Black

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Joe meets Lilly a troubled artist with a secret she cant let of go of or tell Joe until it's too late.

Black

Rainbow

“Don’t like people who don’t know crap about art praising you for the crap you created.” She said downing a glass of champagne.

Joe turned head and was startled by a petite woman standing right next to him with rainbowed colored hair. The lights from the art gallery blinding him so bad it felt like knives stabbing the middle of his forehead from the headache he had all day.

“Forgive me I’m not an artist I’m a friend of Mac’s I just came in for a quick Hi so if you’d excuse me, I have a really bad headache and just want to go home” he said.

“Suit yourself” she said walking away.

“Joe glad you made it” his friend said.

Mac “Made it just in time shouldn’t be too long then we can grab a beer”

Joe “Love to but some other time got a headache that won’t go away and a desk full of work.”

“All work and no play take a raincheck” he said grabbing a glass of champagne off a server’s tray heading to the front of the gallery.

Mac grabbed the mike and welcomed everyone. Joe walked a few steps to the door when his eyes saw a painting he squinted from the pounding of his head and left was he seeing things what the woman’s hair the same as the painting.

Joe’s eyes shot open as he was awakened by a loud knock at the door. He got up and opened the door.

“How’s the headache” Mac said entering the house.

“Good she said you looked like you were being tortured last night” he said walking into Joe’s bedroom putting up a painting he brought.

Joe “What are you doing?”

Mac “You my friend are now a proud owner of this masterpiece, but she asked me what your name was normally she never asks for me to give her the name of the people that buy her artwork.”

Joe “I didn’t buy that.”

Mac “No you didn’t and that’s another thing she doesn’t do gives her art away too strangers.”

Joe “Mac what you are saying.”

Mac walked up to Joe patting him on the shoulder “Here’s is her number.”

“Joe “I don’t know her name” he yelled.

“Look at the bottom of the painting” Mac yelled back.

“Hello” she said.

“Hi Lilly, its Joe, Mac gave me your number.”

“How the headache?” she asked

“It’s gone thank you and thank you for the painting what do I owe you” he asked.

“Nothing that belongs to you” she said.

“Lilly, I can’t just take it without giving you any compensation”

“Joe pleases it’s ok I have to go” then she hung up.

Joe rolled over to the other side of the bed lifted his head at the clock 915 trying to think what day of the week it was he had to jog his memory a little bit more it was Saturday. Did he really feel like running today no considering he didn’t feel like it the headache he had at the beginning of the week really didn’t leave him but then he thought maybe some fresh air would do him so good. He had tied his shoe lifted his head and saw a stream of water coming from the kitchen floor it was coming from the dishwasher. Grabbing some paper towels to clean up when his phone rang.

“Hello”

“Hi, I hope I’m not bothering you?” Lilly asked.

“No just cleaning up a mess from a leaky dishwasher”

“Oh, then I will let you attend to that”

“Wait Lilly is there something wrong?”

There was a moment in silence “Umm I need to talk to you”

“Sure, what is it?” he asked.

“It has to be in person” she said

“Ok where do you want to meet?”

“Fielding Park” she said.

“That’s just down the street from me what do you say we meet at 1”

“No Joe I’m here now please come now” she said.

“ok I’m on my way” he said hanging up.

He left the house thinking it would be quicker if he drove, but something told him he’d get their faster if he ran and getting his work out in. Once he got to the park, he started to look for her from where he stood, and nothing stood out to him all he had to see was her hair the color of her hair. He started to walk towards a group of people and started to look when he heard his name being called “Joe.”

He turned and looked he didn’t see her at first until he saw her waving her hair color was different it was orange.  

“Hi sorry I didn’t recognize you” he said taking a seat next to her.

“Didn’t expect you to” she said.

He looked at her for a moment seeing such a vulnerability to her face.

“I’m sorry Joe about how I somewhat introduced myself the other night. I’m a wreck on an opening night of a show.”

Joe “No need to apologize. Lilly if something is bothering you, please tell me what it is.”

“The night at the gallery Mac just didn’t invite you to look at artwork of people you never heard of it was a blind date he was trying to hook us up.”

Joe trying to find the logic in what she just said, “Blind date he didn’t say anything about a blind date.”

“He didn’t tell me with the show taking up much of his time I think it was a last-minute thing. He wanted to formally introduce us, but the show had started, and you left too soon. I was expecting something different” She said.

“I like you too so why would Mac think the two of us would get along?” he asked.

Joe was trying to half process why Mac would do such a thing and not tell, and the other half was trying to console Lilly. “Man, always has good intentions”

“Yes, he means well”  

“Lilly what did you mean by you were expecting something different?”

“Let’s just say the men I’ve been romantically involved in have all been about themselves. When you said you would meet me, I was shocked that you cared didn’t think I’d had drawn interest in you.”

He leaned over her shoulder “Somehow women who are either have brains, beauty or athletic seem to find me attractive but my secret weakness is for free spirted women.”

Hearing that made her upset she got up and got onto her bike and started to pedal. Joe got up and started to run trying to catch up to her “Lilly wait” he said almost out of breath.

She kept pedaling away and he tried to get up with her but was losing pace hearing him yell her name made her want to pedal faster to get away from him not paying attention the yellow light had just turned red and she was almost to the other side of the street when a car almost struck the wheel of her bike with hit the curb and she fell off. The light had turned green traffic went on and Joe saw her laying on the ground he dodged the cars coming his direction as he made his way across the street and saw.

She lifted her head “Don’t you ever call me a free spirit.”  

Joe stood and looked at her “How about a reckless bicyclist.”

She laughed “Ow my knee”

Joe pulled the bike off of her and helped her up her one knee was skinned up pretty bad.

“We should call an ambulance”

“No, I don’t have insurance I can make it back to your place I know what to do”

“Are you sure?”

“Yep” she said with her teeth clinched.

Joe put her one arm around him as she leaned against him and limped back to his place.

“Bathroom is just down the hall” he said.

“The kitchen would be better” she said

They made their way to the kitchen table where he elevated her one leg and should him what to get and within ten minutes she was cleaned and bandage.

