I saw on Martin that he was at a loss too and couldn’t say a word either. It was clear that this was new for him too. Dave came out of the bathroom and smiled at us.
“What’s up? Everything’s okay, yeah, it’s okay.”
“Marty, sweetie, listen – do you like NYC enough to live there?”
“What? What are you talking about?” he looked at him shocked “Are you OK?”
“Yep, I’m OK. Nothing can be better than that Mia showed me her burning love towards me a few minutes ago!” he smiled at me, but I saw that sadness was still in his eyes.
Mart looked at him suspiciously. “Why did you ask me this NYC thing?”
“Cuz we want you to live near to us or with us!”
“What? Me? Sure. I couldn’t live without you two anyway. But it’ll take some time to part my ways with Santa Barbara and bring my stuffs there. I was thinking about a big estate with two houses and we can walk freely, without giving any suspicious thoughts to anyone about our threesome. Mia lives with you and I’ll be your lover. Is it okay with you two?”
“Great!” we said together.
“Mart, on Long Island, on Martha’s Vineyard I already have an estate. Buy the neighboring one – there’ll be an auction. The owners got divorced and the guy didn’t want to give it to his greedy ex-wife” Dave smiled bitterly “I’ll talk to the estate agent, maybe it’s still on sale. At least I’ll know who’ll be my neighbour.”
I had to confess that this sounded really great. But I felt that this was too good to be true! It was like a fairy tale and I was worried about its fragility. I felt something bad coming, but didn’t say a word to them.
Next day’s concert went smoothly. Before the show Dave showed me his draft of my future tattoo. He was working on it the whole afternoon. He wanted it to be perfect and because of this he sent everybody away, who dared to bother him. I let him work, I didn’t sneak in to take a peek. I was surfing on the internet to find some great tattoo saloons then I’ve spent an hour with my Curly too. During the whole concert I saw the finished sketch. It was beautiful! I kissed Dave all over when I saw it for the first time and I couldn’t wait to wear it on my skin. I’ve never thought that once I’ll have such a big tattoo, but love can make you do a lot of things and I always wanted to have a tattoo anyway. And here was the best opportunity to have one.
Next morning – after we climbed out of bed and had a quick shower – we got dressed and I was waiting for Dave excited and a bit nervous to hit the road and arrive to the chosen saloon. By the time we arrived there, I was shaking like a leaf. I’d have never thought that my love will do this, but he didn’t take me inside right away after we parked in front of the shop, but he led me to a nearby bar, where he ordered me a double whiskey and waved for me to drink it. I did it, but I started shaking even more, he embraced me and we stepped into the half-lit tattoo shop.
A bald man – tattoos all over – and a burning red-haired woman with piercings were there. The woman was about to start a tattoo at the further end of the shop. I shivered from the sound of the needle. The bald man looked nice as he turned to us and greeted us.
“Mr. Gahan, right?” he smiled at Dave.
“Yes” he nodded.
“Can I help you?”
“This time it’s not about me, but about my girlfriend” he said and handed him the sketch right away “We want this onto her back, nearly by the same height like mine and we want it now and at one go.”
“Will you bear it, Miss?” the guy asked me with doubt in his eyes.
“Mr. Gahan allowed me a drink in the nearby bar, so it looks I’ll be OK” I moaned.
The man smiled – still a bit doubtful – then he studied the design.
“I like its style. It’s niggling. Okay, no problem here. Please, follow me” he waved and led us to the back of the shop, which was separated with curtains “Please, take off your shirt and lay down there” he pointed at a tattoo table “First I’ll draw up the design. It’ll be quick. Then will come the harder part, but you don’t have to fear.”
I took a deep breath and lay down. I felt him drawing up the outlines then I felt Dave embracing my waist, holding me in place, and taking my hand firmly. Then the needle came to alive. I whined from the pain, but David started soothing me, he was talking to me to distract me. He was speaking about his estate on Martha’s Vineyard that how great is being there and how many things we could do with that place. Of course we’ll have to renovate it and build some new rooms there, so it can fit us and the changed circumstances perfectly. And he was just talking and talking – he never stopped – and when I finally asked the time, it turned out that it was already past 1 pm and the needle didn’t rest for a minute. It was still awfully uncomfortable, but the pain was quite bearable.
