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  1. #1
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    written atrocities
    <center>

    "A tale of two unforgettable lovers, stricken with grief only true man could ever feel in his veins..." --Lia Ramirez

    "Paul Sacco writes with such vengeance and glamour, my fingers simply could not keep themselves from turning to the next page."--Lia Ramirez

    "Stunning, the novel of novels-- A must have on any true reader's shelf."--Lia Ramirez



    -----


    Lia Ramirez was perhaps one of this centuries most influential critics. Attuned to the authors' needs, she provided several authors with their deafeningly defining critiques-- bottom line, it would make or break their career. At the age of twenty-eight, our Americana beauty was willing to lay down the law for any author she could get her hands on-- and break them to pieces, if necessary.</center>

  2. #2
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    <font face="arial">And all of these letters lay on my floor
    Stricken my heart, flood from the door
    Baby, mistake me for someone you love
    I'll do anything, anything, anything...



    The bookstore wasn't nearly as large as she'd hoped it to be-- originally, she was on a book signing tour, but her agent threw in an extra stop. Before she knew it she was swarmed by the press, an abrasive crew that simply did not understand the meaning nor the reason for privacy. Smoky eyes would glance in their direction, a wide, toothy grin to follow. She knew, just as every other author knew, that publicity could make or break a career-- and that, precisely, was the reason for her own. Renowned author and critic, Lia had spent many evenings reading shit for novels-- far more novels were disgustingly bad, than good. But those diamonds in the rough that she seldom found were what made her who she was-- a pretty face and a good name that everyone wanted on their glossy covers. No pun intended. At any rate, fingers moved to smooth her hair, and when the news crew finally took a break, her eyes roamed the bookstore for the slightest hint of action. There was very little action indeed, but as she spoke quietly with her agent, she heard his name spill through the thick blanket of quiet that surrounded the store. It sent surges of tingles down her spine, through her veins-- eyes moved to find him, needing a face to the name. She spotted him, though only briefly, before Deborah obstructed her view.

    It would be ten minutes, at least, before they'd meet again, their bones aching for a jolt of caffeine. He'd reach out a hand to her, offering his name, as if she didn't know-- and she'd play the innocent card, playing along with his game. It was when she said her own name that she felt his hand go limp in her own, knowing it sent waves of childhood memories through his mind. It had been seventeen years since they'd seen each other, lives moving them across the nation from each other, as if coasts could define who they were to become. It was only natural that they both became writers-- it never once surprised her. They always had a knack for picking up where they left off, though this time, they were torn away from each other not by coasts, but by publicity. His image would be carried with her throughout the day, as she made her way back to the hotel room, his scent somehow lingering through her nostrils. It wasn't love, it was simply a remembrance of what was, at one time, childhood innocence. She'd try to watch television or read the newspaper, the stacks of novels strewn about her bed, beckoning her to get on task. But nothing registered-- not the television, not the newspaper-- before she knew it she was sitting at the desk, writing on stationary the hotel provided.

    -----

    Henry,

    It's been ages, hasn't it? Fancy running into you at the book signing, I knew you were on the list, but somehow it didn't register. And of all the things to come to mind when I saw you, all I could remember was chasing lightening bugs down by Dawson's. Do you remember that place? I wrote about it once-- I think during my poetry phase. Either way, it's been tucked away for safe keeping, Lord knows where I've put it. It doesn't matter, anyway.

    I'd like to see you again, if not for now, for old time's sake. I've wondered how your family has been, what's new in your life. I keep tabs on you through various articles, and of course through your writing. About that negative review-- it had to be done. I'll explain someday, maybe, if we keep in touch. Don't hate me.

    I suppose this is all for now. I'm staying at the Marriott Courtyard over on Seventh Street. Ring me, or drop me a note, would you? I'm in town until the fourteenth, then I have a conference out in Utah (of all places). I'll blame Deborah incessantly, I'm sure.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    -Lia


    -----

    It in fact would not be placed in an envelope, but simply folded into three sections, his name scripted across the blank paper that folded down to hide her message. Feet slid into shoes and she took the plastic card of a hotel room key, perching on the side of the bed before exiting the room. Fingers picked up the receiver, and she dialed Deborah's room.

    "Deborah Livingst-"

    "Deb, it's me. I have a letter I need delivered."

    "Lia, it's... what time is it, anyway? It's late. Tomorrow?"

