“What do you mean you blew it, Joanne?” Sam asked over the phone. The men hadn’t gotten back from their outing yet and she was busy in the kitchen baking a cake with her three little children.
“Carlos turned up at the door at the wrong time,” Joanne explained. She had tried calling Carlos but he never answered her calls and Sam was her last resort.
“Please Joanne, you’re speaking in riddles, and I’m not good at that. Maybe Urs is but I haven’t learnt the trick from him yet. Start from the beginning, please.”
So Joanne recounted all that had happened in the past hour to a horrified Sam.
“Oh dear! I’m sorry, Joanne. Maybe if I had warned you that he’s coming back things would have been different,” Sam was visibly upset by the turn of events for the Marins.
“Don’t be silly, Sam. None of us knew it was going to happen this way. I’m just worried about him. He was so angry and hurt and I don’t blame him at all,” Joanne said. Despite being worried sick about her husband, she sounded surprisingly calm to Sam.
“Are you alright, Joanne?”
“How can I be alright? Just when I was about to forgive him, he turned up and caught me with a half-naked man in our apartment! I think the Gods are playing tricks on me,” Joanne started to sob.
“Let me try to call him. I’ll get back to you when I hear from him. In the meantime, send him a text message to explain the situation. He might not want to answer any phone calls, but he’ll read the messages.”
Joanne took Sam’s advice and texted Carlos: “It’s not what you think, Carlos. Come back and we’ll talk. I love you.”
Sam was wrong for once. Carlos had his phone switched off and discarded at the bottom of his bag. Instead of mopping around in the hotel room, he decided to go for a drink in a bar across the street.
When Urs and David got back from the club, Sam told them what had happened between Carlos and Joanne. David smacked his forehead and said, “Damn! How could things go so wrong for two people?”
After another phone call from Joanne they decided that Urs should try to call Carlos’s parents to see if he had looked them up or called them. Urs was to pretend trying to contact Carlos regarding work but was unable to get him on the phone. The older Marins had no idea about the crisis their son was going through and they decided to keep it that way.
However, the call was in vain as Mrs Marin said she hadn’t heard from her son for a few weeks. She was getting worried but Urs assured her Carlos was fine and they had in fact spent some time together. After a brief conversation in Spanish, she promised to let Urs know if Carlos called or turned up at their door step.
While all that was going on, Carlos tried to drink himself into oblivion, sitting at a table in a corner of the bar. The feeling of hurt and betrayal was so unbearable that the drinks could not dull the pain at all.
It was almost three in the morning and Joanne was starting to get frantic as she waited and waited for news from Sam. Then the phone rang and she jumped. Picking up the receiver, she answered almost breathlessly, “Carlos?”
“I’ll see you at the lawyer’s office next Monday.” The line went dead.
The next day, David received a call from Sandra’s parents. They wanted to go pick up Sandra’s stuff from the apartment he shared with her. He arranged to meet them in three days’ time at the LA apartment and proceeded to book his flight back to the states.
Before he left, he called Carlos several times but was unable to reach him. So he sent him a text: “I’m sorry, bro. Looks like my hare-brained idea has given you more misery. Please call Joanne to let her explain. There’s nothing between her and the cat.”
Angel had a class the day David was to fly back home and she wasn’t too happy about not being able to send him off. She hung on to his neck and cried.
“Awww, come on, Angel, I’ll be back again real soon, I promise. Tell me what you want and I’ll try and get it for you.”
“I don’t want anything. I don’t want you to go, Uncle David. Aunty Sandra isn’t here anymore, what if you never come back again?” Angel cried harder.
Sam and Urs were astounded by her words. They thought she had gotten over Sandra’s passing; they didn’t expect it to affect her the way it did. They waited and observed what David would say, but he just held her and tried to soothe her.
“Come now, sweetie. Uncle David has some work to do back home. He’ll definitely be coming back again. Right, David?” Urs gently pried open Angel’s hands from David’s neck.
“Right. And I promise you when I come back I’ll take you, Tony and Gracie to the ice-cream parlour we went to the other day. Didn’t you say the banana split ice-cream there is really nice? Then we’ll go shopping for toys. How about that?” David cajoled.
