Rose felt the weight of the bed change and opened her eyes to find Henry on his feet now, pacing the length of the room. When he spoke, he turned to Rose but paced while he waited for her answers.
“So, you have slept with how many men?”
“But you haven’t found any of them attractive.”
“Physically, a little, not serious attraction. Nothing Romantic as it were. Some men were absolutely disgusting, but most are just neutral. Whatever. Blah.” Rose shrugged, “It was just a means to an end.”
“Then, how did you…forgive me if I’m being crass but if they were so blah then—“
“Well, at first I made up the kind of man I wished I was with, and recently, forgive me if I’m being crass now, but I pretended I was with you.”
Henry blushed, and Rose couldn’t help but be pleased. “So, you didn’t kiss me because…”
“Because if I kiss you I want to know that means you are in this forever and for always. There is no way for me to fall out of love with you; it’s as simple as that. You and I would be a forever deal, and I couldn’t be sure that you were in for that. I couldn’t be sure that you wouldn’t come to abuse that connection. So, I didn’t kiss you.”
Rose sat quietly, feeling more drained and exposed than she had ever felt in her life before. Finally, Henry stopped pacing. He turned to look Rose in the eye sternly, and Rose knew what was coming. The heart-breaking words of ‘I can’t do this forever’, or the even more heartbreaking words of ‘I didn’t really think of you in that way,’ or even, ‘You aren’t a keep around forever kind of girl.’ All those things that her father said or implied to her mother. All those things Rose knew had to be true of a woman of her powers.
But still, this heartbreak would be easier to get over since she hadn’t kissed him. She would be able to get over him eventually this way. Rose tried her hardest to concentrate on that bright side.
Henry opened his mouth, then seemed to think it over and shut his mouth again. He looked Rose over again for a moment, and then finally said, “Stand up.”
“Excuse me?” Rose asked.
“Please stand up.” Less of a demand, more of a question this time. Rose got to her feet and stepped around one of her open suitcases into the open part of the room near Henry. “How many men do you have on the line right now?” Henry asked.
Helen had asked her that earlier. The answer was supposed to be none. She had told Helen none. “A handful,” Rose answered honestly.
“Can you cut them loose?”
“Yes.” Rose shut her eyes, and slowly let each handful of threads fade away. It was a strange feeling for Rose to be all alone in her own head. It had been years since she had nobody at all on the line. When she finally opened her eyes again, Henry was much closer than before. Very slowly, and very carefully, Henry raised his hand to touch Rose’s cheek.
“How many men do you have on the line right now?” Henry repeated.
“None,” Rose answered, her voice barely a whisper. “It’s just me in my head.”
“Good,” Henry smiled, and then raised his other hand, cupping Rose’s face between his hands.