Disclaimer: The characters belong to Guy Ritchie.
Soap's big night was going great. He was ready for the thousand things that usually went wrong on an important occasion. Strangely enough, this time nothing was going wrong. Ed had taken upon himself to spice the clientele with some of London's most notorious young up and comers and the "Sinclair" people were definitely pleased with what they were seeing and let Ed know the business was as good as done.
Addie caught a glimpse of him through the kitchen doors. He was just perfect. She sighed.
They didn't talk to each other, all through the evening. Addie talked to Bacon, Mandy, Ed and Victoria, acting like nothing had happened. When Soap came to their table for five minutes, she smiled a little, but didn't say a word, didn't dare to look in his eyes. She did not want to risk diving in those amazing, hypnotic, unsettling eyes of his. She managed to sneak a peak and photograph his face again. Another snap shot among the thousands memories of him. He looked tired. All the pictures she had kept locked in the darkest, most secret room of her memory were coming back, haunting her. He was just a few feet away, but the past was flowing back with a vengeance.
She imagined him in the kitchen, ordering around the hired help, perfectly in control, utterly composed. Maybe it was his way to deal with their afternoon together, but Addie didn't think of this. All she saw was a confirmation of her fears. His priorities didn't include her. He had a life without her.
*And why shouldn't he?*she asked herself, angered of the foolish hope. She'd left him without a word, with the knowledge that she was settled, that she was going to marry Kevin… She tried not to close her eyes at the sharp pain. If she left this time… she was gone for good.
The eternal little boy, looking all sweet and precocious, the wonder child, Peter Pan and Mozart rolled into one. She knew just how much of a man he was, but the memory of their passionate lovemaking couldn't erase his daytime personality. In the every day life, Soap was a boy who refused to grow up. There was no way she'd be the one to force him into a real relationship. She loved him just the way he was. But she couldn't live with him like that. Soap was a kind friend, a great lover, but commitment… he had no experience with that.
*How can he be so bloody cool?*
He had just run his fingers through his hair and was ready to go out. Addie felt again the stabbing pain at the simple memory of the rushed way in which they said good bye earlier, outside his apartment. She made her way to the ladies' room as inconspicuously as possible. She knew well how to hide her feelings, so probably no one imagined she could barely hold back the tears.
~~~~~ In the bathroom
*This is such a pathetic scene!*she thought with her back against the cold wall of the bathroom.
She did a good job fighting away the tears, but the memories were pouring. Memories of the times they'd spent together. Memories of distant past, of a friendship long since finished. And memories of love. Carnal, possessive, selfish, passionate, untamed love.
~~~~ In the kitchen
"SOAP!" Tom yelled at him and shook him.
"You don't have to shout"
"It's the third time I'm calling you. What the hell is wrong with you tonight?"
"Why? What do you want?"
"Do you need anything else? It's one thing you didn't appreciate my effort to bring fresh vegetables this time, but when I'm trying to help and you don't answer…"
"I'm just worried. About tonight" he lied.
"You needn't be. It's going great. You've done great. They're gonna close the deal. They loved it"
"Yeah. Thanks. You've been great. I don't need anything else"
That sounded totally unconvincing, but Tom didn't want to meddle, so he waved good bye and went to join the others.
Soap was cutting the vegetables and his mind jumped to a similar scene, some five years earlier, on one of the Addie-Mondays. He remembered her fingers, so graceful the rest of time, struggling to follow his indications. His heart was leaping every two minutes as the knife regularly slipped from her hand and grazed her skin. But she'd never give up until the task was done. Another image took the place of the innocent picture of friendship. The image of her fingers unbuttoning his shirt, not five years, but five hours earlier. The sensation of her hands on his chest, burning his skin, reaching all the way through the heart.
The man ran out of the kitchen, lit a cigarette and closed his eyes, reliving that day.
