Chapter 39. Johanna

‘ Come in.’ a silky smooth voice called out as soon as I knocked on the door.

I swallowed the lump in my throat and gathered up all my courage. It had been a long time, but her voice was still exactly the same. And like always, it send a single shiver right down my spine.

With a shaky hand, I pushed open the heavy door and let myself into her world.

Everything still looked exactly the same. If someone told me it had only been yesterday since I was here last, I would have believed them without a doubt.

‘ Aria. What a lovely surprise. I knew it was you.’ she spoke up, even though she still had her back turned towards me.

I lightly rolled my eyes and held in a chuckle. She hadn’t changed a thing. She would always pretend she “felt” me coming, even though we both knew that she was just good at recognising my scent and picking it up.

‘ Johanna. It has been a while.’ I returned her greeting, internally cringing as I heard how formal it sounded. Johanna. In our entire relationship, I had almost never used her full name, but now it seemed almost inappropriate to just go back to her nickname. Even if she had waved away all formalities by using mine.

It had been a long time since anyone called me Aria. Almost ten years now. After all, she was always the only one who insisted on calling me so.

I had hoped not to feel nostalgic but I knew I was already in trouble. There was just something so painfully familiar about her that it made me ache.

She let out a deep breath and I knew she was smiling. After all, I could tell by how her shoulders moved and how her back tensed. So when she turned around and I could finally see her face, I wasn’t at all surprised by the cheeky grin on her lips.

Gods. She was still as beautiful as the last day I saw her.

‘ So formal, Aria. You never called me Johanna, remember?’ she smirked as she approached me, her hips swaying dangerously seductive.

‘ That was a long time ago.’ I argued, subconsciously taking a step back to stay out of her reach.

A futile and utterly useless move. It only took her one extra step for her to come face to face to me.

From far away, she was a babe, no doubt. But up close, you could truly see how perfectly polished her features were. The dark beauty mark above her voluminous lips that held a permanent smirk. Her straight nose and high cheek bones called out classic beauty just as much as her shaped eyebrows and long, lustrous locks of hair.

She was easily the sexiest woman I had encountered in all my years. And I had lived many years and had met a lot of people, so that was saying something.

The cheeky grin that always played on the corner of her lips gave her a playful and mischievous look that concealed her true age and made me feel like she knew something I didn’t.

It had always frustrated me beyond belief, yet it was one of the things I loved so much about her.

Without any effort, she caught my gaze and her dark purple eyes narrowed as they pierced in my soul. She intently studied me and then her nostrils flared as she took a big whiff of my scent. Her upper lip curled up in what I thought would be a smirk, but it morphed into a snarl and she abruptly turned around, tossing her hair over her shoulder.

I let out a silent sigh of relief as she put distance between us and managed to calm myself down. After all this time, having her in such close proximity still made me a little dizzy.

‘ You smell like someone else.’ she dryly said, but I could hear by the tone of her voice that this was causing her great displeasure.

‘ Her name is Heather.’ I simply answered, not feeling like beating around the bush or playing games. This was why I was here and maybe if she knew there was someone else, she would stop looking at me like a feline stalks her prey.

‘ Good for you.’ my dark-haired ex nonchalantly added, but her sarcasm wasn’t lost on me. Not that I blamed her.

When things ended, there had been so much ambiguity, but to be fair, most of our relationship was shrouded in that. There were so many things left undefined and unspoken, that in the end it felt like we were both wandering around in a haze of mist trying to figure out where we both were. Not after long, we didn’t even know if we were or weren’t a thing and yet, we kept going. We kept rocking the boat, paddling, but we had no clue to where we were going or if we were even going in the same direction. All we knew was that we were lost at sea and that we surely were sinking.

It had made us both so miserable that after so many years of uncertainty and hurt, I abandoned ship, hoping that the little boat might carry her to wherever she wanted to go.

It had never crossed my mind that she might have preferred to drown with me than sail on to better shores without me. It was just something I couldn’t believe.

After all we had been through, there just didn’t seem any other option left.

So I left her and never looked back, wishing she would be okay and trusting in her abilities to survive. I knew in my heart that she could make it on her own. I just never knew for sure if that was what she truly wanted.

After all this time, I wasn’t even sure if I had saved her or myself. Maybe I had done a little bit of both.

All I knew was that I loved her, but that we were sinking. And I wasn’t ready for us to drown.

But even so, knowing that it had been the right choice at that time, I couldn’t help but hear a whisper in the back of my head, reminding me of a promise I had made to her a long time ago.

