InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Thunder ( Chapter 207 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Two Hundred Seven~~
~Thunder~


-OoOoOoOoOo OoOoOoOoO-

'Then the snow; it fell without a warning ...
'Left me standin' out in the cold
'My heart shattered, thinking only of yesterday
'Does me no good to reminisce
'I can really only tell you this
'If I had my way, I'd take yesterday …'

-'Summer Nights' by Survivor.


-Valerie-


Pacing across the floor and back with a slim-file in her hands, Valerie read through the police reports for one of her cases as she tried not to glance over at the silent telephone.  She did, however, glance at the clock with a marked frown.  Already after five, and that man had still yet to return her calls.

It truly figured, didn't it?  She'd rushed out of Evan's house in such a blind panic, speeding home as quickly as she could since she'd left her cell phone at home last night, thinking that maybe Marvin had called, that she'd missed it, but no.  Neither the answering machine nor her cell phone showed any missed calls at all, which had irritated her beyond belief even as it had also made her feel at least a little relieved.

She just wanted it to be over so that she could move on, so that she could be with Evan without having any regrets.

With a sigh, Valerie snapped the slim-file closed and dropped it onto a chair in passing as she wandered over to the windows.  Funny how everything looked exactly the same outside when nothing in her life would ever be that way again.  Right or wrong, she'd taken that first step, and now it was all in the hands of fate to see exactly where it all ended up.  Somehow, she felt like there ought to be some kind of fanfare involved in it all, shouldn't there?

Even so, she couldn't help the little smile that surfaced as she gazed out the window, as she remembered the absolute contentment that had greeted her this morning when she woke up in Evan's arms.  It was a feeling that she hadn't had before, at least, to that extent.  As though every single thing in her was at peace, and if she had to put a word to it, she might have chosen 'joy', yet that wasn't quite right, either.  It was more than that.  It was the strangest sense of everything being just right, as if there were nothing else in the world that she could ever need or want as long as she knew that feeling every morning.

And the sex?

Uttering a quiet laugh, she wrapped her arms over her stomach to suppress the rise of the butterfly brigade at the mere thought of the night before.  She could feel a light blush suffuse her skin, which only served to heighten her amusement, too.  The wine she drank last night did nothing to diminish the memories as they flooded over her, one after another, a tumble of thoughts and mental images that cascaded around her with the majesty, the beauty of a waterfall.  Kissing, touching, reveling in the feel of his body, and she'd known, hadn't she, that it was perfect, absolutely stunning.  How was it that it could be so vastly different from any encounter she'd ever had before?  But maybe the answer to that was simple.  Maybe it was because of Evan . . .

Then she sighed.  As perfect as it all was, she couldn't help the small part of her that regretted what had happened, too.  Well, she didn't regret it.  It wasn't that.  It was just that she hadn't intended for it to be the way it was before she'd gotten a chance to really break it off with Marvin.  It was that lingering sense that she had inadvertently turned Evan into the proverbial 'other man' that had led her to rush out of his house this morning, that attributed to the feelings of guilt that she couldn't quite shake.  The one and only flaw in her memories, of the foundation of this newfound love, and she had to fix it—had to—because Evan deserved better than that.

She owed it to the both of them: Marvin, who had always tried in his own way to make her happy, who had satisfied himself with whatever Valerie had been willing to give, and Evan, who knew every terrible thing about her and loved her anyway.  Evan, who might be outrageous, might act completely goofy, but possessed such a loving heart that he couldn't hide it, as much as he tried.

No, Marvin didn't deserve it, and Evan deserved far more respect, too.

Turning away from the window, Valerie sighed.  If that man would just answer his phone or check his messages and call her back . . .

Drawing a deep breath, Valerie tried to remind herself that it wasn't really anything out of the ordinary.  Marvin was always like this, and to be fair, he had no idea just what she wanted to say to him.  It was something she'd reminded herself a hundred times or more since she'd walked in the door after leaving Evan's house.  If she could just get Marvin to call her back, she could go back over to Evan's house, and besides, she still wasn't exactly done talking to him.  There were still a number of things that she wanted to tell him; things that she'd forgotten about last night—and she still hadn't really apologized for what had happened with Marvin, either.

Then and only then could she get on with enjoying her time with Evan wholeheartedly, making sure that he understood that she loved him, that she wanted to be with him.

