Laura's Lost Love- Chapter 5
Alert: The Epilogue contains sexual innuendo and discussions and thoughts of suicide. Please use discretion.
Laura's Return to Denver…
Shere Khan, in Hindi, 'Shere' means tiger, 'Khan' means king. "Tiger King"
Wearily, passengers pulled bags from the airline conveyor belt. Groaning with fatigue, they carried their burdens toward the loading zone like a nomadic tribe on the move. In the distance, the sound of high heels grew increasing louder like an approaching storm. Over the rumble of conversations, the proximity of the sound drew the attention of those in its path, their bodies turning to see the source of the approaching footsteps, thus allowing the figure to easily breeze through the crowd.
Eyes covered by sunglasses, fur coat swaying from her shoulders, blue scarf bellowing like a sail, Laura Donaldson moved through the crowd like a prow of a destroyer. "Get me out of this wretched place and away from these people! Where is the damn limo?"
The furred woman, whose only luggage was the designer purse on her arm, passed by the passengers as though they were airport fixtures not human beings. At the curb a long black limo idled, a driver dressed in a dark suit and tie busily loaded suitcases into the cavernous trunk. "Thank god, the limo is here. Let this moment be over!"
The driver hurried to open the rear door for her.
"Welcome back, Miss Donaldson," the driver greeted, bowing slightly as he held the door for her. She gave a slight toss of her head in acknowledgment, then slipped inside the vehicle.
The interior of the limo was spacious. Two white leather bench seats faced each other, the smell of tobacco, bourbon and cologne wafted through the doorway. A newspaper and a pair of men's trousers were visible from the forward facing seat as Laura sat across from the other passenger. A small vanity light illuminated the interior with a dim glow. The door closed behind her.
Though at first his lack of attention surprised and irritated her even further, she quickly rationalized it to her benefit. "Go ahead, keep reading that damn paper! I really can't bear the thought of dealing with you tonight, Glen." Delicately, she removed the silk scarf from her hair, took off the sunglasses and slid the fur coat from her shoulders.
The car moved forward, pulling into traffic. She watched the newspaper swaying with the car's every movement. The fingers gripping the paper's edge were neatly manicured and devoid of jewelry. She frowned, still annoyed. Her eyes moved beyond the luxurious interior, and tinted windows to the shadowed skyline of Denver.
"So this is it? This is life without Perry. What's wrong with the life you have with Glen? Can't you find comfort with the man who adores the ground you walk on and caters to your every need? The man has a pleasant manner reminiscent of that monotonous warm bath you love.
Think about it, the stage could be set with a few pills and alcohol. Your depression is deepening; you're already on the edge. You only need a little nudge to slip over the side and into that hot bath, let the pain and despair of your life well up inside until you can stand it no more. You have enough of those damn pills that they should be good for something. Just go to sleep and never wake up. Let others clean up the mess. You'd like that wouldn't you? Do it tonight! No one will be looking for you or disturbing you. Tonight you could slip over the edge."
The newspaper, rustled slightly and dipped, a pair of dark brown eyes secretly watched her every move. "So my tigress has returned with her tail between her legs," the masculine voice coarsely announced lowering the newspaper.
Laura's head turned and locked with the dark brown eyes of Tom Robertson, her face pulling into an angry frown.
"Go to hell, Tom!" she snapped.
He stared for a moment, enjoying the dramatic pause, then laughed, dropping the paper to the seat beside him. His eyes moved appreciatively over her. He winked, a smile pulling at his lips, "That's my girl!"
"You heard me!" she repeated.
"And to what part of hell should I go?" He tilted his head. "The part where you reside?"
Her eyes flared. "You have your nerve!"
"Yes, I do and welcome back, my tigress," Tom softly purred as he crossed his legs, his eyes sparkling. Gracefully he took out his cigarette case and lighter. "I could have Bernard stop by my office for our nightly chat."
Laura crossed her arms, chin elevated in defiance. "I'm not in the mood to talk to you."
Tom took two cigarettes from his case, placed them between his lips, flipped open his lighter and lit them. His eyes narrowed, watching her through the wisps of cigarette smoke.
Skillfully he removed the cigarettes and handed one to her. "You know you want to talk with me, Laura."
Slowly she leaned across and took the cigarette, placed it between her lips and inhaled. "Why should I bother ?"
"Because you know you need to."
Laura shook her head and looked off.
The car moved through the streets like a dark missile, Bernard taking the quickest routes. The lights from the skyline slipped by like constellations on a starship.
"I know you're glad I'm not Glen. He's in Boulder tonight meeting with a client," the older lawyer stated.