Very reluctantly, Angel let go of David and turned to her daddy for comfort. It was the twins’ turns with him as each of them hugged and kissed their favourite uncle. Urs gave his best friend a hug and told him to keep in contact since they didn’t know when he would be back again. Besides meeting Sandra’s parents, he was also hoping to sell off the apartment while he was there.
Sam got into the family salon car and waited for David to say one last goodbye to the kids. When he finally got in, she apologized, “I’m sorry, David. We didn’t know Angel would feel that way about you leaving.”
“It’s alright, Sam. Kids say what they feel and that’s the best thing about them.” In truth, Angel’s words made him realize how his well-being affected the people who loved him; it made him determined to come back and be his old self again.
Before they drove off, they saw Urs putting the kids in the backseat of the SUV, ready to take them to Angel’s music lesson.
On the way to the airport, David apologized to Sam for not being able to join her and her family on their Switzerland trip. Sam brushed it off saying he could always join them on other trips. When they reached the airport, they were pleasantly surprised to see Sebastien and Lily waiting for them.
“Geez, I’m only going back to LA for a few days and I’m getting a farewell party at the airport? What if I say I’m never returning?”
“You won’t see us then. Why bother sending you off when we’re not going to see you again?” Sebastien teased.
“Goodbye, Uncle David. Mommy sends her love,” little Lily said as she gave David a hug.
“Where’s Nick?” David asked.
“Mommy grounded him for throwing his toy out the window,” Lily replied.
“You know, Seb, you should take a lesson on parenting from Urs,” David suggested.
Shrugging, Sebastien sighed, “I think Ginny was right when she said I spoiled them rotten. Nick is indeed turning out to be a brat.”
“Don’t say that, Seb. He’s still only three, he’ll change if you start disciplining him now,” Sam advised.
After chatting for a few more minutes about parenting tips, it was time for David to board the plane. Another round of hugs was in order. When it was Sam’s turn, David kissed both her cheeks and whispered, “Thanks, sis.”
“Anytime, brother. Just remember to call.” They embraced for a little while longer before he turned to head towards the departure gate. Giving them a final wave, he disappeared among the other departing guests.
“I’m sorry, Mama, I should have told you about our problems,” Joanne spoke over the phone. Old Mrs Marin had sensed something was wrong between her son and his wife when he did not call her for the past few weeks so she decided to find out from her daughter-in-law.
“And how long do you think you can keep it from me and Papa?” Mrs Marin said angrily in Spanish.
Joanne felt miserable enough being unable to contact Carlos, and she felt even worse now getting a dressing-down from her mother-in-law. Perhaps it wasn’t that bad having to tell his parents all their problems, she reasoned, they might be able to help. So when she finished relating to the older woman what caused the rift between her and her husband, she waited with bated breathe for what Mam would say.
“I see, so you think he is unfaithful to you, and he thinks you are unfaithful to him, but none of you are unfaithful to each other?”
“Yes, Mama,” Joanne sniffled a little.
“No problem! He will call me soon I’m sure; he’s my son after all. I will talk to him and everything will be fine,” Mama said confidently.
“But it’s not so simple. He saw the man half-naked in our apartment…”
“But you said it was a misunderstanding, yes? He was there to help you fix the pipe, yes? So what’s the problem? I don’t see it.”
“Thank you, Mama. When I have my work sorted out here, I’ll come by to your place and we can talk and maybe try to figure out where my stubborn husband is. He wants me to meet him at the lawyer’s office on Monday to sign the papers.”
“Don’t go. If you don’t go, he can’t do anything. Leave it to mama.” And so it was decided: leave it to mama. Joanne, feeling a weight lifted off her shoulder, dialed another number.
“Felix, I’m not doing the documentary anymore.” With that introduction, she held the phone inches away from her ear as Felix ranted and raved for a full ten minutes.
“Fine, I’ll compensate the company for breaking my contract. Bye.” Before Felix could get another word in, she had hung up the phone. Strangely enough, losing her job had never felt so good.
Next another phone call, this time to Sam, who completely supported her on her decision to stop working for the time being.
“It’s good for you to just concentrate on getting your marriage crisis sorted. The job will come later, there’s no need to worry about it.”
“But I’ll need to pay the company for breaking my contract. I’ll be a very poor woman by then, and if Carlos doesn’t want me back, I’ll be sleeping on the street.” All of a sudden Joanne’s future seemed bleak to her.