Before she could talk herself out of it, she strode across the room, grabbed her cell phone off the coffee table and dialed Marvin's number.  It didn't really surprise her when the call went straight to voicemail.  "Hi, Marvin.  It's me.  I want you to call me as soon as you get this.  We really need to talk," she said.  "Okay.  Bye."

With a sigh, she let the phone fall onto the coffee table once more and slowly shook her head, reminding herself that she just had to be patient, that it would all be fine when he did call back.

For the briefest of moments, she considered calling Evan, but she dismissed the idea as soon as it formed.  Knowing him, he'd insist that she come back over, and, while she wanted to do that, she needed to wait until after she'd explained things to Marvin.  After all, Evan was nothing if not incorrigible, and she didn't want to miss Marvin's call if and when Evan decided that he'd rather drag her off to his bedroom again—something that was entirely probable, given Evan's preoccupation with sex.

Which brought on another bout of blushing on Valerie's part.  For the first time in her life, she could appreciate just why the man might want to spend every waking moment in bed, not that she would be telling him that any time soon since he really didn't need the added incentive.  Still, she thought as a secretive little smile surfaced on her features, she supposed that she could understand his feelings, after all . . .

An ominous rumble outside the window drew her attention, and Valerie frowned when she noticed that the skies had clouded over.  She couldn't say that she'd paid much attention to the weather forecast, but judging from the sound of the thunder, they were in for a pretty good storm.

Not even that could damped her mood, though.  The only actual thing that could bother her was just the waiting.

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie reminded herself that it did no good to be impatient, and willing the phone to ring just wasn't going to do her any good.  It didn't really help nearly as much as she was hoping . . .

Wandering back over to the windows once more, Valerie leaned against the frame, smiling just a little as she stared outside.  The first fat droplets of rain had started to come down, pelting the panes of glass win a series of pings, snaking downward trails that didn't necessarily make it far in their descents.  Evan as she watched, though, the rain grew harder as the light sprinkles gave way to a steady sheet of gray that had so rapidly dropped over the city like a veil.  The little plings of sound had evolved into a deeper percussive sound, and no insular one couldn't be as easily discerned, layering atop one another as a steady wave of water ran down the glass.

There was something altogether soothing about it, a lulling effect that served to calm Valerie's restlessness, and she wondered if Evan was staring at it, too.  Probably not.  He wasn't exactly the kind given to watching the rain.  Still, she smiled.  She'd be over there again soon enough, and she almost laughed at herself when another wave of butterflies erupted in her belly.  Just the thought of seeing him again was enough to do that?  Almost thirty and acting like a teenager with her first crush . . . Well, if she had to wait that long for it, then she supposed that it was all right, too.  Evan was most certainly worth it.

The only real sticking point in the entire thing was Marvin.  As much as she wanted to be with Evan, she couldn't help but feel guilty when she thought of her soon-to-be ex-fiancé. He really had no idea just what was coming, and that bothered Valerie.  Maybe he should.  Objectively speaking, even she knew that the signs were all there, had been there for a while. But Marvin, in his complete and utter blind faith . . . No, he didn't know, and that made her feel even worse about it because the last thing she'd ever wanted to do was to hurt either of them, and despite the innate understanding that she was doing what was ultimately right for her, she couldn't help but feel as though her happiness had a price, and that price was Marvin's feelings.

Biting her lip as she pondered the entire situation, Valerie sighed softly, rubbing her forearms against the slight chill permeating the window panes.  It had crossed her mind earlier that maybe she was taking the coward's way out, that really, she ought to hop back on a plane and go see Marvin in person, to tell him everything face to face, and to listen to whatever he wanted to say to her in response.  In truth, it was something that she had seriously considered, but in the end, she'd discarded that idea.  She had very little doubt in her mind that Evan would understand her reasons, but she wasn't as confident that he would allow her to do such a thing by herself.

It was all right this way. She'd already dragged Evan away from work often enough lately that she would feel bad if she went and he insisted upon going, too.  Besides, speaking of work, she'd missed entirely too much lately herself.  No, she had her opportunity to tell Marvin everything in person, and she'd chickened out, and even if she did realize on some level that she wasn't really in a mental state to have that particular discussion with Marvin in the right way, she should have at least tried.

But standing around, considering things that she should have or could have done wasn't going to do her any good.  All she really could do was what she was doing now: waiting to explain things to Marvin, waiting on that so that she could honestly feel free, so that she could start to give back to Evan everything that he'd given her already.