“Oh, Joe I’m sorry I didn’t know you had a mess in here.”

He looked down and saw more water on the floor this time he got the mop and started to clean then he pulled out his toolbox and tried to fix the dishwasher himself.

“Need any help” she offered.

“No, I think I just need to replace something” he said sticking his head into the dishwasher.

He thought he was making progress until more came out and now he was frustrated when he broke something. “Well, I guess I have no choice now but to get a new one. Wonder how much the cheapest one cost” he said.

“I bet you that is the cheapest one you need to get a good one you can afford it”

“How do you know I can afford one?”

“Because I’m a starving artist you’re not”

He started to smile at her, but her look was serious he closed the door of the dishwasher and started to clean up. She started to get up and almost fell “Aww” she said.

“Lilly we really need to take you to the hospital” he said holding onto her.

“No, my foot fell asleep. I’m all right I can bend my knee enough to ride home.”

“No let me take you home.” He said.

“No, you need to take care of that” she said pointing to more water that was coming out of the dishwasher.

Joe was at mercy of a leaking dishwasher ran he’d rather be Lilly’s knight in shining armor.

He carried her to the couch gave her the remote “Stay put” he said.

Grabbed his phone and first called an appliance store then he snuck into the bathroom in his bedroom and shut the door.

“Hey Joe, what’s up?”

“Why did you want to fix me and Lilly up?” he asked.

Mac “Who told you?” he asked.

“Lilly, she called me today and was upset she wanted to see me about something and I’m assuming that’s what it was.”

Mac let out a deep breath “Joe normally I’m not a matchmaker in any sense of the word but You and Lilly seem good for each other.”

Joe “How we are totally the opposite”

Mac “Bingo”

Joe “Mac opposites don’t always attract can be oil and water at times.”

“Correct but the two of you are not oil and water more like all work and no play.”

“Mac what are you saying I’m dull and she’s Party girl.”

“No, she’s not in the least she’s more of risk taker for better or worse.”

“What do you mean” he asked.

“Well, she does things that aren’t always in the best interest for her or her art. Where you are more calculated more grounded let’s say”

“Mac, I don’t want to be her babysitter why can’t you. You’re pretty grounded.”

“Joe, I’m not asking you to babysit her. You how busy I am and at times I can’t always be there for her she just needs another person who see things in a more realistic view.”

“Mac tells me the truth what’s wrong with her?”

“Nothing she’s just one of those free spirted artists” he said.

Hearing Free spirted made Joe cringe seeing Lilly’s face when she told him not to call her that.

“Hey Joe got to go talk to you later” then he hung up.

Joe stood in the doorway looking at Lilly asleep on the couch wondering who she truly was and why Mac was so considered about having Joe in her life. He walked over to the couch and put a blanket over her and kissed her lightly on the forehead. Lilly’s eyes shot open from a nightmare she was having she could feel her heart pounding and her breathing rapid she was scared she didn’t know where she was at first the room was dark. She swallowed hard and she remembered she was still at Joe’s. She tossed the blanket off and tried quickly to get off the couch, but her knee still hurt. She was quite feeling her way around to the door she wanted to leave him a note but couldn’t. She took her bike out from the hallway and left. She got on her bike at first her knee hurt from pedaling but the more she pushed she adjusted to the pain like always. The air was cool and fresh it had just finished raining and she felt alive and in a long time she felt like the free spirit she once was. Joe woke up finding her gone. He wanted to call her but felt now he maybe after what Mac had told him many guys would have backed off, but he wasn’t going to.

He called her and waited no answer he left a message “Lilly it’s Joe just wanted to know if you made it home safe.”

A few minutes later he got a smile. He didn’t know how to take it other than he knew she was safe.

Brown

“Come in” Joe said.

“Joe, there is a young lady here to see you.”

Joe still with his head down looking at paperwork.

Mary his assistant stood there and waited for a minute “Joe someone’s here to see you.”

Joe looked up took off his glasses leaned back in the chair and rubbed his eyes “I don’t remember any meetings today” he said.

Mary “No you are right she just showed up.”

Joe “Well did you get her name?”

Mary “No she wouldn’t give it.”

Joe was stumped if he had no meetings, and no one called him before hand to say they were coming over who in the hell could it be.

“Send her in” he said.

Mary went back out leaving the door open when Lilly appeared at the doorway with brown hair. Joe was taken aback by her presence.

“Sorry I didn’t want to give my name I was afraid if I did you wouldn’t see me” she said.

Joe got up from his seat to shut the door “Never is something wrong?”

“As matter of fact there is, see I have the basket full of food and I can’t eat it all by myself.” She said swinging a picnic basket back and forth in front of him.

He turned and looked at his desk that was covered in papers.

“No, I’m not helping you clear your desk I got a better idea” she said grabbing his hand and leading him out of the office.

They were silent as they rode the elevator down to the ground floor and out the door they went heading across the street to Central Park. It was a little bit of a cool summer overcast day but a nice day to least enjoy some time outside.

He helped her put a blanket on the ground as she started to unpack the basket “Hope you can find something you like in here.” She said.

“I’ve eaten since 7 anything you have will do the trick” he smiled at her.

“So, was that mess on your desk important?” she asked.

“No just some routine audits that always come out perfect but not this time around something is not right and I don’t know what it is.”

“Well maybe I came at just the right time some fresh air and food to get your focus back.”

“I hope so I have the end of week and if not then I have to fly out to every office in the country and manually audit there.” He said.

“And if you don’t?” she asked.

“I’m out of a job” he said.

She gasped “Oh Joe I’m sorry you need to go back to work.”

He smiled “I’m just teasing I won’t lose my job this isn’t the first our last time this is happened. I just wished it weren’t happening this time.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Because it’s taking my time away from spending it with you” he said as leaned over and kissed her.

She didn’t fight him or pull back she wanted him to kiss her as he felt her tears on his face.

“I’m so sorry Lilly. I should have asked” he said.

“Why should have you asked I still would have said yes” she said.

“Then why the tears?” he asked.  

She turned her head “When a man kisses me like that then it’s a matter of time when I lose them for good.” She said.

“Lilly you’re not going to lose me” he said.

