A sigh escaped Eve’s lips and joined the rest of the food in her bowl…if it could be called food. It was a mess of beans and corn—she had rushed out the door grabbing, at random, two cans of food off the counter. Niko still wasn’t home to cook, and everyone was getting tired of her moping while staring into her containers at lunch time. Jess had offered to take her to get lunch across the way at the Vauxhall Street Food Garden after one too many sighs, and Hugo all but begged her to go get chicken with him again. Probably hoping things might lead to more than just a potential kiss this time, especially now that Niko had officially left—taking all his stuff with him. Including all the cookware, so even if she wanted to cook…she couldn’t. Not like she really knew how, but that was beyond the point.
The MI6 agent stirred her food around, frowning at the obscene noises coming from the action.
“The Mustache is still not home,” an inquiring voice tinted with slight humor.
Like Eve pouting into a bowl a mush was the highlight of Villanelle’s day—which maybe it was, the assassin had a strange sense of humor.
Another sigh. “Villanelle, how lovely, what are you doing here? Last I checked this place was full of people that catch people like you,” giving up on her lunch, appetite completely ruined at this point. Eve pushed the disgusting beans, who eats beans anyway, across her desk towards the very edge of it. She watched it teeter until a deft hand with long fingers came and snatched it up. The blonde had her plump lip between her teeth, she was trying to stop a smile—how considerate—while her fingers toyed with the white plastic spoon.
She scooped up a mishmash of beans and corn and plunged it into her mouth. “Did you make this?” A spoon pointing to the contents in the container, a lifted eyebrow, mouth full.
“Well, no, I didn’t quite make it I…”
“Because it is disgusting, Eve, I’ve had better in prison,” she plopped the container unceremoniously into the trash to help enunciate her point.
“This is not trash,” as she emptied the beans into the receptacle and put the now empty container onto the desk. Another day without lunch…
“I will buy you a new one, this one is tainted now.” Villanelle plucked the dirty container out of Eve’s hand and tossed it back into the trash, a slight shrug of her shoulders following behind.
Eve scowled. “I like that container. It…,” Eve struggled to find a reason behind her sudden love for a simple rectangle container that probably held the most disgusting lunch since she graduated college and married Niko. Two blonde eyebrows were raised, waiting for an explanation, “Yes, I see it is very important to you. So important that you stuffed it full of shit.”
“Shut up, don’t be a dick.”
This time Villanelle did chuckle, a gleeful expression on her face. She gently grabbed Eve’s forearm and swung her around on her office chair, so they were facing each other.
“What,” Eve spluttered, “you haven’t even told me why you’re here and I can’t leave during the middle of the day! I have work.”
“Yes, you are working so efficiently. Moping into your bowl of shit, you are accomplishing quite a bit.”
Eve stood her ground and stopped Villanelle from moving her chair since she was now twirling Eve in circles, she smacked the childish blonde’s hand, “Stop.” Villanelle mouthed an exaggerated oh-kay and instead leaned up against Eve’s desk, all long legs, and crossed arms. Her dimple making an appearance as she observed Eve. Followed by a roll of hazel eyes, “Fine, I am here because the real boss—”
Villanelle waved her hand, she really didn’t care, “—asked me to come over. I am on my way out.”
“How come I didn’t see you come in?”
A grin, “I scaled the building and broke through her window.”
“Funny,’ Eve deadpanned, brown eyes warming a little because of their banter.
“You’re right,” Villanelle glanced down her body and frowned, “I am not wearing the right shoes.”
Eve glanced at her apricot colored heels, her eyes trailing up Villanelle’s obscenely long legs—seriously why wasn’t she a model instead of a killer—clothed in similarly colored dress pants that were waist high, a lightly colored leather belt threaded through the loop holes while a black shirt was tucked into her pants with an apricot colored blazer thrown over her shoulder. Black earrings dangled from Villanelle’s ears and a small, jeweled cuff bracelet embellished her wrist. Black jewels sparkling, as well. Okay, why was she here badgering Eve and not on some runway in Paris? Eve could just gaze at her from afar and not have to deal with her infuriatingly childish antics.
