Later that Evening
Salim & Camilla’s Townhouse | San Myshuno
Check with your girl and you’ll find out who the real liar is — That line, the last thing he heard Erika say before walking away, replayed in Salim’s head over and over. Just those few words, on repeat, stuck in some kind of infinite loop. He ignored them for a good while though, even chalked it up to Erika doing what she does best, spreading lies and stirring shit up, just to get what she wanted — but still, he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He couldn’t ignore what he was feeling, because something she said, or rather something she didn’t say had been on his mind since before the run in with Erika even happened.
The other day, when he asked Camilla about her meeting, her response was different. Nothing like her usual, long and rambly descriptions, it was short and vague. Like she was purposely trying to leave out any real details. She was nervous too. Visibly nervous. Like she was afraid to answer whatever she thought he was going to ask next. And even this morning, before he left, she had all these questions about where he was going. If he was stopping by the Naked Gnome or if he had spoken to anyone who frequented there, things she wouldn’t have a reason to ask unless she was trying to find out something or … she didn’t want him to find out something …
He watched her, messing around in the kitchen, moving back and forth between her tablet and the stove, carefully following some recipe on Pinterest. She was … cooking? That was something that didn’t happen — ever really. Most nights, their dinners came prepackaged, in a box or plastic wrapped container, stored in either the freezer or the pantry, but this time, she was chopping things up, mixing them together — actually cooking.
The last time she did that was on their first date when she was probably trying to impress him. What was she trying to do now though? There was a cake on the counter too. One he could assume she baked and baking — that was her nervous habit. The thing she did when she was stressed or needed to think — when she was trying to figure something out. Maybe Erika was right …
Camilla: [leans over the counter] Are you hungry? The food’s almost done.
Salim: [smiles faintly] Yeah … what’d you cook?
Camilla: Well it’s like … two different recipes put together so I don’t really know what to call it.
Salim: [raises eyebrow] So it’s a hybrid?
Camilla: [laughs] Yeah, let’s go with that, but it’ll be good, I promise.
But if she was actually capable of telling the truth and Camilla really did lose her job, why wouldn’t she just tell him? At this point — after everything they’d gone through, she had to know she could talk to him about anything — that he was on her side no matter what. This living together thing, it was their fresh start, their chance to put all that other stuff behind them and move forward. To be honest, not hide things from each other, even when it was hard — but now, it’s like they were back at square one. Like she was doing the same thing to him … that he did to her …
Camilla: [motions for him to come over] Okay, come taste.
Salim: [walks over to her and tastes something in the pot]
Camilla: It’s good right?
Salim: [smiles and nods] It is.
Camilla, confident: I think I’m getting a handle on this whole cooking thing. Aren’t you proud of me?
Salim: [kisses her] I always am.
And if she was keeping secrets, she had to have a good reason, one that was important enough to her. One that she was probably trying to find the right time to share. One that he would understand because he’s been in her shoes before, and knows that the right time doesn’t really exist. That it’s just what people tell themselves to keep from opening that door and finding out what’s on the other side. To keep from getting hurt if the person they loved more than life itself didn’t understand and wouldn’t forgive them, but what she didn’t get — was that there was nothing she could ever do that he wouldn’t be able to forgive.
Salim: So what did you do today?
Camilla: … Just … worked on some stuff …
Salim: What kind of stuff?
Camilla: This work thing- it’s nothing big really.
Salim: And baked a cake?
Camilla, quietly: Yeah …
He owed her that much. For giving him a second chance when he messed up so badly. For staying while he figured his shit out with Aahana. For always bringing a smile to his face, no matter what he was going through. For being the best decision on a long list of bad ones. For putting up with everything — so many things — that most other girls wouldn’t even consider. She was truly the light in his life and he owed her everything for that.
Salim: [rubs her back] You know you can talk to me about anything, right?
Camilla, dozing off: Yeah.
Salim: No matter what it is, okay?
Camilla: [soft snoring]
So he would just wait until she worked through whatever she needed to work through and was ready to tell him what happened. Then when she was and everything was on the table, they would have that talk they really needed to have.
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