Thanks so much for the response to the last chap. hope you guys like t his one as much
With damp, mahogany curls falling down her back, Vanessa stood, with a fluffy, baby pink towel encasing her body, in front of the steamed over mirror in her bathroom. Taking a hand to clear some of the steam away, enabling her to see her reflection, she gave a little smile at the two ruddy bruises, either side of her neck, closing her eyes and letting the moans and pants flood back to her. She could picture herself with almost frightening clarity, writhing on the floor as Zac's lips teased at her neck, his wet tongue flicking out every so often, eliciting a whimper, a yelp.
Vanessa glanced at Zac's reflection in the mirror that was on his bathroom wall, confused. "Mad? No. Why would I be?"
Zac, who had been observing his girlfriend for a while, had noticed her slim fingers running over the mark he had left the previous night, tracing delicately the outline of it. He shrugged now, walking closer to her, and wrapping his arms around her waist, gently kissing the area that had so fascinated her. "I just thought…maybe you thought it was too big." He met her smiling eyes in the mirror and she giggled at his thought.
"Baby, you're leaving for three months - three long months - you could've made it four times larger for all I care," she relaxed into his body, resting her head against the bare chest.
"You sure about that?" He asked deviously.
"Very." She replied in a sultry tone.
He dipped his head again, his nose brushing over a decided spot on the right side of her neck, as though he were catching the scent of his prey. It began with soft kisses, moving across her neck, always to return to that chosen spot. He took the flesh into his mouth, sucking on it softly, his lips smiling against her skin as she groaned, wrapping a hand around the back of his neck, holding him closer to increase the pressure.
She left the bathroom with a smile on her face, a twinkle in her eyes, and walked briskly, to avoid the cold air, to her bedroom. Once inside the warmth of the room, she habitually glanced at her phone, but it only served to remove the perk in her step when she date glared back at her: 2/14/08.
As a child, and even as a teen, Valentine's is the biggest, most important day; you'd get together with your friends and compare the number of cards you'd been given; eliminating as you went, the cards from those you weren't interested in; it was only ever the guys you really liked that counted. But, on days like this, when Vanessa found herself alone on Valentine's, she would begin to think that Valentine's day would find her happiest if she were single.
"Hey," Gina said, as Vanessa walked through the kitchen door, a distant look on her face. "You were up early, where were you?"
"I needed some air," she explained, slipping off her dark cardigan and draping it over one of the kitchen stools. "So I went and got a smoothie." She raised her hand slightly, holding up the empty - save of a few ice blocks - smoothie cup to her mother. "Where'd the flowers come from?" A voice said from behind her. Turning, she saw her little sister, her hair in a messy pony tail, still in her pyjamas, holding a teddy. "Flowers?" Vanessa asked, confused. She then rolled her eyes, having completely forgotten about the bunch of flowers she held in her hand. "Oh, right, some paparazzi guy gave 'em to me. Not in a creepy way." She added abruptly. "Just being friendly y'know. I guessed it was cuz Zac's not here, they were all 'Happy Valentine's, Vanessa'," she shrugged, and asked her mother for a vase. "So I took them." She stroked the soft petals between her fingers, sighing to herself.
"How are you doing, sweetie?" Her mother asked sympathetically.
Her mind leaving the flowers, Vanessa rolled her eyes again at the look on her mother and sister's faces. "You guys make it sound like he's been drafted into the war, or something, he's only filming in England." She reminded them. "I guess…I do wish he was here, it being Valentine's and all, but it could be worse, and we both knew that stuff like this would happen when we got together and things started to blow up, so…" she exhaled deeply, her eyes dropping down to the gold band that glistened on her right hand as the early sun glanced through the window. "It's just how it goes, I guess." She concluded, smiling sadly. Her eyes narrowed as she saw her mother and sister exchange a quick, knowing glance. "What?" She asked slowly, looking between the two of them, and sitting upright on the kitchen stool she occupied.
"Well, as it's Valentine's," her mother started before being interrupted by Stella who added:
"The biggest day in a couple's calendar."
"Zac wanted us to give you this," Gina dipped her hand under the breakfast counter, to the spot where she had hidden the gift. "Here." She held out a thin rectangular box, black, with a glittered silver bow tied elegantly around it. "And this," she kissed her daughter's cheek. "Is also from him." She trusted her hand towards her daughter once more, who was too stunned to act.