“That won’t happen. You have Mama’s support and you know how he adores his Mama. Besides, Carlos is a gentleman and he loves you very much. He’ll never let you suffer no matter what happens between the two of you,” Sam assured her.
“Well, if he really loves me he should at least hear me out,” Joanne lamented.
“Joanne, you were the one who threw him out of the house and then ignored him for more than two months. It sounds more like you’re talking about yourself there,” Sam chided.
The words stung her but Joanne knew Sam was right. She was more to blame than Carlos. Ginny’s words “Don’t overdo it” came back to haunt her. She overdid it and she was facing the consequences. She felt even more terrible than before.
Once they got off the line, Sam updated Urs and Ginny on the Marins’ saga. Everyone felt sure that there was hope for Carlos and Joanne.
Carlos woke up with a familiar headache, one that he had been having since the shock of seeing his wife with another man in his apartment. The past few days had been spent drinking and clubbing like there was no tomorrow, but each night, or rather, each morning when he got back to his hotel room, he would feel a sense of profound emptiness and sadness.
This afternoon he woke up and decided he needed to do something about his life and so he checked his mobile phone. As soon as he switched it on, messages kept coming in, mostly from Joanne, and some from the guys and Sam. David’s message caught his attention. Reading it he felt sorry to have made his younger friend feel responsible for the predicament he was in.
He read all the messages except those sent by Joanne. He felt strongly that he had been cheated by his wife and the hurt was so immense that seeing her name on the screen sent stabs of pain through his heart. He had spent the last few days crying in anguish and pain till he fell asleep. No woman had ever made him feel the way she made him feel and that was what made the betrayal hurt even more. He had never loved any woman like he loved her and he knew he couldn’t love another one after her. He got up to shower and change, then picked up the phone and called David.
“Hi,” was all he said.
“Where the hell have you been, Carlos? We’re all worried sick about you,” David was both surprised and glad that he called.
Releasing a deep sigh, Carlos replied, “Trying to get back to being single again. I’ve forgotten how much fun it was.”
“You know what, Carlos? You’re a lousy liar! I can hear from your voice you’re not enjoying life as you want me to believe. I wish you and Joanne would both grow up and act like responsible adults. You both are giving us the worst headaches!” David couldn’t help ranting at his band mate. He was really worried about Carlos throughout the flight back to the States. Now as he sat in his apartment sorting through Sandra’s stuff and talking to the Spaniard again, he felt the tension drain from him.
“Headaches? You don’t know what headaches are! Headaches are when you wake up in the morning and thought ‘My wife cheated on me!’ Headaches are when your life is in such a mess that no amount of drink would take away the pain! I’ve been waking up with the worst headaches anyone could ever imagine so tell me about it!” Carlos’s booming voice made David hold the phone away from his ear.
There was silence for a brief moment before David came on the line, “I’m sorry Carlos. You’re absolutely right; we have no idea how lousy you’re feeling right now. But that’s because we know what really went on before you turned up at the apartment. Joanne explained it to Sam. It was all a misunderstanding.”
“Misunderstanding? I saw it with my own eyes! That man was standing at the door without any shirt on. I’ve been away for two months; they could’ve done many things together during that time!”
Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to get through to the raging Spaniard, David tried another tactic, “Your mum’s worried sick about you. Why haven’t you called her?”
“And tell her what? That my wife cheated on me and I’m getting a divorce?”
“Well, she’s going to know sooner or later, so why keep her in suspense?”
“Alright, I’ll call her. Please tell the others that I’m fine and will be signing the papers next week.”
Sighing, David replied, “It’s your life, Carlos. You do what you want but don’t you regret it!”
When the line went dead, there was a sense of regret hanging in the air. Carlos had wanted to make David feel better by telling him he wasn’t to be blamed, instead they ended up having a shouting match. Could his life get any worse than this? He shook his head as he called his mother.
“Mama, it’s me,” he said over the phone.
“Carlos? Are you really my son Carlos? I thought he had been taken away by aliens,” came the sarcastic reply.
“I’m sorry, Mama, I should have called earlier.”
“Yes, but instead you waited till one of us is dying then you call,” Mama didn’t let up on her anger.
