The news of Sir Eldred’s death was everywhere; it was like a cloud and no one could escape it. It was only after his demise that Tina came to know the identity of the man who she was about to marry. For years now the police had been scheming to put him behind bars. He ran one of the largest cartels in the city, and he was both their master mind and leader. Even among her peers, the news of his death stood firm.
“He is gone, can you believe it?” Tony asked shaking his head in disbelief. Tina had often wondered if he did drugs.
“He was weak and old. If you ask me he did them a favor by dying, so now they can have a strong leader,” Elvis stated.
“Well, that’s another way to look at it, Tony said soberly. Tina you are so quiet. Another fight with your mother?” he asked, and she shook her head.
“It’s so hot, but it’s also a good day to hit the pool, maybe we could get naked.” Elvis said smiling suggestively at her.
“I am not in a mood for a swim,” Tina responded.
“Whenever are you in a mood for fun? I understand this is not the best of time. But it will help you relax.”
“I don’t want to Elvis.”
“I swear you act like an old lady sometimes even my mum has more fun than you.”
Soren soon joined them at the table, none of them had seen him approaching “What’s up guys?” he greeted with little enthusiasm.
“Nothing much, we are considering going for a dip since it’s so hot,” Tony answered.
“ Why? What’s that face? What’s wrong?” Elvis asked frowning.
“Have you…I don’t know, some guys were looking for you Elvis.”
“Me? Shit! Did they say why?”
“No, but they wanted to know if I had seen you with Tina.”
Tina shot up at the mention of her name, “And what did you say to them?”
“I didn’t know you guys were here. I didn’t say anything. What’s the problem? They gave me this little card to call them when I found you. Are you two in any kind of trouble?”
“Stupid fucking idiot! You were going to call them right?” Elvis barked.
“I have to go now,” Tina said.
“No, I am coming with you.”
“No, Elvis stay. I don’t want to drag you further into this.”
“Uhmm guys, is there something I don’t know?” Tony asked, raising a brow at Elvis.
“I will explain later, Tina let’s get out of here.”
When they drove off in Elvis’s car, Tina asked with tears in her eyes, “My mother, what do you think has happened to her?”
“I don’t know, but you are not planning on going home are you?”
“Yes. Why not? Where do you think I am heading to? I have to warn her.”
“That’s the most stupid thing I have heard from you…these men are looking for you, where do you think they will be looking? I am sure she knows by now.”
“I know that. Don’t you think I know that? Oh Elvis, I have to make sure she is alright. I can’t do this to her.”
“This is all her fault to begin with. Never forget that. I will take you home, but not now. I don’t think it’s safe.”
“So where are we going to?”
“To the only safe place I know.”
“I am scared, Elvis. Do you think they know that I stabbed him? Did I really kill someone? I can’t believe I killed a man!”
“Shut up. You were only defending yourself, weren’t you?”
“Of course I was…but still…”by then Tina was already sobbing, she hadn’t imagined that she would be a murderer whether by accident or by defending herself she didn’t want to be responsible for a man’s death.
“They will kill me! I am sure of it. Those guys are dangerous, Elvis.”
“Do you think your mother knew who he was?”
She shrugged, “I doubt. She never gets her facts right.”
“Well, she does make my mother look good, Elvis said smiling, and he turned to Tina as the car came to a halt, we are here, wipe those tears, I don’t like to see you like this.”
“Well what do you suppose I do? Laugh? There is no reason to.”
“The more reason you should. Just to show life that even though it’s a bitch, you are a better one. Let’s go.”
They jumped out of the car, and stepped into the hot sizzling afternoon, he had brought her back to the beautiful mansion, it was becoming their place now, and she thought he was right, it was the safest place they could be. She felt safe with him.
Elvis led her to the pool, and even though she felt hesitant about his idea of taking off her clothes and jumping in, she did, and he followed immediately afterwards. The water was refreshing, it cooled her skin, where it had burned under the heat moments before and right there under the coolness of the water she forgot who she was, that she had Agatha as a mother, and she was just about to marry the leader of one of the biggest cartel whom she might have killed and his men were now after her. In the pool she was someone else, in some place else, free and having a good time. The good feeling lasted until she felt a hand slowly crawling up her thigh in the water, and she tried not to scream. It was Elvis after all, beautiful and charming Elvis whom she loved, not Sir Eldred, but the touch stirred something in her stomach. And she thought she would puke.