    "No, now."

    "For whom?"

    "Henry. I'm not sure where he's stayi-"

    "Henry, who?"


    She paused, a sudden pang of guilt surging through her bones. She had nothing to hide, did she? Why should she?

    "Henry Foster."

    "Alright. I'll meet you in the lobby in ten minutes, I've already been in bed."


    The line clicked as the connection was broken, and receiver was gently set into its cradle. Key and letter in hand, she moved to the door, and traveled down the steps. Her mind moved in circles-- it was just a silly letter, right? It wasn't as though her fate was there in ink, or anything. She simply wanted to let him know she was thinking of him, and she'd like to see him again. Harmless. Right?


    And let these words come on out
    These letters sing their songs for you
    Baby, mistake me for someone you love
    I'll do anything, anything, anything..."

    </font>

  3. #3
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    It was perhaps one of the most ridiculous things she'd ever read-- Idiosyncrasies-- Tales In a Nutshell. Chest moved casually as she sucked in enough breath to force her to turn the page, and she groaned audibly, seriously hating her job at that point in time. Pen moved to highlight certain quotes that were even partially worth noting, and eyes moved to the radio alarm, it's red numbers blurry from weary eyes. Tilting her head back, she stretched her neck and shoulders, bookmark settling between the pages she stumbled over, book closed. Eyes moved to gaze about the room idly, brain working to wonder if Henry'd gotten her number.

    Without thought, feet were carrying her down the steps and through the lobby, needing to get some fresh air. Mental snapshots were taken of her surroundings-- several staff workers behind the counter, fulfilling people's desires; the newcomers dressed in business attire, checking into their freshly cleaned rooms. Hotels were one among many public places that were a prime candidate for people-watching. Hands moved to push through the revolving door, and she was nearly side-swiped by a kid on a bike.

    "Oh, sorry lady."

    "Finally, someone who doesn't recognize who I am. It's fine, kid."


    She watched him struggle to maneuver both his bicycle and himself through the door, and she moved to hold it open, quirking a brow.

    "I could bring that in for you, if you want."

    "That would be awesome, thanks man."


    Smirking at the boy, she took the letter from him, not thinking to glance down to it. Slender legs brought her back to the front desk, and she handed it to a young man, most likely around the age of twenty.

    "A boy outside on a bike wanted to deliver this."

    The desk clerk looked at her as if she were an alien, blinking profusely.

    "I don't mean to seem rude, Ms. Ramirez-- but are you joking?"

    Blinking, head dropped to the side in confusion.

    "No, why would I be?"

    "The letter is for you..."


    -----

    She didn't open it there. It wasn't until she was tucked under a large oak tree that she held the letter in front of her, staring down at the folded paper. This small, thin piece of matter was the reason she had trouble sleeping the night before. Bottom lip tucked neatly between pearly whites, and she slowly opened it, glancing down at the messy handwriting-- her guess, was that it had been pressed onto a wall of some sort. The words jumped out at her, along with the numbers. 'I remember. Henry.' Instantly, fingers moved to dial the number he'd given her-- her heart thumped crazily, his line ringing three times. Four, now. A fifth, and she got his answering machine.

    "Speak to me." Accompanied by a beep.

    "Henry, Lia. I'm in town until the fourteenth-- If you want to get together, let me know. I have my cell phone. 671-9820. The area code is 414. --I'm glad you remember."

    Cell phone was folded and dropped into the grass at her right side, and she glanced down at the letter, her heart slowing. The hard part was done. Now, she just needed to wait.

  4. #4
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    <center></center>

    <font face="arial">It burned every time she lay down, from the pit of her stomach, through her abdominal muscles, into her chest, crawling up into her throat. Lips smacked with disgust and she swallowed, trying to force the sensation into the depths of her stomach. With every swallow it only got worse, and she wondered what she could have possibly eaten that was disagreeing so much, fighting for attention. Then, she remembered-- she hadn't had dinner, but she'd rinsed down her imaginary feast with one and a half glasses of Scotch. Tisking herself, she sat up, flipping the lamp on that stood stationary on the end table. Pillow propped her back against the headboard, and she glanced at the black television screen, lips construing themselves into various shapes as she thought of what to do. She obviously couldn't sleep-- Deborah was already in bed, and it was too late to go out on the town by herself. Naturally, finding nothing better to do, fingers itched to write. Leaning down, she felt like she would vomit, and she swallowed back the burning sensation, accompanied by a wince. Pulling her black book out from under the bed, she let it flop into her lap lightly, as she repositioned herself against the pillow and headboard. The book had been given to her by her mother when she graduated from college, though she rarely used it until recently. It was beautiful-- black leather trimmed in gold on the four corners, her named engraved in gold cursive at the bottom right hand corner. Lia W. Ramirez, 1999. It was hard to believe she had graduated with her undergrad so long ago-- masters certainly paid off, though, and her doctorate was well underway. Fingers smoothed over the surface of the book, and she took a moment to think about her mother, the day she gave it to her, and wished she could call to wish her goodnight. Folding back the cover and several filled pages, she popped the cap off the black ink pen, and wrote.