“Who’s dying? What are you talking about?” Mama could hear the anxiety in her son’s voice. Good, she thought.
“Your father isn’t feeling too good lately; keeps complaining of chest pain. Doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with him. I think he misses you and Joanne,” Mama looked over across the table where Joanne was seated and winked.
“How could that be? The last time we saw each other he was fit and healthy,” Carlos sounded suspicious.
“We are not young, my son. Four months ago seems more like four years for us. Are you coming back to see us, or do you wait till your father has a leg in the coffin?” Carlos could tell Mama was getting really angry.
“Don’t say that, Mama, of course I’ll come over.”
“I don’t know…”
“What do you mean you don’t know? She’s your wife! If you don’t come back with her, your father is going to think something bad has happened and he will no doubt be worried about you,” again, Mama winked at Joanne who was covering her mouth with her hand to keep from laughing out loud.
Sighing loudly, Carlos replied, “Alright. With Joanne. We’ll be home tomorrow evening.”
“And Carlos, is she pregnant yet?” Mama wanted to know and she kept her eyes on her daughter-in-law, who seemed taken off-guard by the question and was blushing slightly.
Remembering the long time that they had been apart, he mumbled, “I hope not.”
“What do you mean by that? If you’re unable to have children, I forgive you. But if you’re planning not to have children, don’t call me Mama! I’m not going to be around forever and I want a grandchild by my son soon. Do you hear me?” Mama looked at Joanne emphatically and Joanne could only nod her head.
Another sigh, “Yes, Mama.”
Sandra’s parents, Mr and Mrs Peterson, had just left the apartment after collecting some of Joanne’s stuff. They agreed with David that the rest of the stuff that he couldn’t keep should be donated to the Salvation Army. They were very understanding when David told them he wanted to sell the apartment and move to England and they even told him he should move on with his life.
David stared at the empty apartment, empty save for the furniture, fixture and furnishing. Sitting down on the two-seater sofa that he used to share with Sandra, he called his property agent, Max. They bought the apartment through Max, now he would sell it off through him. After some instructions to the agent, he hung up the phone. Taking his gym bag, he headed off to the club house nearby.
He went through some gym exercises and headed to the pool for a relaxing swim. After a few laps, he heard a familiar voice.
“Come here, Amelia, time to shower.”
He looked around and there she was, holding out a pink bath towel for Amelia. David observed the mother and daughter for a few moments before he pushed himself up the side of the pool and walked towards them. Amelia noticed him immediately and as he smiled and open his arms to her, she ran over to him without hesitation.
“Amelia, what are you doing?” mommy shrieked.
“Hi, Claire. Remember me?” David smiled his friendly smile.
“Oh, David, what a surprise meeting you all the way here!” Claire beamed when she realized it was the tall one.
“I had unfinished business here too,” he grinned as he brought Amelia back to her mommy. Eyeing the deck chair next to Claire, he asked a silent question. She replied with a nod and a smile.
Claire couldn’t believe her eyes as she watched him lower his tall frame onto the chair. His body was inch perfect, the broad shoulders and flat abs. He wasn’t covered in chest hair, just a sprinkling of it, and she was pleased. Amelia’s father was like a gorilla with all the hair on his body that it was hard to find a spot that was bald. God, what did she ever see in him? Certainly not the chest hair, she mused.
“So, is your business done here?” David asked casually.
“Almost. Another hearing, a verdict, and we’ll be free to move on,” she replied just as casually as if she was talking to a long time friend.
“Do you mind if…”
“No. I’m getting a divorce and we’re going through the settlement and custody of our daughter. Not that he would want to be tied down with a daughter tagging on to him, mind you, but I feel we need to get everything straightened out and I don’t want him to come back into her life ever again. So I’m getting full custody with no visiting rights for him, and it seems to suit him well,” she explained matter-of-factly.
David squinted his eyes and was quiet for a moment before he said, “I see. Things must be really rough for you.”
“I get by with support from my parents and siblings. It’s funny how you’ve always made the right choice in life only to mess up when it comes to picking the right man to share your life with. That’s me.”
David was embarrassed having gained such an insight into the personal life of a stranger. He looked away for a while and that action wasn’t lost on Claire.
