She was like an apple… a damned, golden apple, each bite better than the one before it. She was something I always wanted, but I could never have. I constantly wondered what she tasted of… salty and sweet on the outside and of the purest honey on the inside. I would take that first bite and be instantly hooked… taking another bite, and another, yet unlike an apple, Monique was someone that I could not just devour and she would mysteriously vanish. No. She would be that forever lasting, forbidden fruit.
I remembered when she and I used to work together, back in my Mossad days, and how difficult it would be to show restraint. I wanted to touch her, kiss her, hold her, just have any sort of contact, but it was precisely that that I was afraid of. I was afraid that the more of her I had, the more consumed I would be… and I would want even more of her. I know that it was okay to have feelings, but acting upon them? It was wrong, was it not? I swear that no other person on the face of this Earth has ever made me feel so completely confused.
When we were not working together, we would email; Monique and I. I think I would stay up late some evenings just to see if she had emailed me back. Her messages were so enthralling, alluring, kind… so kind in fact that it left me overanalyzing the subtext of it all. Was she talking as a friend? Or was it more? Was it her being nice? Or was it flirtatious foreplay? Some nights I would overthink it to the point of becoming utterly dismantled, and I hated that. I rued it.
I was being so insanely stupid. This was not right, not at all. She and I were just friends. Just friends. Just friends. That was what I wanted, for the oddly placed emphasis to be on the word "friends" not "just". Did that make me a terrible person? And just when I thought my illogical and immoral crush could not get any worse… Skype came along. Yes. That what was innocent to most but dreaded to me video chat program. I had gotten Skype on my laptop because I honestly thought it was neat… but then I got a contact request… from Monique.
I accepted, and at the time I was so excited, even more excited than a little puppy during play. The day after I had gotten the request we started video chatting. I would see her face and she could see mine, and we would spend hours and hours just talking. Over time I would start getting more… dressed up for our little video calls. Monique would notice and compliment me, and I would blush and compliment her… for she always looked lovely, at least in my eyes. My father once asked me when I had started wearing so much make up. I suppose he has his answer now, yes? And during this whole time the only two things in my life that seemed to matter to me were work and Monique.
Was it love? Lust? Crush? Stupidity? I did not know… and believe me; I tried endlessly to decipher it. I was torn between two parts of myself, one telling me that this was wrong and I must stop… the other telling me that this was the best thing on the planet. I presume one could say one side was my heart, and the other my head. And right then, my heart was winning.
This was wrong. It just had to be. I was falling for a woman. By the year 2011 we were starting to talk all of the time, even when I was at work. She would send me texts and call me, and I would do the same for her. And I could not help but think that maybe, just maybe she liked me back but my brain always negated my heart's hopefulness. I would rationalize all of it. She was not into me… she was probably not even into girls. Besides, she could do better than me… right? She deserved better than me.
Soon my sorrow would end and my heart would be a flurry for we would be talking yet again. It made me beyond giddy to speak with her. It was then when we got the case… the case that would eventually bring Monique and I back together, face to face, in person. Columbia. When I was informed that we would be traveling to Columbia to meet up with Monique and find Chaplain Castro's friend. But my mind set was not all that focused on the last part, as much I hate to admit that it is the truth. I am in big, big trouble here, am I not?
The entire flight was spent with me on pins and needles, and I am sure that Tony and Castro noticed this. They had no idea how truly nervous, excited, and almost desperate I was. I tried to school my features though, remain outwardly calm and relaxed while on my insides were practically screaming and squealing with sheer happiness. Yet was it wrong to be so happy?
When we arrived at our less than glamorous hotel room in Cartagena, Columbia I could not stop fidgeting my hands. I could hardly contain this untamable excitement brewing within the chambers of my hearts and the depths of my soul.
"We only have one room." Castro commented, having given the place a once over.
"Well, ladies. So began the spring break they'd never forget." Tony remarked, which in turn caused me to roll my eyes.
I did not really care for his commentary. To me, he talked too much. I am sure I am not the only one who felt this way.
"I doubt we will be here much." I said, looking around the hotel too.
"You'd think they would've given us something better, you know… cuz we're federal agents, after all." Tony said, complaining a bit.
I flashed him a stern look, crossing my arms for only a moment before turning away from him.
"That reminds me of something Monique once told me."
