A/N: And here we have the last part of this story, which is actually the prologue for the sequel to this story – Desperate Measures.
Thank you to my reviewers as always – Anni, glad you got to read two chapters at one. :) And welcome ForestPebbles, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading your thoughts on all of this. I'm an overanalyser myself, which is why I always gravitate towards these complicated, twisty dark tales. I like things that aren't simple and easily defined.
Excuse me while I wax lyrical on the subject and give my thoughts about your post, FP. ;)
You're so right in saying that what is going on with Renard right now is dangerous with aspects of criminality. Adalind has been very crafty with this spell because she's basically screwed Renard, Nick and Juliette with it. Juliette was the truly innocent victim, and Nick and Renard have varying degrees of indirect culpability. If Nick had come clean with Juliette from the beginning, she wouldn't have been in such a vulnerable position with Adalind and Adalind wouldn't have found her such an easy victim. Nick only told Juliette the truth when he was forced to. Now, I'm not saying he was necessarily wrong in keeping things from her. I could see Nick's quandary, but ultimately, in trying to protect Juliette, he ended up putting her at greater risk.
So, essentially, one way of looking at it is that Nick did the wrong thing (keeping the truth from her) for the right reasons (protecting her). Let's contrast that with Renard, who did the right thing (undergoing the purifying spell to be able to wake Juliette) but for the wrong reasons (to keep control of Nick). Nick's actions ended up putting Juliette in a coma, Renard's brought her out of it. There is a lot of blurring of the lines here with motives and deeds and of course, consequences. The concept of right and wrong becomes greyer, absolutes waver. A lot of people will see things one way or the other, condemning and blessing actions depending on your particular mindset. People who love Nick and Juliette can easily condemn Renard as the bad guy, even though he's as much of a victim in this case as they are. If you prefer Renard and Juliette, then you focus more on him being a victim, and less on the events which led up to it. What interests me is all the greyness in between.
It's such a tangled web that is being weaved between these three characters. So, in answer to your question, FP, I do see a triangle of sorts between them in the next story. Triangles are always tricky because you don't want to be so heavily handed in biasing people to one side, so that it's not really a triangle at all, just two people and an interloper. But, you want to give people enough to hold onto so that whoever ends up with the girl, they'll agree the outcome was validated by the journey. It's a very fine balance and one I'm a little nervous about attempting, but if you don't challenge yourself as a writer, you never get any better. Even if the next story turns out to be a huge fail, I'll have learnt a whole lot from it. :D
You make a good point about the coins, FP. I think what unnerved Renard the most about the whole thing was loss of control. I'm intrigued about his past and what went on with his parents and his father's wife. I'm building a back story there in my own head, but I do feel like his past is a crucial justification of the man he is today. Yes, he's a bastard, but that's not all he is and that's the interesting thing for me.
I also agree that Juliette is the biggest victim in all of this. She's woken up with her life with Nick stolen from her and this obsession spell invading her body. It's a double whammy. Nick is just dealing with losing the girlfriend he knew, Renard is just dealing with the obsession spell, it's the woman who's had both forced on her, and all she did to deserve that fate was trust those around her (Nick, Adalind). It intrigues me that I read a fair amount of Juliette hate around the place – how could she do this to Nick etc etc. All I can think of is that actually, Nick did this to her in a roundabout way (it was his mum who got the ball rolling by killing Adalind's mum in the first place remember) and yet there doesn't seem to be much sympathy for her. That's why I'm looking forward to getting into her head space and seeing what is going on there in the next story.
And yes, my dear, weird Monroe. LOL He does have that odd perspective that only a Wesen trying to integrate into a human world could have. He can see things from both sides, which is why he's going to be such a fun character to use when I put him in the middle of Renard and Nick. Renard's comment about Stockholm Syndrome were right and pause for thought, but in a lot of ways, Monroe's response to it showed an understanding of the human (and Wesen condition). Sure, in the story books and movies, lovers end up together for valid and emotionally righteous reasons but in real life, it's rarely that neat and tidy. There is a reason why we end up loving the people we do and it's a product of many things, including all of the hurt and pain in our upbringing. Every relationship on earth has a hugely dysfunctional element to it IMO, because as human beings, we're all hugely dysfunctional. LOL People get together for all sorts of reasons, and end up managing to make their dysfunction work for them as a couple. I love that. I love that love for one couple doesn't fit another, that like a fingerprint, it's utterly unique for each of couple. It's easy to judge other relationships and compare them to our own, knowing they wouldn't meet our needs... but does that automatically invalidate the relationship? It's an interesting question to me.
