Tag Archive | Bella

Lovebirds gone stray

I waited a whole hour outside Dima’s office before finally catching up with him on his way out.

“Darling, what brings you by?” he breezed like a soothing autumn day and the gazillion things that interposed our latest meeting that morning, flooded my mind, electrocuting every attempt to speak to him in an orderly fashion.

I spent a minute, silently gazing over his tired but familiar face. I noticed that the lines framing his magnificent, imposing eyes were deeper than ever before. He looked older.

“I’m sorry for barging in to your office…”

“What are you talking about, Bella, didn’t barge in at all…” He pulled me closer and used our proximity as an opportunity to lean his head against my shoulders, momentarily.

“You know how I hate coming here, Dima,” I whispered, only to be met by his welcoming lips.

I continued to babble through our joint mouths, “I mean, sorry for even coming up to the Tower. Fuck… this is…” Dima pulling away only when I bit his lower lip.

“What’s the matter? You’re shaking, Bella.”

I tried to compose myself. To keep a strong face.

“Something, happen?” He was alarmed. Gone was the retiring evening.

God knows I didn’t mean to scare Dima. But I couldn’t. I felt as though my self-protecting cloak had been invaded. I was exposed. Even more so,  when Dima insisted that I revealed the cause of my evident panic.

“Here, let’s go back inside,” he murmoured. “Let me call Joe to let him know that I’ll drive us back home, later.”

“No! Joe should stay with  us.”

Dima’s stare was a mixture of shock and bewilderment. This time round, I was too scared to ease his concerns. Terrified to think about anyone but myself in this situation.

“Bella, it’s ten o’clock in the evening. Joe’s probably tired.”

“Have a look at this.”

I slipped into his hands the creased blue piece of paper that had me shaken to the core. Then, for the first time in my life I actively fought back hyperventilation.

“What is this?”

He peeled the note open and read it, in silence.He ran his fingers through his feshly trimmed hair-he’d been to the barber’s only the day before-then turned up to see me with a stormy look on his face. Similar to the type of anger and fear that had been brewing inside me ever since I laid eyes on that note.

“How do they know such intimate details about you, Bella?”

“Is that the issue here? How the hell should I know?”

“Where did you get this?”

“Oh but that is exactly what’s made me scared beyond belief, Dima. Get this, I walk to my car after Russian class at the University and the note is neatly folded in between my car glass cleaners.”

“This happened today?”

“Five hours ago to be precise. I thought it was a commercial at first, some sort of leaflet or something. I was about to throw it away but then the paper seemed quite thick and shiny so I opened it up. And I read this nonsense…”

“Five hours ago? You waited five hours to tell me that there’s a pervert out there who wants you like this?”

“Like I would’ve interrupted your meeting with the head of state for this, Dima. Come on…”

“I don’t care who the fuck I’ve got a meeting with. This is serious stuff, Bella. This is…unbelievable… No more driving alone, Bella. You’ve done it, you know you can do it, from tomorrow Joe will be driving you everywhere.”

No matter how hard I tried, there wasn’t going to be an end to Dima’s over-protectiveness. I was frightened by the prospect of someone following me and waiting for the right time to bring his vile thoughts into reality. But I wasn’t willing to give up my freedom in exchange for a life lived in fear. Not just yet.

“Let’s talk about this, Dima. Let’s go home first, and then we can decide what to do, what course to take next.”

“There’s nothing to talk about, Bella. You’ll steer clear of public places for a while until we manage to catch this fucker who thinks he can threaten us like this and then you’ll continue to move around with Joe. End of story.”

Only it wasn’t the end. It was the beginning of a different story. That of lovebirds, gone stray.

