Thank God, it’s finally done. If anybody had told me how annoying organizing a big wedding would be, I would have refused the whole thing right away. But as it is the norm with such things, the whole ugly truth is revealed gradually. And most of all, when it is too late anyway.
I’ve been married before, blissfully happily married indeed. And I finally could fully appreciate the fact that my deceased wife Julie had settled for a small wedding. It was a beautiful, intimate ceremony without much fuss. Just a few friends and family. Very quiet, very romantic. But no, of course my new fiancée Rachel wanted the whole nine yards. A big, no make that a huge wedding with all bells and whistles.
I mean, who cares if the color of the napkins matches the flowers? Not me, that’s for certain. But for everybody else, it seemed to be a matter of vital importance. Needless to say, “everybody else” consisted solely of females in this case. My soon-to-be father in law wisely kept his nose out of it. So I was at the mercy of my mother in law, my fiancée Rachel and her best friend Amber. Of course, in a perfunctory way I was asked if the church should be decorated with roses or lilies. But everybody seemed to regard me as incompetent regarding such questions anyway, which was quite close to the truth.
I tried to object from time to time by mentioning my wonderful, modest ceremony with Julie, but my concerns fell on deaf ears. Hell, these remarks even earned me outright hostile looks for whatever reason. Yeah, I’ve been in love before. Deeply, totally in love. And I’ve lost my beloved wife due to some freak accident. But did that mean I was supposed to never mention her again? To declare her a persona non grata? To deny her existence? Fat chance. Rachel knew about my past all along and Julie was a part of me and always would be.
However, after I had endured faking concerned interest in an endless number of miniscule decisions for several weeks, I felt that we had earned a break. Everything seemed to be settled and things generally seemed to be on their way. Even non-world-shaking questions about the type of umbrella protecting the bride in case of sudden rain and the type of car driving us from the church to the party were settled. I felt that the possibility of a sudden nuclear strike and the color of the ABC protection suits was the only detail yet undecided, but wisely omitted to mention it.
Anyway, everyone seemed to be happy with the state of the preparations and I felt that only one thing still needed to be done urgently. That was to reconnect with the woman I planned to marry soon and that almost seemed to be a little estranged by then, which I booked that as an effect of the stress level apparently caused by the wedding planning.
Rachel had accepted from the beginning that I had a past with Julie and had helped me to conquer my demons. She lifted me out of the deep depression I had fallen into and brought me back into the world of the living. She was even very understanding when I sometimes inadvertently called her Julie when we made love, which I think happened less and less. Over the months I fell in love with Rachel, maybe even as deeply as I’d been with Julie. Even though she was very understanding, she banned a few of Julie’s photos from my home after she’d moved in. She also was very sensitive whenever I suggested she should dress more like Julie so I dropped the matter for a while. We argued about my wish to keep some of Julie’s knick-knacks and about her wish of redecorating the rooms. It wasn’t easy, but we both knew it wouldn’t be. But in the end we made it and found a way to live our lives together. Our happiness and love grew from day to day until I finally made up my mind to propose to her.
Yeah, she did agree. But to my surprise she did so after a terrifyingly long thinking time. That was really unexpected and a bit disappointing. She had worked so hard and relentless on pursuing me that I had just assumed this was what she had dreamed of. But she had just looked at me with a blank expression for what felt like hours, but could only have been seconds.
“Yes, Alex, I do want to marry you. But...”
“Alex, you know, some things haven’t been exactly easy around here for me.”
“What do you mean, Julie?”
She just looked at me with a pained expression.
“Oh, shit. Rachel. I meant Rachel, of course.”
“Alex, you’re a great guy. And I know you’ve been through hell. I also believe you when you say you love me. But I’m afraid you love more than one woman.”
“Rachel, please believe me. I’m just too used to the name Julie. I love you. I love only you.”
She burst into tears and flew into my arms.
“Yes, Alex, I’ll marry you. But please don’t hurt me too much, okay?”
“I won’t, Rachel. I won’t...”
That was not my brightest hour, but I hoped my little faux-pas wouldn’t strain our relationship too much. There seemed to be a slight shadow over us afterwards, but the real reason was unclear to me as the preparation stress had soon started to take its toll too.
My plan was to re-connect with the currently even a little bitchy Rachel by spending a surprise wellness weekend in the North with her. Her mood had worsened steadily during the preparation phase and while she was heavily engaged in it, it didn’t seem to make her happy at all.