She turned back and looked him dead in the eye “Promise me Joe I’m not going to lose you.”

“I promise” he said.

“Joe come on you’ve been at the office all week and I miss you.”

“Lilly, I miss you too but if I don’t find this error, I’m off to see the USA and be gone awhile and you will miss me more.”

“No, you won’t you’ll miss this pot roast dinner I made for you that’s getting awfully cold.”

“Lilly keep it warm in the over I don’t want it microwaved I’m out the door now.”

Joe got back to his place with his front door swinging open “Where are you going?” he asked.

“I have to meet a gallery owner about a one woman show he wants me to have” she said.

“Lilly that’s great we need to celebrate” he said.

“No, we don’t one-woman show’s scare me” she said.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because then I have to paint, I have to be creative I have to produce and live up to my talent” she said starting to peddle away from him.

“What’s wrong with that?” he yelled.

“You wouldn’t understand you’re not an artist” she yelled back.

The past few weeks Joe had been running on fumes from avoiding the inventible of having to go to every office in the country to find one tiny needle in the company’s financial haystack to staying up all night with Lilly was burning Joe’s candle down to nothing. He laid his head down on his desk that was it. He would take the weekend off and next week he would start his tour across America to find this little error. Joe’s phone went off awaking him from a dead sleep. He look at it “Where the hell are you, we are going to be late” if was Lilly.

“Oh crap” he said getting his jacket and laptop and headed out the door.

Tonight, he and Lilly where going to an Art show premiere and he was more than running late. Traffic had lightened up for a Friday in downtown Manhattan at least he could make it back to his place to still get a shower and change of clothes. He entered his apartment put down his laptop and headed straight for the bathroom.

“You scared me” a voice said from his couch.

He turned to face the voice “Why would I scare you, Lilly?”

“You didn’t call me at 5 like you always do and I was getting worried since we are going out tonight. I thought maybe you didn’t want to go tonight, and you were trying to get out of it.”

Joe put his hands over his face and rubbed it not believing what he just heard come out of her mouth.

“Lilly I literally fell asleep at my desk when you called no need to be alarmed and why would you think I was trying to get out of tonight.” He said.

“Because it’s happened before to me.” She said.

Her past boyfriends Joe thought himself as he was trying to think of something that would not lead to an argument and that he could get into the shower. “Well, that was in the past and we are known in the present” he said heading to the bathroom.

“Ready” he asked coming out his bedroom.

“We got time” she said looking at magazine.

He looked at his phone “It’s 7:30”

“It starts at 8” she said.

Joe was a little miffed and wanted to say something but again he was too tired to start any argument with her and thought maybe it was a good thing or he still would have been asleep at his desk. He went to his laptop and opened it.

“Joe please don’t start working” she said getting up.

“I’m not. I’m booking my flight for Monday” he said.

Lilly became anxious “How long will you be gone?”

“Don’t know at this point hopefully I find this error the first office I go to.”

“Where’s that?”

“Seattle hit the west coast first and work my way back east.”

“Oh” she said heading to the bathroom.

Lilly closed the door and started to cry silently he was leaving her, and she couldn’t handle it not now when she needed him the most and still wouldn’t tell him why. She splashed some cold water on her face and touched up what little make up she wore.

“Ready” she said.

She looked at him he was asleep at the chair with his head tilted back.

“Here take this” she said handing him a little white pill.

“Lilly” he said sternly.

“It’s all-natural little bit of this and a little bit of that” she said opening the door.

They arrived at the gallery whatever she gave him worked he was awake and alert. Lilly held Joe’s hand for her own comfort and made sure she kept them both from being seen by anyone.

“Lilly my child I thought you were dead” An older man with a French Accent said giving her a kiss.

“Pierre” she said with a half-smile.

“Lilly you must come and say Hi to Gigi. She’d be happy to know you are alive” he said taking her hand and pulling her away from Joe.

“Don’t worry you will get her back once the gallery closes” a woman whispered in Joe’s ear.

He turned finding a tall darked haired woman sipping Champagne “She’s family to them.”

Joe was more confused has he was still trying to comprehend Pierre’s comment of her still being alive and now this woman with her family comment.

“Excuse me but I don’t know what you are talking about?” Joe said.

Maribell “Oh I’m sorry I’m guessing she hasn’t told you anything about this person’s artwork we are looking at tonight.”

Joe didn’t want to sound unknow ling again, so he quickly looked down at his program Jacques Dupont was the artist’s name.

“Jacques Dupont” He said trying sound convincing to this woman he knew of his work.

“He was past his prime when he was with you, but in his heyday with me he put on a hell of a show.” Lilly said returning to Joe’s side.

Maribell “Is that what you keep telling yourself sweetie to make the guilt go away.” She said leaving the two of them.

“Let’s Go” she said taking Joe’s hand.

They both silent in the car he had so many questions, but she was silent her face was red with anger almost as she was forcing herself not to cry.

“Lilly, we need to talk about this I have questions” he said.

“It’s doesn’t concern you nor do I want you to be a part of those people including her” she said.

“Then tell me why not her?”

“She will try and take you away from me” she said.

“Why would she do that?”

“Revenge” she said.

He pulled into the driveway and he parked the car “Lilly what the hell is going on please tell me the truth. Who are those people and what did they do to you?”

She didn’t answer him she got out of the car on her bike and sped off. He sat in the car for a while with a million thoughts going through his head with no one to help him answer them. He finally got out of the car went to the bar poured himself a glass and just sat on the couch trying to fall asleep.

“Joe opens up please up open the door” Lilly said pounding on the door.

Joe slowly became awake from the pounding on the door he got up putting the empty glass down that he fell asleep and headed to the door. He opened the door and Lilly fell into his arms “I’m sorry don’t be mad at me” she said sobbing. He shut the door with his one hand then put them both tightly around her she was shaking.

“It’s ok” he whispered kissing the top of her head.

“I thought we could go and not be seen and…”  her words cut off by her sobs.

“It’s ok” he said rubbing her back to calm her down.

She was soothed enough to stop crying and now just wanted to be held but she wanted something more she lifted her head up and kissed him she wanted him to make her thoughts go away.