"Open it!" Demanded Stella, who couldn't withhold her excitement, even though she knew the gift enclosed in the box.
"Okay, okay," Vanessa laughed, slowly lifting the lid from the small box. "Ohh…" she gasped as the item glinted. The lid now fully off, she saw, laying inside, a silver bracelet, comprised of tiny links, with a single heart dangling elegantly from it. "My, God," she whispered as she flipped the charm delicately over and saw a single 'V' engraved onto the back, the letter following the curve of the heart.
"It's for love and protection," Stella explained, smiling widely.
"I'm sure Zac would've liked to have been the one to tell her that, Stel," her mother laughed, Stella mumbling an apology.
"Don't worry," Vanessa said, throwing an arm around her sister's shoulder and pulling her into a hug. "I won't tell." Extending her wrist to her mother, she sighed as the bracelet was clipped onto her wrist. A minute after, a familiar tune sounded from her phone that was buried deep into her bag. "It's him!" She said excitedly, rummaging for the item.
"He's punctual," Gina said, before going on to explain her comment. "We had to plan what time he'd call because, obviously, he couldn't call before we'd given it to you. He's right on the dot."
Vanessa smiled smugly at yet another perfect quality of her boyfriend's as she pulled out the phone and glanced over at her mother, who promptly said:
"We'll give you some privacy." And ushered Stella towards the door.
"Can I speak to him?" Stella asked.
"Later," replied Vanessa impatiently, itching to hear the smooth voice of Zac. Unable to wait until the two of them had cleared the threshold, Vanessa pressed the phone to her ears. "Hey," she beamed.
"Zac!" Stella yelled. "You need to come home, Vanessa's taking flowers from other men!" She said in a sing-song voice.
"OUT!" Cried Vanessa, pointing furiously to the kitchen door and groaning. "Now that the little pipsqueak has gone," she said. "Hey, Happy Valentines." her voice softened.
"Happy Valentines to you too, baby. Now, what's this about guys giving you flowers?" Zac asked curiously, his voice light despite the seriousness in his baritone voice.
"Don't listen to her," Vanessa said, huffing, moving over to the bin as she spoke to dispose of the smoothie flask. "It's no big deal: I was out earlier - by the way, they've got this awesome new smoothie you have to taste the second you get back - pineapple and kiwi fruit - Ugh! - and there were a couple photographers. They wished me Happy Valentines and gave me a bunch of flowers - that's it. They weren't being creepy or anything so I took them." She shrugged, wishing to drop the mind-numbing subject and discuss something she really cared about: the gift.
"I don't mind that you took them, I just want you to be careful, okay?"
"Yes, Dad." She mocked, rolling her eyes.
"Van, I'm serious. They know that I'm not here with you, so this is the perfect time to start sucking up. I just don't want them getting over-familiar with you, you're hardly huge and imposing, I just want you to be safe - at night especially."
"Babe, I get it, okay? But…I can't stay locked up inside, I need to leave my house. If it was up to you and Dad, I'd have secret service protection every time I step out to go to the trash can, but I can't live like that. I can handle myself. You've got to stop worrying, 'kay? You guys have already stocked me up on that pepper spray and put that with those boxing moves Corbin showed me? Pfft, they're the ones that are going to need to be careful." She giggled.
"Ohh, Kick-ass Van's out to play…I like her," Zac teased, gnawing on his bottom lip as he picture her in a tight leather get up, ala Jane Smith.
"Your kinky fantasies are showing themselves again, I see."
"You say fantasies, I say future plans." He replied casually as Vanessa laughed. Checking the time on his dressing room wall, he sighed, quietly enough that Vanessa couldn't hear him, and flopped into the small cream sofa, his legs, clad in a pair of navy trousers, dangling over the side. "So…did you get the gift I left?"
"Yes." Vanessa replied, her smile almost audible on the other side of the line. "Baby, it's so incredibly, insanely, amazingly gorgeous! I love it! I love you. It's perfect, everything about it is." She perched herself back on the breakfast stall, spinning on it as she spoke, and marvelling at the beauty of the small heart that hung on her wrist.
