After making his farewells to the rest of his friends, Tom climbed in the backseat of his rented car and told the driver to drop him off at a shop on Hillsleigh. The cold was keeping most people indoors so he was not afraid of running into any photographers or fans that night. The anger inside had burned up any effect the alcohol may have had on him so he needed something else. Going into the shop, Tom kept his head low and his voice quiet as he bought a pack of cigarettes. He had never smoked outside of the occasional night at a bar or pub but tonight he wanted the calming effect of the nicotine. Standing outside the shop, under the awning, Tom looked down the street towards number 35.
He was done with thinking things through and decided that now was the time to be rash. Lighting up the cigarette as he stalked down the street, he nearly knocked over a man walking his dog. He didn’t care in the least but apologized profusely none the less. Flicking the butt into the street, Tom punched the button for 35F and asked into the speaker, “Is it Covington now?” Fiona did not reply but buzzed him through.
He paced in the lift like a caged animal at the zoo and waited impatiently for the doors to open. He cared not for anyone else at this moment, just answers as he stomped down the hallway and banged on Fiona’s door. She opened it quickly and stepped back as he lunged inside.
“Moscow? Stockholm? You didn’t even leave the UK did you?” Tom screamed at her, slamming the door behind him. Fiona continued her retreat down the steps and into the living room, putting the arm chair between them.
“Tom, please. I can explain.”
“Explain? Explain? How the fuck are you going to explain that?” He continued to yell questions at her without a care if anyone heard him. Her eyes were wide and he could tell that she was afraid of him. Due to her attire, he could tell that she had just gotten home minutes before he buzzed her on the intercom. Still dressed in the black satin corset and garter belt, her legs were bare and a robe thrown over her shoulders. He was so angry he didn’t even notice that there were marks around her throat.
“I did go to Moscow and Stockholm. I just didn’t go for as long as I told you. I didn’t think that I would see you again. I didn’t know that you were going to be there tonight.” She tried reasoning with him. Tom was having none of it. All reason was gone as far as he was concerned. Fiona wrung her hands together and pleaded with him to keep his voice down. This only made him more angry.
“So is he what you were running back to? You lied to me! You said that you didn’t want a relationship and I believed you! I fucking trusted you Fiona! I stayed away from you, just as you asked only to be completely mortified at the sight of one of my best friends fucking you in front of a mirror!”
Fiona gasped and covered her mouth with her hand in horror. “You saw that?” she asked quietly.
“Oh yes, I saw. I saw everything. I saw you writhe and moan! I saw you close your eyes as he touched your cunt! I saw you come for him!” Tom screamed, pointing an accusatory finger at her. “So what was it? What, Captain Nicholls not good enough for you so you had to go fuck Sherlock Holmes? What makes him so special? Or better yet, why does he get to fuck you and I don’t?” Tom was beyond all control now. He had crossed the border into a dark place that he wasn’t sure if he could come back from until Fiona screamed back at him, “Because he paid me!”
The world went still and Tom thought for certain that he had heard her wrong.
“What did you just say?” He asked evenly, cocking his head slightly. Fiona straightened and repeated her words again, this time more quietly. “Because he paid me.” Tom was more confused than ever now. “I’m an escort. A call girl, a high class hooker, a prostitute, a whore. Call me what you like but the fact of the matter, is that I have sex with men for money.” Stunned that he had heard her correctly the first time, Tom still couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“What do you mean?” he asked, not sure if he really wanted to know what she meant.
“Please sit down and let me explain. “
“No thanks, I think I’ll stand.” He replied unfeelingly.
“Fine, I’ll sit.” She said as she sat gracefully on the far end of the couch away from him.
“About five years ago when e-books became really popular, the book shop was going down the tubes extremely fast. I couldn’t pay the rent here or for the shop, I couldn’t pay my employees and I owed a lot of money to the bank. So, I answered an advertisement in a newspaper for models wanted. It paid only a fraction of what I needed to make and I was two weeks away from getting evicted. I told all this to one of the girls and she told me that she knew of a way to make a lot more money. She introduced me to a man named Peterson and I told him my story. He said that he had a way to help me but it would take a lot of time and even more collateral. We struck a deal. I work for him as an escort for one year and he pays the rent on my apartment and anything else that I need. Whatever money that I make from the shop I keep and use to pay off the bank, pay the mortgage there and pay my employees. Whatever money that I make as an escort he keeps as profit. “
Tom let out a deep breath and crouched down. Rubbing his face with his hands he took a moment to absorb what Fiona had just told him. Looking up at her he asked, “So this is about money?” he asked rhetorically.
