Love and Crime in Rome

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

Chapter 4 (v.1)

Submitted: September 10, 2014

Reads: 125

Comments: 1

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Submitted: September 10, 2014

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Pam and Erin wanted all of the details of the date the next morning over breakfast. Evangeline looked wistfully at their pancakes and bacon, but didn’t sit down to join them at the well-worn table in their tiny kitchen. She promised that she would fill them in later. Right now she was in a hurry to get to work.

She dressed quickly in comfortable black cargo pants with draw-strings around each slim ankle, and a white blouse decorated with the colourful embroidery she loved. Just like Frida Kahlo wore, she thought, and grabbed her sturdy go-everywhere bag with her water bottle, lunch and the usual junk that always seemed to accumulate inside.

It was a busy day at work. Her machine was going all afternoon and she had hardly stopped for lunch. But finally at 6pm she closed up her work, just as Vitali's elderly friend stopped by again to pick up his new pants.

He and Vitali chatted for a while at the counter and then he spied her. "There you are, my girl. Did that tall drink of water take you out like I told him to?" he called. She told him that he had, and described the restaurant they had gone to.

"What's this?" her boss asked her. "Who took you out last night? I didn't know you had found a boyfriend?" he teased her, scratching his round belly.

"Hardly a boyfriend. Just the new customer who was in the other day." She saw Vitali look at her in concern, his bushy eyebrows frowning.

"Which one? The tall Russian?" She agreed that he was the one she meant.

Vitali looked very worried. "That is bad news, bad news." He shook his head. "You have no father here to look after you. I will stand in his place. I say, you should not see that man again. He is dangerous."

She frowned at him. "I don't understand. Do you know him? I didn't think you'd met him before."

"I know of him. He was referred here by a very bad man. A good customer, but a bad man. Involved in the drug trade." He smacked his pudgy hand on the scarred counter for emphasis, but she wasn't convinced.

"I'm sure that's not true. He seems very nice."

Vitali became more upset and his friend looked equally concerned. He said, "You are so innocent. You know nothing of these things. Please, take my advice. Do not see him again." He pleaded.

She agreed not to see him again, but privately resolved to depend on her own judgement.

Later in the week Niki intercepted Evangeline on her way out of the library down the street from her apartment. She was carefully holding her long red skirt way from her feet with one hand as she went down the stairs of the building, her other arm full of books about couture sewing and biographies of Medieval monarchs. He took the books from her and fell into step beside her. They talked of neutral topics on the walk, and when they arrived at her apartment Evangeline invited him inside.

Her flat mates were out, so she asked him to stay for some lemonade. She made it fresh in two of their nicer glasses and served it in the small living room. She decided to seize the opportunity. She realized she felt nervous, and tried to calm down.

"Niki, I wanted to ask you something." She began, turning to the tall man where he sat on their small, patched couch. "The other day, I heard something about you." He watched her intently, his eyes narrowing slightly but his hands stayed relaxed on his knees." I heard that you were involved in some kind of criminal behaviour," she said as casually as she could, sipping her drink.

Evangeline watched Niki’s serious face closely but it showed no change in expression. He didn't reply, but sat very still for a long moment, looking up at her. He leaned out and took her hands in his, pulling her gently forward to stand between his bent knees. She wracked her brain for something else to say, but before she could continue, he spoke.

"Little, Maat. Would my line of work be a problem for you?" he questioned as he studied her face in return.

She was flustered. "I don't understand. What kind of work do you do? Is it illegal?" Evangeline was really feeling out of her depth.

"Yes. But it’s a separate part of my life. It won’t interfere with us." He asserted firmly.

She pulled her hands away. "What do you mean us? What other secrets are you keeping? Are you married? Do you have a whole secret life somewhere else?" She stood up and walked to the other side of the room, not seeing the view of the busy street outside the window. "I don't care. You don’t owe me anything. We barely know each other. I'd just like to know the truth." She tried to sound like it wasn’t a big deal.

He stood up and tried to put his long arms around the upset girl’s shoulders but she pulled away and he dropped his arms and looked distraught.

"There’s no one else. Everything I've told you is true. I haven’t talked about my work because I knew you wouldn’t approve and I’m sorry for that. But I really like you. I wanted you to get to know me first." He said with evident sincerity. She was filled with sadness but felt that her choice was clear.

Tears came to her eyes. "Well, I just don't think that I can see you anymore. It's not right. Are you involved in drugs? No, please don't tell me anymore. I think you should go." She walked to their flimsy apartment door with resolve and opened it firmly.

He opened his mouth to speak and then saw the angry look on her face. He kissed her cheek tenderly while she tried not to cry, and left.

She spent that evening sharing all the sad details with Pam and Erin. She cried herself to sleep that night. She missed him already, but she was sure she'd done the right thing before she risked liking him more strongly.

 

Evangeline tried not to think about Niki anymore; and over the next few days she distracted herself with the planning for her holiday to -- with the girls and George, Erin's guy friend.  She was eager to leave the city for a vacation so that she could stop looking around each corner, hoping to see Niki walking by.

They'd arranged to pack light and leave in George's battered VW van the following morning.


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