Hi there, enjoy this chap on this dreadful Huddy times and be ready for some crazy update ;)
Previously on December/December:
10 March 2010
She shrugged “I guess...I just wanted to say...thank you, for everything...” and then she just nodded shortly, ignoring the wild rate of her heart pounding like crazy against her chest, waiting for him to say something.
But he didn’t know what to say. He only wished he could have acted on his true feelings for once and sent everything to hell. Just one more time.
Silence grew deeper, just broken off by the sound of a faintly, misty rain. It looked like it was about to stop. How could he tell her now? After...this. What kind of a man would he be?
In a barely audible whisper he couldn’t find anything else to say “I guess...you’re welcome Liz….”
This time she was quicker than him and got back to her senses before her own feelings overwhelmed her. She outstretched her palm up right again: it came back dry.
“We’d better take advantage and keep going....”
He made a final attempt to make things right, so to speak. He didn’t know how much he craved success, though, and he was truly starting to feel quite selfish in all this matter tonight.
“Final call” his voice came out shattered to him “...you sure you want to come and run the risk to get caught in the middle of my bad-star crossing our path?”
He wasn't even sure where he was standing anymore, really. It was an exhausting battle between what HE wanted and what he KNEW she deserved. And he didn’t know which side was winning over the other at the moment.
Lisa put her helmet on, stubbornly decided to overcome and silence whatever was screaming inside her “Positive”
It shouldn’t have been so hard, should it?
10 March 2010
Hugh’s eyes slid stealthy across the restaurant. It wasn’t crammed yet, but luckily it wasn’t either so empty to draw too much attention to them. On the other hand this wasn’t exactly what one might call a real restaurant, ‘cause it didn’t resemble one. There was a long row of high-chairs lined up and facing a polished, light-wooden counter, whereas little tables with small, white, fabric armchairs were all gathered close to the entrance. The rest of it was basically an empty space then; just a few sofas, puffs and high table scattered around, so one would have said, rather than a restaurant it was something in between a lounge bar and a club, even if they offered take away.
As he peeled off his jacket, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a few people turning their heads at them: some didn’t even let on, others whispered among them for a while, before turning to their business again. It was annoying - as usual of course.
But for tonight, at least, noone had a camera.
Noone would be lurking in some dark alley outside, ready to catch him red-handed when he stepped out; noone would chase or stalk them home this time.
Tonight, he could have a private life and pretend being one among thousands and this alone felt like a blessing already. He hinted at a tiny smile of relief, which would have probably made all its way up to his eyes if he hadn’t felt so guilty about it.
He looked at Lisa and saw her running a hand through her hair, fixing them. She smiled him sweetly as soon as she sensed his eyes on her. And his conscience prickled him.
He returned the smile, feebly and turned to get one of the menus on the cash-desk. The young woman behind it greeted him with a courteous, reassuring smile but then her eyes lingered on the space behind his back for a second too much, and he found himself pondering the idea of just jumping in the middle to hide Lisa from her.
The woman didn’t say a word, though, or made a flinch; she just kept smiling and limited herself to grab one of the menus at her side handing it to him.
“Eat or take away?” she asked politely as she began to search for an order pad, her eyes slightly down but always darting discretely and almost unnoticeably from him to Lisa.
He outstretched his hand “Take away, thanks”
She walked away then, excusing herself for a moment, and headed to the kitchen, as Hugh’s eyes followed her, curious about that little smile she seemed to be fighting back. How old could she be? Twenty? Twenty-five, maybe? He didn’t even know whether she watched the show, but he doubted it: she had never told anything to him. Not even asked for an autograph. She knew who he was for sure, but whether she had recognized Lisa...he couldn’t tell.
Nevertheless, that tiny smirk stamped on her lips reminded him of the way Kristin used to smile at the two of them; rather knowingly, like she knew or could guess something. Even when there was nothing to guess.
He brushed off the thought shaking his head.
The hell with it. He hadn’t time for obsessing over this. He didn’t even want to.
All he cared about really was checking on Lisa and see if she was doing ok. After not having heard from him for five days...well, he'd just betted do no more slips on this relationship.