“Are you okay, baby?” Elvis whispered turning her to face him.
“Yeah…I am fine. What’s that? Since when??” she pointed.
Elvis had lit a cigarette and put it between his lips.
“For some time now. Why?”
“You used to hate this about your father.”
“I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I had to embrace my roots and stop running.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Well, how do you know what I mean? I want you Tina. Here, Right, Now. Thats all that matters.”
“Shhh… don’t say anything, I love you.”
He kissed her, softly at first, and his hands unclasped bra. She felt the tip of his fingers circle her nipple and he caressed her breasts with both hands. His kisses got a little quicker, as he tossed her bra aside in victory. Her moans were quiet when he touched her between the legs. She was warm and wet, then slowly he got inside her, with as much care as possible, then he got rougher, and just when she was going to enjoy him, he pulled out, breathing heavily and exhausted.
He kissed her quickly and whispered, “You are so hot Tina,” and then he relaxed himself in the water.
“I should go home now.”
“No, stay a little. We don’t have much time.”
“Why? What do you mean?” Tina asked frowning.
“I am going to camp. I figured school is not really my strong suit. I told you my father was once in the army, I think I would be great there. ”
“And you are telling me this now? Why? Why didn’t you say anything before?”
“It wasn’t the right time.”
“Okay. So now is? What about us?”
“Nothing will change. You will wait for me… right?”
“Are you okay….do you realize what you are asking me?”
“Tina? You would wait right?”
“How can you be telling me this now?”
“Tina? Tell me you would wait for me?” he was raising his voice.
“I don’t know Elvis. I can’t deal with this now. I want to go home, my mother is unsafe!”
“I am sorry for not telling you sooner. But I love you…Tina, I know we can make this work?”
“How? This is not a fucking Soap Opera, Elvis. I don’t know why I am surprised though, this is typical Elvis behavior. Always thinks about himself alone. Does things that are convenient for Elvis alone. Why didn’t you tell me before we had sex? You should have told me this a long time ago, when you first thought of it.”
“I said, I am sorry. I love you. You know that, right?”
“No…you love yourself and you love how I make you feel, that’s it but you don’t love me. It always had been like this with you, you think you are doing me a favor by being with me. I don’t need this right now Elvis. I am breaking up with you.”
“No, you can’t do that to me.”
“I just did big ego. Good bye. One more thing, try not to die while you are at camp.”
“This is what you want then? Fine. Go marry your old man. Slut!”
Tina had gathered her clothes by then from pool side and was running out, while Elvis sat back scowling in the water, a cigarette lit between his lips as he watched her disappear.
The tears that stung her eyes were now flowing like two thin rivers on her cheeks. By the time she got home she was looking haggard, she had been crying throughout the journey home. She knocked once, twice before the door quietly creaked opened. Her mother opened the door and looked at her like she had seen a ghost. Tina waited for her to speak first, relieved that she was alright.
“Are you alright ma? Are you alone?” she asked looking ahead of her mother.
“Yes, come in.”
She was all alone, and Tina noticed the cup of tea that sat on the dining table. Her mother drank tea only when she wanted to calm her nerves, and that was rare.
“Why didn’t you tell me Tina? What you did.”
“I was only defending myself, he tried to force himself on me.”
Agatha slapped her across the cheeks, “And so? Is that why you killed him? You were going to be married to him anyways, what do you think you two would be doing all the time? Playing chess?”
“Do you know what you put me through today, you didn’t even tell me about it before you ran off?”
“I am sorry. But did you know who he was?”
“No. I had no idea. How could you think that? His men were here, they are looking for you Tina. I promised to call them once you got home. They wouldn’t leave until I convinced them that you would know not to come here. So why exactly are you here?”
“I—I came to check on you. Did I really kill him though, we don’t really know the cause of his death yet? Do we? I figured the injury might not be serious.”
“No one cares, you put a knife through a powerful man, and his men are out there looking for your head. I don’t know why you are so stubborn Tina. I want you to leave, now. It’s not safe for you here.”
