When it was time to leave, Mike and I were at least talking. It took him a few days to charm me back into the bedroom. I didn’t bring up the baby issue again. There was no need because my mind was made up, but Mike didn’t even notice. He was too busy walking on eggshells… without cracking them.
The time just dragged on. It was as if minutes turned into full days as I checked my watch at least ten times throughout the day. Laying my clothes out on the bed, I tried to pick the right outfits. I wanted something short and sexy. You know, something that Mr. Wonderful, if I found him, wouldn’t be able to resist. He wouldn’t be able to keep his hands off me, because of how good I looked in that outfit. However, at the same time, I didn’t want it to look as if that was my goal in choosing what to take with me – especially while my husband watched.
“I swear my suitcase shrunk. They can do that, right. Ya throw ‘em in the dryer an’ they shrivel up. Because I know the last time we went anywhere…” I paused, looking at him. “Good Lord! When was the last time I used this thing? I think it was our honeymoon.” I shook my head, trying to jam the clothes inside. I laid on top of it, trying to get it zipped.
He chuckled, walking over. “Do you need some help?”
“Unless ya can figure out some other way to close it, I’d looove some assistance.”
He proceeded to zip the bag as I sat on top. “In answer to your question, suitcases don’t shrink. I think you’re packing an awful lot of clothes for ten days.”
I practiced this speech a gazillion times. I stood in front of the mirror and watched my reaction, like a superstar, rehearsing for the big movie. It didn’t matter how many times; it was still awkward. I tried not to show it.
“It’s not all clothes. There’s my beautifyin’ stuff in there as well.” I scoffed. “That takes up half of the damn suitcase.”
“You don’t need any of that shit. You’re beautiful just the way you are.”
“Aw, thanks, honey.”
He zipped the case closed. Pushing off the bed, I stood up, just in time for him to wrap his arms around me, snuggling into my back. That was when he almost – almost – made me change my mind. “I’m going to miss you so much. The bed’s going to be so big and lonely without you in it to keep me warm.”
Sighing, I leaned back against him. I wished things were different. Hell, I wanted my husband at the beach with me, but that would defeat the purpose of this particular vacation. He ruined his chances of going. I patted his arms as if I was petting the head of a dog. “I know, babe. I’m gonna miss you too, but just think of it this way; it’ll give us time to appreciate each other.”
“I wish I could go with you.”
“Me too, but I think you an’ Tania, together, would make it unbearable for me; no fun at all.”
“I meant me instead of her.”
“Can’t you postpone this thing? I can take some time off later and then we can go together. It’d make a nice romantic getaway for two. It’s been such a long time since we did that.”
He made it sound so good. My heart yearned for me to take him up on his offer, but it wasn’t the first time that he promised me something and then didn’t follow through. Usually, he was too busy at work to take a vacation or even a weekend trip. Then he was just too tired after working all week long. I wished it could happen just like he said. However, my head smacked my heart around, reminding it about his little speech, telling me to adopt a kid/buy a kid, which replayed in my mind, repeatedly.
I pushed him away as I finished packing. That way, I didn’t have to look him in the eyes and tell him a bold-faced lie. “Nope, it would just be another one of your broken promises where you’re too tired from workin’. Honey, I told ya when I put this vacation time in that I had to do it a month in advance. If I didn’t take one this year, I was gonna lose three years’ worth of vacation time.”
“Why do they need so much notice? Most places only need two weeks’ notice.”
“This way, we could get someone to cover for us. Two people takin’ time off, at the same time, is hard at the office. Ya didn’t have a problem with it then. Ya told me to go ahead. Now, it’s too late to change our plans.”
He sat down on the bed, shaking his head. “I’m not saying that I don’t believe you, but I swear, I don’t remember having that conversation. I can’t even recall the subject being discussed.”
I hated lying to him, but he left me no other options. Glancing at him, I shrugged. “I told ya that you never listen to me. When we were talkin’ about it, you were workin’ on Lancaster.”
He groaned. “I never hear anything when I’m working on that account. It takes all my concentration to figure out what the hell they’re saying.”