I had convinced myself she would be okay without me. I had convinced myself I would be okay without her. And miraculously, we were. But still, a part of me had gotten lost at sea and I had never found it again.

And as I stood in front of her, after all these years, I realised that she had taken that little part of me with her and I could see in her eyes that she had taken good care of it.

Everything about her was so familiar and yet she felt like barely more than a stranger. And to be perfectly honest, it pained me more than I liked to admit.

I shook away those long lost thoughts and reminded myself why things had gone like they had and how we had gotten here.

‘ I need your help, Johanna.’ I sincerely spoke, hoping that after everything that happened, she still cared enough for me to help.

‘ So, this really is a business call.’ she sighed, her face calm and composed again, every hint of anger or displeasure erased. She truly was a master of disguise.

I felt another sharp pang go through me as that same little voice reminded me that in the past, she didn’t have to hide around me, but I quickly waved it away.

It was what it was.

‘ Can I trust you?’

‘ I am insulted you even need to ask.’ she scowled as a flash of disappointment passed over her whole being.

‘ You’re right, sorry. I have a… Delicate problem. I need you to check me out.’

She pulled up her perfectly shaped eyebrow in amusement and I quickly rephrased my sentence.

‘ Medical check out. I need a full work-up. There is something wrong with my body and I need you to find out what it is, but I can’t tell you what you are looking for, why I need you to keep this under the radar or what is going on. Are you my woman or do I need to find someone else?’

‘ I am always your woman and as far as I can tell, your body looks fine.’ she grinned with a flirty undertone that should have concerned me, yet it didn’t. It just felt nice. ‘ Except for that one blue eye of yours. You should really try to hide it better.’ she casually added, making my mouth fall open.

I had only been here for five minutes and even with this bad lightning, she had spotted what was going on. She really knew me inside out and could read me like an open book.

But then again, after hundred years, it really was no surprise. We spend long enough learning each others translations and fighting over the meanings.

I had changed a lot, but the person I had become, was build on who I was with her. I would have been insulted if she didn’t remember the person who I used to be around her.

So I decided to ignore the part inside me that rejoiced and pushed down the surprise.

‘ That is why you are the best.’ I grinned as I got over my astonishment. She truly was one of the best in her field. The only reason why she worked independently was that she would fluster all her colleagues to the point where disastrous mistakes were made.

She approached me and as she pushed my chin up with one slender finger, she peered deep into my eyes. ‘ Aria, Aria. What kind of trouble have you gotten yourself into this time?’

I challengingly stared back at her, forcing myself not to bow down under her stare and as time passed, our staring match got intenser and intenser.

I couldn’t give in to her again. I needed to resist her, for my sake, for her sake and for Heather’s sake.

So we just stared.

For a moment, I feared she would kiss me, but then she let go of my chin and drew her eyes away.

She must have found her answer in my eyes because she let out a soft sigh and shook her head as she rubbed her neck. As she turned towards me, a worried look had found its way on her face and the light crease on her forehead showed that the last ten years hadn’t passed her by without leaving a mark.

‘ I guess some things never change. Who is this girl?’

‘ She is really important and I need to know if I am okay. That is all I can tell you for now.’ I carefully phrased, hoping she wouldn’t dig deeper because I feared I might just throw it all on the table if she did.

‘ So am I correct to assume it is about that human girl?’

I froze under her words and with widened eyes I looked at the woman in front of me.

How in the world…

She lightly chuckled and shook her head again. ‘ Your silence says enough. I figured as much.’

‘ H-How…?’ I spluttered out, gasping for air as panic flashed through my head. Was it that obvious? Had I said something wrong? Was there a leak somewhere? Was Heather in danger? Did I put Heather in danger?

What was going on!

Oh gods, no. I needed to get out of here. I needed to go see Heather, make sure she was okay. We needed to leave. Right now for fucks sake!

‘ Please, I am one of the most respected scientist of this generation. Of course I am part of the elite team that works with classified information. I worked on the original HH case. When our examination got cancelled and your father got suspended a couple of months later, it became very clear to me. I spoke with him and he confirmed my suspicions. You found the human and he was adamant that she had escaped somehow, but that it was all his fault. A big fat lie, of course. I know you. You let her go. So am I right to assume that this “Heather” of yours is both the lost human and your lover.’

I scanned around me, checking if there wasn’t anyone else that could hear this information. My whole body was jittery and I felt like running out of here, just to make sure Heather was safe.