Sorry, I've carried on too long, but two things will get me talking your ear off and that's human nature/relationships and writing... and when you combine the two... well, see above. .
I'll just let you read in peace now...
Prologue for the sequel - Desperate Measures
Renard sat in his car, across the road from Juliette's house and stared at the pair of sunglasses on his dash. It was after seven and he'd taken the long way round to her house, not even sure if he was going to return them to her. When Juliette had left them at the coffee house, Renard had considered adding them to his collection. He still was. It was a safer option then returning them. Renard's eyelids drooped as he remembered their brief encounter, losing himself in the memory of being with Juliette.
He moved restlessly in his chair and glanced at his watch for what felt like the hundredth time in the past ten minutes. A face to face meeting was risky, for a lot of reasons. Then again, whatever he did, the risk was only going to escalate between them and it was better that he forge some kind of relationship with Juliette before she found him sleeping under her bed. Renard gave a humourless laugh at that, knowing it wasn't really funny because it could well happen. He hated being this out of control so much. His palm itched and he scratched it absently, noting the small mark Juliette's earring had left when he'd gripped it so hard the day before. It was probably going to leave a mark but one only he'd be able to see. Renard's expression darkened. It was like she'd unwittingly branded him. He looked at the tiny mark and saw the words 'Property of Juliette Silverton' embedded into his skin. The unfunny thing about it was that Juliette didn't even know and undoubtedly would not care to find out.
Renard ran his hand through his hair in an agitated fashion. How do you tell someone that they've become a part of you when it was without their permission or even knowledge? How much could he tell Juliette? How much should he tell her? No answers came to him as he stared down at the counter top, desperately trying to collect his thoughts before Juliette arrived. Renard knew thinking straight around her was going to be an issue. He blew out a strained breath and looked down into his coffee, attempting to calm his nerves. The door to the coffee house jangled and Renard looked up to see Juliette walking through the door. He smiled without realising it and quickly stood up, surreptitiously wiping his hands on his pants to hide their clamminess. "Hey."
Juliette took off her sunglasses as she walked towards him and smiled back. "Hey." She laid her sunglasses on the table in front of him.
Her smile dimpled her cheeks and Renard resisted the urge to kiss each one. Wildly inappropriate didn't even begin to cover it. He could feel the foolish smile on his lips but could do nothing about it. He felt like an awkward teenager on his first date. "So glad you could make it." Renard made a vague gesture towards the counter. "Ah, you want something to drink?" At least his voice didn't crack, that was something.
"Ahh, no, I'm okay." Juliette seems just as nervous but he wasn't sure if that was because she was reacting to his lack of ease or the pretence of this meeting. Probably both. She draped her coat on the back of her chair and shakes her head of long auburn hair. "Thank you." Juliette sat down and smiled at him.
He took his seat across from her and smiled back. For a moment he forgot why they were there and imagined they were a normal couple having a normal get together. A part of his brain registered that none of those words in that sentence could be applied to this situation. Renard supposed that was a good thing that he could still recognise that fact. It was a small mercy.
"So, you wanted to talk about Nick?"
The mention of the other man's name was jarring. "Yeh, and ah," he tries to be get his mouth to work, "well, you."
Juliette gave him a surprised look at that remark.
Renard looked down, finding it hard to concentrate with those blue eyes on him. A question had been burning a hole in his brain. "Ah, do you remember anything at all about the night you woke up?" He snuck a look at her. Did she remember the kiss which brought this plague down upon both of their heads? Was there some way her unconscious psyche could have known it was him saving her from that dreamless sleep?
Juliette looked had a faraway look of quiet sadness on her face from his question. "No. I vaguely remember feeling this surge, like waking up from a deep sleep or something."
Renard smiled to hide his disappointment and looked down again. "Umm," he swallowed and scratched his face, uncertain how to broach the subject. Renard tried a sideways approach. "Being a detective is very demanding and ah-" he trailed off, glancing to one side and then gave a nervous laugh an smile, shaking his head at how lame that attempt was. "I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't know already." Renard looked down yet again. He normally liked to look people directly in the eye, get a measure of who they were. It was a technique he'd found useful in mastering any situation. You held their eye until the other person was forced to look away first. People usually found sustained eye contact too confronting. Renard had always relished it. Until now. Now he was fearful of what Juliette might see in his eyes when she looked at him. Renard tried to get this conversation back on track in his head. "But, ah, lately, Nick has been pretty distracted."