“Where would I go to? And what about you? We don’t have anyone else?”
“Not we. You. You did this to yourself.”
“I am not your mother, Tina. They want you not me.”
“Yes, like I don’t already know that. Where is she?”
“I don’t know.”
“Damn you, liar!”
“I swore to my not to say a thing about that.”
“But it’s my right to know whom my real parents are.”
“I am sorry. Tina, there is some money in the drawers in my room, it’s not much, but it will be enough for you to get out of here. I don’t know who your parents are, you have to go.”
“And then what Agatha? what will I do after I leave?” she began crying again, she was not strong enough, and everything was happening so fast, Sir Eldred had tried to rape her, but no one cared about that, all that mattered was that she defended herself and he died in the process, and Elvis was going to join the army and now she was leaving too but to only God knows where.
The reality that she had no one, became too apparent and real. She was alone. She had always known, but now she had to deal with the reality of it.
“My sister worked in an agency that hired maids, there is one at every city in the country. They might hire you.”
“What if they don’t? Where would I stay before they decide? Would I ever see you again?”
There was a loud banging on their door and they both bent low and reduced their voices to whispers.
“You need to leave! Hurry! Pack what’s necessary and go!”
“What about you?”
“I will be fine, Tina. You will always be my daughter. I am sorry. For everything,” Agatha said reaching out to her as the banging got louder.
Tina could not reach out and embrace her, as she wanted, instead she ran to get her things. She got all the change from Agatha’s stash, and she took Agatha’s costly pendant which she treasured and she ran out through the back door, hoping no one was waiting there to ambush her. As she stepped out, she heard the new voices inside the house, they had come for her.
It was in such moments she missed the boring, mundane times where things never happened and life fell into a routine, like her mother’s constantly yelling and hitting, her friend’s stupid chatters, stroking Elvis’s ego and her trying her best to fit into the picture, but never quite fitting rightly. She already missed those days and as she ran across and down another street, she saw Elvis waving at her as he came down from a different car than the one they had rode in that afternoon. This was a black and sleek Jaguar. She ran and gave him a tight, overwhelming hug. It was not until she let go that she noticed the red pants, not as bright as they would have been in broad daylight.
“Hello Tina, I am happy you are so touched to see me, I thought you might be offended.”
“Oh, Elvin, I am sorry this is no time for a chat.”
“I saw you run of the house. I went by there this afternoon. Hold on, I was there before you guys came by, I didn’t know anyone came there, especially at the pool…well, I am sorry about Elvis. You don’t deserve that.”
“Well It’s…do you have any money on you?”
“I need money. I need to leave town.”
“Why? Where are you going?”
“Wherever the train is going. Just out of here. Some people are after me.”
“Oh my god, Tina! Are you sure you can’t stay? It can’t be that bad.”
“Well, it is. I would need a lot more money if I stayed.” Thinking about getting a lawyer, and court hearings frightened her, even more so the thought that she might end up in prison, regardless of her self-defense plea.
“Here, this is my number, and this is all the money I have on me,” Elvin said after going through his wallet.
“You are my savior.”
“I could wire you more, when you get to wherever you are going. Just give me a call.”
“Thank you so much.”
“Stop thanking me please. This is not enough to compensate for putting up with my brother, did you love him that much?”
Tina nodded, and said, “Please don’t tell him about this Elvin, he doesn’t need to know.”
“Sure. You can count on me.”
Tina smiled and hugged him, “I need to go.”
“Sure, I…we will miss you.”
“Yeah, me too. I will miss everyone…thank you, you are my guardian angel, showing up at this hour with comfort and a load of cash…”
“It’s fine, any word for Elvis.”
“Not a single word?”
“Alright, get in the car, I will drop you off.”
“No, it’s too dangerous for you. I will take the bus. Good night.”
Elvin forced a smile as she walked away, he slid behind the wheels of his car and drove away slowly, as if waiting for her to change her mind. She didn’t.
Tina had fresh tears stinging her eyes and pouring down her cheeks when the sleek black jaguar sped by her. He had reminded her of Elvis so much, only they had been cut from the same cloth but were nothing alike, sometimes she thought she fell in love with the wrong one.
About an hour later, she paid for her ticket and hopped on the next train heading out of town.
To be continued…