A Different Man
“Babe! I’m back!”
Linda immediately wiped her brush and left it on the round table beside her canvas. She almost tripped on the stairs as she rushed to the main door. Because of so much excitement, she even forgot to remove her apron, which is full of splashes of paint. By the time she got downstairs, Lucas had already settled his luggage beside the door, removed his coat, and thrown it on the floor.
Linda threw a big hug to Lucas, who immediately pushed her away. He looks disgusted, wiping his expensive long-sleeved polo.
“What’s wrong? Aren’t you happy to see me?”
Linda was surprised by her boyfriend’s reaction. She assumed he would reciprocate her actions.
“Of course, I am, Babe. But this is a Thom Browne polo! A prestigious and expensive brand! I just bought this last month, and it was spoiled by your dirty apron!”
“Oh! I’m sorry.”
She slowly walks away from Lucas, saddened by his reaction. Even though he always says that he loves her, his actions always show the opposite. In her subconscious, Linda knows that she might not be the most special person to him, but she always makes herself believe that she is.
“This is a surprise, babe. Why didn’t you call me so I could prepare? I’ll just cook lunch for you. Have a rest for a while.”
She takes off her apron and puts it on top of the coffee table, then picks up Lucas’ coat that was thrown on the floor and hangs it on the coat rack just beside the shoe cabinet. She also noticed that he hadn’t taken off his shoes, leaving slight mud tracks from the door to her living room. She wants to scold him because of this. Linda hates seeing mess and dirt inside her house. She is very particular when it comes to cleanliness—almost a neat freak. But she stayed quiet instead, recalling his earlier reaction to the paint that spoiled his branded polo. She missed her boyfriend so much and waited for him for a year and a half to be mad about the untidiness he caused.
She quickly mopped the dirt on the floor and vacuumed the carpet before she started preparing lunch for both of them. She took out the premium steak from the fridge and washed, cut, and boiled some asparagus and carrots to complement it. She grilled the meat on a low flame with olive oil for fifteen minutes on each side. She also took out a bottle of Chateau Margaux from her wine collection. It was a gift from a fellow artist she met in Italy. This wine is thought to be worth around $12,300 per bottle and is extremely rare. Linda doesn’t care about the cost or rarity of things when it comes to Lucas.
While setting the table, she heard Lucas’ phone ring two times.
“Babe! Someone is calling.”
She called out to him, but it seems like Lucas is not answering the phone. She went back to the living room and found him sitting and sleeping on the couch with both arms hanging on the backrest. She took his phone to answer the third call. The name that is registered as the caller is “Love.” Linda’s heartbeat quickened; she shivered and asked Lucas who was calling. She was about to answer it when Lucas got up from the couch and snatched his phone away.
“Get away from my stuff!”
Linda was again shocked, and this time she felt a stinging pain in her chest. She doesn’t recognize the person in front of her anymore. She froze and watched Lucas walk out of the door to answer the call. She stood there for a couple of minutes. When Lucas came back inside, he found her still standing in front of the center coffee table, zoned out by what had happened earlier.
“What’s wrong, babe?”
Linda heard Lucas’ voice, but she is still processing what happened and why. He took the bottle of unopened Chateau Margaux off the dining table and gave Linda a quick smack on her cheek.
“You didn’t tell me you own one of these precious wines.”
He lifted the bottle in front of his face, reading its label, trying to check for authenticity.
“Who was that?”
“You know who I am referring to.”
He pretended to be innocent, which made Linda more doubtful. She almost grits her teeth as she answers him.
“Ms. Love Garcia called for an emergency meeting. We’ll be meeting some clients later at dinner.”
“You just came back.”
“Sorry. I need to go, babe, for work stuff. Just enjoy the steak and open another bottle of wine.”
Linda doesn’t understand what’s happening. Lucas is almost at the door when he turns back to face Linda again with a big smile. Her hopes went up. She assumed he had changed his mind and would join her for lunch when:
“And oh! The veggies are burning. You might want to get them out of the pan.”
Lucas chuckled then headed out of the house, bringing all his things back with him and leaving more dirt in the kitchen, living room, and through the main door.
Linda came back to her senses when she smelled the burning vegetables. She quickly turns off the range and turns on the exhaust switch to let the smoke out. Only the perfectly cooked steak remained on the table. She looks at the empty glasses and plates in front of her. Her mind is full of questions and wondering. Her floors are messy, and so is her life now.
They have been in a relationship for seven years, and she had never seen him act or talk to her like that in the past. Lucas has always been a good man for her. She worked hard at many part-time jobs and sold her artwork to sustain his studies at a prestigious art school. She graduated earlier than him because of being accelerated for a few levels. He left the country after being accepted by a reputable company that sells and auctions various works of art. And now that he’s back, Linda thinks he will be the same person that she loves. She can’t help but cry on the dining table to ease the pain in her chest.