Anyway, it was done now. All we had to do was to actually get married. And I dearly hoped that my surprise weekend would turn out as a success. I was determined to avoid mentioning Julie as well as the wedding details at all cost.
“Uuuh, Alex.” I even received a kiss at this point, which had gotten quite rare. “A romantic wellness weekend? Oh, honey, that’s so nice. Thank you.” She seemed delighted for sure and I suddenly realized how tense I’d been, obviously afraid to be rejected again. But my surprise was spot on. Great. Just the thing we needed to patch our strained relationship.
“Yeah, I’ve been there before. The hotel is quite lovely. The have a great spa area. Julie especially loved the sea food restaurant. You’ll see, it will be just marvelous.” Damn; I had mentioned Julie again. I cursed myself, but apart from a quick weird look, Rachel didn’t react to it.
We arrived at the hotel early and despite the bad weather, everything was pretty much perfect. The hotel was very nice, the spa looked marvelous and our room was just great. We’ll have a nice time here, I thought, getting close to each other again. We would mend our relationship and finally getting laid again in the process wouldn’t hurt either.
“Wow, this room is just great, Alex.”
“Yeah, when it clears up, you can even see the lake from here. It looks totally romantic.”
“Oh, how nice. How do you know?”
“I’ve been in exactly this room before.”
“Oh, you’ve been here before.”
“Well, yeah, with ... yeah, I’ve been here.” With Julie, of course, but this time I successfully avoided mentioning her.
“Oh.” She seemed a little taken aback nonetheless. “Have you asked for this specific room?”
“Yeah, I like it.”
She looked a bit pissed and I was starting to be a little annoyed myself. Why was I supposed to deny my past with Julie? Rachel surely knew that I loved her, why was she so insecure? Was it such a big deal to use the same room I’ve had with my late wife before? It held nice memories for me and I didn’t see anything wrong with it.
The weather got worse quickly, and soon after our arrival it turned into a severe snow storm. Michael, a nice guy from the reception, informed us that we would be stuck in the hotel for several days. Not that I could care less, in the contrary, it somehow seemed romantic. And I didn’t plan to leave our room that often anyway. Only to meet the most basic nutrition needs and to relax in the spa from time to time. I was even glad that any outdoor activities were rendered impossible.
“More romantic time for us,” I remarked to Rachel. She seemed less enthusiastic for some reason. “I just hope I’ll be back to work in time,” she replied surprisingly sharp. A faint bitchiness warning bell rang in the back of my head.
“Let’s grab something to eat, okay? They have a marvelous restaurant.”
I asked the waiter for a specific table and we were lucky; it was available.
“Don’t tell me, you’ve been at this exact table with Julie?”
“Yeah, you have a nice view from here.”
“Should I wear a wig?”
“Yeah, and dress like Julie maybe?”
“Rachel, don’t be ridiculous...”
“Alex, this has to stop.”
“You knew about my past all along.”
“Yeah, but I’m not supposed to re-live your life with her. I’m more than willing to make new memories. But I don’t want to re-enact what you’ve experienced with her. I’m Rachel. I’m not some kind of replacement Julie.”
“Rachel, I am who I am. Julie is a big part of me and my past.”
“So I’m supposed to share you with another woman for the rest of my life?”
“Share me? Well, I don’t see it that way.”
“Well, I can’t change that.” I was a bit upset now. “If you see it that way, yes, you’ll have to share me with my deceased wife. You knew all along how much I’ve loved her.”
“Well, if I have to share you, you better watch this, buster. Maybe this will teach you some things about sharing your spouse,” she exclaimed loudly.
I knew that this wasn’t easy for her and that it might have been better to be more diplomatic. But this was a sore spot for me too and before I could say anything else, she left the table.
For lunch, the hotel had prepared a buffet. Rachel went there and after a while I decided it was best to follow her, talk to her and calm things down. She was way ahead of me in the line and I saw that a handsome, big man was obviously quite interested in her. He talked to her, she laughed, he touched her arm, she put her hand lightly on his. They almost looked like they were a happy couple. I didn’t tend towards jealousy, but this was a little unsettling. I felt my pulse rising a little. Was this some kind of payback?
I watched in mild surprise as they continued to get along quite nicely. They joked and put food on each other’s plate, giggling like teenagers. After their plates were filled, they chose a small, two-person table. This sent chills down my back. What was she thinking?
