After a few requests to post more I decided to post a few more chapters of my book “Little White Lies”
Chapter Two – A mystery of sorts
I waited around and once visiting hours were over, I left. There were a lot more questions in my mind now, than when I arrived. First question I had amongst the long list was, who Stacey was and did I give her this book? Why had I written that letter? More secrets from the past, that’s all my life really was. I followed the motions pretending to be the man I used to be, but there were always more and more little secrets. As I left the building I must have been deep in thought as I never heard the clapping of high heels on the pavement behind me until she was just a few steps away. As I turned and looked there was Maria standing there mouth half open like she had something to say, but couldn’t put the words together.
From my jacket pocket I grabbed a cigarette and fought the wind to light it. As soon as the smoke hit the air, she curled her nose and just stared at me. I took the hint and tossed it aside. I know it’s a filthy habit and I have been trying to quit for years, but it’s one of my many weaknesses. She had this apologetic look in her eyes and muttered, “Mr. Skuce you did not have to stop smoking on my account.”
With a slight grin I stated, “Ah it’s a filthy habit anyway.” After a few more seconds of silence, I added, “Besides my assistant Anna is always nagging me to quit smoking and start exercising.”
Her eyebrow popped up and she continued, “I am sure it’s only because she is concerned with your wellbeing.”
I burst out laughing, “No she just thinks that I stink up the world when I smoke.” She just smiled at me as if she were trying to figure out what to say next. I could not help, but wonder why she had chased me down tonight. Heavy exhausted eyes with bags under them told me that she should be home sleeping, but based on the look in her eyes she had something important to say. One thing I did know is that when a woman has something that she thinks is important to say, no matter what, she is going to say it.
Finally she asked, “Mr. Skuce would you like to come across the street to that little café and have coffee with me?” as she pointed to a little shop a block or so away. The dim little red sigh said open with an arrow pointing to the door.
I really had nothing else to do until my plane left the day after tomorrow so I responded, “Yes of course, but how about you let me take you to dinner instead?” as I gestured that we should continue over to the diner. She did not argue, but had a concerned look in her eyes as we slowly headed over.
“I did not mean for you to buy me dinner Mr. Skuce, but just wanted to share a coffee and thank you for the very special gift you gave Camilla. You must truly have an angel’s character,” as she began fumbling with her brown old lady purse. That’s what it reminded me of an old ladies brown leather purse, the kind you see those elderly women carry at the hair dressers.
I put my hands in my pockets and heard the familiar clicking of my keys as they giggled between my fingers. “Have you eaten today, Maria?” I asked in the sweetest voice I had and threw in a little smile trying to charm her.
“Well no not yet because I worked a few extra hours tonight” she answered clumsily staring downward.
I smiled and followed with, “and do you have any plans for the next 30 minutes to an hour?”
She looked up at me and answered, “Well no, I was going to have a coffee with you then go home and have a bowl of soup before going to bed.”
Before she could continue I jumped in with, “That’s great then, it means that you can do me the favour of sharing a meal with me since I am here all alone.”
She agreed, but there was this look of concern in her eyes so I added, “Please do not be offended, but I was raised in an old fashioned manner where men still open doors for woman, get their chairs and pay for meals.” She nodded her head and seemed to be at ease as I opened the door for her and we headed in.
As we went to a booth just in front of the door she started to unbutton her faded beige jacket and it was not until after she turned around from hanging up her jacket that I realized just how hot she was. Maybe it was the shock of what she was wearing, but I just stood there staring at her speechless. It was not until her mouth dropped open to match mine that I realized I was staring at her chest. Embarrassed I kept apologizing, but I had good reason to stare. She wore a light blue sun dress that had these little criss cross strings joining an opening that ran right down the middle of her breasts and despite the fact that they were not overly big, she had a magnificent pair plus the lack of a bra did not help hide them. Little spaghetti straps hung over either shoulder and there was a little silver cross that joined at the top and bottom making it part of the chain rather than dangling from it. It was a knee high summer dress even though it was not summer and she wore brown leather boots the stopped just below the knee.
She had this sleek strut to her that was hidden by that ugly faded jacket. She looked comfortable, sexy and flattering all at once. I had to keep forcing myself to look into her eyes and not below them.