She continued to stare out the window, mechanically smoking the cigarette.
Tom's eyes moved along her shapely legs, noting how the hem of the green silk dress had slipped several inches above her knee. "You're not ready for Glen's loving attention, catering to your every need, treating you like a queen."
Her eyes shot to his face in annoyance.
He smoothed down the front of his navy vest and straightened his red tie. "Yes, treating you like a queen, you heard me right."
Her eyes followed the work of his fingers, noting how the cut of his three piece suit accentuated his broad shoulders and still trim physique. His body language oozed confidence, control and virility, like the tiger king, Shere Khan.
Tom continued with his one-sided narrative. "No," he drew out the word, "tonight you need to feel alive again….to be met head on…not coddled." He raised an eyebrow. "Of course, you can be alone tonight. Bernard can whisk you directly to your apartment, where you can brood the night away…or worse."
Laura's eyes widened slightly.
"Yes, go ahead and look at me with that wide-eyed feminine awe." He looked off for a moment, thinking. "You think I don't know what you're going through? Haven't been there myself? Why the hell do you think I'm here?" Then his eyes locked on to hers. "I didn't get this far by not recognizing my own kind and not being able to anticipate their next move."
He leaned slightly forward. "When I told you to fix this Mason thing, I knew it would not be easy for you." At the mention of Mason's name, Tom felt her eyes piercing him like a thousand tiny daggers. "Let's speak honestly. If Mason loved you like you love him, he would have joined you long ago."
"How can you bring this up when I feel as I do, when all I want to do is forget?" Angrily grinding out the cigarette, she fought back tears and hoped he would stop.
But he continued, "I knew you wouldn't believe me and would have to experience the reality for yourself."
With eyes growing moist, she stared hotly into his. "And what do you know of love?"
Tom's manner softened. He sighed and with a wistful voice asked, "What do I know of love? You are such a child!"
Her face filled with anger watching him stretch out, his arm draped along the top of the seat.
"You are the most insulting man I know." She fumed, clenching and unclenching her fingers. "How dare you speak to me like that!"
Leisurely he brought the cigarette to his lips, continuing his thoughts and ignoring her words. "Yes, you are a child in a woman's body; a beautiful body you have learned to use as a weapon to beguile any man. You are an impulsive child who wants what you want coupled with a tantrum when you're faced with the reality of not getting what you desire."
Suddenly a crackled voice sounded through the panel near the door. "Mr. Robertson, we need a destination."
Tom smiled, watching an angry and distraught Laura Donaldson. "I thought we might have dinner tonight, you and I. My treat, you decide the location."
She rolled her eyes, "I don't want to be seen in public with you, you're insulting. I want to go home."
Tom tapped ashes into the ashtray, before pressing the button on the intercom. "Home, Bernard."
"Miss Donaldson's apartment, sir?" the driver inquired.
"No, Bernard," Laura spoke loudly in the direction of the speaker, "Mr. Robertson's home."
Tom's eyebrow cocked upward in surprise.
Laura crossed her arms, chin elevated in defiance. "I said didn't want to be seen in public with you." "You stretch out on that seat flaunting your male prowess like Shere Khan. I'll show you a tantrum.
Steam bellowed above the roman tub as Laura carefully removed the last of her clothing.
She had stayed in the same first floor green guest room the week-end of the festive dinner party announcing their engagement. Close family friends gathered at the Cherry Hill home of Tom and Margaret Robertson, their home a mix of male and female qualities. The rugged native stone fireplace with its rustic wooden mantle, Remington statues and hunting trophies represented the Tom influence while the delicate chandeliers, lace curtains, rose and navy Persian rugs gracing tile floors represented the Margaret domain.
Opening her cosmetic bag, she removed the prescription bottle, setting it on the sink next to the glass of bourbon.
Bernard had swiftly maneuvered the car along the curved road, past one gated drive after another. Tom continued speaking, her mind drifting. The driver dutifully carried her bags to her room as she turned and glared at Tom, telling him what a rude and inconsiderate man he was. He had not followed her, only informing her that Phyllis, the housekeeper, had gone home for the night and he would prepare their meal.
She had called him rude and inconsiderate. Was that all she wanted to tell him? What about Glen? Shouldn't you say something to him, your future husband? Laura drank the bourbon and thought. No note. Let them all wonder. Tantrum indeed. Carefully she removed the medicine bottle's cap, walked to the tub and placed it next to the ceramic soap tray. Gingerly she placed one foot after the other into the hot bubbled water submersing her body and mind. Tears welled in her eyes as she stared at the prescripted answer to all her pain.
