She was walking along the road in her wedding dress. It was raining heavily and in the dark it was almost invisible. Suddenly a car appeared on the road and at the last moment, almost hitting the girl, stopped abruptly.
– What are you? Crazy??? What are you doing here??? What if I hit you now? – Ulyana jumped out of the car and attacked the girl, but she suddenly began to fall, and Ulya barely managed to pick her up in her arms.
– Quiet, quiet, well … come on, let’s go to the car … – the woman with difficulty sat the stranger in the front seat of the car.
– My God, what is it? – now Ulyana was soaked through and shivering from cold and nervous tension.
She took out a thermos of hot tea, splashed it, took a few sips, then handed it to the girl:
– Here, have a drink. You’ll get warm. What’s your name?
–A-a-arina-a-a,– she said, her teeth chattering.
– OK. And I’m Ulyana. Where were you going, Arina, looking like this?
– To the river…There’s a river nearby… I’m going there…
– I don’t want to live anymore… Ulyana looked at her strange new friend and shook her head:
– I don’t believe you. – She started the car and turned around. – Now we will go to my place, you will bathe, change clothes and sleep. And then you decide whether to live or not…
Arina looked at Ulyana, then turned to the glass, on which raindrops were flowing in streams. Or maybe it was tears? Her tears? Yes, that’s how she cried the day she became an orphan.
A ten-year-old girl stood and watched as some people threw shovels of earth into two graves at once, in which her parents had crashed in a car. Soon the crowd of sympathizers began to melt and Arina, bursting into tears, stayed there with her aunt Varya, her mother’s cousin. The aunt took the girl by the hand and pulled her to the exit from the cemetery:
– Come on, you’ll spend the night with me today, and tomorrow we’ll go…
– Where to?
– Well, you know, I can’t take you in. I have no conditions … – Varvara hesitated, then added: – Everything has already been decided, from tomorrow you will live in a shelter.
And again Arina shed tears, only now looking at the back of her aunt going home. She, as promised, took the girl to an orphanage and left her there, never visiting her in all the following years.
How Arina lived all this time is not difficult to imagine. She was a pretty girl, the boys constantly sought her favor and were not always shy and gallant. And only Denis’s defense helped Arina avoid new psychological traumas.
He was three years older than her, had lived in the orphanage since birth and enjoyed authority among the children. Even when he left the walls of the orphanage, Arina felt safe, besides, now she could stand up for herself.
Denis served in the army, returned to his hometown and got a job as a mechanic in an auto repair shop. And then, on the day of Arina’s graduation, he came for her with a large bouquet of flowers.
From that day they began to live together, and a year later Denis started talking about the wedding. He really loved Arina, and she was so used to him that she couldn’t imagine herself without him at all. But that was until she met Sergei.
One day he came to the cafe where she worked as a waitress and asked her to bring him a bottle of expensive cognac. Then he just sat and drank, apparently pouring some grief. Arina periodically brought him a snack. At one point, he grabbed her hand:
– Sit down!
– Excuse me?
– Sit next to me. Have a drink, I’m buying. And tell me: what do you women want?
– Sorry, we are not supposed to stay at one table for a long time and even more so to sit down. I apologize.
Arina walked away, but all evening she looked with sympathy at this handsome, well-dressed man. Some kind of hopelessness froze in his eyes and so wanted to hug and pity him…
– Arina, what are you doing? I’m calling you, I’m calling… – Katya came up and pulled her friend’s sleeve.
– Sorry, I was thinking.
Katya followed Arina’s gaze and turned to her in surprise:
– What are you? Have a crush on him? What about Denis? You have such a good one…
– Come on, what a fool! I’m not into anyone. I just feel sorry for the person. And Denis… well, Denis, he’s ordinary…
At that time, Arina’s phone rang, it was Denis, he seemed to know what was being said about him.
– Arisha, listen, I’m not coming over tonight. My army friend has arrived and we want to hang out with him, you know, to sit, drink, remember the service. You take a taxi, okay?
– All right, Denis.