Joe woke up the next morning with Lilly sleeping on his chest last night they had consummated their relationship out of her need and his want now it was dealing with the aftermath. He took her in his arms and kissed the top of her head while she was still asleep. He stared at the painting she gave to him. The way the sunlight struck it made it come to live more vivid and vibrant at times the way Lilly could be.  

She woke up still laying on him squeezing him knowing she was still safe with him. “What are you staring at” she said closing her eyes.

“Why did you give me your painting” he asked.

She opened her eyes “I wanted you to have a part of me” she said kissing his chest.

“Why?” he asked.

“I wanted to see if I could after being with Jacques.”

“I don’t know how I should take that” he said.

Lilly laid quite for a moment and took a deep breath after last night she had to be honest with Joe. He deserved to know. “Jacques Dupont was 42 I met in Paris when I was 18-year-old on an art school on a scholarship. Jacques saw my work one day and wanted to give me private lessons.”

Joe was started to try piecing what she was telling him with what her heard last night at the gallery.

“He was my mentor and my first love he took care of me he had pulled some strings to get me my first one woman showing at the luv telling me I have to paint; I have to be creative I have to produce and live up to my talent until…”

Joe lifted his head off the pillow “Until what?”

“Until he met Maribell and gave my show to her. He said she was more established and sell more paintings for which he would take a cut from both of us if any of our paintings sold that night.”

“Lilly I’m sorry he did that to you” he said hugging her.

“After that, I realized rules were meant to be broken.” She lifted her head looking at him “Ok your turn what’s the worst thing you’ve ever done.”

He brushed the hair out of her face and lowered his lips to hers “Not asking you to move in with me sooner” he said trying to kiss her.

She jumped out of bed “No, Joe I can’t after Jacques I like having my own space, I like being alone to create.”

Pink

Joe shuffled his feet to the bathroom how he did not want to go into the office granted it was Friday but still that didn’t make him spring to life and want to get to the office. He got into the shower and started the waking up process. He opened the bathroom door and was met by the smell of coffee he never set his coffee maker or was he still in some dream state where he wanted his coffee. He got half-dressed and made his way out of the bedroom to the kitchen when he saw the light on in a used room. He stopped at the edge of the doorway and leaned his head over to look. It was Lilly who facing her easel painting.

“Someone has been in my kitchen drinking my coffee” he said putting his arms around her from behind.

“Oh my god Joe you sacred me” she said.

“Now we’re even.” He said.

“Excuse me?” she turned to face him.

“I didn’t hear you come in nor did you wake me up, so I was a little startled when I came out of the shower to smell coffee.” He said.

“You were dead to the world plus these are my working hours” she said kissing him on the lips.

“Working hours? So, is this your new home office?” he asked?

She put her head down “Just office” she said.

Joe put his one hand on her cheek “Lilly you don’t have to be afraid to move in with me.”

Lilly placed her hand on top of his “Joe please I’m not ready yet”

Joe “Why?”

She wrapped her arms around his waist and put her head against his damp chest “Joe I’m scared this is my first showing after being with Jacques.” 

He felt her body tense up when she said it “Lilly I’m happy for you but why are you scared?”

“That something will happen, and it will be taken away from again” she said.

“Anything and everything” she said.

“I won’t let that happened to you again Lilly” he said.

“How can you Joe you know nothing about the art world and the people that are in it.”

“Then teach me Lilly” he said.

“Someday right now I just want you to be you. You are my muse, Joe; you inspire me to paint something that I haven’t felt in a long time please just continue to live in your world and not in mine.” She said looking up at him.

He looked into her watering eyes what was this fear inside her that wasn’t allowing him to be fully involved in her entire life. She was only allowing him to be part of her life that she felt safe opening up to him about he wanted to know everything about her now, but he knew if he did press her on anything she’d close herself off completely to him.

He smiled brushing back her hair “Muse uh do I get to pose naked.”

She smiled “No and don’t quit your day job speaking of which you are running late.”

Joe “I can call in sick” he said.

“No, you still haven’t found that error and I don’t want you to leave me to go across country to find it.” She said kissing him.

She turned her back to him and stared at her easel.

“Well, you be here when I get home” he asked.

“Don’t know” she said.

He started to reach for the coffee mug “My cup” she said.

Purple

Joe sat at his desk his thoughts still focused on his conversation with Lilly this morning the fear of her losing her show made him want to protect her at all costs.

“Hey Joe, what’s going on.”

“Mac this one woman show Lilly has is there anyway or anyone that can take it away from her for whatever reason?”

Mac let out a sigh “Just her at this point most of the art world has given up on her.”

Joe “What do mean?” he asked.

“From what you said and what happened at the gallery last week you know what Jacques did to her. She has in the past been given more than her share of one-woman art shows but somehow she always finds a way to sabotage them not anyone or anything else.” He said.

Joe “Why?”

Mac “I don’t know and if she won’t tell then we will never know.”

Joe “What do mean if she won’t tell me?”

Mac “The way she’s acting happy and inspired that’s you Joe, she trusts you which she rarely does now don’t lose or break it or…”

Joe “Or what Mac?”

Mac “Or you may lose her for good.”

Joe hung up the phone and looked at time on his computer it wasn’t even lunch time and now his concentration was gone from his work it was focused on Lilly. He shut down everything and headed out the door.

“Lilly” he yelled entering his apartment dropping the handful of bags he was carrying.

No response as he made his way to the spare room to find her not there or anywhere in the apartment. He stood in the middle of the apartment letting out a sigh “Lilly.”

He went into the kitchen to get himself something to eat going to sink he had found his dishes were in the dishwasher with a note on it.  “I see you splurged on the good model” he smiled.

Joe knew better in taking the rest of the day off, but he knew his brain and body both needed it putting the tv on and dozed off it felt good knowing he didn’t have to get up tomorrow and he’d be with Lilly for the next two days. He woke up looking at his phone 530 pm “Lilly” he yelled no answer he texted her “When can I expected you?”

He waited for a few minutes the longer he waited the more anxiety he was having “Not tonight and please don’t ask why” was the text he got back.