Or whatever this was...
Hopefully, she wouldn’t suspect anything about the unusual place he had brought her to.
He suddenly felt nauseous. Just thinking in these terms was....
“Everything ok?” she asked suddenly, while pushing up some flattened wisps. She tucked her hair on one side, casting one last sideways glance at the window glass.
Hugh looked at her, those familiar sparks in her eyes hurt like a glaring light tonight. He should have told her. Plain and simple.
“Yes, of course. Here you go Madam...” he said, passing her the menu.
Lisa put a light-hearted smile on her lips, but she also believed seeing a curious, scrutinizing light flashing in his eyes as soon as they met hers, and so the lump in her throat immediately grew tighter again.
Hugh jumped on one of the high-chair facing the counter and sat sideways behind her. He didn’t know how to feel better about this. Telling her wasn’t even an option; not telling her was eating up at him already.
“Charming place by the way...” she added feeling a little nervous again. She didn’t know whether her mind was making this up, but she kept feeling his eyes on her and she just wanted that unsettling feeling to go away “The lighting is very nice” she pointed out, hinting at the way the blue dimness of the outside filtered through the steamed up, lengthwise stripped full-length square windows, blending with the soft lighting of the inside.
Hugh followed her gaze, keeping quiet, almost acquiescently, and so she took advantage to bury herself in the menu, trying to find a way to escape his gaze.
She could do it.
She totally could silence it.
She definitely could.
As long as he stopped looking at her like that...
Hugh let his eyes wander around the place for a second. People were chatting rather quietly around them. Life busting them by, once again...
Some were dining, others just having a glass of wine; some were dancing in the far end of the hall, at the feet of the stage, some more just nodding rhythmically - or drumming on their tables or tapping on the floor – keeping up with the pace.
Funny. Now that he did have the courage to be part of it....well, it didn’t matter anymore.
Things were what they were now.
He instinctively turned his head towards the counter looking for a flyer. There was one pinned up behind the cash-desk, on one of those cork panels, featuring a band called The Smashed. He distractedly grabbed one of the little ones that laid piled up next to him, checking on their song list: some Black Keys, a few Spill Canvas, some Keb Mo, a Whole Wide World cover from the original Wreckless Eric’s version....
Lisa would have truly loved this place if only they could stay.
Maybe I should take her out one of th...
He stopped mid-thought.
Would he really ever been unselfish enough to let her go? 'Cause, one moment it felt like he could totally do that; but the other, it was like he kept receiving these little shocks remembering him that there would be always some part of him just craving for more.
And he just didn’t know how to silence this part and held his promise.
She’s not yours anymore.... But then something else caught his attention. One of the bar guys - while distractedly drying glasses with a dishtowel - kept casting stealthy looks at Lisa. And there was just something so disturbingly nagging in the way he was doing it already that next thing he knew he was standing up and sweeping on her side to block his view before he could even realize it. So much for not considering her like his anymore...
He thrust his hands deep into his pockets, fooling himself into believing he hadn’t done what he had, in fact, just done and bent down to have a look at the menu. Lisa looked intensely absorbed. He caught a glimpse of a simple, stranded chain of hammered silver hanging from her neck that shone brightly against her skin and matched perfectly the colour of her eyes, making her even more beautiful than he could ever remember her.
But he had never seen this necklace on her. He was pretty sure.
Might it be a present?
He straightened up a bit, feeling his temper curiously rising up.
He hated this.
He hated being jealous.
He hated it ‘cause this wasn’t a feeling that belonged to him; and he’d definitely never been up to the point of losing his grip on himself anyway. But he couldn’t help it. It always happened like this way when it came to her.
And he hated it.
He hated it ‘cause this...this wasn’t what she deserved....
He tried to calm down.
This was pointless.
She was fine. Perfectly happy and content with her life and he had no right to claim any right on her. Not anymore.
He wasn’t even sure he never had.
“So...what are you up to?” he finally asked, making what if felt like a huge effort to stop thinking about that.
Lisa thrust her lower lip out, chewing it lightly on one side “I don’t know yet...” she had been reading the same lines over and over again for the last three minutes, without even knowing what she was looking for, in first place. She kept feeling his eyes on her, but she wasn’t even sure it was real.
