Status: Updated unfrequently, but trying for frequent.

Slow Spinning Redemption

Chapter 8: Isolde Takes Some Time to Think and Reflect

Monday, November 1, 2010
Prague, Czech Republic
4:15 pm

Isolde struggled with her suitcases as she pulled them up the stairs, wincing when one of the wheels rolled over her toes. She glared at the suitcase.

“Be nice!” she muttered, before going through her camera bag, digging for her house keys from the bottom of the bag. She finally wrapped her fingers around the miniature red Dalek that made up her keychain. Looking at the three keys that sat on the keychain’s ring, she pushed past the one that was purely decorative - it was the key to the TARDIS, a gift from Ben when he’d found out her love for Doctor Who. She moved the tiny mail key out of the way before fingering her apartment key and pushed it into the lock, twisting and unlocking the door.

Walking in, she dragged her suitcases into the apartment and breathed in as she leaned against her closed door. It smelled fresh; the windows that covered the entire back wall were cracked open, letting the air circulate around the flat instead of letting the musky scent of enclosure suffocate the small space.

Her apartment wasn’t much, she thought with a small smile, looking around as she slowly scanned the area. She smiled at her burnt orange walls. It was a color that otherwise would have overwhelmed the room with its hue, worked perfectly, since she had hung up photographs from her travels along the wall. They diminished the orange, but still allowed enough to give the living room the splash of color it needed.

Walking towards the hallway that was on her left, she dragged her suitcases behind her and opened the door to her bedroom. Lilac walls greeted her, as they were meant to sooth as she slept, rather than make her mind active. Pity that she hardly ever slept in her bedroom.

As with the living room, pictures that she’d taken in her travels were framed and positioned along her bedroom walls. The bay window that was situated in the corner of the room was slightly cracked open, allowing the sheer ivory curtains that covered the window to billow with the wind. No TV was in her room, as when she’d originally slept in her room she didn’t need the comfort of the murmuring TV in the background, mostly because she’d had someone in the bed with her. That thought caused her to sigh and close her eyes as she thought about the past.

“You know, you’re going to have to grow up eventually Isolde,” the male voice behind her stated as she pushed open her bedroom door and went straight for her dresser, kicking off her heels as she went.

“I don’t see what you’re so upset about now,” Isolde said, taking off her earrings and dumping them on the dresser surface. She gave a little smirk as she watched Richard pick up the heels she’d left in the middle of the doorway and tucked them into the closet. “I dressed up, went to the stupid party, and spent the weekend you promised me was supposed to be just us, so far up Politicians asses, I still smell of shit.”

“Isolde!” Richard hissed.

Isolde rolled her eyes as she unhooked the matching pearl necklace that had gone with her earrings. “Look, I’m tired,” she said, unzipping her dress and letting it fall to the ground before shuffling to the bed to grab her slip. “I want to go curl up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate -maybe spiked with a bit of whisky, and watch a bit of TV before curling up in bed, hopefully with you in it. So,” she pulled on her ivory silk slip and stared at her fiancé. “Either tell me why you’re so upset, or let me be for a while.”

“Go.” Richard said, waving her away.

Obviously dismissed, she watched him loosen his tie and start undoing the cuffs of his sleeves, before shaking her head and leaving the room. As she’d told Richard she was going to do, she padded her way to the kitchen. She put on the kettle, settling on making herself some tea, since apparently the instant hot chocolate she had in her cabinets had expired. Pulling the packets of tea from the cabinet, she dumped some into her mug before scrounging around her liquor stash, finding the whisky and pouring in a good amount.

Once the kettle whistled she poured the hot water into her mug, setting the kettle back on the burner before settling on the couch and covering her legs with a blanket. Grabbing the remote, she turned on the TV. She was about to sip from her mug when Richard’s voice sounded from behind her.

“You were serious?”

Isolde blinked as she looked over at Richard with a raised eyebrow. “I missed Doctor Who for you and that ridiculous party; I’m watching my god damn TV show before I go to bed.”

“Isolde, come to bed,” Richard sighed. “Stop being so god damn stubborn.”

Isolde sighed, looking back at the TV before setting her tea on the floor, throwing her blanket on the other side of the couch. She noted that Richard started to turn off the lights of the flat as she turned off the TV and followed him into the bedroom. Richard was dressed in his linen pajama pants, sans shirt.

Sighing, Isolde crawled into bed as she heard the bedroom door shut, along with the window that she usually left open when she slept on her own. Moving to the side, she watched Richard climb into bed next to her. She settled at his side, her cheek resting on his chest.



“I really need you to make better impressions on people.”

Isolde raised her head up and looked over at him. “Is this about the comment I made about that lady’s earrings?”

“Isolde,” Richard sighed, quickly losing his patience.

“Because I was only telling the truth; they were tacky and horrible, and even a blind person would say so.”


“And she even came up to me later, with new earrings mind you, and said she knew the earrings were horrible, but they were a gift from her mother-in-law, and she felt obligated to wear them. Which I totally understand, since your mother gifted me that horrible necklace a couple of months ago, insisting that I had to wear it during the wedding, having no regard nor care that it didn’t even match my dress.”

“Isolde, enough.”

Isolde raised an eyebrow at her fiancé. “So I’m guessing it wasn’t my comment about the earrings.”

“It’s not just the earrings Isolde, it’s everything.”


“You’re so…out there.”

Isolde sat up in bed, looking down at him. “Are you upset because I won’t tone myself down?”

“I’m not upset about it; I just wish you would.”

Isolde blinked. “I’m not my mother, Richard. Lord knows I love the woman, but I’m not my mother. Nor will I ever be. I’m not some dumb blonde that you can just parade around from party to party and expect me to giggle stupidly at every joke I hear and flirt with people you want to please. You knew that when we got together.”

“I assumed you’d-”

“What? That it was just a phase I was growing out of?”

“You’re twenty-three, Isolde!”


Richard sat up and stared at her. “And we have an impression to make.”

“Oh, jdi do prdele!” (Fuck you!)” she said, glaring at him as he got off the bed. “Now you’re sounding like my father!”

“You know what? It’s better if I leave.”

Isolde shook her head and watched him grab his jeans before flopping down on bed, facing the opposite side to avoid looking at him. “Fine, go back to your parents’ house; I’m sure they’d love to have you home for the night.”

“I’m not going to my parents,’ Isolde,” Richard said, putting his shirt on. “I’m going back to England.”

Isolde rolled her eyes but stayed facing in the opposite direction. “Fine.”

Richard shook his head as he grabbed his wallet and started out of the room. “You need to grow up, Isolde. We’re not teenagers anymore! We’re getting married in a few months and if I’m going to support us, you need to start making better impressions on people.”

“Just leave, Richard.” She heard the rustle of him leaving, then the sound of the flat door being slammed shut.


Isolde blinked as the sound of the slamming door from her memory echoed around her flat. She didn’t get the chance to turn as a body slammed itself at her side, shoving her further into the room and onto the bed, disrupting the snoozing tabby cat that had more than likely snuck in through the window.

“I missed you so much!”

Isolde laughed as she hugged the young red head that was currently crushing Isolde to the bed. “Oh my god, you are so heavy!”

