Ok, guys that's it! My final farewell to this story. I really hope you like it! I don't think it needs an epilogue, I'd rather leave it as it is now...Thank you all for reading, reviewing and for private messages asking me about the update. That warms up my 'writer's' heart :D I think I might write more stories regarding my favourite movie and maybe few others I like too.
Special thanks to Kittie Darkhart, who as usual did an excellent job proofreading this chapter and is very accomplished writer! You rock, girl! :D
I hope you enjoy this final chapter.
Rachel listened carefully. She wanted to know every detail, his every thought. She knew that a moment like this from Frank was rare and was, therefore, a more precious thing to treasure. After a brief silence, Frank continued:
- After that afternoon a lot of things had changed. I wasn't convinced that our split was the best thing after all. In fact, it was too damned difficult at times to accept it. I don't fall in love easily; it's a long process for me, Rachel. I am not a womanizer; my job has always been first for me. That's why I'm still single, I think...So when it happened with you, the last woman on Earth that I wanted to fall for, I was scared. That's why I said those harsh things after that first night we spent together. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to focus on my job and partly that's what happened. You were playing with fire, Rachel. I knew you were trying to seduce me, so I tried to fight it and was doing quite well in that for a long time. I was sure that you were only trying to make me fall for you because I was one of the very few men who didn't fight for your attention and was able to tell you the truth straight out. I thought that it was your pride that suffered the most after that night... -
- That, too...but that's not the whole truth. I was angry and humiliated, as I told you I felt like shit. It was very painful to have such a wonderful evening and passionate night and the very next day to be told – 'That's it. Get dressed and let's get back to business.' - Her voice cracked as she said the words, the memory of what happened still very painful.
Frank took her hand in his and kissed it tenderly.
- I didn't handle the situation very well. I shouldn't have gone on that date at all. I probably wouldn't have if I knew how it would've ended...But I thought it would be nice if we got to know each other better, maybe trust each other more, and obviously I believed, that even though I was attracted to you already, I would end up following my internal discipline and take you home after our date. But...something happened, something I didn't expect. When we were sitting in that bar, eating French fries and talking, there was a moment... - Frank paused and Rachel picked up immediately.
- I know, right after you told me that your ex-girlfriend stopped loving you and I said that I can't really imagine that. -
- Yes, then. Do you remember? I looked at you and... - Frank heaved a sigh. It was really hard for him to say it. -
- ...And there was this sensation of electricity and magic, I know. I felt it too. It's not something that it's so easy to forget, - Rachel admitted.
- I couldn't stop looking at you. Something was going on with me, inside of me. - Frank vividly remembered butterflies in his stomach and shivers going down his spine at then. He had never experienced it before, never on such a scale. It was terrifying, momentous, and utterly intoxicating by turns.
- It was the same with me. That's why I asked you to dance and then to show me your house. I knew that from that moment our bodyguard-client relationship was over anyway. It must have been something else. -
- Well, I didn't think of it that way. I wanted to show you my house, but never expected that we would start making love after a few minutes from being there...You didn't even have time to take your jacket off. Later that night, I thought that maybe it was good that it happened; because once the sexual tension between us was gone, we were finally able to move on with our jobs. But in the morning, when I woke up and looked at you sleeping so innocently in my bed, I've realized that...all I really wanted was to slip back into bed and just stay there all day. That scared the hell out of me. So I woke you and said all those harsh words. You have no idea how painful it was for me... -
- In that case, it's you who should've won an Oscar. You were damned good at playing a heartless bastard that morning. I actually thought that you didn't care one bit about me, that it was just a one-night stand for you...I really, really felt like shit afterward. -
Frank was very unhappy hearing this. He took a sip of orange juice and continued:
- Anyway, from that moment on it was even worse. There were these moments...Miami, Portman, beating up an innocent guy because of you, my father's house and you being so normal there, then that kiss by the pool, the Oscars, and finally that kiss at the airport. I really had a lot to think about after we parted. So I went to the same bar we've danced in and ordered some whiskey. It did help me a bit, so the next day I came back there and ordered the same. And for the next few nights. There was this waitress... -
Frank could feel Rachel tensing in his arms. He looked at her, but she was avoiding his gaze, instead looking at the flower pot intensely. Frank sighed but carried on:
- Well, she was a really nice girl and liked me, I think...One night I was sitting there by myself and she switched some music channel on...'I Will Always Love You' appeared on the screen, with your beautiful face and that voice of yours...It was a bit too much. I ordered a lot of whiskey—I don't remember how many shots now—that evening and somehow me and that girl, who dropped me home, ended up in bed in my house.-
Rachel was still silent, but her nails squeezed Frank's arms in a very painful way. Frank didn't complain; he knew that she was unaware of it and it brought her some relief. When she finally spoke, her voice was extremely, unnaturally quiet and calm.
- Was she pretty? -
Frank was a simple man with simple desires, and therefore his answers were also rather simple.
- Yes Rachel, I guess she was rather pretty. -
- Was she good in bed Frank? Were you happy with her? -
The bodyguard looked at her with concern. That was a very unusual question, coming from Rachel. He would rather see her angry and shouting at him, than putting on this Oscar-worthy performance of extreme coolness.