Villanelle cleared her throat, “it is not nice to stare, Eve.”
The MI6 agent rolled her eyes, “because you are the advocate on manners.” Which to be honest, Villanelle was curiously uptight about manners, she made quite the use of her “pleases,” and “thank-yous.” Eve was still waiting on her reply.
The assassin spryly lifted off from the other woman’s desk and sighed, “You are no fun, Eve. I had a late breakfast…early lunch…”
“Yes! We had a brunch, she had to talk to me about Aaron…,” the breathy way Villanelle’s accent rolled over Aaron’s name made Eve shiver, she had never hated her name until now. Pushing the unwanted and incredibly obtrusive thoughts aside Eve pondered what Carolyn possibly wanted from Villanelle…alone.
“What did she want?” Eve got up to grab her coat, wondering when she decided to follow the blonde during the middle of a workday. But no one else was in the office anyway, it seemed everybody had decided they’d gotten sick of dealing with Eve around lunch time.
Villanelle shrugged, honey hair dripping off her shoulders. Eve had never seen it down before, she wanted to stick her fingers in it and pull, bearing the other woman’s golden neck. Eve stopped, registering the killer’s shrug. “She called you in and you don’t remember what she wanted?” Incredulous, “You’re lying.”
Upset that their movement had been halted, as they almost reached the exit out of this stuffy building with tacky interior and dirty rugs. Villanelle pouted, scuffing at the floor with her extremely expensive shoes, “It was all very dull and boring. I only went because that café has excellent scones,” the blonde brightened, “would you like to go and try them, I know you haven’t eaten. Everyone knows you haven’t eaten. Even Carolyn mentioned your sulking. It is getting very old Eve.”
Glaring at nothing, Eve mussed up her hair and began walking towards the exit at a much quicker pace. Villanelle followed behind, heels echoing down the corridor. Entering the sunlight, one of the few good days in London (honestly, Eve hated this city and only moved here for Niko), Eve turned to face Villanelle. Her face was outstretched toward the sun, her eyes closed like she was on a beach in some foreign country vacationing. Eve envied the assassin’s absurd beauty, the way her bare arms glimmered like molten gold in the sun. All muscle and tissue and beautiful skin. Her honey-blonde hair blew gently in the breeze and Eve caught wafts of whatever shampoo the younger woman used. She almost laughed because it smelt like strawberries, and Villanelle did not seem like a strawberries type of person.
Villanelle sighed, “I hate this ugly city.”
Eve chuckled, still staring at Villanelle, because she had been thinking the exact same thing. Sure, it was better than Connecticut. But she could imagine much better places than both London and Connecticut. Shaking her head and turning around to… “Where are we going, Villanelle?”
They couldn’t very well stand in the sun all day, that was hardly justifiable for leaving work early. Instead of speaking the blonde woman circled her long fingers around Eve’s wrist and delicately yanked her towards a car parked on the side of the road, no money in the meter. Eve could just about roll her eyes out of her head. Because why would Villanelle care about getting a ticket? This probably wasn’t even her car, an inconspicuous Nissan Qashqai, maroon.
Villanelle seems like the type that would drive a Mercedes or an Aston Martin, a Ferrari. Something that would make her blood rush and her hair flow in ribbons behind her. Eve stared at it, not getting in.
“Is this your car?”
A small shrug, “I like the cargo space,” she grabs the keys from inside her pocket and the car beep beeps, trying to prove a point.
“You could have stolen those, too.”
“Eve get in the car,” the exasperated blonde walks around—after opening the passenger door for Eve—and gets into the Nissan. The vehicle starts quietly and hums. Sighing she hops in and slams the door, buckling her seatbelt. Eve was sure to die today. And she hadn’t even had a last meal.
“You’re driving?” Villanelle looks down at herself in the driver seat, as if it wasn’t already apparent.
“Yes?” Blonde eyebrows disappearing into her hairline.
“Please feed me before you kill us.”