“Most things are nowadays.” She replied sarcastically. He gave a little chuckle and sat down on the steps. “You could’ve told me. I would have helped you. You didn’t have to do this.” He said, his head hanging defeatedly.
Fiona drew in a deep breath and said, “There’s one other thing.” Tom looked up at her but said nothing. “I had to sign over the deed to High Winds as well.” Tom gaped at her and ran his fingers through his hair. He was in utter disbelief.
“This can’t be happening.” He said to himself quietly. He looked up at her for a moment and let out a short laugh before saying, “This isn’t real. It can’t be. This sounds like a script I would read through for consideration.” Fiona scoffed and replied,”Well, this is real. And this isn’t a Hollywood script. This really does happen and it happened to me.”
Tom wasn’t sure what to believe anymore. This vivacious, intelligent, beautiful woman sitting across the room from him was a prostitute. He wasn’t sure if this was a very convincing lie or a very improbable truth. Either way, he still wanted her badly even through his anger and betrayal.
“Tom, I’m sorry that I lied but this is what real life is for me now. I never wanted to hurt you. You have to understand that I’m trying to save a legacy here. I could handle losing the shop but I couldn’t handle losing High Winds. All of that history and all of those memories there. I want to preserve all of that and maybe make a few new ones of my own. And if this is what I have to endure to see that dream through til the end, then so be it. With that being said, I need you to leave. A clause in my contract states that I cannot entertain men unless they are paying clients that have been cleared through the agency.”
Fiona stood and walked to the kitchen without looking at him and took a cup out of the cupboard before filling it with water. He watched her take a drink and noticed the bruising around her throat. He wished that he could’ve been the one to do that. Her voice broke through his thoughts. “It’s time for you to go Tom.” She said shakily. “So when we were at High Winds, that meant nothing to you?” He asked incredulously. She straightened and looked straight through him. She wasn’t the woman that he thought she was. “No, it didn’t. You were entertainment and that was all.”
Tom was in shock now. He stood and made a step towards her in the kitchen before she walked around the other side of the bar and back out into the living room. “You don’t mean that.” He said, still trying to get a grasp on what was going on. “I’m afraid that I do.” She replied. Tom had spent the better part of a year trying to deny the desire and feelings that he had for her. Now, she was telling him that it was all a lie. He let out a deep breath and pushed back the darkness inside of him a little more. Looking at her across the room, he couldn’t help but picture himself in that chair back at the party, fucking her in front of the mirror, instead of Benedict. He didn’t want to leave her.
“Mr. Hiddleston, I’m afraid that our time together is now at an end. I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavours and hope that you find true happiness. “ Fiona stood straight and gestured for him to leave. Tom felt completely betrayed that the one woman who had been able to see him for who he really was, instead of just a name on a cinema screen, was now standing in front of him, asking him to leave. Looking down at the floor, everything that he had been through over the last nine months came flooding back to him in a wave of regret. He had to ask her one question though. Taking a deep breath, Tom asked slowly “Do you love me?” Fiona stayed silent but he saw a flicker of something in her silver eyes before she cut them away from him. Tom thought for sure she would say “Yes.” And she would cry and fall into his arms and they would figure this out together. When she looked back at him, the flicker was gone and a completely different creature met his eyes. “Love is a commodity that I can no longer afford, literally.” Tom couldn’t believe what he was hearing from her and he immediately wanted her to hurt as badly as he did. She had played him like a fool for nearly a year. Every word, every look, every touch was really poison. He went into defense mode. Chuckling, he replied, “Spoken like a true whore.” Fiona swallowed hard but did not bat an eye at the comment. That was what really hurt the most. Turning on his heel, Tom stomped out into the hallway and let the door slam shut behind him. As soon as he did, he heard a glass shatter and a muffled cry come from behind the door. He stood and listened to her sob and scream and sniffle before making his way back down the corridor and to the lift. He still had enough hope left that she would come running after him, out into the now falling snow and beg him back. But that hope was extinguished when he found himself wandering around Notting Hill at 2:00 in the morning. He was drenched from the snow but he didn’t feel cold. He was on fire inside. He didn’t even realize what time it was until Luke rang his mobile and was in a fit. Apparently, when his driver returned the car to the car park near his apartments, he had forgotten his coat and the driver went to take it to him, thinking that he had taken a taxi back, but Tom had not gotten back home. Worried, the driver rang Luke who in turn, rang everyone and their cousin trying to find out where he was because he had not answered the 14 calls Luke made to his mobile. In a daze, Tom told Luke where he was and a car was sent for him immediately. Tom didn’t even remember the ride home or the lift ride up to his apartment. He sat on the floor of the shower and stared at the tiles as the hot water warmed him up. He didn’t know what to do now. What was life going to be like without Fiona McKellan?