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Kiss the rain

I drove fast, I ran faster and ended up jumping over a wooden fence in order to follow Hector. Sweat was dripping down my spine like a leaking faucet. After a two-hour undercover pursuit I finally discovered where he was hiding all the times he went missing from the hotel.
He glanced backwards momentarily before entering the white beach house that separated him from the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. I don’t think he noticed me because I rushed behind a eucalyptus tree right on time. Damn it! Fear made my heart thump and my blood roast. The salty breeze settled onto my dry mouth and there were only a handful of things I wouldn’t do for a glass of cold water. As the wind blew stronger, the eucalyptus leaves dropped all around me while I still panted from running a marathon to get there, in the middle of summer. I sat on the pale dirt to catch my breath and waited for Hector to make his next move. I hadn’t waited too long before I heard a car engine from a distance. I fervently searched for a new hiding spot and, although I hesitated at first, I swiftly moved round the back of the house. I hid behind columns of junipers that were neatly pruned but tall enough to offer me cover. I couldn’t see the front door from this angle but I had a clear view of the driveway. Soon after, a blue E series Mercedes parked near the eucalyptus trees. Phew! That was close.
A tall blonde chick hurried out of the passenger seat followed by an even taller tattooed young man who took his time walking up to the house. He threw his cigarette bud onto the freshly cut grass, which I thought was a rather crass thing to do. I could only see them from the side, but there was something eerie about these two. They were clearly siblings. Twins, perhaps. Their faces were too far for me to tell for sure, but the way they carried themselves combined with their young age seemed to suggest a familial bond of some kind. The woman rushed inside the house as if in panic. I could hear them speak in Russian. I couldn’t tell exactly what they were on about. I understood the words, ‘danger’, ‘pain’, ‘car’ but the rest was spoken either too quickly or in a dialect I wasn’t familiar with. My cell buzzed. Dima was calling. I looked at my wrist-watch and it was already half past two in the afternoon. Shit, I had completely forgotten about our lunch date at the hotel! I had two options, one, to answer and try to explain where I had gone –which on second thought wasn’t really an option if I didn’t want to blow up my cover –or two, to text him briefly a plausible reason for disappearing. A simple dilemma. One, that under other circumstances wouldn’t trouble me much. But this time, I barely found time to consider it long enough My dilemma was interrupted by a gunshot; A single, gut-wrenching gunshot. Fuck!
I slid to the ground again instinctively, and memories of the bloodbath I’d survived in Minsk flooded my mind. I could feel my heart batter violently against my chest bones and my breath was coming to me in tranches. Fear enveloped me in completely, like an intoxicating addiction. I can’t tell if there was mayhem going on inside. I was too busy trying to calm myself but there was also an unnatural silence coming from the house. I made an effort to control my breathing and counted five minutes before seeing the young, tattooed man walk out. I watched his feet stomp across the lawny driveway in a hurry. His trainers were muddy, and I suspected the burgundy-coloured liquid embossed on his soles were blood stains. I stared at his arms thinking what a waste to have them dipped in ink but I soon concentrated on a mark I’d recognised from before. I hadn’t even finished my recollection of the Bratva mark which was proudly displayed at the back of his left arm and he was gone. He sped off in the Merc like a maniac. I crouched up mustering some courage, and observed the house from in between the branches, searching for further movement. I realised how dangerous it’d be for me to make a run for it now. My cell buzzed again. Dima must have been furious with me. I fished my phone out of my side pocket and pressed ‘dismiss’. ‘Honey, I’m soaring under the Cypriot sun’, my text message read. I was trying to buy time, but I should have known my insisting fiancée would take none of it. A second later he started calling me relentlessly. I had to turn off the phone to keep focused.

“Bella, what the fuck are you doing here?”

Hector Rodrigo Lopez

Dima had a small circle of friends. In fact, there were times I thought it was tiny. That it only included me. But one night we were headed to a birthday party the likes of which I hadn’t come across before. It was extravagant. And though by the time of the party I had been exposed to my share of extravagance, this topped it all. To be perfectly honest, it made me feel uncomfortable. And I’d be lying if I referred only to the money aspect.

Hector Rodrigo Lopez’s birthday party was celebrated in the island of Cyprus, amongst the gems of the Mediterranean Sea. It was late in the summer, August the twentieth if my memory serves me right.The party was taking place at a floating bar of a lavish beach hotel. Dima wore a black linen pair of trousers, a matching loose-fitted shirt with his collar lifted upwards just the right level of messy and tan leather loafers. I felt comfortable in a strapless mini chiffon dress, the colour of the midnight sky. Dima said it complemented my olive skin tone and that I should wear it more often. All I could think of was how long it would take him to peel it off me. As we talked and laughed and slow-danced, I would occasionally lick my lips simply to taste the saltiness; the sea-breeze carried with it salty moisture and I enjoyed how it gently cloaked my skin.