Villanelle lets loose a genuine laugh, the kind that comes from your belly and leaves the area feeling a little lighter and happier. She looks like she’s surprised herself. Villanelle crying in Amsterdam wasn’t enough, apparently, Eve is doomed to bring out all sorts of feelings around her. Disgusting. Eve gazes at Villanelle with hardly disguised interest and astonishment.
“Don’t psychoanalyze me or I will kill us.”
The car inched forward, caught in London traffic.
“Oh, don’t you know I have seen
I have seen the fields aflame
And everything I ever did
Was just to scream your name
Over and over and ov—”
Jarred from the trance that Florence’s voice always puts her in Eve turns from slouching over and looking out the window to stare at Villanelle.
She swept her long arms around the car and gestured towards the Tesco outside, “We are here!”
Eve gave Villanelle a deadpan look, “We must not be because this is a grocery store and I cannot cook.”
“So, what, you are just going to eat disgusting McDonald’s until you die, Eve? Which will not take long because that food will kill you quicker than I can,”
Villanelle hops from the car with childlike glee and goes to the other side to open Eve’s door. Eve beats her to it, stubborn and very irritated.
“I can open my own door, thank you.”
The assassin backs away, hands up, smiling into her dimple, “of course, Eve.”
She grabs a cart and makes her way inside, a beep beep trailing behind them.
“This is so dumb, Villanelle. All this food is going to go to waste. Niko took all his cookware, I don’t think I have even a single pan left at the townhouse,” Eve mutters along as she browses the shelves. She doesn’t even know what to buy to make the recipes because her knowledge of preparing food extends to Ramen noodles, salads, and sandwiches. Her mother did all the cooking and when her parents separated her, and her father just ordered in or ate out. If they happened to be around each other at the same time, which was rare. She grabs a can of soup and tosses it into the dangerously full cart. Villanelle pushed the basket along gleefully, humming annoyingly in tune, looking like the only thing she ever wanted in this life was to take Eve grocery shopping. Domestic bliss hung in the air between them and Eve hated it.
She threw a glare over her shoulder at the younger woman stationed in front of the…she squinted, the currants.
“Villanelle,” she whined, it was unbecoming and childish, but she was hungry, and they’d been here for hours. She grasped Villanelle’s hand and pulled her back to the cart to push, currants dangling limply from her other hand.
“I don’t even like those.”
The blonde pushed her chin up, tossing the fruit into the burgeoning cart, “they aren’t for you.”
An abrasive ringtone shattered their staring contest. Eve wanted to say it was “I Kissed a Girl,” by Katy Perry. Because of course, Villanelle’s favorite thing to do is mock the general population. The song continued to play.
“Well, are you going to answer that?”
Villanelle huffs, puts her—coral colored, when did she get a coral iPhone—up to her ear after rolling her eyes at the contact number, she turns away from Eve and eyes the beans across from her. A churlish smile twisting her lips up.
“Hello,” a bored, adopted American accents tumbles out of Villanelle’s lips.
Nonsense on the other side, a woman’s voice—Amber then.
“Of course, it would be awesome to come over for dinner.”
Eve mouths the word “awesome,” behind Villanelle’s back and laughs, spirits lifted knowing they will be getting out of this forsaken store soon and then maybe the assassin will finally get her some food before she leaves her for the evening. Then, Eve frowned at the thought of Villanelle leaving. She wouldn’t have to be there to monitor the dinner seeing how that went so well last time.
Villanelle turns around holding up a sack of beans with a megawatt smile. The MI6 agent takes one look, grabs the cart, and all but runs towards the check out line a forceful no trailing behind her. Villanelle chased her with the bag of beans until they came to a stop behind other customers.
They’re back in the car and Eve feels like she’s going to starve to death, right there in the passenger seat of Villanelle’s dumb, maroon Nissan. She kicked the rubber mats. They had a small dispute over who was paying all while the cashier smiled knowingly—Villanelle won by sheer force. Stepping on Eve’s toes until she conceded.
