Gratis bloggen bei
(sequel to truth or dare)
note: in this version Hannah's still called Hannah, in the forum version she's called Heli.
"Home sweet home," Aki sighed, dropped his bags and let himself fall on the bed.
Anna coughed and ripped the balcony door open.
"Uh, don't you smell that?"
"I don't care. I just wanna sleep, " Aki mumbled with closed eyes.
Anna tried not to breath and started to check the room.
"Are you sure you didn't have a pet you forgot to tell me about? Maybe it starved when you were on tour and now it's rotting?"
"Hey!" Disturbed by Anna's voice Aki opened his eyes and looked around. "I don't let any living things die!"
"What about all the dead plants that used to live here, the ones I had to burry when I moved in," Anna grinned.
"Ehrm, yeah... well... I'm probably not too talented with plants. I mean, I even talked to them!"
"Ever thought about giving them water rather than names?" Anna suggested laughing. Then she pulled an old smelly pizza box from under the bed. The smell was awful.
"Ew, I think I'm gonna puke!"
"You're exaggerating!" Aki took the box out of her hands. "It's only about three weeks old!"
He turned towards the balcony door and threw the box outside.
"Aki!" Anna screamed, " what if..."
She was interrupted by a shriek from down the street.
"... you hit someone with it," she ended her sentences.
They both ran to the balcony and peaked over the rail. They say a man walking away, the pizza was spread all over the sidewalk.
"Doesn't look like I hurt anyone," Aki sighed with relief. "Come on, let's go to bed."
"Don't wait for me. I'll take a shower first."
Anna gave him a quick kiss and went to the bathroom.
She looked into the mirror.
"Holy shit," she mumbled. Her face was all pale with dark rings underneath her eyes. "I hate travelling!"
She had spent the last twenty hours on different planes and airports and hadn't slept for over a day now.
Anna let her clothes slide down to the floor, tied her long brown hair back and got into the shower. Hot water ran over her body. Anna closed her eyes and felt how her stiff body started to relax slowly.
While she was enjoying the heat, her thoughts began to wander into the past. She suddenly had to think about the time when Aki had asked her to come back to Finland. Though she had been sad cause of leaving her mother and friends and the city she grew up in, she had been excited to move to a new place. The difference between New York City and Helsinki was like the difference between day and night but Anna felt home quite fast.
Anna had to smile when she remembered the faces of Pauli, Eero and Lauri when she came back.
At first Anna had been a bit scared cause she had left without a word. What if the others didn't like her anymore for that?
Aki hadn't told anyone that he had flown to New York to get her back. When Aki and Anna came to the band's rehearsal room they wanted to surprise the guys. Aki just took his drum sticks, sat down behind his drums and asked for the first song. Anna said "Hi" and sat down in a corner.
"Time to burn," Eero said.
They started to play a few chords till Pauli suddenly screamed "Anna!"
Lauri dropped his mic and Aki collapsed in laughter. Only Eero stayed calm.
"Where have you been that long?" he asked smiling.
Anna couldn't answer cause Pauli was hugging her tightly.
"Sorry, took me a while to realize you were here. It felt so normal to have you around!"
Anna coughed and tried to free herself. Then she laughed.
"I'm so glad you guys are not angry cause I left the way I left."
Eero put his bass aside and hugged her, too.
"I guess you had your reasons for that. The main thing is that you're back at all."
Anna turned towards Lauri. He was still standing a few feet away and didn't look too excited.
"So, you're back," he just said.
Anna didn't really understand what was going on with him. Of course they had never been best friends but at that last day before she left Finland, things had been different between him and her. She had expected him to be at least a tiny bit nicer than usual.
But it turned out she was wrong. Though Anna spent lots of time with the band, their relationship was becoming weird and weirder. The more Lauri showed that he didn't like her, the more she treated him like shit though she had promised herself to be nice to him. After all he was her boyfriend's best friend and band mate and she wanted to keep the peace.
But that was harder than she had expected. Anna had spent only a few days with the band on their three-weeks-US-tour but she was glad she was back home and alone with Aki. Today while crossing the Atlantic ocean Anna had caught herself more than once imagining Lauri falling through the plane window.
Anna sighed. "Why do I keep wasting my time with thinking bout this dork?"
She turned the water off and tried her body. Then she left the bathroom and cuddled up next to Aki who was sleeping tightly.
"Who needs to think about nerve-wrecking birdmen if they can sleep next to cute little drummer boys?" Anna thought before she fell asleep.
The door bell rang. Anna pulled the blanket over her head.
"Riiiiiiiiiing!" The same sound again.
Anna turned over to Aki and shoved him.
He didn't move.
"Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!" Anna grabbed her watch. "What the fuck?" Quarter past nine in the morning.
Now the person who was ringing the door bell was obviously keeping the finger on the button, the bell rang without a break.
Anna quickly took a shirt she found on the floor, put it on and ran to the door.
"Why the fuck are you behaving like an idiot?" she shouted and ripped the door open.
Lauri looked at her.
"My bad, you ARE an idiot, you can't behave different," Anna sighed.
"You look like shit," Lauri replied.
"Well, then, hope it helps to make you stop feeling like that ugly toad when you're standing next to me!" Anna answered sarcastically. "What do you want?"
Lauri pushed her aside and entered the apartment. Anna quickly checked her appearance in the mirror that was hanging next to the door.
"Asshole," she mumbled, " I just look tired."
She watched Lauri digging inside of Aki's travelling bags and spreading the clothes all over the room.
"Hey, what's your problem?" Anna shouted.
"I'm missing my black shirt, Aki probably took it."
"Which one? The black one, that other black one or one of your other hundreds of black shirts?" Anna asked angrily. "Why the hell do you need it now, in the middle of the night when everyone is still sleeping?"
"It's my favorite, I need it today!" Lauri kept on throwing the clothes on the floor.
"The one with 'Flip' on the front?" Aki suddenly mumbled from under his blanket.
"Yeah," Lauri answered impatiently.
Anna looked at her shirt. "Oh."
"Oh, great, why for fuck's sake are you wearing my shirt?" Lauri complained, "now I gotta wash it first!"
"Calm down, Ylönen, I'm only wearing it since five minutes," Anna pulled the cloth up to her nose and sniffed. "And after all, it smells like smoke and sweat, so you won't smell any different than usual!"
"Shut up and give my the frickin' shirt!" Lauri's eyes were sparkling furiously.
Anna ripped the shirt off and threw it into Lauri's face.
"Outsch, you hit me in the eye!" Lauri whined.
"Good," Anna replied.
"Geez, guys," Aki sighed still half asleep, "we need a no-argueing-before-11-am-rule, this is killing me!"
"Sorry, hun," Anna crawled on the bed next to Aki and kissed him softly.
"Hm, more," Aki mumbled and pulled her closer. "But would you mind putting on a shirt? At least as long as there's another man in this room?"
Anna crawled under Aki's blanket and looked at Lauri.
"Man? I can't see another man!" she grinned and kissed Aki again.
Aki laughed and rolled on top of Anna.
"Ew, you guys are disgusting!" Lauri mumbled, "Couples suck!" He left and slammed the door.
"What the hell was that about?" Anna asked.
"Don't ask, that's Lauri," Aki replied and tickled her.
"Hey!" she complained, "first you are too weak to get up and open the door and now you're fit enough challenge me for a tickle fight?"
"Yep," Aki grinned, "and I'm not only fit enough for some tickling!" He rose an eyebrow and winked.
Anna laughed. "Well, then, my sturdy stallion, show me what you're made of!"
Slowly Aki's hand wandered under the blanket.
“No!” Anna jumped up. “I’m gonna kill him!”
“Wait,” Aki grabbed her wrist, “it’s just the phone!”
“Let it ring,” she suggested.
“Maybe it’s important, I’ll hurry,” Aki promised and answered the phone.
“Hello? – Yeah. – No, haven’t seen it but I’ll check. – I’ll ask her. – Alright, later.”
He hung up. “Guess what?”
“Lauri lost another shirt? Or his brain? Wait, he doesn’t have one.”
“Close. Eero lost his green shirt. So if you’ve seen it…”
“No idea where it is. What’s going on, what if there was a secret t-shirt thief on tour with you? Are you missing anything, too?”
“Yeah, your lips on mine,” Aki grinned.
“Outsch, how cheesy is that?” Anna laughed but kissed him gently.
“As long as it works,” Aki shrugged his shoulders and kissed her back. Then he remembered something. “Hey, before I forget, Eero has invited us for dinner tonight. Wanna go?”
“I don’t know…” Anna started to find an excuse.
“Lauri’s not coming. It’s just us and the little Heinonen family.”
“Oh, ok, that’s gonna be nice I guess!” Anna looked Aki into his eyes. “You know, I’m really sorry, I know he’s your best friend and I’m really trying to get along with him but sometimes he’s so …aargh!”
Aki laughed and kissed her. “It’s ok, I know it’s sometimes a bit hard to get along with him.”
Aki sealed her lips with a kiss before she could say anything else. He loved them both, Anna and Lauri, they were his best friends and almost like family. Where ever he was, as long as one of them was around him he felt like home.
I somehow need to turn them into friends, he thought. I really need a plan!
“Ah, sweet bliss!” Anna sighed and rubbed her belly. “Why can’t life always be like this?”
“I feel like one of these cartoon characters, all blown up and with a little chicken leg still sticking out of my mouth,” Bintia laughed. Her shaking body woke up the little girl that had been sleeping on her lap.
“No move, mommy,” she whined but fell asleep again before she could hear an answer.
“Lina is the most adorable little girl I’ve ever seen,” Anna smiled, “if all baby’s are like this I can’t wait to get my own!”
“Hey, you only know her sleeping and eating, I swear she can be a little witch sometimes!”
“But still, look at that cute little face!” Anna went on.
“Oh, I’m sure your and Aki’s kids gonna be really cute, too,” Bintia grinned.
“Easy, girl! That’s not gonna happen any soon!”
“But you love Aki and he loves you! You even moved to another country to be with him! To me that sounds like you’re gonna stay together for a pretty long time. What’s wrong about kids then?”
“Don’t get me wrong but I don’t want to have children if their father is touring around the world all the time. I mean, as great as it is to have Eero and Aki washing the dishes while we’re chatting and relaxing! If I ever have kids, I want a husband to share all the work with fifty-fifty and not one who’s working all over the world!”
Bintia sighed. “I know what you mean. I wish Eero could stay with us everyday, it’s really hard sometimes. But you know, sometimes you can’t influence it if a new life wants to find its way to this earth.”
“Uh, Bintia, that sounded quite esoteric,” Anna laughed.
“Hey, I’m a yoga teacher, I AM esoteric!” Bintia grinned. “But you know, actually that’s what I really think. There’s a new life somewhere and it’s looking for parents. And if it finds the right people who will love it, it picks them and they give life to it!”
Anna bend forward, put her hand on Bintia’s shoulder and looked seriously into her eyes.
“Honey, I hope this isn’t completely new for you now but has anyone ever talked to you about that flowers-and-bees-thing?”
“Oh, shut up!” Bintia laughed and slapped Anna.
Lina woke up again and started to whine.
“Ok, honey, let’s see what Daddy’s doing. It’s time to bring you to bed!”
Bintia got up and carried the little girl to the kitchen. A few moments later Aki joined Anna and sat down next to her.
“Eero and Bintia are reading a story to the little one. Isn’t she the cutest girl you’ve ever seen?” Aki asked.
“Hey,” Anna pouted, “what about me?”
“Oh sorry, Lina is the cutest girl under age! Better?” Aki laughed.
"Good, at least now I can be sure you won't hook up with little groupies," Anna nodded and moved over on Aki’s lap.
"You know that I'm not playing the groupie-lover-character in our band."
"Yeah, right, that's featherhead's part," Anna stroke some hair out of Aki's face.
“You know what? I was talking to Bintia and maybe we should offer to baby-sit Lina for a weekend or something, so Eero and Bintia have some time for themselves.”
“Sure, that’s a really nice idea,” Aki grinned, “but is this some kind of training for your future plans?”
Anna laughed. “Nope! I mean I like kids but only as long as I can return them after a few hours!”
Suddenly the door bell rang.
“I’ll go,” Anna said, went to the door and opened.
Nobody was there. She looked around the corner. Nothing.
“Weird,” she mumbled and went back to Aki.
“Who was it?”
“No one.” Anna got back on Aki’s lap.
He kissed her neck. “So if there are no kids in the near future, can we still practice how to make babies?”
“Anytime,” Anna laughed and kissed him back.
Suddenly Aki turned his head away.
“Shhh,” Aki looked at the window, “there was some noise!”
They both looked outside but it was too dark to see anything.
“Maybe just a cat or something,” Anna suggested and pulled Aki closer, “lets go and say bye to Eero and Bintia, we should go home.”
As soon as they reached Lina’s room, the door bell rang again.
“I’ll get it,” Aki said and went to the front door.
Again no one was outside.
Aki stepped out and looked down the street.
“Hello?” he shouted.
But all he could hear was the echoing of some steps that were running down the street somewhere in the darkness.
Anna was sitting on the bus and watched the houses fly by. As much as she liked Helsinki she just couldn't handle the early darkness in winter. It was end of January and the city was covered with a thick layer of snow.
Anna was just on her way back home from the grocery store. She was in a bad mood. This morning she had checked the newspaper for vacant jobs but all the offers were for people who spoke Finnish and her language skills were still very poor.
Anna sighed. At the moment she was living on Aki's money in Aki's apartment. Though he always told her that he didn't care, she didn't feel comfortable. And after all she was bored with staying at home all day or watching the band rehearse.
Damn, I really need a job, she thought.
Someone said something in Finnish and ripped her out of her thoughts. Anna turned her head. A young woman was standing next to her.
"Sorry, I don't speak Finnish," Anna replied.
"Is this seat taken?" the woman asked.
Anna smiled. "No, sit down!" She took her bag off the seat.
The bus drove on.
"Are you on holidays?"
Anna looked at the women. Somehow she looked familiar but Anna couldn't think of why.
"No, I moved her about three month ago."
"Man or job?"
"Did you come her because of a man or a job?" the woman replied.
Anna laughed sadly. "I wish it was because of a job... no, I came here because of my boyfriend."
"I'd probably choose coming for love over coming for work," the woman answered surprised.
"Yeah, sure, it's not like I regret anything, but it's really difficult to find a job when you hardly speak any Finnish!"
"I understand. What kind of job are you looking for?"
"Anything!" Anna sighed, "I used to work as a nurse but I'd do almost anything else."
The woman looked at her. "Maybe this sounds weird now, but I might have a job for you!"
Anna stared at her. "Really?"
"Yeah. My aunt works as a teacher at the international school of Helsinki and she just told me yesterday that they are looking for an English speaking school nurse. It's only a part time job but..."
"Oh my god, that would be just perfect!" Anna was all excited. "Would you mind..."
"Hey, what do you think about getting of the bus at the next station and going to a cafe and having a cup of coffee?"
Anna smiled. "Sure. By the way, my name is Anna."
"Nice to meet you, I'm Hannah!"
They had been sitting in a cosy little cafe since two hours now. Hannah had called her aunt and arranged a job interview for Anna for the next day. Then they had talked about all kind of different stuff. Anna was glad she had met her, not just because of the job but also cause she liked her a lot.
Hannah had just told her that she had lived in Sweden during the last year but has moved back to Helsinki two days ago. She worked as a foreign correspondence secretary.
Anna caught herself staring at Hannah. She had shoulder long brown wavy hair tied back into a ponytail and big green eyes.
"What's up?" Hannah asked, "do I have something weird in my face?"
Anna blushed slightly and laughed.
"No, it's just that you remind me of someone but I don't know who. Anyway," she lit up another cigarette, "I have an idea."
"You smoke to much," Hannah grinned.
"That's what my boyfriend tells me all the time, too," Anna replied, "but after my brother died a few month ago, I started to smoke a lot and now I'm trying to reduce it... obviously not too successfully," Anna added laughing.
Hannah took her hand. "I'm really sorry to hear about your brother. I have a brother, too and I think I couldn't handle it if he died!"
Anna smiled. "It's ok, I'm learning to live with it."
"By the way, I'm always telling my brother, too that he smoke's too much. So I guess it's just a bad habit to say that to everyone," Hannah answered. "Hey, you said you have an idea. What's that about?"
"Oh, yeah, I almost forgot, what do think about meeting from time to time, maybe you can teach me some Finnish!"
"Doesn't your boyfriend teach you some words?"
"Sure," Anna grinned, "but I'm afraid I could get in trouble if I use them in public!"
Hannah laughed. "Let me hear some!"
They were interrupted by Hannah's cell phone.
Hannah talked for a few minutes then she hung up.
"Sorry, that was my brother. He'll be here in a minute. That's cool, so you can meet some more nice Finnish people!" Hannah watched the door.
"You know, I'm really excited to see him, I haven't seen him for ages, he has a pretty busy job!"
"What does he do?"
Suddenly the door opened and Hannah jumped up. Anna finished her cigarette and turned around when she heard her say "Let me introduce you to my lovely little brother!"
But Anna didn't like what she saw. She stared at Lauri.
"Oh, you," he just said without a smile.
"How the fuck can you be in any way related to a great girl like Hannah?" Anna asked sarcastically.
Hannah was surprised. "Do you know each other?"
"She's with Aki" Lauri mumbled.
Hannah started to laugh. "So you're the mysterious American girl I've heard so much about?"
"Hannah!" Lauri hissed and inhaled the smoke of his cigarette deeply.
But Hannah ignored him and hugged Anna tightly.
"This is so cool, Aki's like a brother to me so I guess this makes you kind of my sister! Welcome to the family!"
Anna ran through the door of the rehearsal room, shoved Lauri aside, hugged Eero, gave Pauli a kiss on the cheek, jumped on Aki's back and hugged him tightly.
"Anna! Can't breath!" Aki gasped.
Anna laughed and loosened her grip.
"I guess that means you got the job?" Pauli suggested.
"Yeah, and guess what, I'm not only gonna be the new nurse, I also teach a dancing class!"
"That's awesome, honey," Aki smiled and kissed her.
"Poor kids, hope you won't kill any," Lauri mumbled.
"Hey Lauri, how come you never mentioned that job?" Anna asked, "your aunt said you knew they were looking for an English speaking nurse."
"Lauri!" Pauli shouted, "how rude is that?!"
"Hey, I try to avoid any thoughts about annoying American girls, I guess this must have slipped through my mind!" Lauri replied sarcastically.
"Who cares?" Anna smiled, "I'm in a too good mood to argue with you! Though I still can't believe that someone like Hannah is your sister!"
"Yeah, she's great, isn't she?" Pauli said with a huge smile.
Anna turned around. "Now that sounded like you like her a lot!"
Aki laughed. "Pauli's got a crush on Hannah since he's ten years old!"
"No, I don't!" Pauli denied and blushed slightly.
"Oh come on, everyone knows that!" Eero grinned.
"Whatever! Hey, I'm inviting you all to a party at our place tonight! Free booze for everyone! I really wanna get wasted tonight, gotta celebrate the new job!"
Anna kissed Aki good bye.
"I'm off to buy drinks, see ya tonight!" Anna turned around and whispered into Pauli's ear.
"I'm gonna invite Hannah, too!"
She winked at him and left the room.
Anna and Bintia walked through the park. Lina was walking next to them, holding herself tightly to the baby carriage, concentrated not to trip. This made Anna and Bintia walk extremely slow.
Anna told Bintia about her latest fight with Lauri. She sighed.
"I just don't get it! Why is he so going on my nerves?"
"You know what? Sometimes you two remind me of little kids who like each other but don't know how to show it in another way than arguing! Why don't you just ignore him instead of wasting all that energy with fighting?"
"I always try cause I feel sorry for Aki. I mean he's somehow always stuck in the middle. But then Lauri makes a stupid comment and I just can't hold back with an equally stupid answer."
"Lina, put that bug back down to the floor!" Bintia suddenly shouted. "No, you can't eat that little creature!"
"She seems to like taking everything in her mouth," Anna laughed.
"Hope she'll get rid of that when she grows up," Bintia sighed, "otherwise all her future boyfriends will be pretty pleased!"
She put the little girl back into the carriage. Then she looked at Anna.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Do you think Lauri's behavior has something to do with what happened between you and him back then at the lake?"
Anna shrugged her shoulders.
"I don't know. I mean, after Scott's death things were almost normal between us but it all changed when I came back to Finland."
"Do you sometimes think about the lake-thing?"
"No," Anna shock her head quickly," never!"
She hoped she didn't blush because this had been a lie. As much as she disliked Lauri she had caught herself a few times lately thinking back about what had happened. But the sheer thought always made her feel like she was cheating on Aki. So she quickly pushed these thoughts away.
"So how are things going with your little family?" Anna asked to change the topic.
This time it was Bintia who sighed.
"I guess I should say good but I'm not sure. Maybe I'm just to selfish."
"Actually I should be happy that Eero is at least in town to work but I only see him in the morning when he leaves or in the night when he returns. And then he spends all his time with Lina. I know I should be happy that he's such a great father but then again... what about me? I feel like I'm not his wife anymore or a woman he desires. I'm just his daughter's mother!"
"Hey, don't be sad!" Anna put her arms around Bintia's shoulder, "I guess that's what happens to a lot of young families!"
Then she had an idea.
"How about that? Aki and I are gonna baby-sit Lina next weekend so you can spend two days just with each other."
"Really? Oh, that's so cute of you! Are you sure you can do it? Now that Lina can walk she's really exhausting!"
"Don't worry, " Anna laughed, "I'm able to look after Aki so I think I can baby-sit a little girl without problems!"
That night the band had a secret gig in a small club to test some of their new songs in front of an audience. Everyone loved the new stuff so the band decided to party hard afterwards.
Eero left early to stay with Bintia and Lina so Anna and Hannah stayed at the club with the rest of the band.
Everyone was already pretty drunk. Anna was happy to see Hannah and Pauli talking a lot with each other. Even a blind person could tell that Pauli had a crush on Hannah.
Suddenly Hannah got up and took Anna's hand.
"Come on, I'm not sure if I can make it to the bathroom on my own anymore!"
"Having fun?" Anna asked with an innocent smile.
Hannah sighed. "Isn't Pauli a great person?"
"Sure he is!"
"I wonder if ever a guy like him will like me! I mean he's a great person, so nice and charming and a great musician! Someone like him will never fall for someone like me!"
Anna was surprised. Did Hannah really think Pauli wasn't interested in her?
"Ehrm, Hanna, don't you..."
"Sorry, keep in mind what you wanted to say! My bladder is gonna burst any second!"
Then she rushed into the bathroom.
A few moments later Lauri came out of the men's room.
"All alone?" he asked. "Who wonders?!"
"I'd rather be alone than hanging out with a guy like you!"
"Whatever! There are lots of girls in here who think the exact opposite."
"You wish! So have you found a brainless little blonde with big boobs yet who's willing enough to hook up with you?"
Lauri grinned. "Just one? At least ten!"
Anna laughed sarcastically.
"What are you laughing about? I bet you wouldn't get any phone numbers even if you danced naked on a speaker box!"
"Are you challenging me?" Anna asked angrily. "Honey, I don't even need more than five minutes to get a guy's phone number including a free drink!"
"I highly doubt that!" Lauri rose an eye brow then he started to grin. "Alright, if you win I'm gonna buy you a bottle of vodka. If not you buy one for me! Deal?"
"Deal!" Anna shook his hand. She turned around and checked the room. A guy was sitting alone at the bar. "Alright, dickhead, start counting the time!"
Lauri watched Anna walking towards the man. She sat down next to him and started to talk. She smiled sweetly and was very flirty and touchy. The guy immediately bought her a drink.
Damn, Lauri thought and looked at his watch, only two minutes!
Then the other guy wrote something on a piece of paper and passed it to Anna. She smiled, gave him a little kiss on the cheek and waved inconspicuously with the phone number.
"Shit, there's goes the vodka," Lauri mumbled.
"Why can vodka go and why is Anna flirting with a stranger and why are you staring at them?" suddenly a voice from behind asked.
Lauri shrugged together and turned around. Hannah was grinning at him.
“Just a bet. Unfortunately it looks like she has won,” Lauri explained.
Now the guy at the bar had wrapped his arms around Anna. She was still smiling and whispered something into his ear.
“Holy shit, if I didn’t know it better I would think she’s really flirting with that man,” Hannah wondered, “I hope Aki doesn’t see it. We all know how jealous he can be sometimes!”
Suddenly Aki appeared behind Anna. He didn’t look too happy.
Lauri grinned. “Oh, oops. Too late. What a pitty!”
Hannah slapped him.
“Lauri! That sounds almost like you did this on purpose!” she said.
“Oh, well, you know…”
“Why the hell do always have to behave like an idiot when it’s about Anna!” she complained, grabbed his arm and pulled him with her.
Anna was just explaining to Aki what had happened when Hannah and Lauri arrived.
“You!” Hannah pointed angrily at Lauri. “Buy vodka!”
Looking like a little puppy that just had been kicked Lauri ordered a bottle of vodka.
Hannah pushed Anna on a stool at the bar, placed Lauri next to her and opened the vodka bottle.
“Alright, you two, listen! You both behave like idiots. Now I want you to sit here and drink that vodka. I’ll be back in one hour and then all I wanna see is two friends who are sitting peacefully together! And now drink!”
Then Hannah took Aki’s hand and pulled him away with her.
“Whoa,” Anna mumbled and drank a shot of vodka. “Is she always like that?”
“Guess she would be a perfect general or something in the army!” Anna suggested.
“Do you plan on saying anything else than ‘yep’ during the next hour?”
Lauri didn’t answer and emptied his glass.
“Alright,” Anna sighed and filled her glass again.
They sat there for a while, drinking silently.
A girl came from the side and sat down next to Lauri. She smiled at him and winked.
“Hey sweetie, you seem bored. Do you need some distraction?” she asked with a sweet voice.
Lauri turned towards her and grinned.
“Sure, anytime! Do you want some vodka?”
Suddenly they heard Hannah shouting from across the room.
“Hey! I said I wanna see you drink and become friends! No other girls, Lauri!”
The girl looked very confused and got up.
“This is weird, I think I should leave you two alone.”
“Damn,” Lauri mumbled and drank some more vodka.
“Oh, poor Lauri, seems like Hannah’s controlling your love life!”
“Shut up,” he replied angrily, “she better should care about her own love life.”
“I guess Pauli would love to help her out with that,” Anna grinned.
“Oh yeah, Pauli likes her since he’s been ten or eleven.”
“I wonder why they haven’t come together yet,” Anna asked.
Lauri looked at her surprised.
“Cause she’s two years older than he is. She never had any interests in guys like him,” he explained.
“Boy, are you wrong! She just told me she likes him!”
“Your kidding me! Why should she tell you and not me, at least I’m her brother!”
“Alright then brother, let me quote your sister. Isn't Pauli a great person? Someone like him will never fall for someone like me! That’s what she said like 20 minutes ago!”
“No fucking way!”
“Wow, that would be really cool if they became a couple!” Lauri was excited.
“Yeah, but I’m afraid they will never figure it out if we don’t tell them. They both think the other person is not interested!”
Lauri grabbed the bottle and got up.
“Let’s go over, you talk to her, I’ll talk to him!”
They saw Hannah standing on the opposite side of the room pointing at them.
“Sit down and drink!” she shouted with a strict voice.
“Ok, we’re gonna tell them later.”
They kept on drinking but didn’t talk much. Though lots of ideas how to tease Lauri went through Anna’s head, she tried to pull herself together. And Lauri seemed to be too intimidated to do something against Hannah’s will.
Anna poured the last drop of vodka into her glass. She could hardly see straight anymore.
“Hey,” she poked Lauri who was slightly dozing away, “what time is it? Isn’t that one hour over yet?”
It took him a while to read his watch. “Seems like she forgot us. It’s already one and a half hours later.”
“Guess we are allowed to get up then,” Anna mumbled and got of her stool. She lost balance and held on to the bar. Then she slowly started to go towards the table where Pauli was sitting. Suddenly she heard a noise behind her and turned around.
Lauri had stumbled across his chair and thrown it to the floor.
“Oops,” he said and tried to walk as straight as possible.
They reached the table. Hannah was leaning against Pauli’s shoulder and slept. Pauli had one arm wrapped around her and smiled like he just had won the lottery.
“Oh great,” Anna complained, “they forgot us! Where’s Aki?”
“He already went home. Hannah promised to look after you,” Pauli whispered to not wake Hannah up.
“Doesn’t look like it’s working too well,” Anna stated.
“Hey, Pauli, there’s something we wanted to tell you,” Lauri started then he stopped talking. He scratched his head. “I think I forgot what it was about. Anna, do you remember?”
Anna started to dig in her memory but she felt like the alcohol had killed a lot of brain cells. She shrugged her shoulders. “Nope.”
“Ok, I’m gonna take Hannah home now,” Pauli got up, “see you tomorrow!”
He woke up Hannah who got up and walked with him like a sleep walker.
Anna and Lauri watched them leaving the club.
“Aaww, what a cute couple!” Anna smiled.
“Couple?” Lauri slapped his forehead. “Damn. That’s what we wanted to tell them!”
Anna wanted to jump up and follow them but everything started to turn. She let herself fall back at the chair.
“Oh well, I’ll tell her tomorrow,” she mumbled and leaned her head against the table. “Time to go home. What about you?”
“I’m gonna call a cab,” Lauri started looking for his cell phone. “We can share it if you want.”
He pushed a few buttons on his phone.
“Eero has sent a text message. He asks if we have seen his keys.”
“Haven’t seen them,” Anna shook her head which made her feel a bit sick. She closed her eyes.
She woke up when Lauri poked her.
“The cab is here.”
They walked towards the exit and left the club.
The blonde girl that had talked to Lauri before was standing outside and waved at him. Lauri grinned.
“Hey, you’re still here! Where are you going now?”
She came closer and smiled.
“I was looking for another party. Any ideas?” She winked at him.
Lauri laughed. “I can invite you to a private party. A very private one.”
The girl looked at Anna.
Anna backed up. “Don’t look at me, I’m on my way home, just sharing the cab.”
“Then lets go,” the girl said and took Lauri’s hand.
They squeezed themselves on the backseat of the taxi. Anna felt kind of awkward and tried to start a conversation.
“You’re speaking English. Where are you from?”
“I’m from Belgium, I’m on holidays,” she replied. “My friends told me not to miss out on all the attractions of Helsinki. Looks like I’m a lucky girl cause I just found one of the main attractions!” She turned towards Lauri and placed one hand on his knee.
Lauri laughed roughly, pulled her closer and kissed her. Only few moments later they were all over each other.
Anna moved closer to the door. She already felt sick and watching them didn’t make her feel better. She patted the taxi driver’s shoulder.
“Excuse me, can you please stop? I’ll walk the rest of my way home.”
Before she got out she couldn’t resist to make a comment.
“Have fun! Hope you’re not too disappointed when you find out that this big attraction isn’t as big as you’re hoping for!”
She closed the door and started to walk. The icy air cut her lungs.
“Oh well, they probably couldn’t hear what I just said anyway,” she said to herself, “how disgusting is that? Why didn’t she just say, hi, I’m the blonde one, wanna fuck me? Could have shorten the already short phase of getting to know each other. Eww, groupies! That’s just gross! But then again, isn’t it even more disgusting to pick up groupies than to be one? That’s just proving again what dork he is! Phh! And again I wasted two hours of my life on this idiot!”
She deeply inhaled the cold air.
“And again I’m wasting my time on thinking about him.”
She could hear someone calling her name from far away.
Someone pushed her.
"Mmmmhmmm," she replied and pulled the blanket over her head.
"Justwomominutes," she mumbled.
Suddenly the blanket was pulled away and something wet hit her face.
Anna screamed, ripped her eyes open and sat up.
Aki stood next to the bed and grinned.
"Morning sweetheart! Did you have a fun night?"
Anna threw the wet towel back at Aki, let herself fall into the pillows and covered her face with the blanket.
"I hate you," she pouted.
"Will you still hate me if I give you this?" Aki asked.
Anna could hear the fizzling sound of an aspirin dissolving in water and peaked over the edge of the blanket.
"I love you," Anna answered and took the glass.
"Wow, your love is easy to get," Aki laughed and sat down next to her, "hope you won't run away with the first guy who offers you something better than aspirin!"
Anna leaned her head against his shoulder.
"Don't worry, honey! There couldn't have been anything better someone could have offered me right now!" She gave him a little kiss. "And that's what you always do, giving me exactly the perfectly right things I need. You can never ever be replaced by any other man!"
"I love you, too," Aki smiled and hugged her tightly.
"Ehrm, Aki," Anna started to struggle, "you know I love you, too but you're squeezing my stomach. That doesn't really help me to feel better!"
"Oops, sorry!" Aki let her go and went to the bathroom to brush his teeth.
Anna chugged down the aspirin and closed her eyes again. Her head hurt like hell.
"Sho how wash yo time wish Laui?"
"Understanding you would be easier without the tooth brush in your mouth."
"Shorry," Aki garbled and went back to the sink to spit.
"How was your time with Lauri last night? Good or bad?"
Anna scratched her head. Last night was kind of blurry in her memory.
"As far as I remember it was kinda neutral. And by the way, thanks for leaving me there all on my own," she replied sarcastically.
"Sorry but Hannah forced me!" Aki defended himself.
Anna laughed. "Yeah, I also discovered Hannah's bossy side!"
"So you hung out with Lauri and you call it 'neutral'... that's kind of a progress, isn't it?"
"Yeah, kind of, at least as far as I remember," Anna said and tried to think of more that had happened. "Oh, I almost forgot, I found out that Hannah likes Pauli!"
Aki laughed. "How cool is that?! We have to arrange something to hook them up!"
Anna grinned. "How cute, little cupid is on a new mission!"
"Hey, they'd be the perfect couple!" Aki complained. "And wouldn't it be cool if we could do all kind of things together, like you and me, Eero and Bin, Pauli and Hannah and... yeah, well, we'll find someone for Lauri."
"Oh, don't worry bout him, he's helping himself!" Anna said who just started to remember more details from last night.
Aki looked at her. "What do you mean?"
"He picked up a little groupie chick on our way out to the taxi. They were already half way done when I got out of the car. Gross!" she told with disdain.
"What's up? He's young, he doesn't have a girlfriend and he's a man. He has his needs, what' wrong about that?"
"It's more about his attitude. It was like 'we all know that I'm the big pimp, so get your ass over here'... eww! Picking up groupies, that's just gross!"
Aki laughed. "I bet he didn't have to force the girl to come with him, I'm sure she had fun as well!"
"Being a groupie is equally gross then, too!"
"But you are my groupie!" Aki grinned and kissed her. "And you're not gross at all!"
"Oh, shut up!" Anna slapped him. "I know, everyone has different likes and dislikes... I just don't want to sit next to them in a cab!"
She rolled to the side and cuddled up under her blanket.
"I gotta go to the studio, are you coming with me?" Aki asked.
"Do I have to? I'm really not feeling well!"
"But I'm always so much better when you are around," Aki tried to change her mind.
"You're the best and my favorite musician, you don't need me around to be better. Pleeeeaaase, let me sleep," she whined, "tomorrow's my first day at school, I really need to be fit!"
"Alright," Aki sighed and kissed her good bye, "I'll call you later!"
Aki left the apartment and got in his car to drive to the studio. He felt insecure.
Had Anna sounded jealous that Lauri had hooked up with another girl? No, he was probably exaggerating. But than again, Lauri and Anna had spent the night together completely drunk. What if something between them had happened?
He wished so much that Anna and Lauri would become friends but somewhere deep back inside his head was that little voice that sometimes talked to him. What if there had been more between Lauri and Anna than that one time at the lake? Or what if there could happen more somewhere in the future?
Aki pushed the thoughts away. He trusted Anna and Lauri. They would never do something that would hurt him. If there just wasn't this voice inside his head.
He had forgiven but how hard he tried, he just couldn't forget.
Lauri was sitting on a sofa at the studio. He was thinking about some lyrics for a melody Pauli just had played to him. The song was pretty fast, kinda rough, almost a bit aggressive.
Lauri chewed on the tip of his pen. His head was still aching. He really had overdone it last night. If just someone had some aspirin.
He tried to concentrate on the songs. Maybe some aggressive lyrics to suit the melody? What’s aggressive? Who’s aggressive? Be aggressive, b-e aggressive, b-e a-g-g-r-e-s-s-I-v-e! Lauri started to hum the Faith No More song and bobbed his head to the rhythm.
Outsch, bad idea! Fuckin’ head ache!
Lauri stared at the still white paper in front of him. The empty page stared back.
“Damn,” he mumbled and rose his head. Had Aki just watched him? No, he was checking something at his drum kit.
Focus, man, Lauri told himself. Aggressive. What makes me aggressive? Am I aggressive? Nah, I’m a pacifist, I’m peaceful.
Again! Was Aki looking at him? Lauri checked but Aki was cleaning his fingernails.
Aki… Anna. Ok, I can be aggressive sometimes. Or better: some things make me become aggressive. Actually just one thing and that’s Anna. But that’s because…
“Aki, are you watching me?” Lauri shouted suddenly across the room. Aki’s weird behaviour started to annoy him. “What’s the matter?”
“Huh? Me? No!”
Aki went over to the sofa and sat down next to Lauri. He passed him a bottle.
“Thanks.” Lauri chugged down half of the bottle and stared at the floor.
