She was a little girl again, and her nanny was telling her goodbye because Esther thought her too soft on her daughter.
It pains me to tell you this, my sweet girl, but you have to know, to protect yourself.
The Devil wears many faces, and his favorite masks are often those we’re inclined to trust.
The scene faded, and Diana was suddenly in Dr. Owens’ clinic, and the other woman was looking at her gravely.
Do you know what the varicella-zoster virus is, Diana?
It’s a strain of virus that causes children to have chicken pox or adults to have shingles.
But for someone with HIV, in the very worst cases, it can cause internal bleeding in the brain.
It can result in death.
That’s why you have to be just as careful with your health as Matthijs is.
Something that can only make you cough or sneeze could be enough to kill him.
When she finally woke up, she was in the hospital, and tears were rushing down her cheeks.
Because now she understood.
The Devil wears many faces, her nanny had once told her.
And it used to be that his favorite mask was that of her mother’s face.
But now, it was something else.
Now, he sought to harm the professor, and the Devil’s mask was of Diana’s face.
The moment the professor saw Diana’s name flash on his screen and his phone started ringing, he knew.
He already knew.
He fucking knew.
And there it goddamn was.
The defeated sound of her voice.
Like she had already made up her mind to leave him.
It made him want to drive his fist into the wall, made him fucking want to roar to the heavens, WHY, GOD, WHY?
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?
But because he loved her, his first thought was for her and of her.
“Are you safe?” he asked harshly.
“Answer the goddamn question!”
“I am,” she choked out.
His tension eased, just enough for him to breathe. “Where are you?”
“It d-doesn’t matter.”
“I almost killed you.” A sob broke out from the other end of the line. “I almost k-killed you, and for n-no reason at all.” And after that, a jumble of words came out in a rush. All of it should’ve been incoherent, and she might as well have been speaking in tongues. But somehow he understood. Somehow, he understood every fucking thing that transpired…just as he understood that she thought she was doing the right thing now.
“I love you, Matthijs. I love you so much, you know that, right?”
“I would never hurt you, I can’t ever bear the thought that I could ever hurt—”
“Shut the fuck up.”
A cry spilled out of her. “I love you—”
“Then stop saying it like you’re saying goodbye,” he snarled. “We can fix this. We will fix this. As soon as the hospital clears you, I’ll come get you—”
“Stop saying you’re fucking sorry and just say you’ll stay—”
“I can’t. I just can’t. I love you. You’re my life.”
“You goddamn promised—”
“I’m sorry. I just don’t…I just can’t…I just want you to keep living.”
The line went dead.
And just like that…
It was over.
The professor threw his phone against the wall and watched it smash to pieces.
Jeremiah fucking 29:11.
You fucking promised, remember?
You made me believe.
You made me hope.
So the ball is fucking back on your court, GOD.
Tell me what to say.
Show me what to do.
Anything He asked, Matthijs would do.
He had no choice.
No fucking choice.
Because he had already forgotten how it was to breathe when she was not with him.
This Guy’s In Love With You by 101 String Orchestra
In her desperate need to keep him safe and protected, to keep him alive, Diana had gone as far as meeting with her lawyer and having him write Matthijs a gentle warning. Respect my client’s request or a restraining order shall be filed against you, for which we will be obliged to cite your illness as basis for harassment.
To which the professor had simply turned the letter over and scrawled back in reply, Lamentations 3:28-33.
Let him sit alone in silence
when it is laid on him;
let him put his mouth in the dust—
there may yet be hope;
let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.
For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men.
Her lawyer had recited the words out loud, his voice filled with puzzlement. “What’s that supposed to mean? I don’t get it.”
But I do, Diana thought, and the urge to laugh and cry was upon her once again.
Who would’ve thought this was possible, for a scoundrel like you to quote the Bible just to woo and entice a girl to come back?
Seeing that her poor lawyer was virtually scratching his head at his cryptic response, she said softly, “He’s saying he’s going to wait me out.”