The red head laughed, lifting her head up to look at Isolde, only to frown at the cat. “Damnmit, Charlemagne! Get off Isolde’s bed!”

Isolde laughed as she hugged the girl tighter and sat up in bed. “It’s fine, Althea. Someone should get use of the bed, even if it is your fat cat!”

Althea laughed as she shoved herself off the bed and blew her curly red hair out of her face. She grinned at Isolde. “You were gone fifty-two days….and you are wearing a man’s shirt.”

Isolde stared at the eighteen-year-old before laughing and running her fingers through the snoozing tabby’s fur, who had refused to move when Althea pushed at her. Althea Cooper. She was the red-headed eighteen-year-old that Isolde had gotten to know when the girl had been twelve, when Althea and her mother had entered Ivan’s office looking to see if the young girl could get any modeling jobs.

Isolde had been checking her local appointments with Ivan’s secretary while Althea’s mother and Ivan talked. She’d seen Althea waiting outside the office and couldn’t help but talk to the girl with the red curls that fell down her back, with the chubby cheeks and trusting, easy smile that was perfect for print ads. She’d connected with the twelve-year-old, and told the girl to call if she had questions about modeling or needed help with anything. Isolde had left the office with a parting smile and pushed the meeting to the back of her mind.

A few weeks later, Althea had called nearly in a panic about her first job: a small print ad for a local clothing store. Isolde couldn’t help but sympathize and went to support the red-head, standing in the background and offering silent encouragement. She took the girl to a late lunch afterwards.

Now Althea was grown. She was slowly making a name for herself in the modeling world, and for the last two years had worked for Isolde in taking care of her apartment whenever Isolde was away. Isolde swore that she was slowly paying Althea’s college fund with the way she paid the girl.

Shaking her head, she looked at Althea, who was dressed in jeans and a vintage black Ramones tee that Isolde was actually pretty sure the red-head had stolen from her closet. Her red curls hung down just past her shoulders, while her pale cheeks had the lightest of freckles. They dimpled when she grinned. Her bright green and large eyes made Althea look more like a porcelain doll than a young girl.

“So, man’s shirt?”

Isolde shrugged as she looked down at Jussi’s shirt. “It was lying on the ground of the hotel room and I took it.”

Althea grinned. “You met a boy.”

“I always meet a boy,” Isolde laughed. “Now, out! Let me change and then we’ll talk.”

“About money?” Althea asked with a raised eyebrow. “Because I’ve got my eye on a few things for my apartment and I’ve been waiting very patiently for fifty-two days…”

“Out,” Isolde laughed, pushing herself off the bed and shoving a laughing Althea out of her bedroom. “We’ll talk money in a bit.” Closing her door, she walked to her dresser and shuffled through her clothes until she found a pair of navy sweat shorts and an overlarge white tee that fell past the shorts; an outfit she usually wore when she was around her flat and back from her trips. Pulling her hair into a quick bun, she once again made a mental note to stop by the beauty supply store to change the color of her strip. She was thinking orange for the next two weeks.

Leaving the bedroom, she walked into her living room, her favorite place in her flat. It was taken up by built-in bookshelves that started from the top of the wall and ended at the baseboards. The bookcase framed a non-functional fireplace, though Isolde had solved that issue by putting candles inside and lit them instead whenever she was in the mood for firelight. Both the bookcases and the fireplace were the second half of the selling point for her when she’d picked the apartment. Half of the bookcases were filled with books; a good portion of them dedicated to the TV shows that she loved, like The Doctor Who Encyclopedia and Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon by the Women Who Love Them, while the other half was filled with DVD’s of all genres. From TV seasons to foreign flicks, from stupid comedies to chick flicks, Isolde wasn’t that picky.

The center of the room was dominated by her couch. It was brown suede and slightly curved, long enough to fit her body when she stretched out on it. And the cushions! Dear God, she sank into those cushions and they swallowed her whole. The qualities of a good couch, Isolde thought with a weary smile. Two matching oversized ottomans worked as her makeshift coffee table, and sat in front of the couch. Settled on the opposite side of the coffee table was a low-set, dark wood entertainment center with a 25” flat screen TV, along with her DVD player and stereo system. However, none of this blocked the three large windows that made up her back wall.

Ivory sheers were currently covering the windows. They billowed lightly as the breeze moved into the apartment, the green curtains that covered her windows at night pulled back and hooked into their bronze holdbacks.

To her right was her tiny kitchen. Enough room for one to move around in and so quaint that Isolde wished it was just a bit bigger, so that she could indulge more in cooking and baking, as she enjoyed both. Then again, cooking and baking involved food that was more perishable, which Isolde very rarely kept in the apartment as she didn’t want to leave food to rot when she left again. She could see her mail neatly stacked in piles on the counter. There was a small breakfast nook that separated her kitchen from her living room. Althea was sitting at the nook sorting through the mail, only to turn and smile when Isolde walked out.

“So, can I eat before we talk about your payment, or should we just get down to business?”

“You act as if there’s actually food in your fridge,” Althea teased as Isolde walked into her powder blue kitchen. She would have painted it a dark TARDIS blue had it not been for the tiny window by the sink that gave off very minimal light. She’d had to go with a lighter shade in order to keep the kitchen bright during the day so she wouldn’t have to use her lights as much. She opened the fridge, frowning when there really wasn’t anything inside of it.

“I would have thought you’d have stayed here, used some of the money I left to get take away.”

“Oh I did,” Althea assured. “I just haven’t in the last week or so.”

“Well then, pizza it is,” Isolde muttered to herself, walking over to Althea, who was holding out Isolde’s cell phone. “Thank you.” She made the quick call to the pizzeria a few blocks down before settling across from Althea and smiling. “All right kid, how much do I owe you?”

“Well if you pay me at ten dollars a day and you were gone for fifty two of them…”

“520, got it. What am I deducting from that pay?” Isolde laughed. Althea did more than just check in on the apartment and open the windows. When the girl had turned sixteen, Isolde had entrusted her to pay the rent of her apartment on time, as well as her bills, though Althea’s mother helped at the beginning. Isolde made sure to write down dates of when things were due and would leave signed blank checks for the girl so she could fill them out and send them off for Isolde.

Both Isolde and Althea’s mother had agreed that it would do the young girl good to have that sense of responsibility. It wasn’t a heavy burden, but heavy enough for Althea to get a sense of what it meant to live on one’s own. Though Althea was for the most part good at keeping track of things, she made mistakes here and there. Isolde had made it clear that with every mistake made it would come out of the pay, and Althea had agreed, stating that it was only fair.

“I don’t know; I forgot about a couple of bills, so they may be late,” Althea said sheepishly.

Isolde bit her lip as she thought about late fees on bills. “It’s usually a fifteen to twenty dollar fine on late fees, so I’ll take out forty to be safe, reimburse you if it’s less.”

“And Charlemagne may have taken her anger out on one of your pillows.”

“One of my bed pillows, or one of my good pillows?” Isolde asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Ha.” Althea gave a sheepish grin. “Good pillows, but I’ll replace it!”

“Of course you will, with money I pay you,” Isolde laughed. “All right, how about this? I’ll give you four-fifty for your pay and tomorrow you go buy me my replacement pillow. It shouldn’t cost you more than thirty bucks for the pillows I like.”

