“Where are you going?” I dared to ask as I watched her put on her boots.
“Out,” she retorted.
I glanced at the window. “Winter’s on the war path. Are you sure that’s a wise choice?” A cavalcade of chills rippled up my backside. “You’ll barely see beyond your nose. You’ll get lost.”
She peered at me through a curtain of auburn hair. Whatever she was about to say I could tell she was sizing me up for impact. You get to know those things after living together for a year. We planned to marry in the spring.
I slowly backed away. My only comfort at that moment was the pleasant warmth of the fireplace against my backside.
“Maybe that’s what I want…to get lost.”
My heart sank.
She cocked one eyebrow. “Anyway, what’s wrong with my nose?”
Ugh, I thought, I’m caught in a double whammy. Diplomacy should have shot to the top of my list but my genetics lack dearly there. I have always been told to speak from the heart. Begrudgingly, though, I have learned that my fate is generally more akin to the poor bull in the china shop. Well here I go into the valley. Mine is not to reason why, only just to do and …die? Hmm.
“I’m sorry…I shouldn’t’ve done it.” I tried to muster a smile. “Judith, we can work this thing out. Stay. There’s a nice fire. Your favorite wine is on the counter. And goodies are in the fridge. What do you say? Huh? Oh, and by the way, there’s nothing wrong with that cute pug nose of yours”
Figuratively speaking, an iron curtain suddenly thwacked between us.
“If you think you can placate me with a romantic fire, goodies, wine and appending my appearance to a boxer or pug dog, you’ve got another thing coming.”
Ouch! Calling her a pugilist or a flat nosed wrinkly faced pooch was not my intention.
“Button nose, I meant button nose.” My legs felt like they were being seared by the fire.
She brushed aside her hair and stared at me. “Babies, young children and maybe some teens but adults, no, adults don’t have button noses, Arthur. Now, let me finish.” She held up her hand to silence me. “What’s happening has nothing to do with any of this and you know it. You broke the honesty and trust between us the moment you read my diary. You did it without my permission. And then you had the gull to lie to me.”
Tears bubbled up in the corner of her eyes.
I drew up a chair beside her and sat down. “I’m sorry. I’m such a schmuck.”
“Yes you are.” She looked at me long and hard.
Words stuck in my throat. I could only shrug and shake my head. An eternity of silence passed between us. Her demeanor softened.
“Arthur, please help me. I’m trying to comprehend why you did it.”
I stood up and walked to the window in the living room. Winter’s fury continued to rage outside. “I could say I was thoughtless, in an unthinking sort of way.” I turned to face her. “But, unthinking it was not. Foolish, yes, but my actions… were deliberate. The truth, sometimes, can be a bad thing. This is one of those situations.” I returned to the chair beside her and sat down. “Judith, I have loved you from the first moment I saw you. And still do, even more so. Yet…I allowed doubt to get in the way of that love.”
“Doubts about me?”
“Yes,” I sighed.
“I see… I don’t know what to say.” Taking off her jacket, she neatly placed it over the back of her chair and walked to the kitchen counter. She offered up the bottle of Bordeaux.
When she returned, she handed me my glass and suggested we move the couch so that it faced the fireplace. After we had done that I threw a couple of logs on the fire and joined her. For a long while neither of us spoke. We sat sipping our wine.
There are four essentials to a healthy relationship: trust, honesty, communication and cuddle time (non-sexual touching). And I, being the idiot I am, demolished the first three. What can I say? The curiosity bug had bitten me. To be honest, I have always wondered what she wrote in her diary every day. It had become just too damn tempting not to have a peek. When I saw her with that other guy… well… that just broke the camel’s back. Jealousy did the rest. Who was he? Huh-huh! I thought. There is justification! As I saw it, I now had my moral compass to rifle through her diary.
“What kind of doubt?”
Taking in a deep breath, I curled my leg up on the couch and faced her. “Who was that guy I saw you with last Wednesday outside SideKicks Café?”
I could see a smile curling up at the corner of her mouth. “So that’s your excuse.”
“You deny it?”
She shook her head. “I’m disappointed in you. No, I won’t deny it. What I don’t understand is why you didn’t just ask me? Instead, you let your imagination run away with you.”
She stared at the fire, rolling the goblet between her hands.
“You’re leaving me for that other guy?”
She turned so sharply to face me I recoiled. “That other guy was my brother, you jerk.”