She mustered some courage and snapped her head up at last. She gotta put a halt to his. Just overcome it like she had always had “What about you? What are you up to?”
Hugh leaned closer though, bending down on the page and next thing she knew her eyes had slipped on the open neckline of his shirt and she was trying to pretend she hadn’t done what she had, in fact, just done.
He frowned, mildly “I don’t know” he said “it’s freezing cold out there. Maybe I could use something hot, like a soup or....perhaps some spicy appetizer, no? What do you think?”
Lisa pursed her lips, inhaling deeply, thinking that maybe it might do her some good answering that question; just putting a little more emphasis on the right words. She licked her lips, stalling for another moment as one part of her brain raced to hardly appropriate associations and the other part tried to focus on picking up something, randomly, from the lust
Hugh prompted her “Maybe you need some extra...”
“Ehm no, no....” she slid one finger down the page, frowning “I think I’ll go with some...Vegetarian Eggrolls, instead. And ehm...a Braise Tofu...”
Quickly, she snapped the menu shut and handed it to him with what she hope wasn’t too much of a tensed smile and, as casually as possible, took a little step away, heading to the nearby tables.
Hugh turned to the cash-desk. The young woman was back “Ok then, it’s a Hot and Sour Soup, a Braise Tofu and…Liz!” he called out “...would you mind if we shared the Eggrolls?” he asked gazing backwards at her.
She shook her head, rubbing her neck, barely turning “No, not at all...Go ahead, I am not that hungry” She peeled off her jacket then and threw it over one of armchairs, leaning on it, thinking.
One thing for sure, she felt completely off her game tonight, and it wasn’t getting any better. It was like having the unpleasant feeling her life didn’t belong to her at the moment; like she was watching it from behind a dirty glass and couldn’t wash the stains away to see clearly through it. She lifted her eyes up, feeling more and more distressed, watching the people dancing at the far end of the room and wondering why she couldn’t be like them anymore; like she used to feel when nothing had been set off and she hadn’t all this daily mental and physical turmoil to deal with; when she still felt like she knew what was better for her and could still see clearly through the glass. She brushed her forehead with her fingers, lightly, like she wanted to ease some sort of headache that was about to creep in. She wished it would be that easy.
Hugh in the meanwhile had remained turned, watching her; he had been studying the way her eyes had first wandered around the place, distractedly. And he had seen the way their line seemed to have hardened once she had laid them on the kind of people around her: normal ones, perfectly average, with no designer clothes or airs of high society. And then he had noticed the way she had barely looked at him and now the way she was still biting her lower lip, restlessly, as if something was bugging her.
And so his face had turned pale.
“Is that all Sir?”
He felt like he had just fallen into a gorge.
He turned, feeling a sudden nasty feeling coming to his mouth “Yes that’s all...”
The woman made one final long scratch on her order pad and started typing the bill. His thumb began to tap anxiously on the counter.
“Something to drink, maybe?”
He lifted his eyes up, but he couldn’t see the woman’s face. All he could see were Lisa’s wide, grey eyes staring into his, silently demanding why he was treating her like that.
His chest ached.
“Nothing then?” the woman asked one last time before letting the bill out.
“No...yes. I mean a stout please...”
He had to make this up to her “Wait...ehm...do you have any non-alcoholic beer for any chance?” that was naive to say the least. A beer wouldn’t have certainly helped.
She smiled courteously “I’m afraid not...”
He nodded, licking anxiously his upper lip “Ok, never mind....”
He turned his head. He had to be sure about this, though, ‘cause...what if he told her, but he was wrong and ended up messing things up with no reason? He saw one of her arm bending against her chest, as she began pinching her lips between finger and thumb.
“You two ok like this then?”
“I’m not sure...” he mumbled without turning.
“Sorry Sir, I can’t hear you with the music. Did you say something?”
He stopped tapping his thumb and looked back at the woman, getting his wallet out “No, I haven’t. Yeah, we’re done here. Thank you. How much?”
Lisa glanced stealthy in Hugh’s direction her fingers still playing pensively with her lips.