~~~~~ In the bathroom
Addie was seeing his face, as tattooed on the back of her eyelids. She tried to stop thinking about him, about his lips, so rough at first, then softer and sweeter. How could one kiss have so much power? It all started with a kiss. Only a few feet away, in his kitchen. The first kiss and every kiss they'd shared ever since had been breathtaking, defining another bonding moment and another obstacle. She felt connected to him on so many levels and afraid of him at the same time. This was not the sort of love she had expected. She needed to run away again.
~~~~~ In the kitchen (out the back door)
Soap looked through the darkness searching for anything to take his mind off her and bring him back in the present. If he could just keep his mind on the job for another hour… He'd talk to her afterwards. No. Not talk. He would make love to her again. All through the night and the next day and for as long as it took so she'd see her place was with him.
"I'm not letting you go this time"
He meant every word. Not for just one afternoon. Soap shivered recalling her touch. The feel of her naked body, pressed against his skin. Warm, vibrating with lust and fear, needing his touch as much as he needed hers. She was so beautiful, in the cruel light of day, so nervous and arousing in her shyness, so passionate and lascivious in her desire. Soap felt again the urge to be with her. She was in his reach again, sitting at a table, chatting with their friends. For the first time, he didn't feel jealous of Ed. He never had and he'd never have her. She belonged with him. To him. He had been blind to be worried on account of a crush she had at fifteen. She was his! He knew this in every fibre of his body. He had known it from the moment she was in his bed.He must have seen it two years earlier, at the first kiss, but thickness and love go hand in hand some times.
In his bed…he groaned just thinking of her, laying in his bed, in his power, freely abandoning herself to his will. Not wantonly, but lovingly. She was in love with him. He couldn't mistake this for anything else. He had seen desire before, but such abandonment had to come after an inner battle, much like his own.
The best sex he ever had was actually love. How strange is that? He fought the need to go straight to her table and confess this love. He had all the time in the world. He was going to tell her, in private, over a candlelit dinner, preferably close to a bed. He grinned, thinking of the million things he wanted to do to her and to share with her.
Soap still had a stupid grin on his face when Bacon's voice pulled him put of his dreams. He had to tell the others. It felt a bit like meeting the parents. How would they take it? *We're all grownups. It's not like I'm a stranger*
"Your staff says you've been here for almost an hour. Are you OK, mate?"
Soap still couldn't erase the broad smile off his face. He had to give the news to someone, why not start with Bacon? He was a tough guy, but he'd never hit a friend. Even so, it would be worth it.
"Stop sweating!" Bacon smiled. "The evening's over. Everyone left. You're the boss, so you don't have to clean the kitchen anymore. Let's have a drink. The others are waiting to celebrate"
"Bacon, I…". This was more difficult than he thought. "I need to talk to Addie. Tell the others we'll celebrate another time, OK?"
"What did you do to her? She's gone. Called a cab, said something about an earlier flight and ran away. "
"You know she hates airport scenes. She said her good byes here, but she didn't want to come say good bye to you. She said you've talked earlier. When the hell was that? What did you do to her?"
"She left?" Soap shook his head incredulously. "She couldn't have! She couldn't. When?"
"About half an hour ago. What the hell is going on? She acted all weird today, now you" But Soap was already out the door when he said that.
"Where the fuck are the God damn keys!" he yelled after turning upside-down half the kitchen.
"Tom left with your car, remember?" Bacon's voice of reason didn't have the usual effect on Soap. "Get a hold of yourself, man!" the advice had the same effect.
"I gotta get to the airport" he told Bacon, running in the dining room.
"We'll give you a lift" he offered. "I have to hear the end of this"
"Give me the keys!" Soap asked.
"We're coming with you! If you think I'm leaving you alone in this state, you're very much mistaken"
"Fine, just give me the fuckin' keys"
Bacon and Mandy barely landed in the back seat that Soap pulled out of the parking lot.
"Now can you tell us what this is all about?" Bacon held back a curse as Soap ran a red light.
He was about to ask again, when Soap's answer came in a whisper.
"I'm in love with her"
"And she's in love with me. She just doesn't know it yet if she ran away"
"Have you ever told her this?" Mandy asked him.
