“All right, so I dominate everybody. But that doesn’t make it hurt any less.”
“And it doesn’t make you a failure as a man. Chances are she will go running to some weakling. She also needs to dominate.”
Was Eric a weakling? He was tall, athletic, and ruggedly handsome. Yet there had been something passive about his approach to life. When he told us that Paris was a tough gig, there had been something essentially accepting in his voice. And his answer had been to move on.
Will hesitated before adding, “I learned about you two that day on the beach. It was pure competition. I was just a game piece; you two were the players. You won the battle that day, but you also lost the war.”
“Are you going to let her go gracefully, or are you going to go chasing after her, mess up your life, and make an ass of yourself?”
I had to smile, and it was the first time that day. “Make an ass of myself, I guess,” I said.
“I thought so. Well, I have some news about Raven.”
“Senator Cabral’s secretary is flying to Paris to pick her up. It seems that the Senator has some kind of line on her attackers.”
What? I hadn’t told Will where I was calling from. “Why Paris?” I snapped.
Will laughed. “If you remember,” he said, “when you got on the train, that’s where you said you were going. I know you were going to do some train shifting, but I couldn’t tell anyone else. So wherever you are, there is a young woman in Paris waiting to take Raven off your hands. Too bad you lost her.”
“What’s the matter with you!”
“The more I think about that day on the beach, the more I resent the way I was used. Not by Raven. She was a stranger, and she was fighting for her life. By you! My friend. Shit!”
I slammed the receiver down.
# # #
I walked to the American embassy. It was a good five miles. By the time I arrived, I had worked off some of my anger, and I knew that Will was right. He had a good eye for human motivations, and a good heart. If there was anyone whose opinion I could trust, it was his, and he knew me better than anyone else ever had.
It only made me more crazy. I had never wanted a woman to keep house and raise kids. I wanted a woman with fire and courage, one who would conspire with me to make life an adventure. Raven was that kind of woman, and she had run from me. Worse, she had not been driven away by insensitivity, or an ill-considered phrase, or anything I could change. She had been driven away by me, by what was the essential part of my soul. more tomorrow