~~Chapter Two Hundred Twenty-Three~~
~The Waiting Game~
‘You are the only one …
‘I’ve ever known …
‘That makes me feel this way …
‘Girl, you are my own …’
-’I’ll be Waiting‘ by Lenny Kravitz.
Eyes flashing open as the crush of a very large body fell on her moments before the hand smashed down to cover her lips, Valerie uttered a strangled scream, even as the realization of who, exactly, was doing the crushing sank in.
“Shh!” Evan insisted, lifting his hand to give her a quick kiss her instead. “If they find me in here, I’ll catch seven kinds of hell.”
Laughing softly as she leaned up far enough to kiss him in kind, Valerie smiled. “Where’s my coffee, Roka?”
He chuckled and rolled to the side, extending his hand behind himself to retrieve the steaming mug of coffee he’d brought with him. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to climb up to your balcony without spilling a damn drop?” he complained, careful to keep his voice just above a whisper.
“Why didn’t you just use the door?”
He snorted. “Because Bubby’s guarding the stairway, that’s why. Talk about monumental cockblocks . . .”
Valerie laughed again. “You know,” she said, her voice muffled by the coffee mug, “it’s bad luck for you to see me before the wedding.”
Evan shot her a droll glance. “Are you telling me you believe those old wives’ tales?”
Handing him the empty mug before slipping her arms around him, she shook her head. “Not really,” she said. “So did you give in and stay with Gunnar all night?”
“That bastard did me dirty,” Evan confessed with a snort. “Caught me trying to sneak out around one, so he called Kurt over to lock me in with ofuda.”
Evan made a face. “Yeah . . . paper charms that he uses to create barriers that youkai can’t pass through without taking some serious damage.”
“I didn’t know that was even possible.”
He shrugged. “Oh, it is. They use them in handcuffs and stuff so youkai can’t just break them. Anyway, damned if Drevin wasn’t grinning the whole time, too, little bastard . . .”
“Well,” she said, snuggling a little closer to him—or as close as the curlers she still wore in her hair would allow, “it doesn’t look like it hurt you or anything.” She sighed as a secretive little smile tugged on the corners of her lips. “So . . . what are the odds that you brought more coffee up here with you?”
Evan sighed, poking a claw at the curlers as a little smile quirked his lips. “Have a heart, V. It was hard enough to get away from everyone, to start with! Getting away with a full pot of Joe?” He shook his head. “I am many things, baby, but I am not a miracle worker.”
“It’s my wedding day, Roka,” she reminded him, closing her eyes for a long moment. “Thought you said this whole ‘mates’ thing meant that you’d do anything to make me happy?”
He laughed. “Well, I could venture down there,” he allowed. “Of course, there’s a good chance that they won’t let me bring back your coffee. I’m sure Mama would, though, come to think of it . . .”
“What time is it?”
Leaning up and craning his neck to glance at the clock that had gotten turned on the nightstand, Evan flopped back as he tightened his arms around Valerie. “Nine,” he told her, his voice muffled as he kissed the top of her head.
She heaved a long sigh. “Hmm, I guess I should get up, then,” she mused though she made no move to do so. “I imagine my parents are already down there?”
“Mmm,” Evan intoned, savoring the feel of her beside him, of the quiet and peaceful serenity that enveloped the room. “Mama laid out a huge breakfast buffet down there. They were all talking and stuff, and I swear to God, your father couldn’t keep his eyes off Mama . . . I think ol’ Jack has a thing for her . . .”
Valerie rolled her eyes but laughed. “As long as your father doesn’t take offense to it.”
“Cain’s completely oblivious,” he scoffed just before he leaned in to nuzzle her neck. “Anyway, what do you think? Got enough time for some lovin’ before they discover us?”
Closing her eyes for a moment, Valerie breathed out a long, wistful sigh as she turned her face to intercept Evan’s lips. Shifting his body, he couldn’t ignore the lick of fire that sparked to life at her easy acquiescence. The banked heat, the searing swell of emotion surged through him, uncontrollable and free. Her lips fluttered under his, accepting his passion as hers spiraled higher.
His fingers slid over the thin cotton of her tee-shirt, creating a teasing caress. Remind himself that he really didn’t have the time to press his luck, he uttered a soft little sigh against her lips as her arms snaked around his neck, her fingers sinking into his hair, her body rising up to meld against his.