Juliette looks pensive at this news. "Because of me?"
"Well, he's deeply concerned about you and I just thought that perhaps I could-" His eyes slide off her, "reach out and ah," he shook his head, "help you both, if I can."
Juliette smiled at that. "That's really sweet of you." A look of shyness came across her face and she looked to be choosing her words carefully. "I really appreciate you taking the time." A heavy sigh passed her lips and now Juliette was looking away. "It's just, umm-"
Renard leant forward, his expression earnest. "You can tell me."
Juliette looked off to one side, not meeting his gaze. "I feel so bad saying this-" she blew out a long breath and gave a confused smile. "He's a complete stranger to me and I'm not to him and he knows everything about me and I'm just starting over with you-"
Renard's heart skipped a beat, his eyes shooting up to meet hers at the telling slip, eyes piercing hers.
"Him," Juliette quickly corrected herself, "him." She refused to meet his gaze. "Sorry, I'm just starting over with him."
Renard couldn't take his eyes off her. The Soldul-Deținător had been right. Juliette was being affected by Adalind's spell as well. The confirmation overwhelmed him, possibilities crowding his mind. Renard saw Juliette's distress and hesitantly reached out his hand to touch hers. Their eyes locked and what was only probably a split second, felt like they'd lived an entire lifetime in that fraction of time. "What happened to you is not your fault," he said earnestly, voice low and intense.
Juliette moves her hand away and looked shaken up. She gave a strained smile. "I actually really have to get going." Before Renard could protest Juliette was standing up and hurrying out of the coffee shop. Renard stayed where he was, hand still outstretched. He blinked a couple of times, shaken by their encounter. He stifled the urge to go after her, not sure his legs could carry him right then anyway. Renard's blank gaze settled on the sunglasses Juliette had left behind. He picked them up, lost in his thoughts.
An oncoming car's headlights pulled Renard from his memories and he blinked in their glare. He looked back at the glasses and picked them up, turning them over in his hands. Renard glanced over at the house, knowing Juliette was home because the lights were on. This was undoubtedly a bad idea, mainly because he didn't know what was going to happen. Renard prided himself about his ability to read any given situation and predict the outcome. It'd saved his life on more than one occasion. With Juliette though, everything was random, he couldn't get a fix on her or his own wayward emotions. His heart beat a little faster as he remembered Juliette's misstep in referencing him instead of Nick. To know that Juliette was feeling the effects of this brought up hugely ambivalent emotions in him. On the one hand, he felt like he now had to rein in both of their emotions. Juliette was innocent in all of this, she didn't know what was going on, only that she was starting to lose control of her emotions around him. Renard did know what was going on, so he felt the burden of that knowledge for both of them. But then, there was this other part of him, that part which was growing every day, which only cared that he was under her skin the way she was under his. The two parts of him raged a war deep inside.
Without even having made a conscious decision, Renard found himself out of the car and crossing the street to Juliette's house. He walked up the few stairs to her front door. Renard's stomach turned over nervously at the thought of seeing Juliette again. Strong emotion flooded his body and he fought to subdue it. The porch light flickered as he knocked on her door with the back of his hand and cast a distracted eye at the malfunctioning bulb. Renard could see through the glass inlay at the top of the door to watch Juliette coming to answer the door. The light flickered again and then remained on. Juliette opened the door, not realising she was letting in a world of possibilities for both of them. Monroe's words about it not being how something starts, but what happens next came back to him. Renard had no idea what was going to come next, he only knew that this, whatever it was, was happening.
Renard smiled at seeing her. "Hi," he said huskily.
And so it began...
"I have little left in myself - I must have you.
The world may laugh,
may call me absurd, selfish
but it does not signify.
My very soul demands you:
it will be satisfied,
or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame."
A/N: So, is there much interest out there from folks to see where this is all going to go? This is probably going to be quite a complex piece to write, so, if no one is feeling it, I'll probably back burner it. Let me know one way or the other and thanks for reading, guys. :D