Suddenly a knock sounded at the bathroom door. Her eyes jerked open. How long had it been? Minutes, no, maybe an hour. She had lost all sense of being. The open bottle remained on the side of the tub; the solid mat of bubbles had diminished to tiny isolated islands, the water barely warm.
"Laura", the voice called. It was Tom's voice.
Her eyes darted to the edge of the tub.
"Are you o.k.?" he asked.
"Yes, I'm fine."
"I don't believe you."
Quickly she reached up and pushed the bottle behind some bath oil.
"If you don't believe me, look for yourself."
Slowly the door eased open, a few inches at a time until his head and shoulders were visible through the opening.
Laura gave an exaggerated smile. Cautiously Tom moved into the large bathroom as though he were stalking prey. The roman tub sat in the center of the room with bellowing lace curtains covering the window behind. She could see he had showered; his neatly combed hair still glistened with moisture, his dress more casual.
"See," she raised her arms and wrist to show him.
He stood next to the tub, his eyes moving along her wrists, trailing to her bare shoulders. The surface of the water covered her like a lacy blanket, both hiding and revealing her naked body.
"No," he shook his head." You're too vain for that. It would take away from people looking at you and wondering how someone so beautiful didn't want to live. They would remember the scene more than torture themselves wondering where they'd failed you."
He looked around the tub. "My expectation is that there is a bottle of something hidden behind all that decorative stuff. However, you know that by so readily showing me your wrists, you revealed your thoughts to me ….and your flare for the dramatic."
Though she smiled lazily at him, she found herself both amazed and impressed at his insight. A tiny spark of life coursed through her.
Tom's hands hung loosely by his side. His eyes still moved over the soft skin of her shoulders and chest, and the surface of the tub. Like a puzzle, his brain tried to fill in the image of her body, the parts he could see and imaging what was hidden from his view beneath the foam.
Sarcastically he informed her, "You should stay in this world to torment me, you know. Leaving me would be too easy and not very satisfying for you. You should stay and make my life a living hell."
She could feel his eyes moving over the tub and felt satisfaction.
"A living hell," she repeated, fighting a wicked smile that threatened to appear on her lips.
Tom slowly turned and walked to the door; his hand on the knob, he stopped.
"I agree. Your alternative is much more intriguing." She answered in a flip tone, waiting for his response.
His back still turned to her; his hand gently rocked the knob back and forth in his fingers, seconds ticking away to eternity. Laura suddenly felt her breathing stop in response to his unusual moment of silence.
Slowly he turned, his hand still gripping the doorknob, his face drawn and solemn. It was like a wall had been momentarily lowered and she could see deep inside him. "You know," he whispered, "I'd miss you."
Her eyes meet his and felt she was seeing inside his heart. Faintly he laughed, "Who would I talk to?"
Laura felt her throat tightening with emotion, unable to speak. Slowly he turned and slipped from the room, closing the door behind him.
She loved the feel of silk on her skin; it was as though she wore nothing at all. Slipping on the burgundy lounge wear, she felt comfortable and relaxed as Tom's words played over and over in her mind, giving her comfort. "You know, I'd miss you. Who would I talk to?"
An hour earlier she had battled depressive thoughts and felt her life was not worth living. Knowing Tom would miss her and needed her presence gave her renewed hope.
Moving along the hallway to the kitchen, she paused outside the double doors before slowly entering. The kitchen was massive with two of every appliance needed for entertaining dinner guests. Tom stood at an island that served as both a prep area and cooking area, with a small eating bar along one side. Everything needed for their meal lay neatly organized on the counter.
Dressed in a white shirt with the sleeves rolled to the forearm and khaki pants, he looked up from his work and smiled as she silently walked toward him.
"So you would miss me?" She asked softly, standing by his side.
He wiped his hands on a towel and turned to her. "Why would this surprise you?"
Laura studied the warmth of his brown eyes as she slipped her arms around his waist and pulled herself toward him, resting her head against him, feeling the soft hair of his chest peeking through his open shirt.
"I'd miss you too," she whispered, not sure if he heard her while his arms folded around her, his chin resting on the top of her head. She sighed with relief, enjoying the strength and comfort of his arms. Within their circle, she could fight the demons that plagued her. His fingers knowingly explored and caressed her back.
Feeling the absence of a bra, he gently pulled away and inhaled deeply, regaining his composure, looking down at her. "I thought we were eating out somewhere so I gave Phyllis the night off; I'm afraid you'll have to tolerate my cooking."
"And Margaret, my future mother-in-law?"
