Happily Married [ROMANCE]

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[16]

October 25th 2017

Calvin didn’t go into work that day.

He had called his PA Noah on the way here, and told him that he should maintain everything while he took the day off. Noah was surprised that his boss had taken a day off, but didn’t question it as he knew the way his boss preferred to work. No questions.

And Noah respected his wishes.

Calvin closed the front door behind him quietly, listening out for the ‘click’ so that he would know it was closed.

He could only imagine how mad Audrey must be, and he didn’t want to add any more fuel to the fire.

After talking to his brother, his head had cleared a bit. Calvin winced, thinking about the inner turmoil that Audrey must be going through everyday knowing that her husband cheated on her. Now, not loving her, he couldn’t control. But the way that he composed himself regarding the situation, he could.

He figured, the least he could do is honour the remainder of the two months that is left. And after that, he would go his way, and hopefully she would go hers. He would be able to live his happy life with Jane and start a family. He wouldn’t have to see her again once the time was over.

He felt guilty and was ready to make amends. He doubted that it would make much of a difference, being civil to his wife after emotionally torturing her for the past two years, but it was all that he could do.

Calvin couldn’t make himself stop hating Audrey, but he could try ignoring his feelings. For now, anyway.

If he was being honest, there was a part of him that was scared...of what Audrey would do. He had technically broken the contract by going to see Jane -the fact that he had done much more than just see her, he would keep to himself- and Audrey was entitled to the house along with everything that he had ever given her; including the pendant that Jane so badly wanted. She could have him out of the street with just the clothes on his back in less than an hour, but he knew she wouldn’t.

She loved him too much.

And that just made him feel guiltier.

All these years, not once did he stop to think what he was doing to Audrey -even though she was to blame for the destruction of their marriage- and now that he did, it was all so overwhelming.

He could only imagine how Audrey dealt with it all.

Placing his briefcase down on the coffee table, he was surprised to find Audrey still asleep. On the sofa.

Glancing at his expensive wrist watch, he noted the time. 10.41 am. He was surprised. Audrey was an early worm, she barely ever slept past eight.

It was probably good that he didn’t have to face her straight away. After he had been away for five days. He had no idea what he would do or say if she were to be waiting for him.

He didn’t trust himself.

Tearing his eyes away from her sleeping form, he walked upstairs for a shower.

Less than half an hour later, he was changed into a plain white t-shirt and some loose sweatpants. Seeing as he wasn’t going into work today, he was dressed casually. There was no reason for dressing up today.

One glance at Audrey’s sleeping form, Calvin sighed and headed into the kitchen. He hadn’t cooked a meal in a long time, but it seemed that he would have to today if he wanted something to eat.

It was quite ironic that when he had first come home, he was glad that she was asleep, but now he wished that she was awake. Even if the reason was that he wanted her to cook his lunch.

It was quite selfish of him, but he was hungry.

Calvin wasn’t much of a chef, but he knew how to boil some pasta and brew up some sort of sauce to go with it. The fact that pasta just happened to be Audrey’s favourite meal was a mere coincidence. It definitely didn’t have anything to do with appeasing his guilty conscience.

He didn’t have much to go wrong with -and not that he would admit it- but Calvin had to make a third batch of the sauce to get it right, as he had burnt the first, and the second was just terrible. It took longer than expected, but it didn’t matter much as Audrey was still asleep.

But once he was done, he wiped his hands on the apron which he wore while cooking. Audrey would just have to wash it later, what with all the gunk that he had gotten on it.

It was a little past one in the afternoon when he walked back into the living room, his eyes resting on Audrey’s sleeping form. She looked so peaceful when she was asleep, clutching the blanket close to her, tucked under her chin. Her red locks splayed across the pillow as she slept on her side, her face peaceful and serene as she slept.