Aki was playing with the waist-band of his shirt. None of them talked for a while.
“So,” Aki suddenly started. He took the water back and drank.
“So what?” Lauri asked.
“Heard you had fun last night,” Aki grinned, “at least after leaving the club.”
“Let’s call it that way, I had fun in the car. When I came home with that girl I passed out after a few minutes. The girl was gone when I woke up again.”
Aki looked at him, then he burst into laughter.
“I’m personally gonna choke you if you tell anyone about it!” Lauri hissed angrily.
“Hey, easy, buddy,” Aki calmed him down, “I won’t tell no one. Promise!”
He took another sip of water and stared at the opposite wall.
“There’s something else you wanna ask, right?” Lauri looked at Aki.
“What? Why are you thinking that?”
“Aki! We are best friends and I know you well enough to tell you’re acting weird,” Lauri complained.
Aki sighed. “You’re gonna think I’m crazy.”
Aki breathed deeply. “What’s that between you and Anna?”
“I guess we just don’t like each other,” Lauri tried to explain.
“But why? I mean, everyone I know who knows both of you, likes both of you, except the two of you. Why?”
“You can’t explain sympathy, can you? And you definitely can’t force friendship. I guess that’s just the way it is,” Lauri answered insecurely. “Actually I don’t think I can explain it.”
“Mhm,” Aki replied. He leaned back and stared at the ceiling.
Both of them didn’t speak for a while but Lauri felt that there was still something unsaid.
And suddenly he knew what was going on with his friend.
Lauri sat up straight, turned towards Aki and put one hand on his shoulder.
“Damn, Aki! There’s nothing else between Anna and me, I swear! We just don’t like each other! Whatever happened in the past, it’s not gonna happen again! You are my best friend and I really regret what I once did. I feel like I’m the happiest person on earth that you were able to forgive me. And I surly won’t be so stupid to ever risk your trust and friendship again!”
“Thanks, dude,” Aki sighed and hugged him. “I know that I can trust you. It’s just that sometimes my mind goes crazy and…”
“No need to explain, aren’t we all a little paranoid from time to time?”
Aki grinned. “Hey, you’re the paranoid one in our relationship! Ok, next topic. Pauli and Hannah.”
“Yeah, how cool is that?! We gotta hook them up!”
“Sure but how?”
“Hm, don’t know,” Lauri tried to think of a plan. “Maybe just tell them?”
Before Aki could say something else Lauri turned towards the door and yelled.
“Hey, Pauli! Come here!”
A few moments later Pauli stuck his head through the door.
“Hannah likes you, too,” Lauri grinned.
“Great plan, Lauri, “ Aki mumbled.
Pauli’s face turned pale.
“What? Who said… I don’t…Really?” he stuttered and leaned against the door frame.
“Yep,” Aki nodded, “she likes you but she thinks you’re not interested in her.”
Pauli just stood there with his mouth open and stared at them.
“Are playing a stupid joke on me?” he asked insecurely.
“No!” Aki laughed, “as much as we’d love to, this time it’s serious!”
“Oh my god,” Pauli sighed and sank on the couch next to Lauri, “what am I gonna do now?”
“Ask her out, maybe?” Aki suggested.
“It will take me at least a hundred years till I take all my guts together to be brave enough to ask her,” Pauli sighed.
Lauri looked at his watch. “You got five minutes till she comes here and picks me up. And if you don’t ask her today, Aki and I are gonna make stupid comments when she’s around!”
“Ooohaaah,” Pauli mumbled, “I think I feel kinda sick. I gotta go to the bathroom.”
“Hey hey, if you wanna hide on the toilet I’m gonna send Hannah there!” Aki grinned.
“But… I … I can’t … What can I…”
“Hi guys!” Hannah shouted while entering the room.
“Hi Hannah!” Aki and Lauri shouted back at the same time.
Pauli didn’t say anything, he just smiled insecurely.
“Hannah, you’re early. Stay here with Pauli, I gotta show something to Aki,” Lauri said and pulled Aki next door. They hid around the corner and tried to listen to what Pauli and Hannah were saying.
“Thanks for bringing me home last night, that was really cute of you!”
“Well… you… I… You’re welcome,” Pauli replied.
“That was a really fun night!” Hannah said and smiled at him.
“Hm… yeah, really funny,” he answered and stared at the floor.
“Yeah,” Hannah repeated and waited for Pauli to say something more.
But he just smiled insecurely and didn’t say a word.
“Damn, Pauli, say something!” Lauri mumbled and peaked around the corner to see what was going on.
Hanna was standing with her back towards them but Pauli saw them. He threw some helpless glances into their direction.
Aki and Lauri started to wave and brandish with their arms to tell him to talk on.
“Well, Hannah…” Pauli said and paused again, trying to get what Aki and Lauri wanted to say.
“Yes?” Hannah asked.
Pauli peaked over her shoulder. Aki was pretending to drink out of an imaginary glass, Lauri was stuffing invisible food into his mouth. Pauli stared at them questioning. Lauri and Aki repeated their movements hectically.
“Ehm, do you… are you…” Pauli stuttered still trying to guess what all the miming was about.
“We should go out together and have something to eat before these two dorks behind me are making complete idiots of themselves,” Hanna grinned and turned around. “I can see your reflections in the window, smart ass!”
Pauli and Hannah burst into laughter and left the room together.
Aki and Lauri were left in embarrassed silence.
Lauri stared at the door the two had just left the room through.
“Hey!” he suddenly shouted,” who’s gonna drive me home now?”
Anna stepped into the apartment, let herself fall on the sofa and put her feet on the table. It was Friday afternoon, this had been her first week at work. As much as she had liked it, it was hard to get used to getting up early every day after not having a job for a while.
Anna loved her new job, the colleges were nice and friendly and the kids were great, too. As a nurse there wasn’t much to do for Anna, except for giving out some band aids and cool packs from time for time. But she also taught a dancing class three times a week and that was what she liked most.
“Weekend, finally!” she sighed. How much better a weekend felt after a week of work!
Suddenly she remembered. She had promised to baby-sit Lina this weekend.
The door opened. Aki came in.
“Hey, sweetie,” he said and let himself fall next to her. “Guess what?”
“Elvis lives?” Anna suggested.
“Close but wrong,” Aki grinned. “What are you gonna do this weekend?”
“WE,” Anna stressed the first word and slightly slapped Aki’s leg, “are gonna baby-sit Lina!”
“And again, close but wrong!” Aki laughed.
“Come on, tell me!” Anna nagged.
“Ok. We were playing that one game in the studio, you know that one with the bottles and the sausages and the wax…” Aki looked at her questioning.
“Ehrm, not sure if I wanna know what you’re talking about but go on,” Anna replied with risen eyebrows.
“Anyway, Pauli and Lauri lost, now they have to baby-sit Lina! That means we have the whole weekend just for us!”
Anna didn’t know what to say. “Wow, I mean that’s great but are you sure we can leave them alone with a little defenceless child?”
Aki laughed. “Relax, they won’t kill her, I’m sure. Well, at least pretty sure.” He took Anna into his arms. “This weekend it’s gonna be just us! We’ll stay at home, eat tons of food, watch movies and …do all kind of other things as long as they don’t require getting fully dressed or leaving the apartment!”
Anna sighed and leaned her head against his shoulder. “Sounds perfect.”
The phone rang.
“I’ll get it.” Aki picked up the phone and started to talk Finnish.
Five minutes later he hung up with a sad expression on his face.
“What’s up?” Anna asked.
“My uncle died,” Aki replied quietly.
Anna was shocked. “Oh my god! That’s terrible! I’m so sorry for you, baby!” She hugged him tightly.
Aki loosened her grip. “Hey, it’s alright. I hardly knew him and he wasn’t my real uncle but my great uncle or something like that. It’s just that I’ve told my mom to come home to comfort her. So I’m afraid we have to skip our plans for the weekend!”
Anna smiled. “Don’t worry, that’s ok. You want me to come with you?”
Aki shook his head. “You would only be bored. Stay here and relax from your first week of work.”
Anna kissed Aki’s cheek. “Alright. I’ll probably stay in the bath tub for the next few days.”
“No! You can’t,” Aki complained, “you gonna be all wrinkled when I come home!”
Anna slapped him. “So you just love me with tight skin? Go, pack your stuff!”
“I wanna die!” Lauri said with a serious voice. “Or at least I’m gonna castrate myself so I well never ever be responsible for the existence of a child!”
“What? I can’t hear you!” Pauli tried to listen to Lauri but Lina was screaming too loud.
The day had started well but it slowly had turned into a nightmare.
Eero and Bintia had left Lina with Pauli and Lauri in the morning when she was still sleeping. So they had been pretty confident to be able to baby-sit her. Everything went well till late afternoon. They played with Lina, went for a walk, they even managed to change her diaper. They only had to fight a little when it came to feeding the little girl. Most of the food landed anywhere else than in her mouth but after a while they even could handle that.
But then everything changed. Lina started to act completely hyper, she ran and jumped around without a break, opened every cupboard and drawer she could reach and pulled everything out. She took Lauri’s box of cigarettes and broke everyone single one. They just stopped her before she could eat the tobacco.
When it came to taking her to bed they had to chase Lina around for half an hour. Then she spend the next hour jumping up and down in bed. Now she was crying deafening.
“Pauli, please, do something!” Lauri begged.
“What the heck do you want me to do? Turn the volume down?” Pauli asked helplessly.
“I don’t know! Maybe reading a story or singing a song for her or something like that?” Lauri suggested.
“Hey, you’re the singer, that’s your job! Come on, let’s try it,” Pauli answered and pulled Lauri to Lina’s little bed.
“Which song?” Lauri looked questioning at Pauli.
He shrugged his shoulders. Lauri thought about it for a while. Lina just stood in her bed, holding herself to the railing and screaming like hell.
“Hurry up,” Pauli whined
"So close, no matter how far, couldn't be much more from the heart” Lauri started to sing.
“Metallica?” Pauli asked surprised. “Do you think that’s the right choice?”
Lauri shrugged his shoulders and kept on singing.
Lina screamed on but stared at Lauri. After a while she became quieter. Lauri moved his head closer, sang and smiled at her.
Lina stopped crying. She also moved closer to him.
“Dude, it’s working,” Pauli whispered happily.
Suddenly Lina’s tiny hands grabbed for Lauri’s hair. Then she pulled with full force.
“Ahhh, Pauli, do something!” Lauri shouted in pain.
But Lina didn’t let go. She pulled harder and laughed.
Pauli tried to free Lauri and peeled Lina’s finger apart. But the little girl didn’t like it, she started to cry again.
No matter what song they sang for her, she cried on.
After half an hour they gave up.
“What if we quickly call Bintia and Eero and ask what they usually do in a case like this?” Lauri asked.
“No way! They are enjoying their free weekend, we can’t disturb them!” Pauli stopped him.
“Don’t you know that she isn’t in town?”
Lauri sighed. “Seems like I’m always the last person who gets to hear things about my sister lately.”
“What if there’s something wrong with Lina, maybe she’s sick? We can call Anna.”
“No!” Lauri shouted. “Don’t call her! She’s gonna make fun of us for the next five month!”
“You mean, she’s gonna make fun of YOU! Damn, Lauri, get over it. I can’t stand your stupid behaviour! So what? Who cares if she makes fun of us or not? Just ignore it!” Pauli complained. “I don’t care and I definitely can’t stand another hour with this crying kid!”
He went over to the phone and dialled a number. Lauri went into the kitchen and lit a cigarette.
A few minutes later Pauli joined him.
“Great,” Lauri mumbled and turned away.
Twenty minutes later the door bell rang.
Pauli opened the door. “Thank god you’re here! Help! Please!”
Anna went to the bedroom and listened to Pauli who told her all the details.
“Hey, sweetie,” Anna whispered and took Lina into her arms.
The little girl cried on but snuggled up to her shoulder. Anna stroke over her hair.
“What’s up, little angel, why are you crying?” she asked softly.
Suddenly she looked at the table. All kinds of candy wrappers were lying around.
“Please tell me you ate all this chocolates and not Lina?” She stared at Pauli.
“Well, we had a few,” he answered, “but Lina ate most of it actually.”
Anna sighed. “Have you ever heard that sugar makes kids hyper? That’s why she was running around like she was crazy. And now she probably feels sick!”
She rubbed Lina’s stomach. “Poor little one, is your tummy hurting?” She pushed Lina into Pauli’s arms. “And in case you both didn’t know, children like to cuddle and being hold! Why on earth didn’t you take her out of the bed and carried her around a bit?”
Pauli looked ashamed. “We thought she would run away again.”
Anna sighed. “Alright, I’m gonna make some tea. Sit with her on the couch and stroke over her belly in circles. And talk to her in a soft voice. That’s gonna calm her down.”
Anna went to the kitchen to make some fennel tea. While she waited for the water to boil she lit up a cigarette and leaned her head against the wall. She had just been lying in the bath tub when Pauli had called her, enjoying the silence and the empty apartment.
The water kettle whistled. Anna prepared some tea and brought it to Pauli and Lauri.
They were sitting on the couch, Lina in the middle. Lauri was rubbing her belly, Pauli read out a story.
Anna smiled. “How cute! Here’s the tea, you gotta let it cool of for a moment.”
“Thanks! You really saved us!” Pauli took the bottle.
Anna laughed. “No problem. I’m gonna quickly finish my cigarette in the kitchen. Can I leave you alone after that?”
“Sure,” Pauli replied, “and thanks again.”
Anna went back to the kitchen and took her cigarette. She deeply inhaled some smoke. Thinking about the two guys trying to chase the little girl made her giggle.
“Feelin’ great, huh?”
Anna startled and turned around. Lauri was standing in the door, looking at her.
“What?” Anna didn’t know what he was talking about.
“And another time the fabulous Anna has saved an otherwise disastrous day!” Lauri replied sarcastically.
“Are you ok? Maybe you hit your head and now you can’t think clear or something?
Lauri looked at her angrily. “Come on, why don’t you admit it? Again you could show how much better you are, everyone else is lost without your help, we are all too stupid to live on our own. But thank god, our shining heroine Anna is around to help us out!”
“Ehrm, hello? Are you on drugs? I’m just here cause Pauli called me! And I’m about to leave, so where is your fucking problem?” She almost shouted the last sentence.
“My fucking problem? You wanna know my fucking problem?” he shouted back angrily. “I’ll tell you! You are my fucking problem! Everything was fine before we met you! Now all I hear is ‘Anna here, Anna there’! Isn’t she great? Lauri, why don’t you like her? Why don’t you treat her nice? Why the fuck should I treat you nice? I don’t even like you! You just appear on the scene and infiltrate my circle of friends and my family! THAT is my fucking problem!”
Anna stared at him. Then she slowly put out her cigarette, took her jacket and left the kitchen. She stopped in front of the front door and turned back to Lauri.
“You know what? Fuck off,” she said calmly. “You don’t need my help? Well, then…”
She left the apartment and slammed the door.
From outside she could hear Lina screaming again.
The night had been terrible. Though Anna had sworn herself not to spend a single thought on Lauri, she couldn’t sleep. She tossed and turned around all night long and hardly slept.
What was going on with Lauri? Why was he acting like that?
Was she really acting like everyone needed her help? No! Ok, she liked helping people, that’s why she was a nurse. And, ok, maybe she sometimes tried to help people without being asked. But what was wrong about that? And if people don’t like it they just have to tell me, I wouldn’t be angry or something!
Was Lauri jealous? I’m infiltrating his circle of friends and family? Give me a break! It’s not my problem that his friends and sister like me! Maybe it kinda sucks that his best friend spends a lot of time with me but hey! That’s what happens! People get involved in a relationship and have to split up their time between friends and lover.
But why the fuck didn’t Lauri like her? There had to be other reasons for that, he had been unfriendly since the first day they met. But which? Anna hated it when people didn’t like her. So what, she asked herself, isn’t it normal to want to be liked?
These thoughts were running through her head all night long.
When she crawled out of bed she had made a decision. Whatever happened she would not let Lauri provoke her again. She would be nice and calm and if necessary she would ignore him. Anna didn’t want Aki to suffer just because his friends were arguing all the time. He deserved better than that.
Anna had breakfast and took a shower. Aki wouldn’t be home before late afternoon, she had to kill some time.
Anna decided to go outside and run. She ran almost two hours around the city. Then she felt she had reached her limits. She let herself sink on a park bench and took deep breath. The cold air hurt her lungs but the endorphins made her feel great.
“Do you always run so long?” someone asked next to her.
Anna turned around and saw a girl sitting on the other end of the bench. She was pale with black hair and a very skinny body. She seemed familiar.
“You don’t remember me,” the girl stated. “I’m in your dancing class on Friday.”
“Oh, right, sorry! Your name is… Amelie?” Anna asked insecurely. She still struggled to keep all the new names from school in mind but she remembered the girl. She had noticed her because she was frightening skinny. During dance class the girl had looked like she was drowning in her big green t-shirt. Anna had wondered if she was sick.
“Marlene,” the girl corrected her.
“Yeah, right. It’s still hard for me to remember all the new names. You are in your last year of high school, right?”
“Yes,” Marlene answered and looked at her. “So, do you?
“What?” Anna didn’t know what she was talking about.
“Do you always run for so long? I’ve been sitting here for a while and I already say you running along the street about one and a half hour ago.” Marlene asked.
Anna laughed. “No, usually I run for an hour or less but today I had so many things going through my head. Running frees my mind, you know?”
Marlene nodded and wrapped her coat tighter around her slim body. She shivered.
“Have you been sitting here in the cold all the time?” Anna worried.
Again Marlene nodded but didn’t say a word.
“You should go home, you will be sick tomorrow if you stay outside!”
This time the girl shook her head and stared at the ground.
Anna moved closer to Marlene.
“Are you ok?” she asked softly.
Marlene shook her head again. A few tears started to run down her cheeks.
“Hey,” Anna said and put her arm around Marlene’s shoulder. “Do you want to tell me what’s wrong?”
Marlene nodded and took deep breath.
“I’ve been arguing with my parents. They want to leave Helsinki and move back to Sweden. But I don’t want to go!” she sobbed.
“Have you talked to them about this? Maybe you can stay if you tell them that you wanna finish school first. You’re eighteen, aren’t you?”
“I’ll be eighteen next month,” Marlene answered and pulled up her nose.
“See, I’m sure they’ll understand you. If you want I can talk to them, too,” Anna suggested.
Marlene looked at her. “Really?”
“Sure,” Anna smiled, “and you can always come and talk to me if you feel bad, alright?”
“Come on, you really should go home, you’re freezing!”
“Ok,” Marlene wiped her tears away and got up. “Thank you.”
Anna watched the small person leaving the park. She started to feel the cold, now that her body had cooled of a bit.
Anna got up and decided to go to the sauna. She picked a nice and cosy public sauna just down the street from the park.
Anna undressed, put her clothes into a locker and wrapped a towel around her body. Then she entered the sauna. The room was filled with so much steam, she hardly saw the wooden benches. Anna lay down on a free one and closed her eyes. From time to time she could hear some other people move and breath. The heat made her slightly doze away. Anna sat back up. She didn’t want to fall asleep. Every time a person left the room the air became a bit clearer.
Anna looked around but she still couldn’t see much. Except for an old fat man quite close next to her. He didn’t even have a towel to cover himself.
“Ewww,” Anna thought and tried to inconspicuously move a bit away.
After a few minutes he got up, grinned at her and left the room. A big cloud of steam left with him.
Suddenly Anna could see who was sitting across the room. Lauri.
They were the only people left and stared at each other.
“Of all places in this city you have to be here? I thought you didn’t even like saunas,” Anna sighed.
He just looked at her angrily. “I’m leaving.”
Anna got up. “No, I’m leaving. This is your city, I don’t wanna take anything away from you,” she said with a friendly but cold voice.
Lauri got up, too. “No, I’m going.”
Now they were standing in front of each other, both with angrily sparkling eyes.
“No, I’m going.”
“No, you stay!”
“Are you trying to tell me what to do?”
“Damn, Lauri,” Anna sighed, “I don’t give a fuck what you’re doing! I’m leaving, do what ever you want!”
Then she left the room and went to the showers. When the ice cold water hit her body she screamed.
All the thoughts that the running had deleted out of her head were back again. Her body was filled with aggressive energy.
She went home, stepped into the apartment and slammed the door. She kicked her shoes into a corner and threw her jacket on top.
Aki was standing in the kitchen raiding the fridge.
“Surprise, I’m home early,” he said and turned around.
Anna closed the refrigerator door and pushed Aki against it. Then she kissed him passionately.
“I missed you, too, but…” Aki mumbled.
“Shh,” Anna closed his mouth with kisses. She ripped her shirt of and tried to pull Aki’s over his head.
“Hey, slow down, there’s no need to hurry!” he tried to calm her down.
But Anna didn’t listen, she kept undressing him roughly and kissed him like there was no tomorrow.
Oh well, Aki thought. This was different from usual, rough and aggressive. But it wasn’t bad at all!
Aki grabbed her waist, pulled her up and pushed her against the opposite wall. He kissed her neck, his lips went further down to her breast. He was about to suck her nipples when Anna pushed him back. She didn’t want to let him to determine, she wanted to keep the control. Anna mad him lay down on the kitchen table and pulled his pants down. Then she climbed on top of him. She started of slowly but her movements became faster. Aki rose his upper body and embraced her tightly, this made her feel him deeper inside her. She moaned loudly and moved faster. Aki tried to keep up with her, sweat drops ran down his temples. Only few minutes later they sank back on the table, satisfied and exhausted.
Anna kissed him and disappeared into the bathroom without a word.
Aki got up and put his pants back on. Not that he wanted to complain, what just had happened had been great but why was she acting so different?
He went into the bathroom. Anna was having a shower. Aki sat down on the edge of the bathtub.
“So how was your weekend?” he asked.
“Oh well, pretty slow, watched lots of TV and lay around on the sofa,” she replied.
Then she stuck her head through the shower curtain and looked at Aki.
“There’s something else, I wanna tell you about. I had a quite serious fight with Lauri and…”
Aki didn’t listen to what Anna was saying else.
After what just had happened this name was the last he wanted to hear right now
The following week Anna avoided to go anywhere Lauri was and if she met him she stayed out of his way. Whatever he said or did, she didn’t give him any reason to start a fight.
That wasn’t easy for her but she wanted to keep the peace. She felt that her fights with Lauri had been effecting her relationship to Aki because he didn’t feel comfortable in between all that. Sometimes she had the impression that Lauri tried to destroy Aki’s and her relationship so she would leave again and Lauri had Aki all for himself. But maybe she just saw things that weren’t real.
Whatever, she thought, my love for Aki is too strong for anyone or anything to destroy it, especially for little dorks like Lauri.
At the moment she was at school and prepared her next dancing class. The week before she had asked the kids to suggest songs to dance to and she had found out that there were lots of The Rasmus fans. Anna grinned. If they knew who her boyfriend was they would probably go crazy and keep annoying her with all kind of questions and stuff. She carefully kept it as a secret.
Her cell phone beeped. “Just wanted to hear how you’re doing. Love you. Aki”
Anna smiled. Aki had been sending her tons of nice little text messages lately. Though it were a lot, she found it kinda cute and liked it. She quickly dialled his number.
“Hey, babe! Just wanted to tell you that I love you, too.”
“Lucky me! Where are you?”
“What do you think? I’m at school, preparing a lesson. Where are you?”
“At home. Gotta go to the studio soon though.”
Someone knocked at the door. Marlene stepped in.
“Baby, gotta go, someone just came.”
“Oh, ok. Well then, see ya tonight. Love you!”
“Love you, too,” Anna replied and hung up.
“Your husband?” Marlene asked and nodded towards the phone.
Anna laughed. “No, my boyfriend. Sit down! How are you? Do you want something to drink?”
Marlene shook her head. “Since when have you been together?”
“About half a year, don’t know exactly,” Anna answered and poured some coffee into her cup.
“Where did you meet?”
“I was on holidays in Finland when I met him.”
“Are you gonna marry him?”
“Easy! It’s far too early to talk about things like that!”
“What does he do?”
Anna started to feel uncomfortable with being asked all these questions.
“A better question would be: what are you doing?” Anna tried to change the topic. “Have you talked to your parents?”
Marlene nodded. “Yes. And they don’t understand me,” she whispered.
Then she looked at Anna. “Did you really mean it when you offered me to talk to them?”
Anna smiled at her. “Of course. Do you want me to call them?”
Marlene quickly pulled a piece of paper out of her bag and put it on the table. “This is the phone number. Thank you so much!”
Then she jumped up and left the room.
Anna looked at the number. Marlene was definitely acting a bit weird. Maybe her parents could clear some things up. She dialled the number.
“Hi, my name is Anna. I’m the nurse of Marlene’s school and…”
“Oh my god, did something happen to her?” the woman on the other side asked scared.
“No, don’t worry, she is fine. She just asked me to talk to you.”
“Good. So what do you want to talk to me about?”
“Well, Marlene told me you are about to move to Sweden and that she wants to stay here. I understand that you don’t want to leave your daughter behind but I think that it’s also important for her to stay in her habitual environment and with her friends so she can finish the year and school in general successfully. It’s only a few month left of this semester and she will be eighteen soon. Maybe you could consider to let her stay on her own. I can keep an eye on her if this helps you.”
Marlene’s mother sighed. “Anna, this is very nice of you but you know, the weird thing is, Marlene doesn’t have any friends here! She never spends her time with other people. All she does is staying at home or walking through the city all day long. I would understand her if she had friends she doesn’t want to leave but… And then, you probably have noticed how skinny she is?”
“Yes, is she alright?”
“Honestly I don’t know. She doesn’t eat much. Every time I try to talk to her, to ask her if she’s alright, she refuses to answer. I don’t think she’s anorexic, she has always been slim but I also don’t think she’s far away from being it.”
“Has she always been the way she is now?”
“We moved here four years ago. She was a happy girl with lots of friends and everything was great in the beginning. But about two years ago she started to be the way she is now. At first I thought that’s the normal teenage rebellion or something like that. Or that she just likes it more to be on herself than with lots of people. But now she doesn’t have a single friend. She spends all of her time alone!”
“Maybe she doesn’t like to be around people. Some people can be happy just with themselves!”
“But do you think she seems happy?”
“No, not really,” Anna had to admit.
“You see, there really is no reason for her to stay here!”
“Maybe she just doesn’t feel strong enough to start all over new at another school, considering that she will graduate in a few month anyway. I really think she’s able to stay on her own for this short period of time. I somehow got the feeling that it wouldn’t be good for her to leave,” Anna told Marlene’s mother. “Why don’t you just think it over another time? If you want to talk to me again or if I can help you in any other way, feel free to call me or come along anytime!”
“I have to talk it over with my husband. And I’m really not sure if it’s a good idea. But thank you very much for your help. I really appreciate that the people at your school care so much about their students! Bye bye!”
“Bye.” Anna hung up and looked at her watch. Time to go to the gym.
It was ten o’clock in the evening. Twenty minutes earlier Anna had received a weird text message from Aki.
“Studio. Car home. Guantanamera.”
Anna had called him back but he didn’t answer his phone. She was bored so she decided to go to the studio.
Anna got off the bus and went towards the building. All windows were dark. The front door wasn’t locked so she entered the house. She went down the hall. It was silent, her echoing steps were the only sound.
Anna checked several rooms but no sign of Aki.
Suddenly she heard some subdued voices. Someone was singing far away.
“Hello?” she shouted.
Anna slowly followed the voices down the dark hall. They became clearer. Anna pushed a door open.
“Guantanameeeeeera, oh oh oh, guantanameeeraaaaANNA!” Aki almost screamed the last two syllables and tried to stand up.
“Lauri, I need a push!” he complained and looked at Lauri who was still singing. His right arm was wrapped around Aki’s shoulder, with his left hand he was holding a beer bottle and waved it to the rhythm of the song.
Anna laughed. “It’s alright, you don’t have to get up. What was that message about you send me?”
Aki looked at her. “What messssash?”
“Boy, are you drunk! This one.” She showed him her cell phone.
It took Aki a while to read the words then he took deep breath.
“Ok. That, that, that means, I’m in the schtudio. Aaaand ma car is home? No, wait, I can’t come home with my car, caaaaause,” he started to giggle, “I’m tooooo drunk! And then,” he scratched his head and stared at the last word, “I sink, I jus wrote what I was singing.”
He smiled at Anna like a little boy that was waiting for a reward.
“Aha. Ok,” Anna grinned.
“Guntanamera,” Lauri mumbled and turned his beer bottle upside down.
“Oh, empty,” he said sadly and rolled himself off the couch. On hands and knees he crawled towards the fridge.
“Nothing left,” Aki said.
Lauri stopped and kept on sitting on the floor.
“What do you guys think of going home?” Anna suggested.
“Alright,” Aki shouted, jumped up and tried to keep balance. “Wohaa! Not sure if I can drive.”
Lauri grabbed Aki’s leg and pulled himself up.
“I can drive us home!” He smiled proudly.
“Let me think about that for a second……………………. No fucking way!” Anna laughed. “You’re both far too drunk to drive and Lauri, you don’t even have a driver’s license!”
“Yep,” Lauri nodded, “that way, the police can’t take it away from me if they pull me over!”
“Give me the keys, Aki, I’ll see you outside at the car,” Anna laughed and left.
She found the car a few hundred meters away from the building. She drove it to the front door and got out. Anna stuck her head through the studio door.
“Are you guys coming?” she shouted.
From the far end of the hall she heard them giggling.
Five minutes later they finally arrived at the car. Anna opened the door and pushed Aki on the seat.
“Fasten your seat belt,” she told him.
Then she turned towards Lauri. He was leaning against the wall with closed eyes.
“Are you ok?” she asked.
Lauri grinned and stumbled towards the open car door. Before he got in he suddenly stopped.
“Do you wanna puke now or inside of the car?” Anna asked laughing.
Lauri looked into the car, then at the pavement.
“I think,” he said and paused a few seconds, “both!”
Anna laughed again. “Ok, then go ahead.”
Lauri bend over and coughed a few times. He shook his head.
“Maybe later,” he mumbled and climbed on the back seat.
Anna quickly drove Lauri to his apartment before he could make a mess in the car.
When they finally got home Anna had to support Aki to walk towards the door.
“You’re the bestestest girlfriend of the whole wide world,” he said over and over again.
Anna grinned. “And you’re the drunkestestest boyfriend in the whole wide world!”
“Watch out!” he suddenly said.
“What?” Anna looked at the door step. Someone was sitting in the darkness.
Anna switched the lights on.
That night Anna had called Marlene’s parents. When they came along to pick her up they all had a long conversation. Anna had taken Aki to bed, she didn’t want the parents to see her drunk boyfriend. She was afraid that wouldn’t make her look too trustworthy.
In the end they agreed that Marlene was allowed to stay in Helsinki on her own. They wanted to keep their apartment as holiday residence anyway, so she could live there. Anna promised to visit her every other day to make sure everything went well.
Marlene had been pretty surprised when she realized who Aki was. Anna had been afraid that the girl would tell anyone about it but Marlene promised to keep the secret.
When they left Anna went on the balcony to smoke a cigarette. It was freezing cold. Anna wrapped her jacket tighter and looked at the lights of the city.
Anna didn’t know what she should think about Marlene. Though she was very quiet and didn’t talk much, you could tell that she was precisely observing her environment and the people around her. She was shy and seemed so fragile but somehow Anna felt like Marlene was stronger than she appeared. The girl knew exactly what she wanted.
There was something weird about her but Anna didn’t know what. Anna went to the bedroom. Aki was sleeping deeply.
I wonder what their reason for getting drunk was, Anna thought and switched the light off. Probably just one of their drinking games. At least they were dressed.
Aki woke up. How had he come home? He didn’t remember. Most of last night was blurry.
He tried to remember.
He had planned to make Lauri drunk so he could find out what he was thinking about Anna. But somehow Aki drank as much as his friend so it didn’t really work out the way he wanted it to.
Guantanamera? Why was that coming to his mind right now?
Aki sighed and turned towards Anna. She was still sleeping.
Aki looked at the alarm clock and startled. Ten o’clock!
“Anna, wake up!” he shouted and poked her. “You overslept!”
“Damn, Aki, it’s Saturday!” Anna mumbled angrily and pulled the blanket over her head.
“Oh, ok,” Aki answered embarrassed, “sorry!”
Anna turned from side to side a few times then she sat up.
“Now I’m awake,” she complained.
“Sorry,” Aki repeated and wanted to kiss her.
“Eww, go brush your teath!” Anna shoved him away.
Aki disappeared into the bathroom and came back a few minutes later. He grinned.
“Do I get a kiss now? I taste very minty!”
Anna kissed him. “Yummy, just like a fresh chewing gum! So, what was going on last night?”
Aki blushed. “Well, actually that’s a good question. I started to drink with Lauri,” he stopped to think about it. “And then I woke up here.”
Anna laughed. “Maybe I can fill your gap. I came to the studio, you and Lauri were completely wasted and you were singing ‘Guantanamera’. Then I drove both of you home.”
Anna continued. She told him about the thing with Marlene.
“Do you think she will tell everyone at school about you and me? I mean I absolutely don’t remember her, maybe she has forgotten …”
“…who you are?” Anna finished his thought and laughed. “Just cause you don’t remember her doesn’t automatically mean she doesn’t remember you! What kind of logic is that?”
“The moment I wanted to say that, it seemed perfectly logical to me!” Aki defended himself. “Sorry, I guess that’s just the rest alcohol from last night that’s speaking through me.”
After being awake early anyway, Anna called Bintia. She had promised her to go shopping together so they met downtown.
“Where did you leave Lina?” Anna asked.
“She’s with Eero,” Bintia explained and entered the first shop.
They shopped several hours till Anna’s feet started to hurt.
“Can we go home now? You already bought a quarter of all available clothes of Helsinki!” Anna started to complain.
“Ok, that’s the last store. I’m kinda tired,” Bintia admitted and pushed the door open.
“Wow, nice shop,” Anna grinned and started to stroll along the stands.
It was a lingerie store.
Bintia selected a few ensembles and went to the dressing room.
“Come on, you gotta help me find the best one.” Bintia took Anna’s hand and pulled her with her.
Bintia disappeared behind a curtain. After a few minutes she stuck her head outside.
“Ok, come in, what do you think about this one?” she asked insecurely.
She was wearing a bra and matching panties made out of red lace.
Anna whistled. “Looks absolutely great! But then again, you have a perfect body, you would even look good wearing a paper bag.”
“Do you like it?” Bintia turned around and looked at herself in the mirror. “Do you think Eero will like it?”
“Of course he will! But why do you wanna dress up for him?” Anna wondered. “He adores you whatever you’re wearing!”
Bintia just sighed.
“What’s up? Did something happen last weekend?”
Bintia sighed again. “No. The exact opposite. Nothing at all happened.”
“How do you mean that?”
“Well, we did all kind of romantic stuff. We went for a long week along the beach. Then we got massages at the hotel, we were in a Jacuzzi, had a wonderful dinner, sat in front of the fireplace and talked… and then we fell asleep.”
“Oh,” Anna just said.
“Yeah right, oh. The next day we laughed about it but whatever. We just didn’t come into the right mood or the right situation or… I just don’t know. It was more like we were just good friends. Or even worse, an old couple!”
“And now you think nice underwear will help to get him into the right mood?”
Bintia didn’t answer. She looked through the other ensembles she had brought to the dressing room.
Suddenly she turned around and looked sadly at Anna.
“Do you think he has another woman?” Bintia almost whispered that question.
Anna couldn’t resist to laugh.
“Eero? Are you kidding me? Never!”
“What’s so funny about that?” Bintia asked insecurely.
“Bintia! Eero is the most faithful man I’ve ever met! He wouldn’t touch another woman even if a hundred of them were dancing naked around him!” Anna tried to calm her down.
“What makes you so sure?”
“Well,” Anna thought about it for a while, “just because! Holy shit, it’s Eero!”
The sheer thought of imagining Eero trying to pick up a girl made her laugh again.
“Don’t worry Bin, there is no other woman!”
Bintia put her clothes back on.
“There’s another thing. Last night when I prepared myself for bed I discovered that his toothbrush was missing. I started to panic cause I thought maybe he’s gonna stay with another girl over night or something. When he came back really late from recording at the studio I asked him but he just said he didn’t know where his toothbrush was.” Bintia sighed. “Am I becoming paranoid?”
Anna smiled at her.
“No, hun, you’re not. But there’s nothing to worry about,” she replied and left the dressing room area. When she had been at the studio late last night to pick up Aki and Lauri, there hadn’t been anyone else. But she didn’t dare to tell Bintia.
Anna and Marlene watched the car leave. Marlene waved at it without any expression on her face.
Anna put her arm around Marlene’s shoulder.
“Now they’re gone. If you ever need any kind or help or someone to talk to you can come to me, you know? I’ll be there for you even for whatsoever.”
Marlene smiled. “Thanks, I really appreciate it! But I think I’ll come along pretty well without my parents.”
“Well, even if there’s no problem, you can still come along.”
Marlene looked at her watch.
“Ok, I really gotta go now!”
“Where you’re going?” Anna asked.
“Oh, I just wanna go to the movies. The film starts in 40 minutes. By the way, I’m not gonna tell anyone who you’re boyfriend is,” Marlene said and winked
Anna hugged her good bye.
“Have fun at the movies. I see you tomorrow at school.”