Tom smiled as he slid two wine glasses across the counter and filled them from a chilled bottle. "Still in Paris with her friends, shopping and dining I'm afraid. They've enjoyed La Tour d'Argent, a wonderful restaurant with a view of the Seine and Notre Dame. They've consumed the finest Burgundy wine selected by the best sommelier, along with truffles, and caramelized fruits and vegetables."
He raised his glass in a mock toast. "And I'm afraid you're stuck here with me, tossed salad, scrambled eggs and steak."
Laura smiled sweetly, sipping the wine. "I think I have the best arrangement." She raised a brow. "I don't think Margaret cares for me very much."
He chuckled lightly. "I'm afraid it's one of the perils of being married to my son. She didn't like Glen's first wife either. He and his mother have always been close. You'll be at this house often for dinners."
Laura eased around the island and sat on the stool across from his work area. "That might not be so bad. You'll be there won't you?"
Tom turned on the burner and grill. "I'll be there, if you need the moral support." He grinned. "Not that you need any help taking up for yourself, but for family harmony."
"Will you give me some kind of sign when I'm heading into dangerous territory?" she asked.
He opened the refrigerator and retrieved ingredients and placed them on the counter. "I'm sure we can work out some type of code."
Tom poured a little olive oil in the skillet, turning it around, coating the surface. Skillfully he retrieved an egg, crack it on the edge of ceramic bowl, and with one hand twisted the two halves, releasing the yolk and the white. Laura watched him in awe as he did one egg after another.
"I didn't know you could do that."
Taking the whisk and a little water he began to beat the eggs vigorously, adding ingredients as he continued the process.
"There are a lot of things you don't know about me."
She leaned on her propped fists and watched him appreciatively. "I suppose that's true; you still surprise me."
"That's good to know. But tell me, how do I compare to this Mason fellow? I must admit to being a little curious about someone who refuses my offer for an interview." He gave her a direct stare. "It doesn't happen very often."
She felt a twang of pain at the mention of his name and yet a little relief in being able to speak about him in a loving manner. Eyebrows arched as she leaned back and looked at Tom in a new light.
"Well, you're roughly the same height. You both have broad shoulders, a wrestler's build; his hair is dark and wavy, while yours is a dignified gray."
Tom slipped the slender strips of steak from the marinade onto the hot grill with a sizzle. "Keep going," he encouraged.
"Perry has the most beautiful and expressive blue eyes that can be warm and sexy or intense and piercing. And your eyes…." She lowered her head and caught his eyes, and he smiled. "Your eyes are dark, mysterious, and all knowing. Sometimes when you look at me, I think you know what's in my heart."
Whipping the eggs one last time, he poured them into the hot skillet with a hiss. "Keep talking, I want to hear more about this Mason."
"Well, there are intimate details….." Laura's voice trailed off.
"Come on now, Laura, I'm not a prude. The man would have to meet your standards as a lover. I would not care to bet and knowing your undying love for him, he must have been quite extraordinary."
Surprisingly, Laura felt her face flush and blurted out. "And what about you, Tom; what kind of lover are you?"
He flipped the eggs around in the skillet, grinning boyishly. "If you were impressed with my one handed egg cracking skill, then you might know I have many other talents that extend to the bedroom. I'm older and more worldly; don't forget that."
Laura couldn't suppress a giggle.
Moving between the grill and skillet he tended their meal. "Go on, this is very interesting."
"Perry is a tenacious fighter, committed to truth and justice, a humanitarian, and altruistic."
Tom could not suppress his amusement as Laura's face contorted into a frown. "And what's so funny about that?"
He finished his wine in one gulp, and leaned against the counter. "I can understand you being attracted to his tenacious character, but the rest,…humanitarian,…. altruistism,….. and you…. the man must have been fantastic in bed."
At first she found his laughter annoying, but the more her mind pondered his line of thinking, she did find it amusing and smiled. "Well he does have concerns about our 'supposedly'," she emphasized the word, "different values."
Tom threw back his head and roared with laughter, reminding her surprisingly of the man they were describing. Shaking his head and still laughing, he refilled both glasses and asked, "And how would you describe me? Humanitarian? Altruistic?"
Laura rested her chin on her laced fingers and smiled. "Darwinian."
His finger waggled up and down at her. "Darwinian. I like that, survival of the fittest. Isn't that what we do, Laura; we survive? Like two cats always landing on their feet."
Slipping the plates from the counter, he handed her one. Quietly they served themselves from the scrambled eggs, steak, tossed salad and then sat at a small table used by the kitchen help.
