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Subject: Chapter 232 - Part 1

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Date Posted: Thursday, March 30, 06:41:31am
In reply to: Katherine Gilbert 's message, "Dreams in the Dark (chapters 221--?)" on Monday, February 13, 07:24:07am

Dreams in the Dark (232/?)
by Katherine Gilbert

The day had gone by more pleasantly after that, Nikita's nausea receding, the group of them, unexpectedly, content enough in the others' presence. Still, little of any real value had been communicated, their conversations noted far too strongly by their fellow passengers--not to mention the lingering presence of the terrible Zalman. There had just been no chance for privacy at all.

This situation was only rectified later that evening, the three of them meeting in Michael and Nikita's compartment. And, while Andrew's presence there might cause some raised eyebrows, if he were to stay too long, they were safe, for the moment. A small nightcap could always cover a multitude of sins.

These evening drinks were savored slowly to allow them time to talk away--hopefully--from interested listeners. But, even in private, it was difficult to know where to begin--their situation rather towering. And it didn't make it any easier that they were all, essentially, strangers still.

The events of the day had gone a great way in beginning to push this fact aside, however--Andrew often there to derail either Zalman or the other passengers' plans to disturb the endangered pair. His services had been almost constant--and much appreciated; Nikita smiled at him gently. Despite her fears, she was definitely coming to terms with the man whom she would soon be forced to spend so much time.

It was this memory which moved her to begin their real conversation, the pain which the prospect brought her aching through her soul; even the idea of being without her husband, who had been so solicitous and gentle with her all day--his methods of affection always so perfectly matched to her mood and needs--seemed unbearable. Her breath was slightly shaky, as she forced herself through. But there was no way out. She would just have to become much stronger to survive without him by her side.

This truth was disturbing, on many levels--the thoughts moving through her, as she prepared to speak. For so many years--almost all of her first 19--she had been, essentially, on her own. Between nursing her ill and demented mother and fighting off that woman's many, loathsome boyfriends, there had been little time for either weakness or reflection. She had simply had to be strong or die; her gaze moved to her husband, the look so loving. But now there was someone to lean on--and that truth had completely changed her life.

It was this fact that surprised her still, the internal shift one she had never expected. But she wasn't certain that it was really weakness that she displayed these days, merely the knowledge that she didn't have to be entirely self-sufficient. In her times of pain, in her times of joy, Michael was there; the gaze was adoring, before the look fell. But that wasn't a truth she could count on for very much longer.

"How much do you know?" Nikita asked at last, her look alighting on the newcomer. There had been a slight lull in the conversation, but her words were an abrupt shift, nonetheless. Still, she wasn't willing to waste this opportunity, needing them all to understand. There was too much heartache laid out before them to wander along aimlessly anymore.

Andrew wasn't thrown by the switch, a sense of relief rising. The entire day had been spent in keeping up appearances, in quelling whatever rumors they could foretell. True, Michael would probably be discussed as some strange combination of overly-possessive, overly-anxious, and hag-ridden--depending on the teller--but the concern he had shown for his wife was anything but disturbing. Still, through it all, they had yet to really discuss any of their deeper concerns. But that couldn't be delayed much more.

He looked right into her, then, answering without delay. "Mrs. Worth told me most of it." "Adrienne" still didn't seem right; he kept his voice low, in case there were listeners, hoping the natural rhythm of the train would drown out any sound. "They--the studio--are trying to pair us up, while Michael here gets sent into the war." He looked between them, shuddering slightly--not wanting to think where it all might lead. "What I still don't get is why." His head shook. It wasn't like Premier had any bigger stars than the two of them combined.

This was an insightful question but had no answer the pair could give--all of them far too dangerous. When the truths of your life involved at least a few mobsters--if you included Adrian's contacts; various rapists; a methodical killer; a scheming studio second, willing to do anything to promote her various, mad schemes; as well as several allies whose lifestyles didn't bear any close public scrutiny, it was far better not to reveal anything like the truth.

These facts left Nikita shaking her head against her husband's shoulder, his arm now around her, holding her close. She had finished the last of her latest seltzer water and lime, was feeling distinctly queasy again; he just sighed against her, clearly understanding, trying to answer for them both. "It's complicated. What you need to know is that they'll use you in whatever way amuses them." His head shook, eyes warning. "And aiding them won't keep them from tossing you on the street the moment your usefulness is past."

The insinuation behind these words annoyed Andrew a little--but he let the feeling go, too many truths clear to him now. During just this one day--and certainly for the two weeks before it--he had been able to view the workings of this couple's relationship at close range; he almost smiled. And what he had found there had surprised him more than a little.

