8-05) House of Cards

There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home. 
~John Stuart Mill

Hannah was at odds with Ewan, Eric was a mess and Ewan was trying to keep it all together for himself, but also the other two. It was him who called a heart-to-heart meeting.

“Thanks for taking the time, guys. Means a lot to me.” he started, unusually serious.

“Just say what you have to say.” Hannah pressed.

“What’s the rush?” Ewan asked.

“Take a guess.” the look she gave him was a challenge, which Ewan surprisingly walked away from. She had a date. With JP. Urgh.

“That is actually one of the points I wanted to talk about with you.” Ewan continued calmly.

“You can move on to the next one then. There is nothing to discuss here. I still love JP and he still loves me. That’s all there is to it.” Hannah stated pouty.

“Are you really sure?” Ewan asked sincerely.

“Ewan! Leave her be.” Eric growled. His mood had been rotten ever since that last time he saw Charlotte.

“See, I can’t. You both are my friends and I love you. I cannot stand the way we are acting now, but I also cannot stand by and watch you suffer. Hannah, I have one huge favor to ask of you, and I am almost certain Eric will agree with me. If you can prove to me that this … that JP is really serious about you, I will let it go and you will never hear another peep out of me about your affair.” Ewan said.

“I don’t see why I would have to prove ANYTHING to YOU, but let’s hear it.” Hannah sounded ready for a fight.

“Have you ever thought about what would happen if you were to end up pregnant by him? Yes, I heard you the last dozen times I brought this up, you are being careful, but for shits and giggles, tell me, what do you think he would do?” Ewan asked her.

“I don’t know. Leave his wife, make me an honest woman, and look forward to his kid.” Hannah shrugged.

“What if not?” Ewan was still dead serious.

“I don’t know. Where are you going with this?” Hannah now sounded defensive.

“I assume you are in a hurry to meet him. Do this one thing for me, if you give at least a little shit about me still. Tell him you just found out you’re pregnant by him and then watch what he does.” Ewan said.

“Oh, this is ridiculous!”

“But you’ll do it?” Ewan inquired.

“Hell no! Dumbest idea ever! What if – whats-her-face – would do that to you, huh? How would you feel? And how would you feel when she then tells you ‘April Fool’s, just wanted to see how you roll’?!” Hannah’s voice sounded upset.

“I would wonder why she doubted me in the first place. And her name is Cassandra, you might want to learn it, because she will be staying with us, temporarily.” Ewan informed her.

“What?!” Hannah looked shocked.

“I second that, what the heck?” Eric grimaced.

“Get over it, Eric. She has seen you before, so you won’t need to hide. She is a nice girl and also my girlfriend. Surprise. Yeah, the steady girlfriend you two wanted me to have. That would be her. Moving on to the third point: Eric, are you ever going to share what happened between you and Charlotte and why we haven’t seen her in weeks? We obviously figured out that there was a fight, since you were too drunk to stand upright when we found you, but we deserve to know what happened.” Ewan turned his attention to Eric.

“She moved back to San Myshuno is what happened.” Eric’s tone was short.

“Why?!” Ewan asked.

“Her father wanted her to. So she did. End of story.” Eric’s voice made clear that he was long done with his conversation.

“Come on man, we need a little more than that.” Ewan told him.

“You’re not gonna get any more. I am tired, I’ll go lay down, I have to work tonight.”
Eric walked off into his room, slamming the door, and they heard the key turn in the lock.

That was new. None of them ever locked their doors. Usually.

“I need to leave too.” Ever since that one night Hannah had avoided being alone with Ewan like the plague.

He knew it and hated it. So much for honesty. Nobody wanted that. Only whenever it suited their needs, but not the inconvenient kind.

Hannah shut the door to her room and exhaled. Nope. Just nope.
She quickly got herself ready for the date, stuck her head out and luckily nobody was to be seen so she snuck out.

A few hours later at JP’s mansion.

“Ma chere, what is it? You have been so quiet today.” Jean-Pierre asked her.

“I … JP, I … hate that we have to sneak around so much. Does that not bother you? Clearly we belong together. Why not make it real?” Hannah just went for it.

“Oh, sweetheart, this is just your youth talking. Come here you.”

“No, wait. Why my youth? Don’t you want to be with me permanently? Wake up together every morning, go to bed together every night? Isn’t that nice? Wouldn’t you want that more than just one night now and then?”

“You want to stay over all week? I am fine with that.”

“No, JP I want more.”

“More? More wine?” he chuckled.

“I am not joking.”

“You are not. I know how I can lift your spirits. You need a massage. Take off your ..”

“JP – I am pregnant! It’s yours!”

“What?! Mine?! Are you sure? We used protection every time!” he looking like he had seen a ghost.

His initial reaction already stung. As did his doubts. When he said nothing after that it hurt more. But the next thing he did changed Hannah’s world.

He stood up and started walking off.

“Where are you going?” she asked, a mixture between frightened and angry.

“To get my checkbook.”

“What the heck do you need that for now?”

“I will write you a check and I have a very good friend who handles such cases. It will be done and over with before you know it.”

“Cases … what?!”

“Hannah, please do not make a scene. Such things are bound to happen, but luckily there are options. With modern technology and the advances in medicine, it’s not a big deal anymore. It’s almost like getting your nails done.”