“Hey, I’m sorry to make you uncomfortable with my life story. I’m having lunch with my parents so I guess I’d better get going.” Taking her bag and holding Amelia’s hand, she stood up to walk away.
With a smile and an instruction to Amelia to say goodbye, Claire and her daughter walked towards the shower room, leaving David to stare after her long legs and shapely body.
As Claire showered with Amelia, David’s face kept cropping up in her mind. Not just the face, the magnificent body too. Her face felt flushed as she envisioned running her fingers across the broad expanse of his chest. What’s wrong with her? She married a jerk and now she was looking to get burnt again. Hadn’t she learnt her lesson? Shaking her head, she began to towel dry her daughter and herself.
When they were dressed, they walked out of the shower room with Amelia laughing when mommy tickled her. They were so engrossed with each other that they didn’t notice a very tall man standing right in front of them and both mother and daughter bumped into him.
“Oops! I’m sorry…It’s you again!” Claire couldn’t help giggling.
Laughing, David teased, “Why? Are you getting sick of me?” Then in a more serious tone, he asked, “I was thinking if you need a ride to your next appointment I can give you a lift if you want. I’m free the rest of the day.”
Looking at his tall frame, Claire marvelled at the easy smile on his face. With the sun shining brightly behind him, he seemed to be spotting a halo and Claire couldn’t help but giggled at the thought.
“What’s so funny?” David was puzzled but her giggling amused him.
Controlling her giggling fit with great difficulty, she explained, “I’m sorry. Once I get started I usually find it hard to stop. My mum calls me The Giggler.”
David threw back his head and laughed at the nickname, and the fun nature of the woman in front of him. When they stopped laughing, he said, “So, Miss Giggler, do you want a lift or not?”
“Of course, Mr Sunshine,” she winked at him. Her action and the nickname she gave him took him by surprise and he just stared at her. Suddenly she was aware of what she just did and colour crept up her face. “I’m sorry, I got carried away.”
“Nothing to be sorry about. It’s fun talking to you. Shall we go?” She nodded and before she could take a step, he offered to take her bag. Impressed by his chivalry, she handed him her bag with a smile and walked towards the entrance of the club to the car park. Before getting into the car, she told him the name of the restaurant where she was supposed to meet her parents.
“Do you know where it is? I’ve never been there so I can’t tell you how to get there,” she said.
Nodding his head, David pulled out of the car park and headed in the direction of the restaurant. Claire felt uncomfortable as it seemed he had suddenly turned moody. Did she just get into a car with a psycho? She began to worry.
“My wife and I used to dine there. She loved Italian food and the ambience is nice,” as if reading her mind, he explained. He surprised himself by saying ‘wife’ instead of ‘fiancée’, but it didn’t really matter; she would have been his wife if things didn’t happen the way it did.
“Oh, she must have had very good taste not just in food,” Claire’s eyes sparkled at the hidden meaning and David chuckled.
“Not everyone agrees, I’m afraid.”
“And where is Mrs Miller then?”
A brief pause, then a smile, “Up there, in heaven.”
Her initial reaction to that was surprise, and as she started to apologise for bringing up a sad topic, she saw the smile and said instead, “She must have been a marvellous woman to have made it up there. You’re a lucky guy.”
The fact that Claire didn’t say the usual “I’m sorry, I didn’t know” made David appreciate her even more and he turned to her with a sincere smile on his face “Thank you,” he said.
The journey continued in friendly chatter. Amelia had fallen asleep on her mother’s lap. The swim had tired her out. When they got to the restaurant, Claire tried to wake the little girl but she refused to wake up. Getting out of the car, David walked to Claire’s side and opened the door.
“Let me carry her,” he offered and carried the girl off her mother’s lap. Amelia’s arms went round his neck instinctively as she snuggled closer. Claire got out of the car and got her bag out of the backseat. Turning to David, she held out her hands for her daughter.
“It’s ok. I’ll help you carry her inside,” David offered again. Seeing how he liked to cuddle her little girl and remembering their first real meeting at the airport, she let him lead the way into the restaurant.
“Mr Miller. How nice to see you again,” the restaurant manager greeted him.
“Hello, Lawrence,” David smiled. Claire stepped forward to inform the manager she had made a reservation. He checked his record and said her guests had arrived. Before he led them to the table, David turned to her and said, “Would you like me to bring her in for you or do you prefer to do it yourself?”