"You do, really?" Zac asked. He'd been one hundred per cent confident that she would, but he felt no greater satisfaction that when he heard her express her happiness and gratitude for the gesture. "I saw it and…it was almost like it called to me, I saw you with it straight away," he said proudly.
"It's perfect. I feel bad, though, you said we would do Valentines when you came home and I didn't get you anything."
"Ahh, come on, you know I don't care about that, we can still celebrate when I get home…or…Utah, whatever. I know these last few months haven't been the easiest for you, and I thought you deserved a little something and I wanted you to know that even though I'm not here, I'm always thinking about you."
"I love you, Zac, more than anything."
"Not more than I love you."
"Do you think we've turned into those sickening smushy couples that no one can stand be around?" Vanessa question, her dark eyebrows furrowing.
"Nah…" Zac said, immediately dismissing the idea. "No way are we one of those…we're just those super touchy-feely couples that get teased on our level of horniness." He burst out laughing at Vanessa's gasp. "Oh! Before I forget, there's a card too,"
"A card? Mom didn't give me one." As she spoke, she walked over and opened the kitchen door, about to alert her mother to the fact she had missed a part of Zac's gift.
"No, that was something your Mom doesn't know about," Vanessa paused, the door still open. "I hid it up in your room, it's under your bed by the wall."
"'Kay," she said as she jogged up the stairs excitedly. "I can't find it," she whined a few minutes later with a pout on her face, her head slumped into her free hand.
"You're just not looking properly," Zac said. "Get under there - really crawl!" He joked. "Still nothing?" Vanessa replied in the negative, her lip trembling dramatically as she answered. "It's on the side where you sleep, right by the wall."
"Ugh!…Yay!" She squealed. "I got it, I got it!" Zac chuckled, picturing her in the room doing a happy dance triumphantly, bowing to an invisible audience.
"I told you."
"You want me to read it aloud?" She asked, as she delicately tore the soft pink envelope open, a large glittering heart leaping out at her as the card revealed itself.
"Nah…" Zac shook his head, momentarily forgetting that he could not be seen. "If you read it aloud, I might regret how cheesy it sounds." He blushed and cringed at the same time, still keeping a watchful eye on the time.
"Ah…girls love cheese, don't you know that?" She laughed, and then, in dark humour added, "How d'ya think Disney make all their money?" trailing off in a giggle. "This card's beautiful, Zac," she gushed as she saw the intricately designed card; the large, main heart, comprised with smaller, more detailed hearts, each engraved with love quotes.
"It was the only one that even came close to saying how much I love you, so…" slightly embarrassed, he raised his hand, about to tussle his russet mane, but remembering how long the hairstylist had spent smoothing it into it's 1930's glory, he thought better of it, placing his hand across his stomach.
"Thank you!" She said in a high voice, chewing on her bottom lip almost nervously as she read the first few lines of the message in Zac's handwriting.
A card seems pretty inadequate to describe what I feel for you. In these last two years, you've made me happier than I've ever thought possible. Everything you do, brings a smile to my face, and each day I hear your voice, see you smile, I thank whatever power that bought us together. You've made me see what love really is. It's something that you can never prepare for, it hits you when you least expect it, but when it's right, it's the most beautiful thing you can feel and I thank you for being that girl.
You're my sweetheart, for today, tomorrow, forever.
With more love than anyone else could ever give you,
Vanessa, though overwhelmed by emotion, didn't realise how deeply touched she was by those words, until a single tear drop, seemingly out of no where, landed on Zac's words, and ran down the fold of the card, on to the floor.
"Are you okay?" Zac asked when he heard her sniffle, and her breaths shake.
"I'm great!" She said amidst the flow of tears. "I really am. I've had the most fucked up last few months but - God, none of this makes sense to me - but my life…it feels so perfect right now." Exhaling, she bought her hand over her face, erasing the tears with one single wipe. "I feel like nothing else matters; the pictures, paparazzi," as she said that, she walked over to her window pulling the curtains an inch to the side and peering out, where she saw a herd of camera men setting up for the day, some involved in a spat over who had the best spot and better chance of pictures. "I have you," she smiled. "And…you seem - even when you're not particularly trying - to make everything better, to wrap me in this little utopian bubble where it's just the two of us…and…I love you for that, more than you could possibly imagine, Zac, I do…I really do."