The soft click of the door registered vaguely in his head, but it seemed to have come from so far away, almost more of an afterthought or a vague memory—at least, until someone cleared their throat in a completely grating and wholly obnoxious kind of way.
“Evan Roka Zelig! You’re not supposed to be in here!”
Pulling away from Valerie with a very longsuffering sigh, Evan managed a wan grin as he turned his head to meet his mother’s disapproving gaze. Standing just inside the doorway with a hand on her hip and a rather chagrined frown on her face, Gin shook her head and waved her free hand impatiently. “You get out of here!” she insisted. “You shouldn’t see the bride before the wedding!”
Rolling his eyes, Evan shot Valerie an entirely unapologetic look as he swung his legs off the bed. “What’d I tell you, V?” he teased. “Guess this is it until two o’clock.”
Valerie laughed and sat up on her elbow, tilting her face to meet him when he paused long enough to give her a quick kiss. “You’d better not try to run away,” she warned him.
Evan’s grin widened. “As if! Love you, V,” he called over his shoulder as he slipped past his mother and out of the door.
Gin watched him go with a slow shake of her head then finally turned to face Valerie once more. “You’ve got a visitor,” she said as she hurried across the floor to draw open the drapes that covered the sliding glass doors that led to the balcony. “I can’t believe it’s your wedding day! My baby boy’s getting married . . .”
“Who’s that?” Valerie asked about the mysterious visitor, pushing herself up and reaching for the robe lying over the end of the bed.
Gin giggled. “Oh! Sorry! It’s your friend, Marvin.”
Valerie froze as a thoughtful scowl surfaced. “Marvin?” she echoed. “Oh . . .”
Gin paused and looked at Valerie, her ebullience waning slowly. “If you’d rather not talk to him, I could tell him that you’re busy getting ready for the wedding,” she offered.
Blinking quickly, Valerie glanced at Gin and forced a wan smile as she stumbled out of bed and toward the closet where she’d stashed a couple changes of clothes. “It’s fine,” she assured her soon-to-be mother-in-law. “Where is he?”
“He said he’d rather wait outside,” Gin replied, stepping over to the bed to straighten the blankets. “Is everything all right?”
“What? Oh, yes,” she said, pulling a simple dress out of the closet.
It didn’t take her long to get dressed, and she didn’t bother with her hair or anything, considering Madison would have a fit if she took her hair out of the curlers before she was ready to fix it for the wedding. Still, Valerie’s stomach felt as though it was flopping over and over as she headed out of the room. She wasn’t entirely sure what Marvin wanted, but she couldn’t help the anxiety that loomed over her, either.
Why was he there? What could he possibly want to say to her?
Biting her lip as she hurried down the stair and toward the front door, she stifled a sigh.
The morning was fresh and beautiful, and Valerie shielded her eyes against the beams of sunlight, caught in the morning dew that coated the lush grass. Marvin stood near his rental car, his expression inscrutable, hands dug deep into his pockets as he reluctantly raised his eyes to meet hers.
Taking a moment to gather her thoughts, Valerie slowly descended the porch steps. “Hi,” she said, hoping that her reluctance didn’t come through in her greeting.
Marvin managed a fleeting, uncertain smile. “You, uh . . . You look nice,” he said with a helpless kind of shrug.
“You look good,” she replied, wrapping her arms over her stomach as she drew abreast of him and stopped. It was a slight stretch, only because of the rumpled state of his clothing, the untidy way his hair stuck out here and there. Still, he was the same endearing Marvin that she’d met at college so long ago. He’d driven all night, hadn’t he . . .? Just to talk to her . . .
“Thanks,” Marvin replied. “Do you, um . . . I-I mean, would you . . .?” Trailing off rather helplessly, he grimaced. “Do you have time to talk?” He sighed. “I mean, I know today’s your wedding day,” he muttered. “If you don’t, that’s okay . . .”
“Do you want to go for a walk?” she heard herself asking. Something about Marvin’s demeanor . . .
He seemed surprised by her offer, and he quickly nodded. “If you have time,” he reiterated.
He followed behind as Valerie led him around the mansion, down toward the path that led to the beach. “I’m glad you’re here,” she ventured at length. “I . . . I wanted to tell you how sorry I am.”
