Love and War

Bonnie can't help but think life would be so much easier if she didn't have to make choices. If she didn't have to choose between family or a future. If she didn't have to choose between Eli or Alfie. If she didn't have to choose between success or loyalty. If she didn't have to choose between one kind of love of the other.

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18. Eighteen

I walk into the pub, feeling a little unusual that I'm in here on my own but more excited than anything. I feel like I've got the independence I've always been craving. I'm a little conscious of the fact that I'm just wearing a night gown and a coat in front of all these people right now but most of them are too caught up in their own fun to even notice me. 

I look around for Eli, hoping he's somewhere to be seen. I spot him at the bar and rush over to him, through the crowd, tapping him on the shoulder. He frowns, turning around. His eyes soften a little when he sees me and he takes my hand. 

"Bonnie. I thought you weren't coming." he says softly, somehow still making me be able to hear him over the noise. 

"It was hard getting out of the house." I explain. 

"I thought your parents were at their employee's sister's birthday party." he says, a puzzled look on his face.

"They are, but my cousin is here." I tell him as I let a small smile cross my lips. "I was meant to go as well but I told them I was unwell so I could still come and see you."

He chuckles. "You're sweet."

His eyes flicker behind my shoulder and a dark look appears in his eyes. He gets up off of his stool, wrapping his arms around my waist and holding me close. I frown up at him.

"Eli, what-"

"Shhh." he hushes me and then speaks up to whoever is behind me. "Get your eyes off of her, Abe."

I turn around a little and see a middle aged man shrugging and walking back to the bar. I frown at Eli again, my heart thudding. 

"Who is that?" 

He shakes his head, still scowling at Abe who is no longer looking over. "Just some man. Bonnie, did you come here by yourself?"

I shake my head. "Alfie walked me here."

He nods. "Good. Never come by yourself."

"Why?" I ask. 

He smiles, grimly. "This place isn't all fun and games. Come on, it's late, let's go up to my room."

"Can't we stay down here for a while?" I plead, smiling sweetly to try and persuade him. "Please?" 

He chuckles. "Maybe some other time."

He leads me upstairs and into a room. I don't really know what I was expecting. It takes me a minute to take it all in. It's so small and cosy. I feel safe in here, in this little room with just Eli and nobody else. He has a few belongings around the place, including an easel and some paints in the corner though the canvas is blank at the moment. However, I can see various pieces of art around the room hung up on the walls. Things like flowers and horizons and just simple things, like he doesn't do it because of a message, he just does it because he enjoys it which I like. In the corner of the room is a single bed. It isn't covered in silk, it just has one pillow and one thin blanket. I notice Eli looking at me, biting his lip.

"I'm sorry. It's really not much." he says, sighing and putting his jacket back on. "Let me take you home."

"I don't want to go home." I smile, taking a bit of a daring move and slipping his jacket off of his shoulders again. 

He frowns but smiles as well. "You don't?" 

I laugh. "No. I love it here."

He chuckles, slipping my coat off as well and wrapping his arms around me again. He frowns for a moment and then laughs. I laugh too even though I don't know what's funny.

"What?" I shove him playfully. It feels good to do something like that. My parents would kill me if they saw me do something so un-ladylike but Eli doesn't care. He just pulls me closer again. 

"You and your... your manners and dignity!" he laughs. "Are you wearing a corset right now?" 

I frown, still chuckling. "Yes! Why wouldn't I?"

"Because it's just me." he smiles, fondly. "I don't care if your waist looks tiny or not, you're always pretty anyway."

I blush, glancing down so he won't see. "Thank you."

"You're very welcome." he pauses. "You know what I find odd?" 

"What's that?" I ask, looking at him again. 

"That Alfie walked you here."

I frown. "Why?" 

He shrugs. "I find it weird that he's supporting this when he clearly hates me."

"He isn't supporting it." I sigh. "He just doesn't trust you."

Eli gasps, a playful look in his eyes. "Maybe he is in here right now. Watching our every move!"

I laugh. "I wouldn't put it past him. I..."

I'm cut off by a massive yawn and Eli laughs out loud, pushing me away from him a little but still holding onto my hand. 

"Let's get you some sleep." he murmurs, kissing my cheek. 

"No, no I'm fine!" I insist. "Let's talk about something."

"You're sure you're fine?" he raises an eyebrow even though he doesn't believe it.

"Yes, I'm honestly not tired, I..." I trail off as I yawn again.

He lets me lie in the bed first, climbing in after me. We both look at each other for a moment and then laugh.

"Sorry, there isn't much room." he says. 

I laugh. "That's not a bad thing."

He raises his eyebrows. "You have a little bit of a dark side behind that innocence of yours, huh?" 

"I don't know what you mean." I smile knowingly.

He smiles but a worried look soon replaces it. He looks at my hair as he brushes it away from my eyes. 

"You know people are talking about us, right?" he says in a quiet voice. "People are starting to suspect that we're up to something."

"I don't care." I tell him.

"I do." he says, seriously. "I'm friends with somebody who is friends with this guy Bryce who lives a while away. I think he knows that Sabella girl who you're friends with Even he's heard about it."

I frown, shocked. "Sabella knows about you and I? I bet it was that blonde girl she's friends with, she does nothing but gossip."

"I don't know. But people are starting to talk. We're going to have to be more careful. Maybe we should just see each other at night time."

I want to object. I want to insist that we see each other all the time but I know we can't do that. So I just nod and ask him if I can come tomorrow night as well. And he says yes. And I smile. And he kisses me and tells me to go to sleep. And I tell him that I'm not tired because I don't want to waste a moment with Eli.

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