It was easier than I had anticipated admitting that Craig had slept with my sister. Maybe because there was nothing more for me to hide anymore. Damion had seen me bare, whether I wanted him to or not. We stood watching each other, tears still falling from my eyes whilst he stood, rigid watching me with no expression at all. In an instant he closed the gap between us, our eyes still on one another. He searched my face, searching for a lie, wanting what I could only guess to see if this was truly what had become of my marriage. I turned my gaze to the ground, ashamed that during all of what was happening, an outside like Damion had witnessed it all. I took a shaky deep breath, wishing I could wake from this nightmare.
As we stood in silence, a small vibration arose from the desk beside the bed where my phone lay. We both looked towards the phone then back at each other. As the phone continued to buzz, I found myself turning away from it. Maybe if I ignored this for just a while longer, it would disappear. I hugged my body feeling as though if I didn’t, I would crumble before Damion and my own eyes.
“Rachel, I’m sor-” My head spun to watch him.
“No Damion,” My voice cracked with sadness. “Do not pity me, please.” I whispered, feeling a fresh, bigger wave of emotions wash over me.
Before I could interject, Damion had wrapped his arms around me, pulling me into his embrace. As the tears flowed and cries echoed around the room, the vibrations of my phone continued to ring. I couldn’t remain here crying on Damion, I was to face this situation. I had known what had happened, but neither Camila nor Craig knew why I’d gone rogue. They had to know I knew, and when that had happened, everything I was familiar with and had grown used to was going to crash and burn. Was I truly ready for that? Through my sniffles, I felt Damion’s throat work to speak.
“I don’t pity you Rachel. In fact, I am furious. I’m so angry that he’s done this to you and even more enraged that your own flesh and blood has betrayed you too.” His hands slowly caressed my head as my tears retreated into my eyes and my breathing had calmed for yet another time this morning.
“I should get going.” He pulled away from me slightly, hands still in my hair messaging my scalp whilst he looked at me.
“Maybe we should eat first, before anything.”
I stepped away from his embrace completely, feeling confused. Why was he helping me? He didn’t know me, was this just an elaborate joke. Act as though he cared to only gossip about me with the rest of the elites when I wasn’t there. Bottling up all my emotions, I walk towards my belongings and begin gathering them.
“Damion, I appreciate your support. I really do. But I don’t know why you seem to be interested in my life now and would appreciate being alone at a time like this.”
After gathering everything and slipping on my shoes, I made my way towards the door when Damion called to me.
“Rachel, I know it’s tough. What you’re going through, I can’t even imagine through it myself and for that reason alone, I don’t want you to go through it by yourself. I’m not here for the entertainment. I’m not a reporter, noting down every detail and reporting back to whoever. I just care that you are okay, and I know you’re not.”
I face him, feeling exhausted. I was fighting everyone. Craig, Camila, myself and now Damion. It was too much to bear. I wanted to run, far from everything and forget. But that wasn’t how this worked, and this wasn’t a story, it was my life and I had to take this by the bull’s horns or else it was going to run further off course.
“Look, you don’t have to find the answers right away. I just want to make sure that you’re okay.”
“What am I to do Damion?” I whispered. A small headache brewing as the words left my mouth. He stood looking at me with sad eyes and came over to me again. Grabbing my belongings from my hands, he threw them to the bed and walked me out of the room. He took my hand and led me down the long corridor, my feet tingling as the cold marble floor shocked me with each step. I had no willpower left to argue against following him. My brain had done overtime in the last 12 hours alone and I was ready to shut down, if not forever, for a few hours at least.
I found us back at the fork split staircase, as he walked me down the steps and towards the foyer. He walked towards the back of the staircase, towards a door which led to the kitchen. Pulling me towards one of the chairs, he dragged the chair out and suggested I sat. Sitting without complaining I watch in a haze as he moved around the space, grabbing pans, plates and other utensils. My mind could hardly comprehend what was going on before me, continuously dragging me back to the fateful moment I caught Craig plunging deep within Camila. How could they?