Finally, I was through the line, grabbed a chair from a neighboring table and sat down at theirs.
“Hi, I’m Alex, Rachel’s fiancée,” I said, while extending my hand to him.
The asshole didn’t even acknowledge my presence, let alone looked in my direction or took my hand. I retracted it, which caused Rachel to giggle. That hurt. Damn, she was deliberately trying to hurt me.
“Rachel, what are you doing here?” I started to be seriously annoyed.
People all around us started to notice the scene. This was getting quite embarrassing, but it needed to be done.
Rachel chose to join his game of totally ignoring me. They both seemed to have a jolly good time doing it and continued their conversation about inconsequential things. I stayed at their table out of sheer stubbornness. Retreat wasn’t an option, so I endured it, though I felt deeply humiliated.
They talked about lots of things. Their jobs, the hotel, their families. But Rachel managed to totally avoid mentioning me or our upcoming wedding.
“You’re such a wonderful woman, Rachel. I’m so glad that we’ve met here. And I can’t believe that you’re here all alone.”
“Danny, I think you’re very attractive, too. And I’m glad that we have been snowed in. I believe we’ll have a wonderful time here.”
“RACHEL!” I shouted loudly. Everybody looked in our direction now, but I didn’t care. They still managed to calmly ignore me. Not exactly the loveliest way to treat a soon-to-be husband, I thought while I was fuming.
After a while Rachel even leaned over the table and kissed him on the mouth. Everybody around us was gasping. That hurt. That really hurt, I felt physical pain as I had to witness that. I’m not prone to violence, so I had no way to physically prevent what was happening. I also was unwilling to leave them alone and retreat in defeat. But she sure would be getting an ear full when we were alone again.
“Rachel, if you prefer to stay with me, you better stop this silly game right now.”
“Danny, why don’t you show me your room? I think it’s kind of noisy in here.”
Even this Danny asshole seemed to be a little surprised about her boldness. But of course, he didn’t object one bit. They stood up and left, leaving me behind stunned. Finally, without seeing any other options, I went to our room, feeling the stares of the whole restaurant on my back and being completely humiliated. I mean, I could hardly force her physically to stay faithful, could I? If she chose to leave me, there was nothing I could do about it. But I was too stunned and hurt to ponder any long-term consequences at the moment.
I sat in my room for a while, unsuccessfully trying to read. I was furious, hurt, sad, disappointed and most of all totally helpless. I also had serious doubts about the marriage. Finally, my numb brain was able to form an idea. I asked Michael, the nice guy from the reception, to give me Danny’s room number. He was very understanding, but told me that he couldn’t tell me the room number, even if it was 107.
I dressed in warm clothes and went around the outside of the hotel. 107 was on the ground floor and was visible from the outside, Michael had informed me. I found the room and was surprised to find that they hadn’t even bothered to close the curtains. They necked on a sofa, looking very comfortable with each other. But at least I was relieved to see that they were fully clothed. I took a photo with my phone. Outside it was getting darker and the lights in the room were on. After a while, they saw me standing there, looking inside. Rachel gasped at first, then visibly relaxed and pointed at me. They both waved in my direction, smirking and started to kiss again, without doubt for my benefit. I took another photo and left, it was just too much to bear. I was afraid that the disrespect alone was enough to damage our relationship beyond repair.
I waited in my room for an eternity again and was turning into a nervous wreck, unable to do anything and hating me for it. I really would have preferred to be strong and arrogant about this, but unfortunately I still loved the bitch. Late at night I went into the restaurant and saw them sitting there. They looked like a couple; cuddling, kissing, having a good time. I took more photos before I decided to order room service for dinner to avoid further humiliation.
I expected her to come to our room after dinner to mend some fences, but I waited in vain. Around 10 p.m., I went to check their room again. The curtains were closed this time but there were more than enough gaps to peek inside. The lights were on dimly and I could see they were kissing again. I tried to stay calm for the moment and regard the scene as if it didn’t concern me. This way I hoped to be able to take more photos without having to puke or to run away.
This plan went down the drain when I had to witness her starting to undress for him. It was a slow, sensuous striptease which hurt me immensely because it was something she had never done for me. Finally, she posed for a while in the nude for him. Turning around or bending forwards, obviously according to his instructions. He pointed at the floor and she knelt in front of him obediently, opened his fly and started to suck him. I somehow managed to take pictures all the time, even though I was going crazy. Although it was damn cold and I started to freeze, I captured their complete fuck session. I left when they were done and cuddled on the sofa.