Joe felt worried and anger and at the same time he had to commit to either letting her behavior go and don’t ask any questions or confront her once and for all then Mac’s voice appeared “She trusts you to don’t lose or break or you will lose her for good.”

“Someone has been using my paints” Lilly said entering the den.

“No papa bear went to the art store and got my own” he said taking her in his arms.

“Well Goldilocks’ next time buy the cheap stuff lasts longer and works better” she smiled.

“Then I would be a starving artist” he said kissing her fully.

“No, you’d be a dead artist no one would buy crap like that” she said straight faced.  

He didn’t know if she were kidding or not all he wanted was to be more part of her life and he thought taking up painting would be a good way.

“Gotcha” she said with a smiled picking up his easel and a brush.

“You have potential” she said fixing something on the canvas he had been working on

“I missed you last night” he said.

Lilly stopped what she was doing “I missed you too” she said taking his coffee mug out of the room.

Joe stopped himself from asking why remembered her text. He stood in the room debating if he should try to continue the conversation.

“Here fresh cup” she said handing him another mug of coffee.

“Aren’t you going to paint with me?” he asked.

“After I toss in a load of laundry” she said.

They spent the rest of the day working on Joe’s artistic side with Lilly being his art teacher showing him basic principles including not practice painting on the teachers face as he carried her off into the bedroom after their tryst.

“I love you Lilly” he said hugging her from behind. 

She was awake when she heard him but pretended to be asleep as she heard him get out of bed get dressed and leave. She got up got dressed and headed back to her room where she became emersed in her work.

“Dinner time” he said bringing in two plates of food.

“Joe why don’t we eat at the table” she said covering her easel with a tarp.

“No, it’s ok” he said handing her a plate.

They sat on the floor across from each other eating in silence.

“Can I see any of your work?” he asked.

“Sure, when the time comes” she said.

“When will that be?” he asked.

“I don’t know but when I do, I will let you know” she said leaning over to kiss him.

“Lilly please stay the night” he said.

“Yes” she said kissing him back.

They spent Sunday getting coffee and bagels in downtown Manhattan and spending time in central park when she left him Sunday night “I promise I will be back in the morning” she said.

Joe’s alarm went off to early, but he got up knowing or more of praying Lilly would keep her promise and when he got dressed, she was in the kitchen waiting for him with a full plate of breakfast. She kissed him goodbye and when he came home, she was still there they ate dinner and she left but bright and early the next morning she was there with his breakfast it was a routine that became a habit quickly one morning he got up early and cooked breakfast himself and made sure he got his coffee mug back and when he wasn’t looking, she switched it back along with wearing his favorite t shirt that looked great on her.

Joe finished his last bite of breakfast noticing Lilly hadn’t touched her she was sitting there not moving just staring into space. “Lilly something wrong?” he asked.

She heard him but just wasn’t ready to finish her final thought before speaking. She could feel the tears well up in her eyes and nose “Because I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop for something to happen for it to be taken away from me again.”

He kissed the top of head “Lilly you have to stop thinking like that to you. After talking to Mac about the show it sounds like you could make a comeback and get your name back in the prominent art world circles.”

Lilly became defensive after hearing that “Why did you talk to Mac about my show?”

“Just wanted to know why you haven’t had any more offers for a one woman show.”

Lilly “Did he tell you why?”

Joe “No he said he didn’t know and that only you knew why so Lilly tell me please.”

“It’s about failure and being humiliated publicly by critics who don’t understand anything about true art or worse someone who says they love and tells you at the same time your art is crap. Something wouldn’t understand being successful now go you’re going to be late for work” she said going back into her room to paint.

He couldn’t go to work with her being upset his thoughts would be on her since they had first met, she had been keeping him at a distance with certain situations brining out more of her life and feelings and after today’s conversation he wanted more than she was willing or allowing herself to give him. He stood in the doorway watching her paint in nothing but his shirt and drinking from his coffee mug.

He came up behind her and whispered, “I love you and I will do everything in my power to make sure your show is not taken away from you.” He said.

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep Joe especially to me” she said.

“Why” he said kissing the back of her neck.

“Men who say they love me and promise me things are both taken away from me” she said.

“I’m a man who keeps his promises and especially ones to you” he said pulling her shirt up over her head.  

They made love in her painting room on a tarp covered in paint with the smell of paint they had made love with both of them filling in the voids in their lives he was becoming more relaxed and spontaneous, and she had stability in her life.

 

Blonde

“What are you doing?” she asked coming into the living room.

“Going to have a few friends over to celebrate your show” he said putting food out on the table.

“Oh, you mean your friends I don’t have any” she said.

“Don’t worry they are nice nothing to worry about” he said.

Lilly turned around and went back into the bedroom bathroom.

“Lilly there here” Joe yelled.

He opened the door and two other couples entered when Lilly came out with a freshly dyed blonde set of hair. Joe had formally introduced everyone they sat in the living room and began to converse with Lilly only saying a few words here and there.

“Excuse me let me get more food” she said going into the kitchen.

She leaned over the sink as if she were about to throw up.

“Something wrong you look a little pale” Kelly said coming up beside Lilly.

“I’m ok not much of a talker” she said sipping some water.

“Neither am I plus all those stories they are telling now heard them more than once. So, Joe tells us about the show. We are excited for the opening are nervous excited?”

Lilly could see Kelly was being genuine which made her comfortable “Don’t have time to feel all of that until I’m done with all my paintings always have been that way.”

Kelly “So how many paintings due you have to paint?”

Lilly “Depending on the show if you are with other artists and since its only me 25-30”

Kelly “How many have you done so far?”

Lilly “Don’t know how many I go from painting to painting depending on my mood and what I feel like painting but somehow I manage to get them all done in time.”

Kelly “I know better not to ask to see any now so I can wait here is my phone number if you ever want to talk or have lunch or something.” She said.

Lilly was surprised at Kelly’s offer “Thank you” she said.

Green

Joe walked out of the airport doors having the fresh air hit his face felt like he had been free from prison he had just completed his cross-country trip and came up empty. That one nagging little error had not shown up in any of the offices. He now had the painstaking task of having to go back from last year’s records at least he could do that from the office better, yet he could do that from home with Lilly didn’t sound all that bad. He looked at his phone it was 230 she should be pulling up any minute. He closed his eyes tonight he would be sleeping in his own bed and he would be sleeping with Lilly next to him.