Being deeply and irrevocably in love with Dima didn’t leave me much liberty to admire other men, but it was impossible to ignore the strong presence of Hector Rodrigo Lopez. Tall, with a naturally tanned, wheat-coloured skin tone and collar-length dark hair, his dark piercing eyes, were not only striking but also immensely inquisitive and expressive. While his eyes didn’t reveal what he was thinking, they did reveal who intrigued him. His Argentinian-accented English made him, I suppose, a rather ‘menacing’ male combination for women. I knew then that if my heart wasn’t already taken (conquered, claimed and voluntarily handed over, all together) I’d be in serious trouble.

In his La Martina bright blue polo-shirt snug tightly over his toned biceps and in tailored faded jeans, Hector Rodrigo Lopez moved from hug to hug until he welcomed all fifty of his precious guests at the party. We drank vodka and Cristal and nibbled on caviar, sushi and golden flaked pralines -among the birthday boy’s favourites. Quite a few champagne glasses later, I escaped a rather boring friend of Hector who wanted to discuss the latest fashion trends of Milan, and took cover at the small pier by the edge of the floating bar facing the moonlighted horizon. I was thinking of Dima, of the official opening of the Bella Nars Foundation in late autumn and how incredibly busy I’d be when Hector Rodrigo Lopez brushed past me along the small pier.

“It is magnificent, no?” he said, pointing at the moon.
“It sure is,” I agreed. “Where’s Dima,” I asked him turning round to look for my beloved Russian.
“Oh, he was speaking to Sofia, have you met, Sofia?” he asked, and took a step closer. He swiftly ran his arm over my shoulders before saying “come here, I’ll show you, she’s that tall blonde beauty over there,” pointing at Sofia’s direction with his other arm. I saw Sofia alright, and yes, she was tall, platinum blonde, a real beauty too, but Dima wasn’t there with her. I admit that I felt a bit awkward with this sudden proximity, but I’ve learned not to judge people until I’ve actually had a chance to get to know them. As a precautionary measure, I took a couple of steps on the side avoiding Hector’s embrace discreetly while complaining about the humidity. Before he had a chance to say anything I remarked on how delicious his birthday cake tasted.

“I had it delivered from Laduree patisserie of Paris, this morning,” he boasted.
“Really?” I wasn’t truly amazed. I’d have preferred if he got something local instead. I mean come on Hector, it’s not like we’ve never been to Laduree in Paris. Surely, Cyprus patisseries could accommodate a high-end demand for delectable birthday cakes.

“Come with me,” he said, presumably responding to me petting his ego. I promised myself I’d stop using ego boosts as a manuevre but sometimes it’s too tempting not to.
He grabbed my hand to lead me away from the small pier but I pretended to trip over the foamy plastic nuggets that made the bar float, and held back.

“Something wrong?” he asked. And I guess nothing was wrong, but I sort of wanted to be with Dima. Plus I sort of felt weird having Hector hold my hand. My angel must have sensed my calling because before I had to reply to Hector, I saw Dima walk towards us in his proud stride that made me sigh sigh sigh.

“Of course not,” I eventually replied to Hector. “Let’s go. Dima can walk with us,” I said pointing at my man in the distance.

When Dima finally took hold of my hand – my much coveted hand as it turned out that night- our fingers intertwined and I felt safe again. Thus more able to smile, to laugh, to be interested in a conversation. Dima’s soft kisses on my forehead and my hand while he spoke with Hector made me realise that he felt comfortable with Hector, to show him this significantly personal side of his. It was the first time I met Hector, but already I knew that he was special to Dima. The more I listened to both of them speak, the more it became apparent that they were like brothers. I wondered what could bring a Russian metal tycoon so close to an Argentinian retail mega-magnet. What was it that they had in common other than their mythical fortunes?