I threw back his words used on me many times when he wasn’t paying attention. “Ya said you were. In fact, when ya had your nose in the contract, ya still told me you were listenin’ an’ to go on with what I was sayin’. You even passed the test when I claimed a Martian was gonna abduct me on vacation.” He heard that enough to never pinpoint just one conversation. It was my famous, are you listenin’, test that I gave often. Usually, it was regarding an alien abducting me for sexual trials with Earthlings. “I didn’t think ya were listenin’, but don’t worry. I’ll be just fine without ya there to hold my hand. I’ll have my cell phone, in case ya need me.”
He sighed, dropping his hands, in obvious surrender. “Well, I guess you’ve thought of everything. Just as long as you know I’m going to miss you so much.”
“I’ll be fine. Stop worryin’.”
“Yeah, but your sister’s going too. I worry about her. I don’t want her influencing you to do something that you wouldn’t normally do.”
Oh, if only he knew. He was the one making me do what she suggested.
“Ya know me better than that.”
“Yes, but the way she pisses off Karma, the plane could crash with her on it.” He picked up the bags, wincing because of the weight. “Jesus! Are you taking the kitchen sink with you? Are all the appliances still downstairs?”
“I brought the kitchen sink just in case the hotel didn’t have one,” I teased, pushing him out the door. “Yes, the appliances are still in the kitchen.”
He groaned. “How much can a bunch of bikinis weigh?”
“I’m gonna be there for over a week, so I need to make sure I bring enough in case Tania an’ I go to dinner or somethin’.” Somethin’ being the operative word there. “I have to bring the right shoes to match the outfits. We’re not just gonna be sittin’ out in the sun, ya know.”
He put the bags in the trunk then turned and stared at me. I thought for sure he could see straight through me. I didn’t look away, no matter how hard it was, staring right back at him in silence. “I don’t trust Tania. I can see her bringing all these men back to your hotel room.”
Oh, that was all! I damn near let out a sigh of relief, but instead, I smiled, leaning up, kissing him gently on the lips. “Yes, everyone knows that Tania’s a bit of a slut, but you can trust me.”
“A bit of a slut? That’s like saying an alligator is a bit of a lizard.”
People talk about how guilt is like this invisible dagger. I’m here to tell you that it’s real. As soon as I said those words, I felt the sting of the Guilt Dagger, thrusting into my heart. I wasn’t sure what made me guiltier: being a slut, or telling him that he could trust me. I hoped it didn’t show in my eyes and I had a sinking suspicion that it was just going to get worse.
After looking at my face for a long moment, or at least it felt long, he nodded. “Yes. I trust you. I know you would never do anything wrong.” When he said that, the knife twisted around in a circle. Closing the trunk, he smiled. “Did you reserve a rental car at the airport?”
I smiled back. After all, guilt be damned, I was headed to Ca-li-for-ni-yay for a vacation! “Yes. I have the car, hotel, an’ credit cards all taken care of. I informed the bank to ignore any unusual spendin’ because I was goin’ on vacation! For one month, we’ve had a week’s reservation at one of the finest hotels in California.”
Mike frowned, looking at me with this confused expression. It was almost as if he never knew that state existed. “California? You’re going to California? Whose idea was that? We have closer beaches. I mean, damn, that’s so far away!”
This was another speech that I practiced, many nights, in front of a mirror. “It’s sunny there this time of year. I know Florida is closer, but it rains there most of the time. The California amusement park is better. It’s easier to ride all of ’em in almost one whole day.”
…and I don’t wanna run into him at the grocery store, was the sudden thought in my head.
The more lies I told, the easier it got. I sat in the passenger seat, closing the door, putting on my seat belt. I hoped the questions stopped soon. I only practiced certain ones, and that was the last one.
He opened the door, climbing in the driver’s side. “Good reason.” He shrugged. “I guess.” Starting the car, he winked before pulling out of the driveway. “Are you sure that you want to fly?”
“Hell yeah! I’m not wastin’ time drivin’ all that way.”
“Well, you do remember all the horror stories about flying in planes, don’t you? How they all crash and eventually fall to the ground somewhere? How do you know that this plane won’t be one of those?”
“If it is, I guess we’ll be part of the floatin’ debris then because we’re still flyin’. Besides, you fly all the time. It never bothered you. Stop frettin’. You’re actin’ like a mother hen. Where’s my big, strong, handsome husband?”
“Thinking of how lonely he’s going to be and how many nights he’ll be eating out.”