As we sat there just chatting about the differences in cultures, beliefs and life’s little things she sat back with such a determined look and said, “Mr. Skuce, I want you to understand that when I wrote you I was not asking for charity or truly did not expect you to come at all, but I am very grateful that you did. You have made my Camilla very happy and these days her unhappy days truly out number her happy ones.”
I just sat back and waited for the question that always seemed to follow such conversations. It was always the same with people asking for money of some kind whether it be a dream vacation or medical bills or any other variety of needs. It always ended the same way when I told them that I sponsored a medical foundation and everyone must apply and I had nothing to do with the selection process. I sat there sipping my coffee waiting, but the question never came. Instead she just smiled and said, “Again thank you for being such a wonderful man.”
All night I had been waiting for the perfect time to ask her one question. I had been waiting for just the right time and I figured now was it. “Maria, can I ask you something?”
With a slightly confused look she responded, “Yes of course you can, ask anything”.
“Where did Camilla get the copy of my novel?”
For a minute saw a look of utter disappointment then she said, “In a trash box”. After a slight pause said, “No wait, trash is not the right word … what I mean is a garbage sale.”
I smiled and with a little giggle I said, “I think you mean garage sale.”
She smiled and said “Yes that’s the word. Please excuse my English.” Not that there was really anything wrong with her English. She had a slight accent, but sounded like she was raised in England. She continued, “When she first became ill my sister Anastasia bought her the box of books and the one with the letter written in the back was sitting on the top. Is there a reason that you ask?”
I did not want to tell her that the book was bigger than it was supposed to be or that it was my hand writing, but I had no idea who Stacey was. There were a lot of questions that this book could answer if only I could find the original owner. “Would your sister be able to tell me who she got the box of books from?” I asked.
She pondered my question then respond, “I am not sure, but when she returns I shall ask her.” It was at that point that I had such a feeling of déjà vu. I cannot explain exactly what it was, but something about that look gave me the feeling that this has happened before. I just could not shake this feeling. Of course, I have had them before. When I woke up and everything was gone I was told it’s the brain’s defense mechanism to try and adapt, but this was different, it was like there was a broken memory hiding within me trying to escape, but could not.
“Mr. Skuce can I ask you a question that I have wondered about for many years?” and with that she paused waiting for an answer.
“Yes of course you can” I responded.
She leaned over and whispered, “Why only one love story. It would seem to make a great business sense to write ten or twenty more because the first one sold so many books and was made into one of the biggest movies ever, but you stopped completely.”
I really had pondered that very question myself many times. Nobody really knew the answer. Definitely not me, not my assistant Anna who seemed to always know everything nor did my agent. It was a complete mystery to the whole world why anyone would just stop at the beginning of his success, but that was the other me. It has been said that the novel was not written to make millions, but to win a woman’s heart again which is why it was called “Second Chances”.
I had been asked this question so many times and rehearsed the answer that came so naturally to me that without any thought I answered, “I only had one love story in me.”
With a disapproving look she responded, “I do not believe you. I can think of many women who would want a man like you. I think that you are afraid of love Mr. Skuce.” With that she leaned back and sipped her coffee.
The next few hours flew by with countless little pieces of chit chat and my wise cracking jokes that she never seemed to understand. Finally she looked at her watch and in a serious tone told me that she needed to go home because her work day stared early.
As we stepped outside that little coffee shop the streets looked so dark and baron. The thought occurred to me that a gentleman would make sure that she arrived home safe, so after a little bit of protesting she finally agreed that I would have my taxi drop her off at home, then head back to my hotel. I told her that in Canada it was how all men behave. I could see that she was torn between being a self-sufficient woman and not wanting to insult me. It’s rare that I would basically force my will on a woman, but I did not like the idea of a woman walking home alone at night.
When the taxi dropped her off, we parted and went our separate ways. As the cab drove me to my hotel, I pondered the activities of the day. It occurred to me that I had travelled all this way and did not even know what illness she had. Tomorrow I would ask her doctor, but tonight I wanted to just go back to my room, have a shower and a tall glass of cold beer.
Chapter Three – Making connections
I had a sleepless night. Usually I do not sleep very well in hotels to start with, it’s one of the reasons I do not travel a lot, but with the new mysteries and haunting dreams, I just tossed and turned all night long.