“All right,” Althea said slowly, knowing there was more coming.

“With the rest of the money, you put half in your savings and keep the rest for whatever you want.”

“Deal,” Althea nodded.

“Fine. Way I see it, you come out two hundred dollars richer.”


“Okay then,” Isolde nodded, “Now, would you like to go put on your pajamas so we can start our movie night?”

Althea raised an eyebrow. “You’re not tired?”

“Fucking exhausted,” Isolde admitted with a laugh. “Ivan kept me in his office for shit he could have just e-mailed to me, and I had to check in with some clients before I was actually able to come to the flat. But I know you, and if I don’t give you your movie night now, you’ll be knocking on my door at six AM, so go get your pajamas on.”

Althea gave a whoop in excitement, jumping off her stool and running towards the door, only to turn back and grin. “I also want my present.”

Isolde rolled her eyes. “Go, Althea.”

Althea laughed. “It’s good to have you back, Iz.”

“Good to be back,” Isolde admitted, watching as the red head ran out the door.

Shaking her head, she slipped off her stool and opened her fridge again, wondering if going to the market would be worth it. But seeing as she lacked juice, fresh fruit and vegetables, something Isolde loved having in her fridge, she made a mental note to hit up the farmers market the next day.

Closing the door, she went back into her bedroom where her suitcase sat and threw it on the bed next to the still sleeping cat. She ran her fingers through the cat’s fur. “Hey, Charlemagne.”

The cat meowed quietly before standing on the bed and stretching out. Isolde watched as the cat ran itself under her fingers before jumping off the bed and back towards the bench. Charlemagne looked at Isolde one last time, before hopping onto the bench and leaving through the open window, landing on the fire escape outside, most likely to go back downstairs to Althea’s apartment.

Unzipping her suitcase, she rummaged around until she found the bag that had Althea’s gift in it. She left her bedroom and dumped the bag on the couch. Walking over to her window, she looked out at the view before pulling her window up and making sure it was locked into place, stepping out onto her fire escape to check the plants she had out there.

“I watered them.”

Isolde grinned and turned to Althea, who was sitting on the window sill in her blue Cookie Monster tank top and matching pajama shorts, grinning back.

“Good to know, as I pay you to do that too.”

“I don’t know why you don’t just get a house, Iz. You love to garden, and you’re always talking about wanting to grow your own vegetables.”

“I do have a green thumb,” Isolde said, checking to see how her small rose bush was doing. “But a house is too much a hassle, and that means settling.”

“But I thought you owned your grandma’s old place?”

Isolde shrugged, pressing her fingers into the soil to make sure it was still wet and didn’t need watering. “Not really mine. I mean, it’s under my name, but I only go out there once a year, I have a friend out there that takes care of it for me.”

“Do you pay her too?” Althea teased.

Isolde snorted “Yes, as if I could afford to pay two of you. Paying you is nearly killing my wallet. No, she does it out of the kindness of her heart, as she adored my grandmother. So she enjoys taking care of the house for me.”

“Yeah, no way am I doing this shit out of the kindness of my heart.”

Isolde laughed, looking over her shoulder at Althea. “Good to know.”

“So what of this boy you met?”

“Have you talked to your mother this week?”

Althea raised an eyebrow as Isolde stood and wiped her fingers on her shorts. “All right, change of subject, that’s fine,” she nodded, as Isolde turned to face her. “I’ll eventually learn of this boy. But to answer your questions, yes, I have talked to my mother this week, and even had dinner the other day at the house. She’s doing well, as is my father.”

Isolde nodded. While Althea had a close relationship with her parents, ever since she’d moved out on her own when she’d turned eighteen, she seemed to forget that her parents existed, caught up on the excitement of living on her own and sometimes working out of the area. Isolde didn’t blame her; Isolde herself had to set up calendar reminders on her phone to check in with her mother at least once a week. But she liked to make sure Althea didn’t fall into the same bad habits Isolde had developed.

“I’m glad you’re making time for your parents. Now, where the hell is my bike?”

Althea laughed. “It’s at my place; I borrowed it last week. Then it rained, so I didn’t want to bring it back up. It’s by my door. I can go grab it if you want.”

“No, just make sure you bring it up tomorrow morning. I have some errands to run and I have to go visit my own mother tomorrow, be nice to bike out there.”

Althea scrunched up her nose as Isolde motioned her inside the apartment. “Don’t your parents live like, five miles away?”

“Give or take,” Isolde answered with a nod, climbing back into her apartment and shutting her window.

“Why bike? You have a car.”

Isolde groaned. “I hate driving. I only drive when I absolutely have to, which means I have to be going further than the center of the city to actually dig out my car keys. Which truthfully, I have no idea where I put.”

Althea snorted as she fell onto the couch, starting to stretch herself out, only to catch Isolde’s raised eyebrow. She pulled her legs underneath her. “Food came. It’s on the counter. And are you even sure your car is still in the garage?”

“I check every time I come back, and it’s still there,” Isolde said, closing her window. “And I’m not your maid, Althea. Serve yourself,” Isolde told her as she went to the kitchen to grab plates. Handing one to Althea, she opened the box of cheese pizza and put a couple slices on her plate.

“Can I-” Althea started, only for Isolde to cut her off.

“No, you cannot borrow it.”

“It just sits there, Isolde!” Althea whined as she put pizza on her plate and went back to sit on the couch.

“It gets turned on every other day by my father and I don’t care that it just sits there,” Isolde laughed, going over to her movie shelves. “It’s still my car, and while I trust you to pay my rent, I do not trust you to drive my car.”

“Why not!? You taught me to drive, Isolde!”

Isolde laughed. “Exactly why I don’t trust you to drive; I rarely trust myself in a car, you think I’m going to trust you?”

“So, boy?”

Isolde rolled her eyes. “How about a Hugh Jackman marathon? I got that X-Men movie the other day that’s all about Wolverine.”

“You’re the comic book geek, not me,” Althea pointed out. “And I like the romantic ones, you know that.”

Isolde sighed. “Fine, Kate and Leopold it is,” she said, pulling the movie from its spot. “And the boy’s name is Jussi.”

“Oh, we’re talking about him now?! Is the sex good?”

“I do not sleep with every guy I meet, Althea!” Isolde said, glaring at the girl.

“I know that,” Althea said with an exasperated sigh. “But I read your blog, and I read the couch story.”

“Oh, right,” Isolde said, grabbing the remote from the top of the DVD player. She went to sit on the couch next to Althea. “I really need to put an age limit on my blog.”

“I don’t think it matters anymore, I’m eighteen. I’m at the age where I can read it whether you want me to or not, and I haven’t been a virgin for at least two years.”

“Yes, that I know,” Isolde laughed. “You told me about the horrid experience.”

“So, Jussi. Is he good?”

“He’s good,” Isolde laughed, “It helps that he’s cute.”

“Do you have pictures?”

“I do. They’re on my laptop, so if you’re curious, you’ll have to go get it from my room.”

“Ugh, that’s such a long walk,” Althea groaned, causing Isolde to laugh. “I’ll go get it when I get up next.”

Isolde rolled her eyes and curled up on her side of the couch as she started the movie. She tossed the bag that she had brought out for Althea to the girl. “There, that’s yours.”