I rested my elbows on the table, covering my face, knowing I wanted to cry, but feeling the emptiness deep within me reject the tears from surfacing. Before I had noticed, I felt Damion pull against my hands softly, unveiling my puffy face. He handed me a mug of coffee and placed a plate of food before me.
“Damion, I’m not hungry.” I said, putting the mug back onto the table.
“Rachel please, eat something.”
I look back to the food, feeling no desire to eat or drink anything and close my eyes. How had I gotten so tired when I’d just woken up? I pushed the plate and mug forward and rested my head on the table feeling deflated. I just wanted to sleep the rest of my days away. There was nothing to keep me going, nothing that motivated me to do more anymore. I wanted to hide and stay hidden until I was forgotten about. Damion’s chair scraped across the ground as his feet padded towards me.
Feeling him kneeling beside me, he stroked my head and sighed.
“I’m going to let him know that you’re with me.” My head shot up in horror.
“No! He’ll think I’ve been … with you.”
“I will explain that isn’t the case. He will believe me,” he said almost growling. “but I want you to do something for me?” I looked at him, not too sure if I could do anything for myself yet waited until he spoke.
“I am going to take you upstairs and I’m going to run a bath for you. I want you to stay there whilst I handle a few things. I’ll bring a paracetamol to you and spare clothes for you to change into. Is that okay?”
With little to no energy, I nod my head. A tiny voice reminding me how odd it was for Damion, a man I barely knew, to be helping me this much. He outstretched his hand towards me for me to grab. I slid my hands though his as he led me back upstairs. The walk was silent, both deep in our thoughts. Once we’d reached upstairs, back to the corridor where he led me last night, I stopped in my tracks and faced him.
“I’ll speak with him Damion. I’m honestly grateful for all you have done, but I think I should speak with my husband.”
He opened his mouth to speak then shut it again. It wasn’t going to be easy for me to find the words to say to Craig without wanting to lose all composure, but I had to do this. Not Damion or anyone else, it had to be me that spoke with Craig. I may not confront him now, but I did owe him the knowledge of where I had been or even what was to come.
Damion nodded in approval and opened the door. I stepped inside, eyes instantly going towards the phone that lay still on the desk, taunting me to pick it up.
“I’ll run you a bath, there are towels also in there with a bath robe you can use. If you need anything, call me.”
I smiled, appreciating his efforts and concern, he didn’t have to do any of this for me. I sure didn’t ask him to but having him around oddly enough strengthened me. On top of the continuously emotional rollercoaster I seemed to be experiencing, it was almost as though Damion was sitting right beside me, making sure I made it until the end. As he ran the bath, I grabbed my phone and pressed it to life. Craig, Camila and my father had all called in the space of last night and this morning. I hated to have known I’d caused my elderly father to worry. This was not something I wished for him to get involved in, his health was deteriorating at a rapid speed and worrying where I was would only worsen the matter. Without thinking, I pressed his name and waited for him to pick up.
“Oh Rachel, where have you been? Are you okay? Where were you?”
“I’m okay,” I say, clearly hearing the anxiety in his voice. “I’ll explain it to you in good time, but I am okay, I promise.”
“Craig called me this morning, saying he hadn’t seen you after an event you attended last night with Camila. Where did you run off too? Do you know how worried they’ve both been?”
My jaw clenched at the sound of both Camila and Craig having feigned their worry of my absence. Taking a deep breath, I sit on the edge of the bed and push the anger that bubbled to my throat back down.
“I’ll call them as soon as I’ve finished talking to you. I’m a full-grown woman father, you don’t need to worry about me.”
“I know Rachel, it’s just Craig called in such a panic- “
In an instant he was coughing aggressively over his mic. Instinctively I stood up, knowing I couldn’t do anything to ease the fits of coughing he was experiencing, but worried nonetheless.