I went to our room again, cried a little, punched my fist into the bed for a while, uploaded the photos into my cloud drive and finally was able to find some sleep with the help of a sleeping pill.
I woke up at about nine in the morning. Rachel was sitting in the chair and watched me calmly. I didn’t say a thing, neither did she. I wasn’t mad any more, only sad. Too many could have beens came into my mind. This could have been my wife. We could have had children. All of this had vanished within a few hours.
She didn’t even look contrite, I thought. She seemed rather content. Either she was completely unaware of the consequences for our future or she just didn’t care. Maybe breaking us up had been the plan all along. She could have done that easier, in a less hurtful way.
“Feeling better now?” she asked.
“I’m going to spend the day with Danny. And the whole time until we can leave. We’ve already brought my stuff into his room. Afterwards I will be yours again, at least until you mention Julie again.” She explained this very calmly.
“No.” I said that in an equally neutral tone.
“It’s already decided. Try to have a nice time here.”
And with that she just left. I couldn’t believe what an arrogant bitch she suddenly had become. Had she changed or had I misjudged her so badly all the time? She obviously didn’t mean this to end our relationship, she just wanted to teach me a lesson. No way. Sure, I had been a little thoughtless when I mentioned Julie time and again. But this reaction was in no way appropriate. We’re through, I thought. The problem was that I had to stay in the hotel. My urge was to just run. Run from this awful situation, from my feeling of helplessness and humiliation and - most important - from Rachel. But there was nothing I could do. I spent some time just staring at the wall and letting my thoughts run in agonized circles. No, this was leading nowhere. Thinking wasn’t going to improve anything, it was just costing me my mental health. I had to distract myself until I could leave this terrible mess behind. Okay, I might as well grab something to eat, I thought.
As I went to breakfast, my new friend Michael stopped me.
“You shouldn’t have to endure this. I’ve been living here for a long time, I know the weather. The roads will be open for a very short time today. I think in about one or two hours you could leave by following the supply truck. We won’t tell the other guests about this opportunity for safety reasons. But you’re going to make it alright with your 4x4. Around noon the next storm will come up. Then the roads will definitely be blocked for three or four more days. As I said, you should not be forced to endure this. I strongly advise you to leave.” He seemed genuinely empathic.
“Thank you, Michael.” I meant it and I tipped him well. It felt like he had just saved my life; each second spent here was further eroding my self-worth.
Just having the opportunity to escape made me feel better. I packed my stuff, checked out and waited in my car for the supply truck to leave. It cleared the road a little and could tow me out if I got stuck. But I made it to the highway without the slightest problem.
The drive home was endless. My brain was still trying unsuccessfully to deal with what had just happened and my mood was as foul as the weather. One thing was clear - there would be no wedding, I would cancel everything. The whole mass of meaningless decisions had been totally pointless. That made me feel good. Nobody would ever know if the dessert really was appropriate for a winter wedding.
I had stayed in our home town mostly because of Rachel. I had far better job offers in other areas, among them one particularly nice offer in San Francisco. It had really hurt to turn that one down but Rachel had insisted to stay around her family and I had relented. Now I was free to check if the job was still available. I felt almost relieved, after the horror I had to endure I felt a sense of freedom. New opportunities were opening up in front of me, a whole new life. And for the first time I thought that I had really dodged a bullet. I wasn’t married yet and I could just walk away without any penalty. But on the other hand I hadn’t proposed to her without a reason. I had loved the damn bitch, really loved her. But her actions at the hotel made leaving her surprisingly easy. Just thinking about the recent events was enough to burn away all feelings of remorse that threatened to surface. I knew that the pain would come, but right then I had to try concentrating on my future.
At home I immediately canceled all wedding reservations. The room, the caterer, the DJ, everything. And I sent wedding cancelation cards to all invited people. “Due to unforeseen circumstances we are sorry to say that we have to cancel our wedding.” Neutral wording. I could have used a far worse phrasing, but I didn’t feel the need to make these things public knowledge.
Afterwards I phoned the owner of the San Francisco company and I explained my situation very honestly.
“Come over here, Alex. We’ll find an accommodation for you. And you can have the job anyway. Actually, I’m quite glad your ex was that stupid.” He even chuckled a little.