Anna walked a few steps, then she turned around.
“Hey, remember, I promised your parents to look after you. So no parties till 5 a.m. and staying away from school!”
Marlene grinned. “Sure, I’ll be a good girl!”
Then she quickly left and walked down the street. She was glad that her parents had left cause they would never have allowed what she was going to do in half an hour.
She was afraid of needles and she was scared of the pain she would suffer from soon but finally she would get what she was longing for for so long. A tattoo.
Anna went back home. The second she stepped into the apartment the phone rang.
“Where have you been?”
“Marlene’s parents just left. I just came back home the second you called.”
“Do you wanna come to the studio?”
“I don’t know,” Anna replied. There were a hundred of other more interesting things she could think of right now than hanging around at the studio and watching the guys record.
“Please,” Aki begged, “I’m missing you!”
Anna sighed. “Ok, I’ll be there in about half an hour.”
She packed her stuff and hurried to get the next bus.
When she arrived only Aki, Pauli and Hannah were there.
“Eero and Lauri recorded their parts this morning,” Aki explained and kissed Anna.
“Hey, Aki, it’s your turn,” the sound engineer shouted from next door.
“Excuse me,” Aki said and left.
Anna joined Hannah who was sitting on the sofa reading a magazine.
“I really wonder why he wanted me to be here. He’s busy anyway,” Anna complained.
“He just wants to have you around,” Hannah replied, “ that’s kinda cute, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but I kinda get the impression he wants to have me around a lot lately!” Anna said and leaned back. She thought a while about how to express what she was thinking.
“What’s up?” Hannah asked.
“I don’t know. It’s just that… I don’t know how to say it. I mean, he sends me ten text messages or calls me ten times a day just to ask where I am or what I’m doing! In the beginning I thought it was kinda cute but now? It’s not that it’s going on my nerves or something. Ok, maybe a little. But I really wonder what’s that all about!”
“I think he just misses you,” Hannah tried to explain.
“But why? We live together! Sometimes I get the feeling that he wants to control what I’m doing,” Anna sighed. “But that’s probably just me overreacting.”
“Yeah, I mean, why should he? He trusts you.”
Anna sighed again. “That’s what I was thinking, too.”
“It IS annoying you!” Hannah stated.
“No! It’s not!” Anna defended herself and looked at her feet.
“Ok, maybe a little,” she admitted. “It’s just that… I don’t know.”
“You feel like he’s limiting your freedom?” Hanna asked.
Anna nodded silently.
“I can understand you. But then again, you’re living in a relationship now! That means you gotta make compromises. That’s the way it is.”
“I know,” Anna replied, “but what if I find out that I’m just not the relationship kinda type?”
“You love him, right? And he loves you. It’s all gonna work out fine. I know that!”
Anna didn’t answer. How could Hannah be so sure? But then again, she was right, they loved each other. What should go wrong?”
“So how are things between you and Pauli?” Anna asked to change the topic.
Hannah grinned from one ear to the other.
“I’m sitting on a sofa reading a boring magazine all day and watching him work. What do you think?”
Anna laughed. “Ok, stupid question. Oh geez, you two are just so cute together!”
Hannah grinned even more. “I know.”
“Hey,” Lauri entered the room. He kissed his sister on the cheek, then he looked at Anna.
“Hi,” she mumbled but didn’t really pay attention on him.
He went next door to join the sound engineer.
“And how are things between you and him?” Hannah asked curiously.
“Let’s put it that way, we can be in the same room without arguing.”
“Yeah, but just cause you’re ignoring each other,” Hannah laughed.
“At least it’s kind of a progress. I mean, we will never be friends, so I try to be as polite as possible.”
“Polite? There’s such a coldness between you two, if there was a glass of water standing in the middle, it would freeze to ice!”
“Hey, I promised Aki not to fight with Lauri anymore, I didn’t say he’s gonna be my new best friend!”
Hannah sighed. “I just don’t understand both of you. After the things I heard about you before you moved here, it sounded quite different!”
Anna looked at her. “The things you’ve heard? What did you hear? And from whom?”
“What do you think?” Hannah laughed. “From Lauri of course!”
Anna was surprised. “Huh? What did he say?”
Hannah looked at her hands, searching for the right words.
“You know, I really shouldn’t talk about this, Lauri told me all that stuff in private!”
“Oh, come on, you can’t tease me with these kinda allusions and then not going on with telling me!” Anna complained.
“I know, that was stupid of me. Ok, let me say that much. After all the struggle you and Lauri had and after you had talked about Scott’s death all in all he said was something like that you’re a pretty cool girl.”
Anna knew that Hannah wouldn’t say more about that topic but she felt that this hadn’t been all there was to say. But what was this all about? Did Lauri like her more than he admitted? Or did he even like her less but pulled himself together to not charge his friendship to Aki? Or maybe something completely different?
After all Lauri’s behaviour was still a mystery to her and she didn’t really know if she wanted to know what it all was about.
Again Anna started to think about something else to talk about.
“Do you think Eero would ever cheat on Bintia?”
Hannah laughed out loud. “Who? Eero? No, never!”
Anna laughed, too. “Isn’t that funny? Why does this seem to be so absolutely absurd to us? I mean, after all he’s just a man!”
“Yeah… no… it’s just that… damn, it’s Eero!” Hannah was trying to find an explanation. “Why the hell are you asking a question like that?”
Anna told her about what Bintia had said.
Hannah shook her head. “No, she’s definitely wrong! And the thing with Eero not being at the studio, he was probably just gone when you arrived. Or maybe when Bintia said ‘late’ she meant nine p.m. Young parents always think eight p.m. is in the middle of the night.”
“You’re probably right,” Anna replied. “Maybe I should ask Marlene if she wants to baby-sit Lina to earn some extra money. So we could all go out together or Eero and Bintia can do something on their own.”
“Do you trust that girl?”
Anna shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know her too well yet. But I don’t think she’s better or worse than any other baby sitter. And after all, she already knows about Aki and me and she handles it quite well. So at least there won’t be a hysterical fan babysitting the Rasmus baby!”
“That’s true. Why not tonight?” Hannah suggested.
“Good idea, I’ll call her,” Anna replied and started to look for her cell phone.
Lauri rolled off the girl and grabbed for his cigarettes on his bedside table. He accidentally knocked over a red wine bottle that had been standing there as well. He watched the red liquid seeping into the carpet.
“Damn,” he mumbled, sat back and lit his cigarette.
Then he looked to the other side of his bed.
The girl smiled at him insecurely.
Lauri offered her his cigarettes. “Want one?”
They smoked without saying a word.
After a few minutes Lauri stubbed his cigarette into the ash trey and turned towards the girl.
“Baby, it’s been great but you know, I gotta get up really early tomorrow!”
Lauri knew this was a lame excuse but he didn’t even try to sound credible in any way.
The girl nodded shyly and got out of the bed.
Lauri watched her getting dressed. Before she stepped through the door she quickly turned around.
“Bye,” she said.
“Yeah,” Lauri replied and waved at her tiredly.
She sadly smiled at him and left.
Lauri sighed. What had that sad smile been about? Had she expected him to ask for her number and turn this one night stand into a relationship?
Damn, girl, I picked you up at a club and already kissed you after ten minutes, he told her in his thoughts, be realistic!
He looked at his watch. 4.30 in the morning.
He wrapped himself into his blanket, grabbed a bottle of vodka and went on the balcony.
The vodka burned in his throat. But Lauri didn’t care, he chugged down a quarter of the bottle at once.
They had been at a club tonight all together, even Eero and Bintia had been with them. First they didn’t wanna come but then holy helping Anna had popped out a babysitter out of nowhere.
Lauri had been surrounded by couples, holding hands and being touchy all the time. The sheer thought of it made him wanna throw up. He had tried to get drunk as fast as possible. He had felt like being the fifth wheal on the coach.
After a few hours he couldn’t stand it anymore. On his way to the bar he met the girl and luckily she had agreed on coming home with him pretty quick.
Lauri sighed and stared at the lights of the city. He didn’t remember the girl’s name, actually he wasn’t sure if he had asked for it at all. He knew he had behaved like an asshole but all this had happened just to serve one purpose, to satisfy his needs.
Whatever, he thought.
He took another big gulp from the bottle. But no matter how much he drank, it didn’t fill out the emptiness he was feeling inside.
“What?” Lauri shouted angrily into his phone. He looked at his alarm clock. It was around noon.
“I’m also pleased to talk to you, my dear brother,” Hannah answered.
“I was still sleeping,” Lauri excused himself.
“Sleeping or passed out?” Hannah asked sarcastically.
“Shut up,” Lauri mumbled.
“So how went things last night after you left?”
“You don’t wanna know.”
“Let me take a guess. You got even more drunk, fucked the girl and sent her home right after you came.”
“Well, if you already know, why did you ask?”
“Lauri, you’re disgusting,” Hannah complained.
“Why don’t you just mind your own business?”
“Damn, you are my brother! You are my business!”
“Oh, please! Did you only call to complain about my life style? If yes, save your breath and let me sleep on!” Lauri said coldly.
“Hey, I’m just worrying! You’re really overdoing your rock star life style lately! What the fuck is going on with you?” she wanted to know.
“Hannah, it’s too early for a conversation like this!”
“It’s always too early,” Hannah sighed, “or you’re too drunk or too busy. Tell me what’s up, please!”
“You know, it’s just that last night, I felt completely out of place! Being surrounded by couples really sucks when you’re on your own. And I’m sorry to tell you that but you guys were really going on my nerves with your happy couple behaviour!”
“Oh, Lauri, I’m really sorry! I gotta admit that we weren’t too talkative… I promise I won’t do it again, really!”
“It’s ok, I understand you, I would probably do the same,” Lauri replied.
“You don’t wanna be alone anymore, right?” Hannah asked.
Lauri didn’t answer.
“But you know, you’re not gonna meet a nice girl with having one night stands completely drunk!”
“Thanks for telling me, mom,” he sighed.
“I’m gonna cook you something nice tonight, be here at eight,” Hannah replied. “And Lauri?”
“I’m sure you’ll meet a nice girl soon!”
Lauri hung up and went to the kitchen to have a glass of water.
He knew that his current life style sucked and Hannah had been right, he really wanted a girlfriend. The problem was, he didn’t want just any girl but one in particular. And she was unreachable.
The new The Rasmus single, the first song from the new album was about to be released in two weeks. To promote the song and the video, the record company sent the band on a one-week-promotion-tour through Europe. They had to go to London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Prague, Berlin and Stockholm in eight days.
Anna and Hannah decided to take some days off from work and travel with them. Actually everyday was the same, getting up early to fly to the next city, doing press work with radio and tv stations, staying in a hotel over night and again leaving early for the next stop. While the guys were working, Anna and Hannah went shopping or visited some nice places.
That day they arrived in Rome. This was the only place where they stayed two days.
“We’ll be done with MTV at six, why don’t you come along and pick us up. We can go out for dinner together if you want,” Aki suggested.
“Don’t know if we will be done with shopping by then,” Anna grinned.
Aki pouted. “You’ve been shopping non stop since three days, you already bought a second suitcase!”
“A woman can never have too many clothes and accessories!” Hannah laughed and looked at Anna. “Ok, do you have your credit card?”
“Ok, we’re ready to take off!”
Anna kissed Aki good bye and left with Hannah.
Aki just shook his head. “Woman.”
Then he left with the other guys to drive to the first radio station.
“Wow, this day is pretty hot considering it’s only beginning of March. Maybe Italy is a nicer place to live in than Helsinki,” Anna sighed. She had been wearing just a t-shirt all day long. When they had left Finland a few days ago she had been wearing her winter jacket.
Hanna drank the last sip of her coke, leaned back in her chair and enjoyed the sun with closed eyes.
“Yeah, sitting outside in a café definitely beats freezing your ass off when ever leaving the house,” she laughed.
Anna poked her. “Ok, don’t get too comfortable, it’s almost six, we gotta find the MTY building!”
Hannah grinned and pointed at some girls.
“Why don’t we just follow them?”
Anna looked at the girls. They were all pretty young, wearing black clothes and make-up and feathers in their hair. She laughed.
“Oh, sweet! Little Lauris! Wonder if they keep growing if you water them with beer!”
Hannah rose one eyebrow.
“Do you think you could handle more than one Lauri?” She took her wallet out of her backpack and waved at the waiter. “Cause I surely couldn’t!”
“Hey, he’s your brother! At least you had 25 years of time to get used to him!” Anna replied.
They paid and followed the girls.
“I feel sorry for him. You know, he’s lonely and he’s longing for someone to love,” Hannah sighed.
“I’ve seen him getting lotsa love lately,” Anna mumbled.
Hannah wanted to answer but they arrived at the MTV building.
Lots of girls were gathering in front of the main entrance.
“Excuse me,” Hannah said and tried to walk through the people, “sorry, may I please?”
The girls looked at Anna and Hannah curiously but let them step through the door.
“Can I help you?” a woman behind a counter asked friendly.
“Hi, we are here to pick up the guys from the Rasmus,” Anna explained.
“Yes, of course,” the woman smiled, “would you please wait outside with the other fans?”
“No, you’re misunderstanding us,” Hannah said, “we know them, I’m the singer’s sister!”
The woman laughed. “Nice try, never heard that before. Please leave now.”
Hannah looked at Anna. Then she grabbed her hand.
“Come on, this is ridiculous, we just go in, we’re gonna find them without that lady’s help!”
The walked a few steps down the hall.
Two big guys came around the corner and shoved the girls friendly but determined towards the exit.
“Hey!” Anna shouted, “why the fuck don’t you believe us?”
“Anna?” Aki stuck his head through a door next to the counter and grinned.
“Would you please tell these two gorillas to leave us alone?” Anna asked.
“That’s alright, these two girls are here to pick us up,” he explained to the receptionist.
The woman blushed. “I’m really sorry! Please, go ahead!”
Anna and Hannah went with Aki.
Anna slapped him. “You could have told these people before that we’re coming! I think the girls outside really had fun to watch us. Where are we going?”
“The others are waiting in the back of the building. We are waiting for a car to drive us away.”
“Hi guys,” Hannah greeted the rest of the band. “Do you really wanna sneak out of here? There are lots of fans waiting for autographs. It’s kinda rude to leave through the backdoor!”
“Yeah, well, we were tired and there are so many and they are so loud,” Pauli tried to talk himself out of it.
“You guys are pretty lame. Now listen, you guys are going outside to give autographs. Anna and I get in the car and we will pull up in front of the building like five minutes later to pick you up. Now go!” Hannah looked at them strictly.
“Yes, M’am!” Aki saluted. “She’s right, lets do it!”
After five minutes Anna got up. “Ok, let’s go get the car.”
Hannah grinned and stretched her legs.
“Oh, I’m getting comfortable in here. Why don’t we leave them with the screaming crowd for another ten minutes?” she suggested innocently.
Anna laughed. “Usually I’d say that’s a great idea but I’m starving! Let’s go!”
When the car stopped in front of the crowd the guys looked relieved. They quickly got in the car and drove away.
“Ok, where are we going? I’m starving!” Anna said.
“I’m going to the hotel, I wanna call Bintia,” Eero answered.
Pauli looked remorseful at Hannah.
“Are you mad if I go there, too? You know, I got that idea for a great new song stuck in my head, I really need to record it before I forget it! We can meet later!”
Hannah smiled sadly. “Well, ok, but you gotta promise that we’ll do something nice together tomorrow!”
“Promise!” Pauli kissed her on the cheek.
Hannah turned towards Aki, Lauri and Anna.
“So it’s just the four of us!” she grinned.
Then she realized the looks on Anna’s and Lauri’s faces.
“Oooor, Aki and Anna are having a romantic dinner on their own and I’m spending this lovely night with my dear brother!” She winked at Anna.
Anna formed inconspicuously “Thank you” with her lips and smiled at Hannah. Then she softly poked the driver’s shoulder.
“Excuse me, could you please stop at the next corner?”
“Oh my god, do you see these cute shoes?” Hannah sighed. “Sorry, I gotta go into this shop! I’ll hurry up, really!”
“’I’ll wait outside,” Lauri answered and lit up a cigarette.
They had been at a restaurant and wanted to go for a walk afterwards. But ‘going for a walk’ seemed to mean ‘shopping’ in Hannah’s world.
Suddenly it started to rain heavily. Lauri moved closer to the wall to stay dry.
People were running around hectically looking for shelter.
Only one woman was dancing laughing in the rain. Her white shirt had become transparent and was sticking to her body. She turned into his direction.
Lauri moved closer to the wall. She didn’t see him.
Lauri watched her.
Now Aki appeared. He stopped under a tree and obviously told her to join him.
She shook her head and kept standing in the rain. Now she rose her head to the sky and let the rain wash her face. She slowly stroke her hair back.
Lauri’s heart started to beat faster. He was feeling hot. He was somehow embarrassed to watch her but he couldn’t stop.
Aki said something. They were too far away, Lauri couldn’t hear it. Aki probably had just told Anna that her shirt had become transparent because Anna looked at her breast and laughed. Then she started to imitate someone who took part in a wet-t-shirt-contest. She swung her hips and stroke slowly with her hands down her breast.
Aki laughed, grabbed her hands and pulled her under the tree. They started to kiss passionately.
Lauri still couldn’t stop watching them. He felt weird but this was turning him on.
Aki pushed Anna against the tree trunk and lifted her up. She wrapped her legs around his waist and kept on kissing him heavily.
“What’s up?” Hannah suddenly asked behind Lauri.
He turned around and looked at her. His eyes were full of desire and sadness.
Hannah followed the direction Lauri had been looking at before.
Then she saw them and sighed. “Oh, no, Lauri. Not her!”
They were in Berlin. The weather was grey and cold so Anna and Hannah decided to stay at the hotel instead of going shopping. They spent the whole afternoon at the hotel’s wellness area getting massages and body peelings and relaxing in the sauna.
Now that Hannah knew that Lauri wanted Anna, she always tried to avoid talking about anything that could lead to a conversation about what was going on between the two of them.
Lauri had made Hannah swear to keep his feelings as a secret. She sometimes felt like she was bursting if she didn’t tell anyone else about it but then she remembered her promise and pulled herself together.
He can have almost any woman he wants, why on earth does he have to have a crush on his best friend’s girlfriend, Hannah wondered. She had talked to him about it that night in Rome.
“Lauri, Anna is Aki’s girlfriend! You have to accept that! I know it’s hard for you but you’ll get over it. Whatever you do, remember, you don’t have the right to do anything that could destroy their relation ship. Promise!” That’s what she had told him.
Lauri had just sighed and promised not to do anything. Hannah felt that he was suffering and felt bad because she couldn’t do anything about it. Whenever it came to her little brother she felt like she had to take care of him and protect him. But now all she could do was protecting him from himself.
Hannah was ripped out of her thoughts. Anna got up from the wooden bench.
“I’m melting away, that’s enough sauna for me. Are you coming, too?” Anna asked and wrapped a towel around her body.
“Yeah, me too. I’m coming in a second,” Hannah replied and slowly sat up. She felt that the heat was affecting her circulation, she felt a bit dizzy.
Anna left and went towards the swimming pool area. Just a few moments later Hannah followed her. Then she suddenly saw what was happening any minute.
Anna was walking along the hallway towards the glass door that was separating the swimming pool are. Lauri came from the other direction on the other side of the door.
Anna was busy fixing her towel, it had almost slipped off her body. She didn’t realize Lauri arriving at the door and pushed the door open with full force.
The door hit Lauri’s face hart, he staggered and fell backwards.
“Holy shit,” Hannah shouted. She almost laughed but she could imagine Lauri’s pain so she pulled herself together.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so incredibly sorry,” Anna said who was kneeling in front of Lauri.
He was holding his nose and moaned.
“Come on, let me see if it’s broken.” She tried to pull his hand away softly.
“You just hurt me, why on earth should I let you touch me again? Who knows what’s gonna happen next?” he complained.
“Trust me, I’m a nurse,” Anna calmed him down.
Lauri slowly removed his hand. His nose was red and already beginning to swell. Anna carefully touched it to check if it was broken.
“Outsch!” Lauri whined.
“Don’t worry, it’s not broken but it’s gonna swell and turn green and blue,” Anna explained. “I’ll quickly get some ice to cool it. Hannah, why don’t you take him to one of these deck-chairs next to the pool?”
Anna ran to the pool bar to get some ice, Hannah took her brother to a chair.
When Anna returned, she sat down next to Lauri and softly pressed a bag with ice cubes on his nose.
She looked him in the eyes and smiled conciliatory.
“You know, I’m really, really sorry! But if you cool it quite immediately it won’t look too bad later. And after all, now you can tell interesting stories in your next interviews. Like you have been beaten up cause you wanted to save a fan from some big bad guys or something!”
“Haha,” Lauri answered sarcastically and looked at her. He couldn’t stand her eye contact so he looked down. Unfortunately his glance got caught from the skin right above Anna’s towel line, it looked smooth, a little trail of sweat was running down and disappeared into the gap between her breasts. He just couldn’t turn his eyes away.
When Hannah realized where her brother was staring at she cleared her throat.
“Alright, I’m taking over now, nurse Anna,” she said and took the ice bag.
“Ok, can I get you something to drink,” Anna asked and got up.
“No,” Lauri mumbled.
“Damn, Lauri,” Hannah whispered, “pull yourself together! What if Aki had just seen you staring at his girl’s tits? You know how jealous he can be!”
“Sorry,” Lauri mumbled ashamed, “but, man, is it my fault that she has nice boobs?”
He grinned. “Yours are not bad either!” he added.
“If you want a black eye matching your swollen nose, just go ahead!” Hannah threatened him.
Anna had a shower, then she went to her room. She felt a bit tired and lay down on the bed. Only a few minutes later she was sleeping deeply till the phone rang.
“Hello?” she mumbled.
“Hey sleepy head,” she heard Aki say on the other side of the line.
“What time is it?”
“Time for dinner!”
“What?” Anna sat up straight in bed. “Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“Well, I was in the room but you looked so cute asleep. So I decided to wake you up later. Come one, we’re all downstairs at the restaurant.”
“I’ll be there in a minute.”
Anna hung up and jumped out of bed. She quickly put some clothes on, grabbed her bag and left the room. She pressed the button to call the elevator. It was still on the level above her. Impatiently she stared at the numbers above the door. Finally the door opened.
Anna rushed in and pressed “E”. The door closed, the cabin slowly moved downwards.
Anna heard someone breathing behind her and turned around.
Lauri was standing in a corner.
“Oh, hi,” she said, “going down to dinner, too?”
He nodded. His nose and the skin below his eyes had turned light purple.
“Listen, I’m really sorry bout your nose,” Anna told him.
In that second the elevator cabin made a little jump, then it stopped moving. The buttons for the fourth and fifth level were both blinking.
Anna sighed. “Great, we’re stuck!”
She started to push several buttons hectically but nothing happened.
“How about the alarm button?” Lauri suggested.
“Oh,” Anna just said and pressed it.
After a while a voice with a German accent came through a little speaker box at the wall.
“Ehrm, excuse me, we are stuck between the fourth and fifth floor,” Anna explained to the voice.
“Hello? Did you hear me?” Anna asked nervously.
“Sshh sent ffffhhh…. krpffff…help you….ffffffsssshhhhshh soon.”
“Damn,” Anna mumbled and started to bite her fingernails. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I guess they said, they’ll get us out here soon,” Lauri replied and sat down on the floor. “We just gotta wait.”
Anna walked up and down the tiny room.
“What the fuck is your problem?” Lauri asked annoyed. “Stop running around!”
Anna sighed and sat down opposite of him. Her feet still moved nervously.
“I’m claustrophobic,” she replied and stared at the floor.
Lauri laughed roughly. “Oh wow, seems like we finally discovered a weakness of Anna, who would have ever expected that?” he asked sarcastically.
“Shut up,” Anna said coldly.
Her feet tapped a nervous rhythm at the floor. She looked around the room, then at Lauri.
“I just need to find a distraction.”
I could think of a lot of things to distract you, Lauri thought and looked back.
Suddenly Anna crawled towards him and kneeled down. She moved her face closer to his, he could feel her breath on his skin. She looked into his eyes. Maybe a few seconds longer than necessary. Then she grinned.
“Let me see your nose.”
Lauri was all tense. When she softly touched his face, cold and hot shivers ran down his spine. He shrugged together.
“Outsch,” he said to pretend his move had come from pain and not from pleasure.
While Anna checked the swelling he stared at her lips. They were perfectly shaped and looked so smooth. They were only a few centimetres away from his.
What if he just kissed her?
In that moment the elevator started to move again.
Anna jumped up happily. “Finally!”
Lauri sighed and leaned his head against the wall.
“Well, at least you checked my nose without breaking it again,” he said.
Anna looked at him. “You know, I can be pretty gentle from time to time.”
The door opened, Anna left.
No doubt about that, he thought, if I just wasn’t so desperate to experience it.
“No doubt about that! If I just wasn’t so desperate to experience it!”
Did I just say that out loud? Lauri startled.
Anna stuck her head through the open elevator door.
“What did you just say?” she asked surprised.
“No,” Anna stepped back into the cabin, “I heard you say something.”
She came closer and looked into his eyes.
Holy shit, Lauri thought.
She stopped only a few centimetres away from him.
Again he could feel her breath on his skin, could smell her, her sweet but discreet perfume.
This time he didn’t turn his eyes down. He looked back.
The door closed automatically.
“So, you still haven’t answered,” Anna whispered.
Lauri cleared his throat.
“I… what I said was…” he stuttered shyly. What did she want to hear? What if he just said it? What if…
“You said you were desperate to experience my gentleness,” Anna finished his sentences.
Anna pushed one of the buttons at the wall. The elevator started to move upwards.
They still looked into each other’s eyes and didn’t speak.
Anna made another step towards Lauri.
He didn’t know what to do. He wanted this so much. But what was with Aki? What was with the promise he had made to Hannah and to himself?
What was going on with Anna? Why was she doing this? Was she really meaning it? Or was she just playing a trick on him?
He backed up insecurely.
The wall stopped him.
Anna’s face was only an inch away from his. Lauri could see the reflection of his face in her eyes.
“Anna,” he whispered,” what if someone…”
The elevator stopped.
Anna laughed. “Emergency brake!”
The cabin was stuck again between two floors.
“Now we’re safe,” she smiled.
Their tips of their noses almost touched.
“I can show you how gentle I can be if you want. You just have to tell me.”
Lauri’s thoughts were going crazy. Should he let this happen? What about Aki? Can I ever look into the mirror again without feeling bad? What if I will always ask myself how this could have ended? What… oh, fuck morality!
“Show me.” His voice cracked.
Her lips softly touched his. He shivered.
Anna grabbed his chin and turned his head to the side. Then she blew a few kisses along his cheek bone till she reached his ear. She gently bit his earlobe.
Lauri moaned silently.
Anna sucked his neck and started to unbutton his black shirt. With every button she opened her lips went a bit further down. With a quick move she let the shirt slide off his shoulders, it fell to the ground. Anna stroke along Lauri’s sides with her fingernails and surrounded his nipples with her tongue.
He started to breath heavily and ran his fingers through her hair. Slowly he pulled her head back up. For a moment they stopped and looked into each other’s eyes.
Then he kissed her. Shyly his tongue searched its way through her lips. Anna opened her mouth and kissed him back passionately.
His hands wandered under her shirt and touched her smooth skin. Her skin seemed to burn under his fingers.
He licked along her neck and heard her moaning into his ear. This was turning him on more than he wanted to admit. He felt his pants becoming too tight. Anna was driving him crazy. He just wanted to rip her clothes off and…
Suddenly he felt Anna’s hands opening his pants. She slowly pulled the zipper down. Her fingers played with the waist-band of his boxers. Her hand wandered lower.
Lauri closed his eyes and gasped.
Oh, my gosh, I’m gonna explode any second!
He opened his eyes.
It was dark.
It took him a while till he realized where he was. He was lying in his hotel room in Stockholm. He was alone, only the lump in his shorts remained.
“Only a fuckin’ dream,” he sighed disappointed.
He was just about to grab his crotch to get himself some ease when he heard some noise from the room next door.
Someone was moaning. It was Aki’s and Anna’s room.
All of a sudden his longing disappeared.
Anna loves Aki, he told himself, accept it for fuck’s sake!
At the same time Bintia woke up. She looked at her alarm clock, four a.m.
Something had disturbed her sleep. Bintia listened closely.
She got up and went to Lina’s room. Maybe something was wrong with her. She opened the door and sneaked over to the little bed. Her daughter was sleeping deeply.
Bintia pulled the blanket a but higher and tucked her in.
On her way out she heard it again.
Without a sound she closed the door.
Again. It came from downstairs.
Bintia startled. There were steps!
Oh my god, what am I gonna do now, she thought hysterically. Calm down, girl, calm down!
Maybe she should call the police?
Damn, the phone’s downstairs!
Bintia looked around to find something she could use as a weapon. The only thing she saw was a broom. She grabbed it and slowly sneaked down the stairs.
Her heart was beating loudly inside her ears, she hardly heard her own steps.
Bintia tiptoed through the kitchen.
Then she took all her guts together, pushed the door to the living room open, switched the light on and swung the broom over her head.
“Whoever you are, don’t dare to move!” she shouted angrily.
But all she saw was a shadow rushing away. Then she heard the front door being slammed.
Bintia sighed and sunk on the sofa. She was shaking and close to tears.
What if this would have ended differently? If someone had hurt her or, even worse, Lina? What if someone wanted to kidnap Lina?
Bintia started to sob and ran upstairs. She took her little daughter into her arms and hugged her tightly.
Lina didn’t really wake up, she just mumbled “Mommy” and slept on.
Anna carried her downstairs and put her on the couch. She didn’t dare to take her eyes off the little girl.
Then she called the police.
If only Eero would be here, she thought sadly
Bintia opened the door and stared at the girl that was standing outside.
“Hi, can I help you?”
Marlene looked at her insecurely.
“Ehrm, you asked me to baby-sit today.”
Bintia sighed. “I’m really sorry, I completely forgot about that. Come in, please.”
She led the girl to the living room. Lina was sitting on the floor and played with a teddy bear. Marlene bend down stroke softly over Lina’s cheek.
“Why don’t you sit down with me? Do you want some tea?” Bintia asked.
Marlene nodded. “Thanks.”
Bintia brought a cup and placed it in front of Marlene.
Lina got up and walked towards Marlene. She offered her the teddy bear.
“Kiss Teddy!” she told her.
Marlene laughed and kissed the puppet.
“She likes you! Not everyone is allowed to kiss Teddy,” Bintia smiled.
“She’s such a cute girl! Teddy seems to be her favourite toy!”
“Yes,” Bintia replied and sat Lina on her lap. “She got it from her daddy when he went on tour the first time after she was born. Now she carries it around where ever she goes.”
Bintia took a sip of her tea.
“You know I’m really sorry bout today. It’s just that we had a terrible night and I completely forgot that I had asked you to come along. You know, last night a stranger has broken into the house.”
Bintia told her the story. Marlene was shocked.
“Oh my gosh, that’s awful! What did the police do?”
“They just searched the house again. The weird thing is that nothing is missing. And there was no sign of breaking in at the door. Like they just walked in. But I always lock all doors and windows at night! This morning all locks have been exchanged and they installed an alarm system.”
Bintia sighed and hugged Lina.
“I’m just so scared that someone wants to kidnap her or something! Maybe they think they can get lots of money out of it cause Eero’s famous. I just can’t leave her alone right now. It’s not that I don’t trust you, Marlene, really!”
“That’s ok, I understand you. What do you think about that? I can stay if you want and look after Lina. So you can do all the things you wanted to do but still be around. And you don’t have to be alone,” she offered.
Bintia looked at her. “Really? That would be great. I really don’t wanna stay all on my own. Eero’s gonna be home around five.”
“No problem, I’d love to stay!” Marlene looked at Lina. “So what do you wanna play, honey?”
The band, Anna and Hannah were waiting for their luggage. They had just landed in Helsinki. Anna looked through the glass walls and saw some photographers and fans waiting in front of the exit. She softly shoved Hannah.
“Let’s get out and leave the guys with their fans. I don’t wanna meet too many people right now,” she said.
Hannah looked at her. “Scared of photographers? You really don’t look too fresh!”
Anna grinned. “Well, I didn’t get too much sleep last night.”
Hannah laughed. “I heard about that!”
“What? How?” Anna was surprised.
“Honey, the walls were thinner than we expected!”
Anna blushed. “Oh. Oh my gosh. That’s embarrassing!”
Hannah laughed. “At least now we all know that Aki’s doing a pretty good job!”
Anna grabbed her bag with a bright red head and rushed towards the exit.
“Did you ever think about dubbing porno movies?” Hannah giggled behind her.
“Shut up!” Anna whined and inconspicuously walked through the crowd that was waiting for the band.
Aki joined Pauli and Lauri who were watching the suitcases going by.
“Looks like the girls already left,” he said and pointed at them through the glass wall.
“Lucky them, wish I could just walk through these people without being recognized,” Pauli sighed and yawned.
“Tired?” Aki asked.
“Yeah, well, you know, it’s kinda hard to sleep tight with you and Anna having a party next door!”
“You heard us?” Aki couldn’t hide the pride in his voice.
“Who didn’t?” Lauri mumbled.
“What the hell did you guys do in there? Do you have any special secrets you wanna share?” Pauli laughed.
Aki grinned. “A gentleman doesn’t talk about that!”
Pauli looked around. “Gentleman? Huh? Where? I don’t see any!”
Aki slapped him. “Hey! Anyway, I’m not gonna tell you any details! And besides that, I didn’t expect you to already looking for tips how to get things with Hannah more interesting!”
“Hey, things between Hannah and me are very…”
“Oh, please!” Lauri sighed. “She’s my sister for fuck’s sake! I really don’t wanna know any details about her sex life!”
And definitely no details about Aki’s and Anna’s sexual likes, he added in his mind.
“Sorry, dude,” Pauli mumbled ashamed.
“You know what?” Aki asked. “Though we’re already together quite a while, every time has been equally great!”
Shut up, Lauri thought.
“Sometimes I even think it’s getting better and better!”
Oh, please, let me puke!
“We are just made for each other! I know that for sure!”
“I think I never loved a woman as much as I lover her.”
Where the fuck is my suitcase?
“Maybe you guys are now thinking that I’m crazy…”
Oh, really? Why should we?
Aki took deep breath. “What do you think if I ask her to marry me?”
Lauri suddenly started to cough heavily.
Aki slapped his back. “Are you ok?”
Lauri cleared his throat. “Yeah, ehrm, I just… are you really meaning this?”
“Well, yeah,” Aki replied. He started to feel insecure. He looked at Pauli. “What do you think?”
“Wow. I mean… wow.”
“Lauri?” Aki looked at him.
“I don’t know. Are you sure? You only know her since last summer!”
“But I love her. And she loves me!”
“Why don’t you just think it over once again? You have all the time in the world, there’s no need to rush!” Lauri added.
“Maybe he’s right,” Pauli said slowly. “You know that we all like Anna but…” He stopped to search for the right words.
“Why the fuck are you talking like this?” Aki suddenly shouted angrily. “I thought you would be happy for me! But all you do is asking stupid questions! I really expected some support! Especially from you!” He stared at Lauri.
“Aki, calm down, it’s not…” Lauri tried to explain but Aki interrupted him with furiously sparkling eyes.
“No! Save your breath! I know why you’re behaving like this!” Aki grabbed his bag and went towards the exit. Then he turned around and looked at Lauri. “And I thought you were my best friend!”
Pauli and Lauri watched him leaving. He quickly went through the crowd without paying attention to anyone.
“What the fuck was that about?” Lauri asked surprised. “All we did was asking him to think it over!”
Pauli sighed. “If this idea wasn’t that abstruse, I’d say he thinks you’re jealous and want to keep him away from marrying Anna.”
Lauri laughed insecurely.
“Bullshit! He’s my friend and if he thinks he’s doing the right thing, then I’m happy for him!”
Even if it hurts.
Anna was sitting on the balcony. She was freezing but she wanted to smoke her cigarette. She had just come back from work and this belonged to her little rituals to relax. She knew this was Aki’s home and he didn’t like the smell of cigarettes in his rooms so she had accepted to smoke outside.
But damn, I’m living here now, too, she thought, why does this place still feel like I don’t?
Sometimes she wished she could redecorate a few things but then again she felt like it wasn’t her right to do it without Aki offering it to her. But the thing she longed most for was having her own room. Her own little space that looked like her, that she could go in and close the door behind her to have some privacy from time to time.
She loved Aki and she had no doubts about that. She only wanted to have some time for herself. Anna had already thought about getting her own apartment but she knew Aki wouldn’t understand her. Maybe she should suggest to rent a bigger apartment?
Something was going on with Aki lately but Anna couldn’t tell what.
During the last few days, since they had come back from Helsinki, he was acting weird. Not towards her but to the other guys from the band. He went to the studio everyday but he wasn’t as cheerful as he used to be. When she had been to the studio last night to pick him up, the atmosphere in there had almost been icy.
When she had asked him if something was wrong, he denied it. Of course he was lying but she figured he would tell her when he felt like doing so.
Anna skipped the stub down the balcony and went back inside. She was hungry. She walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. She laughed. Aki had bought her favourite yoghurt, a little post-it was sticking to it. ‘Love you,’ it said.
