Harry’s Beach House
“This is worse than I thought,” Ephyra muttered as she sank into the couch. She dialed James’ number and he picked immediately.
“Hello Ephyra. How is work?”
“Fine. How is Gideon?”
“Can I ask you something?” she asked.
Ephyra checked to see if Harry was out of ear shot. He was in his room.
“Actually, it not about me.” She paused.
“Ephyra just tell me about it.”
“You see … I went to work with Mr Harry today and at the office a lady sprained her ankle and now she’s feeling the ache in it.”
“How did she sprain her ankle?”
“She fell on heels.” Ephyra closed her eyes. She silently prayed that James won’t ask too many question which might lead to him finding out she was injured. “And I guess she stressed it too much. That must have caused the pain right?”
“So what’s the—?”
“Tell her to go to the hospital to get an X-ray done on it to see if it broken.”
“Well, she doesn’t want to go to the hospital. That was why I called to see if you can suggest a quick remedy and what to relieve the pain.”
James was silent. He wondered how fast Ephyra had started to have friends at work.
“Are you sure it not about you?”
“No, no, I’m fine James.”
“Okay, if your so-called friend doesn’t want to go to the hospital, then a massage would help a bit. Massage with a bone ointment, bandage the area and take a and pain reliever. But I suggest that she visit the hospital.”
“A massage with bone ointment, bandage and pain killer?”
“Okay, I will relate everything to her.” She bit her lower lip.
“Let’s talk later, I’m still at work.”
“Take care” She hung up.
“You are an expert at telling lies.” She heard his voice. Ephyra looked up and Harry was there looking straight at her.
“Ahmm … what do… you need boss?” she stuttered.
“Are you okay?” Harry stared at her.
“Oh yes, yes, I’m fine.”
“Come here,” he ordered.
“You heard me.” He gestured to her to come close.
“Okay.” She stood up gently. Ephyra closed her eyes as she felt the pain again. Harry watched her with his gaze on her ankle.
“I don’t remember seeing anyone with a broken ankle at the office.” Ephyra was silent as she limped to him. She knew Harry had caught her making things up. She winced at the pain. Harry went to her before she could take another step. “I asked if you were fine at the office. And you kept saying yes,” Harry said in a low tone.
“Yes, I’m fine,” she said unsteadily. She moved away from him but he blocked her path.
“How did you end up like this?” he asked with a concerned look.
Ephyra frowned at him. She hated the look of innocence on his face.
“You don’t know?” she asked. He nodded. “Then it’s better not to know.” She shoved him aside and motioned towards the kitchen. Harry followed her and whirled her to face him. Ephyra yelped in pain at the swift movement. A tear slid down her cheeks. She had been trying hard not to cry ever since the pain started. It was hard to hold it back now that he was acting as if he was not the cause of the pain.
“Let go of me!” she screamed and pushed him away. “You’re … so … so heartless! What’s so wrong in trying to make a living in this world? I knew it wasn’t going to be easy out here but I took the chance. I knew working and living with you won’t be an easy task but I still took the risk! And I’ve been trying my best to keep up with your toughness since I came around! And I promised myself that I wouldn’t give up, but then what happened? First I got buried in the snow and now this!” She pointed to her ankle. “All because of your silly toughness, I got my ankle broken! Why? And how did I end up like this, you say?”
She hit his chest and Harry staggered backward. “Oh come on! Don’t act like you don’t know, and you didn’t see me through your rear mirror after you pushed me this morning! You knew I was on heels but you pushed me because you didn’t want me to ride in your car!” She threw her hands up in the air. “You’re so selfish Mr. Harry Jones! And you only care about yourself! And that’s unfair!” She stopped.
Her chest was rising and falling. Ephyra waited for Harry to say a word but he didn’t. He moved away from her and walked to his bedroom. She exhaled roughly when she heard the door again. Harry came back with his jacket on. She met Harry’s gaze and she saw the pain in his expression. Ephyra hated herself at that moment. She knew she had gone too far, had been to harsh on him with her words. And she regretted letting her anger get the better part of her seconds ago. Ephyra limped to the window and raised the curtain, Harry was driving out of the private driveway. She wondered where he was headed by this time of the night. And she panicked at the thought of Harry sleeping out tonight. What if Isobel calls to check up on him? she thought. Then she realized it was best to have ignored Harry than telling him the truth. Ephyra limped back to the couch and settled on it.