Villanelle looked over at the sulking woman, “Oh God, you are so pathetic when you haven’t been fed. Spoilt. We will get some food before I drop you off. Then I have to leave for dinner at Amber’s.” That was another thing Eve was mildly upset about—why, she refused to admit to—so instead of voicing herself she sat and pouted.
Like a spoilt child, “You didn’t even get me a snack.”
The Russian woman did a double-take and narrowly missed hitting the car in front of her, “Are you really that upset that I have to go see Amber? You have been awfully pouty since I spoke to her. You called me in for this job, Eve.”
Eve guffaws, mouth agape, “I am not! I’m just tired and hungry. Grocery shopping is not something I enjoy doing. Present company included.”
Villanelle chuckles, “you would enjoy doing me, Eve.”
She switches on her blinker and turns onto Eve’s street, stopping at a McDonald’s down the way. Villanelle’s remark going ignored, for now—because food. Eve bounces with excitement and orders her food. Throwing a glance Villanelle’s way to make sure she didn’t want anything as well, considering she was leaning over the blonde to be heard through the drive-through. Her head right next to the younger woman’s breast, as blonde hair mingled with curly brown. The smell of Villanelle’s perfume was subtle but driving Eve crazy, she wanted to press her mouth into her neck and have Villanelle for dinner instead.
“I am not on the menu, Eve.”
Did Eve say that aloud, “huh?”
“You are looking at me like I am a juicy hamburger, cannibal.”
A crackle, “Ma’am is that all?”
Villanelle’s eyebrows were back to their native resting place around Eve, her blonde hairline, well? Her face was saying. Stupid, ugly face.
“Um, yes, yes that is all. Thank you,” Eve cleared her throat and sat back in her seat, twiddling her thumbs.
“Your total will be at the window, ma’am, thank you.”
Villanelle opened her mouth, no doubt to offer to pay for this meal too. Eve shoved a twenty-pound note in between her lips before she could say anything else. The assassin adopted a disgusted look and took the money out of her mouth, scoffing at Eve’s childishness. They paid and drove toward Eve’s house.
Eve’s hand was knuckle deep in her fries when they pulled up outside of her townhouse, “schwat joo schaid I shouldn’t schmeat shish food,” fry particles flew out of her mouth and landed everywhere.
“What?” Villanelle’s look was of utter despair as she picked food off her shirt and pants, sure, blood was fine. But half-chewed food, no, definitely not okay. Eve scoffed and stepped out of the SUV to go unlock her door, McDonald’s clenched tightly between her fist. Villanelle trailed behind with bags full of food.
They unpacked slowly, Villanelle already seemed to know her way around Eve’s kitchen—no doubt from a multitude of break-ins—but still, it was a process figuring out where to put everything. The domesticity of it all gave Eve butterflies and the butterflies gave her even more butterflies. She was not supposed to be enjoying this. Villanelle was quiet. Eve could feel her thinking all the way across the kitchen. No doubt preparing to be “Billie,” for the next couple of hours. It worried Eve more than she would like to admit. The brunette stopped, glaring at the fucking beans, and put her hand on Villanelle’s lower back.
Villanelle looked up, surprise flickering across her face briefly, “that was a real thank you. I was starting to think your mom did not teach you manners,” a soft smile.
Not falling for the bait, Eve brushed her fingertips across the honey-haired woman’s cheeks. Astounded by their softness, “really, thank you. I think I would’ve starved.”
Villanelle landed a soft kiss across Eve’s fingertips then a nip, “you can’t starve, I have to kill you first for stabbing me.” Eve’s fingers tingled. She grasped her afflicted hand and turned back towards the groceries, rolling her eyes at Villanelle’s teasing remark.
“Ah, shit,” Eve growled as she eyed the barren cabinets that were usually overflowing with pots and pans and spoons and so much stuff.
“Do not worry, I can fix that. But for now, I have a dinner date.” Villanelle stroked Eve’s inner-elbow on her way out of the door and whispered something in Russian during their passing. The door opened, waning sunlight smattered across the kitchen in waves of warm orange and muted red. She watched Villanelle walk into the growing night, the door closed, and then it was just Eve and her groceries. Heaving a sigh out of her constricted lungs, Eve threw herself onto her couch with every intent to finish her McDonald’s while watching Fleabag.