He let any possible answer wait for the moment, his mind caught in his various observations--this pair always intriguing. While he had assumed from their publicity that they were probably, genuinely close, he knew too well how actors worked. Relationships were often about publicity and public support, rarely about any real depth of emotion. Sometimes, the actors fell in love because their characters did--only to later realize that the person in their arms wasn't the one who had been so appealing on the stage or the screen. And often, as with so many people in the world, they simply found lust in each other--or the fulfillment of some, frequently less-than-pleasant, psychological need; his gaze narrowed. But to find a pair in this rarified business with a real connection to each other . . .

This was oddity enough, wherever it might be discovered--the average couple anything but truly devoted. Even for the common folk, appearances needed to be kept. A man needed a wife to provide legal heirs and to help promote him on his climb up the corporate ladder--not to mention to do the various menial chores he had no desire or training to take care of himself. And a woman needed a husband to give her a self-definition, some sense of purpose in a world which neither wanted nor needed her on her own. That was all your average relationship came down to, wherever it might be forged; his head shook. But to see a couple who actually seemed to *love* was a very rare commodity, indeed.

He smiled at this fact now, happy for the truths he saw before him. True, this couple had their problems--and not just the multiple, external ones. There was a possessiveness between them, for one thing--each of them a little clinging--although he supposed that might well be either caused or heightened by Michael's oncoming departure. And there was just a sense of physical need between them, even in the quietest of times, which was almost disturbing. It wasn't lust--wasn't anything half so transient--was more a hunger which came from the soul; there was almost a shiver, as he looked them over. But it was a sort of ravening which could well destroy the one who caused it.

This thought disturbed him, the sort of animal need which permeated the pair--its presence still tangible on both their parts, even in those moments when Kitty looked the most green with illness--unsettling to be near. While he understood sexual desire well enough--as well as the need to please his lovers--this was different. It was carnivorous, broaching on the cannibalistic; he almost shivered. And it was a sort of greed he couldn't quite imagine possessing himself.

It was difficult to put away this idea, spending time near the pair alarmingly akin to being constantly around two, uncaged tigers. While they seemed tame enough toward others--so long as their intentions were friendly toward them--there was a danger there, nonetheless; he sighed quietly. And it was a peril which was very difficult to ignore.

This had probably been his first real impression of the couple, whatever appearances they put on for the public not really hiding it at all. And, while he found himself rather fascinated with the female mate, he knew he had no chance at all with her--whatever the studio's desires. He sometimes had the impression that both of these people could snap at any unwanted hand with a very sharp pair of fangs; there was almost a laugh. But that was only when they weren't being so purringly affectionate toward each other.

It was impossible to ignore these ideas, the couple a fascinating one. Still, he also didn't doubt their true affection, their absolute concern with the other's well-being. While he had mostly witnessed such qualities in Michael, thus far--given Kitty's current condition--he had no doubt that his wife would mirror them completely. They were, in an almost disturbing way, partnered; something in him sank. He really couldn't imagine what would happen to either of them on their own.

It was this fear which was difficult to work past now, the future before them more than uncertain. While he had no doubt that nothing--not even a war--could stand in the way of their absolute affection, there was no guarantee that they would ever be reunited after it; he sighed, gazing down briefly at the woman's abdomen, the child she carried undetectable there. And that isolating possibility alone made him want to do whatever he could to help her now.

"You've got my support," he assured them--and not at all because of Michael's implied threats. The man before him nodded, probably seeing this. It was the best he could hope for, for now.

The three actors' bargains remained unspoken in that moment, none of them quite certain how to go about making them plain. It was just so very difficult to explain the danger the newcomer was in--their situation something even the most melodramatic Hollywood screenwriter would probably reject as laughingly unrealistic. Why this one particular couple accrued both so many powerful allies and enemies, without any special actions or incitements to arouse such passions, still made little sense to them. But love and hate were always more rooted in the mind of the one who carried such emotions than in the one who supposedly caused them.

This truth held yet again, the newcomer now a supporter. And, whatever his various motives, there was also the fact that there was no particular reason to ignore his emotions which goaded him on. True, his position at the studio was precarious, but that was the typical truth of an actor's life. A long-term contract was still only as good as the player's last film--a role in any play on Broadway only assured until the public stopped coming or the producers grew tired of him. And the eventual downturn was inevitable. If not as quickly assured for men--whose looks "matured" with age, whereas women's were always "lost"--the end would still be reached eventually. No audience wanted to see the same performer in every single role--not eternally, anyway. After awhile, the glamour and the newness wore away, and the public were attracted to another--fickle lovers that they were; his smile was soft. All any of them could do, in the meanwhile, was try to make their mark--and hope that they had enough money saved up, once everything was over, to be able to make it through.

This, of course, was part of his goal--his desire to see to his mother's welfare, as well as, eventually, his own, quite profound. But it didn't interfere with his desire to help; he sighed quietly. He just hoped he could make that clear to the couple now.

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Chapter 232 - Part 2 (end of chapter 232)KatherineG.Thursday, March 30, 06:45:12am
    smh i find this story to be very excitingelderThursday, March 30, 11:32:27pm

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