Orders – Part 5
read Part 4 here
They couldn’t tell anyone of their plans. They packed and said goodbyes as if planning to return. For the last week, Arinna took part in military training trials at the gym. They were not the only ones going home. The embassy would be emptied to a bare bones staff. Many nervous faces hurried down the hallways or woke at dawn to go to the gym to build muscles gone flaccid with days spent filing paperwork at desks.
Avoiding Byran was the most difficult part. Between his offer and their friendship, Arinna didn’t trust that Byran wouldn’t sort out they weren’t going home. So after talking it out with Michael, they decided she would tell him a few hours before they departed. She simply had to put him off till then.
The embassy remained in a heightened security state, which kept Byran out. She left at odd hours, spending as much time on the grounds as she could. She didn’t answer his calls. Finally, she sent a note to his house. Arinna left Michael to finish loading their bags and walked for the last time through Madrid to meet Byran at a park. He was waiting for her, pacing his agitation off in quick bursts.
“Arinna, thank god, you can’t seriously be going back there?” He searched her eyes, holding onto her arm as if afraid she’d walk away.
“No. We aren’t going,” she said.
The anxiousness drained out of Byran. He pulled her down onto a bench, holding her hands. “We? So Michael is staying too?” Arinna rolled her eyes. “How? The embassy will round up stragglers. I’ve seen the orders.”
“We’ve seen them too. I took a job with Eldridge on the UK Defense Council with NATO. He’s made arrangements to get us to Brussels tonight.”
“Eldridge? You can’t be serious. He is unscrupulous… he doesn’t care about you! He will use you to get himself a promotion.”
“Fine! I don’t care if he is using me, just that he is helping us stay.”
“I could help you,” Byran said, gently touching her cheek. “You know I would help you.”
“And Michael too?” Byran glanced away. She kept him from trying to come up with an answer. “Byran, I can’t be with you.”
“Why? Because you are married? Arinna, I care about you and want to be with you. I think you care about me.”
“I do care… but not enough. Not enough to tolerate who you are, your little affairs, how you flirt with every girl. We wouldn’t last and I’m not going to lose Michael for that.”
Byran stared at her. “I want to make up for that night. I realize it bothered you, but you’ve kept avoiding me. I—”
“Byran, no. You don’t even understand why it bothers me. How can you make up for that? How will you know not to do it again? Michael and I are leaving. I’m here to say goodbye.”
“You are making a mistake.”
“Maybe. But I’m avoiding several others. Seriously, Byran, how could you see us working out once your desire is filled? Is there anything beyond that for either of us?”
“Let me fight for this. I have tried to win you!”
“Win me? Do you think you could win me? How? You have a job you got through your family, one that I don’t think you show up for but to pick up women. You have no idea what it means to be faithful. I would never betray Michael. And even if that weren’t so, what have you ever done to recommend yourself to me? Why would I ever choose you?” She shook her head, tossing away the idea she had of a tearful and sweet goodbye. Things with Byran never went as planned. “Goodbye, Byran.”
Arinna left without looking back.