"The eggs are very rich and flavorful and I can't say I've ever had a tossed salad with them."
He swirled the wine in his glass and watched her eat. "A quick and easy meal for a man on the run. Tell me, Laura. What are your plans besides marrying my son?"
"I don't know." She answered between bites. "Chuck, Charles, you know the Lt. Governor, mentioned I should run for the congress."
Tom's eyebrow arched upward, his eyes narrowed. "Interesting."
"What do you think?"
"You have the talent for it, the presence and the charm. I've seen you work a room."
"Why haven't you ever run?" she asked.
Chuckling he replied, "I have the charm of a rattlesnake."
Her hand slipped across the table and covered his. "You sell yourself short and besides you'd be attractive to other rattlesnakes."
He gently took her hand, stroking the tips of her fingers, turning the large diamond on her hand. "Being in politics is not like being in the snake pit; you know that don't you? In there, you know who's on what side and why you're there. I had your back in the snake pit."
Her head nodded in understanding as he continued, "People in politics are like fleas; one dog is as good as another as long as he's going your way. When things look bad, or they have a change of heart, they easily change dogs. There's no loyalty or allegiance. You're just a means to an end; you're just their vehicle to the top, remember that."
"I guess right now I should worry about getting through each day and taking things as they come and not worry about politics just yet."
"You know, Chuck would not casually mention this to you. He has some angle for wanting you in the legislature." He observed slicing the steak and eating it.
"I suppose you're right," she agreed, finishing the eggs on her plate.
He enjoyed the touch of her skin and the fact that she didn't pull away from him. He looked around the room and then back to her. "I want you to have all this."
"All of what?" Laura looked up from her plate in surprise.
"Everything," he answered and rapidly added, "the firm, all my possessions. Someday of course, when I'm gone, it will be yours and Glen's."
Looking at her fingers in his hand, she felt her lips tremble at the thought of him no longer being in her life. "Don't talk like that," she whispered.
"Remember, you said it yourself. I'm Darwinian; I'm a survivor. Survival of the fittest; I'm passing it on to you. It's not an 'if', but a 'when'. I'm not immortal."
Laura fought back the tears.
"It's perfectly acceptable to shed a tear," he told her smiling weakly. "It must be your Roedean and finishing school training, controlled tears and emotions. You can shed a tear before me. I find it very feminine and endearing."
Swiftly she moved her fingertips across her cheeks sweeping away the liquid trails.
"Thank you for granting me permission to cry for you. I can only imagine the cheers and singing at your wake, the dancing on your grave, celebrating the demise of Shere Khan, the 'tiger king'." She taunted him.
"Shere Khan, the tiger king, I like that. I've been called many things, but nothing so noble." Tom joked, trying to stifle her tears only to see new ones welling up in her eyes.
"Laura," he whispered, pulling his chair around to face hers, taking her hands in his, his legs forming a protective barrier around her.
"What would I do without you?" she asked weakly.
"We have to think of the future; you know that." He reminded her. "In a few months you will marry Glen…"
She began to argue and stopped as he moved his finger back and forth for her silence as he continued. "…and you will be the perfect complement to each other as husband and wife. You will be an asset to my firm and I will be your dear and devoted father-in-law."
Gently he moved his hand along her cheek to wipe away the tears. She took his hand in hers and leaned her cheek into it. He took a ragged breath. "My darling, Laura."
"Oh, Tom," she whispered, kissing the palm of his hand.
Gently he took her in his arms and held her, feeling her body tremble, his lips whispering gently in her ear. "There can never be an 'us'. You know that." He paused. "Glen is a good man and loves you very much, perhaps too much."
He sighed and laughed softly, "Perhaps I'll have to take my son aside for some fatherly advice on how to properly handle his feisty wife." He could hear her chuckle slightly. "And you can come to my office. We can talk like we always do and you know I'll always have your back."
Laura slowly pulled away from him, fingers vigorously wiping away the tears, her head slowly nodding in agreement.
Tom smiled as he gently cupped her face in his hands. "You know I'll always love you." She returned the smile and nodded her head. Gently, he kissed her forehead and whispered, "You'll always be my girl."
My creative timeline~
Eleven months later Glen and Laura are married and honeymoon in the south of France.
Twelve years later, Laura Robertson makes a failed attempt for congress.
Fourteen years later, Tom Robertson suffers a massive heart attack in his office. Laura Robertson cradles his head in her lap as he whispers his dying words to her. Inconsolable, Laura falls under the complete and total care of Dr. Emmitt Michaels.
A special thanks to EastEnder for her insights into Laura's British and Swiss education.