After breakfast I answered a few emails and ignored a lot more of them then headed over to the hospital. As I stepped out of the elevator I looked down at my phone and read Anna’s message “How did the meeting go? Remember that this is your biggest fan and play nice.” I smiled and could not help thinking how lucky I was to have her as an assistant.
After a few days, I decided to stay longer and fell into a predictable routine. During that day I would visit with Camilla and she always had questions about the novel. She was so sure that it was a true story or a great love that was lost and the romantic side of her was sure that there had to be a happy ever after. Of course she was a teenage girl and romance was something she craved. I guess that all woman crave it, but when your tomorrows are limited, you want all the experiences you can as fast as possible. One afternoon she stated, “I like to think that when he received the text from Stacey stating that she wanted her happy ever after that he hopped back on a plain and flew to her. It’s the only thing that makes sense”.
“How so,” I asked.
“Well he wrote a complete novel about their love. The whole story is not an obsession like my Aunt Anastasia says, but about true love, about finding your soul mate and doing whatever it takes to win her love”.
“Maybe you Aunt are right” I said. “People have been debating that very thing since the book was written”.
She leaned over and said “You can tell me I will not tell anyone. Was there really a man who loved someone so much he changed his whole world just to be worthy of her? “Does such a man exist, I mean could such love exist?” as asked shaking me before falling back on her bed with a loud plop.
“Some mysteries are meant to be just that, a mystery,” I answered, but honestly I have wondered the same question many times. I twirled my lighter between my fingers and tried to imagine the feeling of total dedication, total devotion and such loyalty that even when the whole world tells you that love is lost, all you can do is hang on and work harder to be worthy of it.
“I think though that there should have been more sex. When two people are in love as much as Robert and Stacey were, the physical act is part of the connection that their hearts have, but other than that you wrote the perfect love story.”
“Thank you I am glad that you approve.”
“Well me and fifty million other people agree as well, otherwise, you would not have only written one book and there would not be a movie based on it.”
I looked on the table and the would be bucket list. With a look of approval from her I picked it up and started to read everything that she wanted to do before she died. It was the first time I had really allowed myself to look at her that way. She was not just a sick young woman with a long and bright future, but one with a short limited one. The very first line read meet RW Skuce and it was crossed off. She snatched the list out of my hand and with a scolding look uttered, “Do not look at it that way!” She placed it on the table again and continued, “I want to enjoy this time, to laugh and have fun not mope over the things I cannot control.” She placed her hand on mine and with a devilish grin said “Besides I am a fighter” and started shadow boxing in circles around me. It was one of those moments that despite the fact I did not want to smile I could not help myself.
She sat on the bed and was looking down the neck hole in her night shirt as she said, “you know maybe if my breasts were bigger I would be able to have sex before I die.” I really was unsure how to answer, then she continued, “I have the smallest size and when I asked the doctor if they would get as big as my mother’s, he told me no”. She stared down a little longer then with a sigh stated “It’s a shame though.” After a small pause she ended with, “You know it’s a hard thing sex. You need love before sex and the guys I know do not believe or want love just sex and with my cracked scale like skin, even if a boy did believe in love he would not want my body.” Before I could answer the nurse shooed me out of the room, but by the look in her eyes I know that she was expecting some great answer or advice, I was just not sure that I had any.
That’s how my days went. I even extended my stay so that by day I could spend time with Camilla and at night with her mother. Every night I was amazed at how brilliant and charming she was. Every night we would go out for dinner and she would wear a revealing dress of some kind. There was always this little twitch of sexual tension between us and yet even though I swear that she wanted me to kiss her, it never happened. She always said a good bye and was home by 10 PM leaving me to wander around this little city at night.
As usual I woke up the next morning and started getting ready for another day and the thought occurred to me. Maybe I could strike another line off that bucket list. This would require some planning, but I had the greatest assistant who I think could terrify anyone into doing anything so I called her. “Good morning” I stated as she answered the phone in what I can only call a horrible tone of voice.
“This had really be important or else you will be losing your memory again only this time it will be because I bitch slapped you one too many times,” was the response that I received.
It was not the usual bubbly Anna that I was used to so I continued, “Is that anyway to speak to your boss and I would think best friend.”
