Starting over from the Beginning

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Curiosity Brought More Wounds Than Answers Part 1

Brandon clutched his hand that was left hanging in the air into a tight fist before retracting it and grasping the stir wheel. “Alright...” and they drove off in agonizing silence. One of them bitter as they got kept in the dark with no reasons and the other feeling defeated as they couldn’t tell the truth to their loved one fearing that they will come to hate and desert them if they knew and that’s something that they couldn’t allow to happen ever.

Arriving at their home, they were met with parking slots filled with cars and they had no choice but to park a little further down the street. But who would have thought that small distance was enough for the rain to engulf them to the point where their clothes stuck to their skin? Brandon did offer his jacket to Cherry, more like begging her to just wear it, but she stubbornly kept refusing it and, thus, with a drenched appearance, they stepped into their house.

Brandon was glad that the house was warm upon entering, but the warmth wasn’t enough to defrost his wife’s indifferent attitude towards him.

“I’m going to take a shower.” Cherry announced curtly, not sparing her husband a glance before going up the stairs.

Watching the retreated figure of Cherry walking up the stairs and disappear around the corner, Brandon exasperated as he ruffled his kempt hair into shambles. Why couldn’t he have just lied to her about his job!? He groaned to himself. If he had done that, he could have avoided this predicament! But he doesn’t want to lie to Cherry. He had already told her a lie once, and he didn’t want to put more layers of lies on top of it. A lie is like a curse, a deception for the brain and, once broken, can never be fixed.

Brandon knew how it felt like to be deceived, to be indulged in false hope, only for his heart to be crushed at the end by the harsh truth. He couldn’t do the same thing to Cherry. One lie was enough, and he hopes that she will never discover that exact lie.

Removing his shoes, his feet dragged him to the kitchen, where he placed the white plastic bag where the takeout food was in on the table with a solemn sigh, before feeling his phone vibrating in his slacks. Pulling his phone that he uses for work out he saw a message notification from Dean.

Old man: “It was so nice to meet your wife finally! We should all go for lunch next time.”

Brandon could feel the mockery of the old man seeping through his phone, fueling the smoking anger in him back into a spark. Gritting his teeth hard enough for one of his tooth to get chipped off, he muttered under a heated breath, “This bastard! I will fucking murder him!”

While Brandon was planning his assailing attack on Dean as he angrily answered the old man’s message, Cherry had shimmied herself out of her damp clothes, letting them fall in folds on the marble floor. She had already turned on the shower head, tweaking the ample of water that came out of it until it reached the perfect temperature.

Seeing the steam below the shower head forming into silver clouds Cherry stuck her hand under the warm stream and when she felt that the warmth was just right she carefully stepped under it, moaning with her eyes closed as the raining water beaded her tired skin gently.

The calmness finally returned to her body, and she could think calmly about her husband’s odd behavior today. No matter how many times she tried to think about it, she couldn’t understand why Brandon seemed so distraught when Mr. Colburn offered to show her the place he worked at. Was he that ashamed to work in human resources? Or was the company that he worked at a rickety building in need of renovations, and he didn’t want her to see that?

But he, of all people, should know that Cherry doesn’t care about her husband’s occupation. Her own job isn’t a great one either, and she doesn’t see her husband being ashamed of her, so why should she?

Then the words that got spoken by Mr. Colburn in the restaurant resurfaced in her mind, ringing like an echo alongside the expressed words of her female colleagues.

“Your husband has an impressive set of skills for dealing with people and having them join the company.”

“Don’t you think that Brandon is cheating on you?”

It couldn’t be right? She already made the mistake once of accusing Brandon of infidelity. The guilt of that time still lingers in her heart and she doesn’t want to repeat that mistake ever again. She trusts the man she married.

But what if? The small voice of insecurity in her mind said and Cherry drew her bottom lip between her teeth. Right then, Cherry felt a tumbling motion in her stomach. A potent force pressed against her belly from within and she gazes down to a part of her belly protruding before it swiftly disappears. The movements were like ripples on her skin. It was as if her unborn child berated her by giving her a kick in the gut.

Cherry’s lips pulled in a soft smile as she caressed her belly.