Audrey didn’t move when Calvin sat down on the coffee table in front of her, even when it squeaked slightly at his weight. She didn’t stir when he reached out a hand and rested it on her cheek gently, cupping it. She didn’t open her eyes when he leaned forward and placed a lingering kiss against her forehead, whispering a muffled ‘sorry’ against her skin. She didn’t comfort him as he rubbed away a few stray tears as he pulled away from him. Audrey wasn’t awake to know that her husband was sorry for the way that he had treated her.

She was still asleep.

Calvin reached out and placed his hand on her shoulder, first shaking her gently, but then harder when she didn’t wake up. She stirred and groaned, before rolling over onto the other side, facing away from him.

He sighed, and leaned his elbows on his knees, rubbing his hands down his face.

Calvin couldn’t wait until the two months were over so that he could get a divorce from Audrey and finally be free from her, but for now, he was content with civil with her.

If keeping her happy meant that he would get what he wanted at the end of the deal, then he would do just that.

“You need to wake up, Audrey.” Calvin called out to her, shaking her shoulder again.

“Leave me alone,” she moaned, her voice cracking at the end of it. If he didn’t know better than he would think that she had spent the night crying. But Calvin didn’t know Audrey, not like he used to. A few seconds passed before she rolled over to face him, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “What time is it?” She asked, her voice gentle and soft from sleep.

“One.” He replied, casually, leaning back so that he was now sitting up straight on the coffee table. He didn’t feel too comfortable with the close proximity of their previous position, even if she wasn’t aware of it.

“Okay,” she muttered softly, before closing her eyes again and pulling the blanket up over her chin.

Calvin sighed. “You’re not going back to sleep.”

She ignored him. Just like he did for the past five days.

“Audrey.” He called out to her, but she didn’t move.

Scowling, he clenched his jaw and then unclenched it. He couldn’t blame her, but it didn’t stop from angering him. Perhaps keeping his cool around her for two months was wishful thinking.

Reaching out, he grabbed the blanket and yanked it out of her grip in one swift movement. Audrey groaned and sat up, attempting to take it back from him, but she clutched at her head inside, holding it gently before plopping back down on the sofa in the foetal position.

Calvin’s eyebrows quirked up in confusion as he watched her just lie there, not even bothering for her blanket anymore. He threw it on the other side of the sofa before he leaned forward and place a hand against her forward, checking her temperature.

She was warm. Too warm.

A few minutes passed as he left the room, headed to the bathroom upstairs and came back with a digital thermometer in tow.

39oC.

At least she wasn’t dying.

But she was still ill.

Calvin didn’t know what to do so he just dropped the thermometer down on the coffee table next to him. He brushed a hand through his hair as he thought of his next move.

He could always give her back her blanket and then leave her alone for the rest of the day. He could finish his lunch and get some work done upstairs. But then if her condition just got worse then he would be left feeling guilty about that too. As if he didn’t already have enough shit eating him up from the inside.

Sighing, he grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around her, making sure to tuck it under her. It didn’t take long for him to heat up some pasta and put it onto a plate. He also grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge before he walked back into the living room and placed everything down on the table.

He paused for a moment before sighing. Calvin then shook Audrey awake again, ignored her pleas to leave her alone. He helped her sit up and lean her head against the back of the sofa before he sat down next to her. He wasn’t even sure if she was fully awake, but was glad that when he lifted the fork to her lips, she opened her mouth and swallowed.

And then choked.

“Shit.” He muttered to himself as he rubbed her back while simultaneously handing her the glass of water. “Don’t do that to me.” He told her firmly, his eyebrows knitting together once she had calmed down.

Audrey leaned her head on the back of the sofa and offered him a barely-there smile. “Like I can help it.”

Calvin grunted, grabbed the plate of pasta and headed back into the kitchen. If she choked on pasta, then he was sure to head behind bars.

After searching the cupboards, he came across some cans of soup. He decided that chicken would pose as yet another choking hazard so opted for the tomato one instead. It didn’t take long to heat the soup in a pan and then pour it into a bowl.

Turning around and heading back into the living with the bowl of soup in tow, he noticed that Audrey was staring at him, had been following his every move from the spot where he had left her previously.