Though she thought it was cute this was getting kinda weird. Aki was hiding these little notes every where in the house. This morning she had found one in her socks drawer.
Anna sighed. That was the same like the thing with the text messages. Cute at first but now getting annoying. And why was he doing it? Always asking her what she was doing, where she was going, who she was with… did he want to control her?
Why the fuck should he do this? There’s no reason for not trusting me, Anna thought. Why should I do anything that hurts him? That’s just ridiculous!
Her cell phone beeped.
“Back home yet? Love you.”
Anna threw it on the couch.
Why didn’t she answer? Aki was sitting in the back of a pub. He shoved his empty plate away and drank the rest of his beer. The other guys had asked him to go eat together but he didn’t feel like having their company.
Aki was still angry because of their reaction at the airport. This had been an important step for him and he had expected his friends to support him or at least to be happy for him. But all they did was trying to talk him out of marrying Anna. The next day they had asked him to talk about it but Aki had told them to care about their own stuff. They had just shrugged their shoulders and left him alone. Now the atmosphere wasn’t the best.
Aki missed his friends but at the moment he was hurt and his pride didn’t let him do the first step. He was too disappointed.
Especially of Lauri. He was his best friend! Why didn’t he tell him he was happy for him? That he’s sure that what ever decision Aki was making, he was sure it was the right one? Just stuff you want to hear from your friends when you tell them you wanna get married?
But what if Lauri wasn’t happy? What if he was jealous? What if he wanted to have Anna for himself?
And what if I’m just going crazy?
Lauri had promised him that there was nothing going on between Anna and him and that there never will be. Why should he mistrust his best friend?
And even if Lauri would ever do something like that there was still Anna who had to play along. Why should Aki mistrust his girlfriend?
But why shouldn’t he? Both, his best friend and his girlfriend already had cheated on him once. Why not again?
Cause they promised you, idiot, Aki told himself. Why the fuck can’t I just forget? And why the fuck is it so hard to trust?
He waved at the waiter to ask for the bill.
I need to talk to the guys, I can’t go on like this.
Lauri was standing on a bridge. He looked down at the water and watched some ducks swimming along.
That’s how I feel, he thought, just like these ducks. They seem to float on the surface easily but underneath they have to paddle like hell to stay up.
He tried to be normal towards his friends and especially towards Aki. But inside he was a complete mess.
Anna. Why of all girls in the world does it have to be her? He sighed and lit another cigarette.
Sometimes he still wondered why it had to be her at all. When he met her first he seriously didn’t like her but after a while he thought she was kinda cool. Though somehow she was still annoying him with always being so extremely self-confident. He often felt intimidated by her. Then after Scott’s death they had a long conversation and he had realized that he liked her a lot. But after what had happened before at the lake Lauri had sworn to himself to never ever do anything like that again, anything that could hurt Aki.
Though Lauri had been feeling sorry for Aki when Anna had left, he was relieved that there wasn’t another opportunity to fall in love with Anna.
That day Anna and Aki had appeared at the rehearsal room without telling anyone, Lauri had been shocked. He decided to not treat Anna nice to hide his feelings and after a while his feelings seemed to change. Everything was always just about Anna, every one like her and told him to treat her nicer, she was every where and always knew everything better. He knew it was kinda childish to think she was stealing away his best friend, but that was how it felt. So for a while he just didn’t like her, nothing more or less.
Lauri sighed. He didn’t know what had happened that made him wanting her again. Now all he could think of was her. He dreamed of her almost every night. And every morning he woke up with a huge boner in his pants and a sick feeling in his stomach. Why didn’t his brain just work right and made him forget his best friend’s girlfriend?
But what if I don’t love her? Maybe I just want to have sex with her? He never dreamt of having a romantic dinner with Anna, all he dreamt of was sex. Well, if that’s the point, maybe I just have to hook up with as many girls as possible so I will forget about her?
Not the best plan, but at least some kind of.
Lauri looked at his watch. Still an hour left till they met again at the studio.
“Excuse me, sorry to disturb you but are you Lauri from the Rasmus?” a voice suddenly said.
Lauri turned around and looked at a woman. She was small with black hair and big dark eyes. She was pretty young, maybe eighteen. She smiled at him.
Lauri smiled back. “Yes.”
“I just wanted to tell you that I’m a huge fan of your music and… well, of you,” she grinned.
Lauri looked at her for a while. Then he put an arm around her shoulder and laughed.
“So, why don’t you come with me and tell me what you like about my music… and about me?”
Let the games begin, he thought.
“Damn, Lauri! Were have you been? You’re an hour late!” Eero complained.
Lauri was breathing heavily. He had run the last 500 meters. Sleeping with the girl had taken longer than he’d expected. Though she had seemed young she had been quite experienced. She had even made him forget about Anna for a while.
“Sorry,” he mumbled ashamed, “I had some things to do.”
Lauri took a bottle of beer out of the fridge and chugged it down almost at once.
“I told you I gotta go home at eight tonight,” Eero added. “Come on, lets go on with work!”
“Wait a second,” Aki interrupted him. He looked at his feet, he didn’t really know how to start.
The others stared at him and waited for what he wanted to say.
“I know I’ve been pretty unfriendly during the last days and I want to apologize.”
He played with his drum sticks to hide his insecurity.
“I’ve just been disappointed that you guys told me to think my plans over instead of being happy for me.”
“But we are happy for you,” Pauli wanted to explain.
Aki stopped him.
“I know. It’s just that… I don’t know how to say that… anyway, I’m really sorry for behaving like an idiot.”
“All we wanted to say was that you shouldn’t go and propose to Anna head over heels,” Eero said.
Aki nodded and smiled. “I understand you now. But still, I’m sure. I wanna marry her.”
Lauri went over and hugged him.
“If that’s what you really want then I’m happy for you.”
Pauli laughed. “Then I guess it’s time to say congratulations, buddy!”
He heavily slapped Aki’s shoulder. Aki stumbled forwards.
“Oah, easy, Pauli! But thanks!”
Eero smiled and hugged Aki, too.
“Good luck! Being married ain’t as easy as you expect but I’m sure you’ll two get along very well.”
Aki grinned. “Thanks, guys. I’m really relieved now. And don’t tell the girls, I wanna surprise Anna and I’m not sure if the girls can keep the secret! And again, I’m sorry for behaving like an ass lately!”
“Alright, forget about that,” Eero said, “and now, hurry up, we got some work to do!”
Anna and Aki were watching TV. Anna’s head was resting on Aki’s lap. Being absorbed in thoughts he caressed her hair. He didn’t pay any attention to the movie they were watching. All he was thinking of was how to propose to Anna. He could hardly resist to ask her straight away but he wanted to make it special. He just hadn’t had the right idea yet.
The phone rang and Anna got up to answer it.
Bintia was calling.
“Hey, just wanted to remind you of tomorrow night. I looked up the schedule, the movie starts at eight.”
“Oh, thanks, I almost forgot. Is Marlene going take care of Lina tomorrow night?”
“Yeah. She’s a great girl, thanks for introducing her to me! She’s here by the way!”
“Really? What are you doing?”
“Just drinking tea and talking. She was in the neighbourhood and came along to say hi. You know, she’s a really nice person, we’ve had some interesting conversations. And Lina loves her!”
“That’s great! I’m glad you like her!”
“What are you doing?”
“Just watching TV.”
“Too bad the guys are always working at the studio so late,” Bintia sighed.
Anna was surprised. Aki had told her that they finished early today because Eero had to be home in time. She wondered if she should tell Bintia. Maybe she should ask Aki first what he was thinking about that.
“Yeah,” she just replied.
“Hurry up, baby, I’m lonely over here!” Aki suddenly shouted.
“Was that Aki?” Bintia asked insecurely.
“No, no, just the TV,” Anna replied quickly.
“Ok, gotta go now. See you tomorrow, Anna.”
“Alright. Say hi to Marlene. Bye bye.”
Anna hung up and went over to Aki.
“Didn’t you say, Eero’s at home tonight?” Anna asked him.
“Cause Bintia just told me that he’s not and that he has told her you guys are working at the studio tonight.”
“Really?” Aki looked at her. “That’s weird. I’ll ask him tomorrow, maybe I just misunderstood something.”
“What’s up?” Marlene asked Bintia. “You seem to be far away!”
“Huh? Oh, sorry, I was just thinking about something.”
“Wanna talk about it?”
Bintia sighed. “I don’t want to bother you with my problems!”
Marlene took her hand. “That’s ok. If you need someone to talk about it, I’ll be there for you! You don’t have to though, I won’t be offended or something. I understand if you don’t want to talk about your private stuff with me!”
Bintia smiled at her. “That’s not it! I really feel like are friends already. It’s just that I don’t know myself what to think about it!”
“Then tell me, maybe I can help you seeing things clearer! It’s often easier for a person who’s not involved.”
“Ok, but you gotta promise to not tell anyone about it, alright?”
“It’s because of Eero and me. Things are not going too well at the moment.”
Marlene was surprised.
“Really? You seem to be the perfect couple!”
Bintia laughed sadly. “That’s what I was thinking to. But at the moment I’d say it’s the opposite. He’s working all the time! And if we have some time for ourselves there’s nothing going on. You know what I mean?”
Marlene blushed. “You mean, you don’t have…?”
Bintia sighed. “Right, no sex!” She looked at Marlene. “Sorry, I don’t wanna make you feel uncomfortable with talking about that.”
Marlene grinned. “No, it’s ok, I just didn’t expect you to tell me something that private! Maybe it’s just that you guys are to tired and strung out. You know, he’s working all the time, you gotta take care of Lina and you work, too. I’m sure things will be alright when you two can take some time out or something like that!”
“That’s what I was thinking, too at first. But now,” Bintia paused and played with her fingernails.
“Weird things happened. Like his toothbrush disappeared. And also at least two t-shirts! I searched the whole house for them but nothing! I mean, where can you loose t-shirts? Today he told me he’s working all night with the band but when I called Anna I could swear, I heard Aki in the background!”
“Did you ask her?”
“Yeah, she said it was the TV. But she sounded weird, she answered too quickly! “ Bintia sighed and looked questioning at Marlene. “Sometimes I think he’s seeing another woman. Do you think I’m turning mad?”
Marlene looked at her and didn’t answer.
“What’s up?” Bintia asked insecurely.
“I don’t know how to say this but,” she stopped again, searching for the right words. Then she took deep breath. “I think I say Eero in town a few days ago. He was having dinner with a blonde woman. And he was holding her hand.”
Bintia stared at her. It took her a while to understand what she just had heard.
“I’m sorry… I didn’t know if… maybe I shouldn’t have…” Marlene stuttered.
“No,” Bintia interrupted her, “that’s alright, it’s just that…”
Bintia got up and walked up and down the room. Suddenly she stopped.
“Please don’t get me wrong, but I need to be alone now.”
Marlene nodded and grabbed her jacket and backpack.
“Are you alright?”
Bintia laughed sadly. “Yeah, well, alright is the wrong word, but don’t worry. You can leave me alone, I won’t do anything stupid.”
Marlene hugged her good bye. “Call me if you want to talk! I’m really sorry, I didn’t want to be the one to deliver bad news!”
“Hey, don’t worry. Thanks for being honest! And please don’t talk to anyone else about this! I want to set things straight first!”
Marlene left the house.
Bintia sank back on the sofa.
Could this really be? Did Eero date another woman? What if Marlene had just mixed him up with some one else? Would Eero be so stupid to meet that woman in a public place like a restaurant? What if this all was just one big mistake? But what if not?
Bintia didn’t know what to do or think.
When Eero came home Bintia was already lying in bed.
“Bintia, are you awake?” he whispered.
She didn’t answer and pretended to sleep. She listened to Eero who was getting changed. He went to the bathroom, then he sneaked into Lina’s bedroom to kiss her good night. A few moments later he came back and lay down next to Bintia. He softly kissed the back of her head, then he cuddled up next to her and tried to fall asleep.
Bintia didn’t move. She hardly dared to breath. She wanted to jump up and scream at him, asking him what the hell was going on. But she was too scared of hearing the truth. So all she did was staring into the darkness and hoping to fall asleep soon.
Anna and Bintia stepped from the heated movie theatre on the dark and cold street. Anna shivered and pulled her coat tighter. She looked at Bintia who was standing on the sidewalk like she was lost. Bintia had the been very quiet the whole night, Anna wondered why.
“Do you have to be home in time? What do you think about going to the pub and having a beer?”
Bintia looked at her watch.
“Marlene’s gonna stay till twelve, so there’s still some time left.”
Bintia shrugged her shoulders. “Sure.”
They walked the short distance to their favourite pub and took place on a table in the back. Anna ordered two beers.
Bintia nodded towards the bar.
“Look who’s there!”
Anna turned her head and saw Lauri. He was obviously already pretty drunk and talked to an old man who was sitting next to him. The man didn’t seem to be too interested in what Lauri was saying but Lauri talked without a break.
“Poor old man,” Anna mumbled.
“What’s going on with Lauri? All I hear about him lately is that he’s either drunk or with a girl. Or both!” Bintia said.
Anna looked at Bintia. “I don’t know and actually I don’t really care. What I wanna know is what’s going on with you? You hardly said anything tonight and you seem so… I don’t know… depressed?”
Bintia took a sip of her beer, placed the bottle back on the table and started to peel of the label.
Bintia looked into Anna’s eyes for a while. Then she took deep breath.
“Last night… Aki wasn’t in the studio, right?”
Anna stared at her.
“What? Why do you…”
“Please, be honest,” Bintia interrupted her.
Anna sighed and nodded silently.
“Why did you lie to me?” Bintia asked sadly.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t know how to tell you, then I thought I should ask Aki first, maybe he knew something about it before I told you something wrong… sorry, I knew I should have told you!”
“It’s ok, I can understand where you’re coming from, “Bintia sighed and took another gulp of her bottle. “Did Aki tell you anything?”
Anna shook her head. “No, I haven’t talked to him yet. But I think he would have told me if he had found out something! Do you think… he’s been with another woman?”
Bintia was all pale and tried to hold her tears back. Then she told her about what Marlene had seen.
Anna was shocked. “I just can’t believe this! I mean, Eero would never do something like that! What if Marlene has seen someone else?”
“That’s what I am hoping for.”
“Have you asked him yet?”
Bintia shook her head, a tear ran down her face. “I’m to scared of the truth. I mean deep inside I just can’t believe that he would do something like that. But what if I don’t know him at all? What if he’s a completely different person?”
Anna took her hand and stroke it.
“No! Don’t think something like that! I’m sure it all will turn out to be completely different!”
“Yeah,” Bintia sighed and finished her beer. “I’m leaving.”
Though Anna didn’t feel like going home yet they got up and went to the bar to pay.
While Anna was waiting for her change. Bintia went over to Lauri who was still talking to the old man. He had difficulties to sit straight on his stool.
“Lauri, you should go home,” she told him.
Lauri tuned around. It took him a moment to realize who she was.
“Ooooh, look! There’sch da good wife annn… annn… annnd Anna!”
“Don’t you think you’ve head enough?” Anna asked. “You’re behaving pretty pitiable!”
Lauri just laughed roughly.
“How can you know what is enough if… if… if… you dunno what’s too musch?” he replied sarcastically.
“Well, you’re old enough, you gotta know what you’re doing,” Bintia answered and turned away.
“Hey, Anna!” suddenly a voice said.
Anna looked at the person and smiled.
“Hi Marten! Bintia, that’s Marten, he’s the sports teacher at my school. Marten, that’s Bintia, a friend of mine!”
They shook hands.
“Nice to meet you! This is Lucas, my cousin. Would you like to have another beer with us?”
“No, thanks, I’m about to go home,” Bintia said.
“I’ll stay,” Anna said and hugged her friend good bye.
“Whassabout me? Don’t you wanna into… into… introduce me?” Lauri complained from the back.
Anna sighed. “Ignore him. Let’s go sit somewhere else!”
Marten, Lucas and Anna went back to the table she and Bintia had been sitting at before.
“Talkinn to other guys, I’m gonna tell Aki!” Lauri shouted over to her and grinned.
“The stress is on ‘talking’, dickhead! Do what ever you wanna do!” Anna shouted back angrily.
Marten laughed. “What’s that about?”
Anna sighed. “I’m embarrassed to admit that he’s my boyfriend’s best friend! He’s drunk, just ignore him!”
“Looks like he found some distraction anyway,” Lucas said and nodded over to the bar.
Lauri was flirting heavily with a young woman.
“Yeah, well, that’s him. I’ll bet they’ll leave together in less than half an hour,” Anna replied jokingly. “Let’s change the topic!”
They talked and laughed a while about all kind of things.
“You were right,” Lucas suddenly said, “it just took your friend about twenty minutes!”
Everyone turned towards the bar. Lauri and the girl went towards the bathrooms.
“No, you were only half right,” Marten grinned, “technically they are not leaving… they are still in the building!”
“Oh, eww, that’s just gross!” Anna sighed, “and just for the record: he’s not my friend! He’s just my friend’s friend!”
Marten laughed. “Wonder how he’s doing it,” he asked, not without a tiny bit of jealousy in his voice.
“Oh, come on! Is that really what you want to be able to do? Picking up girls in a pub in ten minutes to fuck them in the bathroom?” Anna wanted to know.
“Actually that would come in quite handy from time to time. Hey, I’m just a man!” Marten defended himself.
“Better than hours over hours of flirting and buying drinks without getting any results,” Lucas added.
Anna laughed. “Oh, poor men! All that hard work just for a little quickie!”
“A very quick quickie!” Marten said and pointed towards the bathroom.
The girl that had been together with Lauri came through the door. She rushed through the pub, staring at the floor, trying to behave inconspicuously. She left.
“See, his weird flirting technique doesn’t work on every girl. There’s no need to be jealous,” Anna grinned.
After a while of talking to the guys Anna started to wonder when Lauri would leave the bathroom. She needed to pee anyway so she got up.
“Excuse me,” she said.
After she had left the women’s bathroom she stood in front of the men’s room. If she should go in there and look if Lauri was alright?
What if some other men were in there? That would be kinda embarrassing.
Whatever, she thought and pushed the door open.
Lauri was sitting in a corner, his legs stretched out on the floor. He was passed out. A puddle next to him showed that he had puked.
“Damn,” Anna mumbled and kneeled down in front of him. She quickly checked his pulse and breathing. Anna was relieved. He was ok, just completely drunk.
“Lauri!” she shouted and slapped his face. “Lauri, wake the fuck up!”
She slapped him again
Lauri moaned and moved a bit. Anna shook him.
“Come on, wake up, you can’t stay here!”
Lauri tried to shove her hands away and grunted. Suddenly he bent to the side and threw up again.
Anna sighed and got up to get some paper towels. She ripped some out of the box at the wall. She offered them to Lauri but he was leaning his head against the wall and was about to doze off again.
“No! Don’t fall asleep again!”
Lauri didn’t move. Anna gave up and went back to Marten and Lucas.
“Sorry, my friend passed out in the bathroom, I gotta take him home,” she explained. “Could you please help me getting him into a taxi?”
Marten grinned. “I thought he’s not your friend!”
Anna shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t really know myself what he is. But I can’t leave him there lying in his own puke!”
They helped Anna taking Lauri outside and waited for the cab. The fresh air made Lauri wake up. He could hardly stand without support and mumbled weird stuff that no one understood.
The car arrived, they put Lauri on the backseat.
“Thanks for helping,” Anna said and took place next to Lauri.
Anna told the driver Lauri’s address.
Suddenly Lauri tilted to the side and landed with his head on Anna’s lap.
“Sorry,” he mumbled and tried to get up.
“It’s ok, stay,” Anna replied and stroke softly some hair out of his face.
He was lying there with closed eyes and breathed steadily.
Anna felt pity for him. Why was he behaving like this? What made him drink so much more than he usually did?
“Guess now you know what is too much,” she said with a sad smile.
“I can never have too much,” he mumbled, “especially not of you.”
Aki woke up. He patted over the mattress to find Anna but she wasn’t there. Aki was surprised. Anna had only told him last night that she wanted to go to the movies with Bintia. He checked his cell phone. No message.
Aki started to worry. What if something had happen to her. He looked at his watch. Eight a. m.
People with little kids are awake at this time, even on a Saturday morning, he told himself and dialled Bintia’s and Eero’s number.
“Hello?” The sleepy voice of Eero answered the phone.
“Oh, did I wake you up?”
“Dude, it’s eight, what do you think?”
“Ok, sorry. Can I talk to Bintia real quick?”
Aki heard Eero trying to wake up his wife.
“’lo?” Bintia mumbled.
“Hey, it’s me, sorry to wake you up this early. I just wanted to ask if Anna is at your place?”
“Anna? No!” Bintia yawned. “Last time I saw her was in the pub yesterday. She was with these two guys from her school.” She yawned again. “And with Lauri.”
Aki felt cold shivers running down his spine. She had been with Lauri and she didn’t come home. He hung up the phone without saying good bye. Quickly he jumped out of bed, got dressed and grabbed his car keys. Before he rushed through the door, he stopped himself.
Easy, man, he thought, only because she’s been with Lauri last night and didn’t come home doesn’t mean she’s cheating on you! There’s probably a harmless explanation to this!
Yes, sure, who do you want to fool with this? What other explanation could there be?
He ran down the stairs and got into his car. Only a few minutes later he arrived at Lauri’s place. He ran up the stairs, taking two steps at once.
Completely out of breath he rang the door bell over and over again.
The door opened. Anna was standing in front of him, only wearing a t-shirt and underpants. She rubbed her eyes.
“Hey,” she yawned but Aki shoved her aside without a word. He rushed into Lauri’s bedroom. When he saw Lauri he took deep breath.
He was lying on his bed. Fully dressed and sleeping deeply. A bucket was standing next to the bed.
Aki went into the living room. Anna was lying on the sofa and almost asleep again. He squeezed himself next to her.
“Lauri was too drunk, so I helped him home. I didn’t have enough money to pay for a cab to drive home,” she mumbled with closed eyes. “I called you but you didn’t pick up the phone.”
“You could have sent me a message,” Aki replied reproachfully.
“The batteries of my cell phone were down,” she replied. Anna was already dozing away.
Aki took her into his arms and caressed her. Aki still wasn’t relieved completely. Why did she care that much about Lauri when she usually didn’t even talk to him?
He hugged her tighter and inhaled the smell of her hair. He started to be angry of himself.
Goddammit, he thought aggressively, everyone knows she’s mine! Just gotta get it into your own head, Hakala!
Suddenly he felt heat rush through his body. He wanted her now.
Aki started to kiss her neck but Anna didn’t react. She was sleeping again. But he didn’t care. He rolled on top of her and kissed her. Anna started to move a bit like she wanted to shake him off. Aki didn’t let her disturb him. His hands wandered lower, he pushed her shirt up and kissed her breasts. When he bit her nipples Anna started to wake up slowly but she still didn’t realize what was going on.
With a quick move Aki ripped her panties off and pushed his knee between her legs. When he forced her legs apart Anna started to complain.
“Come on, stop it! I don’t want to. Not now, not here,” she mumbled tiredly and tried to shove him away.
But Aki was stronger. “Here is perfect,” he laughed roughly and penetrated her. He moved quickly and hard and without any tenderness. Only a few moments later he was done.
Anna shoved him away angrily.
“What the fuck was that about?” she hissed, “marking your territory or what?”
She put her clothes on and went towards the door.
“Drive me home,” she said coldly and left the apartment.
Aki felt bad. He didn’t know what had just come over him. He was ashamed. He followed Anna who was already waiting in the car.
Aki got in and looked at Anna. She was staring angrily through the window.
Aki sighed. “I’m really sorry. I’ve been an asshole.”
Anna didn’t answer.
“Really, I’m so sorry,” he went on, “I don’t know why I just did it.”
Anna turned towards him. “But I think I know why. To me this just seemed like a stupid presentation of who belongs to whom!” She smiled sadly. “I know it’s hard for you to trust me when it comes to Lauri and sometimes I can understand you.” She stroke softly over his cheek. “But one day you just have to start trusting me! You know that I love you, so don’t be scared!”
Aki sighed again, took her hand and kissed it.
“I know. Sometimes I’m just an idiot! I know that I can trust you.” He started the engine. “And Lauri.”
Yeah, well, Lauri, Anna thought but didn’t say anything. She had been surprised about what Lauri had said to her in the taxi last night. He had passed out again right after that so she was pretty sure that he was just mumbling some drunk stuff. But still, it had been weird. And it had confused her.
The taxi driver had helped her to get Lauri into his bed. After he had gone Anna had been sitting next to Lauri for a while and watched him. She just hoped that Lauri hadn’t meant it the way it had sounded. Maybe that had just been another of his sarcastic comments?
“Hey look, it’s Eero!” Aki suddenly said and wanted to honk.
“No,” Anna stopped him. “Quick, give me your phone!”
Aki was surprised but handed her the phone. They passed Eero.
Anna called Bintia.
“Hey, what did Eero tell you where he’s going right now?”
“Anna? Is that you? To the studio. Why? Do you mean he doesn’t…”
Bintia didn’t finish her sentence.
“Aki and I just passed Eero on the street and he’s pretty far away from the studio!”
“Oh my god,” Bintia sighed.
“We’ll follow him, I’ll call you later!”
Anna hung up and looked at Aki. “Do you remember that I asked you if you knew why Eero told you he had to be home early but Bintia said he had told her he had to work in the studio with you guys?”
“He just told her he’s at the studio now. Bintia thinks he’s cheating on her!”
“What? No way! Not Eero!”
“Park the car! We gotta find out where he’s going!”
Aki stopped the car and parked it. They got out of the car and ran back to the place where they had passed Eero before.
“Damn, we lost him,” Aki cursed and looked around.
Anna grabbed his shoulder and pulled him with her.
“No, look! He’s over there!”
Eero was walking down a small side street.
Aki and Anna hid behind some cars.
“What is he doing?”
“He’s knocking at a door. Number 77,” Anna described what she was seeing. “Someone opens!”
“Who? What? Come on, I wanna watch, too,” Aki complained and peaked over the car’s roof.
“A blonde woman,” Anna mumbled and remembered what Marlene had said.
Eero closed the door behind him.
“What now?” Aki asked.
“Come on, we gotta get closer,” Anna said and started to walk inconspicuously down the street.
The closer they got to the house the more nervous Aki got.
“Anna,” he hissed and tried to hold her back, “you can’t just go there and ring the bell!”
“I’m not gonna go in there,” Anna complained, “I just wanna look through a window or something.”
She climbed over the small picket fence and tiptoed towards the only window that was illuminated.
“Be careful,” Aki whispered.
They sat down below the window. Some slow music came from inside. They heard the Eero and the woman laugh.
“I can’t just sit here!” Anna got up and peaked over the window-sill.
Eero was hugging the blond woman.
“Damn, Aki, look!”
Aki followed her eyes. Now there were dancing slowly with each other, their faces were close, they smiled.
“I just can’t believe this!” It burst out of Aki.
“Shhh,” Anna hissed and ducked down just before Eero turned his head towards the window.
“Phew, that was close,” Aki sighed and looked through the window again. “They are still dancing,” he reported.
Suddenly his cell phone rang.
“Turn it off!”
Aki hectically searched his pockets. “I can’t find it!”
“Ok, got it… Anna, quick, Eero’s coming to the window!”
Aki jumped up and pulled Anna with her. She was surprised by his sudden moves and stumbled. Her foot got caught in some loose roots. She fell over, against Aki and landed on top of him.
“Anna? Aki?” Eero stuck his head through the open window. “Why are you lying around here? Don’t you have a bedroom?”
Anna stood back up and stroke dirt of her knees. She grinned insecurely.
Aki grabbed Anna’s leg and pulled himself up. Then he looked at Eero.
“What are you doing here? Don’t you have a wife to dance with?” he asked sarcastically.
Eero burst into laughter. “I think you should come in.”
Anna and Aki followed his order with red heads. They felt ashamed.
The woman laughed when she saw them.
“Hi, I’m Tiina!”
“My dancing instructor,” Eero added and grinned.
“What?” Aki was surprised. “Why didn’t you tell us?”
“Tell you what?” Eero asked.
“Damn, Eero!” Anna shouted impatiently. “Bintia found out you went somewhere else when you told her you were at the studio. She thinks you’re cheating on her!”
“What?” Eero was shocked. “I’d never do something like that!”
“That’s what we thought, too,” Aki replied. “Geez, you should have told us about that, so we could have pretended you were with us or something!”
“But, you know, I…” This time Eero blushed, “I didn’t want to admit that I can’t dance.”
“Why do you want to learn it anyway?” Anna wondered.
“It’s Bintia’s and mine anniversary next month. I wanted to surprise her with going out and dancing and all that romantic stuff.”
“Oh, that’s cute,“ Anna smiled. Then she suddenly remembered something. “Oh, I think we just spoiled your secret! Bintia knows that we followed you!”
“Then I should go home as fast as possible,” Eero suggested.
“Come on, we’re gonna drive you!”
Lauri woke up around noon. He was surprised. He had no idea what had happened.
How had he come home? Maybe the girl from the bar took him. But wait, he was still dressed, that probably meant there hadn’t been any girls in this apartment last night.
Lauri tried to remember. He felt like dieing. No, dieing probably felt better.
He crawled out of bed to go to the kitchen but he only made it to his sofa. He wrapped himself into the blanket that was lying there and turned the TV on.
Where did the blanket come from, he suddenly thought. Someone had slept on his couch last night. He sniffed on the pillow, it smelled slightly like perfume. And suddenly it hit him, he remembered the smell. It was Anna’s.
Lauri startled. What had happened? Had he done something stupid? Probably not, cause he was sure Anna wouldn’t had let him. But what if he had said something that had given away his secret?
Hectically he looked for his phone. He dialled the number.
“Hey Aki, do you have any ideas about how I got home last night?”
“Why should I know?” Aki wondered.
“Cause I can slightly remember that Anna was at the same pub than me. Maybe she has seen something and told you?”
Aki laughed. “She just told me you were dancing on the bar with your butt naked and that you paid for the drinks of everyone! But despite that, no, nothing!”
“Lauri? Are you still there?”
“Please tell me you’re kidding, right?”
Aki chuckled. “No, why should I?”
“Ok, ok! Don’t worry, Anna just found you passed out and lying in your own puke in the bathroom. She took a taxi and helped you home.”
“Oh, ok.” Lauri sighed with relief.
“Then she slept on your couch cause she didn’t have any money left to pay for a ride home.”
“Aha,” Lauri answered slowly. “And… did she say something?”
Again Aki’s alarm bells started to ring inside his head.
“What should she have said?”
“Oh, nothing. I just thought I might have done something… stupid.”
“Dunno, puking on her feet or… I don’t know, forget about it,” he added quickly. “Gotta go now, talk to you later!”
Aki hung up. Anna just came back from the kitchen. Aki looked at her.
“What’s up?” she asked.
“Sooooo,” Aki started slowly.
“Chips?” Anna offered him the bag.
“Thanks!” Aki took some. “Last night…” He paused again. “Did Lauri do something…”
Anna sighed. “Oh, Aki, don’t start with that again!”
“Hey, I’m only asking cause Lauri just asked me on the phone if he has done something stupid!” Aki defended himself.
“That’s what I asked him, too. He said like puking on your feet or something.”
Anna laughed. “No, thank god, he didn’t!”
Anna cuddled up next to him. “No, and now shut up, I wanna watch that TV show!”
No, nothing else, she thought, except for telling me that he can’t get enough of me!
Now that Lauri had asked something like that on the phone she wasn’t sure anymore if it just had been some drunk talking of him. What if he really had feelings for her? Anna just hoped he didn’t. This could turn into a difficult situation. If Aki knew about it he would probably never leave her alone with Lauri again. Not that she cared to much about this, she could imagine worse things than never seeing Lauri again. But all this could maybe risk Aki’s and Lauri’s friendship, or even the band’s future? Anna really didn’t want to be the cause for something dramatic like that!
And after all, if Aki ever found out what Lauri was feeling, he would only be confirmed in his jealousy. Anna was afraid that maybe one day he would freak out when ever she was talking to any other men.
Ok, I’m overreacting a bit here, she thought. And maybe Lauri had just said it cause obviously he was trying to hook up with every girl he met lately. If at all, he probably just wanted her to be another one on his ‘to-do-list’.
Well, you can wait for that till we’re the last two people on earth, she thought, and even than I’m gonna think twice!
Anna had just finished lunch with Marlene. She had invited the girl so she could catch up with what was going on in her life. Marlene had told her that everything was fine.
The little restaurant was almost empty, most guests had already left. Anna looked through the room, then at her watch.
“Think it’s time for us to go back to school.”
She said and waved at the waiter. He brought the bill.
Anna paid, they left the building.
“Thanks for inviting me,” Marlene said.
“You’re welcome! Oh, look who’s there!” Anna pointed down the street.
Eero was coming towards them.
“Hey Anna,” he said and hugged her. Then he shook Marlene’s hand. “Hi! From what I’ve heart, I guess you must be Marlene.”
Marlene looked at him with a huge smile.
“Hi,” she replied shyly.
Eero smiled back. Marlene blushed and looked ashamed to the ground.
“How’s it going?” Anna asked. “Did you clear things up with Bintia?”
“Does your grinning mean what I think it does?” Anna grinned back.
“Yeah, we had… a long conversation and everything is alright now.” He sighed. “Too bad she knows about my surprise for our anniversary. Seems like I gotta think of something new now!”
Anna laughed. “Oh well, I’m sure you’ll come up with another great idea! So what about the thing with the missing shirts? Did you find an explanation for that?”
Eero shrugged his shoulders. “No idea. They are probably at the same place where all the missing socks are! Or somewhere between Pauli’s stuff.”
He looked at Marlene.
“By the way, thank you very much for babysitting Lina! I heard she really likes you!”
Marlene blushed again.
“And I’m also very glad that you stayed with Bintia when I wasn’t there,” he added.
“No problem,” she mumbled. She smiled but stared at a spot somewhere behind Eero’s shoulder.
“No, really, I appreciate that a lot!” Eero offered his hand.
Marlene shook it slowly and finally dared to look into his eyes. Her face was bright red.
“Alright, girls, gotta go!”
Marlene watched Eero leaving till he disappeared behind the next corner.
“Come on, we gotta hurry up!”
Anna started to walk towards the school. Suddenly she heard Marlene grunting angrily.
“What’s up?” she asked surprised and turned around.
Marlene’s eyes had darkened. “Guess now that they are happy again, I’m sure they don’t need me as a babysitter again,” she mumbled angrily, more to herself than to Anna.
“What?” Anna wasn’t sure if she had understood her right.
Marlene sighed and walked on.
“Nothing. It’s just that…” She laughed roughly. “I just behaved like an idiot, didn’t I?”
“How do you mean that?”
“Just cause he’s famous and good-looking I behaved like a little girl, completely embarrassing! I mean, hey! I wipe his daughter’s ass! I’m friends with his wife! And I acted like a dork!”
Anna put her arm around Marlene’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’m sure he’s used to people behaving like that! I know him quite well and he’s not the kind of person who judges people by his first impression. And now we really gotta hurry up!”
Anna didn’t see Marlene’s furiously sparkling eyes and clenched fists.
The following days were quiet, not much happened.
Anna was at school, cleaning up her little office.
Finally Friday, she thought happily.
The band was just about to finish recording their album. On Sunday they would all go on vacation to different places for two weeks. They always did that when they released a new album to have some time for themselves before the promotion marathon would start.
Anna was happy. She had one week off because of spring break so she was looking forward to go on holidays with Aki. They had planned to fly to Portugal. Anna already pictured herself lying on the beach all week long.
She swept the floor and hummed a little melody. The phone rang.
“Hey,” Aki said,” bad news!”
“Looks like we’re gonna stay at the studio all night long. Just wanted to tell you that it’s gonna be late, you don’t have to stay up and wait for me.”
“Oh, poor baby, you want me to come along and keep you company?”
“No, it’s alright, you don’t have to. I’ll see you tomorrow, I guess!”
“Ok, don’t work too hard!”
Just when Anna had hung up, the phone rang again.
“Hey,” Hannah said, “have you heard already?”
“Bout the guys working all night? Yeah.”
“How about that, I’ll come along and bring pizza and a movie,” Hannah suggested.
“Great idea, see you tonight!”
“Nobody puts baby into a corner,” Hannah said and sighed.
Anna laughed. “How often have you seen this movie? You know almost the whole text by heart!”
“86 times, 87 including this one,” Hannah replied proudly. “Hey, Dirty Dancing is my favourite movie ever!”
Anna grinned. “Oh, really? I never would have thought that! Some parts of this movie really are damn cheesy!”
Hannah slapped her. “Not one thing of this film is cheesy, how dare you?!” she shouted with indignation. “And now be quiet!”
Johnny was standing on stage, the music started. With a cheeky smile he showed Baby that he wanted her to join him.
“Now I have the time of my life,” Hanna started to sing.
Anna burst into laughter but a harsh glance of Hannah made her shut up quickly.
Only when the movie was over she dared to speak again.
“I can’t help it, this film IS cheesy!”
“Oh, come on, it’s so romantic,” Hannah sighed.
“I guess I’m just not the romantic kind of person,” Anna explained. “I mean, some candles and flowers here and there, that’s ok.”
“Come on, admit it, don’t you want Aki to do the full romantic program?”
Anna shrugged her shoulders. “No, not really. I’m afraid I would probably start laughing,” she giggled.