    -----

    8.12.2005.

    I wish I could sketch out the sky. Capture it for all its grandeur, and take snapshots of it-- not to keep, but to give out. I felt like I saw it for the first time today, as if I were a pubescent child, rediscovering life. I sat in Central Park, my back against rough bark that was sturdy, its roots planted deep into soil I couldn't dream of uncovering. And I couldn't help but think-- when will my roots be planted so firmly-- so firmly, that no one will be able to uproot me, not even for a tour? Who will plant that seed that will make me stay where I am supposed to stay, and make me call home what I will one day call home? I suppose I've followed in my mother's footsteps, to a degree-- she was married for only ten years before my father seemingly slipped through the cracks. Being toted from one place to another, no real defining matter to keep me in one place for more than six months at a time-- now, it's more like six days. It's not that I don't enjoy the travel-- the scent of various cultures, the mystifying experience I can share with certain individuals I meet along the way. We always promise to keep in touch, feeling an instant connection from the get-go... Yet it is no surprise to me that we in fact do not keep in touch. I can barely remember their faces, let alone their names. Except for Marsha in Santa Barbara. Marsha. I love her. I love that she knits afghans in one hundred degree weather, soaking up the sun, and it only makes her shimmer. I love that she has six children, all grown, two living in Manhattan, one in the Peace Corps in Austria, the others well established teachers or lawyers or doctors. I love that she sends me pictures every Christmas, for eight years straight. I adore her. I hope to have her life one day, to bask in the sun, reminiscing of the family I made and the love I still have. I cherish the very shattered part of her world she is able to share with me-- a miniscule insight to the life she leads of peace and tranquility, and a knowing that she created that for herself. I long for that tranquility, that space.

    Not once could I have imagined reliving my childhood memories. But here they are, wrapped in a gift of a man, before my very eyes more often than I ever would have expected. I want to write about Dawson's, I want to write about the way he picked me a daisy once, and I cried when it died, because it was the only flower in my bedroom. Life was so simple, then-- a simple flower was enough to remind me that God existed, because how could He not, when something was so beautiful. I still love daisies-- and every time I see one, I can picture it sitting in a Kodak film tube filled with water, the center of attention on my dresser. Right in front of my mirror, so I could see it from all angles, catching a different glimpse of it depending on how I stood to look at it. I took my first picture of that daisy-- I still have it. So simple, so pure. All the things I wish I was. Maybe that's why I cannot attest to loving men-- they're simple creatures, in my eyes. They're hurtful. They're my mother's enemy. Interesting, that I just wrote that-- I hadn't planned on it. A good reminder. They're my <u>mother's</u> enemy, not mine. I suppose it's hard to have an enemy when I won't let down my shield of bricks for anyone, male or female. I came closer than I have in a long time, tonight.

    This mess of words will probably never be read by anyone but me. And I wonder if I will read these words, ten years from now, and look back and say, 'that must have been the Scotch talking.' For God's sake, I hope so.

    -Lia.

    -----

    The cover was pushed closed gently, and she sat in the silence of her room, the only sound that of the humming air conditioner nestled under her window. Eyes glazed over and she simply sat, thinking, remembering the evening. Time well spent with a childhood friend, who brought back more feelings and memories than she'd care to offer. But if he asked, she'd give. Arms dangled as she leaned down to slide the book back under the bed, and she sat back up, flattening, fluffing, and adjusting her pillow to lay down. Rolling onto her side in a loose fetal position, she clicked the lamp off, lids folding over cloudy eyes. Visions of him came to mind-- gentle visions that would cradle her off into a sound sleep. Her last thought for the evening? ...The heartburn had subsided.</font>

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    <font face="arial">At 11:02AM, limbs stretched and back arched, gurgles rising in her throat as her body awakened. Sprawling, she glanced over at the clock, eyes blinking a bit with surprise. Note to self: Scotch will knock me the hell out. Feet shuffled lazily to the bathroom, and she did the normalcies-- brushing the teeth, using the toilet-- but before she had time to take a shower, the hotel phone rang.

