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|Valentine(On Dublin Street #5.5)(10) by Samantha Young|
I took the phone off him and stared at his screen.
It was a text from Ally: Your wife seemed mad at us. Are you okay?
My temper started to rise and I flicked through his past conversations with her. I was only somewhat mollified by the fact that they were all work related and not flirtatious.
I handed him his phone back. “You don’t think that text is inappropriate? Since when are you and she an ‘us’?”
He put his phone away. “I do think it’s inappropriate, that’s why I’m not replying.”
“She’s flirting with you.”
“I won’t encourage it.”
“I guess that’s not the point anymore.” I shook my head in disgust, angry that he was oblivious to how shipwrecked our relationship was at the moment.
Something like alarm entered his expression at my tone. “Jo,” he leaned over the table, trying to reach for my hand but I pulled back, “You’re getting worked up over nothing.”
Nothing? Did he honestly not see what was going on here?
I threw my napkin on the table and stood up, my chair scraping loudly along the hardwood floors. “I’m not in the mood for Valentine’s Day after all. I’ll see you back home.”
“Jo.” He stood up, reaching for my arm and missing as I fled the restaurant.
I felt sick.
I got in a taxi, trembling the whole way to London Road. Once inside the flat I looked around at the familiar space, the place we’d lived in together for over a decade.
My gaze locked on Belle’s doll. It was draped across the armchair. Her cartoon DVDs were scattered across the floor in front of the television.
I wanted my daughter in my arms so much it hurt.
I wanted to breathe her in and take comfort from her.
Because my home didn’t feel familiar right now. It felt cold and lonely and missing its familiar beauty.
The front door slammed and I heard Cam’s heavy, fast strides as he walked down the hallway. He appeared in the doorway to the sitting room, his tall frame taking up an intimidating amount of space. His expression was as black as midnight.
“What the fuck was that?” he snapped.
“Do you not want to be with me anymore?” I said, warm, salty tears slipping quietly down my cheeks at the utterance of my fear.
My husband looked at me incredulously as he took a step toward me. I waved a hand at him, warding him off and he frowned, halting. “Where is this coming from?”
“Did you know Dee had a breast cancer scare a month ago?”
He blinked rapidly at the dramatic turn in conversation. “No.”
“No.” I shook my head, curling my lip in disdain. “Of course you wouldn’t because every time I try to have a conversation with you, you blow me off to take a phone call from either the office or a client. Any tiny miniscule of free time you have you spend with Belle and that’s fine because she’s more important… but it’s like you don’t even care that we haven’t had a real conversation in months or that you haven’t touched me in six weeks. Nothing but a perfunctory kiss on the lips before you leave for work in the morning. Almost like a habit rather than a desire.”
“You think I haven’t noticed?” he said, exasperated. “Of course I’ve noticed we haven’t seen much of each other, but we knew this transition would be hard at first.”
“There’s difficult and then there’s this!” I cried. “Maybe other women accept this but I won’t put up with it. I didn’t marry you so the other side of my bed would be warm at night. I married you because you’re supposed to be my best friend.”
“I am your best friend. We’re having a rough time, that’s all.”
“Is nothing.” He glared at me. “And the fact that you would think otherwise has me really fucking worried.”
I nodded slowly. “You should be, Cam. You should be worried.”
He paled. “What are you saying?”
I narrowed my eyes on him. “I’m saying I’ve been lonely for months and you haven’t reached for me, you haven’t noticed.” The tears were running too fast down my cheeks for me to keep up with wiping them so I just left them. “I’ve tried to pretend that it’s okay. It’s just a rough patch. But it’s not okay. I’m not the girl who thought she wasn’t worthy of real love anymore. I’m not her. She would have let you take her for granted. I won’t.” I shook my head. “The way I feel right now… it’s not okay. I’m not a bloody doll you can put aside while you’re too busy to play with me. I’m your wife and marriage doesn’t just magically work out. You have to work at it. And if you don’t want to do that anymore because you’re too busy with other pursuits then fine… but I’m not sticking around for it. Belle and I will find somewhere else to live. Do you understand me?”
The words had barely left my mouth and Cam was across the room, gripping my arms tight, pulling me into his body. I let out a little gasp of surprise as I tilted my head back to look up into his strained face.
“Never,” his lips trembled with emotion, “Never say that to me again. I can’t live without you.” he rested his forehead against mine, and I felt him trembling. “I’m sorry,” he whispered hoarsely. “I’m so fucking sorry I made you feel that way.”
We stood together for a moment as I let the sincerity and fear in his voice calm me somewhat.
Our breathing found pace, our inhales and exhales slowing down.
“I don’t mean to be needy,” I whispered, my cheeks burning over what I’d said to him, what I’d threatened. “It’s just not like you to not… want me.”
“I’ll always want you,” he said, his voice gruff. “I’ve just been so fucking exhausted trying to keep up with everything.”
I pulled back to look at him. “I know. I know… I just...” I shrugged, feeling guilty for even suggesting leaving him.
He nodded, his soulful eyes searing into mine. “But you’re right. I was taking you for granted. I just expected you to put up with my absence while things were tough.”
“I want to support you,” I said. “I do. But I’ve felt invisible lately.”