“Nails done?! Are you suggesting what I think you are? You want me to have an abortion and think it is like getting my nails done?!”

“Of course, my dear. We cannot have a child together. How do you imagine that to work? And the talk …”

“Talk? Work? I tell you how this works. You divorce your wife and marry me, then we raise the child together. You have no children, you’d have an heir. Every man of your standing wants an heir, right?” Hannah knew she was fighting a lost battle, but was not ready to face the music fully just yet.

“My dear beautiful silly girl. I already have an heir, my son, who runs the European side of the business, he lives in Paris with his family, which is why Estelle is gone so much, to be with our grandkids. Who do you think these people on the big portrait behind us are? I certainly do not need an heir from you. We will get this taken care of and I think it would be best if we stopped seeing each other. Estelle has been wanting to do a European cruise with me, I think I will join her which gives us the much needed cool-down time. Once I return, I will focus more on the other restaurants in the other towns, so I won’t ask you to leave. You are an excellent employee and I would hate to loose you.” he sounded business-like now.

“Employee? Heir? Grandkid?” Hannah wondered what would explode first, her head or her heart.

“I will get that check and have my driver take you home, best you rest, my friend may be able to get you an appointment tomorrow or the day after. He has always been able to work my cases in really quickly.”

“Your cases? This has happened before?”

“Oh, please don’t play dumb now. You knew and I knew that this was just some fun. I like change.”

“Call me dumb, but I thought we had something real, something special. I thought I was special to you!”

“You are special, in a way, mon petite lapin (translation: my little bunny). Normally when the girls start showing the first signs of getting clingy I end it, but you are so beautiful, smart, full of life. A little addictive, mon petite tresor.”

“You told me you loved me.”

“Love. There are many ways to love a person and in a way I loved all the women I have been with. Just not how I love my wife, my son and my grandkids.”

Hannah said nothing after that, just stood there frozen, but shook it off and ran out the door and down the street before JP returned with the check.

When she arrived home she went straight into Ewan’s room. He was awake, but someone was sleeping in his bed, Hannah noticed and frowned while Ewan came to her right away. She nearly leaped into his arms.

“Sorry!” she sobbed.

“Come on, let’s go to your room, okay?” Ewan suggested, pulling her along, quietly shutting the door behind them as not to wake the sleeping girl.

After they entered Hannah’s room and shut the door, he pulled her into a hug again.

“I am such a fool, Ewan. You were right. I am the biggest idiot on the planet. I feel so humiliated. I did what you asked and you were so right – he used me. I was nothing but a sex toy to him. I really am nothing but a dumb whore!” she sobbed into his shoulder, a dry sob now, all her tears had been spent already on the way home.

“Shhhhh! No, you are not! He used you. He is experienced and the type of man that knows just what to say and do to make an innocent, sweet girl like you crazy for them.” he told her as he pulled her with him to sit on the bed together.

“Does that mean you are like that too?” the possibility scared Hannah.

“No. I always made it very clear that I am not interested in any relationship of any kind. Never lead anyone on, like he did with you. I know that I am much of an arrogant asshole, but like to think I have some morals.”

“You’re not an asshole!”

“Pretty sure that’s what you have been calling me a lot of late though.” he chuckled, the sounds of it felt … nice … to Hannah. Like medicine. Healing. Like there was hope.

“I didn’t mean it, I swear.” she told hims softly.

“I know. It’s all good.”

“Sorry about barging in on you like that. I wasn’t thinking straight.”

“No problem. If I were that worried about it, I should have locked my damn door.”

“Do you love her?”

“Hannah … don’t do this now.”

“Why? It’s a valid question. Assuming that’s the one who is moving in with us.”

“She is not moving in with us, just staying with us temporarily. There’s a difference.”

“So is she someone serious?”

“Hannah, really, right now is not the moment we should be discussing my love life or relationships in general, but focus on getting you back on your feet. I suspect you’re in shock right now but it will hurt even worse tomorrow. Did he … fire you?”

“No. Told me I am one of his best employees and that he is gone stay gone for a while. A cruise with his wife, to Europe, where his son and grandchildren live. Oh my God, I was such a dumb bitch!”

“Hey, don’t talk like that about my friends. Once you feel a little better, in a few days, we all sit together and talk about maybe finding you a new job elsewhere. I guarantee you, you two weren’t as covert as you may have thought and it may be awkward going back after the bomb dropped. Until then, take a few days off. Now you need rest. Go to bed.”

“I need to talk to Eric, apologize to him and tell him about this mess.”

“Eric’s asleep, came home from playing at the lounge totally wiped out. Let him rest. I promise you he needs your apology as little as I did. We both love you, Hannah. We knew you were just in an odd place and you’d snap out of it. And the very last thing Eric needs now is to hear about someone else’s relationship fail. Whether he talks about it or not, you and I both can guess what really happened and he is hurting too.”

“We’re such a mess, Eric and I, while you have the world at your feet.”

“Get some rest, Hannah. And not all that glitters is gold. Usually, the more something sparkles and shines, the more devastation lies beneath.” Ewan smiled a different, odd smiled.

He got up off her bed, gently ran the back of his hand across her cheek,  then left.

As soon as the door shut behind him the smile was gone and gave way to a different kind of expression. One of a man who was playing the biggest and toughest role of his life, wondering when this house of cards would fall, exposing everything.




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