“Waiting for someone” a voice said.

His eyes opened and looked to see who was talking to him it was Lilly who had now dyed her hair a mint green color. He’d was more than overtired if he didn’t recognize her voice, but he would never forget her soft pale face no matter what color of hair she had.

“Come here you” he said pulling her into his arms she molded herself next to him as he kissed her.

“So, did you miss me?” he asked with a sly smile.

“I missed you the day you left” she said in all seriousness.

“Well now since I’m back you won’t have to miss me at all. Starting next week, I’ll be working from home.” He spoke.

“Oh” she said.

“What?” he asked.

“Do you think that’s a good idea I don’t want us to be each other’s distraction while we are both trying to work” she said.

“I promise you in your room and I will have my spot and neither of us shall meet until dinner time” he lowered his head kissing her again.

“Again, Joe please don’t make me promises you can’t or plan not keeping” she said.

He felt an argument about to happen and he wasn’t in the mood to do it in a public place.

He took her hand and started to walk “Come on where did you parked the car?”

“I didn’t drive” she said.

He turned and looked at her with impish grin she pulled his hand and started to walk back into the airport and down to the train station. They were both silent as they waited for the train the past few weeks his brain was focused on numbers and data and now with him being home with Lilly his brain had to deal both his and hers feelings and emotions. Up to this point he had treated her with kid gloves, and it was getting him nowhere eventually he was going to have to take them off and treat her like an adult. The doors opened as the people got off and both entered the train and found a place to stand in the crowded car. The train started shifting Lilly up against Joe she leaned up against him and closed her eyes. Her schedule was thrown off with him being gone she had gone back to her nonsleeping schedule which at times made her art suffer as she was once told. Joe was back and now she could go back to leading the life she wanted so bad normalcy with a man who loved her unconditionally.

She was about to drift off when she smelled a certain cologne and heard “As soon as we get in that door, I’m taking off your clothes and kissing you from you head to your toes Lilly. I’m going to make love to you the way should be made love too” the images she had of him on top of her that made her eyes shoot open and her eyes saw a man smiling at her she gripped Joe’s jacket tighter as her palms became sweaty her teeth clinched her entire body was shaking.

They got back to the house and all she heard was the door close and Joe’s lips on hers she pushed him away and screamed “Stop it!”

He slowly neared her again “Lilly.”

She was hunched over clenching her stomach crying “He won’t leave me alone.”

“Who?” he asked leaning near her.

“Who do think” she looked at him.

“Lilly what happened between you and Jacques in the past it’s part of your life you don’t have to go through again ever” he said.

She straightened herself back up and looked at him in the eye “You have no idea what he did to me” she said.

“What he cheated on you and sabotaged your career and yet you survived” he said.

“You son of a he did more than that he destroyed me.” She said with anger in her voice.

“He controlled me Joe from the first day we met he controlled me, and I let him until one day I had enough and then he destroyed me.”

Joe “What happened”

“While in Paris I met Pete, he was an American art student and was my age. We started hanging out first then one night after I had a fight with Jacques, and I slept with Pete part revenge and part because I had fallen in love with him. He convinced me to go back to New York with him. Problem was I still living with Jacques, but he knew about me and Pete, but I felt I still had to tell him face to face.” She said.

Joe didn’t move as he waited for her to continue.

“So that fateful day I went to his place and all he did was yell at me. You little whore I gave you everything and this is what you do to me. That was the only time I truly feared for my life as he pushed me down the stairs and then started to choke me then he let go of my throat and dropped to the floor died of a heart attack. I won’t ever forgive myself for the mistake I made that day.”

“Lilly I’m sorry” was all he could say.

“Nothing to be sorry about you didn’t kill anyone” she said.

“What happened with you and Pete?” he asked.

“We lived together for a few months here and then ended after I…” she said.

“After you what Lilly?” he asked.  

“After I told him I didn’t love him anymore” she said.

 

Blue

Lilly had the razor blade pressed onto her one wrist hearing Jacques’s voice.

“Go ahead you whore it’s like riding a bike you’ve done it 100 times before.”

“Hello” Joe said

“Joe it’s Mac Lilly is in the hospital.”

“What happened?”

“I thought I’d stop by and see how the painting was going and that’s when I found her on the floor in her studio.”

“Did she tell you what happened?” he asked.

There was a pause “Umm Joe she was unconscious.”

Joe “What did the dr’s tell you?”

“Joe I’m not next of kin they can’t tell me anything, but they found a piece of paper with your name out stating you where her next of kin. You need to come down here now.”

The shock of him hearing what happened to Lilly was replaced her listing him as her next of kin. “Where are you?”

“Manhattan Central” he said.

Joe left his office and headed to the hospital with a million little thoughts of what happened, why did she do it, what happened if Mac hadn’t of found her and if she was going to live. When he got to the hospital he went straight to the desk.

“Excuse me I’m here to see Lilly Fairchild”
Nurse “Your relation to the patient?” she said looking at her computer screen.

He had no idea what Lilly put as her relationship to him “My name is Joe Saunders.”

“Room 22” she said handing him a visitor’s pass.

He started to run down the hall looking at the numbers on the door room 22 was the last room down the hallway he stopped his breathing rapid knots in his stomach. He clenched his hand over the doorknob closed his eyes and slowly opened the door. He opened the wide enough to put his head through to find her asleep. He moved slowly into the room not to wake her. He bent down and kissed her the top of her head and just stared at her.  

“She has done this before and the next time she won’t be so lucky.” A voice said.

Joe turned his head and saw a man in a white coat.

“Between the overdoes and slitting her wrists one of those options is going to be the last time.”

Joe was speechless she done this more than once and in different ways.

“What was it this time?” he asked feeling a lump in his throat.

“Pills she said she couldn’t have you find her with her wrists slit.” Dr said.

“Is there a pattern when she attempts suicide” he said.

“From what the psychologist said when she has to show her artwork in public something about being humiliated by the people she loves.”