Hannah looked at her slightly shocked.
In that second Anna’s cell phone beeped. A message from Aki.
“Sooooo sooooorryyyyyyyyyyyy! Been forced to drink vodka! Please pick me up. Pleeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaseeeeeeeee!!!” Anna read out loud.
“So that’s what they call working all night,” she mumbled angrily.
Hannah’s phone beeped, too. She read the message, then she showed it to Anna.
“I’m home early, wanna join me?”
Hannah laughed. “Looks like I got the well behaving guy!”
Anna sighed. “Can you drop me at the studio?”
They drove to the studio.
Anna got out of the car.
“In case we don’t see each other tomorrow, have nice holidays!”
“Yeah, you, too,” Hannah replied.
Anna waved at her and entered the building. Again it was dark.
“Hello?” she shouted. She almost expected to hear someone sing ‘Guantanamera’ but there was no sound.
Suddenly her phone beeped again.
“Rooooooooof,” she read.
“Roof? Why for fuck’s sake is he on the roof? Why is he always acting so weird when he’s drunk? Why didn’t I get the well behaving guy?” she mumbled while climbing the dark stairs.
Finally she reached the door to the roof. She pushed the door open.
“What the fuck are you doing on that god damn roof?” she shouted.
Anna startled. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
The roof was decorated with hundreds of candles and red roses. There was a huge island of black and red pillows and blankets in the centre. Aki was standing in front of it, holding two glasses of champagne.
Anna stared at him with her mouth open. And though it was more than a few candles and flowers, she didn’t feel like laughing.
“Hey, baby,” Aki welcomed her.
Anna slowly went towards to him. She was still speechless.
“Do you like it?”
Aki kissed her.
“Wanna sit down? I got something to eat.”
Again Anna just nodded and followed Aki. Anna almost drowned in the pillows when she sat down and finally this made her laugh after all.
“Help! Pull me out,” she giggled.
Aki pulled her up and gave her a glass. “Want some cheese? Or crackers? Or grapes? Or strawberries?”
Anna was struck by a giggling attack. “Wow, this is really the full romantic program,” she gasped.
Aki looked at her insecurely. “Don’t you like it?”
Anna shook her head hectically. “No! No, it’s great, it’s just that I talked about romanticism with Hannah like twenty minutes ago and I told her that I’d probably had to laugh if you did… well, something like this!” She pointed at the candles and roses and chuckled.
Aki smiled slightly disappointed. “Hannah knew about this, you know?”
Again she burst into laughter. “Oh my god, poor Hannah, she probably was pretty shocked when I said I wouldn’t like it!”
Aki took a big gulp of champagne and looked at his feet.
Now Anna tried to pull herself together. “Hey, don’t be mad at me! I’m loving this! Honestly! I never would have expected it but it looks like I’m a more romantic person than I thought I was!”
She took a strawberry and offered it to Aki. “I swear I won’t laugh anymore!”
Aki smiled at her. “You can laugh as much as you want cause you have the most beautiful smile in the world!”
“Aaawww,” Anna said and kissed him, “you’re just too cute!”
Aki tried to look angry. “I’m a man, I am not cute!”
“Say what ever you wanna say, for me you’re the cutest man in the whole wide world,” she replied and leaned back against him.
Together they looked down at the lights of the city and fed each other with strawberries and grapes. The night was unusually mild, stars lit up the sky.
“Hey, guess how many candles this are,” Aki asked after a while.
“Looks like a million! Lucky you, it’s not windy, otherwise it would have been a pain in the ass to light them all up,” Anna grinned.
“Take another guess,” he told her.
Anna sighed. “I don’t know, one hundred?”
“No, it’s two hundred and twenty two candles. And there are also two hundred and twenty two roses!”
“What’s that about?” Anna asked curiously.
Aki sat up. “Two hundred and twenty two days ago we met for the first time! Remember when you and Lauri were fighting about that box of aspirins at the little grocery store?”
Anna laughed. “Oh my god! I remember that when I was in my car afterwards I thought you and him were probably two of the seven dwarfs!”
Aki tried to stay serious. “Did you know that I’ve been loving you since then?”
Anna grinned. “You’d better say, you wanted to get me into your bed since then!”
Now Aki had to laugh, too. “Ok, I admit that!”
He tried to be serious again and took her hand.
“Let’s say I wish I was already loving you since two hundred and twenty two days!”
He moved closer and looked deeply into her eyes.
“I know that I will love you for another two hundred and twenty two day! And also for another two hundred twenty two month.”
Anna swallowed and wanted to say something but Aki shook his head.
“And I’m not scared of loving you for another two hundred twenty two years! Cause I love you more than everything else in the world. You’re the air that I breathe, you’re what make my world go round. I will never ever live another day without you.”
He let one of her hands go to grab something from between the pillows. Anna looked down. She saw a little black velvet box in Aki’s hand.
“Aki,” she whispered.
He opened the box.
Anna stared at the ring.
“Do you want to marry me?” he asked with a trembling voice.
Anna didn’t say a word. She just stared at him.
Doubts overcame Aki.
“Anna?” he asked insecurely.
Suddenly she kissed him long and passionately.
“Anna,” he mumbled between two kisses, “what…”
“Ssshhh,” she just made and kissed him more demanding.
Then she pulled him down into the pillows.
Aki woke up. He blinked into the bright sun. He yawned and stretched his body. He felt happy, his heart was filled with joy. Anna didn’t say no!
After he had proposed to her, they had loved each other like there was no tomorrow. Aki had felt like they were the only people left on earth, the whole world had just turned around them. Nothing else had been important anymore, just their love.
Aki sat up and rubbed his eyes.
Lauri, Pauli and Eero were staring at him and grinned.
“Woah,” Aki shrieked and pulled his blanket up.
“Sfo, how did if go?” Pauli asked with his mouth full, “sftrawbeery?”
Aki shook his head and looked at them confused.
“What are you doing here?”
“We were at the studio to pick up our personal stuff and we thought, when we’re here anyway, we could just come along and see how things went,” Eero grinned.
“Well, I’d say,” Aki replied with a huge smile, “things went pretty well!”
The other guys laughed and suddenly all jumped into the pillows. Everyone tried to hug Aki first.
Aki struggled to not get squeezed.
“Hey, guys, calm down!” he laughed.
“By the way, where’s the lucky bride?” Pauli asked and looked around the roof.
All of a sudden he got up quickly.
“Hope she’s not somewhere under these pillows!”
“Guess, we would have heard her by now then,” Eero grinned.
“Yeah, where is she?” Aki asked surprised.
“Don’t know, she wasn’t here when we arrived,” Eero replied.
Aki checked his cell phone. A message from Anna.
“Got to organize a few things for our holidays. Tonight I’m at Marlene’s, so don’t wait for me. Love you.”
Aki was a bit disappointed that she didn’t spent the day with him but he also had to get his stuff out of the studio, so he was busy anyway.
He got dressed and met the rest of the band downstairs.
“Alright, let’s say good bye to the studio!” Pauli said almost sadly.
“Bye studio! And bye guys,” Lauri added.
“Have you already taken all your stuff out of here?” Aki asked surprised.
Lauri grinned. “That’s the good thing about being the singer, no big instruments and other stuff to take home later. Alright, guys, I gotta go and pack all my stuff for the trip. Guess I see you in two weeks!”
He hugged everyone.
“Have fun in South Africa,” Aki said and waved at him as he left the building.
Anna was sitting at the beach. It was cool and windy. She stared at he ocean and let the wind tousle her hair. Anna pulled her jacket tighter. She had been sitting here since she had left the roof.
When she had waken up she had watched Aki who was sleeping deeply with a big smile on his face. She wanted to wake him up and talk to him but she didn’t know what to say. She didn’t even know what to think.
Her phone rang. Anna checked the display. Hannah was calling.
“Hey, hun! How was your night?”
Anna could almost hear Hannah’s huge grin.
“You could have warned me, you know? At least a tiny bit!”
“And spoil the surprise? No way!” Hannah laughed.
Anna didn’t answer.
“Come on, tell me, what did you say?” Hannah nagged.
“When he asked you to marry you, what did you say?” Hannah paused for a second. “He did ask you, right?”
“Yeah,” Anna mumbled.
“I kissed him,” Anna whispered.
“Then I slept with him.”
“Come on,” Hannah complained, “don’t let me pull every little detail out of your nose! What did you answer?”
“I didn’t, I just kissed him.”
Hannah didn’t say anything. Anna could hear her breathe.
“But you didn’t say no, right?” Hannah asked after a while.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“Oh, Anna,” Hannah sighed, “you can’t leave Aki like this!”
“I think he took my kiss as a yes,” Anna replied insecurely.
“But did it mean yes?”
“But it didn’t mean ‘no’ either?”
“Damn, Anna you can’t do this to Aki! He deserves an answer!”
“I know and I really feel horrible,” Anna whispered, “but I just don’t know what to say!”
“You gotta think about it!”
“I know.” Anna swallowed. “Hannah, listen, I need some time for myself to make up my mind.”
“Take all the time you need. And give me a call if I can help you!”
Anna hung up and stared back at the sea.
She felt desperate.
She loved Aki. Why couldn’t she just say yes?
But every time she started to think about it, she felt like something was pulled tight around her chest. She had difficulties to breath.
If Aki’s messages and calls were already going on her nerves, how could she stay together with him for the rest of her life?
The rest of her life. Anna took deep breath. That sounded almost threatening!
Calm down, she said to herself, you can always get divorced if things don’t go well!
“But where’s the point in marrying then anyway? Isn’t it all about the ‘till death do us part’-thing?” she mumbled.
What if Aki just proposed to her to make clear to everyone that she was his girl?
Anna felt ashamed for only assuming something like that. Aki loved her, that’s why he had asked her.
Anna loved Aki and she wanted to be with him. But why did she feel trapped?
Anna looked at her watch. Late afternoon. She had spend half of the day with just sitting there and thinking about it.
I should go somewhere and distract myself. Maybe I just need to loosen up a bit, she thought and got up.
She walked back into the city centre.
A group of women caught her attention. They were laughing loudly and shouting some stuff in Finish. They just had left a pub. Most of them seemed to be already drunk.
When she walked past, some of them started talking to her.
“I’m sorry, I don’t speak Finish,” Anna mumbled and wanted to go on.
“Hey, wait,” a woman said.
Suddenly Anna remembered her. It was Tiina, Eero’s dancing teacher.
“Oh, hi,” Anna said.
Tiina laughed. “Hey, this is my friend’s bachelorette party!” She pointed at a dark haired woman. “Why don’t you come party with us?”
Anna smiled insecurely. Another thing that had to do with getting married.
“I don’t know.”
“Come on,” Tiina said, “you look like you need something to cheer you up!” Then she winked and whispered. “We’re gonna have a stripper later on!”
Anna laughed. Maybe Tiina was right, this would at least distract her for a while.
“Ok,” she grinned, “where are the drinks?”
Lauri closed his travelling backpack.
“Finally done with packing,” he mumbled and looked at his watch.
Only nine p.m., too early to go to bed already. He didn’t know what to do, he didn’t feel like staying at home and watching TV.
He decided to go to his favourite pub. Having a few drinks before going on holidays. And maybe meeting a girl. Or two.
He grinned, put on his black woollen hat, took his jacket and left the apartment.
Lauri entered the pub and took place at the bar. Not many people were there yet, it was still early for a Saturday night. He ordered a beer and checked out some girls that were sitting in a corner.
Nothing too interesting, he thought. But if no better victims are gonna appear soon, they’ll do, too.
Suddenly the door was pushed open. A group of loudly laughing and screaming women entered the room. Lauri turned away. Too many and too loud women on one place disturbed him. He heard them sitting down in the back of the room and ordering tons of drinks.
When the waiter came back behind the bar he grinned annoyed at Lauri.
“I hate these bachelorette parties. Too loud, too drunk and too …whatever. I just don’t get why you have to get completely drunk before you get married. I mean you can still drink afterwards, right?”
Lauri just smiled and nodded.
Looks like Anna’s gonna have one of these parties soon, too, he thought and suddenly his mood got worse.
Anna. He didn’t want to think about her. Now that Aki had proposed to her, it was clear to whom she belonged. And that was definitely not him.
Lauri turned back to the girls he had seen first. He quickly had to find a woman to make him think of other things.
They were already gone. The only females left were the ones from the party.
Damn, he thought, well, at least they are all drunk, so they are easier to get. He turned towards them.
Suddenly he saw a man getting up from his stool at the bar. He went over too the women. Then he gave the barkeeper a sign, the music was turned up.
The man jumped on the table and started to dance.
Lauri sighed. A stripper, could this night become any odder?
It could. He suddenly recognized Anna, who was sitting in the group, laughing and cheering, encouraging the guy to take off more clothes.
Lauri turned back to the bar. He didn’t want to see her tonight.
Why is she here but has told Aki she’s with that girl from school, he wondered.
Lauri kept on drinking and talked to some friends who came along. He was bored, all girls who came to the bar joined the party in the back and Lauri really didn’t want to go there.
After a few hours he gave up. Though it was only around midnight, he decided to go home.
When he stepped into the fresh air, he realized that he was already quite drunk. He stood at the sidewalk and waited for his taxi.
“Going home already?”
Lauri shivered, he knew her voice.
Anna was leaning against the pub’s wall, holding a champagne bottle in her hand.
She pushed herself off the wall and walked towards Lauri. She stumbled and grabbed his arm to stay up.
“Geez, you should go home!” he mumbled.
“Nooo! I’m having too much fun in there!”
“Been practicing for your own bachelorette party, huh?” he asked sarcastically.
“Oh, shut up,” she mumbled and took a big gulp of champagne. Suddenly she swallowed the wrong way and started to cough heavily.
Lauri sighed and patted her back.
“Come on, we can share the cab, I’ll drop you off on my way home. Don’t you think you had enough?”
Anna looked at him for a while. Then she grinned.
“How do you know what is enough if you don’t know what’s too much?”
Lauri laughed. “Are you quoting me?”
“Maybe,” Anna replied. “But actually, no! I’m quoting William Blake.”
“Ok, I admit it, I stole it from him,” Lauri said and waved at the taxi that was approaching.
“Come on, let’s drive home.”
Anna shook her head. “No, I don’t wanna go.” She tottered again.
Lauri sighed. “You can’t even stand straight, lets go.”
He just pushed her on the back seat, got in and closed the door.
The taxi drove on. Lauri told the driver Aki’s address.
“No, don’t go there!” Anna complained weakly.
“Ignore her, it’s the right address,” Lauri told the driver.
Anna took another sip of the bottle and leaned her head against the seat.
“I can’t go home,” she sighed.
Lauri didn’t answer. Anna kept on drinking till she swallowed the wrong way again.
“Give me the bottle,” Lauri said and took it out of her hands.
They didn’t talk for a while.
“Would you marry Aki?” Anna suddenly asked.
“What? Me? No!” Lauri laughed.
“If you were me, you dork,” Anna added.
“Oh, ok. Sure, why not?” He looked at Anna. “I mean, you’re gonna to!”
She just stared at her hands.
“You are, right?” he asked and followed her eyes.
“Where’s the ring?” he wanted to know.
Anna pulled the little box out of her pocket and opened it. The lights of the passing by street lamps reflected on the metal.
“You’re not wearing it,” Lauri stated silently.
Anna just sighed.
“Why not? I mean you told him you’re gonna marry him!”
Anna swallowed and shook her head.
Lauri stared at her.
“He asked me and I just kissed him. And then we…”
“Ok, ok, I get it,” Lauri interrupted her.
“But technically I didn’t say yes.”
Lauri sighed with disbelief.
“See, that’s why I can’t go home yet,” she whispered.
Lauri cleared his throat. “You know what, you’re coming with me, we’re having a cup of coffee and talk about it, alright?”
Lauri told the driver his address.
They didn’t talk till they reached Lauri’s apartment.
“Just go in, I’ll make some coffee quickly,” Lauri said and went to the kitchen.
While he prepared the coffee machine his thoughts were going mad.
He felt sorry for Aki cause obviously he had misinterpreted the last night somehow. But why was Anna behaving like this? She loved Aki, that was for sure! Now she’s here… in my apartment… all alone… drunk…
Goddammit, he thought, I really need to sober up before I do something extremely stupid!
He waited for the coffee, then he poured it into two cups and went to his living room. It was empty.
He knocked at the bathroom door. No response. He placed the cups on the table in front of the sofa and went to his bed room.
Anna was lying on his bed.
Lauri started to sweat.
“What are you doing here?” he asked insecurely.
“I felt dizzy, I had to lay down for a moment,” she mumbled.
Then she sat up slowly.
“Why don’t we go back next door,” Lauri suggested.
Anna patted on the mattress next to her. “Don’t be childish! We can stay here as well!”
“I’ll get the coffee.”
When Lauri came back Anna was sitting on the short end of the bed and stared sadly at the ring in the box.
Lauri put the cups on the bedside table and sat down next to her.
“I love him, you know?” she mumbled. “So why can’t I just say yes?”
“What are you scared of?” he asked her softly.
Anna shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. It’s just that… it sounds so… final!”
She sighed. “For the rest of my life… that’s what scares me!”
She looked back at the ring.
Lauri laughed. “Hiccups?”
“No,” Anna replied. “Hic!”
She laughed, too. “Yes. Hic!”
“But if you love him, what’s scary about staying together till the end?” Lauri tried to come back to the topic.
“Hic! What if we get bored? What if just one of us gets bored and the other one doesn’t realize it? Hic! Oh, please, make that it stops!” Anna whined and hicced again.
Lauri laughed. “What do you want me to do? Pinch your nose, mouth and ears shut and swallow three times without breathing.”
Anna tried it.
“Doesn’t hic! Work.”
Lauri looked at her. “Boo!” he suddenly shouted.
Anna laughed. “What was that about? Hic!”
Lauri sighed. “I tried to scare you but obviously it didn’t work. Ok, chug a whole glass of water down without breathing!”
Anna grabbed the champagne bottle she had taken with her.
“I said water!”
Anna grinned and chugged the last quarter of the bottle down at once.
“Hey,” she smiled, “I think that worked. Hic!”
She sighed disappointed. “Oh no, but it helped to rise my alcohol level again. Hic!”
Lauri looked at her.
“What now?” she asked.
Lauri just knew one other trick. Kissing. As much as he wanted it, he pulled himself together. He wouldn’t suggest that one!
He shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know.”
“Well, there’s just one thing left,” Anna said, “but I need your help for that!”
Lauri swallowed. “And what would that be?” he asked with a rough voice.
Anna looked at him for a while. Then she suddenly sat down astride on his lap and gently stroke over his cheek.
“You know what I mean,” she whispered.
He gasped and tried to lean back. “You can’t do this!”
He slowly moved backwards. “I can’t do this!” The wall stopped him. He stared at Anna.
She crawled towards him, with slow, catlike movements.
“Do you remember that one night, when you passed out in the pub’s bathroom?” she asked him with a cheeky smile.
Lauri swallowed and shook his head.
“But I do. Before you fell asleep you said something to me! Don’t you remember?”
Again he shook his head.
“You said, you can’t have enough of me,” she whispered.
Her face had reached his.
Lauri breathed heavily. He wanted to pull her close and kiss her but something made him paralyse.
Her lips softly touched his.
“So why can’t you do this?”
Why I can’t do this? Cause you’re my best friend’s girlfriend! Cause we’ve already been there and it only led to trouble! Cause you’re about to get married! Cause I’m ruining my friendship and maybe even my band! Cause…
Lauri still couldn’t move. Anna placed a line of little kisses from his mouth down to his neck. He breathed heavily and stared at the ceiling. This was like in his dreams!
Lauri’s mind was going crazy. He wanted to kiss her but he also wanted to shove her away.
Why was she doing this? Sure, she was drunk but not too drunk to forget about Aki! They had just talked about him five minutes ago.
Anna pushed his shirt up and started to kiss his chest.
Still Lauri wasn’t able to move. Her lips on his skin drove him mad.
Suddenly she sat down on his lap, grabbed his shirt and pulled him up. She looked deeply into his eyes, like she was trying to read his mind. Then she grinned.
“Take this off!” She pulled on his shirt.
Lauri stared at her. Her eyes were dark of lust and desire, she breathed quickly.
No, don’t do this! Stop it before it’s too late, he heard a voice screaming in the back of his head.
Anna was still looking at him and waited. Her fingers started to draw a pattern on his chest. She smiled.
Oh, fuck it!
Lauri ripped of his shirt, pulled her closer and kissed her passionately.
He started to unbutton her blouse, waiting for Anna to suddenly stop him. But she didn’t.
He let the blouse slip of her shoulders and took off her bra. He kissed her neck.
Anna threw her head back and gasped. Lauri’s lips moved down further, Anna pulled off his hat and messed up his hair.
Suddenly Lauri grabbed Anna, turned her around and lay her down. He crawled upon her and continued kissing her breasts. Anna moaned silently. Lauri could feel her racing heart beat with his lips. He moved upwards, searching for her mouth.
Then he felt her hands on his belt buckle. Hot and cold shivers ran down his spine.
Was she really going this far? Was this real at all? Would he wake up any second, realizing that this was just another one of his dreams?
“Anna,” he whispered into her ear, “are you sure you wanna do this?”
But Anna just went on with opening his pants. Lauri could feel her grin on his neck.
“What do you think?” she asked with a cheeky undertone.
Her hoarse voice drove him crazy. What if she was just playing a game, maybe testing if he would betray his best friend? If so, I just miserably failed, he thought.
She kissed him again. When she softly bit his lip, all of Lauri’s reservations vanished into thin air. He let Anna do whatever she wanted.
Lauri watched Anna getting dressed. He felt like being on drugs. Even in his dreams he would have never imagined what just had happened. He grabbed for his cigarettes and lit one up.
Neither him nor Anna were talking but Lauri didn’t feel like this was an awkward silence.
Anna put her jacket on and pulled the zipper up. Then she turned to Lauri.
“Listen, this was a one time thing. It was great as long as it lasted but this will never happen again. Promise me, you won’t tell anyone about it!”
Lauri nodded. He tried to read her face but she neither looked like she was angry or scared or insecure. She looked like they just had watched a movie together or something.
“Ok, I’m leaving now. Have a good time on your vacation!”
She walked towards the door. Then she turned around and smiled.
“No regrets, ok?”
Lauri smiled back and nodded again.
Lauri deeply inhaled the smoke of his cigarette and leaned his head against the wall.
What on earth had just happened? He had slept with Anna, sure, but how? Why?
Lauri sighed and tried to clear his thoughts. He could still fell her hands all over his body, her lips on his. His skin still smelled like her.
This had been like he had always dreamt of, no, it had been better. Too good to be true.
This will never happen again.
Anna’s words echoed in his head. Why had it happened anyway? What was this all about?
Lauri stubbed his cigarette into the ashtray.
Suddenly he felt bad. Not to mention his bricks of conscience because of Aki, he felt bad about that anyway. During the last time he had always tried to tell himself that his feelings for Anna were just about sex, that it was only a physical thing, that it would be over if he slept with her. But now that he had had her, he realized one thing.
He wanted her more than ever.
With a sudden attack of anger and disappointment he threw the ashtray and smashed it against the opposite wall.
Anna walked through the streets. It was very quiet like the city was asleep. Only few cars drove by from time to time. The street lamps painted a long thin shadow at the pavement that was following her through the night.
She had decided to not take a taxi, she needed some time in the fresh air to clear her thoughts.
Anna was confused. The sex with Lauri had been good, almost too good. Now that it had happened she wondered how it could have come this far.
At first it had all been just a game. Encouraged by the alcohol she had just wanted to tease Lauri a bit, to find out what it had been about when he had said he couldn’t get enough of her that one night. Maybe a test to see how much of a player he really was.
But then it had just come over her. It had turned into a way to give vent to her fears about Aki’s proposal. To see if she was ready to stay with the same man for the rest of her life.
Maybe it even had been some kind of payback for that one time a few days ago, when Aki had just taken her on Lauri’s sofa without her permission. That day she had felt humiliated, like a piece of meat, only serving one purpose. Aki showing himself and everyone else that she was his girl.
Anna sighed. Now that one thing Aki had been afraid of most had come true. She felt sorry for him. But somehow she didn’t feel sorry about what she had done. She had needed it for herself to set some things straight. She only had to make sure Aki would never find out.
Anna reached home. She silently unlocked the door and sneaked in. Aki was sleeping deeply. For a while she just stood there and looked at his face that was illuminated by the moonlight. Then she went to the bathroom to get ready for bed.
Anna washed her face and brushed her teeth. Suddenly she remembered something. She grabbed her pants from the floor and pulled the little black box out of the pocket. She opened it up and looked at the ring.
It was weird, though she just had cheated on Aki it had helped her to make a decision.
All of a sudden was sure. There was only one person she belonged to and that was Aki.
Anna put the ring on her finger, left the bathroom and slipped under Aki’s blanket. She cuddled up next to him, gave him a little kiss on his cheek and whispered into his ear.
Anna sweated. She was carrying three bags full with food and tried not to drop one of them.
Aki and Anna had come back from Portugal the night before. Their holidays had been great. They had spent almost all their time at the beach, enjoying the sun and themselves. Thinking back made Anna smile.
She had talked to Aki a lot, trying to tell him which things were going on her nerves without hurting him. Aki had promised to cut his amount of text messages and phone calls short. Now they were planning to look for a bigger apartment.
Anna felt happier than she ever did before. She finally knew were she belonged. When ever she thought of Aki her heart was filled with warmth and joy. How could she have ever doubted her feelings for him?
Today had been Anna's first day back at work. She was on her way home now and had bought some stuff to fill the empty refrigerator. Two little squirrels were playing with each other next to the sidewalk. Suddenly one of them ran up a tree, the other one chased it.
How cute, Anna thought and watched them sitting next to each other on a branch, maybe they are a couple, just like Aki and me!
Anna felt how she blushed. Thank god no one has heard this embarrassingly cheesy thought, she told herself and sighed, that's probably cause I already miss Aki.
He had left this morning to stay with his parents during the next week to meet some relatives and old friends.
Anna looked at the squirrels again and turned around to walk on.
She crashed into a person, her bags fell to the ground.
"Goddammit, can't you watch where you're going?" she shouted angrily and tried to chase a few apples that were rolling down the street.
"I could ask you the same fuckin' thing! You broke my cell phone!"
They both stopped picking up their stuff from the ground and stared at each other.
"You're back," Anna stated silently.
"Yeah," Lauri answered and tried to put the pieces of his phone back together.
"Didn't you wanna stay for two weeks?"
"Yeah." Lauri concentrated on his phone.
"Aha." Anna bend down to collect her things back into the bags.
She had kind of deleted that one night with Lauri out of her memory. She knew she had done a mistake but it didn't have meant anything to her, it just had been a physical thing. Ok, Lauri had probably been the perfectly wrong person for that but he was hooking up with girls all the time anyway. So he had been as good or bad as anyone else would have been.
"You're wearing the ring," Lauri suddenly said.
Anna looked up to him.
"We're gonna marry this summer," she replied.
"Seems like you're not gonna waste any time," Lauri answered dryly.
"What should we wait for? We love each other and belong together! I don't have any doubts!"
Lauri laughed sarcastically.
"What the fuck are laughing about?" Anna gave him an angry look.
"Well, you didn't seem that sure only a week ago!"
"I had a weak moment," she defended herself.
"A weak moment? A pretty long moment I might say!"
"What the fuck do you want to tell me with that?" Anna started to get annoyed by his weird comments. "And hurry up, I can't spent the whole afternoon listening to this bullshit!"
"I find you hella drunk, try to bring you home to your beloved fiance," he pulled up his eyebrows when saying the last two words, "but you tell me you can't go home. And when I try to talk to you about your problems you jump on me and fuck me!" Lauri laughed roughly.
"So what?" Anna's eyes were sparkling furiously. "Believe it or not, right after that I went home and made my decision!"
"Out of pity? Cause you just had cheated on Aki?"
"Shut the fuck up!" Anna hissed angrily. "And after all, you should be the last to talk about cheating! You betrayed Aki as well!"
"Yeah, but I'm not gonna marry him!"
"No, you're just his best friend and you're in the same band which kinda means you are married!"
"Listen, we both screwed up on this one! So let's just forget about it and live on!"
"Are you gonna tell Aki about it?" Lauri wanted to know.
Anna shook her head.
"No! Cause it didn't mean anything! It has only been a physical thing and it's not gonna happen again, period!"
"Sure, only a physical thing," Lauri mumbled and tried to put his cell phone together again.
Anna looked at him.
"Lauri, if there's anything you wanna tell me, say it now or just shut up!"
He took deep breath and looked up from his phone. Anna waited impatiently.
"Nothing," he replied.
"Ok, and I'd highly appreciate it if you never talk about it again."
She grabbed the last few items that were still lying on the ground and put them back into the bags.
"Gotta go," she said and went away.
Lauri watched her leaving.
It hadn't meant anything to her. He still tried to put his phone back together but his hands were shaking.
"Fuckin' shit!" he suddenly shouted and smashed it on the ground.
Lauri sighed and took the little phone card out of the pile of plastic pieces.
Somehow he had known that Anna didn't have any feelings for him but there had been that tiny spark of hope.
During the last week he had thought about her a lot. Actually he had been looking forward to staying all alone in South Africa for two weeks but he couldn't enjoy it. He decided to go back to Helsinki so he could at least distract himself by hanging out with friends or something.
Lauri felt terrible. Usually he had that little barrier inside of his head that stopped him to fall in love with any of his friend's girlfriends. It had never happened to him before.
As much as he wanted Aki to be happy, as much he wanted Anna.
I gotta stop this, he thought desperate, if I just knew how!
"So how was your spring break with your parents?" Anna asked and shoved the empty plate away. "Did you like Stockholm?"
Marlene gulped down the rest of her coke.
"We didn't stay in Sweden, we flew to the Seychelles!"
"Wow," Anna sighed with admiration, "the beaches must be beautiful!"
"Yeah, it wasn't too bad," Marlene answered.
Anna laughed. "Not too bad? Spending a week in the middle of a Barcardi commercial sounds like a dream to me!"
"Guess I'm not too much of a beach person," Marlene explained.
Anna looked through the window. It was storming heavily, rain patted against the glass.
"I'd rather be at a beach now then out there," Anna said yearning.
Marlene shrugged her shoulders. "Yeah, probably."
"Wait," Anna suddenly remembered something. "Didn't Bintia and Eero go there, too?"
"Really?" Marlene wondered. "I don't know, they didn't tell me."
"Wouldn't it have been funny if you'd met them?"
"Maybe. Though I guess they wouldn't have been too happy if I disturbed their family vacation," Marlene answered quietly.
"Oh come on, they like you! You're not disturbing them!"
"Yeah," Marlene just said and stared into the rain.
Anna's phone rang.
"Aki! How's you're family visit going?"
"I'm having a great time. Though I miss you."
"Aaaw, I miss you, too!"
"Listen, you gotta help me out with something."
"Sure, what can I do?"
"I totally forgot a part of my contract at home. The record company just called me and they need it immediately. Could you please take it there?"
"Of course. Where do I find it?"
"It's in the red folder, I think it's lying somewhere in the bedroom."
"I'll find it, don't worry. When do they need it?"
"Would be great if they have it until tonight."
"Alright, then let's stop talking. I'm gonna get it now. Love you."
"Love you, too. And thanks a lot!"
Anna hung up and looked at Marlene.
"Sorry, gotta go now. The record company needs something that Aki has forgotten at home," she explained.
"It's ok, I'll stay here for another coffee to wait for some better weather. See you at school tomorrow," Marlene replied.
Anna looked outside and sighed.
"Well then, hope I'm not gonna be blown away. If I'm not at school tomorrow call the cops, I might be hanging in some trees."
Marlene grinned. "Don't worry, I'll find you!"
Anna got up, paid and left the restaurant. Rain smashed into her face. She pulled her hood tighter and ran home.
Half an hour later she entered the office. A secretary was sitting behind her desk.
"Hi!" Anna said. "Aki Hakala sent me to bring you this!"
She put the red folder on the table. The woman smiled.
"These papers are really important. Thank you very much for taking them here though the weather is so terrible!"
Anna looked through the window. She could hear the wind whistling around the outside corners of the building.
"Wow, it's pretty stormy up here!"
"Yeah, being on the fifteenth floor makes you sometimes feel like your in the middle of the storm," the woman answered. "By the way, Aki told me you're going to marry him soon. Congratulations, I wish you all the best!"
Anna grinned and shook the woman's hand. "Thank you!"
She heard someone else entering the room.
"Hope you're having a wonderful wedding! Have you made any plans yet?"
Anna shook her head. "No, we're looking for a new apartment first. The wedding's not gonna be before late summer."
The person behind her puffed sarcastically.
"Lauri, hope you're bringing me your contract!" the secretary said sternly.
"You know me, Sophia, I might always be late but you can count on me!"
He bowed down a bit and placed the papers on her desk.
The woman laughed. "Graceful as always! Too bad you don't have a girlfriend to carry around your stuff, huh?"
Lauri sat down on the edge of the table and leaned towards Sophia.
"You know you're the only woman for me," he said with his sweetest smile. "But you keep turning down all my offers," he added sadly and gave her the puppy eyes look.
Sophia slightly slapped his shoulder and grinned. "You know I'm married! But if I ever get divorced you'll be my first choice, I promise!"
"And I'll promise to wait for you, my love," he replied softly.
Anna had watched this scene grinning.
"I see you two are busy," she laughed, "I better should go, don't wanna disturb you!"
"He's been asking me to marry him since the day we met," Sophia answered, "so there's not much you could disturb right now!"
"Yeah, well, I think I should go anyway, doesn't look like the weather's gonna be any better soon!"
Anna waved good bye and left. She waited for the elevator.
"Looks like the whole world's getting married. There soon won't be any woman available for me!"
Anna turned around and looked at Lauri.
"Maybe you should stop sending away your girls after the first night," Anna suggested sarcastically.
"Hey, at least I have fun without any commitments! I'm not complaining!"
"That just sounded different!"
"I only stated that everyone's getting married! It's their fault if they all wanna rush headlong into their destruction!"
"Whatever! Guess we're having different opinions bout that," Anna replied and turned back towards the elevator.
Come on, hurry up, she thought, I don't wanna be stuck here with this negative thinking person any longer!
The elevator doors slid open.
Anna stepped in and pushed a button. Lauri followed.
The door closed, the cabin slowly moved downwards. Quiet keyboard music sounded through the speaker boxes.
Lauri and Anna both watched the illuminated numbers above the door counting down.
"I mean, being stuck with the same person for the rest of my life, always making compromises, giving up my freedom, no other girls, screaming children... that all sounds pretty much like a nightmare to me," Lauri went on, still staring at the numbers.
"Lauri, would you please shut up?" Anna sighed.
"Why? I'm only telling you like it is." Lauri shrugged his shoulders.
"You're such a dork," Anna said. Her left foot stepped impatiently at the floor.
Hurry the fuck up and let me out of here, she thought annoyed.
"Yeah, but a free dork," Lauri added with a grinning undertone.
Suddenly the cabin stopped and the lights went down.
"Oh great, were stuck again," Anna mumbled and tried to find the alarm button.
It was pitch black, she couldn't see her own hand. Hectically she patted at her pockets to find a lighter or matches but she had obviously forgotten them somewhere.
"Give me your lighter," she told Lauri.
Anna could hear him searching his pockets slowly.
"And hurry the fuck up!"
She felt nervousness rising in her body.
"Is your claustrophobia already calling?" Lauri's voice sounded like he grinning.
"Are you finding this funny? Cause I don't!" Anna hissed angrily.
A little flame lit up the buttons. Anna pushed the alarm button several times.
"Damn," Anna mumbled and grabbed her cell phone to call for help. Her batteries were low.
"This is turning into a nightmare," she sighed.
"Outsch!" The flame went down. Anna could hear Lauri sucking his thumb.
"My phone is off. Come on, call Sophia or someone and tell her to get us the fuck out of here!"
"How about 'please'?" Lauri asked sarcastically.
Anna kicked into the direction she thought he was standing. She hit something.
"Outsch! Goddammit!" Lauri swore but tried to call someone.
"No one's picking up!" he explained after a while.
Anna got scared. She felt like the walls were moving closer.
Why can't I be afraid of spiders or rats instead of small rooms, she asked herself.
She went closer to the door.
"Hello? Is someone out there?" she shouted.
"Hello? Help! We are stuck in here!" Her voice became louder.
"As if someone could hear us!"
"Well, if you have any better ideas, go ahead," Anna mumbled.
She felt like the darkness was wrapping itself tightly around her body. She shivered.
"Help!" she screamed with cracking voice. "Someone's gotta get us out of here!"
"Gosh, calm the fuck down!" Lauri complained.
Suddenly some voices came through the upper part of the door.
Lauri answered in Finish. He talked to the person for a few minutes.
Anna could hear them leave again.
"What?" she shouted impatiently. "What did they say?"
"The electricity is down in the whole neighborhood. Probably cause of the storm. It's gonna take a few hours till they get it fixed. There's nothing we can do except for waiting."
"A few hours? You're kidding, right?"
"Why for fuck's sake didn't I take the stairs?" Anna sighed and leaned against the wall.
The darkness was driving her mad. Though she couldn't see how small the room was she could feel the narrowness. It even made it worse. Anna felt like a tight belt was wrapped around her lungs. She started to panic. She jumped up and hammered against the door.