Harry hit the steering as he drove down the silent and dark road. He looked down at his cellphone. Ephyra was calling him. Each of her words echoed in his head. At that moment she was talking, the impulse to reach for her and pull her to himself was there again. But he had held back to let her say all that was on her mind. Harry realized he wanted that contact with her and that was totally foreign to him and disturbing. That was the word he’d been looking for since the day he saw her. She had been distracting him.
He felt guilty for causing her pain and he flinched at the pain he saw in her eyes.
“It about to snow in—”
She turned off the weather forecast news as she rushed to her room, ignoring the pain in her leg. Harry had been gone for about an hour now and he hadn’t returned home. He didn’t even pick up his calls. Ephyra was worried about him. She grabbed her jacket and moved out of the house.
“Where did he go?” Ephyra asked herself. And she panicked again at the thought of Harry getting buried in the snow.
“If he is around, no one is going to save him,” she said loudly. She dialed his number again.
“Please pick up Mr Harry, I’m so sorry.” She paced the porch slowly.
“Oh my Sea, please bring him back home safely,” she prayed.
“Maybe I should go and look for him. I can’t keep standing here. But what if I get caught in the snow again?” she thought deeply. Ephyra took a step and she realized her legs were weak
“Damn it!” she muttered.
Then she sat on the stairs to wait for Harry. Minutes clicked by, Ephyra checked her watch—10:15pm. She looked up when she heard the sound of a car horn. Harry was pulling into the driveway. She stood up but she couldn’t walk to meet up with him. She noticed the small paper bag in his right hand. Ephyra saw the tension in his face, the way the lines at his mouth deepened when he came to her. Ephyra met his gaze and she began to say.
“I’m, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything about—”
“Forget it.” He shook his head.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered again.
“Why are you outside?” he asked with a stern tone.
And Ephyra looked up at him. “You left without saying anything, and I became worried after I listened to the forecast.”
“Can we go in now?” he asked.
“Of course,” she said.
And when she thought he was going to leave her to find her way inside, Harry leaned closely.
“You can lean me,” he said. Harry placed his hand around her shoulder
“Thank you,” she said.
And they both walked back into the house. Harry motioned to her to sit on the couch and she did. He sat on a pillow on the floor in front of Ephyra and crouched down on it. He dropped the paper bag on the floor beside him.
“What are you trying to do?” she asked when he brought out a bandage, ointment and painkiller.
“You’re an expert on question asking,” he said.
Moisture gathered in her eyes when she realized Harry had driven down to the mini mart to buy the things James prescribed to her. He held her ankle and twisted it gently.
Ephyra held back a sob.
“It won’t take long,” he said. Ephyra nodded
Suddenly she heard a crack in her ankle. Ephyra winced at the pain. He looked up at her and noticed the tears at the corner of her eyes.
Harry flinched at the pain he saw there. And he hated himself at that moment for causing her pain. He dropped her leg gently on another pillow.
“You’re so distracting,” he muttered without thinking, but soon as the words came out, he knew there was truth in them. She’d been distracting him from the beginning and she hadn’t stopped. He stood up and went to the kitchen to grab a glass of water. He gulped down the whole glass before going back to Ephyra with another glass. She collected the glass and held it in her hands. She sniffed.
“So you went to the mini mart?”
Harry settled back on the pillow. “Questions again,” he said.
“Yes, I like asking questions. And I get to a point when I’m pretty curious.”
“So I bet when you were a kid, you distracted people easily with your curiosity and questions,” he said as he massaged her ankle gently.
“I bet you were annoyingly tight-lipped when you were a kid,” she countered without missing a beat. Harry glanced up at her with a half smile on his lips.
“No, I changed,” he replied.
“This is about your father right?” His smile disappeared. And she noticed it. “I’m sorry I shouldn’t have mentioned it.”
“Forget it,” he said. Then he wrapped the bandage around her ankle. “I should be the one apologizing for hurting you,” he said.
“You were right about everything you said earlier. I am mean and selfish to my workers. But I wasn’t always like this.”
Ephyra studied him closely. An image flashed through her mind. “Perhaps … have we met?” she asked.
“So you don’t remember seeing me anywhere?” he asked.
She closed her eyes. “I think you need to see a doctor.” Her eyes flare open.
“No I don’t like the smell of hospitals.”
“You’ve been there before?”
“Yes, two months ago. Then I ran out of the hospital.”
Harry wondered if she was insane back then, running out of the hospital with no shoes.
I bumped into this weird guy. He met Ephyra’s gaze. He insulted me and James. She used the drug Harry dropped into her palms. Harry knew she was talking about him.