– What’s wrong with your voice? Something happened?
– No, it’s all right. I’m just tired. I’ll come home and go to bed early.
– Okay, honey. Then I won’t call so as not to wake you up. I’ll text you, and you’ll answer if you don’t sleep. I kiss you, my love.
– And I love you…
After finishing her work, Arina went outside, but after taking a few steps to the taxi stand, she saw the same man who was sitting at her table today. He was standing next to a big black Jeep and trying to get the key into the lock. Arina thought about it, went over and took the keys from him.
– You can’t drive in this condition. Let me call a taxi instead.
He looked at her for a long time, wondering who it was, and then nodded obediently:
– Come on!
Arina got into a taxi with him and asked:
– Where should I take you?
The man paused, then gave the address. It turned out to be very close, in a prestigious new area, where people lived who did not know difficulties with money. Arina paid the taxi driver, asked him to wait, and then helped the stranger up to the apartment.
– Well, here you are at home, goodbye! – she said, but he suddenly held her hand:
– Don’t go away! I feel so bad today!
Arina looked into his gray eyes again and … remained … the girl had never seen such a situation. She walked as if through a museum, looking at the rich decoration, admiring the flowers and exquisite furniture. And the bathroom? There was just a huge Jacuzzi and Arina really wanted to soak in the hot water, relaxing in the fragrant foam…
She returned to the room where the landlord was sitting on the sofa, leaning back in a relaxed way. Arina went out onto the panoramic glass balcony, sat down in a cozy armchair and began to watch the twilight descending on the city.
Myriads of lights scattered in front of her with multicolored stars, and she seemed to float above this unforgettable splendor. Arina felt as if she had fallen into a strange fairy tale. How much time had passed she didn’t know… The man was still asleep, and she went into the bathroom to wash up.
Wiping her face with a soft, gently smelling towel, she felt some movement behind her back: Arina turned sharply and saw the familiar look of gray eyes. And he reached out, turned on the water, which quickly began to fill the Jacuzzi, and then began to unbutton Arina’s blouse.
Passion instantly captured them both. Arina has never felt so desirable and brave. For a long time they could not get enough of each other, and then, tired, they lay together in the fragrant water, looking at their reflection in the mirrored ceiling.
– What’s your name? The gray–eyed man suddenly asked her. She laughed:
– Arina. And you?
– Vlad. You know, this is my first time…
She turned to him, and he kissed her swollen lips.
Then they had a snack and again Arina closed her eyes with bliss, everything that was on the table in front of her was so delicious. And only in the morning they fell asleep in each other’s arms, drowning in Vlad’s huge soft bed.
The next day, Katerina, meeting Arina in front of the cafe, tilted her head in surprise: something subtly changed in her friend, and she immediately felt it with a sensitive female heart. Arina seemed to have matured, or rather, reborn. Overnight, she became incredibly graceful, mysterious and somehow alluring. I wanted to look at her and look at her.
– What happened to you? Katya asked.
“With me?” Arina turned her head regally and casually shrugged her shoulders: – Nothing, everything is as usual… Let’s go to work, we’re already too late…
In the evening Denis came for Arina. He told her for a long time how great he sat with his friend, who, as it turned out, did not come alone. And they rested in the bathhouse with a purely male company, and at lunch he took his friends to the train.
– It’s a pity, of course, that I didn’t introduce them to you. But they promised to come to our wedding. Arina! Arina, are you listening to me?
– Yes, of course … – she listlessly picked at the salad with a fork and tried not to think about Vlad.
God, how she wanted to be with him again now, there, in the fairy tale that ended for her this morning. She left quietly while he was sleeping. I sat in the park, walked around the mall, and then went to work. But the whole day seemed to her somehow gray and pathetic… like this apartment of hers with Denis.
– Where are you flying, Arina? Well, what happened? Come on, tell me!
– No, Denis, really, nothing! I’m sorry, I’m just so tired, I want to sleep.
– Come on, I’ll put you to bed…
Denis prepared the bed himself, then covered Arina and kissed her gently.