Shaking his head quickly, Marvin stopped, leaning back against the stair railing as he dug his hands a little deeper into his pockets, scrunching up his shoulders as he stared down at his feet. “No, don’t apologize, Val. I mean, it really wasn’t your fault, and . . . and I never should have said those things to you . . .”
“You had every right to be upset,” Valerie insisted softly. “I never . . . I never meant to hurt you.” She sighed and rubbed her forehead, wishing that she didn’t sound so damned perfunctory because she meant it. She could only hope that he knew that. “That sounds so lame, but honestly, I—”
“You’re really happy with him?” Marvin interrupted, finally lifting his gaze to meet hers.
“I am,” Valerie admitted. She wanted to tell him that she hoped he’d find the same thing, too—the absolute love, the breathtaking affection that she’d found with Evan—but she winced inwardly, staunching the words before she uttered them. How ridiculous would that sound coming from her? How silly and trite . . .
He nodded, saying nothing, as though he needed a moment to absorb her statement. Turning on his heel, he slowly made his way down the rest of the steps, wandering almost aimlessly toward the rolling tide.
She followed along behind him, wishing that she could say the things she was thinking, wishing that he’d understand the things that she simply couldn’t bring herself to say—things like she thought that he was a good man, that she didn’t regret the time she’d spent with him, that she hoped he’d find true happiness, just as she had—but all those things sounded so very condescending, even in her head, and in the end, she said nothing.
“I . . . I want the best for you,” Marvin said in a tone that left Valerie wondering if he really was speaking to her at all. Staring out over the ocean, he seemed so very far away. “That’s really all I came here to say. That, and I hope that he . . . he knows how lucky he is.”
“Marvin,” Valerie replied, blinking fast to stave back the wash of tears that sprang to haze over her vision. She did love him, didn’t she, even if she hadn’t ever truly been in love with him. “You . . . You’re such a brilliant man . . . but . . . but I didn’t want to be unfair to you—or to me. I know you deserved so much better, and I know how—how—how stupid that sounds, coming from me,” she said. “I never, ever meant to hurt you. I hope you know that.”
He sighed and slowly turned to face her, and the smile on his lips was reluctant, even nervous, but it was genuine. “It’s okay, Val,” he told her. Then he choked out a little laugh. “Well, it’ll be okay,” he amended. “I just . . . I can’t hate you, not when I . . . I made mistakes, too. Do you suppose we could, uh . . .?” He let out a deep breath, as though he wasn’t entirely sure how she’d react to his question,. “Do you think . . . we could be friends? Did I . . .? Did I ruin that?”
Valerie smiled. “I’ll always be your friend, Marvin, if you’ll let me . . . and I’ll be your biggest supporter for your research, too. You’ll do it; I know you will.”
His smile widened just a little. “Don’t let Evan Zelig forget how special you are,” he said, drawing a deep, almost cleansing breath. “Bet you’ll be beautiful today.” This time, his laughter sounded much more normal. “Well, not that you’re not beautiful every day . . .”
Valerie laughed, shaking her head, flicking a hand dismissively. “You know, if you want, you’re welcome to stay . . .”
Shaking his head quickly, Marvin couldn’t hide the blush that rose in his cheeks. “Oh, I can’t,” he replied. “I just, you know, wanted to tell you how sorry I am for . . . for those things I said.”
“Don’t apologize anymore,” she insisted. “It’s okay.”
He stared at her for several long moments, then he finally nodded. “Oh, uh, I should get going. I mean, your wedding starts in a few hours, right? Shouldn’t you be inside, getting ready?”
She didn’t say anything more as the two headed back toward the stairs. This time, however, the silence wasn’t nearly as unkind as it was on the initial trek. Still stilted and vaguely uncomfortable, certainly, but the sense of trepidation had dissipated, and for that, Valerie was grateful.
The sounds of the crew that was hired to set up for the wedding was muffled. True that most of it was done yesterday, but the last minute preparations were still going strong. Marvin glanced over at it in passing, but said nothing about it. He said nothing at all until they were standing in the driveway once more.
“Thanks for taking the time to talk to me,” Marvin said, his nervous smile back in place once more.
“I wish you’d have come yesterday,” Valerie admitted. “I would have had more time to talk.”