Althea ripped into the bag, squealing as she pulled out the ivory peasant blouse with the low V neck before launching herself at Isolde. “Thank you!!”

“Next time I go to Helsinki, you’re coming with me.” Isolde said, hugging Althea before letting her go so Althea could admire the blouse. “It wasn’t until you sent me the picture that I was able to find it. So next time, while I work, you shop.”

Althea laughed. “Deal! Oh! I really love it, Isolde! Thank you!”

“You’re welcome,” Isolde laughed. “I better see it on you at least twice before I leave again.”

Althea stood, holding the blouse in front of her with a grin. “Oh, I will! I’ll wear it out with the girls tomorrow.”

Isolde smiled, biting into her pizza, before leaning forward to grab the remote off the ottoman to start to movie. “I’m glad you’ll get use of it. Hopefully it’ll attract a guy your way and you can leave me the fuck alone.”

Althea laughed. “Please. I pull you from the mononity of life. What the hell would you do without me, Isolde?”

“Probably find a cheaper place to live and be 450 Euros richer,” Isolde said dryly.

“Well, there is that,” Althea agreed with a giggle as she fell back on the couch grabbing her plate from its spot on the ottoman. “So tell me more about your boy.”

“For one, he’s not my boy; he’s just a guy I find attractive and happened to have sex with.”

“Good sex.”

Amazing sex Isolde corrected silently, but gave Althea an indulgent smile. “Yes, good sex.”

“You took pictures of him, too. That’s kinda new for you.”

Isolde frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I mean I’ve met Alex, but only when he waits for you outside. And you’ve never taken pictures of him.”

Isolde frowned at her friend. “I have pictures of Alex.”

“No, you don’t.”

Yes I do,” Isolde argued.

“Yearbook pictures from your high school days do not count, Isolde. Not like pictures you had of Richard.”

Isolde winced. “Yes, well…that’s different.”

“True, you were actually in a relationship with Richard. So obviously, you had pictures of your time together, just like how I took pictures with my boyfriend. You’re not in a relationship with Alex, so I really don’t think you have pictures of him. At least, none that you’ve offered to show me.”

“I don’t think you’d want to see the pictures I have of us,” Isolde smirked.

Althea snorted. “You don’t trust Alex that much.”

Isolde blinked and straightened. “What?”

“You make him wait outside! In the near four years you’ve been with him, he’s always waited for you outside; he’s never been up here.”

“You’ve only lived here for eight months, Althea. How would you know?”

“For one, you are now being defensive, so calm down. And for two, while I may have only been living here for eight months, I have been taking care of your apartment for two years. And you’ve told me yourself that before me it was your mother that came in to take care of your apartment. Why not Alex? You’ve known him since your prep school days. You told me that you use to hang out with him a lot.”


“So why isn’t Alex taking care of your apartment?” Althea asked. “If you don’t trust him to take care of your apartment, let alone invite him inside, you don’t trust him enough to take pictures of him, let alone of you two having sex. Now this guy, this new guy, Jussi; you’ve taken pictures of him. Why?” Althea asked.

Isolde frowned at her. “Stop analyzing me Althea.”

“You trust this guy,” Althea smirked. “For some reason, he’s different. Can this guy actually be someone who sees the inside of your flat?”

“Leave, Althea,” Isolde said firmly, pointing towards the door.

“Fine, fine, I’ll stop,” Althea laughed, putting her hands up in surrender. “I’m just saying, I’m very curious about this guy.”

“He’s just a guy.”

Althea nodded. “All right then. Did Ivan tell you he got me a runway show?”

Isolde gave a sigh of relief at Althea’s topic change and nodded. “Yes, yes he did.”

The rest of the night was spent talking about Althea’s upcoming jobs and watching the romance movies that Althea loved. The topic of Jussi didn’t come up again, though Isolde could tell Althea was itching to ask, especially when she had gone to get Isolde’s laptop from the bedroom and had seen the pictures that Isolde had taken of him. Even she had to admit that some of the pictures she’d taken of Jussi had unconsciously been more intimate than the pictures she’d taken of the rest of his friends.

It had hit nearly three in the morning when Althea had finally gotten up and left for her own apartment, promising to bring Isolde’s bike in the morning before closing the front door behind her. With a yawn, Isolde got up and made sure the door was locked before going to her bedroom. She grabbed her blankets and one good pillow before going back to the living room.

Turning off the DVD player, she curled up on the couch, her blankets surrounding her, allowing the infomercials on TV to lull her into sleep.


She had woken at seven AM to the sound of her cell phone near her ear. When she answered, her voice was still grave and filled with sleep. Alex’s voice filled her ear and slowly woke her up, inviting her out to dinner later that evening.

She’d accepted with a groan, which had only served to make him laugh, before hanging up on her. She lay on the couch for ten minutes before deciding that the day would probably be best spent at her parents’ house, as she knew her mother would be upset if she found out her only child was in town and didn’t make the house her first stop.

So like a good daughter, Isolde rolled off the couch, showered and dressed in an ivory-laced short sleeved shirt that cinched at her waist -very mother-approved, and low rise dark jeans. She looked out her window and saw that it was nice enough to ride, and put on a pair of TOMS. They were shoes that she rarely wore, but as she’d failed on learning how to ride a bike with heels, the flat slip-ons would have to do. She gathered the heels she would wear for the rest of the day and made her way out to the living, where her aqua beach cruiser sat, as Althea had promised.

Putting her heels, along with her wallet and phone, into the wicker basket attached to the bike, she wheeled it out before closing and locking her door. She dumped her keys in the basket and carefully making her way down the stairs, as her bike didn’t fit in the lift. She made it out of the apartment building without running one of her wheels over her toes -which happened occasionally- mounted her bike, and started towards the edge of town out to the countryside where her parents lived.

If Isolde were to settle, which she wouldn’t do for years to come, the countryside would be her preferred place of living. She loved the quiet of the countryside and loved the home she’d grown up in when her family had moved to Prague. But because her job had her traveling to the center of town regularly, getting an apartment out in the countryside was impossible. Getting a house was simply out of the question, so she’d settled for an apartment half-way between the two; luckily, she enjoyed riding her bike when it was nice enough outside.

There was something about the fresh air on an early bike ride that woke her up in the morning and made her feel refreshed. At night when her mind was chaotic, she’d drag her bike out and take a ride, her mind instantly calming.

Josef had teased her when they’d been younger, as she’d always preferred riding bikes rather than drive a car. Josef had actually been the one to convince her to get her license when they’d been teenagers. She’d given in and gotten one, and as a graduation present from high school, her father had gifted her a black VW Beetle. Which, she rarely drove. As she’d told Althea, she didn’t drive if she didn’t absolutely have to; riding her bike or walking seemed to suit her better, so she stuck with two wheels rather than four.

Her mind, which had been a bit restless, calmed, and she couldn’t help but smile as she rode past the road that would take her to the Kolar’s home. She knew from experience that Ivana, Josef’s mother, would already be up and working on her back garden while Krištof, Josef’s father, would already be at one of the many museums he worked at, looking over the art restorations with his youngest daughter, Mila. If Josef had been in town, Isolde wouldn’t have hesitated in making a detour and waking Josef up to play with her. But alas, Josef was in New York and Isolde would stop by to say her hellos to the Kolars after she visited her mother.