– Denis-I-is, not today, I’m just dying of fatigue…
– Okay, go to sleep, honey. Sweet dreams!
He turned out the light and went out, unwittingly leaving Arina alone with her memories. And she kept returning her thoughts to Vlad again and again and it made her want to cry so much…
Soon Denis came. He cleared the table, washed the dishes and now carefully, trying to creak the old bed less, lay down, afraid to disturb the fragile sleep of his beloved.
A week has passed. Arina missed Vlad, she wanted to see him again so much, but he didn’t come. The gray days were similar to each other and the girl began to think that everything that happened to her would not happen again.
Vlad appeared when she had already accepted it. He sat down at her table again, ordered and watched her work. And Arina, crimson with surging feelings, approached him with a sinking heart every time he called her. Seizing the moment, Vlad touched her hand and a nervous shiver ran through her body.
–I want to… see you,– Vlad said. – And I’ll be waiting for you today…
Arina, biting her lip in despair, walked away. Today Denis promised to meet her as usual. What could she say to him? Don’t come? And Vlad? What about Vlad???
Denis arrived twenty minutes before the end of her working day. He was holding a bouquet of gerberas in his hands and Arina saw how pathetic he looked at the same time. She left the cafe with him and immediately saw Vlad standing nearby. He saw them too, raised an eyebrow, and then threw luxurious white roses at his feet, and drove away, crushing the delicate buds with a ruthless wheel.
Arina barely suppressed a scream. And the night quickly descended hid the tears streaming from her eyes. And Denis didn’t see or notice anything. He was happy, did not hide it, and really wanted to become Arina’s husband as soon as possible.
One evening he told the girl that he had to leave for a month.
– Just don’t get upset. You see, the boss sends me for an internship. New equipment will be brought to him soon, but in order to work on it, you need to take some kind of courses. Well, as soon as I get back, we’ll get married right away.
Arina jumped up and kissed Denis. He decided that she was so happy to become his wife and for the first time in a long time he recognized his Arisha again. That night she was so gentle with him that he just went crazy with pleasure. The naive guy did not even realize that while caressing him, Arina imagined a completely different person.
Denis left, but Vlad still didn’t show up. Arina was simply beside herself from the despair that gripped her. She was about to go to him herself, when suddenly a familiar jeep flashed by the window. Arina, unable to restrain herself, went out to meet him, not noticing what kind of look Katerina saw her off.
Now Arina lived from meeting to meeting, it was not possible to see Vlad every day, but they exhausted each other so much during their nights together that the following days were spent on recovery for a new date. Meanwhile, Denis stayed on a business trip for another week, and Arina decided to act. She did not want to part with Vlad anymore and one morning, when they parted once again, she told him that she was pregnant.
– what??? This can’t be happening! Vlad said confidently.
– Why is that?! – Well… because it shouldn’t be… Arina, I’m married! I can’t have children with my mistress!
“Married?”?? the girl gasped. – But you didn’t tell me…
– And you didn’t ask!!! And why shouldn’t I have a wife if you have a husband?
– He’s not my husband! But if you don’t need me, I’ll marry Denis, understand??? And I’ll forget you! And you’ll never see your son again!
– Arina, I repeat to you once again, if you are pregnant by me, and not by him, you will have to have an abortion!
– I’m pregnant with your child, Denis has been out of town for more than a month! – the girl burst into tears. – You made me cheat on him! And I didn’t want to!
– Didn’t you want to? You didn’t want to? Vlad was angry.
– Go away! I said get out of here!
– No! No, Vlad, please! I love you, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! – Arina fell at his feet, and he picked her up, and then looked into the girl’s eyes:
– I can’t leave my wife, you know? I can not… There’s no way to explain it. I feel good with you, but I won’t leave her. I have neither the strength nor the rights to do this.
– I understand, – said Arina, freed herself from his embrace, and went into the bedroom to get dressed.
Vlad went into the bathroom. Arina looked out into the corridor, and then quickly scrolled through Vlad’s phone and found his passport in the purse.