"Get us the fuck out of here!"
"Anna" Lauri shouted, "this is not gonna help!"
She went to the opposite side and slid down to the floor along the wall. She felt like the air was getting short and gasped loudly. Her whole body was shaking. She was close to breaking into tears.
Suddenly she heard Lauri sitting down next to her.
"Leave me the fuck alone," she mumbled and breathed heavily.
He put his arm around her shoulder.
"Hey, you're shaking! Come on, relax! There's no reason to be scared!"
"That's easy for you to say, you're not claustrophobic!"
"But what do you think will happen? There's enough air coming through the door, you won't choke! We just have to sit here and wait till they get us out," he tried to calm her down.
"I know, I try to tell this to myself all the time," she sobbed. "But it's not helping!"
"Hey, there's no need to cry!" Lauri pulled her closer. "Close your eyes. Imagine you're somewhere else. Like on the beach. It's dark but do you feel the wind in your face? Can you hear the waves rolling towards the beach? Do you smell the salty air? If you look closely into the sky, can you see the stars? They are sparkling through some clouds."
Anna listened to Lauri talking softly into her ear. She started to breath more steadily, felt how her body loosened. She wiped some tears away and leaned her head against his shoulder.
"Tell me more," she asked.
Lauri continued describing the beach. Anna calmed down and started to feel strangely comfortable.
How come Lauri is usually that annoying and unsympathetic person that I hardly feel able to come along with? And then out of the blue he can be nice and caring? Like now or like that one time he wanted to driver me home when I was drunk and talk to me about my fears to marry. This is weird, she wondered.
She realized that he had stopped talking a while ago. Now he was only holding her and gently stroking over her arm from time to time.
"Say, why are you so nice sometimes?"
He didn't answer.
"Or is it just that you wanna keep me calm cause otherwise I'm going on your nerves?"
"Exactly," he mumbled and pulled his arm away.
Anna sat back up straight and moved a bit to the side.
Had this been an sarcastic answer? Had he been offended? Or had this just been one of his typical Lauri-answers?
Better let sleeping dogs lie and not ask, she thought and tried to picture the beach again.
But only ten minutes later she felt the panic rising her body again.
Stay calm, breath steadily, she told herself but it didn't work. She started to shake and gasped for air.
"Lauri," she asked shyly with a trembling voice, "I... I'm really feeling worse again. Can I... would you mind holding me again for a while?"
For the first time she was glad that it was dark so he couldn't see her blushing face.
"Alright, come over here."
Anna crawled towards him, sat down and wrapped his arm around her shoulder. She leaned her head against him.
"I'm sorry, I know I'm behaving stupidly," she mumbled.
"No, it's ok. How come you're so afraid of small rooms?"
Anna shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. I mean I've never been looked anywhere or something like that. I guess everyone is scared of something."
She felt Lauri stroking over her hair.
"What are you afraid of?" she asked.
"Oh, I'm scared of lots of things," Lauri answered.
"Loosing my voice or being unsuccessful and suddenly being forced to have a normal nine to five job. Loosing friends. Loosing beloved people in general."
"I know what you mean," Anna sighed.
"Do you think about him often?"
Anna nodded. "Almost every day. But you were right."
"That you learn to live with someone's death. That after a while the memories stop hurting."
"See, looks like I'm not always talking bullshit, huh?"
Anna laughed. "Hardly but sometimes a spark of wisdom seems to exit your mouth."
"Well, thanks, I guess," Lauri answered insecurely.
"No problem," Anna laughed.
She closed her eyes. The darkness made her become sleepy.
They didn't talk for a while.
Anna felt Lauri caressing her shoulder. From time to time he stroke some of her hair out of her face. She cuddled up a bit closer to him to sit more comfortable. His soft touches lulled her to sleep. She almost dozed away.
Suddenly she felt his face on her hair.
"Did you just smell my hair?" she asked laughing.
"It smells so good," he mumbled, "you smell incredibly good."
"Lauri," Anna began insecurely and rose her head.
Then she felt his lips on her cheek.
Anna sat up straight and stared into the darkness.
"Lauri, don't! This is not gonna happen!"
She heard him moving closer behind her. He stroke her hair back and softly kissed her neck. Anna shuddered, she felt her neck hair stand up.
"Please, this is a bad idea," she said again.
But Lauri didn't listen. He slipped his hand under her shirt and redrew her spine with his fingers. Gently he nibbled on her earlobe.
His hot breath on her skin turned Anna on. She knew that this was a big mistake, she couldn't do this. Not again.
But if this is so wrong, why does it feel so good, she thought helplessly.
"If you don't want this," he whispered into her ear, "tell me now and I'll stop."
Lauri's fingers left a burning trail on Anna's skin. She felt his breath on her neck, waiting for her to answer his question.
"Lauri," she sighed weakly.
His hands moved around her belly and pulled her closer.
Anna put her hands on his.
He slowly pulled his hands back.
But Anna held them.
"Don't stop," she whispered and turned her head to the side.
Her lips searched for his till they finally met. Lauri kissed her with all his passion. He had been hungering for this since that last time. Whatever was going through his head right now, he didn't care. He was too happy to feel her this close again.
He slowly pushed her shirt up. Anna automatically lifted her arms so he could pull it off. With a quick move he opened her bra and let it slip off. He softly grabbed her shoulders, turned her to the side and leaned her against the wall.
Anna couldn't feel him anymore, insecurely she patted over the floor to find out where he was. Then she felt him above her. He kissed her neck, his lips wandered lower. His hair tickled her skin. His tongue explored her body.
Anna moaned silently. The darkness didn't let her see a single thing but it made her senses become sharper. The sounds, the smell, the touches, everything felt more intense than ever.
Being covered by the blackness also created their own little space filled with some kind of magic, a place where everything was allowed. The only thing that mattered was the here and now, like the outside world didn't exist anymore.
Lauri's lips went lower, he opened her pants and pulled them down. Anna gasped. She felt like her whole body was on fire, like just one other touch would let her explode. She couldn't wait any longer and pulled Lauri's head back up.
She kissed him deeply to show him what she wanted. Her hands impatiently pushed his shirt up.
"Anna," Lauri moaned.
Suddenly the lights went on, the elevator started to move downwards.
Anna backed up and stared at Lauri.
The magic was gone.
"Fuck," she mumbled and quickly put her clothes back on.
Lauri looked at her. He wanted to say something but he didn't know what. He felt like no matter what he said, it would sound awkward.
They stood next to each other and again watched the illuminated lights above the door count down.
3, 2, 1.
The door slid open. Sophia and an old man were waiting for them.
"I'm really sorry, guys," Sophia said regretful, "hope you didn't have to wait too long!"
"No, it's ok," Anna replied and smiled weakly at the secretary, "gotta go now, bye."
She quickly left the building. For a moment she stopped in the foyer and watched the rain pouring down on the pavement. Then she started to run.
The rain patted coldly into her face but she didn't care. Her thoughts were going crazy.
What the fuck had just happened? She couldn't understand her own actions anymore.
She loved Aki, she had sworn to never cheat on him again. He trusted her finally and she was throwing it all away!
The rain on her face mixed with tears.
She had almost done the worst thing that could have happened. Only the lights of the elevator had stopped her. Had torn her out of the darkness and back into reality.
Anna was desperate. Aki was the love of her life, she wanted to grow old with him. How could she risk loosing him for just a moment of lust?
She couldn’t explain it. Why was Lauri turning her on that much? She didn’t even like him, his behaviour, his attitude. She just tolerated him because of Aki.
Then how come his touches are driving me mad, Anna thought. She was still feeling his lips on her skin. Just thinking back a few minutes made her having cold and hot shivers running down her back.
Anna knew she was playing with fire. Suddenly she could imagine how Scott must have felt when he had been on heroin. Lauri was her drug, the illegal substance in her life that made her feel high and longing for more though she knew it wasn’t good for her.
I gotta stay strong! This just can’t happen anymore!
She heard Lauri shouting from somewhere behind her but she didn’t want to talk to him or even see him. She ran faster.
She heard him coming closer, then she felt how he grabbed her arm to stop her.
Anna turned around and ripped her arm out of his hand.
“Let me go!”
She went on, staring at the pavement.
“Anna, please,” Lauri begged heavily breathing and followed her.
Again she felt his hand on her arm. She shoved it off.
“What do you want?” she asked silently.
“We need to talk.”
Anna stopped and turned towards Lauri.
“There’s nothing we should talk about,” she said with a despairing look. “This shouldn’t have happened! This is just so wrong!”
Lauri took her face between his hands and looked deeply into her eyes.
“Then why didn’t it feel wrong at all?” he whispered and moved closer.
Anna leaned her forehead against his and stared at her feet.
“Oh, Lauri,” she sighed sadly.
He lifted her chin with his fingertips and made her look at him.
“Don’t you feel this between you and me?”
Anna looked at him for a while. Then she swallowed, her face turned into a cold mask.
“No. There’s nothing between you and me. All this is just one big mistake and it will never ever happen again.”
She went away and left Lauri standing there in the pouring rain.
He watched her leaving till she disappeared into the dark.
Suddenly he sank to his knees.
He had almost revealed his feeling for her, told her that all he wanted was her. But this last sentence had made him shut up. Her cold eyes had been like knifes that had been stabbed into his heart. He felt tears running down his cheeks.
Lauri rose his head, rain splashed into his face. He just sat there, motionless. Hoping for the rain to wash away his pain.
Anna wandered through her apartment like a trapped tiger in its cage. Aki was coming home soon and Anna was still confused about what had happened with Lauri.
What was it all about? Why did he have this irresistible influence on her? It wasn't like she thought he was the hottest guy on earth or something. She didn't like his style, his make up and his whole attitude. Most of the time she didn't even like him in general.
Then why did thinking back to his touches still made her neck hair stand up?
And why had he done it? She had always thought Lauri was a loyal friend to Aki, that he would accept that she was Aki's girlfriend. And now it seemed like he didn't care about that at all.
Well, guess I'm the last person who can blame him for betraying Aki, Anna thought sadly.
But did Lauri just make a move on her to see if he could have her? Like a special kind of trophy? Or was there something else?
She had looked into his eyes when she had told him that there would never happen anything between them again. But she hadn't been able to interpret his glance.
He had just stared at her, his eyes had darkened. Maybe he had seemed a little hurt but Anna couldn't really tell out of which reason. Sexual frustration or hurt pride? Or had he other feelings for her than everyone else expected?
Nah, we don't even like each other, that's just ridiculous!
Anna tried to push her thoughts away. She went to the kitchen to boil some water. She had caught a bad cold when running home through the rain. Tonight there was the record release party for the new The Rasmus album.
Actually she didn't wanna go. Not just because she felt sick , she also wanted to avoid seeing Lauri. But Aki was looking forward to this party since days and she had promised to come with him.
Suddenly someone kissed her neck. Anna shrugged together and turned around.
Aki smiled at her.
Anna exhaled deeply.
"Gosh, you scared me," she sighed.
"Who else did you expect to kiss you?"
"My secret lover, that fat old guy from the second floor!"
Aki hugged her tightly.
"Oh come on, I hope if you ever cheat on me you'll show better taste than that!"
Anna was glad he didn't see her face in that moment. She rested her head on his shoulder and enjoyed his presence. She sneezed.
"What's up? Are you sick?" Aki asked.
"I think I caught a cold," Anna mumbled and didn't move.
"Then lay down on the sofa, I'll bring you the tea and some aspirins."
"Thanks," she sighed.
"It would help if you let me go and went to the couch!"
"But you've been away for so long, I can't let you go," Anna whined.
"Ok, hop on!"
Anna jumped up and wrapped her legs around his hips. With one hand he grabbed the cup of tea that was standing on the counter, with the other hand he tried to hold Anna. Then he walked towards the living room.
"Geez, did you put on some weight?" he gasped as he placed her on the sofa.
"Ey!" Anna complained, "didn't your mom teach you that this is not what women wanna hear?"
"Sorry," Aki replied and pulled a blanket up to her chin. He gently kissed her forehead.
"I'll get you some aspirins."
He went away and returned with some pills.
Anna swallowed them with some tea.
"Alright, why don't you take a nap, I gotta unpack my bags."
Aki turned away but Anna took his hand.
"Can't you stay with me? Just till I'm asleep?"
Aki smiled and cuddled up next to her.
"I really missed you, you know?" he whispered into her ear and wrapped his arms around her.
"I missed you, too!"
Anna closed her eyes. She was happy. Having Aki next to her was all she needed. She would never let Lauri come close to her again. There was nothing in the world, not even the best sex that would make her risk loosing Aki ever again.
Only a few moments later she was sleeping peacefully.
Anna woke up. It was dark, a phone was ringing. Aki was sleeping next to her. She got up and followed the sound. Anna pulled Aki's cell phone out of his jacket that was lying on a chair.
"Hello?" she answered drowsy.
She heard someone clearing his throat.
"Where's Aki? Everyone is waiting for him!"
Anna looked at her watch. The party!
"Damn," she mumbled, "listen, we'll be there soon, sorry!"
Lauri hung up without saying anything else.
Anna went to the couch and shook Aki's shoulder.
"Hey, baby, wake up! We're late!"
Aki opened his eyes and rubbed them.
"What? Huh?" he replied confused.
"You fell asleep, the other guys are already at the party!"
"Oh, shit!" Aki jumped up. "Gotta change clothes! Gotta take a shower! Gotta..."
"Calm down," Anna laughed, "we're only twenty minutes late, it's not that bad! You go and get ready, I'll call Marlene."
Bintia and Eero had invited her to the party, Anna had promised to pick her up and drive her there.
Only half an hour later they arrived at the party. Everyone was really excited and in a party mood. Finally their album had been released, they've been waiting for that so long. Champagne and vodka bottles were emptied quickly, the people were celebrating like crazy.
Only Anna didn't feel like partying. Her head ached, her nose was stuck and she felt tired. She sat at a table in a corner most of the time and watched the others.
There had been one moment when she had felt like Lauri had watched her but when she turned towards him he was flirting with a tall blonde woman. Obviously he wasn't interested in her anymore. Anna was relieved.
She looked at her watch. Only one a. m.
Eero was looking at her.
She nodded. "Guess I have the flu or something."
"Bintia and I are leaving soon, do you want to us to drive you home?"
Anna smiled thankfully. "That would be great! Can Marlene come with us? I promised her to make sure she gets home. And I'm afraid Aki's not gonna drive anywhere tonight."
Eero and Anna stared at the dance floor. Aki was jumping around to The Clash's 'Should I stay or should I go' and swung a vodka bottle above his head.
Eero grinned. "Sure, let's go."
They drove to Anna's and Aki's apartment.
"Hey Marlene, why don't you stay over night? So Eero doesn't have to drive all this way to your place," Anna suggested.
Marlene smiled. "Sure, thanks. And thanks for driving, Eero!"
"You're welcome," Eero replied, "good night!"
They got out of the car and went inside the house. Anna prepared the sofa for Marlene, then she went to bed.
Aki's shout woke Anna up. She checked the alarm clock, it was almost noon.
Anna crawled out of her bed and followed the noise. Aki was sitting on the floor, rubbing his knee.
"What the hell are you doing?" Anna yawned. "Did you only come home now?"
"Yeah, I fell asleep in the back of the bar, somehow they forgot me there. The people who clean the rooms woke me up," Aki explained and got up.
He looked at the thing he had stumbled over. A black backpack. It had opened, some things were spread over the floor.
"Whose is this?"
Anna shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe it's Marlene's? She's sleeping on the couch."
Suddenly she felt dizzy and leaned against the wall.
"Are you alright?" Aki worried and came closer.
"Dunno," Anna mumbled, "I think I'm even sicker than yesterday."
Aki placed one hand on her forehead.
"You have fever, go back to bed, I'll see what kind of medicine I can find," he told her and softly shoved Anna towards the bedroom.
"Ok," she replied weakly, "but first you should put the stuff back into Marlene's bag."
Anna dragged herself back to bed. Her head felt like it would explode any second, her limbs felt like they weighed a ton. She closed her eyes to make the world around her stop spinning.
"Ehrm, Anna?" she heard Aki asking and blinked.
He sat down next to hear on the bed.
"I don't know but I found something in her backpack, you should take a look."
Anna sat up and looked at the cloth that Aki had put into her hands.
"That's a green t-shirt," Anna replied and looked questioning at Aki.
"Yeah, but I thought I knew it from somewhere so I checked the inside and then I saw these stains."
He showed them to her.
Anna didn't understand what he was talking about.
"What are you trying to say? It's just one of Marlene's shirts I've seen her wearing it several times!"
Aki looked at her.
"No, that's Eero's shirt. The one he's been missing since the US-tour!"
"What? Are you sure?" Anna rubbed her eyes as if this could clear her head.
"Yeah, I once borrowed his shirt and then one of my pens broke. I couldn't wash the ink stains off properly but I was wearing the shirt inside out that day, so it wasn't too bad."
"But why does Marlene have it?"
Anna felt dizzy, she just wanted to lay down and sleep but this was too weird. She wanted to know what was going on.
"I really don't know," Aki shrugged his shoulders. "Do you think we should ask her? Or look what else is in her bag?"
"No, you can't just dig in her private stuff, Aki! Why don't you go over to see if she's up already?"
Aki left the room and returned a few moments later.
"She's gone!" he said and gave Anna a piece of paper.
"Thanks for letting me stay over night, didn't want to wake you up! See you in school on Monday!" Anna read out loud. "Looks like she forgot her bag!"
Aki lifted the backpack up and turned it upside down. Some items fell on the bed.
"Aki!" Anna shouted, "you can't just..."
"Look at this," Aki interrupted her and held up another t-shirt. "That's Eero's, too!"
He spread the things over the bed to see what else he could find. Between keys, a wallet, a phone, some candy wrappers and pens, a little black book and a cigar box were lying. The box was closed with a red satin band that was wrapped around.
"She even forgot her keys, she will be here any second, I guess," Anna mumbled.
Aki wanted to open the wooden box.
"Aki, are you sure you wanna open this one?" Anna asked insecurely.
"Anna, she has two of Eero's shirts that have mysteriously disappeared earlier! She's either a weirdo or a cleptomaniac! I wanna know what else she got!"
Slowly he opened the ribbon and lifted the lid.
"Holy shit!" he whispered stunned.
"What is it? I wanna see it, too!" Anna nagged.
"Eero's keys he's lost a few weeks ago! And all kind of tickets from our concerts. Wow, from all over Europe! One's even from New York!"
He dropped the things on Anna's lap.
"Eew, an old toothbrush!"
Anna picked it up. "Guess that's Eero's, too. Bintia told me he couldn't find his anymore. Wow," she sighed, "this is kinda creepy! She never mentioned she liked the band or Eero!"
"At least she didn't keep disgusting stuff like old chewing gums!" Aki mumbled. "Oh, wait, worse! Some cut off fingernails!"
Aki put the box away and took the little black book.
"That's her diary, you can't read this!"
"Hey, she stole Eero's stuff, why can't I read this then?" Aki complained and opened the first page.
Aki started to read, after a few minutes he shook is head.
"The diary of an obsessive fan! I mean the first pages are like from a normal teenage fan I'd say but then... listen!"
He cleared his throat.
"Today I've been at their concert. My 79th time and my first time on another continent. I'm so glad that my parents decided to spend the winter holidays in New York! The concert was great like always. First row, right in front of him. The venue was small. I was so unbelievably close to him! Later I just went backstage. Nobody stopped me, I just went through the doors. That's the good thing about having such an insignificant appearance. I can just blend into the background. The bad thing is, will he ever see me? Will he ever find out about me? Will he ever recognize that we are meant to be together? I saw him backstage and I followed him. He went into a wardrobe to change and have a shower. I sneaked into the room, the bathroom door wasn't closed. I saw him through the shower curtain. I was standing there, waiting, for more than ten minutes. But when he finally left the shower, I got scared. I grabbed his shirt and ran away. Now I'm lying here, wearing his shirt. It smells like him, so good! The shirt that just has touched his body is now touching mine! I feel so close to him! When will he be close to me? I love him so much, I can only think about him. I can't sleep, I can't eat, I can only think about him!"
Aki skipped a few pages and went on.
"Finally! Now I know where he lives! I saw him downtown and followed him all day. When he went inside his house I hid in the bushes in his front yard. Seen his wife and child. Don't understand why he is still together with her! She doesn't deserve him! She is not good for him! Later that night Aki and a woman came and had dinner with them. I watched them through the window. So unfair, why did I have to stay outside and this stupid bitch was sitting inside? Feeding the little girl. His girl. I bet she is a bad mother. One day I will be her mother. One day, we will be together. Couldn't resist, had to ring the door bell. But when someone opened, I ran away. Again. When will I be strong enough to stay and prove that I'm the love of his life?"
"Do you remember that one night when we were at Eero's place and nobody was there when we opened the door? That was Marlene!"
"She really does sound scary, don't you think?" Aki asked and skimmed some pages.
"Listen to this! I got his keys! I can't believe it! I saw him dropping them at the after show party. I took them and first I wanted to return them but then I changed my mind. Now I can go into his house!"
"Oh my gosh! Did she really sneak into their house?" Anna mumbled.
"Here, that's what she wrote about a week later. I waited till they were gone. First I was angry. Why can she go on a walk with him? Why did he choose her not me? He just doesn't know me yet! I'm sure if he knew me he would dump her immediately! So I went into his house, wandered through the rooms. Sat on the couch he sits on, breathed the air he breathes, lay in the bed he lies in. I put on his sweater and slept in his bed for a while. This is my place. I know one day I will sleep here every night. Together with him, my love, my everything. Soon we will be together! Only you and me, no one else."
He read a few pages silently then he rose his voice.
"My parents left today, I’m all alone now. Finally I could go to the tattoo parlor to fulfil one of my greatest wishes. I got his beautiful face tattooed on my shoulder. It’s looking great, almost as good as in real life though of course his beauty can’t be copied. Now he’s with me for ever, for the rest of my life. And I know, I can feel, that one day the real him will be with me for the rest of my life, too. This is just the beginning! Geez, look at this!"
He turned the book so that Anna could see the pages. A photo was sticking next to the text, it showed the tattoo.
"Creepy," Aki mumbled, the he skipped the pages slowly and read over quickly. Suddenly he gasped.
"I hate her so much," he read out loud, "she lives where I should live, she's taken my place! She needs to go away! If she doesn't do it herself, I will make her! I know he loves me, too! He just can't show it yet cause he doesn't want to hurt the bitch! Oh well, my dear one is just too nice! He needs my help! I will help him to get rid of that woman. The little girl likes me better than her anyway. One day we will be a family, just me, him and our little baby!"
"And then on another day: When will you reveal your feelings for me? I can't wait any longer! I know you love me, we belong together, that's our destiny! You just haven't said anything yet because of HER: SHE needs to go away! I can't wait any longer! I'm his love but SHE takes him away from me! SHE can't stay! SHE needs to go! NOW! SHE doesn't deserve to live!"
Quickly Aki turned the pages till he found the last thing Marlene had written.
"Everything is planned. Everything is prepared. I've been waiting for this so long and finally it's gonna happen. Today is the day. Tonight he will be mine! Will be with me forever! Will be finally free! Just you and me, my love. Nothing can stop me, nothing can stop us!"
"When did she write that?"
Aki checked the date, then he stared at Anna.
Aki took the phone.
"I'm gonna call them to see if they are ok!"
He waited a few minutes, his fingers were drumming nervously on his leg. Then he sighed and hung up.
"No one is answering!"
"Maybe they're just not home?" Anna suggested insecurely.
Aki called Eero's cell phone.
He quickly talked to him, then he hung up and jumped off the bed.
"What did he say?"
"That Marlene was with Bintia and Lina when he left, they were having breakfast together. I told him to drive home immediately and check if everything is ok. I'm going there, too!"
"I'm coming with you!" Anna got out of bed and grabbed her pants. She tottered, lost balance and had to hold on to the window-sill. She still felt dizzy.
"No, you're staying here! I'll call you as soon as I got news!"
"No, you're too sick," Aki interrupted her.
Anna sighed. "Ok, hurry up!"
Aki rushed out of the room and left the apartment.
Anna leaned back into the pillows and closed her eyes. If just her head wouldn't hurt so much!
She was worrying about Bintia. What if Marlene had done something to her? Anna just hoped she hadn't hurt her.
Why did I never realize anything, she wondered.
She had known that there was something weird about Marlene but she wouldn't have expected something like that! An obsessive fan, a stalker, someone who was seriously thinking about hurting one of her friends!
And I'm the one who made sure she can stay in Helsinki, the one who introduced her to Bintia!
Anna felt bad and helpless. She wanted to do something but she felt too weak. She took the diary and started to read some more.
This is some scary shit, she thought. Marlene was obviously going crazy. She was sure that Eero loved her as well, that he had given her signs. She already seemed to live in her own little world, a place where she was married with Eero, a place where there was no room for Bintia.
Anna turned the pages till she found what Marlene had written the day before.
"Tomorrow is the day. I know he is waiting for this. Finally, my love, you will be with me. You don't have to stay with HER any longer! Everything is prepared. I will go to her, we will have tea, it's gonna be like it has happened so often during the last weeks. She will tell me what is going on in her boring life. Not knowing that there won't be anything more to tell tomorrow. She will fall asleep, she won't feel any pain. I'm not a cruel person. I just want her to leave. I will go to the park with my little baby. She's too young to see something like that. We will wait at the park. And when we will come back, SHE will have gone for ever."
Anna put the little book aside and called Aki. He didn't answer his phone.
She tried to call Bintia again. No answer. Even Eero didn't pick up his phone.
"Damn," Anna mumbled desperately.
Where was everybody? Aki was probably already with Bintia.
But what if Marlene saw that Bintia was still alive when she returned? What if she panicked and hurt Lina?
Anna tried to call Aki again. Still no reply.
I can't just sit here and wait, Anna thought and got out of bed. She put on her clothes, swallowed some aspirins and left the apartment. She felt weak but the fear made her pull herself together.
The park. She hoped she was thinking about the same park Marlene was in now.
Anna started to run. Again she felt dizzy but she didn't stop. She reached the park.
There she was.
Marlene was sitting on the same bench like she had been sitting on that day Anna had met her first. Lina was playing on the ground.
Anna let herself fall next to Marlene and breathed heavily. For a moment she closed her eyes to become clear again.
"Oh, hi Anna! Have you been running? You really should be in bed!"
Anna looked at the girl. She was smiling at her.
"You really don't look good, you're all pale!" Marlene added.
Anna stared at her.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"What do you think? I'm going for a walk with Lina!"
Anna wiped some sweat of her forehead. She felt really sick.
"Does Bintia know you're here?"
Marlene didn't answer. She turned towards Lina.
"Come here, honey! I got a cookie for you!"
Lina giggled and ran towards her.
"My little baby!" Marlene smiled and lifted Lina on her lap.
Again Anna closed her eyes. She breathed deeply, she felt like she had to throw up soon.
"Marlene, why didn't you ever tell me that you love Eero?" she asked silently and looked at her.
Slowly Marlene turned her head towards Anna.
"I couldn't. He didn't want me to."
Marlene nodded. Her eyes were sparkling in a weird way.
"I wasn't allowed to say anything until we are finally free!"
"What do you mean with free?"
"Eero has to look after his reputation! He can't confess to love another woman if he's still married!"
"Eero's not gonna leave Bintia, you know?"
Marlene smiled at her. Then she stared into the sky.
"Bintia has already left!" she sighed happily.
Anna put her hand on Marlene's arm.
"Marlene, stop talking like this! You know this is all not true!"
But Marlene just looked at her, her head was tilt slightly to the side, she smiled. She didn't talk but her eyes explained everything.
Anna was scared. This girl was really believing all the things she said!
"Marlene, whatever you have done to Bintia, Aki is with her now, she is ok," Anna told her slowly.
I'm just hoping that she really is alright, Anna thought despairing.
"No, no, she's gone, she's gone," Marlene stuttered and stared at the ground.
"No, she's not," Anna repeated.
"She is." Marlene hugged Lina tightly. The little girl started to whine.
"Down," she nagged.
"Marlene, give me the little one!" Anna told her.
Marlene shook her head.
"No, no, no! She's my baby!"
She wanted to get up but Anna grabbed her arm.
"Stay here! We're going home now, ok?"
"No!" Marlene shouted and shoved Anna away.
Anna tried to hold on to Marlene but she lost balance. She fell backwards, hit her head against the bench and lost consciousness.
Marlene watched her lying on the floor for a while then she took Lina's little hand.
"Come on, my little angel, we have to leave now!"
"Daddy?" Lina asked.
"Yes, soon we will be with daddy! Just you, your daddy and me!"
Aki sank on the couch. He took deep breath. Now that he was alone, he had troubles holding his tears back.
When Aki had arrived at Bintia's house, he rang the bell but no one opened. The door wasn't locked.
He ran into the house and found Bintia lying on the floor. She looked like she was sleeping.
Aki shook her.
"Bintia! Wake up!" he shouted and slightly slapped her face but Bintia didn't reply.
Aki checked her breathing and pulse. He could feel her blood pumping weakly through the veins.
"Thank god," he mumbled relieved.
Bintia was alive.
Aki pulled her up, sat down behind her and leaned her upper body against his. He softly stroke over her face.
"Come on, wake up, Bin," he told her again.
He took his phone and called the ambulance.
Then he was sitting there, holding her in his arms and waiting for the doctor.
Suddenly Bintia stopped breathing. Aki startled.
"No!" he shouted.
He quickly led her slide gently to the floor.
"Come on, breathe, you can't do this to me now!" he mumbled scared.
Helplessly he looked at her. The last first aid course he had done was ages ago.
What if I do something wrong and make it worse? How did this CPR thing go again? Why can't the ambulance be here now?
All these questions went through his head. And though it only took him a few seconds he felt like it took him for ever to make a decision.
He bend down and checked her pulse and breathing again.
He carefully pinched her nose shut and blew air into her mouth.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
Aki looked to the door and saw Eero standing in the frame.
"Saving your wife's life," he replied and started giving her a heart massage. "At least I hope so!"
Eero stared at him. It took him a while to realize what was going on.
"What?" he gasped unbelieving and fell on his knees next to Bintia.
"What... how..." he stuttered and watched Aki blowing air into Bintia's mouth.
Aki hold his cheek closely to her face and sighed.
"She's breathing again!"
Eero pulled Bintia's unconsciousness body up and rocked her in his arms like a little child. Tears were running down his face.
"Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god," he mumbled, "what happened? Where's Lina? Where's Marlene?"
"I don't know, they were gone when I came here! Marlene is kinda freaked out. She thinks you love her and you want her to get rid of Bintia! Maybe she mixed sleeping-pills or something like that into her tea!"
"Where's Lina?" Eero sobbed and softly stroke some hair out of his wife's face.
"I have no idea. Seems like Marlene has taken her with her!"
He lay his arm around Eero's shoulder.
"I'm gonna call the police, they will find her, don't worry!"
They heard the sirens of the ambulance coming closer.
The car stopped in front of the house, two men in white clothes came running in.
"What happened?" one of them shouted.
Aki quickly explained how he had found her and what he had done.
The other man checked Bintia.
"Good job!" He looked at Aki. "We're gonna take her to the hospital now."
They lifted her on a hand-barrow.
"I'm coming with you!"
Eero hugged Aki.
"Thank you so much!" He pulled up his nose.
He patted his back.
"Now, go with them, I'll call the police and tell them to come to the hospital!"
Eero hugged him again.
Then they left.
Now Aki was sitting on the couch and rubbed his face. He was glad that Bintia had survived this but now that he had a moment to rest, he felt like crying of relief.
He took his phone and called Anna at home.
She didn't answer so he dialed her cell phone number. Still no reply.
Oh, well, she's probably sleeping, he thought and left the house to drive home.
But when he arrived he only found an empty apartment.
"Anna?" he shouted insecurely.
Why wasn't she here?
He looked around and saw that her jacket and keys were gone. Then he saw the open diary lying on the bed. He quickly read the pages.
"No," he sighed. Anna had obviously left to find Marlene in the park.
"Great, as if there's only one park in town," he mumbled and tried to call her again.
She still didn't pick up her phone.
"Damn!" he shouted and got back in his car. While driving around he called her again.
A male voice was answering.
"Ehrm, excuse me, can I talk to Anna? Who is this by the way?"
Aki was surprised.
"My names is Johan. I just found her unconsciousness in the park. We're waiting for an ambulance right now," the man explained.
Then he added with a toned down voice: "I think she hit her head or something, she's talking some weird stuff about kidnappers!"
Aki could hear Anna complaining in the background and had to grin though he was worrying about her.
"The ambulance is coming," Johan said.
"Ok, I'll see you at the hospital. Please tell her that Bintia is there, too," Aki answered. "And Johan, thanks for taking care of Anna!"
When Aki arrived at the hospital he ran through the halls till he found Anna. She was lying in a bed next to Bintia.
"What did take you so long?" Anna asked and smiled at him.
"I'm sorry, that goddamn traffic! And then I didn't find a place to park the car and then..." Aki gasped.
But Anna interrupted him with laying her hand on his arm.
"Don't worry, it's ok. The cops have been here, they are looking for Marlene now."
Anna quickly explained what had happened in the park.
"What about you?"
"Just a bad flu and a bad bruise on my head. I can come home with you later."
Aki sighed of relief.
"She's still sleeping but the doctors say she's stable. They'll keep her here for a few days to be sure she's completely alright. Eero's at the cafeteria to get some tea."
"No, Eero's here," a voice said from the back.
Aki turned around. Eero was holding two cups of tea in his hands and smiled.
"Thanks again, Aki!"
He handed Anna a cup and patted Aki's shoulder.
"No problem, you would have done the same," Aki replied slightly blushing.
Suddenly Eero's phone rang. He answered it and listened to the voice on the other end of the line. His face turned pale. He mumbled something into the phone and hung up.
His hand was trembling.
"The police. They found Marlene!"
She was standing at the edge. The whole city was lying to her feet. Sunlight reflected in the windows of the opposite houses. Marlene smiled. She felt like the queen of this sparkling world and soon her king would be with her.
"My love, what is taking you that long?" she whispered.
Lina was sitting behind her, playing with her teddy bear.
"Kiss Teddy," she said and got up to join Marlene at the edge of the roof.
Marlene picked her up.
"You gotta be careful, my little princess! This is a long way to fall down!"
She pointed down to the street.
A crowd of people was staring to the top of the building. Police men were trying to hold them back. The people were shouting something but Marlene couldn't understand a word.
She waved at them.
"Look at these lovely people down there, they all came here just to welcome us! Say hi to them!"
She grabbed Lina's little hand and made her wave. But Lina didn't like it.
"No," she whined. "Want down! Want daddy!"
"Daddy will soon be with us," Marlene told her and smiled.
"Mommy?" Lina asked with big eyes.
"But I'm here, darling," Marlene wondered.
Lina shook her head and struggled with her little legs.
Marlene held her tighter and rocked her softly from side to side.
"Shhh, everything is alright! Mommy's here!"
She didn't realize that she was holding the little girl too tight, that Lina was sobbing, trying to get down.
Marlene just stared smiling at the city. The wind blew her black hair into her face.
Soon you will be here, here with me, my love. Nothing else will matter when we are finally together!
She lifted her face towards the sun and looked into the light till her view started flickering. She didn't feel the burning in her eyes, she didn't feel any pain.
Our love is too strung, nothing will ever hurt me again!
"Please step back from the edge and put the child down!"
Marlene got ripped out of her thoughts. She slowly turned around.
A man was standing at the door to the roof. He smiled insecurely and offered her his hand.
"Would you please come over here?" he asked kindly.
Marlene looked at him, her head bowed slightly to the side.
"Excuse me, you don't have to worry, I'm just waiting for someone," she answered with her sweetest voice.
Though she smiled at the man, she seemed to be absent.
"That's ok, I'd just appreciate it if you step back from the edge a bit. You know I'm a bit scared of height, I kinda get sick if I see you standing there," the man explained. Some drops of sweat were running down his temples, he tried to hide his nervousness.
"Of course, no problem!"
Marlene made a few steps towards the man.
He sighed of relief.
"And would you please send the girl over to me now?" he asked, now being more confident through his earlier success.
Marlene looked at him surprised.
"Why? I don't send my little baby to complete strangers!"
"Please, we all know that this is not your child," the man replied almost annoyed.
But only one look at Marlene told him he had gone too far.
Her eyes darkened, her face turned into an angry mask. She pulled Lina tighter and stepped back, closer to the edge.
"What are you talking about? You don't even know me!" she shouted at the man.
Lina started to cry.
"Now see what you're doing to my baby? You made her cry!" Marlene screamed and stepped backwards.
The man startled. Marlene was going towards the edge without watching her steps.
"Please! I'm sorry! Please, stop moving," he shouted back.
The man turned around. A tall guy was standing behind him. He looked back at Marlene. She was smiling with anticipation.
"Eero, my love! Finally!" she whispered.
"Daddy!" Lina cried.
Eero stared at the scene that was going on in front of him. He felt like being in a bad movie. This just couldn't be true! Cold sweat was running down his back. Seeing his daughter in danger felt like a punch into his stomach.
"Please let Lina go," he asked her, trying to sound strict.
But his voice was trembling.
Marlene observed his face for a few moments. Her smile vanished and was replaced by insecurity.