“I’m so sorry, David. She’s a very deep sleeper. I’m beginning to worry about what it would be like when she starts schooling. I’ll take it from here.” As she tried to claim her daughter from David, little Amelia struggled and made some noise; she didn’t want to be disturbed. “Looks like your shoulder is much more comfortable than mine,” Claire smiled apologetically.
“It’s ok. Let’s bring her in. Maybe the smell of coffee will wake her,” he winked, and she started to giggle. “Oh no, don’t start!” he said in mock horror. She laughed harder as he chuckled and they caught the attention of the other patrons. But by the time they reached the table, Claire had managed to control herself.
An elderly couple seated at a table looked up with great interest at the young man carrying their granddaughter. Claire set her bag on one of the empty chairs and turned to David.
“Thank you for the lift and for helping me with Amelia,” she whispered to him as she tried to relieve him of her daughter.
“Aren’t you going to introduce your friend, Claire?” the elderly man asked.
Smiling ruefully at him, Claire turned to her parents as she tried to balance her daughter in her arms and said, “Mom, Dad, this is Mr David Miller. David, this is my dad, Thomas Morgan, and mum, Jenny.”
Stretching his hand out to shake their hands, David smiled charmingly, “How do you do, Sir, Ma’am.”
Mr Morgan seemed impressed, “Why don’t you join us, Mr Miller.”
“Please call me David. I don’t think it’s such a good idea since it’s a family lunch. Besides, I have an appointment with my property agent,” David replied hesitantly. Claire looked at him quizzically. Didn’t he say he was free the rest of the day? Maybe he wasn’t comfortable meeting her family; after all, they had just met.
“Yes, daddy. David is a very busy man, but he’s kind enough to offer us a ride here,” Claire told her father and then turning to David, she said, “Thank you for driving us here and helping me with sleeping beauty.” David smiled at her appreciatively and bade them farewell.
When David’s form disappeared in the distance, Claire regretted not asking for his contact. Would she meet him again, she wondered. Lunch was spent not just enjoying the delicious Italian food but also explaining how she and David met. Her mother was dismayed that they had not exchanged contact details. “He’s such a fine young man,” she had said.
“Mum, I’m going through a divorce right now,” Claire reminded her mother with a roll of her eyes.
“But you’ve been living apart for almost a year now; you’re as good as being single.” And the debate went on throughout lunch.
The moment David stepped out of the restaurant, he felt lost. He didn’t know what he wanted to do. He had no appointment to attend to, he didn’t feel like meeting up with friends and he certainly couldn’t turn back and say to the Morgans that he had changed his mind. Looking around the familiar neighbourhood, he decided to grab a sandwich and head back to the apartment.
Once back home, he set about getting himself a drink and sat in front of his laptop to check his email as he munched away at his sandwich. His mind automatically drifted back to his meeting with Claire as he scanned the emails. He was surprised that they actually chatted like old friends. Sure, there were a couple of odd moments, like when she revealed her reason for being in LA and when she asked where Sandra was, but other than that they had an easy conversation.
He was enchanted by her bubbly nature, the fact that she could easily find things to make her laugh. From what she said about her husband, he knew that she had an unhappy marriage, but that didn’t stop her from laughing or moving on. It was what captivated him and made him offer her a ride to the restaurant, he just had to get to know her better. But when she mentioned the name of the restaurant, he was momentarily taken back to the days when he and Sandra used to frequent the establishment. She must have sensed his mood as she stopped talking for a while and he felt the need to explain.
The more he thought about her, the more he wanted to get to know her. But they had not exchanged contact details; short of staking out at the restaurant right now, there was no way he could find out her phone number. Shaking his head at the crazy idea, he set about reading his emails, one of which came from Sam. It said that Mama Marin had managed to talk Carlos into visiting her with Joanne. David smiled at the potential fireworks that would take place when the two eventually got together; he rubbed his hands in glee.
Joanne stared at her phone on the table and willed it to ring, tapping her fingers on the marble top of her kitchen table. She was back in her apartment and it had been a few hours since Mama spoke with Carlos but still there was no call from him. Was he going to turn up alone and declare her dead? Or was he going to get a look-alike to pose as her? The silliness of her thoughts was borne out of desperation. What if he decided not to turn up with her? Mama had told her to go home and wait for his call, should she call Mama and tell her he hadn’t called yet? She decided against it. Have faith, she told herself.