Ok. You care for him. Deeply. No big news....
She saw him taking out his wallet.
...and you’re attracted to him. No big spoiler either...
She took a few steps towards one of the couch and sat cross-legged on the back.
You’ve never fooled yourself with it, have you? But that’s hardly the point...
Hugh turned and she saw his eyes scanning the room, looking for her. She gestured at him, warily and as he started making his way through the crowd, arching his eyebrows comically at her, she found herself tipping her head and smiling already, even if there was still a soft voice, speaking in her head, that was trying to point out to her that it was all far more complicated than that and that the reasons they weren’t together had nothing to do with these stupid, little things.
And you know that...
She watched him walking up to her, his eyes always well fixed on her.
And something inside her squirmed, as the voice got a little hoarser.
You know that...
He peeled his jacked off and rolled up the sleeves of the shirt a little, exposing his forearms. And by then the voice sounded like a thready, almost hesistant whisper in the back of her head, .
You still know that, right?
Because at times - when she felt her heart racing like that and her legs turning to jelly – sometimes all this stuff just happened to cloud her judgment and she didn’t know what her reasons for not being with him were anymore, as if maybe everything she felt was actually enough to face the rest and too much to keep ignoring it any longer.
Hugh threw the jacket on the cushions and leaned at her side, his body slightly oriented towards her. He kept quiet, his piercing blue eyes scrutinizing her. She wondered why they felt so inquiring tonight.
“Everything ok?” she asked as cheerfully as she could, staring ahead of herself.
“Yes...they told me it’s gonna take twenty minutes, more or less. I tried to get you a beer, but they hadn’t any non-alcoholic...sorry”
“We can stop by somewhere else if you wish”
She smiled weakly without looking at him “No, it’s ok. Never mind. I can live without.”
He kept staring at her for a little longer, pondering: neither the way she had just forcedly smiled sideways at him nor how she kept keeping her eyes stubbornly fixed away were good signs for sure.
He stretched his neck out searching for her gaze “You ok?”
“Yep“ she answered smacking her lips “why?”
He hesitated “I don’t know...you look rather pensive to me...did I do sth?”
Ok, that was it. Whatever was happening to her tonight, it had to stop. Last thing she wanted was for him to figure out something about this.
He was married.
He still was.
And that was the whole story.
Nothing had changed.
And she had taken her decision already.
Case closed and filed.
She patted on the back of the couch with one hand and turned, smiling at him with pressed lips “I’m not. Everything’s good...I swear”
Hugh kept staring at her
“This place is really nice you know,,,I’ve never been here” she said averting her gaze “I mean, I’m not that used to driving out of West Hollywood so often. With our working schedule, there’s not so much time left to explore you know...” she felt slightly out of breath “...but, you know, come to think of it, this club looks like a very nice hideout...”
Hugh’s face grew cloudier.
“I mean it’s refined but not flashy and feels cosy. Food sounds delicious, by the way. You were right. I totally love it already” she added with an unconvincing smile “A place like this might really come in handy one day..."
He knew it. She knew. And he was totally screwed.
“...I mean without all the press pressure constantly chasing us and so on” she observed casually “...how did you find it, anyway? Let me guess” she said with a knowing look on her face motioning to the stage “The music, right?”
She felt she might finally start to relax: perhaps now that she had found a suitable topic, things would go smoother.
Hugh followed her stare, but kept staying quiet for a few more seconds, just starting into space, chewing his lips: she was offering him a way out, giving him a chance to forget all about it.
He could seize the ball and that would have been it, just like he had done one thousand times before, cowardly.
He could cop-out, as usual - just because they both knew things were what they were - and that would have been it.
He could do it. He just needed to play along and keep his mouth shut.
But he didn’t want to this time.
“Liz, I am sorry...”
Lisa turned to him “Sorry?”
He looked right into her eyes her for a heartbeat, as if he was trying to get out of them what he could possibly do to make this right, but then he just acted on instinct, straightened up and placed himself resolutely in front of her, resting his weight on his forearms to pin her against the couch back.
No way he was going to conveniently ignore the issue, once again. Not anymore.
