready.” I asked him.
“Yes, just clearing my head, I’m a little nervous. My first showing in Paris you know, in a world renowned gallery.” He said to me, I could tell he was nervous.
I sat down next to him to give him a pep talk.
“You know, you shouldn’t be nervous, you’re very talented, you should be excited and thrilled, this is Paris!! Try not to think too hard and just enjoy it!” I said to him.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence I really needed it. I just hope that everyone enjoys the pieces I am showing.” He said.
“And what might they be?” I asked him. He leaned over, brought his lips to my ear and whispered into it.
“If I told you, I would have to kill you.” He laughed. I joined.
“Aww come on not even a little sneak peek?” I said as I batted my eyelashes.
“Not even a little peek.” He said. “No matter how much you bat those adorable eyelashes at me.” He added. I laughed.
“Well, I need to start getting ready now, have an appointment to get my hair done as well; I will see you at show time.” I said to him. He smiled at me.
I sat down in the chair; I noticed that I had begun to feel a little uneasy, I was nervous for Ari. Then I heard a soft spoken French woman’s accent.
“Hello, my name is Lea and I will be doing your hair, Mariella had to leave and gave me strict instructions to take very good care of you, are you ready to get started?” She said to me.
“Yes, ready as I will ever be.” I replied.
“Do you know what style you would like?” she asked.
“Well my hair is grown out again, so maybe take a few inches off, and style it away from my face, I don’t want an updo, something around shoulder length with a little bit of volume would be wonderful.” I said to her.
“Very well.” She said to me as she started to work. A half hour later I looked into the mirror.
“This is exactly what I wanted.” I said excitedly, I was taken back a little by the reflection in the mirror, I could hardly believe it was me.
“What do I owe you?” I asked her.
“Nothing, it was taken care of by a young woman, Ariella I believe.” She said.
“Oh, yes, well let me leave you a tip, how does fifty dollars sound?” I asked her. She gave me a blank stare. I quickly tried to do the conversion in my head, I had just gotten used to it from living here.
“That would be around thirty nine Euros.” I said to her.
“It’s not necessary madame.” She said to me politely.
“I insist. You did a wonderful job, it’s the least I could do.” I said to her. I took her a moment, but she accepted my tip.
“Merci beaucoup!” She said to me.
“ Bienvenue!I replied.
“Would you mind if I used your bathroom to change?” I asked her.
“Not at all sweetie, have fun tonight!” she replied. “Thanks” I yelled back and I headed to dress quickly it was nearly 5 already.
I sat outside to wait for Rene. I sat and sat and sat, until I couldn’t take it anymore I took out my phone to see what time it was, 5:30 already, I shook my head in disappointment. I dialed the phone.
“Bonjour, you have reached Rene Pierre Rousseau’s voicemail, I am unavailable at the moment so please leave me a message and I will get back to you when as soon as I can.” I hung up at the beep. I called for a taxi to the Art Gallery. I refused to be any later, and I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for Rene to pick me up when it was convenient for him.
I raced inside as quickly as I could, trying not to trip, it’s been a really long time since I had worn a dress.
“Dani?” I heard Ari ask.
“You look…um…you look…stunning.” He said as he fumbled on his words.
“Doesn’t she?” I heard another voice say. I turned around.
And there stood Rene.
“What happened you were supposed to pick me up at five you’re almost an hour late!” I exclaimed.
“Let’s not do this right now sweetie.” He said condescendingly to me.
“Fine, but I’m not very happy at the moment.” I reminded him.
I decided I had better introduce Ari and Rene to one another, the thought made me uneasy.
“Rene, this is Ari, and Ari this is Rene.” I said looking at the both of them. Ari extended his had as if to shake Rene’s,
“Bonjour Rene nice to finally meet you.” Ari said to him and Rene rudely backed away.
“Sorry I have to take this call, please excuse me momentarily.” He said.
“Well, he seems… what’s the word… charming.” Ari joked.
“He’s, a very busy man, please excuse his rudeness.” I replied.
“You don’t have to make excuses for his behavior.” Ari said to me.
“I’m not.” I reminded him.
“Ok, then.” He said to me with a sour look on his face.
“So show me your exhibit! I have been dying to see it all day!” I said to him.
“Right this way, beautiful.” He said to me. I blushed a little, hoping that Rene wouldn’t have heard Ari’s comment, when I looked over and seen him deep in conversation on the phone it didn’t really matter; he looked like he was too busy to acknowledge anything around him. I was truly disappointed and embarrassed of his behavior.
“Ari! You’re work… is simply amazing!!” I said to him. As I looked over his work, my eyes began to well up a little. It reminded me of being at my mother’s first art showing.