“You can talk quite a lot, Dave” I smiled up at him.
“I know” my love smiled back at me “and you can confess that I’m very entertaining too” he added with a smug grin.
Minutes passed, turning first into thirty minutes then to hours and Dave was just talking and talking, the tattoo artist was tattooing and I thought that I’d die there, but after a while I’ve got quite used to the pain. Although I couldn’t see it, but in my mind I had the picture as the guy was concentrating onto my back – sometimes wiping away the blood and paint from my skin. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling at all. But the booze, Dave’d bought for me before entering the shop, soothed my nerves a bit. I was relatively relaxed and I’ve decided that I won’t whine. I can bear it. I’m a grown up, strong woman. A half-back tattoo is nothing for me!
The tattoo artist – Mark – put in some music too, which was crawling into my head. I felt the sweat drops on my forehead from my suppressed moans, but I swallowed them. Instead I was grabbing Dave’s hand and I was playing with his fingers and with the ring on his middle finger, listening to his calming voice. When he’s with me, I can bear everything!
And finally the needle stopped, Mark’s hand rested and the master piece was ready. He wiped my back with some alcohol and water – which nearly killed me – but Dave was holding me firmly. He waved to another assistant of the saloon, who nodded and hurried out of the shop. Dave and Mark helped me up from the table after Mark covered the tattoo and taped it. My legs were shaking and I nearly fainted, but David embraced me and it was enough. I’ll go through hell with bare feet, if he embraces me.
“Mia, you must take care of this now” the master said “You won’t feel good for the next three days. The wound is big, Dave’ll take care of you, okay? Let him do what he needs to do and sleep on your tummy – you wouldn’t be able to sleep in another pose anyway.”
“Okay, I usually sleep on my back” I whispered. Dave helped me into my shirt and my eyes were still dry, cuz he looked into them and there were strange, hazy lights in his irises. The assistant came back and brought another double whiskey from the Pub. My love fished out a bottle of meds from his jeans’ pocket and shook three pills into his palm. I looked at him questioningly.
“Sleeping pills, Mia. Take them with the alcohol – I know what I’m doing, don’t be scared. I don’t want you to suffer too much. Do it, kitty!”
“Dave, I… it was very hard for me to stop using these things…”
“Sweetie, I won’t lead you back down that road.”
And then I saw the emerald, hazy lights in his eyes again and I obeyed. On our way back to the hotel I bent my head onto his shoulder and looked up at his face. I was dizzy as I’ve got lost in his wonderful eyes. They were holding me captive and they wanted to tell me something, which was beyond words. And he leant closer to me and gave a kiss onto my forehead and now I could see the fire too behind his nice, deep-green lights. Love and desire’s unquenchable fire was burning inside of him and like through an old iron-stove’s rails I could take a look straight onto the blazing flames. I knew what he was thinking, he knew what I was thinking. In the hotel room he softly lay me down and covered me with a light blanket. He sat next to me and took my hand into his, stroking my skin, waiting me to close my eyes. And finally my eyelids closed with the image of his love-filled face. I felt the power of the sleeping pills and the whiskies. I wanted to say something to him, but after a few moments it didn’t matter anymore as I was diving deeper and deeper into darkness.
I don’t know how long I’ve been sleeping, but I know that I had awful nightmares of enormous needles, grinning black ink-drawings, fiery hells and shining green eyes. In my dream I took strong pills again and I was drinking. It was horrible! Of course I had a fever when I woke up and a cool mouth planted a kiss onto my cheek. My blonde prince was with me, who surrounded me with tender care. My eyes were searching for Dave, but he was nowhere to be seen. I didn’t ask where he was, I sank into these green eyes. Oh, my green-eyed loves!
“Drink this and take this too” Martin asked me quietly and handed me a cool glass of water with a pill for my fever. Another pill!
“Noh… I don’t want pills again…” I whimpered. I felt that I was swimming in sweat.
“Mia, this is just for your fever, it won’t do any harm” he whispered, cuz I had a bad headache too, which was the effect of the whiskies and the painkillers.
“Martin, it hurts like hell! I’ll die!” I moaned.
