"Do you want to head out?" Liam asked once we'd seen everything.
I hesitated. I hadn't seen that much of Sam, and I knew that this was going at her pace, but I had hoped that we'd talk more than the brief exchange earlier.
"I guess." I replied, unable to see Sam anywhere nearby.
"We thought we could go for some drinks."
"Yeah, alright." I took one last look around and we started to head to the door. As we waited for the guys to get the coats, I felt a hand on my elbow and turned. Sam.
"Hey." I murmured.
"You're going?" She asked.
"Yeah. The show is wonderful, but they want to go for a drink and..." I trailed off with a shrug. "I guess... I figured this might be a bit too much for you."
"I'm a big girl Cara. I can cope." She was smiling though, and it made my heart flutter a little. "We should meet up..." It was her turn to trail off as something behind me caught her eye. Her face dropped and she went very still.
"Sam? Sam what's the matter?"
"Well, well... it's been a long time but you haven't changed a bit." The voice came from behind me, and I found a blonde woman with the body of death smirking, her arm wrapped around the waist of a good looking man. I turned to look at Sam who had gone pale, and had that look in her eyes that she had the one time she lost her temper with me and slammed me against the wall. Except alongside the anger and the frightened look, there was something else. Like every part of her was shrinking, all her confidence gone. She looked alone, afraid.
"Sam?" I murmured, knowing that in her state I shouldn't touch her, but desperately wanting to.
"What's going on?" Liam asked. The blonde was still grinning, and it wasn't friendly. I hated her immediately. Then, all of a sudden, Lexi and Myra were there. If I'd thought Lexi was furious at me, it was nothing compared to the hatred and contempt in her eyes as she looked at the blonde.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Lexi growled, and Myra had to place a hand on her arm, despite the glare she was also giving.
"Just showing my gorgeous new husband around the city. Daniel, this is Sam, and Lexi and Myra and... I don't think I know you." She dismissed me with a wave of her hand. I scowled.
"Here, let me introduce you." Lexi spat. "Cara, this is Kelly."
Kelly. I'd heard that name before.
It came back in a flood as I remembered that conversation in the bath, when I'd put my foot in it, when I'd asked for pictures and reminded Sam of...
"Kelly?" I snapped, turning to face her again.
"Well, it seems my reputation precedes me." She raised an eyebrow. "I'm surprised. I thought my name was never to be spoken again."
"Kelly, what's going on?" Daniel asked, clearly confused by the whole situation.
"Just a less than friendly reunion honey. Why don't you go and get us drinks and I'll join you in a minute?" Daniel looked unsure, but Kelly gave him a light shove and he disappeared anyway.
"What are you doing here?" Myra frowned.
"Like I said. Showing my new husband the sights."
"Well you can show him the sights somewhere else." Lexi growled.
"I'm fine right here thanks."
"Get the hell out, you preening bitch."
"Make me you raging dyke." She smirked back.
Myra had to hold Lexi back so that she wouldn't jump at her, and I was damn tempted to slap the self satisfied grin off Kelly's face.
"I seem to remember a time you were in to women Kelly."
"They could never quite satisfy me like a man though. Never quite good enough." She replied.
"Get out Kelly." Everyone paused and looked at Sam. She was shaking slightly, but she had a determined look on her face.
"Leave. You're not allowed to be here."
"Actually, I am. I was invited."
"The artist. He's Daniel's brother. Luckily, Daniel did a lot better than him." She raised her hand and showed them a large and very expensive looking diamond settled above a diamond encrusted gold band. "I'm living a rather wonderful life, all in all. Got the perfect house, the perfect man, the perfect bank balance... and how about you Sam? Got yourself a girlfriend yet?" She glanced at me and I knew I looked furious. "Someone who makes you moan like I used to?"
I would have killed her, I think. Tried, anyway. But Sam was barrelling towards her and I knew, somehow, that she'd regret it if she attacked this woman in front of the crowd behind us. In front of her rich husband, and his artist brother. The man who Sam was currently displaying. Kelly could make everything hard for Sam again if she managed to lay a hand on her. I caught her just before she reached Kelly. Wrapped my arms around her waist, capturing her arms, from behind. She was struggling, and Kelly was kind of laughing, but then Lexi and Myra were frog marching her out of the room and I vaguely remember seeing a very confused Daniel running after them.
Eventually Sam stopped struggling and was limp in my arms. She turned around and put her head against my shoulder and just held on to me. I hugged her tight, whispering 'you're fine, you're safe, it's okay' to her over and over again. Eventually, when everything had died down and people had stopped being so damned nosy, I led her upstairs. They could finish up without her; I knew the staff had it under control. Myra and Lexi could help out.
"Do you want to go to bed? Are you hungry?" I asked. She shook her head and I took her in to the bedroom. Sitting her down, I removed her shoes, not daring to look up at her. She felt so weak right now, and I hated seeing her like that.
"I miss you." She murmured, and I glanced up at her. She had tears in her eyes, but she was looking at me gently... desperately. Oh no.
"Lie down." I replied softly, ignoring what she'd said.
"Stay with me."
"Lie down." She did, but she watched me carefully as I covered her with the duvet.
"I miss you too." I replied, stroking her hair from her eyes. "But I can't stay. Not... not if it's something you wouldn't have asked me before she walked in."
Sam remained silent, and I took that as my cue. It didn't really sadden me. She needed comfort but it was too close to the line that we shouldn't cross, and she might regret that tomorrow.
"I'll send Lexi and Myra up, if you want?"
"I want you to stay."
I sighed and bit my lip. If I stayed, what would that mean? I knew I still loved her, but would it push her away again to wake up with me here, having seen her so vulnerable? Or...
Sam's hand brushed against mine and I glanced down. She was crying again.
"Alright." I gave in. It was what she wanted, and right now, what Sam needed was more important than anything else I could think of. I slipped off my jacket. "Do you need anything?"
"Come here." I hesitated, but she was so sad I couldn't help but do as she wanted. So I slipped around the other side of the bed and sat down, kicking off my shoes. I pulled my knees up to my chest and looked at her as she turned over to face me. "Please Cara just..."
She couldn't finish the sentence, but I knew what she meant. How could I not? I slipped under the covers and wriggled over to her. She curled in to me, resting her head on my shoulder, her hand gripping my top as she cried. I stroked her arm and told her it would be alright until the crying stopped and I realised she had fallen asleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I was wrapped around her, our legs entwined and my fingers captured in hers so that my arm was draped over her side and I could feel her stomach rise and fall against my hand. I tried not to breathe her in, but her hair was tickling my nose and I felt the smile on my lips before I could stop it.
Stop. Need to get out. I panicked. As carefully as I could I removed my fingers from hers, and unwrapped my legs. She stirred and rolled over, blinking.
"Cara?" She murmured.
"I have to go. I have uni." I replied, wishing I could stay and talk about what this meant, but at the same time so glad to have an excuse to leave. I didn't want it to get awkward.
She watched me gather my blazer in silence, but then as I turned to say good bye she spoke.
"Thank you, for staying."
I couldn't really think of a reply to that, so I went to the side of the bed and bent down, ghosting a kiss on her temple. Then I quickly hurried out of the door before she could react. Outside, heading home before Uni, I touched my lips and smiled.