“I wouldn’t go that far.” He said with a slight chuckle. “I’m no Picasso.” He added.
Funny, that the two of them were always so modest about their work, when they were clearly and unbelievably talented.
I grabbed his arm with my hand and looked him in the eyes.
“Ari, I’m being serious, your work is so beautiful, it reminds me a lot of my mothers, in a strange kind of way you brought her back to me tonight, through your art, and I guess I have to thank you for that. You’re art has the power to move people, that’s something special you know.” I said to him wiping a tear from my eye.
“It means a lot to me that you feel that way, I don’t think you will truly ever understand how much, a lot of these pieces, you well… you inspired me to make them.” He said to me. I began to blush, it was flattering that I, a troubled young woman could inspire such beauty.
“Dani” I heard Rene calling me.
“I am so very sorry darling.” Rene said as he walked over to me. I refrained myself from saying it was ok, because clearly it wasn’t. I looked at him, displeased.
“That was extremely rude of you, you know.” I said to him. I could feel Ari’s eyes on me, I suddenly became very uncomfortable.
“It was an extremely important call.” He said again. I then turned him around to show him the exhibit.
“So this is what they consider art now a days.” He said rudely.
“I just don’t get it, it’s not bad, it’s no Picasso, but then again what do I know about art, I’m a third year business major.” He added. I looked at him sternly.
“I’m going to get a glass of wine, would you like one?” he asked me.
“No thank you.” I snapped at him.
“I’m going to look around a little more, enjoy your wine.” I said to him slightly irritated.
Ari called me over; I could see his parents standing nearby. I wanted so much to meet them but was reluctant after my stint with Rene’s parents, but I couldn’t be rude.
“Dani, I would love for you to meet my mother and father. Mom, Dad, this is Dani.” He said with a wide eyed smile.
“It is so nice to finally meet you Dani, we have heard so much about you, you’re even more beautiful than Ari describes.” She said to me sweetly. “Please stop, Mrs. Colville, it’s not necessary, your making me blush.” I said politely to her.
“Please call me Mirri, and it’s my pleasure, it’s not every day you get to meet a woman with beauty so moving as yours, you remind me of myself at your age.” She said as she smiled.
“It’s very nice to meet you Miss Dani, I’m Robert, Ari speaks very highly of you, I’m glad that he has someone like you in his life, I was beginning to think he was becoming a mute.” He said with a boisterous laugh.
“Ari, a mute, never!” I said and joined in with his laughter. I felt so at ease with his parents, they were so warm and inviting, I could tell by the way they talked and carried themselves that they were wonderful people, they carried the same air that Ari did, I felt so comfortable, and talking to them here in this moment, felt so right, like I finally fit somewhere.
I could feel Rene’s impatience vibrating through my body, all the way through my bones. It was chilling.
“Dani, love.” He said as he cut in and entwined his arm with mine, tapping at his wrist as if to say it was time to be leaving. I could see the look Ari’s mother directed towards her son from my peripherals. She didn’t look very happy. I watched them as I pretend to still be engaged in conversation with Robert, and acknowledging Rene at the same time.
It looked like they were having a private conversation telepathically. Ari nodded at his mother and she cut into the conversation.
“Robert dear, what do you think of maybe getting a timeshare here, Paris is just stunning.” She said to her husband. I could see Rene perk up at the sounds of business talk.
Within moments Rene was deep in conversation about timeshares around Paris, he suddenly wasn’t in such a rush to leave when a business opportunity came up. Go figure.
“Come take a walk with me Dani, I would love for you to see more of the gallery.” Ari said to me. I nodded.
“I’m going to take a look around the gallery Rene; I’ll be back in a bit.” I said. He just waved me off not interested in breaking conversation with Ari’s parents.
We made our way downstairs to a dimly lit room that displayed beautiful sculptures from past artists. Ari turned to me with a look I had yet to see on his face. I wasn’t quite sad, or disappointed, or even confused, it was a little bit of all three. For just a moment I wish I could be inside his head, to know exactly what he was feeling at that very moment. “Dani, I want to ask you something, and I want you to be honest with me, and please don’t be offended.” He said.
“What is it Ari?” I said slightly confused. I wasn’t sure what he was going to ask, and that made me nervous, I was having an extremely hard time reading him.
“Why are you with…” I could hear him choking on his words, his look went from the mish mash feelings I had put together, to complete disgust as he said “…Him.” I could see him cringe at the thought of Rene. I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, not at the expense of Ari, but at the thought of this conversation with him.
“He really is a nice guy Ari, he’s just really very busy, he just got back from the states and I’m sure he has some back work to catch up on.” I said to him. I know my answer wasn’t satisfying him.