“You won’t. Come kitty, I take you to the loo and I wash you down – I’ll leave out only your back.”
I let him lead me to the toilet and he gently pushed me onto it. While I was sitting there, he went out and put on a tea. He pushed me under the shower and carefully washed my body down. By the time we reached back to the bed, the maid’d already changed the sheets. Mart brushed my hair too and told me to sit on the edge of the couch for a while, so my back won’t hurt from laying this much. Finally I asked: “Dave?”
“He’d left and honey, you won’t see him for a weak or so. We had to cancel the concert too, but at least you can heal. Jen is out of her mind. She wanted to take Rosie away to an unknown place. Dave’s friends warned us and he made the police bring Rosie back. The situation is bad. I feel sorry for Rosie, but now Jen was working against herself. Dave handed in the papers for the divorce today morning and asked for summary proceedings. He wants to have the custody rights over Rosie. He’s afraid that Jen’ll take away Stella. It’s possible that we’ll have Rosie here for a while until things calm down a bit.”
“Holy shit!” I cried out. My jaw was somewhere on the floor. I was scared. “Jen’d be able to do so?”
“Yes, it seems…”
“But… she can’t ban Rosie from her father! Cuz she knows how much he loves Stella – even though that maybe she isn’t his daughter at all!” I strained and I had to moan right away, cuz my back hurt.
“And she wants to do that exactly because of this. Dave’d do anything for Rosie and Jen wants to keep him at her side playing on this.”
“And what if Dave gives in?”
Mart bent his head down and didn’t answer.
“Martin! What if Dave gives in? If, if…”
He still didn’t say a word.
“Mart, say something!”
“Mia, it wouldn’t be the first time…”
Suddenly I couldn’t breathe. My first reaction would have been a painful yell, but this time not from the physical pain, but from the emotional one. He’d leave us? Was this possible?
“This… this means that once he did this to you? He had…”
“Yes. Once… I was suffering like hell… I think I’m still not over it completely. This is why I was afraid to start it over… This is why sometimes I’m so cold with him, I guess…” he was staring at the glass in his hand.
“And he… he… but of course… his family. I… I guess it’s more important…” I whispered faintly, but I nearly went insane from the pain as I said the last words. I was so terrified that he won’t come back! Everything we’d lived through was in vain? Everything we gave up for him with Martin can mean nothing? I felt the floodgates opening and I didn’t give a damn to the pain, the fever, to my back, to my headache – I was crying and whimpering like a little girl.
Martin sat down next to me with a sad expression and tried to comfort me. I saw the dread just in his eyes. “We have to wait and hope. I don’t want to promise anything, I don’t know how he’ll decide. I hope he’ll come back – I’ll die if he doesn’t.”
“Met too” I sniffed.
I don’t know how he’d managed to calm me down a bit. I think I was crying on his shoulder for a long while then the fever, the pain and the tiredness took their effects and I fell asleep again. I slept restlessly and days’d passed in pain. Martin was next to me and he was drinking a lot, but he never crossed that line with the booze and he took care of me. He kept my back clean and creamed it when it was necessary and I didn’t refuse a few drinks either. Pills tempted me again, cuz after the tattoo session my body got used to them desperately quickly again, but I tried to hold myself back, while I felt that I’m just half a person without Dave! I didn’t even care about the design on my back, which was healing nicely. I didn’t even look at it since he’d left. In case he won’t come back, I’d never set an eye on it. It won’t mean anything without him anyway…
Eight days’d passed and we had to cancel two concerts. We couldn’t reach David. We nearly went insane. We loved each other with Martin as much as we could, but our every move contained the lack of Dave’s body and our every sighs called him.
On the ninth day he was there – he was skinny, careworn and had stubbles – holding another hand in his.
“Rosie!” Martin exclaimed surprised.
I looked at the blonde little girl and then at Dave shocked and I knew that my eyes were full of questions. Martin crouched in front of the little girl and embraced her, while I couldn’t move at all.
“Rosie, you know Martin and you’ve seen Mia too. Kitty, Mia is daddy’s girlfriend.”
“I see, daddy, she’s your girlfriend” the girl said without a smile. Her expression was tired and she just accepted this fact “It’s nice to meet you, Mia.”