    "Lia Ramirez.."

    "Good morning Ms. Ramirez, this is Audrey down at the front desk. You have a message."

    "I'll be right down."


    Throwing her hair up into a ponytail, she slid on a pair of slacks and a white Polo t-shirt, white tennis shoes donning sockless feet. The lobby seemed different during the daytime-- it's not that it lost its glamour, but it seemed more... realistic. Perhaps it was that she was alone this time, and the piano player wasn't playing. Moving to the desk, she searched for the woman named Audrey, choosing her short line to be in.

    "Ah, good morning Ms. Ramirez."

    She always found it rather interesting that people recognized her, when she had no clue who they were in return.

    "You must be Audrey. You have a message for me, yes?"

    Again, small piece of matter was taken, and left folded. She moved to a small, rectangular table that set in the back right hand corner of the lobby, and filled a stout Styrofoam cup with a little bit of coffee, a lot of creme, and a whole lot of sugar. Feet carried her upstairs slowly, so as to not spill her liquid wake-up call. Coffee was sipped, but it was much too hot to drink-- it was placed on the desk, and she took a seat in the rolling chair, kicking off her shoes. Legs were folded indian-style beneath her, and she leaned back, unfolding the letter.

    Your place or mine, Henry.

    Lips slid into a quiet smile, and she simply stared down at it, cherishing it for what it was-- A simple note that meant the world to her. Setting it on the desk, opened, she continued to look at it, raising her arms up and over her head for a stretch. Smile was plastered to her lips, and she just sat grinning, thinking if this was how she'd wake up every morning, her life would be quite alright.

    Fingers dialed his number-- she'd write back, but she didn't know how to find the kid on the bike, and she didn't know his address. Plus, the postal service tended to take their sweet time-- no telling when he'd receive the message. Her voice was quiet, throat somewhat groggy from the bar before. She still sounded just as charming as usual. Two rings, and he picked up.

    "Hello?"

    "Hey, you... I got your note this morning."

    "Well good morning, feeling alright?"

    "Somewhat."
    A pause, while she cleared her throat. "Remind me not to drink Scotch on an empty stomach... ever again."

    She felt his grin from behind the other line.

    "Well, you agreed to the bar, and my wallet was too think to take you to some fancy shmancy restaurant. Anyhow, what are you up to today?"

    "Nothing, I have an interview with the New York Times at two-thirty, but it should only take about half an hour. They're interviewing me regarding Lucas's third release-- It comes out next Wednesday, so they're trying to create as much hype as possible."

    "I never liked his books. They're disgusting and have no plot."

    "I agree, thus, they're interviewing me. They want an opposing side."


    Score. They had at least <u>one</u> opinion in common.

    "Say, Henry, would you like to go down to the park for a while after my interview? I've grown sort of fond of this oak tree.. Maybe we could toss a Frisbee or something."

    Cheesy.

    "That sounds good. Give me a call when you're finished with your interview."

    "Expect to hear from me three-ish."


    A girlish smile, and her heart palpitated with flutters.

    Click.</font>

  6. #6
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    <center>

    Maybe it's my own fault
    For thinking too much
    Maybe it's all in my head
    The love and lack of luck
    Maybe it's my own ways
    That keep me on the road
    Maybe it's the things you'll say
    That will lead me back to home...</center>