Taking the road that would lead to her parents’ home, Isolde rode up the drive and stopped half-way through to look at the house. Her father was such an ostentatious man, she thought. He loved showing off, and their home was the perfect example of it. Seven bedrooms and five bathrooms, of which only two were ever used, a large kitchen that her parents didn’t even know existed, though the cook her father hired practically salivated over it when he was hired. A study and separate library, along with a back yard that was more for show then it was for any type of use.

As much as she loved her parents, it was no surprise as to why she hated spending time in the house by herself. Such a large house, and though she and her father had their moments of closeness, he’d never really been home. And her mother. Isolde smiled as she thought about her mother. As much as she loved the woman, she wasn’t the maternal type when Isolde had been little. It wasn’t until Isolde had hit her teens that her mother had become more active in Isolde’s life, having been more able to connect with a girl becoming a woman rather than a child learning about the world.

Getting off her bike, she made sure to keep on the dirt path, as she knew while her mother didn’t do the gardening on the house, she would kill Isolde if her bike wheels even so much as made a crease in the perfectly manicured lawn.

Too neat, Isolde thought as she kicked the bike stand down, parking her bike by the garage door. She slipped off her TOMS, trading them in for her dark blue suede heeled booties with the gold button details. The lawn and the house were all too neat; too neat and too organized for Isolde. All the flowers were perfectly grown and grouped together. The lawn was mowed weekly to keep it trimmed.

She placed her TOMS in the basket and dug out her phone, placing it in her pocket. She headed towards the front door, entering without bothering to knock. The inside of the house was just the same as the outside grounds; everything screamed high-end, and while her parents could afford it, Isolde hated showing off the fact that she just happened to come from a well-off background. Her schoolmates had always assumed that because her parents were well-off, Isolde was well-off.

Which, she guessed, was technically true. Her parents had set up a trust fund that she received on her twenty-first birthday that would have kept her very comfortable, had she decided not to do anything with her time other than sunbathe and attend her father’s hospital functions. Instead, Isolde had left that money alone. She called it her emergency money, and instead had started from the ground up, using the money she’d made from her modeling shoots to pay for her first camera. She had made her own name when it came to her photography.

It wasn’t that she was ungrateful, she thought, running her fingers over an antique King George chair in the formal living room. She just wasn’t that type of person to ride on the coattails of others. Her mother had worked hard for the money she’d made as a B-movie actress and her father had worked his way up to Chief of Medicine on his own accord and his own hard work. Who was she to use her last name as a stepping stone for greater things? What did that say about her as a person?

She’d wanted to work her way to the top, for people to know her name for her phenomenal work as a model and photographer, not because of her father or mother’s name. So far that had been working for her very well.

“Maminka?” she called, hearing the clatter in the kitchen.


Walking into the kitchen, she saw her mother setting the teapot on a silver tray before turning to smile at her. Her mother was beautiful, there was never any doubting that, Isolde thought. She had long blonde hair that fell in waves just past her shoulders, a smooth flawless face that never seemed to wrinkle or show her real age of forty-nine, and a body that was in the shape of an hourglass. It was kept in shape by morning jogs, the exercise equipment kept in one of the rooms upstairs, and her private trainer. If anything, Ita Caspari could double as Isolde’s sister, rather than her mother, which was something that Ita definitely preferred.

“Oh Isolde!”

“Hi mum,” she whispered as her mother pulled her into a tight hug. Isolde hugged her back just as tightly.

“Oh I’ve missed you, princezna! When did you get into town?” Ita asked, holding her daughter at arm’s length and eyeing her critically. “You’re a bit thin.”

“I’ve always been thin, maminka,” Isolde said with a roll of her eyes.

“And you’ve got a bit of a glow about you.”

“Mmm, probably my new lotion,” Isolde teased, leaning up to kiss her mother’s cheek “I got in yesterday, but I was with Ivan all day and running to meetings. By the time I got home, I didn’t quite feel up to leaving, but if it makes you feel better you were my first stop today.”


Isolde grinned at her mother’s teasing before spying the tea cups on the tray. “There are three tea cups.”

“Of course.”

“Why three? Is daddy home? Do you have company?”

“Oh, of course not!” Ita said with a wave of her hand, dismissing the idea. “Your Da’s been at work since six this morning.” Isolde grinned at the slight Irish accent that slipped from her mother’s lips, showing her roots. “One is for me, one for you and the other for Ivana, of course! She’s outside waiting for us.”

Isolde sighed, amazed that her mother and Ivana always seemed to know when her feet hit Czech land. “I swear, is there some type of Isolde signal?”

“Yes, there is. It’s in the shape of a Louboutin heel and it flashes whenever your plane lands.”

“You’re hilarious, mother.” Isolde shook her head, but couldn’t help but smile.

“Of course I am. Now don’t be rude and go say hello to Ivana, I’m just going to go get the cookies.”

Isolde nodded, kissing her mother’s cheek. “It’s really nice to be back, maminka.”

“Well of course it is, princezna. After all, home is where the heart is, and your heart will always be here with your maminka!”

Isolde couldn’t help but laugh and give her mother a nod. “Always.” She left her mother to search for the cookies. Isolde made her way outside to the covered patio where Ivana was sitting, looking out towards the view of Prague that both her family and Ivana had. She leaned down over Ivana, resting her chin on the woman’s shoulder and taking in her presence.

“Oh Isolde, it’s so good to see you,” Ivana said, turning to smile at her pseudo-daughter and kissing her cheek.

“Good to be back. For now, at least.” She kissed Ivana’s cheek before settling in the seat next to her.

“How was Helsinki? That’s where you were, wasn’t it?”

“It was one of my many stops.”

“Such a world traveler,” Ivana said, reaching over and pinching her cheek.

Isolde grinned. “Of course. And Helsinki was wonderful, as it usually is.”

“It must help that you have a gentlemen over there.”

Isolde blinked. “I swear, does the entire world read my blog?”

“Yes. Well, all except your parents, of course,” Ivana teased.

“Well thank God,” Isolde said, giving a mock sigh of relief. “I don’t think I’d be able to leave Prague if my parents found out about it.”

Ivana snorted. “Probably not.”

“All right loves, I’ve got tea and cookies,” Ita announced as she come out holding the tray. “Isolde, your daddy knows you’re home now; he expects you for dinner tonight,” Ita told her, setting the trey down.

Isolde frowned as she reached over and grabbed a cookie. “Can’t tonight, I have a date.”

“Already Isolde? I’ve barley seen you!”

Isolde laughed. “I’m pretty sure dinner with Alex is a standing date mum.”

“Are you still seeing Alex?” Ivana asked, thanking Ita as the tea was served.

“Yes, I am,” Isolde nodded. “He has the night off from the hospital. Which is rare, so we’re taking advantage of it.”

Ivana patted Isolde’s hand. “He’s nice.”

“Nice enough,” Isolde shrugged.

“Isolde, you’ve been seeing Alex for a good amount of years know,” Ita hinted, causing Isolde to wince.

“True, but we’re not really….the marriage type mum. We’re both entirely too selfish to be in a healthy relationship. I enjoy what Alex and I have, don’t push marriage on us.”