Zac cleared his throat as she spoke, trying to dislodge a lump that had formed. "I…I'm the guy, I'm not meant to cry." Zac laughed. "I love you too, and it kills me right now that I can't be there with you - to see your face when you opened the box, to put the bracelet on your unfeasibly small wrist -" Vanessa gasped and Zac told her not to live in denial. "But, the fact that you know how much I love you, that's all I want."
"Mission completed, then, I'd say," Vanessa beamed, still transfixed with the card, the words seeming to jump off the page at her.
In twenty minutes, they'd spoken about almost everything, and yet, there was so much more to be said; there never seemed to be enough time. Vanessa had been watching the clock herself as they spoke, as she'd made a particular effort to memorize Zac's schedule, but sighed nonetheless when Zac's solemn voice said:
"Babe," cutting her off as she was on the brink of starting yet another story, as though if she continued to engage him, he'd never have to leave.
Sighing, she felt her body deflate, her back hunching and sinking into her bed. "You have to go, don't you?"
Zac didn't answer the question directly, stung by the desolate tone in which her question was asked. "I'll call you tonight?" He always found it polite to ask, rather than assume, not wanting her to feel obliged to wait in for his call.
"Tonight?" she mused. "My time or yours?"
"Ahh…hold on," rapidly he begun the calculations in his mind, but before they were completed, Vanessa grumbled, with the tone resembling that of a spoilt child:
"Time differences suck."
"Yeah, I know. Let's see…I get off today - well, tomorrow, actually - around…let's say: two/three; so, for you, it'd be six/seven. It takes me about a half hour to get back to the hotel, so add that in. So, I'll call between six and seven thirty, your time. …Kay?"
"Yeah," she sighed, feeling as though it wasn't soon enough. "Just another six hours and…twelve minutes - at the best." Like a boomerang, the words seemed to echo and fly back at her. She flinched; "Ouch, I really shouldn't have said that out loud."
"I was thinking the exact same thing," Zac moaned. "I really have to go now. I'll call as soon as I can."
"You better," Vanessa laughed, forcing her mood to lift. "Stella's dying to talk to you - she'll probably be watching the clock more intently than me - if that's possible - she really loves this whole idea of you guys being…I don't know…like…partners in crime or whatever." She rolled her eyes, laughing.
"She was amazing in this whole thing; sometimes she'd text me and be all like "Van's just walked past the jewellery store, I think she's just noticed the bracelet!" and then I'd text back: "Distract her!". It was the best." Zac chuckled. "Tell her that I said she's awesome and that I couldn't have done it without her super-cool spy talents."
"Gosh, that's going to make her day." The smile on Vanessa's face was so bright, that it, at a quick glance, you'd believe the compliment had been paid to her rather than Stella. Every time she witnessed her boyfriend treat others - her family especially - with such respect, and regard, she felt her heart soar at the man he was. "I'll let you go. I love you." She said softly.
"I love you too, baby. You better hang up first, though, I don't I can bear to do it."
"Now, that was definitely cheesy!" Vanessa teased, hugging to her body the pillow of Zac's that she'd taken to sleeping with after his departure. "'Kay, I'm going…love you." And with that, for herself as much as for Zac, the call came to an abrupt end, her finger tapping the on-screen icon the end call. "I love you." She whispered to herself with a sigh as she stared at his smiling picture - her favourite him, taken a few months ago when they'd gone to visit his parents. She loved the relaxing aura that seemed to surround him whenever he was on his on ground, family soil - as it faded from the screen.
Whilst in the kitchen, cutting the crusts off of her tuna fish sandwich, Vanessa heard a contented sigh float from the living room and surround her. Following the path made by that sigh, Vanessa shuffled to her living room, where her dad was seated, his hands behind his head, semi-reclined in the sofa.
"Hey, Daddy," Vanessa chirped, gesturing for her father to make room for her so she could sit - her body being so small, Greg only had to shift himself and inch or so to accommodate his daughter. "Whatcha doin'?" her voice was melodic, sounding as though at any second she would turn the question into a full harmony. Waiting for her dad to answer, she adjusted the large cream FREE CITY hoodie she wore, pulling it down so it covered as much of her legs as possible, shielding it from the light February breeze that slipped through the panes of glass that were the window.
