Prague, Czech Republic
The late morning sun’s fiery blaze awoke Anatoly from his peaceful sleep. His blue prisms slowly opened to the clear skies shining brightly across the room. He squinted a bit, wiped his tired eyes and yawned. Why didn’t his folks have real curtains in their bedroom? How did they wake up to this every single day?
Sitting up in the bed, he looked over at the black woman lying in bed beside him. Her dark skin gave dramatic contrast to the silver sheets that barely covered her long, slender body. A small grin colored her full lips. Long, dark, thick hair spilled over onto her pillow. She slept as if she did not have a care in the world.
Bending toward her, he looked at her chest slowly rise and fall. Peaceful bliss for her but not for him. Resting his head back on the headboard, he ran his hand through his blonde tendrils and gripped the back of his neck, massaging his aching bones.
Unfortunate for her, he had that familiar feeling again now that he had her – the urge to flee. At the very moment that she committed, he disassociated. It was cause and effect for him. He knew it as soon as he finished making love to her.
Sweaty and exhausted, he had collapsed beside her, feeling a million miles away from her body even though it was so close to his own. She had looked into his eyes and confessed her love for the first time in their pseudo-relationship. And he had whispered in Russian, “Ya ne lyublyu tebya,” (I don’t love you), in response.
She had gone to sleep smiling and oblivious. He had gone to sleep thinking about his dilemma – how to undo what he had done far too spontaneously. The tightness in his chest had started immediately, as soon as she spooned against him and closed her big, brown eyes. His father was right. It simply would not work.
Now, curled up beside him, wrapped in the sheets, she never felt him when he stirred, when he pulled his body from the bed and quickly slipped on his jeans.
Once fully dressed, he stood by the bed for a while, staring at her and thinking of all that he had put her through and vice versa.
Finally when he had reasoned enough, he grabbed his wallet and keys and slipped out of the bedroom.
The family could take care of her arrangements to get back to Italy to the winery. He knew that his father would at least – Royal may not.
All he did know was that he couldn’t stay in the condo with her a moment longer. Now that he knew that she was okay, that she had not been harmed because of him, he could release her.
In fact, he had already released her, whether he liked it or not. She wasn’t the one. It was sort of refreshing when he thought of it. To fall in love with Victoria would be too easy and far too dangerous. She was like him. Cunning. Forward. Greedy. His decision would be best for the both of them or at least for him. And that was all that mattered at the end of the day.
It would have been cruel to leave her stranded at his parent’s condo alone, so he left the keys on the kitchen counter for the Bentley. But he didn’t leave a note. That was too much.
Words couldn’t express what he was feeling right at the moment anyway. What was the use of trying? He’d walk for a while and clear his head. He just had to get out of the condo and away from her, had to get away from the commitment that was coming. The looming inevitability of a bad relationship choked him out of the space – drove him to flee.
Opening the front door to the house, he looked back one last time up the stairs and then left.
The sun was just as bright outside as it was in his father’s bedroom. It shone down on him and fed him the energy he needed to get on with things. He took a deep breath, savoring the fresh air, slipped on his Aviator shades and headed down the steps towards the walkway.
Looking around at all the well-manicured lawns, the expensive cars and the people walking up and down the sidewalk, he felt a calm that was not possible a minute ago.
This place was such a far cry from the life he had known when he was a boy. Everyone here was privileged. They had no clue what it was like to struggle, to fight for every crumb. But then again, neither did he anymore.
Life was good, but his was pushing him to get back to Memphis. His business could not run itself. There were things to do, people to see, money to make, guns to sell.
Catching a taxi a few miles outside of the upscale, gated community, he ordered the small Indian man to take him straight to the airport. He would bypass heading back to the countryside to his father’s chateau. Dmitry would understand. His father was like that. He was wise in his years because of the women that he had gone through before meeting his wife, Royal. Only Victoria was not his Royal. There was nothing anyone could do about that.
Within the hour, he was on the tarmac of a private airstrip with a cup of tea and a cigarette, preparing to board his private jet and head back to the states from Prague.
Still smelling like sex from the night before, he threw his cigarette down and headed up the stairs to his plane. The metal clanged under the weight of his heavy boots as he quickly made his way up. When he got to the top, he turned around and looked over the airstrip.
Finally, so far away from the condo, he could breathe again. The tightness in his chest had subsided. But he did wonder if she was awake yet, if she had found the keys, put the pieces together and figured out what he didn’t have the nerve to tell her. Goodbye. Take care. Don’t call.
“Welcome back, Mr. Medlov,” the flight attendant said, offering to take his nearly empty cup.
Turning away from Prague, he passed his Styrofoam container to her and took off his shades.
“Thanks, Karen,” he said, feeling a sense of relief.
“Let’s get out of here, da.”