"Better safe than spoiled," A familiar voice rang out.
I turned sharply on my heels, doing a one-eighty turn before I saw her face. It was Monique Lisson, the woman I had fallen head over heels in love with. My mouth went agape and my eyes widened, appearing as if they were as big as saucers. At that very moment I did the one thing I could do. I ran over to her and we hugged. I felt her arms around me and I instantly felt warmth swarm over me; an unfamiliar warmth… a warmth I fell in love with. With eyes shut and a pleasant smile, I kept hugging her, not wanting to let go. I wanted to hug her for eternity. When we eventually pulled apart, I looked at her right in hers and all I wanted to do was kiss her. My heart screamed at me to kiss her, just kiss her. However, I could not. Not here. Not now. As much as it pained me to do so, I knew I had to remain professional. She was my mentor, and I was her protégé. That was all there was, and all there ever will be.
"We will do our best to find your friend." Monique assured Castro, looking at her after she and I exchanged pleasantries.
"The sooner the better," She replied.
"Sooner is not possible. The only safe time to travel out into the villages is in darkness." She informed, her accent resonating so thickly.
It made me go weak in my knees, that unmistakable European accent which perhaps made Monique even more lovely, if that is even possible. I swear every time she spoke I felt like fainting. Soon, night fell over the city of Cartagena and I wanted so badly to spend time with Monique, like we used to… but maybe just maybe I could push the envelope a bit, make it more than what it used to be? Maybe? No. No! No! What was I thinking? No. She does not, will not, and cannot want me that way. The same should go for me, but it does not. This confusion manifesting as an internal emotional tug and pull was enough to make me explode. Why did this have to be so hard? Why could it not be easy? This was too damn complicated.
Tony and Castro were out in search of her friend, aided by Monique. I was alone in the drab hotel room, concocting a plan. I had made a quick visit to a market a couple building south of the hotel and I had purchased some romantic scented candles. I started to place them strategically around the bedroom, which Monique and I were sharing. Halfway through, I stopped, some of them already lit. This was a bad idea… a beyond terribly horrible idea. What the hell was I thinking? Could I have been more stupid? I let out a frustrated groan as I started blowing out candles. I did not notice the subtle sound of the door opening and closing, signaling Monique's return. I had yet to finish blowing out the candles when I heard her voice.
"I like candles." She murmured contently.
I looked up, startled after blowing one more out. I saw her hands full with what looked like food. Her eyebrows furrowed.
"Why exactly are you blowing them out, Ziva?" She asked me, stepping into the room.
I could only shrug, not able to tell her the real reason. My heart raced within my ribcage as she approached me. I swore she would be able to hear it if she listened closely enough.
"Please, relight them… and I shall prepare our food and come back." She told me, her accent still so very thick, and saucy.
My heart beat even faster, and my breathing increased slightly.
"O-okay, Mo-Monique." I stammered, feeling nervous.
She smirked at me, and left the room. The tenseness of my body suddenly went away as she left. I tried to calm myself down enough to relight the candles, and set more out, lighting them too. I sat down on the bed, surrounded by a crisp golden glow and the scent of romantic cinnamon. I notice Monique walk back in, and she inhaled deeply. I heard her hum contently as she handed me a plate of Columbian cuisine and she sat down by me. I wanted to eat but I was just so damn nervous. Would it even be possible to eat with her eyes occasionally gazing at me, or with her body sitting so close beside me? I swallowed hard, hoping to settle my nerves. This proved useless. I was still very nervous.
"I missed you." She spoke in a low, sultry voice.
"I-I missed you, t-too." I stuttered, wishing my nervousness would be less obvious… just this once.
She began eyeing me curiously. She had to have known then how nervous I was in that exact moment.
"You are nervous."
It was a statement, not a question… an observation.
"N-no, I am not." I refuted, picking at my food with my plastic fork.
"Yes, you are." She insisted, stroking the side of my cheek. "Why?"
This action sent shivers down my spine. Why did she have to do things like this? She was turning me into a basket case. I hated it… yet I loved it… all at the same time. I pulled away from her touch a bit. I could no longer stand this. I had to get up. I had to leave. I set my food on the bed, and made my way for the now shut door. As I opened it, Monique put her hand to the door and pushed it shut again. I turned around, essentially pinned there. She looked me dead in the eyes and did not say a word.