“I wasn’t,” Ita defended, leaning back in her chair and crossing her legs. “I was just pointing out that you’ve been together for a long time now.”

“Like I said, he’s nice enough.” Isolde said once again with a shrug before turning to Ivana with a small smile. “How’s Josef? I haven’t talked to him in a while.”

“Oh, he’s fine! I just talked to him a couple of days ago. Did you not see him when he was in town a few of months ago? I know you both were in town about the same time.”

Isolde frowned. When had Josef been in town at the same time she had been…? “You mean this last summer?”

“Yes!” Ivana laughed. “He came by around July or so.”

Isolde laughed. “I actually did catch him! Just as I was leaving for Germany, I ran into him and Soya at a coffee shop.” She bit her lip as she remembered Josef hadn’t actually come out to his parents yet, and to them, Soya was his girlfriend. “His girlfriend is very pretty.”

Ivana burst out laughing before setting her tea down and cupping Isolde’s cheeks, causing Isolde to stare at her in surprise as Ivana kissed her forehead. “Oh, it’s so wonderful to know that Josef has such amazing friends that are willing to protect him. Thank you, Isolde.”

“For what?” Isolde asked slowly.

“Josef’s father and I both know of Josef’s enjoyment for men’s company over women. He told us when he came to visit. I won fifty Euros, you know.”

Isolde stared at her in shock. “He told you?”

Ivana nodded. “He did. I’m sure you know of the arrangement he had with Soya.”

“Vaguely,” Isolde said with a shrug. “I know it worked for the both of them.”

“It did, for quite some time. Josef wanted to be straight for us and Soya was looking to please her parents. But Soya, according to Josef, is very happy with her boyfriend in Helsinki and Josef is very happy with his boyfriend in New York. It was time for them to both move on with their lives.”

“Have you met Russell?”

“I have not,” Ivana said. “Though I’ve spoken to him a couple of times when he’s answered Josef’s phone. Sweet man, very polite. But I’m not quite sure if he’s the right man for my Josef, though I hope he is.” Ivana smiled.

“Have you spoken to Soya?”

“A couple of times since she’s been in Helsinki; she’s been busy, though.” Ivana said with a small smile. “I’ve already told her that I want to meet that man of hers. She seems very reluctant to share him.”

Isolde grinned. “From what I’ve seen, she shares him with all of their friends, plus his fans. So keeping him to herself is very just.”

“You’ve met him, Isolde?” Ita asked.

“I have. It was one of the reasons I went to Helsinki. To take their pictures; they’re good together.”

“You and Rich-”

“Don’t start, mum. Really, please, just don’t start,” Isolde said, cutting her mother off before she started her, ‘Richard was perfect for you’ rant.

“I’m just trying to say that I want to see you with a nice young man, Isolde. You know who just got married?”

“I’m guessing someone I went to school with,” Isolde said, causing Ivana to hide her smile behind her tea mug as Isolde snagged another cookie from the plate, knowing her mother wouldn’t reprimand her if she thought Isolde was looking thin.

“It is! Hana just got married.”

“Vaguely remember a few girls in my class named Hana, mum.”

Ivana laughed. “The mousy brunette that used to follow Josef around like a little puppy.”

“Oh! Josef’s little stalker! I remember her. Someone married her?”

“Isolde!” Ita reprimanded as Ivana laughed.

“Nice young man, a year younger than you guys,” Ivana said, patting Isolde’s hand.

“And Alicia! You remember Alicia, don’t you, Isolde?” Ita asked in excitement.

“Alicia A. Parker?” Isolde asked with a raised eyebrow, causing Ivana to chuckle. “Yes, I very much remember that one.”

“She’s on her third child!”

“Good on her,” Isolde shrugged. “I happen to like my body just the way it is.”

Ita rolled her eyes. “Don’t you want to settle, Isolde?”

“Eventually,” Isolde said slowly. “But I like the way I live. I enjoy traveling. I enjoy meeting new people, and I very much enjoy not having to check in with a husband every hour. It’s why Alex and I work, and I’m very happy with it.”

“Leave it be, Ita,” Ivana said patiently, taking a cookie from the tray. “Isolde’s still young, she has a lot of time to settle down as you want her to.”

“She’s nearly thirty!”

She is sitting right here!” Isolde laughed, though she could hear that it was strained. As much as she loved her mother, she hated the ‘why haven’t you settled?’ conversation. “Maminka, I know you worry about me. But really, I’m quite happy, if not a bit thin.”

Ita gave a small laugh as she reached over and patted her daughter’s cheek. “Your father and I just want to see you more often, Isolde. We’d love it if you just settled here.”

Isolde resisted the urge to frown. While she loved Prague, she knew it was ultimately not the place she wanted to settle; too many bad memories and too many people she tended to avoid when back in the area. It was why she was never in the area for more than a month. Less if she could help it. She hated playing the hide and go seek game in her own town, so she avoided it in order not to play it. It seemed childish, but it tended to work for her eighty percent of the time.

“Mum, when I settle you will be the first to know,” Isolde smiled.

Ita smiled at her daughter. The conversation moved on as Ivana and Ita continued to talk about the people that seemed to move on with their life while Isolde stayed still. Shaking the thought out of her head, she added a cube of sugar into her tea and snagged her fifth cookie.

She was happy, she reminded herself as she heard Ivana brag about her grandchildren. She was happy with her life and she was happy with the decisions she’d made. The fact that she had to remind herself had to mean that something was missing; it killed her to know that.

She liked to think she was independent; one of those modern women that said ‘fuck it, I don’t need a man to make my life complete,’ and for the most part she believed that. She really didn’t need that constant companionship. She liked her causal dating, but there were times when she was sitting in her flat or in one of her hotel rooms that she remembered why she enjoyed being in a relationship.

Smiling at her mother and Ivana, she shook her head free of her thoughts one more time, reminding herself once again that she was happily single and had two men that gave her…well, one gave her good sex. The other gave her mind blowing sex. And in three weeks she’d be once again on a plane traveling to a different place, hopefully somewhere near the states so she could have an excuse to visit her best friend, who apparently had failed to mention to her that he’d outed himself to his parents. A trip to New York to rip into him was definitely in order and maybe it would allow her to get over the ridiculous feeling that something was missing.


Isolde blinked and looked up at Ivana who was standing. “Huh?”

“Will you walk me home, sweetheart?

“Oh! Yeah,” Isolde said, standing up and pushing in her chair. “Want me to take this into the kitchen, mum?”

“No leave it, I’m going to stay outside for a bit longer.”

Isolde went around the table and kissed her mother’s upturned cheek. “I’ll be back.”

“No, you won’t,” Ita laughed, patting her daughter’s cheek. “But please come back before you leave the country again.”

“Deal,” Isolde laughed, kissing her mother’s cheek again. “Tell daddy I said ‘hi.’”

“Of course,” Ita nodded as Isolde stole one more cookie off the plate and followed Ivana out once she’d said goodbye to Ita.

“You were quiet. That’s odd for you,” Ivana teased, nudging Isolde’s shoulder as they left the house.

“Just thinking,” Isolde said with a small smile as she grabbed her bike.