“At 2 AM and just being woken up, unless you can tell me something wonderful, yes that is the response you get and no you are not my best friend. I would say more of an oversized child, but we can discuss that at a different time. What can I do for you at freaking 2 o’clock in the morning?” I went silent as I realized that I had forgotten about the time difference. “Well now that you woke me up tell me what you called for and it better not be just too say good morning and you missed me.”
I uttered “Well it seems kind of dumb now, but here goes. I need to bring a beach to a hospital room.”
“A beach to a hospital room”, was all she said. I am still not sure if it was a question or statement, but the more I explained what I wanted to do the more excited she got. I knew that if anyone could arrange anything, even here, it was Anna who seemed to know people everywhere. Just before we ended the call she said, “You know I am proud of you. You spend your whole life hiding from the world and this might just be the nicest thing I have ever heard of a man doing for anybody especially if the man happens to be you,” then she ended the call.
I sat there in the hospital room just bouncing with anticipation as I waited for Anna to tell me everything was arranged. One by one, as the arrangements were made, my phone would buzz and it was an exciting feeling. I am not sure if it makes me human or just selfish, but when it comes to surprises I like to be there to see the look on the persons face when they receive it. No matter if it’s as small as just a flower or as big as giving a cheque for some obscene amount of money, the look in their eyes is all that counts. That’s why this was going to be special because, unlike all the other children, who I have helped over the years, I was going to see joy in Camilla’s eyes or at least that was the plan.
I said to spare no expense to this because if I could make her smile, fill one day with happiness and make her feel special it would be priceless because I have more money that I could possible spend in one life time. The final text came in that everything was ready. Camilla looked up and stated, “You must be really busy with important matters because your phone has been buzzing all day.” I smiled and excused myself.
As I opened the door, I saw two young women pulling a couple of racks of clothes. They were from a high class boutique named “Esquire En Rouge.” As I lead them in, her eyes went giant and her mouth dropped. “What is this?” she asked filled with absolute confusion.
“Well I cannot bring you to a beach for a slow dance, but I can bring a beach to you so to speak and well I think this type of atmosphere needs something special to wear.” Such a great smile filled the room. Behind the wardrobe was hair and makeup so I excused myself and went for a coffee as I waited.
I sat on those hard plastic chairs waiting for what seemed like hours as giggles and laughs exploded from the room. Even behind the closed doors the sound echoed all around me. I was surprised that even the nurses who came and went were always smiling and laughing. I looked at my clock and it was already 4:00 PM. The sunset would be soon and I really had no idea what was going on in that little hospital room, but just then, slowly, one by one everybody began to leave until finally they were all gone.
As I entered the room I saw such joy in her eyes. She was standing there in a shoulder less brown gown they swayed as she turned from side to side just letting it flow through the air. She had a little golden necklace and her hair was all done up with a crown like clip in her hair. Behind her the sunset was sparkling through the little windows as it set in the background.
She pointed to the tarp lying on the floor covered with sand beneath her feet and said, “They told me I needed shoes, but I like the feeling of sand beneath my toes. They also told me that I should not wear a long gown as it’s a dance on the beach with a sunset in the background, but I wanted to feel like a princess, even if it is only for today.”
I responded, “It’s your day and you look like a princess. Wear whatever you like.”
“What if I get this dress dirty from the sand?”
“It does not matter because the dress is yours to keep.”
“Too keep” she snorted, “but it’s very expensive! It’s 600 Euros. That is too much money for me to accept as a gift.” She kept looking into the little wall mirror, admiring the way she filled the dress. Her voice said no, but her eyes said yes.
“You must keep the dress. It’s already paid for and honestly do you think it will look as good on me as it does you?”
She laughed, “Probably not, but Mr. Skuce do you always get what you want? I think that deep down you are Robert from your novel.” She hit the button on her little radio and started playing with the buttons until she found a song she liked. She turned and said, “Shall we dance my good sir” with such an exaggerated curtsy. She was a rather good dancer and looked up at me with such innocence in her eyes. “Thank you for this, this minute will always be locked in my heart even though in my dreams the charming man always kissed me.” Deep down I started to feel trapped. It was my intention to give her a good time, but not seduce her. My god she was just a child after all. Then she smiled and said, “Well kiss me on the forehead not the lips and do not look so scared. I think that I will never understand men.”
I bent over and kissed her forehead. Afterwards she went to her list and scratched off multiple lines. As I was leaving she turned and just smiled at me.