At last the 8th January has arrived, the day Annabelle is due to fly out to Switzerland to visit Robin. She has so much on her mind, so much she wants to tell Robin. She has been keeping Chris at a distance ever since they came back from New York. Will anything restore their friendship to what it was before?
These are the previous parts of Annabelle’s story:
Chris had been quick to volunteer to drive Annabelle to Appleton Airport. Her flight was scheduled to depart at 3:45pm. He observed the size of Annabelle’s suitcase and thought about it all the way to the airport forgetting to say anything. Annabelle was silent too. On arriving at the airport Chris parked his car and turned off the engine. His hand rested on the gear stick. Her hand grasped the back of his.
“It is just a week you are going for isn’t it?” Chris asked.
Annabelle pursed her lips, “Robin only has a week off work. It’s the ski season, it’s very busy there at the moment.”
“Annie, why do I feel like this is goodbye?”Chris gazed at Annabelle frustrated that she was looking out of the window.
“Please don’t make this hard Chris.”
“I am gonna miss you Annie.”
“I’ll be back before you know it.” she murmured quietly.
They were both quiet for a couple of minutes until Chris broke the silence, “Do you remember the day we had to hire a minibus to take everyone up to the music festival?”
“That’s my favourite memory with you.” declared Chris, “You were so excited that day. It all makes sense now. You’ve probably been at a hundred festivals with Mildew.”
“Not a hundred festivals, but a lot. If you counted all their live gigs, then yes, hundreds. It brought back memories that day. But there was no Dean to worry about. I felt free,” Annabelle seemed to be able to deliver her words without any hint of emotion.
“That day at the festival, the trip to New York, all the time we’ve spent together walking and talking things over, I’ve loved all of it. I have been thrilled to have you as my friend Annabelle. I want to do more and more of that kind of thing with you. There’s so much more I want to do with you.”
“I think I know what you really wanted Chris,” was Annabelle’s matter-of-fact reply. Chris was unresponsive. “I’d better go Chris.” Annabelle opened the door of Chris’ car.
Chris pulled Annabelle’s suitcase from the back, and pulled it behind him towards the entrance to Appleton Airport. Annabelle followed behind him clutching a travel wallet with her passport and the booking reference for her flight. Chris walked ahead to the check-in desk and lifted her case onto the conveyor belt after she had presented her documents to the assistant at the desk and received her boarding pass.
“Well, you are all ready to go then,” sighed Chris.
“Yes. Thank you for the lift Chris. I really appreciate it.” She looked down in embarrassment. Annabelle was finding it very hard to say goodbye. She knew she ought to have thought more about how to express her gratitude to Chris, but her thoughts had been wrapped up with everything she had wanted to tell Robin for some time. “Would you go to see Ralph while I am away Chris? He needs lots of visitors to keep his spirits up.”
Chris nodded and swallowed hard, struggling to find the words he wanted. Annabelle started to turn away towards the security check area leading to the departure gates. “Annie…”
Annabelle turned back and looked up at him expectantly, “Yes.”
“I want you to feel really guilty.”
“Sorry?” Annie looked confused.
“If you don’t come back. I want you to feel really guilty, because you know you would be hurting people who love you.”
Annabelle’s face dropped, “Can’t you just be happy for me Chris?”
“I’m happy for you Annie. But don’t just walk away from the friends you’ve made here. I know you’ve already moved on in your head. Ever since you came back from New York it’s obvious we’ve already lost you.”
“I’ve just had a lot on my mind Chris. It’s been a busy time with the holidays. Christmas with my family – it wasn’t easy.”
“I’m sorry your Christmas sucked.”
“Yeah, well it’s my family who suck. Nothing has changed there. But they are the only family I’ve got.”
“Friends can be like family, isn’t there a saying about that?”
“Everyone moves on eventually Chris. I can’t stay with Burt and Pearl forever. I love them so much, and Ralph. But I have to try to build a life for myself in the real world.”
“Blackwood is not the real world?”
“It’s not my world. It’s been like a bubble for me Chris. A place I could hide away from everything that had happened, from everything I couldn’t face, everything I didn’t understand.”
“Don’t you think you could be happy here?”
Annabelle looked down, “It’s not a matter of where I am Chris. It’s about here and here.” Annabelle pointed to her chest and to her head, “I need to be with Robin. Blackwood is probably the last place Robin would want to be. It was here that he fell apart.”
Chris sighed, “I know how much you need him Annie. I hope that he can help you with whatever it is that’s been getting you down recently. I get that he is the one who can help you. I wish I could have helped more.”
“You’ve helped me a lot Chris.”
“You know I wanted to steal you away from him for a long time. Rob said something to me that really helped me, about you and Dean. He said he knew nothing would have happened between you and Dean. Rob said you would never be unfaithful to him because you would never get over the guilt.”
“I love Robin, I would never cheat on him.”
“I hate to think that I could have made you feel guilty. I have wanted you for so long, and I hoped you could feel the same way. Now I understand, it would completely devastate you to be unfaithful. I would hate to have caused that kind of damage. When I accused you of lying about what happened with Dean, I was such an idiot. You never would. I hate the thought that me making you feel guilty could have caused you to harm yourself. I have a feeling that it did, but you don’t want to admit it.”
Annabelle was taken aback by Chris’ words, “Please don’t try to get into my head Chris. It’s not as simple as that.”