She fell asleep instead.
Muted music, something classical, filtered its way into Eve’s ears. While her nose was assaulted with the aroma of cooking food. Groggily, Eve rubbed her umber eyes trying to place the song she was hearing. It was piano of some sort, soft, but ever-growing towards a climax. It was beautiful…except Niko never listened to classical music.
Niko was gone.
Eve bolted from the couch and immediately fell into the coffee table, a mug fell to the ground and rolled under the sofa.
“Eve, are you okay?” A soft timbre, all rolling r’s and cheeky tones.
Of course, it was Villanelle.
Breaking into Eve’s house was probably kindergarten work compared to her usual…outings? Was that the proper word? Fuck it. Her usual killings. Eve sighed and sat there rubbing at her injured head. Villanelle came in, holding a knife. She changed. She was in a soft sweater, the color of the champagne that she so adored. Black pants stretched across her thighs and clung to her calves. Her feet were bare, her toes painted a violent purple, after their last encounter where Eve had asked her to discard her shoes. Another sigh. Eve hadn’t bothered to change, her dark green sweater still hung loosely around her body and her work pants draped across her legs like a tablecloth.
Eve eyed the knife, “don’t do anything stupid.”
The trained killer laughed and knelt down to help Eve up, placing the knife of the coffee table. A hand slipped under her elbow and the other splayed across Eve’s side. She hoisted the smaller woman up and stepped back, hands pressed to her chest. Eve still felt unbalanced even though she was now safely on two feet. Their noses were almost touching and the air between them breathed from one person’s lungs into the other’s. It was incredibly intimate. Villanelle, usually not at a loss for witty remarks, stared deeply into Eve’s eyes. Unblinking. The green of Villanelle’s eyes had eclipsed the soft brown and Eve felt like she was falling off a cliff into a sea. Sucking in another lungful of air, Eve turned around.
A whispered thank you was uttered in the living room as Eve went upstairs to change.
Villanelle simply grabbed the knife and wandered back into the kitchen where the soft piano tones continued to play.
And if Eve had a minor breakdown upstairs, Villanelle was none the wiser.
The MI6 agent paced the carpet of her bedroom looking for something to wear. She really wished she’d kept those pajamas Villanelle had bought her.
Why was she here? Why was Eve allowing it? Wasn’t the shopping enough, what was her end goal? Eve had nothing she wanted. Well, not nothing. But certainly, the assassin didn’t expect Eve to hop into bed with her because she bought her groceries. Groceries that she didn’t even ask for. Was this all a ruse to get payback? Villanelle had seemed over it but maybe she was waiting for the correct moment…to ruin. Much like Eve did back in Paris.
The smell of the food downstairs suddenly infiltrated Eve’s nostrils again. She hadn’t finished her lunch and she was hungry…again. Eve sighed. Villanelle wouldn’t do this now, now that they were halfway through catching Aaron Peele, halfway towards the assassin’s freedom. She’d at least let her eat properly first, right? Otherwise, why even bother cooking?
Sitting down on the rarely slept in bed, Eve ran her fingers through her hair. She quickly pulled off the unappetizing sweater and instead slipped on a black tank top and pulled on some grey sweats. Eve trotted downstairs, into the kitchen and just stared. Villanelle—where did she even learn to cook—stalked around her kitchen like she had always lived there. She had bought pots and pans, a blender, knives, a grill, everything. A bottle of wine, not champagne this time, sat cracked on the counter. A pink Moscato, maybe. Red wine probably too bitter for Villanelle’s pallet, considering all the sweets she ate.
She walked over to Villanelle stirring a sauce.
“Can I help?”