The night I nearly lost it all (Part 2)

I hadn’t realised how sick I’d grown of these club-rituals until I found myself struggling to walk in through the main entrance. Dima held my hand as we paced along the red carpet, but it was hardly the two of us on it. There was Joe on my side, Igor on Dima’s side and another two buff men whom I didn’t recognise walking close by keeping their backs to us. Another stark reminder that I was engaged to Moscow’s most sought-after businessman. They say that women have a sixth sense and I can attest to that. Only because, as we were striding along, I could have sworn my eye caught a glimpse of someone who didn’t fit well with the crowd.

An insistent photographer broke Dima’s man-chain and managed to take a picture of us up close. I felt sorry for him when Joe grabbed his camera and elbowed him away. Only because Joe’s elbows are not like the average man’s. The photographer fell on the ground like single card from a deck and his camera landed next to him a second later.

“Are you OK, Bella?” I wish he didn’t treat me like a baby, but Dima’s worry over my well-being was the only thing that could make him stop and turn amidst the crowd.

I nodded ‘yes’ and then we resumed our walk and finally made it inside. It was right on time too, because drizzle had began and I’d have hated to mess up my hair, which I had only hours ago fixed back at the mansion.

Joe led us to our usual spot inside -people like Dima have their usual spots which are nothing like spots really, more like studio-sized areas where they can lounge in privacy. I noticed Mr. Colson opposite us, sitting comfortably in a velvet armchair, and nasty-Cassy dancing away so out of beat right by his side. I watched them from a distance and I found it hard to believe that all this time the two had been an item. He caressed her behind, and she would occasionally lean in to give him pecks on his nose. Yuck! I mean, he was probably old enough to be her dad for heaven’s sake. I was about to turn my attention to more deserving sights, when I noticed Mr. Colson stand up to greet a man, whom I’d recognised from before. In fact, Mr. Colson and nasty-Cassy were privileged to be in the presence of well-known Argentinian businessman, Hector-Rodrigo Lopez. Hector was a sight for sore eyes, if I must speak the truth, and more importantly, he was part of Dima’s small circle of friends. I met him a couple of months back at a birthday bash.

“Honey,” I turned to Dima, who was checking his BlackBerry -much to my dismay since I’d told him time and again to give it a rest when we went out but he never listened- “what’s Hector doing with Baldy and nasty ehem, Cassandra?”

There were but a handful of Dima’s gestures which I instantly recognised as demanding my undivided attention. When he pulled me so close to him that I could barely breathe, I was positive he wanted just that.

“If I tell you, do you promise to keep it to yourself?” He whispered these words and I could feel my blood boiling instantly.

“Your lack of confidence in me, is a little insulting, honey. Now, tell me, what is Hector doing over there?”

As always, Dima was one step ahead. Of me, of Hector, of everyone who was around him. And in retrospect, he was right to have asked me to keep it to myself. I wouldn’t. Only because telling, would have been the right thing to do.

What Dima revealed was degrading for Mr.Colson, to say the least. And it was too much information that I wished -later- that I hadn’t become privy to. But as though an invisible power wanted to take revenge for Dima’s revelation, that night out at our usual club, became the night I nearly lost it all.

It was a single gunshot. I’d survived more. It ran past me. I’d survived more. It hit Dima. I went into shock.

The night I nearly lost it all (Part 1)

I had this terrible dream the night before. We were sitting at a restaurant with colourless walls but tall walls nonetheless. He was browsing through the menu, and I was pre-occupied with my twitching eye. It felt like a rock was trapped into my eye (as one tends to feel when fluff gets stuck onto a contact lens) and no matter how many times I pet my eyelid, the itchiness remained. As time went by, Dima continued to stare at the menu, unable to decide what to order, and I grew blinder, unable to fix whatever it was that irritated my eye. Suddenly, I felt restless. I looked around me and one by one, the fixtures and fittings of the restaurant kept disappearing. First gone, were the paintings hung on the colourless walls. Then, the chairs and tables followed. Scared as I was, I nudged Dima with my elbow and asked him what was going on. He ignored me and kept staring at the menu. It was as if I wasn’t there. I pushed my chair back and stood in front of him, urging him to look at me, but nothing. He was stupefied, staring at that damned menu.