Yes. He was married. The girl remembered the address by registration and hid the document. Returning home, Arina picked up the phone.
–Hello,– she said softly, “when she heard a pleasant female voice answering her.
– Hello, Daria. My name is Arina and I am your husband’s mistress.
– what??? Who are you??? What did you say? Mistress? – the woman was clearly worried and Arina suddenly wanted to stop this conversation, but she did not back down.
“Vlad and I love each other,” she said. – I do not know what keeps him with you, but he really wants to end your marriage. Let him go, Daria. He and I are going to have a baby. Let Vlad be happy. You don’t want to spend your whole life with a man who doesn’t love you anymore.
– Don’t worry, Arina. I’ll let him go. Just tell me where and when you met. I need to be sure that you are not lying.
Arina grinned and described Vlad’s apartment, where their meetings took place, named Vlad’s intimate moles and added that she did not remember all the dates, but could name the last three. Daria began to cry and repeated:
– I’m letting Vlad go, Arina. You have won… I wish you happiness…
Arina hung up the phone and laughed. Everything turned out to be so easy and simple. Now, when Daria expels Vlad, he will come to her, because he loves her. Vlad didn’t come. He called. Arina did not expect that he would be so furious and was confused. And he, without choosing expressions, insulted her and, in the end, Arina burst into tears, realizing that she had made a mistake. And she also realized that she had lost Vlad forever.
A few days later Denis returned, and soon Arina in a white wedding dress stood in front of the guests and accepted their congratulations with a smile. Katya, adjusting the witness’s ribbon on herself, was no less worried than Arina and often sighed when she thought that no one was seeing her.
– What, Kat? What happened? What’s wrong? – Arina couldn’t stand it.
– No, no! Don’t worry. I’m just a little jealous of you…
– Well, if a little … – Arina grinned. – How much time is left?
– Fifteen minutes.
– And where is Denis?
– Yes, there he is, standing with friends … listen, Arina, and that man with whom you are… well, in a jeep … who is he to you?
– Nobody! Arina couldn’t help but cry out. – None of your business! Why are you prying into my soul? – And then she stopped when she saw that the guests standing next to them turned around and looked at them in surprise.
She smiled and waved at them:
– It’s all right! I’m just nervous…” Then she turned back to Katya:
– Why did you ask me?
“Because he’s standing over there looking at you,” Katya said, pointing somewhere to the side.
Arina turned and saw Vlad. He’s here! She won! After all, he loves her! Ignoring Denis, who was walking towards her, and her friends present, Arina went to Vlad. Denis held her hand:
– Come on, we are invited to the ceremony!
But Arina pushed him away and continued on her way. Vlad looked at her with a loving look.
– I came for you… Will you leave him now?
– I’ll quit! – Arina tore off the veil, stepped over it and, without turning around, hurried after Vlad, got into the car and drove away, leaving the disgraced groom and everyone else speechless with amazement.
Arina thought that they would go to Vlad’s apartment, but he, winding through the streets for a long time, was moving away from the city center.
– Where are we going?
– To the clinic. I want you to be examined by a doctor.
– Vlad, – Arina gently put her hand on his arm: – I was wrong… I’m not pregnant… Sorry… But we will still have a chance, my love…
The car jerked sharply and stopped. Vlad gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white, then drove off again. Soon they left the city. The gray sky was overcast, it was starting to rain. Arina tried to talk to Vlad many times, but he was silent.
– Vlad, – she pleaded, – well, maybe you can tell me what’s going on and where we’re going?
– I’ll tell you. I wanted to get back at you. That’s why I ruined your wedding. Broke, ruined your relationship with your fiance, just like you broke my life. How dare you call Dasha? Who are you to pry into my life? I don’t need you anymore! I hate you, now get out! Before I do something to you! Because I don’t just want to kill you, I want to tear you apart.
– Po-o-o-o-out! – he roared, pushed the girl out of the car and drove away.
And so she was left in a place unknown to her, far from the city, without a phone… although who could she call? Arina walked along the road, feeling heavy raindrops trickling down her face…