“Did you get good pictures in Helsinki, Isolde?” Ivana asked as Isolde walked her bike down the path at the slow pace Ivana had set.

“I did. You’ll have to come by the flat and I’ll show you the pictures I took of Soya and her boyfriend.”

“Ville, that’s his name, correct? I remember Josef mentioning it.”

Isolde chuckled. “Yes that’s his name, and before you get protective as I know you’re just as protective of Soya as you are with your other daughters, he treats her like a princess.”

“And this man in Helsinki, how does he treat you?”

Isolde laughed as she looked at the older woman. “You know, it’s weird talking to you about my sex life. You’re like a mother to me.”

Ivana raised an eyebrow. “Sweetheart, if you don’t want your sex life to be public knowledge, don’t post it online for the world to read.”

Isolde laughed. “He treated me very well. He’s enamored.”

Ivana clapped her hands together in amusement. “Oh, aren’t they all!”

“People have been telling me he’s different.”

“How so? Tell mamma Ivana all about it,” Ivana teased.

“That’s the thing,” Isolde sighed. “I’m not sure if there is much to tell. I mean, he’s a very good looking guy. He’s nice and he’s amused by me, which is more than I can say about other people that I’ve been with. They tend to be annoyed by my crudeness. Jussi…he gets a kick out of it.” Isolde bit her lip before smiling at Ivana. “It’s odd to say, but he lets me take the lead. I’ve never had a guy do that before.”

“What do you mean?”

Isolde blinked and shrugged. “I don’t know… he let me take charge in the couple days we were together. He seemed content in just sitting back, following my lead. But he’s not a pushover; there’s this side about him that lets you know that he’s fine taking control of a situation as well. He’s just…different.”

“And you got this from him in the couple days you were together?” Ivana asked.

“Well…yes?” Isolde said, her voice questioning. “I don’t know. I can’t get him out of my mind, but we both agreed that we weren’t ones for relationships. I mean, he’s in a band.”

“That’s different for you.”

“As everyone keeps pointing out,” Isolde muttered, though obviously Ivana had heard as Isolde caught the smirk the woman had sent her way. “He’s in a band, Ivana. There’s no way both of our crazy schedules would mesh. He can barely sit still for ten minutes, let alone stick to a relationship. Not that I want one.”


“And I hate staying in one place.”

“No you don’t,” Ivana said.

“Of course I do,” Isolde argued.

“No,” Ivana said with a shake of her head as they reached the dirt path that would lead up to the Kolar house. “You may enjoy traveling Isolde, but even I see how tired you are most days, and you only visit us every four to five months.”

“I’ll try to come back more often,” Isolde muttered.

Ivana laughed quietly. “It’s not that you hate staying in one place, Isolde. You just haven’t found that place you want to stay in; a place for you to officially say ‘this is home, this is where I want to be.’”

“Mum says home is where the heart is.”

Ivana shrugged. “At times.”

“What do you mean, ‘at times’?” Isolde frowned.

Ivana sighed and tried to find the words. “I believe people romanticize that statement too much. Some people take it to mean that your home is to whom you give your heart to, but that’s just a load of crap. Your heart ultimately belongs to you and you share it with a person you find special enough to let in.”

“All right, but that doesn’t mean that I want to settle.”

“You want to settle, Isolde,” Ivana laughed. “You may not want to admit it, but you want it. Your problem is, you’re running.”

Isolde looked at Ivana. “Please, enlighten me as to what I’m running from.”

Ivana smiled as they reached the front door and leaned forward to kiss Isolde’s cheek. “You know what you’re running from, Isolde.” She cupped Isolde’s cheeks and moved closer so their noses brushed. Ivana’s smile was light as she spoke in a low voice. “You need to let go, Isolde. You may have told yourself you’ve moved forward with your life, but I know differently. Home will untimely come to you when you decide to let go of the past you’ve been holding onto and grab on to the future that you’re avoiding. I love you, sweetheart. You’re like one of my daughters, and like Ita, I want to see you happy, Isolde. Truly happy.” Ivana kissed her forehead and backed away. “Have fun with Alex tonight.”



“Do you think happiness is in my future?”

“Oh sweetheart, I’m not a fortune teller. I can’t wave my hand over my fine crystal and tell you yes, but I know that everyone, no matter what, deserves happiness. Even you, Isolde.”


“Isolde,” Ivana said patiently. “You deserve it, so start looking for it. Now go on, you only have about eight hours to get ready for your date. I know you’re cutting it close.”

Isolde smiled and nodded. “Thanks, Ivana.”

“Anytime Isolde. Oh! And go easy on Josef when you call to yell at him, he’s been busy with the company.”

“Yes, because that’s an excuse to not tell me he told his parents he was gay,” Isolde said with a shake of her head and she changed out of her heels and back into her TOMS. “But for you, I’ll try.”

“That’s all I ask,” Ivana chuckled as she went inside and closed the door behind her. Isolde sighed, taking her phone out of her pocket and dialing Josef’s number, getting his voicemail. She shook her head and started talking.

“You are in such big trouble, Josef! Call me back when you get this or I will fly to New York to kick your ass, and you know I can do it too!”

Hanging up and throwing her phone into her basket, she mounted her bike and started her way out of the Kolar’s driveway. So maybe she held onto the past a little too hard. She may not have allowed herself to think about the past, but she did hold onto it. A fault of hers, but truthfully, she wasn’t sure how to let go of it.


“Well, don’t you clean up nice?”

Isolde laughed as she met Alex at the table of the Italian restraint they’d decided to meet at, accepting the light kiss he placed on her lips. “Oh, I always do.” She’d decided to wear an ivory knit dress with a loose turtle neck and a brown thick belt that sat at her waist. She’d also matched the dress with brown gladiator heels that showed off her blue painted toes. The dress was short, ending mid-thigh, and tight, hugging her figure like a glove, something that Alex tended to favor, though he never voiced it.

He was much more conservative, Isolde thought, as he pulled out her chair, allowing her to sit. He then tucked her back in. Alex didn’t voice his dirtier thoughts much, and never told her what he preferred, though she had picked up on it in the four years they’d been seeing each other.

He was tall, at least 6’3,” and tended to tower over her. It was odd that she was picking up on that fact now after being with him for so long. He had a lithe body. He kept in shape, but even years later he’d still kept the wiry frame he’d had in high school. Blonde, like most of men she saw, and pale blue eyes, nothing like Jussi’s vibrant blue.

Isolde blinked at her inner thoughts. Where the hell had that come from?

“You’re orange now.” Alex pointed out playing with the bright orange strands of hair that had fallen in front of her eye.

“I am, I changed it this afternoon after I visited with my mum.” Isolde nodded, tucking the hair behind her ear.

“How was your trip back?” Alex asked, picking up the menu.

“Good,” Isolde smiled lightly, pushing Jussi to the back of her head. She played with the edge of her menu, not bothering to pick it up, knowing Alex would order for her. An act she hated, but let him do because it made him happy. Jussi had let her order.

‘Isolde, stop!’ she yelled at herself inwardly before shaking her head and looking at Alex, who was eyeing her.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, it’s just been a long day,” Isolde said with a sigh. “How about you? How was work? Lots of life saving in the ER?”

“I work in pediatrics, Isolde.”

