52. I Want To Tell You

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I want to tell you,
My head is filled with things to say.
When you're here,
All those words, they seem to slip away.


'Don't go, baby. Please?'

He gives me a smile. Warm, caring, genuine - you would think. It's the smile he saves for our stage shows, for the rich women in their fur coats and pearl necklaces that flirt with him in the club afterwards, for the photo shoots and TV appearances of bygone days.

I can't believe he'd go as low as this.

'I need you, Hannah. You know I do.'

'I'm late,' I tell him, firmly, and heave the holdall bag onto my shoulder. 'I've got to go now.'

'I know, but... Baby, please?'

Ricky stands leaning against the front door, holding his hands behind his back as he bars the exit. His voice is smooth, charming, luscious; the texture of honey. His body language is open and honest, shoulders relaxed, head slightly bowed, dark green eyes clear and earnest. He sighs silently and casts his eyes to the floor, dolefully. So sad, so heartbroken.

He's convincing, he's very convincing, but I've seen this routine one too many times.

'I need you, Hannah,' he repeats. 'I need you for the shows, but not just that... I need you here too, baby, at home, with me.'

I knew he would try to do something to stop me from going. I didn't think it would be quite this, but I suppose it makes sense. It's his last resort. The last arrow in his quiver.

He's gone through the usual repertoire already, but I was prepared for it.

I've made sure the house is clean and tidy. The fridge and cupboards are well stocked. He won't need to go out for anything. His clothes are laundered and ironed and hanging in wardrobes or folded away in drawers. I anticipated that whichever shirt I washed for him to wear at the show tonight, he would want a different one, so I washed and ironed all of them. I've been doing it for the last three days.

It didn't stop him complaining about everything of course. It didn't stop him from finding me more things I had to do before I could leave, making me already two hours late.

Complaining and sulking then turned into nastiness; threats and spiteful words. I was ready for all of that too. It fell on deaf ears, or at least, I pretended it did. A couple of times I thought he might be coming close to losing his temper and hitting me. He raised his hand once, but stopped himself.

And now, just as I am about to walk out the door, here's the last resort for Ricky West. The last thing he can think of to stop me.

I fold my arms over my chest. 'You will be fine, Ricky. I'm sure you can survive for two days without me.'

His sunny smile slips, just ever so slightly. 'What will I eat? You haven't left anything,' he says, childishly.

'There's food in the fridge and cupboards. Tonight you can eat at the club, and tomorrow... I don't know but I'm sure you can think of something. Why don't you take Joey out somewhere?'

A dark look crosses his face, but he quickly straightens his expression again to look sincere, sad and remorseful. 'It's not that though, baby. I know... I know I've hurt you...'

I frown.

'With all that... that stuff that happened, and I'm sorry, Hannah. Truly. I would never do anything to deliberately hurt you.'

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