Joe “Did she say anything about me and this show?”

“Yes, she said that you would not do that to her and that she wanted you to be proud of her.”

“Hey Doc” Lilly said stretching her arms.

“I’m trusting you to be on your best behavior for Joe and myself or Joe is going to bring you back here and you know what that means if he does young lady. “Next time I see you is at this art exhibit” Dr said with a smile.

“Yes, I do I’ll leave you free tickets” she said.

The doctor left and Lilly got out of the bed pulling out her IV and got dressed quickly.

“Let’s go” she said leaving the room.

Joe was stunned how this was nothing to her like it was a normal everyday occurrence as she headed out the doors. “Hey, don’t you have any personal items like an ID to get back” he asked.

“I don’t have an ID” she said.  

Joe “What do you mean you don’t have your ID.”

“They know me here.” She said.

The ride home Joe was silent as Lilly played with the radio going from song-to-song dancing in her seat. When they got home, he let out a deep breath “Lilly why did you do it this time?”

“I like a little danger with my tea.” She said walking into her studio shutting the door.

Joe “Mac why didn’t you tell me she’s done this more than once.”

Mac “Not my place to say. I didn’t think she’d do it this time with how much she’s in love with you.” He said.

“According to the psychologist it’s because she feels the men, she loves humiliates her art.”

“Yes, that’s the truth when Pete left her at my doorstep. Told me after her second attempt that’s when he left her for good, she was in the mists of a show after breaking up with Jacques. She was excited for her own show went into a lull attempted suicide came out of it was normal then as the show neared, she withdrew from having the show all together saying she wasn’t ready.” 

Joe’s puzzles pieces were fitting more together as Mac spoke “What was the first time she tried to kill herself?” He asked.

“The day Jacques died in front of her ran into his bathroom and tried to slit her wrists.”

“And yet nobody has or is willing to force her to get help with this?” Joe asked.

“Joe we both know she’s the only one that can do that. In the art world she’s called the girl who cried wolf we keep thinking she’s finally going to have her one woman show and it never comes to fruition so it we will believe it when we see it. Joe hate to put pressure on you but you are the one that can break this cycle with her and her art.”

“Why me?”

“She loves you she may not say it, but she does, and you love her for who she is and can become not what she once was.” Mac said.

Joe “what was she before all of this happened.”

Mac “Only she can tell you that for she’s the only who knows who she was before Jacques.”

Joe put his arms around Lilly from behind “Please tell who the real Lilly Fairchild is.”

“You’re looking at her” she said.

“The real Lilly Fairchild before Jacques Dupont” he said.

“He killed her the day he died and if I went back to being her some other man would kill her again sorry Joe maybe in another lifetime you will meet her.” She said.

Red

Joe and Lilly started to live like roommates going through the motions of co-existing. His mind wondering what she might do next that caused friction between them with her becoming withdrawn spending less time at his place. He wanted to go back to somewhat of they were like before she tried to commit suicide knowing they couldn’t go back but he knew he couldn’t continue to live with her this way the trust and believe what she was telling was the truth or not.

Lilly dragged her bike into Joe’s house “Oh my god Joe, you scared me.”

“Why would I scare you I live here” he said holding his breakfast plate.

“I thought you’d be a work by now” she said.

“Change of plans decided to work from home this week.”

Lilly was a little startled by that answer “Oh any reason why.”

“No just thought I’d changed things about a bit don’t worry I won’t bother you. I’ll work out here.” He said.

“Like you said you live here not me” she said folding a dishtowel.

Joe looked at Lilly she was starting to turn pale as if she were about to vomit.

“Lilly, are you ok you don’t look well.”

She grabbed her stomach “I’m fine I need to go I forgot I have to do something today.”

Joe got up from the table and stood in front of her as she got her bike and was trying to leave.

“Lilly tells me the truth you’re leaving because I’m here.”

“Joe please I don’t want to argue with you just let me go please.”

“Lilly talk to me tell what’s going on.”

“In two weeks, I have my first one-woman art show that I have to complete 25 paintings so if you’ll excuse me, I have to tend to that first.” She said nudging him away with her bike.

With that statement he knew now the more he pressed her the more she was going to resist in telling him anything and now with another suicide attempt he didn’t know how to act or what to do.

“Call me when you get home” he yelled out the front door.

Lilly peddled hard and fast as she could out of range from Joe’s voice with tears coming down her face. Her emotions getting the better of her not paying attention to oncoming traffic was almost struck by an oncoming car. Her bike hit the curb hard, and she almost fell off her eyes filled with tears “Dam you Joe” she yelled She had made up her mind that was the last time she would see him, but her heart said you can’t you left a piece of me with him.

Joe sat at his dining room table trying to come to some type of justification of why he didn’t go after her this morning or did he finally succeed to the fact he was never going to get a straight answer out of her, and he just didn’t want to finally admit defeat.  

The front door opened with Lilly dragging her bike back into the house Joe stood up and watched her but didn’t say anything. She leaned the bike up against the wall and handed him a bottle in a brown paper bag and touched it with her browned bag bottle “Cheers.”

“You know Joe I’m dumb but I’m not stupid. You don’t trust me now” she said with a slur falling onto the couch.

She was right but he wasn’t going to admit it “Your silence is confirming my suspicion it’s ok you know why its ok because a little and I’m mean little part of me trusts you. I don’t know why.”

He was still standing near the couch if she was going to open up to him half-drunk something was better than nothing, but he needed and wanted more from her.

“Why do you trust me Lilly” he asked.

“I’m trusting you Joe not to change me” she said.

“Why would I want to change you Lilly” he said sitting on the edge of the couch.

“Change me so I won’t try to kill myself again” she said falling asleep.

Joe let out a deep breath one step forward and two steps back would she ever completely bare her demons with him and if she did would be willing to deal with them.

Joe woke up the next morning it was 10am thinking to himself after yesterday there was no way he was going to focus on his work he texted his assistant saying he was taking the rest of the week off. Then he shot out of bed hoping Lilly would still be on the couch he walked into the living room and she was gone he felt an immediate anxiety in his stomach. He slowly walked towards the doorway to her painting room.