I didn’t want to think about it how terrible things she had to live through in the last two weeks.
“Hi. It’s nice to meet you too” I smiled at her faintly and I looked up at Dave a bit unsure then back at her “Are you hungry or thirsty?” I asked.
“I’m thirsty, yes. Is there some orange juice around?” she asked hopefully. I saw on her how tired she was.
“I’m sure there is. I go and call room service. Do you want to sleep after it?”
“Yep, that’d be great” she yawned and put her little hand in front of her mouth.
“Just leave it to me” Martin said “Rosie, I take you down to the restaurant to eat something, okay?”
“Daddy, can I go with Marty?”
“Sure, kitty. Thanks Mart” he gave him a tired smile “Eat and drink something and give her some sweets and bring her up to sleep, please. Thanks again, Mart!”
“Dave, you know it’s nothing.”
Dave just nodded and waited until Martin stepped out of the room with Rosie. There were just the two of us. I folded my arms and I looked at him doubtingly and questioningly. I didn’t want to attack him with my questions, but I think he knew that I was curious what’d happened, why he came this late.
“Before you’d ask anything kitty, no, nothing has changed – you’re still the one I want to live with and I’d die without Mart, but this’ll be tough. I’ve already lost Jimmy, cuz I haven’t adopted him and I have no rights in that case” he said and bent his head down as he started crying quietly.
“Oh god…” I whispered and embraced his shoulders reassuringly as I sat down with him onto the bed. I pulled his head onto my shoulder and let him cry and grab me desperately. It hurt like hell seeing him like this, but I knew that his pain was even bigger now. I had to help him somehow! “Tell me…” I started carefully after a few minutes when he was sniffing a bit quieter “… do you want to talk about it?”
“I can’t now. Maybe later” he lifted his teary face “Baby, do you feel yourself too young for an eight year old little girl?”
“No, David, of course not. I’ll be her stepmother, if I can. But obviously she feels herself awful too.”
“Definitely. The local sheriff had to hunt her mother down in Virginia, in the summer house. He literally took her from her mother’s arms and brought her to me, while my teenager son was shouting that he doesn’t want me to leave, cuz he loves me. I thought I’d die there. Maybe I did. I feel him… very close to me… I’ll try to fight for some rights to be able to see him, or he’ll get away – luckily he’s already 15, and the court’ll consider his will too.”
“I love you David, and no matter what I have to do, I’ll do it for you.”
“Do you really want this? During the trial people’ll call you on many names, but not as an honorable woman.”
“I didn’t care! I want you to feel happy! According to he circumstances of course” I took his hands and squeezed them “Can you get it? I gave up everything for you two, I came back to you after Copenhagen, I presented our love with a tattoo! I’ll bear this too, cuz this’ll be for you and for your children! Although… It was way beyond my imagination that Jen can be such a mean bitch!” I said and this was the first time when anger flashed in my eyes.
“Well, it seems she can. And this isn’t the first time. And I’m much weaker than you might think, I’m not a though cookie, just an unlucky old guy, who wants peace around him, his coffee and his morning newspaper and a kiss onto his forehead from the woman, whom he loves before he leaves the house to do his stuff. No matter how you imagined me, inside I’m like this. Weak and frail. Previously she always reached her goals with this, cuz I was never brave enough to trust anybody enough – although I loved the others too – but now I trust you with my whole heart. You give me strength and if you leave me, it’s over for me.”
“You don’t have to fear, I’d never do that, sweetheart. I’d rather die than leave you” I smiled and gave a soft kiss onto his lips. I’ve missed the taste of them so much! But then I pulled back and I was just caressing his face.
“What the hell do you love in me this much?” he moaned painfully “Mia, my self-esteem is gone, I’m full of failures, my whole life is a failure! Will I have the strength to stand up and live a normal life with you?”
“I hope so, my love, I hope so. For me you are the truth and life and I have no life without you.”
“Mia, sweetie, oh, Mia, did you want this?”
“Now that you ask, yes, I wanted you. Dave, do you want to see the symbol of our love on my back? The mark of your own hands, your dream?”
“Sure, take your T-shirt off, honey!”
