Why am I even considering this? Juliet pondered out loud to herself.
She detested the holidays. Being a single woman especially over the holidays is quite the solemn experience. Moreso when it seemed that most of her friends were starting their own families. Gina was blissfully ecstatic in her 10 year relationship with her partner. Pam was a single mom to 2 beautiful kids and even she was actively dating. And Jane, well, was never one to be alone, drifting between male and women lovers.
Out of nowhere Richard had called and plundered her into chaos. Damn, about one year too late.
‘Surprised you have my number’, she managed to squeak to cover her initial shock
‘Some things you just never forget. Am in town. Let’s have dinner tomorrow night’
Just like that he expected to waltz back into her life. She had gone to great lengths to avoid him. Going as far as changing her address.
‘Always running away,’ Pam, being overly motherly, would always taunt her.
‘More like self-preservation,’ she would shoot back in defense.
Her Achilles heel, he had broken her to pieces. All their enthralling chemistry was shattered, something unimaginable to her during their short whirlwind 2 months of exclusive dating. One misunderstanding that blew up and tore apart the framework of her happiness. The result of which made her lose her growing fetus due to the trepidating apprehension levels. She only had to close her eyes to replay the dreaded scene all over.
‘Listen Jules, I am not taking responsibility for another man’s mistake’ he growled
‘Don’t you want to be a father?’ she was pleading.
His face contorted and he spun away from her. She stood frozen by a reaction she had never expected as he finished dressing. She had followed him when he walked out to the living room. It hurt. Horribly. His eyes had spoken volumes about what he thought of her and it was all terrible.
If he loved her as she did him he would believe her
‘It was all just sex for you wasn’t it?’
‘What else would it be with a woman like you?’
She couldn’t answer him. Her heart was breaking and it was a physical pain so debilitating, she could barely stand
He turned and left as she stumbled to her bathroom to be sick over the toilet
That was the last she had seen of him.
There was no coming back from that ordeal.
Everyone else had plans of course. It was Christmas Eve. Juliet was down to two options, spending the night alone sipping wine and watching sappy movies or accepting Richard’s invitation to dining with him. It was a rock and a hard place to put it mildly.
She called Jane to get her perspective on the matter.
‘Deep down you know you are dying to see him’, never one to mince words, Jane had muttered
Am I? she asked herself in introspect
‘The last time I saw him…’, Juliet trailed off
‘I know mama..if he tries anything I will dump both my dinner dates with Chris and Tina and show up with a bat’ Juliet could perfectly imagine her neck-rolling and snapping her fingers.
That was classic Jane for you. Definitely unconventional.
She decided to face the music and meet with him at the cosy Manane Restaurant. She had to begrudgingly admit she took a bit too long to prepare. Clad in red velvet and red bottom heels, she was the epitome Sexy Santa.
‘Hello Jules’, he said as he pulled a seat for her. ‘Glad you came’
‘I hope this goes well, am crossing fingers and everything,’ Juliet responded in kind, not taking kindly to how at ease he seemed.
‘Hopefully not quite everything’, he grinned. He always had a trick of making innocuous statements reverberate with hidden meaning. How many delicious hours had she wasted going over his conversations, sentence by sentence, holding out for the secret significance? Too many.
He had taken the liberty of ordering some food and a bottle of red wine. The waiter served on them and left them to their misery.
With a remorseless precision that melted her bones and fired arrows of sensation through her, he placed a feather kiss the fragile inner side of her wrist
All the surrounding noise in the diner faded to a distant hum, flat without resonance.
A smile hardened his face with his gaze resting for long taut moments on her mouth before dropping to where the velvet of her dress moulded over her creamy ample cleavage. The fact that she was inwardly wavering already hit her like a whip and she released a breath that she hadn’t realized she was holding.
Although openly sexual, that look was a stripped stark claim, without hinting at the smutty prying indecency of a leer. But then he was always a suave well put together bloke, well seasoned in the cutthroat world of banking. Fooling a bedazzled young woman would be a walk in the park.
‘You look good, trust you are keeping well?’ inquisitively he asked.
She remained quiet, subdued, but the hostility that had marked her reaction to him on that dreadful night came alive.
‘I missed you, you know’. Typical arrogant macho male
‘No kidding’, she ridiculed with a voice that she hoped reflected a false bravado.
‘My heart still beats for you. I want a fresh start for us. I want you for my wife’
How easy it was for him. One year ago those words would have thrilled her to bits. now they were more like backhanded blows than the declaration she had once yearned for.
‘You wanted to marry me once’
His index finger covered her mouth, the touch gentle despite the tension vibrating off him. ‘Do not lie. You wanted this, or you would not have told me about the baby, no?’
‘A man deserves to know when he is going to become a father!’
They both took a breath to reel from the emotions. Their volume had gone two tones higher and they were attracting questioning eyes from the surrounding diners.
He proceeded to remove a box upon after opening revealed the most beautiful ring she had ever laid eyes upon. Her eyes were misting betraying the mammoth of emotions raging within.
‘This is part of the reason I had to see you’, he said with a calmer tone. ‘To give you this. Will you please at least consider this? We could be so happy together’
This can’t be happening. All her subdued feelings of the past year rushed to the surface. Must be a dream…
‘I want a clean slate with us’, he started off faltering. ‘I made a mistake and there was a baby…”
It all became too much. She passed out.