"Why don't you come over? We are your family! You belong to us!"
Eero gulped. He hadn't expected her to be that stuck in her own world. He was shaking. He didn't know what to do.
"Talk to her, you gotta distract her somehow and make her come closer," the man next to him whispered inconspicuously.
Eero cleared his throat.
"Marlene, please come over here," he said again.
But Marlene didn't seem to hear him.
"He loves me, he loves us. Why doesn't he come here?" she mumbled more to herself than to the others. She was confused.
Suddenly Eero walked towards her. The man watched him.
"Marlene, you know I love you, too. Come with me, so we can show the whole world that we belong to each other!"
Marlene's face cleared up. She smiled at him and made a few little steps towards him.
"I knew you would come here," she sighed happily.
Eero reached her and opened his arms. Happily Marlene let him hug her. She giggled.
"You're such a great actor, I almost thought you were just playing with me!"
"I never would," he answered and kissed her cheek.
Then he slowly pulled Lina out of Marlene's arms. He took Marlene's hand.
"Let's go home," he said and walked towards the man and the roof exit.
"Yeah, let's go home," Marlene whispered.
As soon as they reached the man, three police man jumped through the door and grabbed Marlene. She kicked around and tried to free herself but the men were stronger.
"How could you betray me like this?" she screamed at Eero with a cracking voice.
Eero just shook his head and looked at her.
"Marlene, it's over," he said calmly.
She spit in front of his feet, her eyes were sparking furiously.
"You're gonna burn in hell, Eero Heinonen, and you deserve it!"
The cops pulled her through the door.
Eero sunk on his knees and hugged his daughter. Tears were running down his face.
Eero looked at Lina and laughed. Then he kissed Teddy.
Hannah and Pauli were sitting between Anna's and Bintia's beds. Bintia was still asleep.
Aki had left with Eero when the police had called. Eero had been to nervous to drive, so Aki offered to take him there.
They didn't talk much, except for "I'm sure everything will be alright!" every once in a while. They were worrying too much about what was going on.
Suddenly a nurse stuck her head through the door.
"Mr. Hakala has just called, he wants to let you know that they got Marlene and that Lina is fine!"
Hannah and Pauli jumped of their chairs, hugged each other, hugged Anna and laughed. Everyone was talking at the same time. It took them a few minutes to calm down again.
"Geez, I'm so relieved now," Hannah sighed and looked at her watch. "Alright, gotta go back to work now!"
"No, don't go yet!" Anna complained, "it's not like she's the most talkative room mate!"
She pointed at Bintia.
"Hey, what about me? I'm still here!"
Anna looked at Pauli and grinned.
"Sorry, I guess I'm already too used to seeing you and Hannah just as a couple!"
In that moment Lauri rushed through the door and stopped in front of Bintia's bed. He stared at her for a while.
"Oh my god," he whispered unbelieving, "I so hope she will be alright!"
Anna, Hannah and Pauli looked at him.
"Where the hell have you been all the time? I called you like a hundred times!" Hannah asked him annoyed.
Lauri turned around.
"Well, the girl from last night was still there and... well, I didn't hear my phone," he tried to explain.
"If you cared more about your friends instead of your latest bed bunny you would already know that Bintia's alright!" Hannah told him.
"Leave me the fuck alone with your comments," Lauri mumbled angrily and looked at Anna.
She nodded and grinned.
"Guess I'm not that easy to get rid off!"
"Too bad," Lauri muttered and left the room.
"Dork," Hannah sighed. "Ok, you guys, gotta go now!"
She left as well and walked down the hall towards the exit. She saw Lauri standing outside smoking a cigarette.
"Why the fuck are you behaving like this?" she shouted at him.
"Leave me alone." He turned away.
"It's afternoon, goddammit! You're still drunk! Man, you smell like you've been swimming in a beer keg! You rush in, make a stupid comment and then you're off again! What the fuck is going on with you?"
"Save your breath, Hannah, that's none of your business!"
"Damn, Lauri, don't you see that I'm worrying about you? And look into my eyes when I'm talking to you, for fuck's sake!"
Hannah stared angrily at Lauri's back, waiting for him to turn around.
When he finally did she startled.
His face was all pale. He quickly wiped some tears way with his sleeve.
"Lauri, what..." Hannah whispered and softly touched his hand.
He pulled up his nose.
"I really thought she would die or something, you know?"
"But it's ok, Bintia's alright, she's just still sleeping!"
"No, not Bintia! Anna!"
"Cause of your text message!" he interrupted her. "You just wrote: Marlene has turned insane, Bintia and Anna are in hospital, come quick!"
"I know, I should have written something more clear," she apologized. "But why..." she suddenly stopped and stared at him. "Oh no, Lauri, please don't tell me that you're still..." She didn't finished her sentence.
Lauri just nodded.
"That's just wrong, Lauri, you need to get over it!"
Lauri laughed roughly.
"What do you think I'm trying? Why I'm hooking up with every other woman I meet?"
"Great way to get over it," Hannah mumbled with risen eye brow.
"What else can I do? I can't just switch off my feelings! I love her!"
Hannah pushed his hand softly and smiled sadly.
"But she loves Aki, you gotta get over it! Accept it!"
Lauri inhaled deeply the smoke of his cigarette and looked at a spot behind Hannah's shoulder.
"What if she doesn't?" he mumbled.
"Lauri!" she shouted impatiently. "She's gonna marry Aki! She doesn't have any feelings for you!"
"But..." Lauri tried to find the right words.
"But what? Face it, there is no 'but'!"
Lauri took deep breath and insecurely played with his cigarette.
"I slept with her."
"I know! Everyone knows! Most of us have even seen pictures of it!"
Lauri shook his head.
"No. I slept with her a few weeks ago," he whispered.
Hannah stared at her brother. She was shocked. She hoped she had misunderstood him.
"What?" she gasped.
He rose his head and looked insecurely into Hannah's eyes.
But she just slapped his face with full force.
Lauri blinked a few times. Then he shook his head like he wanted to shake the pain off his cheek. Hannah's hand had left a red imprint on his face.
"Damn, Hannah, what was that about?" he asked insecurely.
"You are such an asshole, Lauri!" she hissed with disdain, "tell me that you were just kidding!
He smiled weakly and shook his head.
"Are you completely nuts?" she shouted at him. "How could you do this? She's your best friend's girl! I just can't believe this! You disgust me!"
"Hey!" he shouted back angrily. "I know I fucked things up! But don't blame it all on me! It's not like I forced her or something! Actually Anna made the first move!"
"Ever thought about stopping her? No wait, what am I expecting? Common sense? Not from you!"
"We were both drunk, ok, she was more drunk than I was but... and then she suddenly kissed me and..."
"Oh my gosh, please, no details!" Hannah mumbled and turned away.
Lauri put his hand on her shoulder.
"No, Lauri! Don't talk to me about that! Never ever!" She turned back and looked at him.
"I wish you'd never told me this! How can I look Aki into his eyes now? Poor him! What if he knew..."
"Hannah," Lauri interrupted her, "please, you gotta swear you're not gonna tell him! Hannah didn't answer, she just looked into his eyes. They were begging.
She exhaled loudly.
"You're stabbing a knife right into his back! Both of you! I really don't know what to do!"
"I gotta go to work now, I'm late."
She turned around and left without looking back.
Lauri leaned against the wall and lit another cigarette.
What if Hannah told Aki? He knew it was hard for her to carry around an unpleasant secret like this and he wished he would have never told her. But it was too late for regrets now.
Slowly he walked toward the taxi stand.
Why was he still hoping that Anna would change her mind? She had told and shown him perfectly clear that she didn't have any feelings for him. At least no positive ones.
And even if Anna would one day discover her love for him, it could only end in a tragedy. Aki would never forgive him, it would destroy their friendship and maybe even the band. Was it really worth risking all this?
Lauri got into the car and told the driver where to go.
He sunk into the back seat and sighed.
There was only one thing he could do, falling back into his usual behavioral patterns, treating her unfriendly and distracting himself with other women. At least until Aki and Anna were getting married. Maybe watching this ceremony would make him finally realizing that Anna was the wrong woman for him.
That night Hannah was sitting in front of the TV with Pauli. While Pauli was watching the movie, Hannah wasn't able to concentrate. She had to think about what Lauri had told her.
First of all she was unbelievable disappointed about Lauri and Anna. How could they even dare to make the same mistake twice? They knew where all this could lead to.
She hadn't talked to Anna yet, she didn't know what to say. Thinking about her made Hannah angry. Anna was not only betraying Aki, she also played with Lauri's feelings. Suddenly she felt almost sorry for her brother. He was being hopeful that maybe Anna was feeling something more than she admitted and Anna obviously hadn't done much to destroy his suspects.
Damn, Anna, she thought. Seemed like she had deceived herself by expecting Anna to be a caring person.
She sighed and changed her sitting position.
And what about Aki? How could she meet him without feeling bad? She knew that the two most important people in his life fooled around behind his back, wasn't she a bad friend if she didn't tell him the truth?
But was she the one to tell him? Wasn't this Anna's or Lauri's responsibility?
She sighed again and got up to get something to drink. She took a bottle of coke out of the fridge and returned to the sofa, cuddling up next to Pauli.
She tried to push her thoughts away and concentrate on the movie. But after a few minutes she gave up.
"Baby, can I ask you something?"
"Sure," Pauli replied and looked at her expectantly.
"This might sound odd but imagine, I would cheat on you," Anna started.
Pauli knitted his brows.
"Are you planning on something? If yes, I'm not sure if I wanna know!"
"So if I did, you'd rather prefer not knowing about it at all than me telling you the truth?" Hannah asked surprised.
Pauli shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know, I mean if it was only something physical and didn't mean anything to you, like it was a one-time-thing and it's not gonna happen again, then I think I wouldn't wanna know at all!"
"Yeah! Why should I bother? Telling me would only ease your conscience but it would make me feel bad!"
Hannah thought about it for a while. Maybe he was right.
"Why are you asking something like this?" Pauli wanted to know.
"Well, I saw this hot guy today..."
Pauli interrupted her with a sudden tickling attack.
Hannah laughed screaming.
Maybe she should talk to Anna first before doing anything else.
A few days later Anna was on her way to Eero's and Bintia's house. They had invited her and Aki to come over for having some coffee. Anna just came from school, she was about to meet Aki at the house.
She rang the bell, Eero opened.
"Hi, come in!"
She followed him into the living room.
"Oh, hi everyone," she said when she saw, Pauli and Hannah sitting together with Aki and Bintia.
The others smiled at her, only Hannah was looking kind of weird.
Maybe she just had a bad day at work or something, Anna thought and realized that there were not enough cups standing on the table.
"I'll quickly get another cup from the kitchen," she explained and got up from the couch.
"No, stay, I'll go," suddenly Hannah said and wanted to stop her.
"Don't be silly, the cup's for me and I'm already up!"
She went towards the kitchen but felt Hannah's eyes strangely following her.
Anna pushed the kitchen door open. Lauri was sitting there, talking on the phone.
"Oh, sorry," she mumbled and tried not to disturb him.
But he was sitting exactly in front of the shelves with the cups.
With a move of her hand she tried to show him to move to the side.
Lauri just frowned.
"I need a cup, get out of the way," she whispered.
He slightly bend his head to the side.
Anna sighed and tried to reach a cup.
Suddenly a button she had pinned to her jacket's sleeve got caught in his hair.
"Outsch! You're ripping the hair off my head!"
"Sorry," she replied and tried to loosen the pin. "Man, when did you brush your hair for the last time? A year ago?"
She felt weird, Lauri's face was pretty close to her chest. She tried to free herself as fast as possible.
"Ahhh, damn," he whined, "can't you be a little bit gentler? You're gonna make me turn bald!"
Lauri felt his blood rushing into two different directions. One was his head, he felt like his face was turning bright red. The rest of his blood gathered in his crotch. He crossed his legs and tried to think of something gross.
But being so close to Anna didn't make it easy for him. He inconspicuously inhaled her odor.
No, think of a big fat sweating old man, he told himself.
"And what is going on here?"
Anna turned towards the door and saw Hannah watching her with knitted brows.
"Trying to get rid of your little brother," she grinned and concentrated on getting the pin out of Lauri's dreaded hair.
She pulled once more.
"Outsch!" Lauri shouted angrily.
"Sorry. Ok, I'm done but the button is still stuck in your hair. Guess you better take it out yourself!"
She grabbed a cup and left the kitchen. Hannah looked at Lauri's blushing face, then she saw his crotch.
"Lauri!" she hissed reproachfully.
"Hey, I really didn't do anything!" he complained and fumbled in his hair to get the pin off.
"Alright, now hurry up, Eero's waiting next door, he wants to tell us something."
They went back to the living room and sat down. Hannah made sure that Lauri was sitting as far away from Anna as possible. She poured some more coffee into her cup and looked expectantly at Eero.
"So, what's that you wanted to tell us?"
Eero cleared his throat and looked slowly at each of his friends.
"This is really hard for me to say," he started and took deep breath, "but I'm leaving the band."
Silence filled the room. No one moved. They just stared at Eero with their mouths open.
Lauri was the first who found his voice back.
"What?" he gasped terrified.
Eero smiled sadly.
"I'm gonna leave the band. And I'm serious about it!"
"But... why... what... when..." Pauli stuttered and squeezed Hannah's hand he had been holding.
"Pauli, outsch!" she whispered and stroke soothing with her thumb over his hand.
"Oh, sorry," he mumbled and eased his grip. Suddenly he jumped up.
"Are you insane? What is going on with you? You can't do this!" he shouted angrily.
Everyone was surprised by his sudden emotional outburst.
"Pauli," Hannah said and pulled him back on his seat, "why don't you let him explain it first?"
Pauli sat back down and looked remorseful.
"Sorry," he mumbled, "but it's just that... what could be an reasonable explanation?"
"Believe me, I really thought about it for a long time and," he tried to find the right words.
"You know, last Sunday, when this thing happened with Marlene... I've never been that scared in my whole life. And when I was finally holding Lina in my arms I felt like I couldn't do this anymore. I've hardly seen her growing up. What if I had lost her? And what if I had lost Bintia? They've been in a life threatening situation just because I'm in this band! Marlene would never had known me if I wasn't a part of The Rasmus."
"It's my fault that a lunatic like Marlene had almost killed my wife!"
"Eero, that's nonsense!" Aki interrupted him.
"No, let me finish this!" Eero told him calmly. "You know, I love you all and I love the band but I never ever wanna see my family in a situation like this again! I've realized that the time I spend with Bintia and Lina is just too precious to waste. I wanna be with them, I wanna see Lina grow up like a normal father. I thought about this thoroughly and I know I'm doing the right thing. I'm sorry."
Again the room was filled with silence. Even Bintia seemed to be surprised.
"Eero," she said and smiled at him, "why haven't you talked to me about that before? What has happened is not your fault! And I know you, you won't be happy without the music!"
He shook his head.
"I'm happy when I'm with you, that's enough. And besides that, it's not like I'm giving up music completely. I can still make music if I feel like it, I just don't wanna do it professionally anymore."
"And no matter what you say, it is my fault. If I hadn't been famous, Marlene would never even have known me!"
"But that's why we decided not to talk about our private lives in public," Lauri said, "to protect ourselves and our families!"
"And it still didn't work out," Eero replied sadly.
"What's with the new album? It's just been released on Monday! What about the upcoming tour?" Aki asked nervously and looked at his hands.
"And what's with us?" he added silently.
Anna lay her hand on his knee and squeezed it gently.
"That's what we have to talk about now," Eero replied.
No one answered.
Eero felt bad. He knew it had been unfair to surprise them with his final decision. Even Bintia hadn't known about this. But he was sure, this was the right thing. It wasn't easy for him to choose only one thing, his band or his family. But his family had won.
Hannah got up.
"I think we should leave you guys alone so you talk it over. Come on, Anna, let's go for a walk or something."
"Alright. I'll see you later," she said and kissed Aki on his cheek.
"I'm gonna see what Lina's doing," Bintia added.
Lauri watched the women leave the room. He knew Hannah wanted to talk to Anna about what had happened between them and worried slightly. He didn't want Anna to know that he had feelings for her. But then he looked at Eero. This was much more important now. Why was everything in his life going wrong at the moment?
Anna and Hannah were walking through a park, holding paper cups with coffee in their hands. They had been talking about what Eero just had told them. Both were shocked. They hadn't expected him to do something like this.
"It's kinda sad," Anna sighed, "this almost feels like he's giving up his friendship to the guys!"
"Oh, come on, he's not gonna stop talking to them or something!"
"Yeah, but they've been together for ten years! It's gonna be different, they won't see each other as often. They have to find a new bass player, it's not gonna be the same anymore. I didn't expect him to let his friends down like this!" Anna explained.
"Guess he's not the only one who's playing with friendships," she mumbled.
"What? How do you mean that?" Anna asked surprised.
Hannah looked at her.
"You should know what I'm talking about!"
Anna was confused. Hannah's eyes were accusing.
"I have no idea what..."
"Oh, shut up!" Hannah suddenly interrupted her angrily. "You know exactly what I'm talking about!"
"Hannah, why the fuck are you yelling at me?"
Hannah laughed roughly. "So you need a hint? Let me see, does the word 'cheating' ring a bell?"
"Don't pretend to be innocent, I know what has happened! You slept with Lauri, for fuck's sake!"
Anna looked at her with big eyes.
"How do you know?" she whispered.
Hannah grunted sarcastically.
"Lauri told me!"
Anna stared at her and gulped.
"He did what?"
"Damn, Anna! Why are you doing this? You can't play that kinda game with Aki and Lauri, that's not fair! I'm so disappointed, I've never expected you to be like this!"
She almost spit out her words and threw a furious glance at Anna.
"Hannah, it's not what you think!"
"Oh really?" Hannah asked with risen eye brows.
"Can I at least explain it to you?" she asked shyly.
"Go ahead," Hannah said.
Anna took deep breath and started to tell her about the night after Aki's proposal. How she had been drunk and confused and full of doubts.
"I know I've made a terrible mistake but right after that I was sure, Aki is the only man for me! I love him and I'm ready to marry him!"
Anna sighed and played insecurely with the ring on her finger. "And then that thing in the elevator..."
"Huh? What elevator?" Hannah asked surprised.
"Oh, you didn't know about that?"
Damn, Anna thought, now I have to tell her about it! She told her what had happened in the elevator.
"I know it sounds weird but when we were stuck in the darkness, it felt like we were in our own little world, completely forgetting about the outside world. Thank god the lights went on before something more could happen!"
"Damn, Anna, you can't play with Lauri's feelings like that!"
This made Anna laugh roughly.
"Lauri's feelings? Not sure if he even has any! Come on, he fucks every female person that crosses his way! I'm just another one on his list!"
Hannah looked at her. Hadn't Lauri told her what he was feeling for her? Obviously not.
"And I told him perfectly clear that I only love Aki and that I will never ever do anything like that again."
She took Hannah's hand.
"Believe me, I'm really serious about that. Aki is the one and only for me!"
Hannah tried to read her eyes and she saw that Anna wasn't lying. She loved Aki.
She sighed with relief but at the same time she felt sorry for her brother. He really had to start facing the truth.
When Anna came home in the evening she found Aki sitting on the couch. He wasn't doing anything, just sitting in the dark and holding a beer bottle in his hand.
Anna switched the light on and sat down next to him. They didn't talk for a while.
"He's really doing it," Aki suddenly said, "he's leaving the band."
His voice cracked slightly. Anna felt that he was fighting his tears back.
She lay her arms around Aki and pulled him closer.
"I'm gonna miss him so much," he mumbled.
"It's not like he's disappearing, you know? He's still around, he's still your friend!" Anna told him softly.
"I know," he whispered and hid his face on her shoulder, "but it's just not gonna be the same."
Then he cried.
The next few days seemed to be slow and dark. The band had to prepare for another week of promotion, this time for the new album. Again they flew to different European cities to give interviews and present the new material at show cases for media and record label people. Usually the guys were excited when it came to introducing the new record to the public but now it was different.
Eero wouldn't come with them.
Anna felt sorry for Aki, Lauri and Pauli. She had never seen them this depressed before. Even if they had lots of work or stress they managed to keep their sense of humor and make the best out of the situation. But now they just walked around and did their job without any enthusiasm.
Anna watched Aki packing his bags. She hadn't seen him smile once during the last days. Now he was diving under the bed to find one of his shoes.
"Send me a postcard if you plan on staying longer down there!" she told him.
"Maybe I just stay here," he mumbled back, "can't get any worse."
Anna sighed and grabbed one of his feet. Then she pulled him backwards with full force. Aki slid over the wooden floor and stopped shortly before he hit the wall.
"Too bad you didn't hurt me. Would have been a good excuse to stay at home next week."
Anna rolled her eyes and sat down astride on his belly. She softly stroke over his cheek with her fingertips.
"Baby, stop being so sad! I'm sure it won't be that bad!"
"I'm still hoping to wake up and realizing that this had all just been a nightmare."
"Oh, Aki, come on! Eero is not dead! He's still your friend, he only doesn't work with you anymore!"
"But it's gonna be weird with a new bass player!"
They had decided to not talk about Eero leaving the band in interviews. Kusti from Kwan was coming with them to play bass at the show cases. After that they wanted to do a proper search for a new band member.
"What if we can't find anyone who can fill Eero's shoes?"
"They probably thought the same when Janne left the band years ago. And I'm not saying this cause I'm your girlfriend, I really think that with you on the drums, the band got better and better! I'm sure you'll find the right person to improve this already great band!"
"Don't know if we need any improvement," Aki mumbled.
"Phh! Even the best ones can still improve, my dear! Don't be so cocky!"
Aki tried to smile but it looked more like a grimace.
"Yeah, yeah, I know."
"If you guys are so pissed about Eero leaving, why don't you just make him stay? I mean, he has signed contracts and stuff, didn't he?"
"The thing is, we all understand where he's coming from and why he wants to stay with his family. And I really don't wanna imagine what it would be like being in a band with someone who doesn't want to be there!"
Aki sat up and lay his arms around Anna's waist.
"You know, sometimes I'm angry. How can he do this to us? I feel so disappointed, like he's just cutting us out of his life. And then again I understand him. I'm probably just sad that this great time we had together will never come back again!"
Anna softly kissed his lips.
"I think you have every right in the world to feel like this. But I think you should soon start to accept that something new is happening and that it's probably not gonna be a nightmare! Otherwise you're promotion tour's gonna be a pain in the ass!"
Aki kissed her back and leaned his forehead against hers.
"Somehow this feels like my last day at school. You promise all your friends to keep in touch but you know it's not gonna be the same anymore."
"But I know Eero's gonna stay in contact. And after all, now I have at least one more person to hang out with when you're all on tour!"
Aki hugged her tightly.
"I wish you could come with me tomorrow," he sighed.
"Yeah, me too. Too bad I gotta work."
She leaned back and looked into his eyes.
"Why don't you call everyone and tell them we're gonna meet tonight at the pub. Having a few drinks on the good old times!"
Aki smiled at her. This time it looked like he was meaning it.
"Good idea, I'll call them."
They were all sitting laughing in the back of the pub. Pauli had just told a story when Eero had been drinking beer at school and, completely drunk, had stripped for his maths teacher.
Lauri watched them. Everyone was having a good time, drinking and laughing about old stories. They were having fun, the depressed atmosphere of the last days had vanished into thin air.
Lauri gulped down his beer and got up to get a new one at the bar. He was already too drunk to walk straight. He ordered a beer and a vodka and sat down at a stool while he waited for his drinks. From a distance he watched his friends. They looked like a normal group of people having a party.
Lauri didn't understand them. Was he the only one who couldn't move on just like that? He had been spending most of his time together with Eero since more than fifteen years. He was an important part of the band. The one constant factor in a pile of chaos. They needed him. And he was giving it all up for a woman! He was angry, he felt like Eero had let him down. Like their long years of friendship were worth nothing at all.
The bartender placed the two glasses in front of Lauri. He grabbed the vodka and chugged it down at once.
Why was his life so shitty at the moment? Lauri felt like everything was going wrong. One of the most important people in his life left him without looking back. He turned towards the table. Eero had obviously said something funny cause everyone burst into laughter. Anna hid her face on Aki's shoulder.
Lauri took a sip of his beer. Not that Eero leaving the band was tough enough, no, he had to be still in love with Anna, the woman he could never get.
Seeing all the happy faces of his friends made Lauri feel sick. He got up and left the pub.
"I still collapse in laughter if I think about you singing that Christina Aguliera song, Anna!" Pauli shouted and wiped some tears of his face.
"Hey, I told you I can't sing," Anna grinned. "And seeing you dance like her is still one of my highlights from last year!"
"Oh, I wish I could have been there, too," Hannah sighed and rubbed her cheek on Pauli's shoulder. "Would you please do it once again for me, honey?" she asked with her sweetest voice.
"No way, that was a one in a lifetime thing! And don't do the puppy eyes on me, Hannah, it doesn't work!" Pauli laughed.
"Please?" she begged but Pauli shook his head.
Anna digged in her bag.
"What are you looking for?" Aki asked.
"I thought I had another box of cigarettes with me but I think they are in the car."
She got up.
"I'm gonna get them. I'll be right back."
She grabbed the car keys and went outside.
The sound of crashing glass made her stop. She turned to where the noise had come from and saw Lauri. He was leaning with his head against the wall and hammered with his fist against the building, mumbling something she couldn't understand.
"Hey, what are you doing?"
She went over to him.
Lauri kept hitting the wall.
"Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!"
He stressed every word with another slam.
"Stop it, you're gonna hurt yourself," she told him and softly touched his shoulder.
He shrugged together and turned around. He stared at Anna.
Suddenly he began to shout.
"Leave me the fuck alone! Why do you care if I hurt myself? And why shouldn't I hurt myself? Life sucks! Everything is going wrong! One of my best friends cuts me out of his life so why the fuck shouldn't I be angry and hurt myself?"
"Lauri! Calm the fuck down!" she shouted back.
He blinked and slid down to the ground along the wall. His head rested on his knees.
Anna looked at him. His body was shaking.
She kneeled down in front of him and gently touched his head.
"I understand that you're angry or sad. But as I already told Aki, Eero's not dead! He's still your friend and he definitely hasn't cut you out of his life! You're having a successful career and great friends, so come on, you're life doesn't suck!"
Lauri rose his head. Some tears were running down his cheeks.
"What do you know?" he mumbled.
Anna placed her hands on each side of his face and wiped the tears away with her thumbs.
"Then tell me what I should know! Maybe I can help you."
He looked into her eyes for a while. The he shook his head so that Anna let her hands fall down on his knees.
"You're the last person that could help me!"
"Damn, Lauri. Why is this so difficult between us? I know you don't like me but can't we just try to become friends?"
Lauri grunted sarcastically.
"Yeah, right, let's become friends!"
"Why are you always such an asshole?"
She threw an despising glance at him and got up. But Lauri grabbed her hand.
"Damn, Anna, I don't wanna be friends with you!" he shouted at her.
"Guess what, I realized that!" she shouted back and tried to stroke off his hand.
Angrily she turned around.
"Anna, I love you!"
Anna froze. These last words had made her paralyse. She felt cold shivers running down her spine. Slowly she turned back.
Lauri had jumped back on his feet. Breathing heavily he looked at her with despairing eyes.
“Anna, I…” he whispered but stopped talking when Anna made a few steps towards him.
She came closer, slowly, seeming insecure.
Had she really understood what he had said? Maybe I’m wrong, she thought. But looking into his face made her realize that she wasn’t.
“Lauri, do you… I… what…” she stuttered and blinked like this could help her turning this weird situation into something clear.
Lauri rose his hand and put gently his index finger across her lips.
“Wait, let me speak first,” he said and took deep breath.
His voice was trembling.
“I love you since… I don’t know, probably since last summer. But I was sure about it when you came back to Helsinki.”
Anna took his finger and pulled it away from her lips. She held his hand while Lauri kept on talking.
“The problem was that you were Aki’s girlfriend. So I decided to rather be unfriendly and concentrate on the things that were annoying me about you. I thought this might help me to get over it. But it only got worse. I really tried to stop it but… I love you!”
“Lauri, I…,” she paused, like she needed to think about the right words. Then she sighed. “What do you want to her from me now?”
Lauri looked at the ground and shrugged his shoulders insecurely.
“I don’t know what to say, I mean, you know that I’m with Aki!”
Lauri took her other hand as well and looked into her eyes.
“But… don’t you think there’s something going on between us? I mean what’s about that one night? And what happened in the elevator?” he whispered.
He tried to make his voice sound firm but he was too nervous.
Anna shook her head and smiled at him sadly.
“There is nothing between us, Lauri! What has happened was just something physical, nothing of a meaning. I’m sorry.”
He let her hands slide out of his and leaned against the wall.
“I would have never done anything like that if I had known you had feelings for me!” she added.
Lauri closed his eyes. Somehow he had expected her to say something like this but he hadn’t expected it to hurt that much. Slowly he sank back to the floor and covered his face on his knees.
Anna squat down in front of him and touched his head carefully.
“You knew I’m getting married to Aki, how come you’re telling me about it now?”
Lauri rose his head, some tears were glittering in the corner of his eyes. He looked so despairing that Anna felt like something was stabbing her heart. She felt bad. She wished she could do something to ease his pain but she didn’t know what.
“I already lost a friend and band member so I thought why not risking it and loosing another one?” he replied dryly.
“Damn, Lauri. What the fuck do you need to realize that you haven’t lost Eero! Get over it, for fuck’s sake!”
“Great, just kick me when I’m already on the ground!” he hissed angrily.
“Hey, I’m just telling you like it is!”
She kneeled down and put her hands on his knees.
“Listen, the situation with Eero is one thing. I think you’re exaggerating completely, all the other seem to get along with it, it’s time you’re accepting his decision. The thing between you and me, well, I’m really sorry. In one way it’s kinda flattering that you like me this much but I love Aki. I know that unrequited love hurts, I’ve been there too a few years ago. I’m sure you will soon meet the right woman, don’t give up hope.”
Lauri smiled at her sadly. “Thanks for being honest!”
“Sure. I wish I could say or do something more to make you feel better.”
“I’d have an idea!”
Anna looked at him surprised. “What’s that?”
Anna grinned and slapped his shoulder.
“You wish, buddy!”
Then she got up and offered her hand to him.
“Come on, let’s get back inside.”
Lauri pulled himself up and sighed.
“Not even a last little kiss?” he asked and gave her the puppy eyes look.
Anna shook her head. “Nope!”
“Oh well,” he sighed, “maybe I’ll find Mrs. Right in the pub then.”
“That’s the right attitude,” Anna laughed and pushed him through the door.
Eero was pushing a shopping cart through the aisles of the supermarket. Lina was sitting in the baby seat and chewed a banana.
“Not good, daddy,” she complained.
“Huh?” Eero had been checking some boxes in the shelves and now looked at his daughter. Quickly he took the banana out of her hand.
“We have to peel it first, honey!” he told her patiently and peeled the fruit. “And actually we have to pay it first but whatever. Here, enjoy,” he said and gave her one half. He shoved the other part into his mouth.
“Geez, Eero, we have enough money to buy food, you don’t have to eat as much as you can when you’re still at the store!”
Eero turned around. Bintia was standing behind him, her eyes were accusing.
“Schorry,” he mumbled and gulped the rest down.
“Come on, let’s hurry up,” she said and went on.
“Eero, are you coming?” she suddenly shouted.
He was standing in the aisle and stared into the air. Her shout made him shrug together.
“What? Oh, yeah, I’m coming.”
He quickly followed her and started to dig in Bintia’s bag that was hanging on her shoulder.
“Can I help you somehow?” she sighed.
Going shopping with Eero and Lina is like shopping with two kids, she thought, next time I make him stay at home!
“Quick, I need a pen!” he told her and kept on rummaging in her bag. “Never mind, got one!”
He took it and started to write something down on the back of a cornflakes box.
“What are you doing?” Bintia wondered.
“Had this great idea for a new song, gotta write it down before I forget it,” he mumbled all caught inside his mind, “the band’s gonna love it!”
“What band, honey?”
Eero looked up from the box.
“What do you mean, what band? Of course,” he stopped and stared at what he had written. “Oh, I forgot.” he added silently.
His wife smiled at him sadly.
“Hey, it’s only been about a week since I quit,” Eero explained, “I need some time to get used to it!”
“Honey, why don’t you just admit that you miss it?”
Now Eero was the one who sighed.
“Of course I miss it!”
Then he smiled at her.
“But I’m still sure I made the right decision. Come on, let’s go!”
He pushed the shopping cart down the aisle.
Bintia watched him leave and shook her head.
She knew he was missing the band like hell and she still thought that he shouldn’t have left the band but he kept telling her everything was alright. Tonight they had their final promotion show case in Helsinki. Eero had told his friends that he had too much to do so he wasn’t able to come along and watch. But Bintia knew that he just couldn’t stand seeing them on stage and having to be in the audience himself. She had tried to make him rethink his decision to leave the band but he kept insisting that he was doing the right thing.
I really need to talk to him about this again, she thought and followed her husband.
“Come on, guys, time to get on stage!” someone yelled.
Aki, Lauri, Pauli and Kusti got up from the sofas and left the backstage room. Today was their last day of their promotion tour. Everything had went quite well, though it had been weird without Eero. Especially as he had been one of the most talkative people during interviews, now even Pauli had been forced to say more than just a few sentences. The concerts had been kind of awkward. As much as Kusti had given his best, it just didn’t feel the same. They just didn’t feel complete. And after all, the show cases had only been for people from the record labels and media, it was hard to play for a crowd that had only come because of the business or the free drinks. Aki was glad that this gig tonight was different. Though it was still the usual show case, lots of fans who had won tickets were there as well. He wondered what their reaction would be like if they say that someone was missing. They still hadn’t told anyone that Eero wasn’t with them anymore. During interviews they had just explained that he was with his family. But tonight they wanted to announce it officially.
The lights went down. Aki heard the fans screaming. He could see the silhouettes of Lauri, Pauli and Kusti in front of his drum kit. He hit his sticks together to count the rhythm. The song started. From a distance he could see the questioning faces of some people in the front row.
Well, get used to it, I have to as well, he thought and concentrated on the song.
Anna was standing in the back of the venue. She felt weird seeing the band play without their usual bass player. But they sounded good.
The first song ended, the crowed cheered. Lauri stood at the edge of the stage. He looked at the audience and smiled.
Anna knew he was about to tell everyone now what was going on with Eero. She saw that Lauri had a hard time to get the news out. He cleared his throat, then he shouted into his microphone.
“Hey everyone! Are you feeling good?”
The crowd screamed.
“Thank you! It’s good to be back home!”
Again they screamed.
Lauri put his finger across his lips.
“Shhhhh! Calm down, I have to tell you something important.”
Some girls were still cheering but after a few moments the room was filled with silence.
“I got some good and some bad news. Good news first. The new album is out and we will soon be on the road again!”
Again the audience cheered enthusiastically.
“But,” Lauri shouted and waited till they were quiet, “you may have noticed that someone is missing tonight!”
“Eero!” some girls in the front row screamed.
“Right,” Lauri answered and went on, “the thing with Eero is…”
Anna could tell that he was struggling to find the right words.
“I’m really sorry to tell you that Eero…”
“…is late,” a voice came though the speaker boxes.
Lauri startled and turned around.
Eero was standing on his usual spot and was just taking over Kusti’s bass. He waved at the audience and grinned. Then he turned to his mic.
“Sorry, couldn’t make it earlier, but now I’m here. What’s the next song?”
Anna started to laugh. Lauri looked like he had just seen a ghost.
“Why do men always need a woman to tell them what’s the right thing to do,” Anna heard Bintia sighing behind her.
Again Aki hit his drum sticks together to count in the next song. They started to play. And this time they didn’t just sound good, they were great.
"I'm gonna miss you!" Aki sighed and hugged Anna tightly.
"You know I'm already missing you," she replied.
"Hey, everyone! Get on the bus, we're late! Time to leave!"
Aki let Anna go and grinned.
"I'll call you later. Love you!"
Before Anna could say something more he had jumped into the bus.
"Let's rock 'n roll!" she heard him shouting which was answered by cheers and laughter.
"Oh yeah, that just sounded like they are gonna miss us like hell," Hannah said sarcastically.
Anna, Bintia and Hannah watched the bus departing and waved. Now they were back on tour. They all knew that it would be hard to be separated from their beloved ones for six weeks. But they were all glad that everything had turned out the way it did. Since Eero had joined the group again, their band spirit seemed to be on a higher level. They had been excited like little kids with every day the tour start had come closer.
"That's gonna be a quiet six weeks," Bintia sighed and put Lina into her baby carriage. "Only one child to look after and not another big one. You know, as much as I loved that time when Eero spent all day with me, actually it's not that bad to have a few Eero-less hours a day!"
"Let me quote you with that in two weeks, I'm sure you've changed your mind by then," Hannah laughed.
"I have so much to do, I'll probably won't have any time to miss Aki," Anna complained.
They had decided to marry two weeks after the tour and Anna had to plan and arrange everything for that big day. She looked at her watch.
"Ok, girls, gotta go, see you later!"
"Hey, I thought we're gonna have a coffee together or something," Bintia said.
"I'm sorry, but the hospital called me this morning. They need my health insurance dates and I need to sign a few things. Looks like I forgot about that when I was there last time."