And I took it off carefully then showed him my back so he could look at my healed tattoo. It was still shining a bit from the cream I had to still put on it, but it didn’t disturb him. I brushed my hair to the front and let his long fingers caress along the edges of the drawing. I shivered from his soft touches and sighed faintly. Oh god, I’ve missed him so much! My heart nearly ached. I was waiting for his reaction in silence and with closed eyes.
“Beautiful… it’s so beautiful…” he whispered faintly as he stroked the back of the cat then the curls “It’s so…. So you… Beautiful and clean.”
“I’m not clean, Dave… just in love…” I whispered back “…madly” I stroked his knee as I was sitting in front of him on the bed.
“Yes, kitty, I see it. I see it on your back. Don’t think that I don’t know you did this for me. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be here with you, but you see, things turned out in another way.”
“You’re really freaked out now, aren’t you? You seem horribly tired.”
“Yes, I am. But why would I be looking else? My life just fell apart again. And like always, I’m not the only one who’s suffering from my real or imagined sins. People whom I love do the same. My poor Rosie, you, Mart and my mother too… I had to tell her, so she didn’t have to hear it from someone else and now she’s so worried about her grandchildren and about me. And I’m so sorry that she once gave me birth to suffer on this godforsaken world!”
“David, my love, please don’t say such things!”
“If you’d know! But you can’t have any idea. You can’t know it. If I’d have no children or you… I don’t know…”
“David, you scare me! Please, I love you and I’ll be anyone you want, just please don’t do this!”
“Hey, don’t change for me” he finally smiled faintly “I love you the way you are.”
“That’s good, that’s good. Maybe everything’ll be fine after a while.”
“Maybe, but I feel that no matter where I go, my friend called ‘trouble’ will be always there. He always reaches that place in front of me or after me, but he’s always there. I’m sorry for the things you had to live through and for the things you’ll have to go through with me in the future. But I can’t do anything against them. Can I ask something from you, sweetie?”
“Take care of Rosie, please, as the situation allows it. Try to be friends with her – it won’t be hard, she’s a friendly girl and if she feels that you pay attention to her, she’ll be very grateful. She’s like me.”
“Sure I’ll take care of her, if she lets me. I feel sorry for her and I’ll try everything to help her so she can get over these things as soon as possible” I turned to Dave, still sitting on the bed and I stroked his face as I looked into the sad eyes.
“I don’t think that she’ll ever get fully over this” he looked back at me with a hurt little boy’s eyes.
“I know. But I’ll try to help her” I squeezed his hand. I felt him still shaking from his nervousness, or he was just too tired now.
“Thank you, Mia. This is very important to me. Rosie is my only daughter. I love her very much and I’d do anything for her just to see her happy again.”
“I’ll try my best too” I smiled at him faintly, although I knew that it won’t be easy to fulfill this ‘wish’ of his. He gave me a grateful and thoughtful look. “What?” I caressed his stubbly face.
“Just… I was just thinking again that despite all these things why do you love me this much …”
“Dave, sweetie, I’ve already told you that I love you no matter what and I’d do anything to you.”
“I know, but…” he suddenly went silent.
“It’s just… that I’ve heard this before not just once” he went on nearly whispering as he bent his head down “Jennifer was the same back then” he breathed nearly inaudible.
“I’m not Jen” I pulled my hand back from his face and put my T-shirt on. I said this unwillingly on a harder tone.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t say it because you are, I know you aren’t Jen” he pulled my hand back “I understand that you’re angry at her. I know that you had compunction because you were my lover. Well it was in vain and now you shouldn’t feel like that anymore, okay? You’re the one I’ll live with and you’re with me. Don’t be afraid, she screwed it up too much. We can’t fix these things, I’d never go back to her after this. Please, calm Martin too! I know he’s freaking out too. Are you sure, you’re in this with me?”
“Yes, I’m with you, no matter what’ll happen.”
“Alright! Thank you. Now I accept – I dare to accept – your love. It gives me strength.”
There was a knock on the door – Mart and Rosie came back. Rosie was holding an enormous ice-cream and in the moment she stepped in and saw her daddy, she ran to him and nuzzled to Dave, offering him her ice-cream. He smiled at her gratefully and licked a big one. Rosie licked too and finally both of them laughed. It was heavenly music for my ears and I was just watching them.