Lisa pressed against the couch back, taken off guard and he waited. He waited for her to say something, patiently.
But she didn’t want to apparently “Shall we talk about this for a minute?”. His voice came out firm, but gently enough - he hoped - to convey how much he cared.
Her heart skipped a bit and she scoffed nervously “Talk about what?” Had he noticed something?
He pushed himself upright a little “I saw how you did when I told you about the beer. You barely looked at me...”
She made a face, bewildered “You’re sorry about a beer?!” Was that what all this was about? A beer?! A suffocated, amused giggle escaped her mouth “Now, who’s the one who never changes, huh? You’re always ready to overreact...”
“I’m serious” he said without taking his eyes off her
“Hugh I can REALLY live without.I swear” she insisted, even more amused.
His eyes hardened “I had no intention to let this go Liz, I’m telling you. Not this time. I refuse to...” he paused weighting his words, carefully “...you’ve misread me”
“Have I?” she asked teasingly “’cause it definitely looks the other way around here”
He sighed looking away from her, nodding nervously “You know what? You’re right. I’m an idiot, fair enough. It’s just my press paranoia that...” he made a gesture as if something just used to flick inside his head without his permission “...that makes me go crazy and...”
“Press paranoia?” she repeated looking up at him. Now she was lost again. What had happened to the beer-thing?
Hugh nodded moistening his lips “I know, I know...it’s just...” he stopped and looked back at her again, searching into her eyes or maybe just looking into his heart. How should he put this? What was the point in staying friends if they had to keep hiding? And hadn’t he taken a decision? But now, if he told her what all of this was REALLY about - just to get himself out of troubles - all of it would have turned out to be just words to the wind. As usual.
And he was so fucking fed up with his usual that he couldn’t stand the word anymore.
“Ok, listen to me...”
But Lisa didn’t want to listen right now, whatever he was talking about.
She just wanted everything to keep staying the way it was. Preserve the balance. She didn’t want to move forward and find out what would happen in the next episode. All she wanted to do was hitting pause and make no other life choices.
“Hugh I really don’t know what all of this is coming from...but why don’t we just go over there and listen to the band....” she said trying to see past him and leap up “I’m sure they are awesome. Listen: it’s The Black Keys. I love them”
“Maybe later...” he said firmly “Liz, listen to me..” he took her chin between his fingers,gently, forcing her to look into his eyes “Look at me. I didn’t mean to offend you, or hurt you or make you feel like you always come after me and my fixations. I just wanted to protect you...I swear”
She looked back at him dazed and confused, trying to ignore the feeling of his fingers touching her, having the funny feeling they were speaking two different languages. She didn’t know what to say. He was confusing her.
He let go of her chin, looking frustrated “Come on Liz, please, talk to me....It’s not about me...I mean...ok, maybe once it was. I can’t deny it, but not now. I can deal with it now. I swear. I just thought..well, you know...” but he still hadn’t made up his mind on what to tell her. He tried to find the right words “I don’t want you to end up featuring among the pages of the National Enquirer, ok? I mean, just because I wasn’t smarter enough to protect your privacy...I’m the problem. Not you. It’s because of me...not because...” but Lisa kept staring at him in confusion, as if she wasn’t either understanding or believing a word of what he was saying. And he couldn’t tell which one was worse really. Plus this silence treatment she was giving him was getting unbearable.
He looked into her eyes for another moment and then sighed, straightening up to collapse backwards next to her. He started tapping with his fingers on the back: there must be something he could say to make this up to her, show her that he wasn’t always the same coward; that she mattered MORE to him than all the rest.
“Hugh...” she started tentatively “...why don’t you just tell me what the real problem is?”
Right. But he couldn’t tell her, that was the problem. He had promised. So, at least he should been able to find a way to show her, right?
Unexpectedly, the hint of a smile began dancing on his lips, but whether this would have been labelled as an out-of-line-kind-of-move, only time would tell.
“You hearing this?” he asked, turning to her.
“What should I be hearing?” she asked keeping his ear strained.
He sprang up “Ok, enough small talks. Come on”
She stared up at him “Where?”
He gestured vaguely to the other side of the room “Over there”