I had to agree inwardly. I couldn’t share his humorous view on the situation, at least not yet. But in some way I was glad too. If she had cheated on me six months later, things would have been far worse. I was glad she showed her true self early enough. It still hurt, of course. The fact that I lost the woman I loved hurt as much as the circumstances.
I quit my job, packed my stuff into my car and left our joint apartment. On a sudden impulse I had even pissed in her underwear drawer, but didn’t really feel all that great afterwards. Damn, that was childish. But it was at least some token to show her how I felt about her. The drive to San Francisco would take four or five days and I was actually looking forward to it. To the loneliness, the silence and the chance to calm down and contemplate my life.
After two days of pensive, angry, self-accusative and hurtful traveling, my phone rang.
“This is Alex.”
“Alex, honey. Rachel here. We have a mobile net again, thank God. Even the roads will be cleared soon.”
I didn’t respond, being too stunned. All the hurt came rushing back. Why had I even picked up the call? I had nothing to tell her. Damn, I should have checked the caller ID first. I couldn’t believe how calm she seemed to be.
“Alex, you’re still there?”
“How are you?”
“Not so well.”
“Me neither. Alex, honey, have you canceled the wedding? My parents have called me.”
“Yeah, sure. What did you expect? That I marry you? Seriously?”
“Alex. Please. I know you’re hurt, but please don’t blow this out of proportion. This was just to show you how much it hurts to share your spouse. I’m sorry if it got out of hand, but I was so hurt and angry about all of this Julie stuff. I’m really sorry, I guess I wasn’t thinking straight. It was a terrible mistake but I’m yours only, nothing has to change. From now on I’m a one-man woman.”
“Maybe, but that man isn’t going to be me.”
“What? Alex ... come on. I know you’re hurt, but it was really nothing. This guy was never important. I was so mad at you and so hurt. Okay, what I’ve done was totally out of proportion. Let me make it up to you, okay?”
“I don’t care how you justify this or how you see this. All I needed to do was to make up my own mind. And that’s what I did. The result is that we’re through for good. Shall I send some photos to your parents and ask them for their opinion?”
“Alex, I hope that I can leave here soon. We need to talk. Could you please pick me up here?”
“I don’t want to, you’re not my responsibility any more. And I’m not even in the area anymore.”
“Alex, where are you? Don’t make this so hard for me please.”
“Ah let’s see. The sign says Kearney, Nebraska.”
“No. I’m heading for California. I’m starting a new life, without you.”
“Alex!” She was sobbing now. “Don’t leave me please. This meant nothing to us. I was just mad and things got out of hand, I’m really sorry.”
“Maybe it meant nothing to you. For me it has been a total nightmare, the worst time of my life and the definite end of our relationship.”
“Alex, please turn around. We can still fix this.”
“No, I don’t even want to fix this. You’ve tortured and publicly humiliated me for two days. This was no sudden slip, you had many hours to think about what you’re doing. And you deliberately hurt me and openly cheated on me. Repeatedly. Publicly. Tried to cuckold me. To defeat me. I have no interest in you anymore. None at all. Have a good life.”
And I hung up. That bitch. The phone rang again immediately. I put her number on the ignore list. Finally, I could resume my voyage in silence. Unfortunately, my new found calm was gone again. I pounded the steering wheel from time to time, unable to decide if I was angry or sad.
The silence didn’t last long. About an hour later, the phone rang again.
“Alex, this is Carl.” Rachel’s father.
“Alex, what’s going on? You’ve canceled the wedding?”
“Yes ... No. It was Rachel who has canceled it by her behavior at our trip, actually.”
“Alex, it can’t be that bad, can it?”
“Let’s see. She heavily flirted with another man in the restaurant. She ignored me when I tried to stop her form kissing him publicly. She publicly announced to go to his room with him and did it. She had sex with him for the whole night. She came to my room to announce that she was going to spend the complete weekend with him. The whole hotel knew about this. What do you think about that?”
“I can’t really believe it. This has to be some kind of misunderstanding.”
“You want to have photos of that misunderstanding? I have plenty. While they’re kissing in the restaurant. While they cuddle romantically in his room. While they have sex in his room. They were not actually discreet about it, they had a lot of fun rubbing it into my face.”
There was a brief moment of silence.