Marvin shook his head. “Oh, uh . . . I . . . I didn’t realize until last night that I wanted to come. But I sat there, staring at your wedding invitation, and I . . . Well, I didn’t want you to get married with telling you how sorry I am.”
For a moment, it surprised her that Marvin had received an invitation. That surprise didn’t last. Evan . . . He had done it, hadn’t he? She wasn’t sure what the reason behind it was. After all, it would be easy to think that he’d done it just to rub Marvin’s nose in it, but she knew him better than that. No, the only reason Evan would have done such a thing was because, somewhere in his heart, he knew that Valerie wanted to have a moment to say the things she hadn’t gotten to say on that awful night by the pool. That was the Evan that she knew: the Evan she was going to marry. “I am glad you came,” she said, hurriedly giving Marvin a kiss on the cheek.
Marvin laughed softly. It was a warm, genuine sound. “I’m glad I did, too,” he confessed. For a moment, he seemed undecided. Then he hurriedly, clumsily, kissed her cheek. “I’ll . . . I’ll see you, Valerie. Take care.”
She nodded as she stepped back, as she watched him stride around the car. She waved as he pulled out of the driveway, and she didn’t turn back to the mansion until the car was out of sight once more.
“So . . . did you two clear the air?”
Valerie turned around, coming face to face with her future husband. “You invited him?” she asked, arching an eyebrow as she broke into a little smile.
Evan sighed. “Well, of course! Had to rub his it in, now didn’t I?”
Valerie narrowed her eyes and slipped her arms around Evan’s waist. “That’s not why you did it, and you know it,” she replied. “Tell me the truth.”
He snorted as he folded her into his arms. “All right, all right,” he relented with a melodramatic sigh. “Did you tell him what you wanted to say?”
She nodded. “Thank you.”
“I don’t want you to have any regrets, V,” he said softly, kissing her forehead as he tightened his arms around her. “Even if I don’t like the little shit . . .”
“Don’t ruin the moment, Roka,” she warned. “Besides, I know you’re a very sensitive, very sweet man deep down, even if your family tried their hardest to convince me otherwise last night.”
Evan snorted. “What do you mean?”
She laughed. “Your father and brother thought they should warn me about your less-than-honorable past,” she said then shrugged. “You really were bad, weren’t you?”
She leaned up and kissed his chin before cuddling against his chest once more. Eyes closed, she missed the irritation that filtered into his countenance, the gathering storm clouds of his reaction to what she’d unwittingly implied. “They did, but it’s okay. I knew you were a troublemaker from the get-go.”
“All right, Evan,” Bas remarked as he loped down the porch steps. “Step away from the bride, and come with me.”
Evan gave Valerie another squeeze before finally letting his arms drop away. “I’ll see you in a few hours,” he told her, his expression shifting into an exaggerated pout.
She laughed as Bas planted a hand on Evan’s shoulders and propelled him toward the porch.
“Tell me something, Bubby . . . Just what the hell did you tell V about me?”
Bas shot him a droll glance. “Nothing but the truth, Evan,” Bas assured him.
“Right, right . . . You’re kind of an ass,” Evan pointed out. “How would you have liked it if I’d told Sydnie a bunch of shit about you the night before your wedding?”
Bas pushed him through the door before she could hear his reply, and Valerie laughed as she lifted her face heavenward. Absolutely gorgeous without a cloud in the sky . . .
The perfect day a her wedding, wasn’t it?
All that was left was the ceremony itself, and then she would be Mrs. Evan Zelig.
She couldn’t wait.
<<< 222: Reticence
224: Thwarted >>>
I’ve redone the forum to allow more features and easier usage. In the new forum, I’ve posted the preliminary chapters for Purity 11 and 12 in the Spoiler Room forum for anyone interested in getting a sneak peek. You must register for the forum and make fifteen counted posts in order to gain access, but hopefully those who do find the chapters to be worth the hassle. http://www.suericfanfictions.com/forums
‘I’ll be Waiting‘by Lenny Kravitz originally appeared on the 2008 release, It’s Time for a Love Revolution. Copyrighted to Lenny Kravitz and Craig Ross.
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OROsan0677 ——— cutechick18 ——— lianned88 ——— gin-hayashi85 ——— mariea
Final Thought from Evan:
… Is that right …?
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Subterfuge): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.