“Anyone you have to make excuses for can’t be all that great. He’s rude and inconsiderate; there is just something about him that just gives me a bad vibe, please be careful Dani I don’t want to see you get hurt.” He said to me. This time the look on his face was of concern.
“I’m a big girl Ari, I can take care of myself, Rene is a fine man!” I exclaimed. After that comment I began to see things through Ari’s eyes, why was I making excuses for him, and why was I trying to defend him to myself.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to yell, I’m just upset tonight.” I said to him.
Ari then pulled me in for a comforting hug. He ran his hand alongside the outline of my face pushing my hair gently back.
“I’m here for you if you want to talk Dani, you do know that right?” he said to me. I nodded. I didn’t feel so uncomfortable anymore, at that moment I just wanted to cry on his shoulder and tell him every feeling I have had in the last couple of days.
“I just don’t know Ari.” I said starting to sob.
“He was so wonderful when we met, I have known him for 6 months now but we just recently started dating, he invited me along on his trip to the states, and I met his parents… “I went on pouring out everything that had happened in horrifying detail. Everything from the way his mother treated me, to how I was feeling about the way Rene has treated me since his return. The way I felt after I spent all day rushing around getting ready for the reveal, how I felt when I was sitting on the bench and he was a half hour late picking me up after he promised me he would be on time.
“I felt like a prom date being stood up, sitting on that bench, looking lonely and feeling desperate, all dressed up and no place to go.” I cried harder. He reached his hand up to my face and softly wiped away the tears. He listened intently as I ranted on and on, never interrupting me.
We walked around a little more as I tried to gain some composure. We stumbled upon a room with beautiful displays of ancient artifacts. Ari then pulled me in and held me close. My heart began to race.
“Your heart is going crazy right now, you need to relax a little, things will be ok, I can’t tell you what to do Dani, just please be careful, I care about you and only want to see you happy, if you are happy with Rene despite his iniquities, then I am happy for you and will support you, just please don’t fool yourself into thinking things are ok, if they aren’t” he said to me softly.
I just nodded as I rested my head on his shoulders. I wasn’t going to tell him that my heart was racing at the feel of his touch, at the sound of his voice and at the sincerity in his words, and not because I was upset. I began to go through everything that had happened the last few days, and started to question if things were always going to be like this with Rene. I hadn’t been with Rene that long but in the time we have been together it had become quite clear that I was, and would always be second to his business transactions, and wondered if that’s something I could allow myself to deal with.
I began to feel a strange awareness in the room.
And by the time Ari had released me from his handle, there was Rene standing behind us. My heart beat faster; I began to wonder just how much of the conversation he had heard.
“Thank you for taking care of Dani and showing her around Ari, but I would like to take my girl home with me now, so that we may have some ‘alone’ time.” He said emphasizing alone. As if he was trying to get under Ari’s skin and imply something.
“She’s all yours Rene, you’re a very lucky man, please be good to her.” He said uneasily. Ari shot me a disheartening look.
“I should really be getting back to my parents and sister, enjoy your evening.” He said bowing politely.
Rene pulled me in close to him and kissed me on my cheek; he waited for Ari to be out of sight and softly grabbed my arm, but gave me a very displeased look.
“I would feel more comfortable if you no longer had contact with Ari, you shouldn’t be so caught up in his work, you have your own things you need to concentrate on, so that you can have a showing of your own some day, but you will never have that if you are worried about other people’s jobs!” he yelled at me.
He then tried to pull me in for a hug.
“Don’t you dare try to get sweet with me. You cannot tell me who I can and can’t be friends with, or what I should or shouldn’t be doing with my life! You know, your true colors are really starting to show Rene and I don’t like them at all!” I said to him angrily.
“I mean you couldn’t even be on time to bring me here, your mother obviously does not want me in your life, your business is always so much more important, that you have to be rude to people, it’s almost too much to handle. You’re just not the same man that ran into me when I first arrived here.” I added.
“So what are exactly are you saying Dani?” he asked. I could see the fury in his eyes.
“Do I need to repeat myself?” I said sarcastically.
“Is there something going on with you and Ari that I don’t know about?” he asked.
“No! Ari is my friend and I care for him deeply, and you know when I came back to Paris after that catastrophe with your parents, Ari and his sister were here, he took me to talk and catch up on a few things, he kissed me but I pushed him away and told him I was with you!” I exclaimed. I didn’t dare tell him what the discussions were about, as those and my true feelings for Ari were very personal, I felt a little guilty about them, but knew I would never act on them because of Rene.
“HE KISSED YOU!!” he bellowed.
“He didn’t know about you at the time it wasn’t long after I arrived, and he apologized for it.” I retorted.
He stood there for a moment, and his demeanor suddenly went from angry to apologetic.