    The
    suitcase lay open on the hotel bed, filled to the brim, overflowing, in fact. No matter how many times she paced the length of the room, hands wouldn't shut the suitcase. She couldn't make them. She had to be downstairs in exactly ten minutes and all she could do was walk into the bathroom, stare at herself in the mirror, palms pressed to the cool ceramic. Lids would blink slowly, heavy grays staring into themselves, searching for a way out. I don't have to leave. I can find a way to stay. Those words were something she'd never thought before. Always eager to make the money, sign the books, critique the authors. Eager to be in the spotlight, feigning for every flick of attention she could grab. Why had it all changed? What kept eyes from blinking, hands from packing, feet from leaving? Henry. The thought of his name alone sent her heart plummeting into her stomach, nostrils flaring lightly as she fought back tears. It was so unlike anything she'd ever felt before-- flashbacks of the park, a day well spent laying under the maple tree, the couple across the way picnicking. His arms around her, their first kiss. Rather, their first real kiss. Shoulders rose and fell as she heaved a sigh, a firm knock on her door. Eyes immediately moved to her watch-- 5:53. Cringing, she stood there, silent as stone. Another knock or three, more firmly this time, accompanied by a rather obnoxious clearing of the throat.

    "Ramirez, open this door, you know we need to get going..."

    Deborah, who had become more than an agent-- a friend, a counselor. Still, she couldn't move her feet. She couldn't breathe. She wanted to disappear. More knocking. Her agent knew her heart's troubles.

    "Lia, get your shit and get out here, I can't rebook our flight. You'll see him again, now hurry the fu--"

    The door opened, the suitcase remained opened. Deborah looked at her with a slight shake of her head, and moved to close her suitcase. Lia didn't watch.

    -----

    The car came to a screeching halt as she yelled at the driver, slamming his gearshift into park. He yelled obscenities and threw his hands up in the air, shoving an index finger into Deborah's chest. True, she could have wrecked the car, and yes, she was overreacting. Thomas turned around and glared at her, bright blue eyes wide and fuming.

    "You sit back in that fucking seat and you don't move a muscle, or I will quit on your ass so fast you will miss your flight. You're going to miss it anyway with this shitty note, but Jesus.."

    Jaw locked, the note lay folded between thumb and index finger, eyes staring out the window. She hated the way he talked to her, but he was right-- she'd miss the flight, miss Utah, miss money. Lincoln Towncar made a U-turn, hand moving to grip black leather close to the driver's shoulder, steadying small form. Four blocks out of the way, and she was on the sidewalk, jogging as best as she could in pumps to his apartment. Tucking the note behind his nameplate, she quickly moved back into the Towncar, before both the driver, agent, and airport had her head.

    He hadn't heard from her in days. Fingers plucked the note from his nameplate, keys jingling rather annoyingly as he unlocked the door. Fingers gripped the note as he made his way inside, tossing his keys aside, limbs flopping lazily onto the couch. His heart palpitated unsteadily as he held the folded note, his name scribbled across the front in messy script. Swallowing to wet a rather dry throat, fingers practically tore the paper in half as he quickly unfolded and read the note.

    Henry,

    I've tried to call you several times-- perhaps you haven't received my calls, perhaps you didn't want to receive them, I don't know. I wish I could have talked to you before I left for Utah-- I wanted to get out of it. I wanted to see you again.

    I guess I don't have much to say. I enjoyed the park. I enjoyed the kiss even more.

    I'll have my cell phone with me, please call me. I don't mean to sound desperate-- But maybe I'm coming across that way. Maybe I mean to come across that way, after all.

    Give me a reason to come back to New York, Henry. I need a reason to stop this pattern of circles I keep treading, and you're the closest thing to reality that I've known in years.

    -Lia

    p.s.-- What happened with your ex? I never did find out..



    -----

    8.15.05

    Utah. They really weren't kidding when they said nothing is here. The flight was rather uneventful, the seats were ridiculously comfortable (again, score), and I slept most of the way. Deb has been reading a collection of short stories by Thomas Pettin, and it put her right to sleep. I think I'll keep him in mind for the next time I'm searching for someone to trash-- oh wait, I forgot, I have to search for those who aren't trash, not the other way around. Shit.

    After we landed, Deborah and I went to check into our hotel room. Marriott apparently did not realize who I was, because they put me in this dinky room that must have been the only room in the entire damn building that had cockroaches and hadn't been renovated. After moving my luggage to the fourth floor in another attempt to get settled, I found that the toilet in fact did not flush, and not only did it not flush, it leaked all over the bathroom floor. A lovely little puddle that grew as I stood there and watched it. Room number three was sufficient, overlooking a rather lovely little diner across the way. Perhaps it will spawn some new short stories as I people watch. Author's have to get their inspiration from somewhere, don't they? Speaking of inspiration, Deb and I found an excellent bar about three blocks down, called "Dirty Duos." A piano bar, with excellent drinks. I know where I'll be headed when my heart's feeling heavy-- nothing says 'cure' like taking a depressant on top of depression.

