The last few weeks with Christian have been amazing. Things have gone back to normal between us at the Unit, both of us falling back into a synchronised harmony, each knowing what the other needs without words. And away from work, when we're in the private confines of Christian's flat, he's been so patient and understanding with me. He hasn't pushed me to take things further than I'm comfortable with, and he's been trying to see things from my perspective, learning what it's like for me to reconcile these two parts of myself.
It hasn't been easy. So many times I've almost talked myself into walking away. I've tried to convince myself to pack a bag and just disappear, before this thing between us gets any more out of control, and people end up getting hurt. But every time my thoughts head down this dark path, I find myself outside of his flat, and I realise that I could never do it. I'm in too deep, already, to make myself walk away. And that thought had scared me at first.
I've started re-reading the Qur'an, and on this read through, I'm starting to see things in a different light. Passages which I originally thought to condemn this type of relationship instead seem to accept it. And each passing day, I'm more and more convinced that Allah loves me in spite of my flaws. I know I'll have to speak to an Imam before I can be totally at peace with the whole thing, but until I understand myself a little bit more, that's a conversation for another day.
It's been two days since I last saw him; Mum called an inescapable family dinner to discuss the business, new opportunities coming our way, and, to my dismay, my love life. I hadn't been able to make it to him that night, a quick apologetic text was the last contact I had with him, and I realise despite myself that I'm starting to miss him. He's not answered any of my calls or texts; he's probably annoyed that I cancelled on him. I've been round to his flat a couple of times, since he's nowhere to be found at work, but each time I've ventured there, the blue door I've now associated with my happy place has been firmly locked in place.
I'm walking through the market, absentmindedly humming to myself as I head to the Unit, when my head whips round involuntarily at the mention of his name.
"...Christian's feeling ok?" Ronnie Mitchell is talking to Jane, who looks a little harassed. I slow my footsteps, eager to listen in on their conversation.
"He's a bit battered and bruised, and he can't face going back to his flat, of course..."
"What's happened?!" My feet have carried me nearer to them both, my mouth opening without even thinking about it. "Something's happened to Christian?"
"Didn't you hear?" Ronnie turns to me, while Jane narrows her eyes at me in suspicion. She hasn't been round the Unit much recently; she probably thinks Christian and I still hate each other. "Christian was attacked in his flat. Roxy said they think it was an attempted burglary, but..."
The rest of Ronnie's words are lost to me as it feels like the ground has opened up and swallowed me whole. My heart rate starts to accelerate, and I realise I'm struggling to breathe. I can't bare the thought of something happening to Christian, and the fact that I haven't been there for him is torture. As the thoughts race around in my head, one of Ronnie's words comes to the forefront of my mind. Roxy. She said something about Roxy. I realise with a pang of jealousy, and sadness, that it seems Christian has told Roxy of his ordeal, but has chosen to leave me completely in the dark about the whole thing. He's angry with me. And, for once, I have no idea what I've done.
"Where is he?" The words come out faster and louder than I meant them to, and both women glare at me for interrupting their conversation. "He's not in his flat..."
"He couldn't bare to stay there, so he's staying in a hotel." Jane softens at my apparent concern for her brother. "We told him to stay with us, but he was adamant he wanted to be alone."
"Where?" My tone must have left no room for arguments, and I turned and ran towards the Tube station as soon as Jane uttered the name of his hotel, my earlier plan to head to the Unit to help out Dad and Tam all but forgotten. I need to know that he's ok, but, more than that, I need to know why he decided not to tell me what had happened to him. I need to know that we're ok.