“I’m so sorry Dani, I have over reacted, and I thank you for your honesty and hope that you can forgive me. I trust you, and I don’t want to fight.” He said as he buried his face in his hands. I studied him for a moment, unforgiving. Then he looked up at me with sad eyes.
“I just never been drawn to someone so quickly like I have with you, it’s scary you know.” He looked at me, still I was unforgiving. He leaned towards me and whispered into my ear.
“Je suis en amour avec vous.” He said softly. I looked at him puzzled.
“My French isn’t’ that good.” I said to him.
“I said I am in love with you Dani.” He said shyly. I wasn’t sure how to react, I wasn’t sure if I should believe him, I wasn’t sure if he was even capable of loving anyone other than himself, the only thing I was sure of, the feeling was not reciprocal.
“I’m sorry Rene, but I just don’t feel that way about you, and if the past few days are any indication of how things will be for us in the future, I’m not sure I could ever feel that way about you.” I said reluctantly. “You’re a great guy in your own way and I’m sure there is someone out there for you, but after the unfolding events tonight and the last few days, I just don’t think I’m that girl.” I said apologetically.
“You know I’m starting to believe my mother, all you women are no good!” he shrieked.
“Why, I have never been so insulted in my life, I’m being honest with you and trying to do the mature thing, I refuse to lead you on to think I feel something more for you than I do, I like you and care for you but, we just started dating Rene, a few days is hardly enough time to fall in love with someone, excuse me for sparing you heart ache.” I retorted.
“I’m sure your mother will be ecstatic to know this relationship is over! I’m refuse to live like this!” I added furiously.
“If that is what you want! Go on; go run in to Ari’s arms, I’m sure he will gladly take you, your loss not mine.” He yelled back.
“I’m not running into anyone’s arms Rene! You know I was really happy when we started dating I thought you were a decent man, I’m sorry that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Good bye Rene, I hope you find someone that will put up with this crap.” I said as I ran out of the building, I ran so fast I almost knocked Ari and his family over,who were pretending to converse in front of the stairs, but I knew they had been listening to Rene and I fight.
“I’m so sorry.” I yelled back to them as I was in mid melt down and I continued to run out of the Gallery. I never ran so fast in my life. My heart was racing, every extremity on my body was shaking, my makeup was streaking, I could feel the burn in my eyes, and it stung with such a fierce force, but it was hardly noticeable next to the burning that I felt in my heart, I could feel my strength fading quickly, but I mustered up just enough to make it back to my dorm. I flung my shoes off as I walked in the door, still in melt down mode, I tore off my dress and grabbed a tee and some shorts to throw on, I headed into the bathroom to wash the makeup off of my face. The cold water was refreshing and helped stopped the painful burning. I stood there in front of the mirror trying to look at myself, but I could barely open my eyes as they had become swollen from my fit of crying. I stood there half eyed, staring into it feeling humiliated and ashamed that I could have been so naive. That I could have believed that something good would finally happen in my life. I began to scream out in anger.
“Mom! Where are you when I need you, you’re supposed to be watching over me, you’re suppose to keep me safe, and happy, how could you…how could you let this happen to me!!!.” I began to bang my fist on the counter. My heart had broken into a million pieces and I felt a hundred times worse than that day I walked out my house and discovered my mother dead in the road.
I heard the bathroom door swing open and felt a soft hand on my shoulder.
I turned around and collapsed into someone’s arms, I wasn’t sure who’s they were at the moment and I didn’t really care either. Then I heard her voice and realized it was Ella.
“I’m so sorry sweetie, Rene’s a jerk! You’re better off without him, he didn’t deserve you anyway. There are things even your mother can’t control from up there you know, I’m sure she feels your pain too and that she will help you get through this, don’t blame her, think of her and be strong, you will find your way Dani.” She said trying to comfort me. I said nothing. I stood there for an hour with her, and I could tell she wasn’t in a hurry to leave and didn’t mind me messing up her new suit. She was comforting, patient and kind. She didn’t know me very well, but she was there for me, and it proved to me that this was the beginning to a long and beautiful friendship.
I finally composed myself and made it to my room. I crawled into my bed, still sobbing lightly. Ella propped herself up next to me.
“Try to get some rest Dani, I’m not going anywhere tonight, I’m here for you if you need me, things will be a little more clearer in the morning.” She said sweetly to me.
“I’m….ok….really, you can go if you would like.” I said as my words were spaced out by sobs and sniffling.
“I not asking you Dani, I’m telling you, I am staying here with you, so please lie down and close your eyes and rest.” She retorted. If I wasn’t feeling so miserable I would have laughed at her attempt to console me.
I closed my eyes and everything turned black.
Pieces of Me: Chapter 8
Aug 13, 2010 by Nygirl08
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