Before Greg responded, he chuckled heartily as she sunk her teeth into the wholemeal bread. "Still cutting your crust," he said, his chest heaving with each guffaw.
Raising a pained hand to her heart, Vanessa, who had set her sandwich down to enable a reply said, "It's completely normal to not like crusts - millions don’t, you know?"
"Do millions gag every time they see an Eggplant?" He teased.
"The human mind," she remonstrated, "is a very complex thing, I'll have you know." She added, tilting her head upwards, in a snobby kind of way, before dropping her pose and laughing. "Anyway, you never answered. What are you doing?"
"I just watched OK Corral--"
"What? No way! Why didn't you call me? I love that movie." Vanessa whined, scowling at her father.
"I didn't even think you'd remember it." Greg said, his eyebrows knitting into one in surprise.
"'Course I remember it," she scoffed. "I used to watch it with you and Grandpa when I was younger." She saw Greg's eyes begin to twinkle at the memory, so quickly went on to repair the situation. "We should rent it before I leave, watch it together." She suggested, hugging her dad when he nodded in agreement.
"How's Zac doing?" Greg asked, thinking that it had been awhile since he'd heard any mention of the young man.
"Good," Greg laughed silently, unnoticed by Vanessa, at the excitement that had entered her voice, sure that if he listened intently enough, he'd be able to hear the extra beats in her heart. "He keeps saying what an adventure it is to film a movie so different to anything he's done before - he's having a blast. It keeps raining though, and he said it's ridiculously cold."
"Ahh…must be hard for a Cali boy,"
"Yeah, he's starting to look really pale - I keep teasing him that by the time he comes home he's going to look like Casper." She giggled sneakily.
"How are you?" He asked tenderly, concerned with his daughter's well-being.
"You know." she answered simply, her small shoulders raising as she shrugged.
"When you were little," Greg began, his voice lower than it had previously been. "And we'd put you into a new class - tap, singing, drama - we'd always ask you if you'd liked it when we came to pick you up. If you were really enthusiastic, then we knew to leave you there," Greg had always loved that aspect of children; the honesty. He always believed that no matter how young a child was, you could trust them to tell you the truth because the world was yet to teach them to lie and make excuses. "But, if all you said was "You know" we'd know to move you and start looking around for a different class, because it meant that you didn't like it, and never wanted to go back."
"I guess, then, I haven't changed that much; I don't like this and I never want to come back to this place of feeling like I do. Daddy? Love sucks! And I hate it." As she spoke, she theatrically wrapped her arms around Greg, and threw her head onto his chest, mumbling to him all the while that he was wrong when he told her that she didn't hate love. "I do, I do hate it. I hate anything that makes me feel this…this empty." She concluded. "Don't get me wrong," she quickly said, making sure that her comment wasn't misinterpreted. "I love you guys, you know that and I'm not saying you, Mom and Stella aren't enough. It's just that, Zac gives me this thing, I don't even know what it is, it's like…a…tingle or something, I don't know," she laughed at how ridiculous she could have been sounding at that moment, professing her love for her boyfriend. "But, when he's gone, I don't have that." She sighed and then glanced up between her long lashes to her dad and said, "I sound really pathetic, don't I?"
Kissing her head, in an age old gesture, he returned, "Not pathetic, sweetie, just lovesick."
Aurora and Prince Philip, Beauty and the Beast, Jasmine and Aladdin. Perfect depictions of romance. Perfect, flawed depictions of romance. As long as there have been children and fairytales, there has been one big question: do you take away a child's innocence and arm them with true knowledge of love and other such subjects or do you leave them to believe that love comes around the corner, leaving them in perpetual bliss? Vanessa, having viewed one too many Disney cartoons, was one of those children to believe in the bliss of love, but she was now feeling extremely bitter towards said cartoons who failed to prepare her. Never did a small note appear among the credits to inform her: Unfortunately, Prince Philip had to leave for, what seemed like to the two of them, an obscene amount of time, to carry out his Prince-y duties, leaving Aurora alone and pining for him. No, instead, she was left to fall in love without warning and then have the heart-wrenching pain of separation slowly kill her - she was certain that would be her cause of death.