*WARNING: This blog is intended for a mature audience. Its contents may include adult situations, violence and sensitive issues that some people might find disturbing. Please read at your own discretion.

16 March 2015

A Pair of Brown Eyes: Chapter 28

One year ago on Moonlight and Sims...

Author's note: I would normally put the A/N last of all, but this time I'm going to do it the other way around, so as not to spoil your reading. This is a very, very special chapter --all happy and sweet-- for a very special day because... IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!! (and, since I live like 6+ hours ahead of many of you, I mean the 14th) :-D.

Do you remember Chapter 18 of A Pair of Brown Eyes? The one with the festival, Claire playing "Dawn in the Mist", the paper lanterns...? I'm sure you do. Well, so... we're back in that time of the year ;-), and, while I can't, unfortunately, promise you this chapter will be as happy as last year's, I hope you'll like it anyway :-).


"Andrew, this is a charming surprise!" Ethel's heartfelt welcome soothed Andrew's spirits, if partially, but he had not a mind to respond to her pleasantries with some of his own. "Are you wearing no coat?", she went on. "You must be freezing. Please, do come in and sit by the fire." He, obediently, followed his sister to her sitting room, still lost in his silence.

In fact, it wasn't until they were comfortably seated in the sofa that he uttered a word. "Ethel, what reasons could bring a woman– to leave her– husband, would you say?"

"Seriously, Andrew, don't tell me that's the best conversation starter you have at hand. What happened with good old 'Hello, dear, how are Jack and the children doing lately?'"

Ethel's teasing would usually have met with his amusement, and he would have responded to it with that mocking condescension only elder brothers know how to master. But not today. Today it was unendurable for him to speak in terms of fun. "You're right, I'm sorry. But, please, humour me this once. It's about a business of the utmost importance, and I can't figure it out on my own. Will you just answer my question?"

Ethel sniffed him. "Have you been drinking? Is it something the matter?" Her voice had lost its previous brightness, and sounded worried. Andrew, unfortunately, had nothing to offer in the way of an answer; he was too busy trying to keep the room from moving all around him.

She didn't mind his silence, lost in her own thoughts as she looked. "About your question...", she said, after a while. "Why would a woman leave her husband... Let's see, several things come to mind... Perhaps she's ceased to love him, or they've had an argument gone horribly wrong..." Ethel made a pause in her speech. "Oh, I know!", she added all of a sudden, and pointed at some invisible point in space. "Picture this! She, whoever she might be, has fallen in love with another man and has arranged for a secret elopement with him." Ethel seemed well-pleased with her inventiveness, but Andrew was not. Plausible as those explanations were, they lacked something. None of them could be easily applied to Claire's case; even he, in his inebriated state, could see that!

However, Ethel had already helped him: ruling out all impossible scenarios would bring them closer to the truth. The truth, the truth... For the first time ever, he was beginning to see the truth behind Claire's –frequently awkward and exaggerated– reactions... Besides, she had resorted to every imaginable means to ensure her estrangement from her husband: one wouldn't do that over a mere trifle.

Andrew was arriving somewhere.

When his sister, obviously sensing his turmoil, put a comforting hand on his knee, he found the leverage he needed to ask her directly what was on his mind. "Ethel," he should have looked her in the eye as he spoke, but his muscles didn't allow for such a movement. His voice, for its part, betrayed a deep emotion. "Ethel, and what reasons could a woman have to– to leave her husband, change her name, cross an entire ocean and make everyone believe she is a widow?"

"Wait a minute! Oh, my! Claire? Are you talking about– about Claire?" Ethel's eyes searched his, but he kept them fixed to the floor. He merely nodded.

At last, he found the words to accompany his previous nod. "Did you know her husband is still alive?"

"Alive?" Andrew would never forget the change in Ethel's tone, the quivering in her voice, the trembling of the hand still resting on his knee. "I had not the slightest idea. If I had known that, I would have told you straight away."

"What would you have told me?" Andrew was confused.

"Well, she refused to give me the details but..., she once intimated that her marriage had been far from– happy. She made me promise not to tell you."

A frightful piece of information, yet not altogether shocking! Not shocking at all to a man used to see... certain things in his line of work. Images of a number of his patients began to fill his mind. Images of those women who wouldn't consent to have their bodies examined, a limping here, a black eye there. All of them married, all of them failing to give an adequate answer as to the cause of their injuries, all of them showing a most peculiar mixture of emotions...

It was too late for Andrew to keep to his happy world of ignorance any longer; another door was now opened up, and he needed to know for sure. He took Ethel's hand, trying to keep his own steady. He made the effort to look up at her, and upon doing it he noticed her parched lips and intense stare. He swallowed hard. "When Claire told you about it, how would you describe her feelings, her attitude...?"