“Dima, look at me,” I yelled. In vain. I used my finger to caress his face but it was cold and lifeless. He was frozen in his seat.

I must have cried in my sleep forcing me to wake up because that’s the last scene from my dream which I remember. The next thing I was in Dima’s arms. Tightly held in his warm, homecoming embrace.

I wanted to warn him that something was going to happen, something not necessarily good. But I was reluctant. The role of a modern-day-“Casssandra”-prophet didn’t sit well with my usual positive and upbeat personality. But everyone has a dark side, and although well aware of mine, I wasn’t keen on revealing it to Dima just yet. In retrospect, I wish I had. It could have saved him the trouble that followed.

On Sunday afternoon when Dima asked me to get ready for a night out, I didn’t think much of it. He regularly called me at the mansion at the last minute to get ready for a night out. Usually, it was for things he was obliged to attend like charity events or informal business meetings. This time though, there was an urgency in his voice, mixed with hesitation or a faked calmness that I identified but chose to ignore.

So, like a good wife-to-be I was ready to go by 10:30pm. I waited for him at the lobby, dressed in a long, blood-red chiffon dress, wearing my hair on the side. I had the usual flutters in my stomach because I hadn’t seen him since early that morning. As I took my seat next to him in the car, he gave me a quick kiss on the cheek followed by a heavy sigh. Instantly, I was alarmed. Something fishy was going on.

“Is everything, OK?” I took his hand in both of mine and it was cold. He must have been outside shortly before meeting me.

“Of course,” he lied. I hated that he lied to me. I made a mental note to address this point at a later stage.

“Then what are you so anxious over, Dima?” He twisted in his seat, revealed a bitter smile and turned his face away from mine. He ran his fingers through his hair, messing it up ever so slightly, and then spoke a couple of swear words in Russian.

“When we arrive at the club tonight, I need to you stay with me at all times, Bella. Are we clear on that?”

“Of course. Where else would I be?” I pointed out the obvious but I remained curious as to what brought this on.

“You may see people you know there, and you may think it’s safe to stay with them rather than me.”

“People I know, Dima? Are you for real? Who would I know so well at a Russian club, that I’d leave you to be with them?”

“Bella, Mr. Colson will be at the club tonight.” He spoke slowly and I sensed that he was preparing me for more interesting information.

“…with Cassandra.”

“Really? Baldy is in Moscow? What is he doing with Nasty-Cassy in Moscow?”

“It’s not surprising that you haven’t heard, Bella. It’s been a secret for quite a while…”

“What is?” This story was taking turns which I did not anticipate.

“They’re together, Bella. As in… dating. For many years, now.”

“You’re joking!” I was stunned. Mr. Colson and Nasty-Cassy a couple? This is ridiculous. The guy’s happily married.

“I think you’ve got it all wrong, Dima. Mr. Colson is happily married to Mrs. Colson and I’ve been to their recent, well, it’s been two years, but fairly recent vowels re-affirmation party.

“Not sure why they throw these parties, especially when they clearly know they’re shams, but I wanted you to know before we go what the deal is.”

“Thanks, honey. I mean, it is surprising but it’s not really my business so if he wants to fool around he can do so. I don’t even work for the guy anymore.”

“Thank heaven’s no, sweetheart.”

There was more to the story than he let on. Dima couldn’t care less for Baldy’s alleged affair with Nasty- Cassy. Before I could elicit more relevant information, his phone rang and soon he was lost in another conversation I could barely understand. His hand was now securely holding mine and he stroked my palm with his thumb. I couldn’t wait for this silly outing to be over and for us to get back home. There was only one way I could stop missing him and it entailed stripping.

Winter break done the Dima P. way

Our winter break to St. Petersburg was unforgettable. The luxurious chalet that we stayed in had little to do with it. Mostly it was the fact that I was spellbound with Dima whilst we were there. We hadn’t seen each other for three weeks before that. The longest we’d been apart since we got together.