Villanelle’s eyes raked over Eve’s body; it was weird to be devoured in such simple clothing. Eve felt bare. Even though she had already seen her naked during the shepherd’s pie incident, but that was clouded with fear and lust and shock. Not soft clothes and aromatic homemade dinners. No one cooked dinner for Eve, except those that she lived with. Except Niko. Her clothes were her armor, unobtrusive and baggy, professional. With her arms bare and the shirt stretched across her middle she felt like she was the one being offered for dinner.
Eyes now bright with heat, Villanelle acknowledged Eve. “You look cute,” she nodded towards the sweats, “you may help, but no knives,” a wink.
Eve rolled her eyes and grabbed the sauce spoon out of Villanelle’s hands, hip-bumping her away from the saucepan.
“What are we cooking?”
A shrug. “Beef stroganoff.”
Eve laughs, a glass of wine being handed to her by Villanelle. She starts to stir the sauce again, watching it thicken.
“How very Russian of you.”
The blonde grins, knife chopping away at the meat on the cutting board. They work in steady silence, sipping wine and enjoying the music. It was oddly…quiet, Eve didn’t want to talk about work. For once. Because that’s what her dinner with Amber was, work. She wondered if Villanelle was even hungry after her outing.
“Did you not eat with Amber?”
Villanelle gave such a heaving sigh that Eve regretted asking, “She tried to make some…thing. I think it was a bird? It was shit. I left after accepting a phone call about some tragic family accident.” The blonde was grinning, as she sashayed around Eve to go check on the noodles.
It was apparent at this point that not only did Villanelle enjoy eating food, but she could also cook it very well, too. She should have known from the various cutlery and food appliances inside her Parisian apartment. But her fridge was full of champagne and not food.
“Villanelle, where did you learn to cook?”
The blonde stopped, wine glass midway to her lips. Debating on whether this was Eve asking as a person or Eve asking as an agent.
“Anna, mainly. When I was younger, my mom cooked quite a bit before she died,” she took a sip of her wine and watched Eve warily.
Eve gestured Villanelle over to the sauce to show her the consistency of it. Reaching around Eve and brushing against the other woman’s hips in the process, she turned the stovetop off. Eve turned around to fill up her wine glass and leaned against the island. Sipping at it thoughtfully.
“My mother died when I was younger too,” Eve cleared her throat, “she actually committed suicide after her and my father split. I learnt some cooking but I…stopped after my mother died.”
Villanelle stopped chopping, her eyes searched Eve’s face. She walked around the island and unceremoniously declared dinner to be done as she set the table. Serving both herself and Eve, she brought the plates and the bottle of wine into the center of the table.
“My mother was murdered by my father.”
Eve grasped Villanelle’s hand as she was putting down a fork on Eve’s side. She squeezed it. Because what could be said to ease that?
Then they both sat down, Villanelle to the left of Eve. This food really did look delicious and smelled even better. Eve took a bite and moaned. A blush graced Villanelle’s face and Eve wondered how many people she had cooked for before. She ran her fingers over the blonde woman’s cheek, surprised that the other woman could blush.
“This is new,” Eve remarked as she continued to touch Villanelle’s face with one hand and eat with the other, feeling the heat of rushing blood beneath the pads of her fingers.
The younger woman dropped her fork and grabbed Eve’s hand, cupping it against her face. Eyes earnest and bright.
“I feel things when I’m with you,” Villanelle’s voice was achingly soft and sweet and genuine.
None of this had been an act to get close enough to kill Eve. Villanelle did it because she wanted to. All of it. The food. The groceries. Making her leave work early. The soft admissions of her family life. The wine. The appliances. Eve gently set her fork down and cupped Villanelle’s face with such tenderness, tenderness that the older woman didn’t think she had. She brushed her thumbs along Villanelle’s cheekbones, under her eyes—eyelashes tickling her slightly—she traveled across the honey-blonde’s incredibly soft lips a small “o,” forming between them, and down under her chin where she knocked her face closer to Eve’s mouth.
“Kiss me, please,” eyes almost full of tears and such want.
So, Eve did, she tasted of gravy and mushroom and sweet wine.
Her heart stopped and she was sure this was how Villanelle meant to kill her, instead.