“But I’ve figured out a lot about you. It’s not about whether what happens to you is good or bad, it’s about how it makes you feel. You are so forgiving and loyal. The way you just kept on loving Dean no matter how hard to deal with he was. The way you are devoted to Robin even though he left you behind here and obviously hurt you. You’re so loyal. There are things about you that make you exceptional. I love what goes on inside your head.”
“Yeah well, my head doesn’t do me many favours. Seems to be more trouble than it’s worth. Even that stupid therapist seemed to think I am some kind of a freak.”
Chris put his hand on Annabelle’s shoulder, “I don’t believe that your therapist thought that. I still don’t get why you quit CBT. But that’s why I genuinely am happy that you have Robin. He knows you. He understands you. He’s been watching and listening to you. He’s been thinking about you, worrying about you. He really loves you. He needs you as much as you need him. I get it ok. And I am thrilled for you.”
“Thank you.” A tear streamed down Annabelle’s cheek, “It wasn’t helping me anymore Chris, I couldn’t go back after what they said.”
Chris pulled Annabelle toward him and embraced her, “I’m sorry Annie. I wish that you’d been able to find the answers you were looking for. It seemed to be going so well before New York. You seemed to be understanding so much about yourself. And look what happened with Dean, because you understood what you needed to do.”
Tears were now streaming down Annabelle’s face, “I’m not going back down that route. They left me in a mess ok. I wish I’d never opened up to them. What they said was just crushing. I’m never doing that again. Never!”
Chris felt his own chest heave with a sob, “You don’t have to. But please, I am just not ready for goodbye, so please come back here.”
Before she disappeared through the security gate Annabelle left Chris with words that eased his heart as he drove back to Blackwood, “It’s not that I don’t love you Chris. I can’t help loving you for all you’ve helped me with. But I need you to let me go. You have to trust me. I will find a way to keep loving you, no matter where I am. But I’m going to be with Robin. He is the one I am in love with and the one I need.”
Annabelle tried to distract her thoughts as much as possible during her journey. The past few months had provoked enough occasions when she had become locked into trying to work things out in her own head. It was exhausting to her. She did not want Chris’ words to linger in her mind at this point.
On the longest leg of her flight she watched cartoon movies. She found herself laughing and then becoming tearful at some points. It was better to laugh and cry with the movie than with the thoughts that were running through her mind.
After a journey that seemed to last forever, the moment finally came when she was about to exit the arrivals doors at Geneva. She became nervous for a moment. She sprayed some perfume on her neck and wrists with the small atomiser in her pocket and put a mint into her mouth and then crunched it quickly.
On drawing nearer to the doors, they swung open automatically and she beheld a crowd of people. It took her a few seconds to see him. A rush of joy shot through her chest and she began to run over to him. He’d seen her too. He looked thrilled to see her. His face lit up as he strode over to her. Robin was all ready to scoop her up as she threw herself at him.
Their lips pressed together hungrily. “How are you Belle? Are you ok?”
“I’m ok now!” she squealed with delight. “Robin, everything is going to be alright!”
The hotel where Annabelle would be staying all week was one that Robin helped to manage. On the journey between the airport and the hotel, nobody could have been in any doubt that this couple were completely in love. They were oblivious to everyone around them. When they weren’t kissing, Annabelle would lean her head against Robin’s shoulder and then excitedly ask him a question. His answers were brief and if she tried to reply again to him he would put his finger against her lips and kiss them again.
Once she was checked in at the hotel, they headed up to her room. The door had barely closed before Robin had pushed Annabelle onto the bed and was dragging her jeans down from her hips.
An hour later, after they were covered with sweat, they showered together. When getting ready to go out for dinner, Annabelle put on a dress she had bought in New York, before they headed down to the hotel restaurant.
“You look gorgeous Belle.”
She couldn’t help but smile, “Still haven’t had those eyes of yours tested then hey?”
“I don’t need glasses to notice that you turn heads everywhere you go,” Robin pulled Annabelle towards him.
“But I only have eyes for you.” grinned Annabelle wrapping her arms around Robin.
Robin groaned within himself, “I think we might have to go back to the room and order room service young lady.”
Annabelle smiled and looked down at Robin’s lower body, “We have all night, we have all week. Show me around the hotel, so I don’t get lost in this place. And then let’s make sure all the women who work in this hotel know that your girlfriend is real and not just some photo you pulled off the internet.”
With Annabelle by his side, Robin felt exactly the same pride he used to feel during their year together in New York. His partner was a stunning woman ten years younger than he was, who was clearly besotted with him.
She was more than that to Robin, he’s almost lost her, at least twice, and now he was determined he’d never risk losing her again. She was the reason he had fought so hard to stop drinking and using cocaine. She was the reason he has been working so hard to clear his debt. She was the mother of his child. She had forgiven him though he had wronged her greatly. Robin had already vowed within himself to never let her down again.
Working in the hotel in Switzerland had been good for rebuilding Robin’s confidence. He was absolutely focused on paying back his debt. Right now, he felt thrilled as pride rushed through him introducing Annabelle to the hotel staff he worked with. This was the woman he was living for, and working hard so he could be with her again. He enjoyed that wherever they went, other men glanced over at her. Robin could have sworn that he had not felt this kind of pride since the night that their daughter Lucy had been born.
You can read the next part of Annabelle’s story here:
Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:
I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?