- Well, – he said quietly and honestly, – I didn't really remember much from that night. I was that drunk. I must say I wasn't that good to her in the morning, either. It looks a bit like it's become a habit of mine, – Frank tried to crack a little joke and it worked.
Rachel started to relax and smiled a little. The man avoided mentioning Amanda's name and other details on purpose. He didn't want to put the waitress in an embarrassing position, in case he and Rachel ever went there again.
- Did you meet her afterwards? -
- Yes, I went there once and I brought her a nice bouquet of flowers. -
- Flowers? - Rachel's voice was again very, very dangerously quiet. Frank felt that it was very reminiscent of the calm before the storm and offered an explanation quickly:
- I thought it would be a nice thing to do for her after what happened...She knew she was just another escape, like the alcohol, from the pain of my broken heart. -
Rachel's heart melted.
- You are forgiven! -
- Well, Rachel, it's not like I've cheated on you...It was a one-time thing and no babies were made that night, – he joked, but to his surprise Rachel suddenly stood up and sat opposite him on the other armchair.
- What just happened? - he asked a bit confused. Rachel was like a wild cat; he could never predict her next move.
Rachel didn't answer for a while. She took a deep breath. How would he react when she told him that they weren't using protection last night?
- Frank, I have to tell you something...Well, since I didn't have a boyfriend for such a long time, I didn't really use protection...No pills, nothing. And since I came here only to talk, I didn't take anything with me...and we were both caught in the heat of the moment...What I mean is...I'm not sure there will be no babies after tonight... -
Rachel wasn't looking at Frank. She was afraid. Afraid of his reaction, of the end of her dreams, of a hard reality of a potential double-single mother. When she finally lifted her eyes and looked at him, she was stunned. Frank's eyes were piercing her with a unknown, faraway intensity. She didn't quite know what to make of it. Her former bodyguard didn't say anything. Instead he got up, came towards her, bent on his knees, and whispered to her ear:
- That would be great... -
She couldn't believe her ears. What did he just say? He couldn't be serious!
- What? Did you not get what I've just said? We weren't protected last night! - she shouted.
Frank was still looking at her silently, his piercing gaze never wavering. He should've been terrified. He should've been angry with her, with himself for being careless. He should've been and felt so many things that he knew could possibly go wrong.
Instead, however, he was ecstatic. The prospect of becoming a father, even though a very faint one at the moment, was something he hadn't expect would ever happen to him. And having a baby with a woman he loved so much was just something...he wanted, actually. It was a sudden discovery. He thought of Fletcher. Cute, smart little boy was the only child he was ever close to. He didn't know how to deal with children. Never had any siblings or close cousins. In his line of work, he occasionally met the children of the people he protected, but never became friends with any of them. That's why he was so surprised that he considered Fletcher like his own son, guiding him, helping him and playing with him—something Rachel didn't necessarily like in the beginning. He was surprised to find the thought of becoming a father not scary at all...Suddenly he realized that the beautiful woman sitting on his armchair was waiting for him to say something more. He pulled her up, made her stand, and held her close.
- Rachel, I want to show you something. Please put this jacket on you, since it might be chilly. -
The singer had no idea what was going on. It was usually her that behaved unexpectedly; yet he managed to surprise her twice within five minutes to the point that it made her speechless. He put the jacket on her, gave her his slippers, and put another pair on his feet. Then he took her hand in his and moved toward the living room. When he opened the balcony doors, the view took Rachel's breath away. The balcony itself was rather normal: not too spacious, that held a small red carpet, a tiny table, and only one chair—which didn't look too comfortable, on top of that. But the view...His place overlooked a small forest and lake as the sun was just starting to rise above it. Magnificent rays of the sun gave off little warmth so far, but looked so wonderfully reflecting in the water... She had never seen something as beautiful! She looked at him in both awe and disbelief. The night was officially over, but the new day didn't start off as bad as she thought it would. Rachel hadn't seen a sunrise since she was a little girl since she definitely wasn't a morning person. She was so happy that Frank wanted to share this extraordinary, unforgettable moment with her. She could feel his arms wrapping around her waist from behind and heard him whisper:
- I love you Rachel. I really don't mind to have a baby with you. -
Rachel was close to tears. She had never imagined a moment as beautiful like this. Grammys, Oscars, money, critical acclaim? Did any of those things really matter? How could they really matter to her after the last few years? Did she have to reach thirty to get smarter? Or did she have to meet Frank, a guy so different from every other guy she had met in her life, to realize this simple truth? She turned her face to his and kissed him. After a long silence, she asked:
- Frank...what do we do now? I mean, there is no baby yet; it only potentially might be. I feel I could have a baby with you. I want you to be the father of my children. I want you in my life, I need you. And I always get what I want...only this time I might not, because I'm not sure you are willing to. We love each other; that's for certain, but sometimes love is not enough. We belong to two different worlds and neither of us will be able to give up each other's world. That's the problem with us, isn't it? -
Frank was moved by how mature she sounded. This spoiled, egoistical diva had grown. She wasn't the same little girl from two years ago; hard life experiences had made her into a real woman. He liked that change in her. Looking straight into her eyes, he nodded.