"Oh, too bad. I'm gonna call you later," Bintia replied and kissed Anna's cheek.
Anna hugged Hannah good bye and went towards the hospital.
While enjoying the sunny day her thoughts went back to what had happened during the last days. Lauri revealing his feelings to her had been a shock. She had felt bad that she had messed with his feelings when sleeping with him. She seriously had thought that she was just another girl on his list and nothing more. Well, she had been wrong. But telling him the truth had probably been the best. She knew he had been hurt but he seemed to deal with it. Hannah was the only one who knew about it and they had decided to not tell anyone else. When Anna and Lauri now met they almost were friendly to each other.
Anna stepped through the entrance of the hospital and went to the counter.
She told the nurse her name and what she was coming for.
The woman checked a pile of papers in front of her then she handed some sheets and a pen to Anna.
"Please take a seat over there," she pointed at the waiting area, "you need to fill in these forms and sign each."
Anna chose an empty chair and tried to fill in the forms without poking the pen through the paper. She looked around and saw some magazines lying on a table. Just when she wanted to get up someone put a hand on her shoulder.
She turned around and looked at a woman in a white coat.
"Hi, my name is Dr. Pallkoinen."
Anna shook her hand.
"Hi, nice to meet you. Ehrm, can I help you?" Anna was confused.
Dr. Pallkoinen smiled at her.
"The nurse informed me that you're here. There is something I have to talk about with you."
Anna swallowed. She didn't understand what was going on.
"Well, I think we should go to my office to talk about it in private. Please, follow with me!"
The woman turned around and walked down the hall.
Anna felt weird. What on earth could that be she wanted to talk about?
"Am I sick or something?" she asked insecurely.
"No, you're not sick." The doctor opened the door to the office and showed Anna to sit down.
Anna placed herself on a chair and waited till the woman had taken seat behind the desk. She watched her opening a folder and skipping some pages.
"I don't want to be impolite or something, but would you mind telling me what's going on?" Anna asked shyly.
Dr. Pallkoinen looked at her for a while, then she started to talk.
"Well, you know that when you were here a few weeks ago, we checked you're whole body to make sure you're completely healthy. You seemed to be alright but when I looked at the results once again, I found some abnormalities. So I decided to make a few different tests with your blood and... well, I got the results this morning. That's why I insisted to make you come along today."
Anna stared at her. Abnormalities? What abnormalities? If she wasn't sick...
"You're pregnant. Congratulations!"
"Pregnant? Are you sure?" she asked insecurely.
Again she took deep breath.
"Wow, I mean that's..." she stopped and looked at the doctor.
"I can understand that you're are stunned right now. Feel free to ask any kind of questions!"
But Anna couldn't answer. She was speechless. She didn't know if she should be happy or not, she was too confused.
"You should make an appointment with your gynecologist as soon as possible, to check if everything is ok with you and your baby."
My baby. Wow.
"And even if you think about not keeping the child, please don't start to panic, you're only in the fifth week. But as much as it is your decision, please consider that an abortion is something that should be thought over very well. If you need any consolation, fell free to contact me."
Suddenly blood started to rush through Anna's ears.
"The fifth week? Is it possible to tell me the exact date?" she whispered.
The doctor checked the folder and told Anna the date.
Anna felt like being pulled into a hole, like the real world was drifting away.
Dr. Pallkoinen had told her the weekend when she had slept with both, Aki and Lauri.
"I'm just around the corner, mind if I come along for a coffee?" Hannah asked.
Anna didn't feel like company but she didn't feel like being alone, too.
"Yes, sure, why not."
"I'll be there in a minute," Hannah replied and hung up the phone.
Anna sighed, went on the balcony and lit another cigarette. She deeply inhaled the smoke. Suddenly she stared at the fag. Smoking was bad for the baby.
Anna threw the cigarette away and watched it sailing down to the street. Her hands were shaking. Her thoughts were going crazy. If she just knew who the father was.
She placed her hand on her belly and sighed again. Though it was far to early to feel the child in her womb, she already imagined it growing inside of her.
A new life growing in her body, that was amazing but also kind of scary.
Kind of like in a science fiction movie, when a little alien is living inside a human being, she thought and shook her body to get rid of that creepy picture.
"My little one," she whispered, "you're not a slimy alien, are you?"
Anna startled. She was already talking to the baby though she wasn't even sure if she should keep it.
The door bell rang. Anna went inside and opened the door.
"Hi, honey," Hannah welcomed her and kissed her on the cheek.
They went into the living room. Hannah sat down on the couch.
"Gonna make some coffee real quick," Anna said and disappeared into the kitchen.
"Hey, you are right in the middle of your wedding preparations, huh?" Hannah shouted over to her.
Anna grabbed two cups and the coffee pot and joined her on the sofa. Hannah was skipping the pages of a wedding magazine that had been lying on the table.
"Already decided on a dress?" she asked curiously.
"No, not yet. I mean most of them are really ugly, they make you look like a huge white cloud. But some of them are actually pretty nice," Anna replied and peeked over her shoulder to see the picture Hannah was looking at.
"This for example is extremely bad. This woman somehow resembles cotton candy. Besides that, the dress is pink!"
Hannah grinned. "Well, I guess it's too late for you to choose a white dress, the color of innocence and virginity!"
Anna slapped her shoulder and laughed.
"Shut up! What ever I've done before, I'm not gonna wear something pink!"
Hannah kept reading the magazine. Anna leaned back and took a sip of her coffee.
Should she talk to Hannah about the baby? She was the only one who knew that Anna had slept with Lauri. But what kind of advice could she give her?
"Say," Anna asked casually, "you and Lauri look so much alike. Does that run in the family?"
"What?" Hannah looked at her questioning. "Well, yeah, it kinda runs in the family, we all look pretty much the same. Man, you're asking some weird stuff, what's up?"
Anna pointed at a framed picture that was standing on a shelf. It showed the band, Anna, Hannah and Bintia.
"Oh, nothing. I just looked at it and wondered. I mean, Scott and I didn't look like we were brother and sister."
This answer seemed to satisfy Hannah. She put the magazine away and started to tell Anna a story about what had happened at work to her today.
But Anna couldn't concentrate. Her thoughts kept moving around the baby.
What if Lauri was really the father and the kid would look like him? If Aki ever found out it wasn't his child he would never forgiver her. It would break his heart. But was there any solution that wouldn't break his heart?
"What's up, sweetie? You don't seem to be really interested in what I'm saying!" Hannah suddenly asked.
Anna smiled at her.
"Sorry, I'm just a bit tired."
Hannah emptied her cup.
"Alright then. I'm leaving. Go to bed early or take a bath or something. I'll call you tomorrow."
"Ok. Was nice to see you, even if it didn't look like it!
Anna hugged her good bye and went to the bathroom. Maybe relaxing in the bath tub helped to think about what to do.
She undressed and slipped into the hot water. Lots of foam was floating on the surface. Anna leaned back and closed her eyes. She wondered what Aki was doing in this moment. He was probably sitting on the bus somewhere on a Swedish highway. But was he thinking of her?
She knew he would be happy if he heard of the baby. She had been the one who didn't want a child before Aki had settled down a bit. But now that she was pregnant, her mind had changed. There was no right or wrong time to have a child if the parents loved each other. She softly stroke over her belly. She suddenly realized that she already loved that tiny fetus.
Wasn't it unimportant who the father was? Wasn't the only important thing that the child had a chance to grow up in a loving environment?
But could Aki love a child that wasn't his? A child that would remind him of having been betrayed every time he looked at it?
And what if Aki was the father? Maybe all these thoughts were about nothing?
Anna had used condoms every time she had sex why should this had happened that one time she was sleeping with Lauri? Wouldn't that just be real bad luck?
Anna took deep breath and dived her head under water, trying to wash her thoughts away. But when she got back to the surface it still was the same. She didn't know what to do.
She tried to clear things up. There were three different scenarios. One was that Aki was the father and everything would be great, the other one was that Lauri was the father and the child looked like him. The third one was that Lauri was the father but the baby didn't resemble him so Aki would never find out. So it was 2:1 that it could end happily.
But could she risk that one possibility that would destroy everything? And was the third one fair to both of the guys?
No matter how often she thought about it, she just couldn't make up her mind.
There was still that one last possibility. An abortion. But though she knew about her pregnancy for only a day she already was sure she wanted to give birth to the child.
Anna wasn't against abortion in general but this was something different. She was just in this situation because of her own stupid behavior, why had she slept with Lauri at all?
No matter what, she loved this child, she couldn't kill it.
Anna got out of the bath tub and went to the bedroom. She put on her pyjamas and lay down in bed. Maybe sleeping it over would help her making a decision.
Anna woke up. Suddenly she knew what to do. There was only one thing that was the right thing, the truth.
Of course Aki would be hurt but she didn't want to lie anymore. And if he decided to never talk to her again she could live with that. Raising the child on her own would be tough but Anna was sure she could handle it.
She felt bad that though she had been the one who had screwed things up, Aki would be the one who would suffer
But she had to think about the child now first.
Anna got up and got dressed. The band was playing in Stockholm tonight. She picked up the phone to call the airport. But before anyone could answer she hung up again.
What was with Lauri? Shouldn't she talk about it with him first? Like warning him before she dropped the bombshell?
Again she didn't know what to do. She let herself fall sighing on a chair and stared out of the window. Then she suddenly got up and grabbed her jacket.
She had to talk to Hannah, she knew her brother best, maybe she could help her.
Anna rushed down the stairs and left the house. She stopped on the sidewalk and looked for a taxi. One was approaching on the other side of the street. Anna jumped at the driveway and waved.
All of a sudden she heard someone honk and turned around. She saw the car coming but it was too late.
"Aki!" Lauri shouted and waited for an answer. He looked into the mirror. His face was covered with shaving mousse.
"Aki!" he shouted again and rummaged in his toilet bag. "What did you do to my shaver?"
Still Aki didn't reply. Lauri looked at his reflection once more and rolled his eyey.
"Damn Aki, I'm looking like Santa, don't let me down," he mumbled and went to the bedroom to see what his friend was doing.
Lauri startled. Aki was holding his phone in his hands and stared at it. His face was pale, his hands were shaking.
"What's the matter?" Lauri asked worrying.
Aki dropped the phone and sank on the bed. He rested his elbows on his knees and covered his face in his hands. Lauri squat down and picked up the phone. He softly touched Aki's shoulder.
"Hey, what happened?" he asked with toned down voice.
Aki rose his head and stared at him. His eyes were filled with tears.
"Anna," he whispered.
Lauri felt like someone had just punched him into his stomach.
"She's... she's been hit by a car. She's in hospital!"
"But... is she... how is she doing?"
"I don't know, Hannah just called me. The doctors refuse to give any information as no one is related to her. But... it must be bad if they don't say anything, don't you think?"
"I don't know," Lauri sighed, "maybe they are just not allowed to say anything at all," he suggested.
Aki got up.
"I have to go. I'm her fiancé, they have to tell me!"
He lifted his suitcase on the bed and started to pack hectically.
"Ok, I'll go and see if I can find the other guys. We gotta cancel the show tonight," Lauri said and looked at Aki. "Can I leave you alone?"
Aki nodded. Though the hotel room wasn't that big, Aki seemed to be lost. Lauri went over to him and hugged him tightly.
"It's gonna be alright," he whispered into his ear, "you'll see!"
Aki pulled up his nose.
"Yeah, I hope so," he answered weakly. His voice didn't sound very convinced.
Lauri patted his back, then he turned around to leave the room.
He turned back at Aki and threw a questioning glance at him.
"The shaving mousse." Aki pointed at his face.
"Oh," Lauri mumbled and wiped the white stuff off his face with a towel. Then he left to tell the others.
As soon as Lauri had broken the news to the band, they had agreed on flying back to Helsinki and canceling the show. They knew the fans would be disappointed but they had promised to repeat the concert on another date. They hadn't decided yet if the following gigs would be held, first they wanted to see how Anna was doing.
The last few hours had been tough. They were all still shocked and hadn't talked much. Now they were sitting in a taxi driving to the hospital.
Aki's hands were shaking. He stared through the window and tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. Lauri could imagine how Aki was feeling right now cause he was probably feeling the same. But he tried to stay calm. Not just because he didn't want anyone to realize that he had feelings for Anna, he wanted to be there for his friend now. And being all nervous and down most likely wouldn't help him in this situation. Just as he wanted to say something to Aki they arrived at the hospital. Aki ripped the door open and ran towards the entrance.
"Aki, wait!" Lauri shouted but Eero put one hand on his shoulder.
"Let him go, we'll meet him inside."
Aki pushed the door open and rushed to the counter. The nurse behind the desk looked at him.
"My name is Aki Hakala," he gasped.
In that moment Hannah and Bintia came around the corner.
"Aki, you're here," Bintia hugged him with relief, "finally!"
Aki freed himself from her embrace and made a step backwards.
"Where's Anna? Can I see her?" he asked hectically.
"She's at the intensive care unit, they won't let us see her as we are not relatives!" Hannah complained angrily.
Aki looked at Hannah and Bintia, both seemed to have been waiting in the hospital for many hours already. They looked tired and stressed out.
"I'm sure they'll let me in," Aki said.
"Come on, I'll take you to Dr. Pallkoinen, she's responsible for Anna," Hannah said, took Aki's hand and pulled him with her.
"Hey, doctor," she shouted when she spotted a woman in a white coat.
The woman turned around and sighed when she saw Hannah.
"How can I help you this time?" she asked with a smile.
"This is Aki, he's Anna's fiancé!" Hannah explained and softly shoved Aki towards her.
The smile on Dr. Pallkoinen's face vanished.
"Mr. Hakala? Can you identify yourself with an ID card or something?"
Aki nodded and showed her his passport.
"Alright, would you please come with me?"
"Are you taking me to Anna?"
"Yes," she answered and started to walk down the hall.
Aki followed her insecurely. Now that he was just about to see Anna he got scared. Scared of what might expect him. The typical smell of hospitals, a mixture of disinfectants and canteen food, made him feel sick.
Before opening the door to the intense care unit, Dr. Pallkoinen stopped and looked at Aki.
"Let me tell you first what has happened. Anna had been hit by a car this morning. Her left leg and both arms are broken, she had a couple of inner bleedings that we could stop and one of her ribs has pierced the left lobe of her lungs. She's still in a very unstable condition, the next two days will show if she is strong enough to make it."
"Do you... do you mean she will die?"
He tried to listen closely to the doctor because his heart was beating so loud that it almost drowned out her voice.
"Yes, this is a possibility. But considering how she has recovered during the last few hours, I'm pretty confident that she will be better soon."
She put one hand on his arm and looked at him seriously.
"There's one last thing I have to tell you before we go in. I'm really sorry, but the baby didn't survive. Please accept my condolences."
Aki stared at her.
"The baby?" he gasped unbelievingly.
Dr. Pallkoinen cleared her throat.
"I'm sorry, I thought you knew about his," she replied.
Aki slowly shook his head. He froze, he felt like someone had suddenly turned the heating down.
"Can I see her now?" he whispered.
"Alright." She took him to a room where he had to pull sterile clothes over his normal clothes. Then she pointed at a door behind him and pushed it open silently.
Anna was lying in a bed. Her face was white, like the sheets that were covering her body. Some wires were attached to her and led to the machine that was controlling her body functions, it beeped quietly. An oxygen mask covered her mouth.
Seeing her like this made Aki wanting to scream. He felt like the air was getting short, he had difficulties to breathe properly. He slowly stepped closer to the bed. He wanted to touch her but he didn't dare. Anna seemed to be so fragile, so easy to break again. He softly stroke over her cheek.
"Strangely her face was the only part that didn't even get a single scratch," he heard Dr. Pallkoinen say from the back.
"Oh, Anna," he whispered and let himself sink on a chair next to the bed.
Then he turned towards the doctor.
"Would you mind leaving me alone for a while? And could you please inform my friends about Anna's condition?"
"Of course," she answered and left the room silently.
Aki took Anna's hand and stroke over it with his thumb.
"Please, you gotta be strong now," he mumbled, "you can't leave me alone! I can't live without you!"
Tears were running down his face. He felt so lost, so helpless. There was nothing he could do except for waiting.
"Why didn't you tell me about the baby?" he sobbed, "I would have been so happy! Our child! I can't believe it, I was a father!"
He leaned his forehead against the edge of the mattress. He wasn't able to do anything but cry. How could he miss a child he had never ever met before?
Anna opened her eyes and blinked a few times. Every fibre of her body hurt, even breathing let her lungs burn. It took her a while till she realized where she was, but the constant beeping of the machine next to her left no doubt. She was at a hospital but why? The last thing she remembered was that she wanted to go to Hannah to talk about the baby. What had happened? Suddenly she startled. She was obviously hurt badly, what was with her baby?
Anna tried to sit up but she was too weak.
I need to talk to a doctor, she thought scared, gotta tell them about the baby!
It took almost all her energy to lift her hand and remove the oxygen mask from her mouth. She wanted to shout for someone but only a whisper came over her lips.
In that moment she felt like the air was getting short, like something was stabbed into her lungs. She started to choke and panicked. Anna tried to pull the oxygen mask back up but her hands didn't do what her brain was telling them.
The steady beeping of the machine next to her was interrupted by another shrill sound.
The door to her room was ripped open and a nurse came running to her bed. She pulled the mask back on Anna's face, then she stroke over Anna’s hand and smiled at her.
"Relax, breath deeply and steadily! Don't worry, you'll feel better in a few moments," she told her with a calming voice.
"But the baby," Anna mumbled through the mask and looked at the nurse's name tag. Ursula, she read.
Anna saw that the woman's smile slightly vanished though she tried to keep it.
"The doctor will be here any minute," Ursula replied with her soothing voice.
Anna closed her eyes. She had been working as a nurse herself long enough to know what that meant. She had done that herself.
Her child was dead.
She had expected to break into tears or to feel the worst pain ever but she didn't. She just lay there and stared at he ceiling. She didn't feel anything, except for a complete emptiness inside of her.
She turned her head and saw Aki standing in the door. He was pale and had black rings beneath his eyes. But he tried to smile.
He slowly walked towards the bed and sat down on a chair. He bend forward and softly kissed Anna’s forehead.
“I’m so glad you’re awake,” he sighed. “You know, the doctor said once you are conscious you will be alright soon. I knew you wouldn’t leave me alone!”
Anna watched him. She wanted to be happy that she had survived this but she couldn’t.
“Aki,” she whispered. She didn’t know how to tell him about the child.
But Aki just had to take a look into her eyes to understand what she wanted to say. He took her hand and caressed it gently.
“I know. But the most important thing is that you will be alright first! We have all the time in the world, we can always try again to get another baby.”
He swallowed. He felt horrible but he wanted to be strong for Anna.
And suddenly Anna was able to cry. Tears ran over her face, her body was shaken by her sobs. She felt like something had been torn apart inside of her that allowed her to let the sadness out. Aki bend down and carefully took her into his arms. Silently he cried with her.
Someone knocked at the door. Aki sat up back straight and wiped his face.
Dr. Pallkoinen entered the room. She told Anna what had happened, then she quickly checked her. She replaced the oxygen mask with a little tube that lead to Anna’s nose and pumped air into it. The doctor wrote down a few notes on a clip board that she had taken off the rear end of Anna’s bed before. Then she smiled at Anna.
“I’m very confident. Of course you will have to stay here for a couple of weeks but I think the chances for you to recover completely are excellent!”
Aki squeezed Anna’s hand slightly.
“See, you will be ok!” he said happily.
“Good,” Anna mumbled and leaned her head into the pillows.
“There are a few people outside who’ve been urging to see you,” the doctor explained, “so if you feel well enough they can come in now. But please, only two at once!”
Anna nodded. She was tired and actually just wanted to sleep but she didn’t want to make her friends wait any longer.
Dr. Pallkoinen saw the expression on Anna’s face.
“And only five minutes each, we don’t want to exhaust you on your first day!” she added smiling.
She left with Aki. Only few minutes later Hannah and Pauli entered the room. Hannah rushed in and enthusiastically hugged Anna.
“Ehrm, Hannah, outsch!” Anna whined silently.
Heli startled and let her go.
“Oh, sorry, honey! But you know I’m just so glad to finally see you!” she said. “Bintia and I have been here since yesterday morning when they brought you to the hospital but they didn’t let us see you. They even didn’t tell us how you were doing until Aki showed up!” she complained.
Pauli grinned. “Poor Dr. Pallkoinen! Hannah’s driven her mad with nagging around all the time!”
Anna almost felt like laughing. She could imagine Hannah following the doctor through the building and asking her all kind of things. But her lungs hurt when she tried to laugh a bit. So she just smiled and winked at them.
“You’ve been here since yesterday?” she asked surprised.
“We’ve all been here over night except for Bintia and Eero,” Pauli explained.
“You’re crazy,” Anna sighed.
“Hey, they said if you wake up you’ll be ok soon. We didn’t want to miss that!”
Now Anna felt almost like crying. She had the best friends one could wish for!
“I’m so glad you’re doing better!” Hannah said and kissed Anna on the cheek.
Pauli looked at his watch.
“Looks like we have to go!”
“Come on, just a few more minutes,” Hannah pouted.
“Hey, I’m not gonna argue with that Ursula-nurse!” Pauli told her and backed up.
Hannah grinned. “Oh yeah. She’s like that typically grumpy nurse in movies. And she didn’t like us at all when we camped in the waiting area.”
“This is a hospital and not your living room, young man!” Pauli imitated Ursula’s voice.
“And it is also time for you to leave, young man,” the same voice came from the background.
“She’s standing behind me, right?”
Anna nodded and laughed. But the laughter turned into serious coughing.
“Doing nothing than causing trouble, get out of here!” Ursula told them and checked the machines next to Anna’s bed.
“Calm down, just breath on steadily, this will be over soon!” she told her and caressed Anna’s back. “I think you should try to sleep now!”
“No,” Anna gasped, “please, I want to see the others!”
“Alright, but only five minutes each! I’m going to look at my watch!”
She left with Hannah and Pauli and Eero and Bintia entered the room. They talked for a few minutes and left again. Then Lauri stepped in.
“Hey,” he said and insecurely stood a few feet away from the bed.
Anna smiled at him. “Hi!”
“Aki wants me to tell you, he’s talking on the phone to your mom. She’s just landed in Amsterdam, she’s waiting for a plane to take her here.”
“My mom?” Anna asked surprised.
Lauri nodded. “Aki had called her to tell what had happened and she decided to take the next plane.”
Anna hadn’t missed her family since she’s been living in Helsinki but suddenly she realized that she wanted to see her mom, that she needed some motherly comfort. She was so happy that her mother was coming that she shed a few tears.
“Are you ok?” Lauri came closer and sat down on the chair next to the bed.
“Yeah, don’t worry,” she answered and wiped the tears away.
Lauri didn’t say anything, he just looked at her for a while.
Suddenly he cleared his throat.
“I’m sorry bout the baby,” he mumbled.
Anna swallowed. She hadn’t been sure if Aki had told them about it because none of the others had said a word. But obviously he had.
“Yeah, me too,” she replied.
Lauri sighed. Anna knew what he wanted to ask. He opened his mouth and closed it again, like he tried to start but couldn’t bring himself to do so.
“I don’t know,” she whispered.
Lauri looked at her.
“I don’t know who the father was,” she said, “that’s what you wanted to ask, didn’t you?”
He nodded and gulped. He felt a cold shiver run down his spine. He maybe had almost become a dad! Lauri was confused. Somehow he was relieved that the child hadn’t survived, this had saved all of them a lot of trouble but he also was sad.
Who knows what kind of person that kid would have become? he thought sadly.
He didn’t know what to say so he just sat there and said nothing.
Aki came in.
“Just because Ursula has told you not to tire her doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to speak!” he laughed. “You’re mom says hi, she’ll be here tomorrow morning!”
Anna smiled at him.
“Thanks for calling her. I’m so glad she’s coming!”
Aki sat down on the edge of her bed.
“You look exhausted, I think we better leave you alone and let you sleep!”
“And I think you guys should go home and get some sleep as well!” Anna told them.
Aki shook his head.
“No, it’s alright, I won’t leave you alone!”
“Aki!” Anna tried to look at him strictly. “Hannah has told me that you all have spent the night in the waiting area! And you look like you haven’t slept at all! I want you all to go home! I’ll see you tomorrow!”
Aki sighed. He knew she was right, he felt like falling asleep any minute anyway.
“Ok.” He kissed her softly on the lips. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Anna mumbled and fell asleep before Aki and Lauri had left the room.
Anna woke up. A sudden coughing attack shook her body. It was dark. She tried to find the light switch without any success. She coughed heavily and gasped for air. But it only got worse. Her lungs burned, she wasn’t able to breathe.
Anna started to panic. She patted through the dark to find the alarm button to call for help. Again the steady beeping of the machine next to her bed was interrupted by that shrill sound.
Anna begun to feel dizzy, she ripped her mouth open to breathe as deeply as possible. The sound of the machine was ringing in her ears.
Come one, hurry the fuck up, she thought scared.
But when the nurse came running into the room, Anna was lying motionless on her bed. She didn’t breathe anymore.
“Her lungs have collapsed. She will never be able again to breathe on her own.”
These words echoed in Aki’s head over and over. He was sitting next to Anna’s bed and watched her.
She looks like she’s only sleeping, he thought.
But the tube that went from her mouth to the respiration machine told him the truth.
This morning at four a.m. the hospital had called him. They had found Anna unconscious in her bed. She didn’t breathe anymore. They could save her at the last minute but her lungs had given up. Only through artificial respiration she was kept alive. The doctors weren’t able to tell if she would even wake up ever again.
Aki had been sitting there during the last hours, staring at her and hoping that she would open her eyes but nothing had happened.
Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around and saw a dark haired woman in her mid-forties.
“You must be Aki, I guess,” she said with a strong New York accent.
“Mrs. …?” he asked but she interrupted him.
“Call me Rachel!”
Aki got up to shake her hand but she pulled him close and hugged him tightly.
“I wish we could have met under different circumstances,” she sighed, “thank you for taking care of my baby!”
Aki leaned his head against her shoulder, some tears rolled over his cheeks. Being held in her warm embrace made him feel like he finally didn’t have to pretend to be the strong one anymore.
“But I failed miserably,” he sobbed.
Rachel caressed his back.
“No, you didn’t! You’ve been by her side since this happened, there’s nothing more you could have done!”
“If I just would have been here last night,” he whispered.
Rachel backed up and put her hands on Aki’s shoulders. She looked into his eyes.
“Aki, there wouldn’t have been anything you could have done! This is not your fault! You wouldn’t have been allowed to sleep in her room anyways, so it wouldn’t have been any different!”
But Aki just stared at the floor. Rachel lifted his chin with her fingers.
“Look at me! This is not your fault, do you understand me?” she asked slowly.
Aki nodded and wiped the tears of his face.
“Do you want to be alone with her?” he asked.
Rachel smiled. “No, you can stay if you want. But you look like you should get something to eat and maybe splash some water into your face!”
“I’m not hungry.”
“But still, some fresh air will do you good! And don’t worry, I’ll call you as soon as anything happens.”
Aki looked at Anna, then at Rachel.
“Ok, I’ll be right back.”
“Take your time.”
Aki left and walked down the hall towards the cafeteria. But when he came closer and smelled the food, he felt sick and turned around. Maybe he should go outside for a moment. He went to the exit and stopped when he saw the waiting area. All his friends were sitting in a corner. Eero had Lina sitting on his lap and read a story to her. Hannah had placed her head on Pauli’s legs. They were all listening to what Eero was saying.
“What are you doing here?” Aki asked surprised and joined them.
Hannah sat up and stretched her arms.
“I wanted to visit Anna before going to work and Dr. Pallkoinen told me what has happened. So I informed the others and they all came here. But Ursula said that no one is allowed to see Anna!”
“Bullshit,” Aki grunted, “this nurse is really going on my nerves!”
“So how’s Anna?” Lauri asked.
Aki sank on an empty chair and sighed. Somehow he had already realized that there wasn’t much hope for Anna left but he struggled speaking it out loud.
He swallowed and searched for the right words.
“Not good. Not good at all. She can’t breathe on her own. There will be a final examination soon to check if there’s any hope but…”
He shook his head and stared at his hands.
No one said a word. They all were shocked.
“You mean she… will die?” Lauri whispered after a while.
Aki just nodded.
Lauri got up.
“I need a cigarette,” he mumbled and quickly disappeared through the front door.
When Aki rose his head again he saw his friends in tears. Hannah was lying in Pauli’s arms, Eero hugged his wife and daughter.
“I’m going back now,” Aki said, “you can come and see her when ever you want, don’t listen to Ursula.”
“Can we do anything for you?” Eero asked quietly.
Aki tried to smile.
Then he left.
Hannah got off her chair and took her jacket.
“I’ll be right back, gonna look how Lauri’s doing,” she explained and went outside.
She found him leaning against the wall of the building and blowing smoke into the air. He didn’t cry, he seemed all quiet.
Hannah stopped in front of him and looked at him with sad eyes.
“You know,” he whispered and stared into the sky, “I feel like I should cry or something but the tears just won’t come! All I wanna do is scream and break something! How can life be so unfair? Why does this have to happen to her? I’m just so incredibly angry!”
Hannah placed herself next to him and leaned his head against his shoulder.
“I know,” she sighed, “this just feels like a nightmare.”
They kept on standing there like without talking. Hannah couldn’t tell how long they stayed like this but suddenly Pauli joined them.
“They have checked Anna. Aki has asked us to come and see her.”
They all met in Anna’s room. No one said a word, they all just stood around the bed and looked at Anna.
“Hi, I’m Rachel, Anna’s mom,” Rachel introduced herself when she entered the room together with Dr. Pallkoinen. Then she cleared her throat and took Aki’s hand who was standing next to her.
“We have to tell you something. After another examination we got the final results. Anna is only living cause of the artificial respiration.”
She was interrupted by a sob of Bintia.
“As Anna has worked in hospitals herself she has always told me that she doesn’t want to be kept alive by machines.” She swallowed. “So Aki and I have decided to turn them off.”
Silence filled the room.
“No,” Lauri suddenly shouted, “how can you just pull the plug and let her die?”
Aki looked at him sadly.
“That’s what she wants,” he replied with cracking voice, “don’t think it’s easy for me!”
Hannah put her hand on his shoulder.
“You don’t have to defend yourself, Aki,” she said, “if that’s what Anna wants, it’s the right thing.”
Aki looked thankfully at Hannah.
“If you wanna say good bye to her, you can do so now,” Rachel told them.
They all stood motionless around the bed.
Then Pauli stepped forward and took Anna’s hand.
“Bye, Anna. It was great to know you. I hope you’re doing better where ever you are going now. And say hi to Scott if you seem him. Tell him, I hope he’s still practicing to play the guitar!” He softly stroked over her hand and put it back on the bed.
Hannah joined him, bend down and kissed her forehead.
“You know I’m gonna miss you,” she whispered.
Then she hid her face on Pauli’s shoulder and started to cry.
Pauli put his arm around her shoulder and backed up to leave some room for Eero and Bintia.
Eero placed Lina on the edge of the bed. He gently caressed Anna’s cheek and smiled.
“I’m glad you’ve been a part of our life if only for a short time though. You will always be with us in our hearts.”
Lina poked her little finger into Anna’s shoulder and laid her teddy bear on Anna’s chest.
“No sleep, Anna, kiss Teddy!” she told her.
“She can’t kiss Teddy now,” Bintia sobbed and picked up her daughter. “Say bye bye to Anna, darling!”
“Bye bye,” Lina babbled and waved at her.
Lauri stepped to the bed and looked at Anna. He didn’t know what to say. A million thoughts were running through his head, there was so much that still was unsaid. He wished he would have had more time together with Anna. Suddenly he regretted all the times when he had been mean to her, all the time he had wasted with stupid comments. A single tear ran over his cheek. He picked up Anna’s hands and softly kissed her fingertips. Then he bend forward and whispered into her ear so that no one else could hear him.
“I love you.”
He let her hand go and stepped back.
Aki sat down next to the bed.
“I think we should leave you alone for a while,” Rachel suggested and left the room together with the others.
Aki swallowed and looked at Anna.
“I know that this is what you want and I’m accepting it,” he told her, “but I don’t know how I can live without you. You are the love of my life, you’re my soul mate! You are all I need! But I also know that you want me to be strong and to live my life on. I so wish I could do this but it just hurts so much! I don’t want you to worry about me, one day I will be able to think back and be happy. But just not now.”
He sobbed the last words and hid his face on her chest. He could hear her heart beat, could feel her breathe.
How can she be almost dead if she still feels so alive? he thought. What if the doctors are all wrong?
He felt someone touching his back and sat back up straight.
Rachel looked questioning at him. Aki nodded. He kissed Anna’s forehead, got up and stepped back from the bed.
Rachel also kissed Anna’s forehead.
“Bye, my baby,” she whispered, then she joined Aki.
They held hands and looked at Anna. The room was filled with silence except for the constant beeping of the machine. Dr. Pallkoinen switched it off. She pulled the tube out of Anna’s mouth.
Anna breathed on a few times. Her chest moved up and down another time, a last rest of air left her mouth. Then it was over. Anna was gone.
Aki walked through the park. The sky was blue and the sun was shining brightly. Lots of people were sitting on blankets on the grass, talking and laughing. Some were playing football, kids were running around. Under a tree a few guys were sitting together, one was playing guitar, the other ones were listening to him.
Aki looked at him and smiled. This reminded him of himself and the band. They had been doing the same all the time a few years ago.
He walked on, searching for a nice spot to sit down.
Today was the day. He had been without Anna for one year now. And it had been a tough year.
After Anna’s death Aki had felt like falling into a deep black hole. Life didn’t make any sense to him anymore. Where was the sense of living on without her? He had almost given up.
But his friends didn’t let him.
All of them were missing Anna but they knew they had to be there for Aki now. They did everything for him they could and even if it meant just being with him and offering a shoulder to cry on.
The record company had urged to continue the tour and only four weeks later they were back on the road. Being back doing what he loved and having to work all the time was the best thing that could have happened to Aki. Not only that he was distracted but he also remembered that this was what he was living for. Travelling the world with his best friends and entertaining people with what he was doing. Slowly his spirits returned, he started to enjoy his life again.
Only sometimes, at night, in the darkness of the tour bus his feelings overwhelmed him. Then he cried himself to sleep, wishing Anna was there.
But somehow Aki learned to live with it. There had been that one day when he had realized it. It had been the first sunny day of the year. He was standing on his balcony and enjoyed the first warm sunbeams. A mild breeze blew over his face and caressed his skin. And suddenly he knew it. Anna would never come back, no matter how much he missed her. It felt like a knot inside of him had been untied. Wasn’t it better to think about her and be happy about the time he had been able to spent with her? It had just been a short time, of course, but it had been the best of his life!
From that day on the memories of Anna hurt less and less and Aki knew one day they wouldn’t hurt anymore at all.
Aki walked down a shady path when he suddenly saw a familiar face. Lauri was sitting under a tree, leaning against the trunk. He stared into the sky and seemed to be far away with his thoughts.
Aki let himself fall into the grass next to his friend. Lauri shrugged together. Aki grinned at him.
“What are you doing here?” Lauri asked surprised.
“I felt like coming here today as this used to be Anna’s favourite park,” Aki explained.
Lauri nodded and started to peel off a rest of black nail polish of his finger nails.
Lauri kept concentrating on his nails and swallowed. Then he rose his head and looked insecurely at Aki.
“I’m here for the same reason,” he replied silently.
Aki didn’t answer. He sat down more comfortable next to Lauri and leaned himself against the tree trunk.
“You know,” Lauri whispered, “I loved her.”
Finally he had said it. This had been on his mind all the time, he always had wanted to tell Aki about it. To let him know that he was feeling the same, that Aki wasn’t the only one suffering. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it, he hadn’t got the heart.
Lauri looked at his friend. He was just sitting there with closed eyes, his head leaned back.
“Aki?” Lauri softly touched his shoulder.
Aki opened his eyes and smiled.
“Did you really think I didn’t realize that?”
Lauri stared at him.
“We are best friends. I may not have been the most attentive person during the last year but I knew you were suffering, too. I know I haven’t been the only one who secretly cried at night. But you pretended to be the strong one to help me out and comfort me.”
He took Lauri’s hand.
“I’m so sorry, I’ve been a miserable friend. I should have been there for you as well.”
Lauri stared at him.
“Aren’t you angry? Or disappointed or something?”
Aki shook his head and smiled at him.
“Life’s too short to be angry about things like that!”
They hugged each other.
Lauri was relieved that he had finally talked about it. They sat next to each other, arm in arm and watched the other people in the park. Lauri leaned his head against Aki’s shoulder and sighed.
How came that Aki seemed to have accepted Anna’s death so much better than himself? Maybe because Aki had so many good memories to think back to?
And what do I have to think back to? Lauri thought. Stupid fights and missed opportunities! I so wish I could tell her that I’m sorry for behaving like an idiot most of the time!
“You know,” he said, “sometimes I’m angry at her mother that she took her with her. I mean, we don’t even have a grave we can go to.”
But Aki just smiled at him.
“What do we need a grave for? She will always be with us. I feel her in the warmth of the sun beams and in the wind if it touches my face! Sometimes I hear her voice in the rustling of the leaves or I see her face in the clouds.”
Lauri looked at his friend and suddenly he knew it, too. Anna would always be with them. In their hearts.