Chapter 59 & 60
Rickie pulled into an overnight café near her neighbourhood, turned the key in the ignition, and looked over at the silent woman in the passenger seat. Meaghan slowly opened the car door and slid out onto the pavement, and began walking towards the open door of the business. Rickie quickly alighted from the vehicle, and caught up with her just inside the lobby. After waiting a moment to look over his options, he steered her over to a secluded booth, and sat down next to her. She looked down at her shaky hands.
“How did that man know me without an introduction? And what was that about my parents?” Meaghan then looked up at him. “And who are you, really?”
He grabbed her hands, shocked at their cold trembling. “I didn’t mean to hurt or deceive you. My family has been in business for several generations, but until a half-year ago, I worked for the government security agency. Thanks to your report, we managed to stop a terrorist group from sabotaging the gas platform.”
“But what is all this about my parents?”
Rickie rubbed her hands between his in an attempt to warm them. He looked directly into those chocolate eyes, now clouded with confusion.
“They were BKN agents, too. In fact, I worked with your parents directly, right up until…the plane crash.”
Meaghan looked at him in surprise. Just then, the waitress walked over to their table. Rickie ordered two café Americanos, and waited for Meaghan to respond.
“You…you knew my parents? And you’re telling me, they were spies?”
Rickie shook his head impatiently. “They were government agents, not spies. They helped monitor activity between Malaysia and the other countries. They were heading over to China when their plane went down.”
That knowledge was another blow to her stunned mind; she pulled her hands from his grasp. “So, you’ve known all along who my parents were and didn’t tell me. Plus,” she held up a hand when he opened his mouth. “You had me transferred to your think-tank, taskforce, harem, whatever you want to call it.” Meaghan took a deep breath, the pain of hundreds of icy needles piercing her chest.
“You have been manipulating me all along, Prince versus the poor mouse. You must have laughed at my naiveté when you were leading me around. All you had to do was crick your finger and I would do whatever you asked of me. Did you ever really care for me…?”
Meaghan’s voice trailed off on a sob as tears burned her eyes. Rickie made a move towards her, but she stepped back, her left hand palm out as if to hold him off.
“Don’t. I can’t do this now. I’m leaving. Since this business is done, there’s no reason for us to see each other anymore.”
Rickie was ready to argue, but the bright pain those beautiful eyes stopped him cold. He could only stand there, tears pooling in his eyes as the woman he loved picked up her things and walked back towards the glass door. Only when he could no longer see her through the café windows did he collapse into the cool vinyl of the banquette, despair welling up from the depths of his soul.
As the sky turned pink, Meaghan trudged towards her home, feeling drained. The events of the night had both physically and emotionally exhausted her, and she wanted nothing better than to take a bath, have a good cry, and sink into her bed and sleep. The noise from the Gawai Dayak celebrations barely registered as she made the turn onto her street. Her feet quickened as she realized she was almost home.
“Meaghan!” Her neighbor, Shel, was walking briskly towards her. Meaghan didn’t feel like talking, but courtesy demanded she respond.
“Hi, Shel. I see you’re back from your trip. Look, I’d like to chat, but I’m really tired. Can we do this another day?”
Shel’s concerned face focused on Meaghan’s. Nodding, she put an arm around the younger woman’s shoulders and clucked sympathetically.
“I know you’re tired, but there is something I need you to do for me.”
Meaghan barely registered the bitter-smelling fabric covering her nose and mouth before, without even a chance to protest, she slipped away into darkness.
~ ~ ~
Rickie drove home in a daze, the events of the day and the confrontation with Meaghan leaving him feeling strangely detached.
After coming home, he spent some time explaining to his father what had happened at the FLNG gas rig. He didn’t tell mention what happened between Meaghan and him; that experience was just too raw to go over.
After declining breakfast, he went to his bedroom to shower and change, taking care not to get the incision site wet. When he came out, there was a plate containing fruit, toast, a pat of Nutella, and a glass of juice on the nightstand next to his bed. He methodically ate, not even noticing the taste. After finishing his repast, he began pacing in his bedroom, feeling wide awake, then he stopped and pressed the number one on his speed dial.
“Please leave a message after the tone…” Rickie hung up before the announcement finished, desperately wanting to hear Meaghan’s voice and not some mechanical voice reading a script.
Several hours later, Rickie frowned at his cell phone. He had attempted to contact Meaghan several times that morning, but her phone stubbornly went to voice mail every time. He debated going to her house to explain things in greater detail, but was afraid she would refuse to let him in. He snapped the cell cover shut, shoved it back into his pocket, and resumed pacing his bedroom.
A knock sounded on his door, and his father’s assistant walked in. JoAnne took one look at his face, and shook her head.
“You’ve got it bad, don’t you?” Rickie’s protest died as he looked into her eyes, and saw a similar pain.
JoAnne nodded. “I don’t regret my daughter, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t hurt over the bastard that fathered her. You really love Meaghan, don’t you.”
His throat tight, Rickie gave a brief nod, and JoAnne took a step forward and hugged him hard.
“Oh sweetie, I’m happy for you. But what happened?”
“What is there to be happy about,” Rickie bit out, a wave of anger overriding his more tender emotions, “She doesn’t want to see me, and I don’t know what to do to fix this.” He pulled away from the assistant and resumed pacing.
JoAnne, ever the practical one, had brought bottled water with her, and handed one to him.
“I think the two of you just need to sit down and talk.”
Rickie shook his head at his. “I don’t think talking will solve this. She thinks we are in different social circles, and she thinks I lied to her.”
JoAnne made an exasperated sound. “You are in different social circles, and you did lie to her.” Rickie wheeled around and gave her a fierce look, but it was completely lost on her.
“An omission is still looked at as a lie, and you never told her you worked with her parents or that you knew them personally. That’s why you two need to talk. Allow her the chance to know everything, including that you love her, and let her make the decision. She’s a smart cookie; I know she’ll choose correctly.”
Rickie blindly reached out for a chair and sat down, his muscles suddenly too weary to keep him upright. His response was quiet, pushing out around the pain in his chest.
“What if she doesn’t choose me?”