Dima had returned from a long business trip to China and I’d interrupted my classes at the Moscow University to meet with him in St. Petersburg’s airport, in mid February. As I waited for his plane to arrive, I thought my heart was going to burst. Our eyes met just on time. I hadn’t realised just how much I’d missed him until he was meters away from me.

I stood in the crowd and watched him stride across the aisle in his dark blue jeans, his azure shirt turned sleeve-side-up to the elbows, a matching scarf wrapped messily around his neck. He was simply magnificent. Still managing to take my breath away with every step he took, every movement he made.

“Welcome darling,” I whispered the moment he approached me, mostly thanking God for bringing him to me safe. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my grin. It ran the distance from one cheek to my other.

“My love,” was all that escaped his composed face. He leaned in and kissed me on the lips before I could muster a reply. I was overwhelmed by his imposing, masculine disposition that my legs turned to jelly. I’d take this toe-curling look from him anytime.

I had to really restrain myself from jumping on to him in front of everybody there. It was one of the few sacrifices I was happy to do for him. Besides, this only made my longing for him hit the roof. I knew I’d have my way with him, one way or another.

I walked alongside him to the car, in silence. He opened the door for me, and as I took my seat, I instinctively searched for Joe. He was nowhere to be seen. I sighed grateful for this moment of privacy.

“It’s kind of funny you know, Bella,” Dima murmured and I turned to face him instantly.

“What is?

“That you haven’t seen me for what? Three weeks?” He ran his fingers through his ash blond hair and groaned gently.

“That’s right, three weeks,” I added, curious as to where he was going with this.

“Yet, here I am sitting right next to you…”

“Yes…”

“And all you can think about is finding Joe?”

“Oh my, aren’t we jealous…” I sank deeper in the leather seat and turned to the window as a sinister smile escaped me. If only he’d known…

“Hmm no, not jealous,” he lied. He leapt over to my side of the seat and made sure I understood, exactly where he was coming from.

I spent the whole two hours to the chalet, feeling love-struck dizzy.

As our car drove inside the gates of the chalet, snow began to fall. The flakes fell serenely on the old snow, piling up the white magic. The cloak of darkness covered the village and the only visible lights were those of our chalet.

“Wear this,” he said and passed me a white fur Ushanka (hat). “It’s freezing outside, and this matches your coat,” he added. The moment I finished wrapping up like an albino crab, he took a good long look at me and started chuckling.

I stared back at him blowing off the particles of fur that stuck onto my lip gloss.

He kept on laughing.

“Am I funny enough for you?”

“Oh, you’ve no idea, my darling.” He took my hand, blew a kiss in my palm and then brushed his cheek with the back of my hand.

“You’re mean.”

“I am crazy. For you, Bella. That’s what I am.” It sounded like an accusation.

“That too…”

He got out of the car, came round and opened the door for me, helping me step on to the snow. It wasn’t slippery or anything, but definitely deep.

By the time we got to the chalet, Joe and the boys had finished with the regular checks. It was safe for Dima and me to enter. The reality of the danger we ran every time we moved away from his mansion, nearly spoiled all the fun.

“Sorry about this honey,” Dima said. Holding my hand he led me through the lobby to the living room.

“Oh wow,” I gasped when I entered the dim-lighted living room. It was roomy but cosy, cutting edge modern but still nostalgic. A mix of dark wooden beams with steel rods and black granite. The fire place was lighted and the only addition I wanted to make was to spread a puffy carpet by its feet. Before making this suggestion, I remembered my aching back. I’d been sitting in the car for way too long that day.

This place was unbeatable. Every corner was inviting. And I RSVP’d all of them. But right now, I had other priorities.

“So, where’s the bedroom?” There was no point in beating around the bush any longer.

Dima raised his eyebrow at first but the crooked smile that followed proved he was in sync with me all along.

He pointed upstairs.

He took his heavy coat off, tossed it on to one of the brown leather chairs following me with his gaze as I made my way up. Then, he climbed the stairs to the bedroom, right behind me.

The master bedroom swam in a sea of ivory and beige. I found it too calming and monotonous. It was in serious need of deep hues of red or orange. But, it would have to do.

“Strip for me.”

And this is how it all begun…