The knock on the door jarred her out of her thoughts and made her jump.  Loud, hard enough to rattle the door in the frame, it continued in a steady thud as she hurried across the floor.  Surely that couldn't be Evan.  After all, he had a weird fixation with using her fire escape as his own personal entry, but who in the world would be beating down her door like that if not him . . .?

"Valerie!  Valerie, you'd better open this door right now, or I swear to God, I'll break it down!"

Valerie's frown deepened at the sound of the familiar voice—familiar, yes, but colored with a hostility that Valerie couldn't quite reconcile.  She might not know exactly why Madison sounded so angry, but there was something else in her tone, too, like a certain level of desperation . . .

It took her a moment of fumbling with the lock in her haste to get the door, but she finally did.  Madison must have heard her, because she gasped as the door was flung wide open—she barely had time to react and step back—but the closed fist that flashed toward her faster than she could credit couldn't be avoided, and the impact hit her hard just under the cheekbone.  Head snapping to the side, Valerie fell back and slid, stopping only when she smacked against the side of the sofa—hard.

"Wh-What . . .?" she stammered, hand cradling her cheek as she blinked back tears and tried to force back a wave of blackness that momentarily ringed her vision.

"Get up, Valerie!  Get up, goddamn it!" Madison screeched, taking a step toward her.  She stopped abruptly, as though she were afraid to get too close.

"Wh—? No!" Valerie blurted, shaking her head, trying to figure out just what had set Madison off.

"Get up!" Madison screamed, eyes bulging slightly, shooting fire and filled with rage so deep that Valerie wondered whether or not her friend could even see her.  "Get up so I can hit you again!"

Again, Valerie shook her head, cautiously grimacing as she refrained from the urge to spit out the blood that was pooling in her mouth where her teeth had dug into the flesh.

"So help me God, if you don't get up, I'll yank you to your feet!" Madison railed, looking like she was absolutely serious in the threat she was making.

"What . . .?" Valerie managed, reaching for an empty cup on the coffee table without taking her eyes off of Madison's face.

"Just tell me why!" Madison went on, ignoring Valerie's question.  "Why would you do it?  My warning wasn't enough?  You just had to have your little fling so you can run off and marry that little jackass?  You and your sanctimonious bullshit!  You bitch and moan when Evan fucks other women, and then you—you—you just have to do the very same damn thing to him, and maybe that's all right, right?  After all, that's all he's good for, isn't he?  But you missed one little thing when you were out doing whatever the hell you wanted!  That man loves you!  And you've completely destroyed him!  What the hell is wrong with you?"

Spitting out a mouthful of blood, Valerie set the glass on the table with a shaking hand, but as the gist of Madison's tirade sank in, she slowly shook her head, as though the action could refute the charges levied against her, as though they could shield her from Madison's outrage.  "I didn't . . .!" she blurted, holding up her hands in front of her.  "I never—I don't—I'm not going to marry Marvin!"

Snapping her mouth closed on whatever she had been getting ready to say, Madison blinked then narrowed her eyes on Valerie, like she was trying to decide whether or not to believe her.  "Then why did you tell Evan that you were sorry?" she demanded, cracking her knuckles in a way that made Valerie wonder if she really knew Madison at all because she had certainly never pegged her as a violent person, but, given the circumstances, she had to wonder about it now.  "Why did you leave him?"

Rubbing her face as she tried to make sense of Madison's uncharacteristic behavior, Valerie sighed then grimaced when the forced air hit her raw cheek.  "I told him—"

"That you were sorry, that you didn't mean for it to have happened!  That you wanted to talk to Marvin!  That's what you said to him!" Madison growled.

"I do have to talk to Marvin," Valerie insisted.  "I need to tell him that it's over!  I need—"

"You need to march your happy ass over there and talk to Evan!  That's what you need to do!  Right now, he thinks that you're making up with that little monkey!"  Suddenly, she stopped, almost as though she had run out of the anger and outrage that had brought her this far, and she rubbed her forehead, her hands shaking visibly.  "Why did you leave him?  Do you have any idea what he—?" Cutting herself off abruptly, shaking her head as if whatever she were going to say was of little consequence now, Madison drew a deep breath to calm herself, if only enough to speak without yelling though the irritation, the undisguised disgust, in her expression hadn't waned.  "You need to go over there," she said instead.  "You need to get your ass over there and talk to him—do it before he does something stupid."