In the distance she could hear the buzzer of the doorbell, but it didn’t register in her sleep-induced state. Then came the loud banging and her head shot up from the table where it had been resting on. Quickly making her way out of the kitchen, she went to peep at the peep hole of the door. Her breath caught in her throat as she opened the door to a ragged-looking Carlos.
Pushing his way into the apartment, he dropped his bag. “We’re going to my parents’ tomorrow. Prepare a bag to stay for a few days.” With that, he disappeared into the bedroom, only to come out with his pillow.
“I need to sleep.”
“But we need to talk.”
“Talk to my lawyer.”
“Please,” she touched his arm.
He shook it off and said coldly, “I said I need to sleep. We’ll set off at ten tomorrow morning.” With that he proceeded to the guest room and banged the door shut.
Normally that would have prompted Joanne to charge in there and demand that they talk, but this time was different. Things had gotten more complicated and serious and she blamed herself for it. She went back to the room and wept. After what seemed like hours, but in fact was just minutes, she called Sam.
Sam was jolted awake by her ringing mobile phone. Picking up she saw who it was and quietly got off the bed without waking Urs and walked out of the bedroom.
“Sam, he’s back,” Joanne said between sobs.
“He wouldn’t talk to me. He just went into the guest room to sleep.”
“That’s understandable. You can’t expect him to come back and pretend everything’s ok. Besides, he was forced to come home by Mama.”
“What am I going to do?” Joanne asked in desperation.
Sam was quiet for a while as she paced the corridor outside the bedrooms. Suddenly she felt a pair of hands went around her waist and that gave her an idea, albeit a crazy one which she hoped would at least open up Carlos’s willingness to talk. She gently removed Urs’s hands from her waist and gestured for him to give her a few minutes on the phone. He understood and went back to bed.
“Joanne, he’s been without a loving warm body for a long time, unless of course, he had been living it up when you were apart, which I really doubt it.” That little hint was all Joanne needed. She quickly apologized for waking Sam up so late, thanked her and hung up. Sam went back to the waiting arms of her loving husband who wasted no time in showing her how much he loved her.
Joanne opened the drawer containing her collection of intimate lingerie. Picking out a fiery red one with almost see-through bodice, she put it on and dabbed a little perfume on strategic spots. Fluffing up her hair and making sure she looked sultry and irresistible, she took a deep breath, puffed up her chest and left for Carlos’s room. Hand on the door knob, she said a silent prayer and opened the door. There he was lying flat on his stomach, head burrowed in his favourite pillow. Was he wearing anything beneath the blanket, Joanne wondered as she slowly glided into the room.
Playing the seductress wasn’t that difficult for her because Carlos always enjoyed her bold moves and she always obliged. So she climbed into the bed gently and hovering above his back, she dropped butterfly kisses over his shoulder and down his spine.
Carlos wasn’t sleeping at all. He couldn’t sleep, knowing his wife was only a bedroom away from him. Seeing her again had almost knocked him out. God, he missed her so. When he heard the door being opened, he pretended to sleep, hoping that she would leave him alone. He wasn’t sure he if he could stand any kind of contact with her. She drove him crazy with want all the time but this time, it was more complicated than just being desirous of her. This time, there was anger and hurt amid the longing.
But as she crept up to him smelling like heaven, all his senses were awakened and he could feel his self-control slipping away. What was she doing to him? He shut his eyes tightly against the pillow and almost suffocated himself as he held his breath. As she slowly moved her hands down his back, following the trail with her tongue, his body tensed and he let out a groan. Joanne was encouraged by his response so she straddled him and kissed his neck, then she slipped her tongue into his ear before whispering, “I love you, Carlos.”
Her words and her intimate caress undid him as he turned onto his back beneath her and stared at her with darkened eyes, his breath ragged. She let the love show in her eyes as she lowered her head and covered his lips with hers, gently probing with her tongue, and when he did not resist, she probed deeper.