“You’re right, baby. Mommy should stop doubting daddy and just talk to him.” Brandon and she should sit down and talk it out. She wanted to understand why her husband behaved like that before drawing any conclusions.

After having the hot shower and wearing a loose gray tracksuit that she stole from her husband’s wardrobe, she descended the stairs while using a small towel to dry her hair. Heat was rushing through her body from the scorching shower and she was in the mood to cool her body down by having a glass of cold milk. Her bare feet padded against the soft cream carpet before reaching the cold white marble floor of the kitchen.

She paused in her steps when her soft brown eyes settled on the takeout food that was still wrapped in a plastic bag before moving her gaze to Brandon, who was typing angrily on his phone, grumbling some intangible words under his breath.

Brandon didn’t notice Cherry carefully approaching him as he was pouring his heartfelt death threats into the message that he was going to send to Dean.

“Is everything okay?” Concern laced her mellow voice as she placed her hand on his clothed arm that was still damp from the rain. Brandon’s heart lodged itself in his throat and he yanked his arm away from Cherry, his alarmed chestnut globes meeting the eyes that shared the same surprise.

Cherry brought her hand back, holding it against her chest as she masked her shocked expression with a wobbly smile. “Am I that scary?” She joked, but her jittering chuckle let Brandon know that she was dismayed at his rough reaction.

Brandon became crestfallen seeing how his wife tried her hardest to keep up a smile that didn’t match the red rimmed saddened eyes.

“No- of course not.” He pushed the wet strands of hair on his forehead back in exasperation. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

Cherry shook her head and her eyes wavered to the phone she had never seen before, resting on his hand. Following her line of sight, Brandon instantaneously turned off the screen of his phone and hid it behind his back.

Not letting herself get affected by her husband’s suspicious behavior, she questioned, “Is that a new phone?”

“No, it’s my work phone.”

“How come I haven’t seen it before?” She took a step closer, poking her head to the side to take a glimpse at the phone, but before she could do that, Brandon also took a step back, causing Cherry’s brows to furrow.

“Why can’t I see it?”

“There’s some confidential work on the phone that I can’t allow you to see-”

“I never said that I wanted to see what was on your phone. I just wanted to see the model.” She narrowed her eyes incredulously. Before Brandon had locked the screen Cherry saw for a brief moment the chat between Brandon and Dean, but she didn’t see with whom Brandon was chatting with nor what the long message was about but seeing Brandon acting this suspicious has brought forth back the words spoken by the people around her, impending further the doubt in her mind.

“Your husband has an impressive set of skills for dealing with people and having them join the company.”

“Don’t you think that Brandon is cheating on you?”

She wished she could turn those energy-draining thoughts into vapor. Pursing her lips into a thin line, she lets out an elongated sigh.

“Never mind... I’ll be out of your hair so you can do whatever you were doing before I came.” Exhaustion mixed with a soaring headache habited her body. She didn’t come here to start a banter with her husband. She only wanted to talk, but Brandon, who acted as if a single touch from her would char him to the core, caused her determination to deter. So she did what she initially intended to do when she came to the kitchen; grab a glass of milk and also some takeout food while she was at it, her body moving around the place with Brandon’s eyes following her every movement with a complex expression.

Before leaving the kitchen Cherry threw one last glance over her shoulder to look at Brandon, her eyes studying his eyes that were warred with emotions that were difficult to decipher, for he refused to be vocal about them.

Harrumphing Cherry tore her gaze away from Brandon and waltzed to the parlor. When even the long glossy brown hair that fluttered back in the air disappeared from his sight, the phone in Brandon’s hand buzzed, a message from Dean popping up. Brandon brought the phone up to look at it only to see a bunch of winking face emojis with their tongue sticking out. Reading the vexing reply of the old man, Brandon clicked with his tongue, annoyed, feeling his blood pressure elevating.

“Nothing is going right today.” He groans.

The food that Cherry had taken from the kitchen was now spread around the coffee table, already half eaten. Cherry sat solemnly on the couch with her legs pulled to her chest- or more like to her round, protruding belly as she peered absentmindedly at the TV. The scenes of the K-Drama reflected in her daze filled eyes.