“Lots of kids today?” Isolde asked.

“A few. I worked with my nurse today.”

Isolde laughed. “You really need to just ask her out, Alex.”

“No, no, I really don’t want to get involved right now, crazy hours and all the shit. Who puts up with that?”

“I do,” Isolde snorted. “And if you were working with her this early this morning, it means she has crazy hours too.”

“I’m not just casting you off to the side, Isolde,”

“I never said you were,” Isolde laughed, crossing her legs. “Come on, you’ve been chasing after that nurse for about a year now! Ever since she transferred to your department.”

Alex shrugged. “We’ll see. I enjoy what we have, anyway.”

Isolde bit her lip. “But you do know there’s no moving forward from this, right Alex? We just have dinner and sex…that’s what we are.”

“We’re friends,” Alex said.

“Well yeah, we’re friends, but there’s no-”

“Isolde,” Alex said with a kind smile. “I know, sweetheart.”

Isolde nodded as the waitress came and took their order. Alex ordered for them, starter salads and some type of pasta, along with a wine that Isolde knew she’d be fond of. She never really listened when men ordered for her. She figured if they got her something she liked, good on them for observing her tastes. If they didn’t, then she’d suffer through picking through her food and pretending to enjoy it. For the most part Alex was observant and always ordered her something she liked.

“So how was the man in Helsinki?” Alex asked as the waitress left with promises of their wine coming soon.

“What is everyone’s interest in Jussi?” Isolde laughed.

“I’m asking for competition sake.”

Isolde snorted. “Yes, he asked about you too.”

“Did he find me impressive?” Alex asked with a smirk.

“Very,” Isolde grinned, thanking the waitress that came back with their wine, letting Alex taste it before serving them and leaving the bottle.

“What does he do?”

“He’s a drummer in a band,” Isolde said with a smile. “Not my usual taste, but he’s gorgeous, so I gave in.”

Alex snorted. “I’m sure his looks weren’t the only thing that called to you.”

“Mm, they helped,” Isolde laughed, only to cut her laughter off as she noticed the woman coming in through the door.

Alex noted her mood shift and turned towards the door, only to raise an eyebrow as the woman and the little boy with her walked towards them behind the hostess. The woman scanned the restaurant, only to stop on them as she reached the table, stopping abruptly and smiling at Isolde.

“Isolde, you’re back in town!” she said. Her voice held excitement but Isolde could hear the fakeness in it.

“I am,” Isolde said shortly, turning her eyes to the five year-old standing by his mother. He had on a black suit that fit him perfectly and a red bow tie that was just a bit crooked. She smiled genuinely at the boy and reached over to fix his bow. “Hello, Andre.”

“Hello, Miss Isolde,” he said politely with a smile. “How are you?”

“Oh I’m just fine,” Isolde said, patting his cheek before looking up at his mother again. “He’s growing to be quite the looker, Morgan. Must get that from his father.” She watched Morgan tense before smiling.

“I assure you, all me,” Morgan said. “We should get going; we’re meeting my parents for dinner. Isolde, you and I should get together sometime now that you’re back in town.”

“I’ll make the time,” Isolde said with a smile. “Have your people call my people. We’ll set something up.” She heard Alex snort, but continued to smile at Morgan instead of sparing him a glance.

“Of course,” Morgan said, starting to usher Andre away.

“Bye Miss Isolde,” Andre said, waving back at her.

“Bye, Andre,” she said, waving back, watching as they disappeared before releasing the breath she’d been holding and staring down at the table.

“Want to leave?” Alex asked, placing a hand over hers


Alex chuckled lightly. “Want a paper bag?”

“No, just…give me a minute,” she whispered. Alex nodded as Isolde regained her breath. “All right, I’m good.”

“You did well,” Alex said as Isolde picked up her wine and took a deep drink.

“Thanks…I think. Can we just-”

“I got a new stethoscope!” Alex said, taking Isolde’s cue, causing Isolde to grin.

“Thank God for you, Alex. Really,” she said, patting his hand as he leaned forward and kissed her cheek.

“Anytime, Isolde. Anytime,” Alex said, only to frown when a beeping sound came from his pocket. “Except for maybe tonight,” he muttered, looking at his phone. “Damn, I have to go in.”

Isolde nodded. “All right.”

“I’m so sorry, Isolde. I swear I thought I’d be all yours tonight.”

“It’s fine, Alex, really. Though the hospital is on the way to my flat. Do you mind if we share a taxi?”

“Of course,” Alex nodded, leaving bills on the table and holding his hand out for Isolde as they left the restaurant. Alex hailed a cab and helped her in before sliding in himself. “I’m sorry for cutting this short, Isolde, especially after running into Morgan.”

“It’s fine, really, Alex. The downside of being involved with a doctor,” she teased as Alex pulled out his wallet to pay the cab as it pulled up in front of the hospital. He paid the driver for both their fares before handing Isolde a card.

Isolde blinked at it. “Hotel key?”

“If I get out before midnight?” Alex asked, starting to slide out of the cab.


“I’ve got it for the rest of the week, so just hold on to it and I’ll call you.”

“Yeah,” Isolde said slowly, not sure whether she was offended that Alex thought she would just wait by the phone for his call or amused that he was so prepared. Offended, she decided. She was definitely offended as he kissed her cheek and left the cab, hitting the top of the car and signaling it to take off.

“Well, I feel cheap,” she muttered, sliding the hotel key card into her small black clutch and running her fingers through her hair, wondering just what point in time had her night spiraled out of control.

Was it going to dinner in the first place? When she knew in the back of her mind she would be comparing Alex to Jussi the entire night? Had it been when Morgan walked in with Richard’s little look-alike that caused the night to get out of control? Or had it been when Alex had handed her the hotel room key and made her feel like some prostitute he’d picked up? As if sex was just expected after he took her to dinner. He’d never done that before, she thought as she got out of the cab, thanking the driver.

“Well, this night just went to hell,” she muttered, taking the lift to her floor and making it to her flat. Leaning up against the door, she slid down to sit and stared at the back of her couch, allowing herself for once to let the past wash over her. The good she had with Richard in the apartment, the bad, the horrible, the laughter’s and most importantly, the arguments.

It was her phone that interrupted her thinking. Without looking at the caller ID, she answered and wasn’t even able to croak a hello before a voice started in.

“First of all, do not kick my ass, but please do come visit as I miss you. And secondly, the phone does work both ways, Isolde. Just because I don’t call you doesn’t mean you can’t call me, so what do you have to say for yourself?”

Isolde buried her face in her knees and gave a deep sigh, willing herself not to cry. “Why am I never good enough, Josef?”
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Althea and Isolde's outfits

Thank you guys so so so so so so so much for waiting for this chapter!!! Its nice and long for you guys as the next one will be as well!!

I was in the middle of a move along with starting work back up, it didn't help that Isolde was giving me a bit of trouble. I'm hoping Jussi's won't be as hard lol. Thank you guys again for waiting and for leaving your comments!!! I loved them all!!! It means so much that you guys are enjoying Jussi and Isolde's adventure!!!

I will try my very best to get the next chapter up next week and get back on schedule!! I can't wait to see what you guys thoughts!! So leave your comments and as always I will send a preview!!