“Wondering when you were going to wake up” she said walking past him to clean off her paint brushes.

He stood there for a moment and looked at the paintings they were stunning and captivating as she was. He saw his coffee cup on the table he lifted his cup to take a sip as he neared the cup to his face, he could smell the wine noticed a pill case next to her easel. He put the cup down and put the pill case in his pocket. When she came back, she didn’t say anything and went back to painting.

“Lilly about last night” he started.

“What about it” she said backing away from her easel.

“What you said about trying to change you and trying not to kill yourself again” he said.

“It was the wine talking” she said.

“Lilly promises me you won’t.”

“What promise you what Joe that I won’t buy cheap wine again or promise you something else Joe say it promise you what. Promise and trust two things I don’t do really well with” she said angerly.

Joe now became a little ticked “can’t or won’t Lilly. What all of this can’t be stemming from what happened between you and Jacques or is it the artist that always needs to be in pain to create.”  

“You Son of a…” she said about to slap him.

Their eyes met hers were filled with sadness his with rage.  

“What I said last night about trying to change me I lied it wasn’t the wine that was one hundred percent me.” She said.

Joe “So now I’m going to always wonder if and when you might do it again?”

Lilly “See now Joe that where you have to trust and promise me. Trust me that I won’t try and do it again and promise you won’t bring it up to me again.” She said.

Joe “I…”

Lilly “You can’t or won’t” she said.

Joe was silent.

“I’m going to take a bath” she said.

“Can I join you” he said.

“No, I’m going back to my place I’m full of paint don’t want to ruin your bathtub.”

Lilly laid in the bubble filled bathtub she couldn’t force herself to cry thinking about how once again she was about to have her own show and this time, she couldn’t sabotage it with Joe in her life. She wanted him to be proud of her she just needed to let go and let him keep her going to see this through.

Her phone rang “Hello.”

“I just wanted to say I love you Lilly” he said.

“Good night Joe” she said and hung up.

Now the tears came down “I love you to Joe” she said sliding down into the water.

Black

Lilly stood and stared at the last painting she needed for tomorrow it just needed to dry in less than twenty-four hours she was finally going to have her one woman show a small smile appeared on her face.

“Mac and I are done loading up the paintings anything else?” Joe asked.

“No, that’s everything” she said with her voice cracking.

He put his arms around her from behind and kissed her shoulder looking at the painting that was front of them. it was a self-portrait of Lilly wearing his shirt with the coffee mug.

“I have a surprise for you” he said lifting a tarp off of a frame.

“How dare you get that out of here now” she yelled 

“What it’s the first painting you did when Jacques said you were going to have your own show all is forgiven since you have your own one woman show.”

Lilly “Are you honestly asking me to forgive him after what he did to me. that was last thing I painted before he…” she said.

“Before he what Lilly for once and for all tell me what he did to you” he said.

She was now sobbing.

“Lilly, I love you please tell me the truth or are you truly still in love with Jacques.”

“That’s the truth Joe, I do love you” she said with tears. 

He cupped her cheeks in his hands and kissed her taking her into the bedroom and made love to her.

Joe’s alarm went off too early for his liking, but he had to get up and put some hours in the office before he could take the rest of the day off to be with Lilly. He leaned over and kissed her lightly on the cheek “I’m a man who always keeps his promises nothing bad is going to happened today Lilly I promise.”

Joe went to grab his favorite coffee cup and thought better of it with a smile he thought today is your day, Lilly. He put the cup back and grabbed another and went to work.

Lilly woke up a little bit startled from the dream she was having “Joe” she yelled from the bed.

No answer she looked at the alarm clock it was 1030 she saw a note “Be home by 12 love you.”

She smiled and took a deep breath and got out of bed heading to the bathroom and grabbing a bottle of black hair dye.

Joe ran out to his car with his phone up to his ear “Come on Lilly pickup.”

He turned off his phone and headed straight to the gallery when Joe got to the office today an unexpected visit from the President of the company came and met with the Joe and others all day.

Joe parked the car and ran as fast as he could to the gallery.

Joe out of breath “Is she here” Joe asked Mac.

Mac “I thought she was coming with you?”

Joe “No Kelly was going to come by and help Lilly get ready and they would come together.”

Joe went to grab his phone and was stopped by the sounds of an ambulance passing by the gallery his heart sank he didn’t even bother to move to run out of the gallery he knew she was in the ambulance. A few minutes later the police showed up with Joe still in shock. Mac took everyone into his office.

Joe “I will answer any questions you have but please tell me first how she died?”

Officer Smith “She was on her bike on 4th when she struck something in the road, and she came off her bike striking her head she died instantly.”

Joe “Was she heading East or West?”

Officer Smith “We’re not sure yet if she was on her way here or somewhere else” Would you have any idea.”

Joe became stick to his stomach with Mac letting out a sigh was she going to do it one last time.

Joe “I don’t know.”

Officer Smith “Was she alive when you left her?”

Joe was silent for a moment thinking no she wasn’t she wasn’t alive inside. “Yes, she was” he said softly.

Joe stood still as Lilly was being put to rest at the cemetery when he heard the sound of wind chimes sounded more loud and painful to his ears like she was whispering to him “Joe.”

Mac “Hey do you want me to take up on that raincheck for that drink? He asked.

Joe “No I’m good Mac She wasn’t a free spirit she was a troubled soul.”

Mac “I know we all knew it. She loved you Joe she truly did.”

Joe “Then why she couldn’t she tell me what he did to her.”

“I wish I could I wish we all could.”

He stood at the door with his one hand clenched on the doorknob for a moment then went in he wanted to leave it just how it was hoping she’d come back. There was part of him that felt if he got rid of everything, she would truly be gone in every sense of the word not leaving a clue it was her room, her life, her love and he was just in the way. His eyes became fixated on one covered easel with a different colored tarp. he slowly drew the tarp up in big blood red colored letters said.

“He killed my baby with Pete.”

He lifted the frame and threw it with tears coming down his face “Oh God Lilly I’m sorry.”

 

 

 

 


Submitted: May 22, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Urania. All rights reserved.

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