She watched the scene of the young goblin bride blowing out the candle for the goblin to spawn out of thin air the next moment, hugging the young woman in a warm embrace. Brandon finally came out of the kitchen and made his way to his wife. Conscious of her sour mood, he carefully took a seat next to her on the couch, watching the drama with her, but would throw a side glance at Cherry every few seconds. Like a child afraid of his mother’s wrath, but still wanted to confirm whether she still loved him by being around her.

Feeling her husband’s fidgeting presence, she slowly tilted her upper body towards his side, letting the side of her head rest on his broad shoulder while her gaze was still fixated on the screen that projected moving pictures. Brandon flinched, his body became stiff like a plank and his trembling eyes kept moving back and forth from the TV to his quiet wife, fearing that even the smallest movement would jolt his wife of whatever stupor she was in and have her move away from him again.

After having watched the scene between the goblin and his bride, Cherry asked in a quiet, even tone,

“Would you do that too?”

“H-Hmm?” Brandon’s brows rose in confusion, not understanding what his wife meant.

“No matter where I am if I call your name, will you come running to me?” Cherry craned her head up, her tired gaze locked with Brandon’s wide ones. Vertical lines appeared between Brandon’s brows and the stiffness has left his body to be replaced with seriousness. He snaked his arms around her, cradling her against his chest as his hand stroked her head from crown to nape.

“Without question.” He slipped his hand in her hand, interlocking their fingers and bringing her hand up to his face. “The vows that I narrated on our wedding day weren’t just empty words.” He then pressed his lips on the back of her hand. “I would do anything for you, if it means that I can see your lovely smile.”

Cherry’s eyes got moist again at his gently spoken words that caressed her heart and the hands that shook with minor tremor, treating her like a porcelain vase that would shatter at a simple touch. She knew and could feel that Brandon’s love for her was genuine, which made everything even more frustrating.

“I would do the same thing.” Cherry responded. “No matter where you are, I will be there.”

There was a subtle smile on Brandon’s face, but the next spoken words by Cherry made it falter into a frown.

“That’s why I want to know where your work is.”

“Cher…”

“What if something happens to you at work? I don’t even have the company’s phone number. How could I ever reach you?”

“Through my phone?” Brandon answered as if it was a matter of fact earning an eye roll from Cherry.

“You have two phones, Einstein.”

“I carry them both with me at all times.”

Cherry sighed. “You know what I mean, Brandon. Why do you always have to make me feel like I’m being paranoid? As if not knowing what your partner does for work is the norm, but when people question me about what you do for work and where it is and I don’t know they look at me as if they pity me as if our marriage isn’t right. I don’t want them to see us like that.”

As her last words fell in a whisper, Cherry lowered her eyes solemnly.

“Hey,” Brandon called, hooking his finger under her chin. “How outsiders perceive our relationship isn’t important. What’s important is that we love and trust each other.”

Is it? Those words almost escaped her mouth if she hadn’t held in her tongue. Instead, she said,

“Right…”

“But who are the people doubting our relationship?” Brandon inquired as he rocked Cherry back and forth, increasing the fatigue in her body and turning her eyelids heavy with drowsiness.

“Some friends and colleagues.” Cherry answered with a yawn before completely closing her eyes and nuzzling her head against her husband’s chest to find the right spot to lie on.

“But you don’t have any other friends except for April.” Brandon’s voice was freighted with surprise as his eyes grew in width. Cherry eyes were too heavy for her to open again, but her brows still crashed against each other as she mumbled petulantly with a voice that slowly dwindled away in volume,

“How rude… they may not be as close to me as April…. but they are… friends…”

And gone she was, her body turning slack in his hold, not even feeling the vibration coming from Brandon’s chest as he chuckled lowly. He turned off the TV before shifting his arm behind her back as support and used the other arm to hook under his sleeping wife’s legs, hoisting her up as he stood from the couch.

He waltzed out of the parlor to walk up the stairs to their bedroom. As he entered the chamber, the dark void with only a stream of moonlight passing through the arched shaped windowpane and illuminating the king-sized bed welcomed him. Nearing the bed, he lowered Cherry slowly down on it before covering her with a black duvet. Taking a seat next to her on the edge of the bed, he pushed away the hair strands nestling on her face before placing a kiss on her forehead.

Sitting back up his eyes darkened, and he said under his breath,

“Should I kill them?”

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