"Well, she looked sad, of course, but, now that you mention it, there was something more, something strange, as if she were..."

"Ashamed? Guilty? Afraid?", interrupted Andrew. When Ethel, frowning, nodded, he decided to pressure on. "And have you noticed any other puzzling things in her behaviour?" She nodded again, but didn't say a word. "For example, have you ever seen her body?"

"No." Ethel didn't elaborate her answer any further, but that one syllable was all it took. The silence that followed told Andrew what he needed to know: that they were both thinking along the same lines. A couple of minutes afterwards, Ethel spoke again. "If it's true Claire has done everything you claim she has, that's not what I'd call leaving a husband."

"It's... fleeing from him!" Andrew finished her remark, a knot in his stomach. They both jumped up from the sofa. "Oh, my God! What have I done? I put her right into his hands!" He reached for the entrance. "I must find her." And that said, he went out of Ethel's home, and he was faced once again with the black cold of the night.


No! It must not be! No, he would find her, and then he would discover there was another –happier– explanation for it. Surely it was just his dejection playing odd tricks upon his mind.

As he went on, however, Andrew came to a distressing realisation: that, much as he would have loved to be mistaken, deep down he knew he was right. For the first time in their acquaintance, he felt he could explain even Claire's most awkward of reactions. In the light of this new idea –and to his extreme vexation– her erratic behaviour made... sense: how she always seemed to be apologising for all sorts of things, most of which weren't even her fault to begin with; or how she, when in the company of male, would invariably keep to herself, her eyes cast upon the floor, as a child ready to be reprimanded.

But it was the remembrance of two particular events that triggered the most intense emotions. One of them concerned his dislike for sugar in his tea: they were at a coffee-house, she was serving their drinks, and he had failed to inform her of his particular taste. Oh, the look upon her face when she discovered their misunderstanding...! Trivial and easy to fix as the mistake was, Claire had acted as if it was the worst crime in the world. And it wasn't the first nor the last time he had seen her frightened. Because...

Because the other event playing out before him was that of their first kiss: how her body had reacted in various puzzling ways, all of them happening in quick succession; how her lips had responded as those of a woman who's never been kissed before... And, yes, that look again; one that spoke of shock as well as fear.

Fear, always fear, driving her whole life! It was now clear to Andrew. She was scared when she had thought her shy; scared when he had thought her grieving; and scared when he had thought her fickle. But that was about to change: he must, and he would, find her. Hopefully before it was too late...


Author's note.- As I already said, I've been sick for the better part of February (I'm completely recovered by now, in case anyone is interested), so it was impossible for me to publish this chapter on time. It may not seem much after the massive delay, but I wouldn't call it a filler either: after all, Andrew had been asking me for an "epiphany", and I simply couldn't deny him ;-).

Anyway, "stuff" will happen in the next one, that I can promise you. And if you don't believe me :-P, here's a little teaser for you ;-).


  1. First: Happy belated birthday! Hope you enjoyed your day! And glad to hear you're feeling better.

    Now on to the chapter. YES!!!! It's about time Andrew had all the pieces click. Everything makes much more sense to him now and he's clear headed enough to think straight. Now let's just hope he finds her before it's too late.

    1. You are right, it was about time. It took poor Andrew long enough to put all the pieces together.

      Thanks a lot for your good wishes :-), and sorry for being so late answering your comment.

  2. ¡Muchas felicidades! Espero que hayas disfrutado mucho de tu día :) Un beso enorme!

    1. ¡Muchas gracias! Lo disfruté debidamente :-). Perdón por haber tardado tanto en contestar :-(.

  3. ~ Sorry I am late, but, I do hope you had a very happy Birthday,buy yourself a treat, I give you permission to do so,& enjoy & have fun, a Birthday only comes once a year! <3
    ~ At least Andrew is now on the right track, & even in his state of inebriation, he now had a vital clue that made Clare's behavior make sense to him.
    ~ Even in his dulled state of mind, it all became so much clearer why she did the things she did or acted the way she did, the puzzle pieces that were missing
    have now been placed, & give a more detailed picture, one that makes more sense about the way Claire was!
    ~ Thank you, for sharing, I am so glad you are all better, but I still need more! Loved it BTW! (",)

    1. Having that chat with his sister has done him much good, and has helped him see everything clearer. What is left to find out is what he will do now that the puzzle is solved... ;-).

      Thank YOU for reading :-D, and for your good wishes. And so sorry for being so late commenting.

  4. Aww...
    I just recently found your story but now i'm all up to date. I love it! The setting, the characters, everything.

    Also i hope your birthday was great! <3

    1. Aww, thank you, I'm glad you love it :-D.

      And I did have a great birthday! :-) <3