    I find myself thinking about the most unusual things. Alright, so maybe I'm skirting around the point-- I think of Henry often. Too often, I believe. He's changed something in me that scares the shit out of me-- I've never wanted something so badly in my life. Not my degrees, surely not the constant traveling. If I don't figure out a way to be with him, I don't know what I'll do. That alone scares the hell out of me. I've never needed to be with someone. Maybe it's just a phase. Maybe I will talk myself out of it. Or drink myself out of it-- whichever comes first.

    The universe works in mysterious ways. I hope it can save me from myself, because I apparently certainly cannot.

    -Lia


    -----

    Black book was slid under the bed as usual, pillow propped against headboard, back against pillow. A ritual that would last for as long as she lay alone. Arm stretched as fingers clicked the lamp, the light once emitted from its small bulb now blinded by darkness. Rolling onto her stomach, pillow was fluffed, then flatted, head hitting it heavily. All she wanted was sleep. And not to sleep alone.

  7. #7
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    Members do not see advertisements
    written atrocities
    <center>Would you know my name
    If I saw you in Heaven?
    </center>

    There was a knock at her door. It was late. 3:01 to be exact-- no, wait. That was Eastern time. Limbs lazily flopped and sprawled, and the knocks came again, heavier this time. Audibly she whimpered, not wanting to answer it. She didn't want to be there. She didn't want to face anybody. She didn't want to be away from him. The extra key was slid into the door, the lock swiftly clicking open. The door tried to swing open, but she'd used the extra lock, the knocks coming faster and heavier than before. A pillow was tossed towards the window in a groggy attempt to shut out whatever noise was haunting her from her sleep. Something hit the wood that was obviously not a fist-- a foot? Yes. A shoe.

    "Lia."

    A loud whisper, as if it were staged, as to not cause a disturbance in the hall.

    "Go away."

    Groggy.

    "Lia, it's important. Henry called."

    She hadn't moved so quickly in weeks -- the sheets were flung away from her body, feet padding quickly to the door. Door was unlocked and swung open, fingers moving to wrap around Deborah's wrist to pull her in quickly, as if it were a secret meeting and no one was to know she was there. Swift and quick. Secrets. They moved to sit on the two beds, facing each other. Deborah looked concerned, Lia looked... like shit. It was obvious she had barely slept, gray eyes dark donning heavy, dark bags that would surely require make-up the following day. They sat quietly for a moment, looking at each other.

    "Well?" Say something. Anything.

    "Lia... Henry called."

    "You alread said that."

    "Shut up a minute, would you?" She paused, sighing. "You're going to freak out..."

    Eyes widened even further, limbs frozen where they were. Silence.

    "He's on his way here."

    -----

    It was drizzling when he arrived, she'd gone down in the lobby to wait for him. She'd tugged on a pair of jeans and a black tank-top, settled on the couch, a slender leg tossed lightly over its twin at the knee. Toes wiggled lightly as she clicked the heel of her Reef against the heel of her foot, making a quiet, rhythmic tap. Elbow propped on the arm of the sofa, fist gently held against her temple. She could see the cars as they pulled up from where she was sitting -- the hotel was much smaller than the last, the traffic significantly less. A black car pulled up and the driver moved to let him out -- obviously a car used from the Airport service. Her heart nearly stopped when she saw him.

    They walked to her room with barely any words communicated, though he definately seemed tense. Something was going on, but she had no idea what. Key slid into door and it swung open with ease, she let him in first, then followed. Henry turned to speak, but before he could, she slid her arms about his neck lightly and pulled him towards her, needing to sink into him.

    "Henry."

    It came out as barely a whisper. Her nose tucked against his neck, and his arms folded about her waste in return, pulling her close. They held each other for what seemed like several minutes, and reluctantly broke the embrace.

    "Lia, I got your letter. Sit down, okay?"

    Confused, she moved to the bed, and he dropped down to face her, much like Deborah had. Lia doubted she'd be receiving the same positive news as she had an hour prior. It rolled out of his mouth quietly, face without any expression. She didn't know whether to smile or cry.

    "You're not pregnant, are you?"

    She joked, forcing a nervous laugh from her lips to break the thick intensity between them. He didn't move a muscle.

    "We need to talk."

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