“Thanks,” she said to him softly when he lifted a spoonful to her mouth, after having blown on it to cool it down. He didn’t reply.

“You need to take care of yourself.” Calvin chastised her, his voice surprisingly gentle, as if he was talking to a child -but without any of the patronising. She wasn’t used to him being so...warm towards her.

She merely hummed as she savoured the taste of the soup. It wasn’t the best, but it was the best that he could come up with. And she appreciated his effort.

“I won’t be there next time you’re ill, so you’ll have to do everything yourself.”

Audrey nodded. She didn’t say that she had been doing everything herself for the past two years, or that she would have been completely fine without his help. She didn’t tell him that she had been living without him all this time. She didn’t want to start something she didn’t have the energy to finish and frankly, she didn’t want to risk hurting his feelings.

She also didn’t ask why he was helping her, or why he had even come back. She had thought that he wouldn’t come back at all, or that he would come back and kick her out.

Audrey was afraid to ask. So, she didn’t.

Calvin continued to feed her the soup slowly. He didn’t speak for a while, and neither did she. But after a while, he just couldn’t stand the silence much longer.

The guilt of everything that he had ever done to her was starting to eat at him, and he hated that it did. Especially since he could literally taste his freedom. He didn’t want to end things with her but still take the bad memories and the baggage that came with a broken marriage; he just wanted to start anew.

But he was afraid that he would never forget Audrey. And that scared him the most.

The silence was killing him, so he broke it. “Aren’t you going to ask why I came back?”

She didn’t hesitate to answer him. “No.”

“Why not?” He asked, curious.

“No reason.” She said. If she had the energy then she would have shrugged her shoulders. “I’m just glad you’re back.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.” She affirmed quietly, sipping some water slowly. She didn’t want to choke again.

He paused for a second, not believing what he was hearing. “You’re not going to ask where I was?”

Audrey faltered, and Calvin noticed it. She didn’t know whether she should answer that question or ignore it, or even ask him to give an account of his whereabouts for the past five days that he was missing. She wanted to, but she afraid that he would say that she wasn’t entitled to that right since they would very soon no longer be husband and wife.

But most of all, she didn’t want to hear that he was at his lover’s, that he was with Jane. She didn’t want to know that while she was wallowing in self-pity and obsessively cleaning the house to pass the time, he had been wrapped up in bed with his lover, forgetting all about her.

Again, she was afraid to ask, so, she didn’t.

She shook her head.

Calvin was surprised. He had expected her to demand to explain where he was, what he was doing and who he was with. But it seemed that the illness had really taken all of the energy out of her.

He carried on feeding her even though she could do it herself. He dodged her hands when she reached out for the spoon, and pushed her back down so that she was leaning again when she tried to sit up.

“I was at Kade’s,” he explained.

“Okay.” She replied nonchalantly. She hoped that he wouldn’t speak in fear that she would hear something she didn’t like the sound of. There was only so much that one heart could take before it became completely shattered.

Calvin didn’t take the hint and just carried on speaking. He, himself, didn’t know why he was explaining himself to her, but he felt like he needed to. For his own sake. “I went to his every day after work and stayed at his all night. I didn’t break the contract this time.” He explained, watching her reaction carefully.

Nothing.

She didn’t say anything. What could she say? That she had already given up? That she no longer hoped that he would stay after the end of the contract?

Audrey had matured much more recently than she had growing up. Calvin had taught her a lot of things, and settling was one of them. She had already gotten used to the idea that in less than two months, her husband would force her out of the house so that he would be able to get married to his new lover.

She would just have to make the most of the time that she had left because when this was all over, this would be all she would have left to remember.

Audrey hummed in reply and finished off the rest of the soup. Neither of them spoke to another as they just sat next to each other, lost in their respective thoughts. When he finally stood up to head to the kitchen with the empty bowl and to have his own lunch, Audrey laid down and turned her back on him.

She was asleep within minutes.

-

Layla Knight

24.07.17

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