I had been advised not to sign up as a combat nurse. I still remember the look on the older woman's face as she told us the horrors she had already seen. None of us could wrap our heads around how the older women appeared to be in her late forties but was barely thirty five. They said that's what the war would do to us. Take our youth. Rip us of our faith. Of course the men were worse off than us. There nightmares would last the rest of their lives. Eyes closed and all they can hear are explosions and the screams of their brothers. When I wake in a cold sweat I always search for the light. It's an urgency to make sure I'm not covered in a shoulders blood again desperately trying to sew him up. Desperately trying to send him home to that happy looking family in the crumpled up pictures. I think I left myself there. Somewhere a few miles from the trenches in Paris. My husband wasn't the same either. He got colder. Meaner. Some would say he lost his humanity. My mother begged me to leave. Begged me to move as far from Camden as I could, but I didn't listen. I never listened. I should learn to listen.
"How many times did you try to call?" I yawned into the receiver trying to light the candle beside the phone. It appeared to be only half past five by the way the moon trickled in through the window. "You know I'm not exactly a light sleeper." His low chuckle makes me smile. I've missed his voice. Missed the way his hand cups my cheek when he kisses me. How his beard tickles my chin. How he talks to our dog like it's able to reply.
"Thought he might a killed ya, he workin ya late?" Alfie questions. "Can't have me wife dying of exhaustion now can I?"
"He doesn't work me any harder than you do," I tease knowing it'll get to him. "How long ya keeping me here fur Alf?"
"Long as I need to, ya know I won't let nothin happen to ya Zel," Alfie reassures me. "Miss ya though. Cyril to."
"He tried to look into me. Couldn't find a thing. Guessing that's your doing?"
"He won't trace ya back to me if that's what's worrying ya." Alfies voice grew stern. "Won't let nothin happen to ya love." I could hear the uncertainty in his voice. The worry that he tried not to let anyone notice. We both knew I was as good as dead if Thomas found out who I was married to. I didn't know there history. I chose to leave that between them, but Alfie knew my history with the Shelby family. Arthur senior killed my father and my brothers. Some problem with debt. A debt he didn't want to pay. "Zelda?"
"There's someone at the door I'll call later." I hung up the phone grabbing my dressing coat and the gun off the side table. No one knew I was here. Or at least no one was supposed to. I slowly peaked through the door confusion washing over me when I found Thomas Shelby looking rather annoyed at how long it was taking me to open the door. "Can I help you?"
"I came to apologize," he stated handing me my coat. I hadn't even realized I left it I had left in such a hurry last night. "Thought you might be missing this. It's not exactly warm here."
"You have nothing to apologize for Mr. Shelby," I respond. "Can I offer you tea fur coming all this way just to bring me my coat?"
"I'm not really a tea drinker."
"Well how could I turn that down." I lead Tommy into my small living room topped him up a glass and excused myself to go put on more appropriate clothing. When I came back, I couldn't help but notice how comfortable he looked. He was flipping through the paper I had laying out on the table. His hat and coat neatly tossed over my coat rack. "Are you not planning on staying long?" Tommy questioned his eyes locked on the unpacked boxes in the corner.
"It's the Gypsy in me. I can never stay in one place for long," I take a seat across from him sipping at my own cup of liquor. "My mother." I answer the question before it was asked. "Very kind hearted women. Not sure how I turned out the way I did when she was my role model."
"Are you saying you don't have a kind heart Ms Berke?" Thomas smirks.
"I'm saying it could be kinder. Couldn't we all be a little kinder?" He didn't kill my father. He didn't pull the trigger on my brothers. Yet here I was staring at him as if he played a hand in it. Was I this cruel. Was I making a mistake. "Do you have whisky before sunrise will all your employees Thomas?"
"No. Just the ones I want to know more about."