“Please don’t over stress yourself, I’ll call him now. You just get rest.”
Through wheezing, he spoke. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”
Why had my father been involved? His health condition was not in the best shape and worrying about me was not something I wanted him to be doing. I say my goodbyes, reassuring him that I will call him again to find out how he was doing and possible visit him I the hospital this week, I drop the phone. My finger hovered over Craig’s name. Was I ready to speak with him? What was I even meant to say? He was going to know where I’d been all night and why I hadn’t returned home and knowing where that conversation would eventually lead to was not one I’d prefer to have over the phone. Feeling the need to hide away from the inevitable, I clicked on his name, forcing myself to deal with the situation. Without missing a beat, the phone connected.
“Rachel – are you okay? Where have you been?!” Panic and relief dripped from his voice as he spoke. It was though actually hearing him brough this horror to life. Failing to find words to formulate into a sentence, I remain silent.
“Is that Rachel?” That voice was furthest from the phone. It had been Camila. Had they spent the night together? Had they used our marital home and my bed to sanctify their love for each other? Was this just an opportunity for them to enjoy each other, before I came back and interrupted it all? Feeling my head swirl with emotion, I collapse back onto the bed in horror. Where did it all go so wrong?
“Rachel can you hear me?” My lip trembled as I opened them to speak.
“Is…is that Camila?” Were the only words I managed to muster. Not as though having any confirmation would change or clarify things but knowing in that moment seemed to matter more than anything else.
“Yes it’s me! Where have you been Rachel, we’ve been worried sick. Please come home.”
‘We’, they who once were brother and sister-in laws were now a ‘we’. How had so much occurred without my knowledge. When did I fail to see what was going on before me? How could I have been so naïve and foolish to ignore the growth of their relationship. When did their platonic friendship, turn into them having sex?
“I’m coming home now.”
“Where are you? We can pick you up?” I cut the phone, not entirely sure why but know that I had to face the music. The phone vibrated to life in my hand. It was Craig calling again. I declined the call, this time wanting to let them know that something was wrong. All the tears had dried from my eyes and all that was left from fresh anger. I didn’t know how I was going to behave once I saw them both. If I couldn’t even articulate words to them via the phone, it would only be harder face to face. Forgetting the bath that Damion was running for me, I gathered my belongings that lay on the guest bed and wore my shoes.
“Are you going?” Damion spoke from behind me, still bare chested and slightly wet from the bath water.
“Yes,” I stand facing him. “I need to address this now, rather than later.”
“Then let me get my keys and I’ll drive you home.”
“No, Damion I want to be clear headed and approach this without anyone having anything to throw back at me. If you drop me home, it’ll raise questions and overshadow the true issue at hand.”
“I’d love for anyone,” He said moving towards me. “to speak ill of you or I.”
It clearly was a threat to anyone who wasn’t us, but I couldn’t take that risk. Yes, Damion was a powerful and wealthy man, but I didn’t see how that would do anything in the situation I was in. By having him drive me home would only make people suspicious. Rachel, Craig’s wife, who never indulged in the industries powerheads and is found in the passenger’s side of Damion’s car – wasn’t something I needed right now.
“Thank you for everything. For the hospitality, for caring and for understanding. I really appreciate all you’ve done, but I must go and face this. I can’t hide here anymore, even though it’s what I want to do and I’m sure what you would let me do if I asked.”
He smiled causing me to smile. Nothing I spoke of was false, had I had the chance I would stay here in this guestroom until everything blew over. But life didn’t work that way and I had to be the catalyst in this situation for it to end.
“I would let you hide here for as long as you needed.” We broke into a chuckle.
“Thank you again.” I turn to the door when he calls my name.
“Don’t feel as though you have no one to talk to Rachel. I’m always here if you need anyone. And I hope that it all goes well for you.” Nodding, feeling tears prick my eyes I leave the room ready to face my husband and sister.