Finally with a grunt, he held her head as he assaulted her mouth, his tongue darting in to meet hers in a fierce battle to satisfy both their needs. Then with a swift motion, she was flipped onto her back, his body on top of hers, his hands roaming the beautiful curves of her body.
The touching and feeling soon became even more frantic and he started to tear at her lingerie; he couldn’t wait to feel her naked skin on his. There was a pause as he stopped to look at her; Joanne’s breath caught in her throat for a fleeting moment as she thought he was going to stop. As if truly satisfied that she was indeed the woman he loved, he took her with a thrust so strong and glorious that she let out a moan of pleasure.
Each wave of pleasure they rode brought them closer and closer to the top and when they finally reached it, they hung on to each other for as long as they could. Finally they slumped back on the bed, their breaths laboured as they held on to each other.
“What are you trying to do to me, woman?” Carlos grunted as he got off of her and lay on the other side of the bed.
“Just trying to let you know how much I love you,” Joanne said huskily as she turned on her side and rested her hand on his chest, her fingers twirling around his chest hair. He grabbed her hand and shoved it aside, then got up to use the bathroom. She bit her bottom lip as she wondered what kind of mood he would come back with.
Carlos looked at himself in the mirror. What was wrong with him? It felt so right making love to Joanne and yet he couldn’t shake off the fact that she had betrayed him. Now where would that lead them? Should he believe her words and forgive her or should he tell her how cheated he felt? He didn’t know what to do.
He stood staring at the mirror for a while before splashing some water on his face. Then he looked around the bathroom for a face towel and there was none. He had forgotten that he was in the guest room. As if reading his mind, Joanne came in with a bath towel. She was clad only in his shirt and she had a shy smile on her face. He took the towel from her and mumbled, “Thanks.” As he wiped his face, she went and hugged him.
“Please talk to me, my love. I miss you so much,” her voice was muffled as she buried her face in his chest and tried to take in his scent.
“Then why did you ignore all my calls and texts?” he sounded hurt. He didn’t know whether to hug her or push her away.
“I was angry and hurt. I never cheated on you, not even once. Felix and I were only colleagues, nothing more.”
“But he was here…”
“He happened to be here, the pipe burst and he helped me switched off the water main. I won’t deny he has feelings for me, but it was just him. I only have eyes for you. You’re the only man I love, Carlos,” she looked up at him, her eyes shimmering with tears, silently pleading with him to believe her.
He stared at her without saying a word. His mind was in turmoil as part of him wanted to believe her; another part refused to let go of the image of a half-naked man in his apartment.
“You expect me to believe that? After two months of avoiding contact with me, you expect me to believe that half-naked man was here solely to help you with the burst pipe?” he said incredulously.
“Yes,” she replied unflinchingly.
He had always admired her spirit but this time he found nothing to be amazed about because he was still raw with hurt at the feeling of betrayal. However watching her standing there with her beautiful blue eyes was more than he could take and he swept her up in his arms and headed to their bedroom.
Laying her gently on the bed, he took her face with both his hands and searched her eyes for the truth. He found nothing but love and tenderness there. Bending down and kissing her, he took her one more time before falling into a deep sleep.
Joanne lay awake watching the man sleeping soundly beside her. There were dark circles underneath his eyes. Feeling sorry for being the cause of that, she lightly planted a kiss on each eye. She wasn’t sure if she was forgiven but she promised herself that she would do whatever it took to make him happy again.
Carlos woke up to an empty bed and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the open door of the bedroom. He lay there thinking of last night. He had never experienced something as strong and powerful as the feelings he had when they made love the second time. Should he trust his feelings?
When he got out of the bathroom and dressed in a polo t-shirt and jeans, he walked out and saw Joanne putting breakfast on a tray.
“You’re up early,” she said softly, unsure of how he would feel about last night. “I was going to bring this in,” she gestured to the breakfast tray.
“It’s ok, we’ll eat in the kitchen,” he said as he walked over to the table. He wanted to hug her and kiss her but something held him back. He was still angry and wasn’t totally convinced about Felix. How close were they, really? Those two months apart, what had she been doing?
“Good morning,” she mumbled against his lips as she slipped her arms around his neck and kissed him. Pulling away from his face, she stared up at him with uncertainty in her eyes. He smiled slightly but did not reciprocate. After a quiet breakfast, they got ready to leave for his parents’ home.