Johanna knocked on the walls and grinned. ‘ Relax. Nobody knows except for a small group. You didn’t do anything wrong. Also, we are alone and everything here is soundproof. We are completely isolated. If you scream, nobody will hear you. But you remember that, don’t you?’

I looked in her eyes, silently begging that she was telling me the truth and when I found the reassurance I needed, I could finally feel myself relax and my muscles unclench.

Ooof… Heather was still safe. Nothing had leaked.

Relax.

‘ I always hated how smart you were.’ I sighed, letting the tension escape and making her chuckle.

‘ I know you did, Aria. Now, get your butt over here so I can start “checking you out”.’

‘ Fine. And stop calling me Aria. My name is Adrianna.’ I groaned, hoping she would drop the old nickname, but the grin on the corner of her lips told me she wouldn’t. The grin on the corner of my lips told her that I didn’t mind after all.

‘ You know I will never stop calling you Aria.’ she stated, a glint of nostalgia passing over her face.

‘ I know.’

She briefly touched my arm in a warm gesture and for a split second, we were 100 years back in time.

Everything we were and everything we were supposed to be flashed through my body like a wild tornado through a warm monsoon and left me bewildered and bewitched for the shortest of moments.

I could tell from the look in her dark purple eyes that she was right here with me, back in the past in our favourite moment. It was warm and comfortable and so familiar that it struck my heart in the most excruciating way.

But then she removed her hand and with the blink of an eye, we were right back in the moment that was now.

‘ Time to get to work.’ she softly spoke, her voice slightly more broken than before we touched and I knew the break hadn’t just been in her voice.

‘ Aye-aye, doctor.’ I saluted her, hoping to change the weird atmosphere hanging in between us and by doing so, I elicited a rare and soft smile from her lips instead of the permanent smirk she held.

She was a bomb with her cheeky grin and her seductive eyes, but when a true smile graced her face, she looked nothing but hauntingly beautiful. Every time her true smile came out, you could tell it had been a long time since she had last smiled and how she was painfully aware of that fact.

‘ Shut up and lay down.’ the smile was gone as quickly as it came and with her signature smirk she pushed me gently down on the cold bench. She was never good in showing what was behind her make, yet I knew exactly what she held hidden.

Of all the people she had met, she had graced me with the key to her heart and I had found a special and once in a lifetime treasure that surpassed everything and anything else in pure value.

Up till now.

As the image of Heather flashed through my mind, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. Feelings that I had pushed so deep down I had believed them to be gone had resurfaced and even though she didn’t need to worry about a thing, it put me in a tough spot.

The love I held for both these women clashed inside my chest and it felt like a betrayal, yet for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out who I was exactly betraying here.

‘ Let’s find out what is wrong with you. Although I could think of a few things from the top of my head.’ she muttered.

I shot back up. ‘ Hey, I heard that!’ I exclaimed in mock offence.

She pushed me back down by my shoulders and grinned. ‘ I said it out loud, didn’t I? Now shut up and let me do my job or I will stab you with this syringe.’

‘ Uggh, why did I even come here.’ I sighed as I rolled my eyes in exasperation.

‘ Because regardless of what you say or what happens between us, I will always be one of the few people you really trust.’ she calmly answered, her voice assured and her argument logical.

I hated those arguments. I hated how she was always right.

‘ Now you shut up or I will stab you with your own syringe .’ I growled because this time she had indeed hit the nail on the head. Again.

Johanna threw her head back and as she laughed out loud, her laughter clear as crystal filling the room, she briefly touched the dimple on the inside of my upper arm.

‘ I have missed you. It really is good to see you again, Aria.’

‘ Right back at you, J.’ I admitted as I felt a guilty pang shoot through me as another image of Heather flashed through my head.

I loved Heather. There was no denying it and if I could, I would spend the rest of her or my life with her.

But J was just something else. We had so much history and we always had this undeniable chemistry. We had been partners in crime for so long that nothing could ever change the connection we shared.

And even now, we had this spark, this attraction, but compared to how grant and majestic we had been, it barely even casted a shadow on the wall.

And even if there would always be a flicker or a spark between us, it only made it so much more obvious that our raging fire had seen the best of its time.

The heat and passion we shared easily burned down the biggest of forests, but in the end, it only left ashes behind.

All there was left after a century of raging forest fires was this little spark. And as much as I loved that we still had that connection, that attraction, there was nothing left for her to ignite.

My heart and everything I had belonged to Heather now.

Previously: Chapter 38. Blue

 

Next: Chapter 40. Lab results

 

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