And that's what it was, wasn't it?  It dawned on Valerie as she continued to give Madison a wary eye.  It wasn't anger or outrage or even disgust that was goading her.  No, it was . . . It was fear—the deep-rooted fear for a very precious friend.  Slowly, cautiously, Valerie pushed herself to her knees, slowly grasped the arm of the sofa to pull herself up.  "Let me just call Marvin once more," she said, reaching for the cell phone on the table.  "I want to tell him that it's over."

It only took her a moment to dial the number, only took another moment for the voicemail to pick up.  Rolling her eyes, heaving a sigh, she ended the call with a growl of frustration.  "Why can't he answer his damn phone?"

"Then just leave him a fucking message!" Madison insisted, waving a hand in blatant dismissal.  "'Hey, Marvin, it's me.  I'm just calling to let you know that it's over.  You're history.  Go fuck yourself, and have a nice life.'"

Valerie made a face at Madison's cold imitation.  "I can't do that," she muttered, rubbing her cheek again and wincing when a fresh wave of pain rewarded her efforts.

"Why the hell not?" Madison snapped back.

Valerie sighed.  "Because!  We've been together for a long time, Maddy!  I can't just call and break up with him on his voicemail!"

Madison made a show of rolling her eyes, and for a moment, Valerie had to wonder if Madison was going to grab her and shake her.  Or punch her again . . . "Oh?  And hasn't he called and left messages to put off your wedding before?  Called and left messages to cancel visits or other plans you've made?  I respect the fact that you are a more decent person than Marvin will ever be, but right now, I'm telling you to call him back if you must, and if he does not answer, then just leave him a goddamn message and get moving!"

"Maddy—"

"Who's more important to you?  Marvin or Evan?"

"That's a dumb question," Valerie said with a scowl.  "Evan is, of course!"

Madison snorted.  "Then show it for once, damn it!  Put Evan first for once in your miserable life!  Forget fucking Marvin—leave him a message if you absolutely must—but the only person on earth who can stop Evan from doing something entirely stupid to himself is you!"

Valerie shook her head, confused by the urgency in Madison's voice.  There was something else, too, something just below her words, and Valerie hurriedly sat down to pull on her shoes.  Whatever it was that Madison was scared of . . . Just what had Evan said to her?  And did it even matter when the things that Madison had said made perfect sense to Valerie, anyway?  Still, the trepidation that was growing fast in the pit of her stomach was a frightening thing as a myriad of fleeting images flashed through her head—memories of different moments in time when Evan's anger, his rage, his self-destructive streak, had frightened her, too . . . "What aren't you telling me, Maddy?  What's that man doing now?"

Heaving a very weary sigh, Madison rubbed her face again, and this time, she didn't try to hide the sadness in her expression.  "You know how he is, Valerie," Madison said quietly.  "You know the kinds of things that he does, right?"

She did know that.  Of course, she did, and, while she still felt that there was more to it that Madison wasn't saying, what did it matter when Evan . . .?  Because Evan really was more important to her than anything or anyone, and even if she hadn't meant for him to think anything of the sort, he had obviously misunderstood.  If she had only realized as much this morning, because the very last thing she ever wanted to do was to hurt Evan.  All she'd wanted to do was to break up with Marvin so that he was the only one in her life because he deserved that.  But she hadn't seen it at the time.  Too worried about the idea of what had happened when she was still technically engaged to someone else, she'd felt too guilty that she'd inadvertently made Evan into the 'other man' that she hadn't stopped to notice that she might be doing more harm than good in her haste to make things right . . . It figured, didn't it?  At the rate she was going, she'd have to spend the rest of her natural-born life apologizing to Evan . . .

With a sigh, she stood up, strode over to grab her purse but kept her cell phone in her hand.  "Okay," she said as she reached for the door.  "I'm going over there."

"And Marvin?" Madison grudgingly reminded her.

Valerie didn't stop as she reached for the door handle.  "I'll call him on the way, and if he doesn't pick up, I'll just leave him a message, like you said.  Can you lock the door when you leave?"

"Yeah, sure," she replied, her voice flat, like all her emotion had been completely spent.  "V?"

Pausing in the open doorway, Valerie looked back at her friend.

Madison didn't even try to smile.  Instead, she shook her head again in an almost helpless kind of way.  "Hurry . . . Please."

Valerie blinked and nodded slowly.  "Okay," she agreed.  "Okay."


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
'Summer Nights' by Survivor originally appeared on the 1981 release, Premonition.  Copyrighted to Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan.
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Final
Thought from Madison:
She'd better get moving!
==========
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.
~Sue~
Chapter 206
Chapter 208
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