Ephyra leaned forward. “You look like that guy I saw that night.”
He nodded. “I was the same guy you met that night.”
Her eyes widened in shock. She reached out to him and roughened his hair with her hands. His hair fell over his eyes.
“Oh! You are the same guy!” She covered her mouth with her palms. “I … I … didn’t realize it.”
Harry stood up. “Are you hungry? Or will you like to have a cup of coffee?”
“Yes, and a cup of coffee.”
“I’ll be right back.”
“Wait, can I come with you?” She blinked.
“Sure,” he answered. He went to her.
“What are you trying to do?”
“What does it look like?” He lifted her up in his arms.
“Thanks,” she said.
Harry dropped her in the kitchen chair gently. He went to the refrigerator and returned with a bowl in his hands to the gas cooker. Ephyra sat back in the chair just watching him. He found a pot and poured the stew in it. In a moment the stew was heating. He pushed a coffee mug to her before he crossed to the sink and ran water over his hands. Then he dried them on a towel. She saw the way he took several deep breaths. The way the action stretched the fabric of the black shirt, then the way he dropped the towel on the counter and pressed both hands on the edge of the sink. He lowered his head a bit then with a harsh intake of air he straightened up. Ephyra hardly knew Harry Jones, yet she sensed his pain and felt concerned for him.
“Are you okay?” she asked. He didn’t respond. “Are you tired? Or is there something bothering you?”
He sighed and turned to her. His face passive. “My mom caused his death,” he said finally.
“No, you are mistaken.”
“No, she picked up a fight with him. She accused him of having an affair with his secretary. He left … and we heard of his death. And in the end, he was innocent. It was all her fault!” He clenched his fists
She knew that, but it didn’t stop her automatic sympathy at what he’d lost.
“Oh … I’m sorry,” she whispered.
“No apologies needed.”
Ephyra wanted to stop the whole conversation. “Boss, I can tell you that the stew’s going to burn if you don’t stir it,” she said looking past him at the stew and the steam rising from the pot. He turned, picked a spoon and stirred the stew. She stood up to get the dishes. The room seemed unsteady and her legs felt weak. She held onto the back of the chair. Harry looked at her for a long moment.
“Sit, you’re pale,” he said. She wasn’t going to argue, not when her legs felt like rubber. She sank back down in the chair.
They ate in silence until Ephyra pushed her dish. “I’m full,” she said.
He was done too, she poured herself more coffee. She sipped the coffee as she met his gaze over the rim of the heavy mug. Harry cleared his throat.
“I was going to ask you what you studied in college?” he said.
“Journalism? Or you do research writing? Because from the way you asked questions, I’d say its a fitting field for you,” he said.
“I’m not in that field. I am curious and I like finding answers for things.” She didn’t want to discuss it with him. She wasn’t in any field. Ephyra only found herself in the human world according to her wish . It was a shocking dream that she kept alive for years and it became a reality.
Harry let it drop. He stood, picked up the dishes and took them to the sink. He rinsed the dishes quickly. She made to stand and head to bed, but the minute she tried, her legs gave out. She reached for the table for support but Harry was there, catching her by her arm, steadying her. He let her get her balance.
“Take it easy.”
Ephyra knew she needed his support. She wished she could just move away from him but she couldn’t stand without him at that moment.
“My legs are weak.”
“Lean on me,” he murmured.
He had his arm around her, supporting her the way he had that night she fell in the snow. She closed her eyes tightly, wanting desperately to say she could walk and he could let her go but that was a lie. Ephyra wanted him close.
“Thanks Mr. Harry,” she whispered.
“You know you can just call me Harry.” She looked at him.
Harry helped her back to her bedroom. “Climb in,” he helped her into bed.
“Thank you,” she said laying back on the bed and sighed with relief. She closed her eyes waiting while the world faded away. She felt him touch her cheek and she slipped into the softness but before Ephyra could let go, she felt his lips brush hers, the mere suggestion of a kiss and then it was gone.
A Wish? A Dream? Ephyra couldn’t tell, and in that moment between sleep and wakefulness, she didn’t care.
Harry had never taken advantage of a woman. He’d never kissed any woman. He’d never done anything that irrational. He was violating his well-constructed rules when he kissed Ephyra. He didn’t know where the kiss had come from or the need to get closer to her. An ache was in his being, a solitude that had been his goals for years. He drew back, giving himself distance. He’d been alone for too long and he was losing it. He walked away and didn’t look back as he exited the room.
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