Bacon almost blushed at this question. He was about to lose her at this exact same point. He put his arm around her shoulders and kissed her forehead. He felt so lucky.
"What? Err… no. I didn't know until today" he took a wild left turn, making his passengers fear for their lives.
"I love you" Bacon whispered in her ear.
Soap jumped out of the car and sped towards the first ticket window.
"The flight to Belfast?" he asked the clerk, almost out of breath.
"Gate 14" she answered and saw him launching into a mad race before she could add. "It is leaving in 5 minutes. The boarding is complete"
At Gate 14, Soap found this out when he was stopped by the security. He watched the moving plane taking her away from him. He feelt the sky tumbling down on him. He was still staring blankly on the window when Bacon caught up with him.
"Sorry, old boy"
"What are you sorry about? I'm the idiot who let her get away! Again! God!" he kicked the wall, in anger.
"Maybe it's not all lost"
"Or maybe she's going to be happy with her Kevin" Soap sneered. "I don't want her to be happy with anyone else. Am I a jackass or what? She should be just as miserable as I am. I'm going there and ruin her wedding! Her whole life if that's what it takes"
Before his friend could stop him, Soap was in line for a ticket on the next flight to Belfast.
"Soap" Mandy called him.
He looked at her, but he might as well have been looking through her. She snapped her fingers in front of his eyes, to get his attention.
"She didn't leave"
"There she is" she pointed him a crumpled silhouette.
Soap stared at her. It was Addie. More vulnerable than he'd ever seen her. She hadn't left him.
"Oh, don't chicken out! Go over there" because Soap was still petrified, Bacon thought an impulse couldn't hurt. "Maybe she didn't stay here for you. She has probably just missed the plane. Not everyone drives like you"
That felt like a cold shower. He went to her. He stopped in front of her chair.
Addie jerked at the sound of his voice. She looked up to him, wondering if he was really there or it was just a dream.
"You missed your flight" *I'm an idiot* he sat down near her. "When is the next one?" *I'm a huge idiot*
"In about three hours"
"Don't go" he interrupted her.
"Soap, you don't have to"
"Yes I have to. I don't want you to go. I know you don't really want to go"
"Jesus, Soap, what's that got to do with anything? I can't stay here"
"Yes you can. You have to. I… I… I want you to"
"To what?" she smiled.
He looked so much like a little boy. A tall, cool, dynamite in bed little boy.
"To nothing. To everything. I just want you to stay. I need you to stay"
"You mean you're offering me a job in your restaurant? You realised that I am the best damn chef you've ever known and you don't want to have my wasted talent on your conscience."
He knew this technique. It was exactly what he was doing when he was afraid. Ramble about anything else. He stood up and made her get up too.
"I need you to stay because… I love you"
He watched the change in her eyes. It looked like he had launched an atomic bomb. All the studied indifference melted and the tears came flooding. She held them back, only one escaped and rolled down her cheek.
She put her arms around his neck and told him exactly what he needed to hear.
"I love you, Soap"
He cut her sigh with a kiss.
"You can stop calling me Soap, you know"
"Do I have to?" she pouted.
"You don't know my name!" he pretended to be vexed.
She whispered it in his ear and blushed as if she had done something forbidden.
"You know how I feel about airport scenes?" she asked, resting her head on his chest.
"Yeah, sorry I had to"
"I've changed my mind" she interrupted him.
"Besides, this wasn't plan A"
"What was plan A?"
"Let's go home and I'll show you" he said, arrogantly. "Over and over. It's about time you get used to use my name"
When they headed for the exit, Addie saw their friends.
"Bacon's here" she whispered and held Soap's hand tighter.
"Don't worry. I have a feeling he's not going to lecture us tonight"
The fantasy is over. Thank you for flying "Abra Airlines".
Plans for late September (working titles):
"Aladdin and the Chocolate Princess" (the Bacon/Mandy story);
"Jezebel" (the Ed/Victoria story) and
"Deal up!" (Tom and the amber violin)