- Living in your world was hell for me. I hated those parties, galas, dozens of your admirers, dangerous fans, your attractive male co-stars... I'm not even sure I like you in those sophisticated dresses, like the one at the Oscars. It's different for me, Rachel. You are two people in one. On one hand, you're this egoistical, spoiled, arrogant diva, always used to getting what she wants. I'm not fond of that, Rachel. On the other hand, there is another Rachel – a shy, normal, funny girl, who is so unsure of her own abilities, who's hiding behind a mask of arrogance, who is so afraid to get hurt that she prefers not to take any risks in her life and not open up to anyone. I'm happy you've opened for me, Rachel. I'm happy you had enough trust in me to tell me all those things you've told me since that night. And I'm seriously tired of my own mask, of this damned discipline of mine. I'm nearing my forties – when will there be any time to simply live, not to be constantly guarded? I admit, Rachel, living without you was awful. You have no idea how much I've missed you. I really want to give it a try. I want to see how it works, us being together. I'm afraid too – one day you may stop loving me, and it will be even more painful than it's been without you now. You can fall in love with one of those glamorous men in show-business – they all want you. -
- But I don't want them, – Rachel said, getting close to him. – I love you, and here's something, Frank: I also don't fall in love very easily. I love you for you, for being normal. You are my rock. I know you care for me as for a woman, not a star. You are not trying to make a career showing off with me in public. You are not from show-business. I love it. This could actually work, you know? Like Meryl Streep and her husband. He is not in show-business and they've been together for a long time, happy. -
- Meryl Streep...that tells me something... Is this the actress who starred in Deer Hunter? -
Rachel rolled her eyes. His ignorance, when it came to famous people, was indeed touching.
- Yes, and like a million other roles, mostly Oscar-nominated. My point is – we have two different worlds and neither of us is willing to give either up. But do we really have to? Can't we just adjust our lives so we both can be happy? -
- I guess we need to compromise on some things and see how it works, – Frank said practically. – I wouldn't want you to resign your career for me – that is who you are, and you love what you're doing. You love your fans. They give you energy and self-confidence. -
- Yes, music...I love to sing. I'm just not sure I like to do the movies. That's the part I could live without, or reduce at least. Of course my star will never shine as brightly as it has if I decide to cut down on movie roles, but I don't care. I've worked so hard in my twenties. I need some real life when I reach thirty. I've achieved a lot for my age – lots of awards, fans, money – I feel that I can finally slow down now. I don't think I would be able to give it all up – but I can reduce it quite a bit. It's not that important for me anymore, anyway. -
- And I would like us to take holiday twice a year and go somewhere quiet, where people don't know you. -
- I'd like to go to your father's house...I remember it very warmly. It's a special place for me, so many things happened there. Nicky died...Fletcher nearly drowned, that bomb...I should remember it as a traumatic time, but that's not entirely true. I also remember it a time, where I could be myself, I could act silly, when I found out more about you and met your father. He is a wonderful man, and you are just like him. A real man. I need someone like that. I like how beautiful it is up there, that snow, the quiet, that sense of peace I felt. For a while, I was really happy there, until that those terrible things happened. And then Portman killed my poor, innocent sister, who'd never harmed anyone in her life. It's so unfair. – A tear started to fall down Rachel's face.
Frank held her tighter, but remained silent. What really happened that night he would forever keep to himself. He would never tell her the truth; that would hurt her too much; she would never get over it. He was glad that he was the only person in the world who knew the truth, that it was in fact Nicky who hired Portman to kill her sister.
- Frank, I really want to make this work. I'll try hard. I'll hide you from the world. I'll step down a bit. At most, one movie or album a year. A lot of vacation time together. I will be faithful to you. Do you remember when, at the airport, you told me that you don't trust me? It was a joke, I know, but there was some truth in it. I'll work hard to prove to you that you can trust me. I hope you have more trust in me after that night. I'm glad I've explained the Portman thing to you. It's been eating at me, you know? And I don't like the fact about that girl you've slept around with. I don't like to share you with anyone. I know I'm possessive, but that's who I am. I'm not sure I can do much about that. -
- That doesn't really bother me. Do you think it will be easy for me to watch you kissing guys in the movies or your music videos? I know it's your job, so I'll try to respect that. And I'll have my own job. I'll protect someone, but not you. I couldn't now. I'd be too distracted. I don't want to guard celebrities anymore. I'll stay with my guy. He doesn't need me all the time, so I'll have a lot of time to spend with you and Fletcher. And maybe...if we ever have children, I'll too teach them all my rules and hope they'll follow them. If we don't have children, I'll be the best stepfather I can for Fletcher. I really like that boy. I've missed him, too. And I think our relationship will not be easy, but I have a feeling it'll be worth it. –
Rachel agreed, for once without having anything to say in return, knowing well enough that what he said was true; and when she lifted her shining black eyes—which reflected the full light of the bright morning sun—and met his, she gave him the most beautiful, brilliant smile that promised him that, whatever difficulties they would face in the future, it would definitely be worth it.