“I’m sorry. Alex, you’re right. She’s obviously not ready for marriage. I have to apologize on behalf of my daughter. I hope we can stay in contact.”
“Sure, Carl. I’ve always liked Sue and you. It would have been great to have you as my in-laws.”
“Yes, it’s a shame. What are you going to do now?”
“I’m heading for San Francisco, I’m going to build a new life there.”
“Good luck, Alex. You’re a good man.”
Shit, that call had hurt a little again. My whole future had crumbled within a few days. I imagined that Carl would have a serious talk with Rachel now, he was a no-bullshit man.
During the rest of my trip, several friends called me. I gave them no details, but I think most had at least a vague idea about why Rachel and I had split up. I had to promise to give them my new address as soon as I had it.
Finally, the calls abated and I could continue to begin my new life and to leave the old shit behind. Easier said than done; my thoughts returned to Rachel all the time, to the good times we’ve had. And to that awful weekend.
After two months in San Francisco, on a Friday evening, my doorbell rang. I reluctantly opened the door, expecting Jehovah’s witnesses, but it was much worse. Rachel was standing there, dressed to the nines, looking beautiful and nervous. I immediately slammed the door close again. Of course, she rang again but I turned off the doorbell. Damn, how did she find me? Where did I have to go? Bora Bora? And I realized that I wouldn’t be able to avoid her if she really set her mind onto it.
Reluctantly, I opened the door. Better to get over with it straightaway. But she was gone. Good.
I woke up at nine in the morning. My damn doorbell again. I stumbled to the door in a drowsy state and opened it. Rachel again. Wordlessly I stepped aside and let her enter, being resigned to my fate. No need to delay the talk that was inevitable anyway. At least this charade would end today.
Still without a word I went to the kitchen and started a coffee while she watched me in silence. I silently handed her a cup and took one for myself. I wordlessly went to my living room, she just followed me and we both sat down. We drank our coffee, still without a word. She looked good. I could see she had really made an effort to look exactly the way I liked it. But it didn’t make a difference, my feelings for this woman were gone and this insight relaxed me a lot. I could meet her without any unwanted feelings welling up in me, without being weak.
“Alex,” she croaked. Ah, she could speak. More or less, it seemed to be hard for her. “I’m sorry.”
I remained silent. Not to make this harder for her, but nothing needed to be said at the moment.
“I’ve totally misbehaved.” I just nodded. “And I’m sorry that it took me so long to find you. Of course you can mention Julie whenever you want to. I’ll just have to live with it. I was just so insecure. I thought you didn’t really love me, that I was just a convenient replacement for Julie. You kept her pictures on the walls. You called me Julie when we made love. You have her picture in your wallet. You mentioned her constantly during the wedding preparations. Then you had this wonderful idea of taking me to this wellness hotel. I was over the moon, only to find out that this was just a re-enactment of your life with her. It was too much; it was more than I could bear. I just blew my gasket. I’m so sorry.”
“Rachel, I know that I should have been more sensitive when I mentioned her. That wasn’t very nice and I’m sorry. But that’s no reason to humiliate me publicly and cheat on me blatantly.”
“I know. Don’t you think I haven’t beaten myself for it time and again?”
We looked at each other in silence, unsure how to proceed.
“How have you found me anyway?”
“I think all of our friends have your address. But nobody wanted to rat you out. I had to trick somebody by borrowing his phone without his knowledge.”
I was glad to hear that. I had good friends.
“I have quit our apartment and my job. I have rented an apartment only one block from here and I’m currently looking for a job.”
I was surprised, but it didn’t change a thing and I was certainly not going to reply. I wasn’t pleased about the news, as it obviously meant that I would be stalked by her in the foreseeable future. It would make my life more complicated, but I felt strong enough to resist her.
“Alex, I know that I’ve behaved terribly at that hotel, I’ve hurt you deliberately and publicly. I’ve humiliated you. I’ve driven you away from me, you had no other choice than to leave me. At first, I just didn’t know why I’ve done it. It’s hard to understand because I loved you then and I still love you, only you. I didn’t love Danny. He was physically attractive, but I didn’t even like him very much.
“I’ve tried desperately to explain to my parents and myself why I’ve done it.
“At first I tried to convince me and them that it had started as a lesson to teach you how it felt to share your spouse with someone else and that this lesson had gone out of hand. But after a while I realized that this is not completely true. This wasn’t just to teach you a lesson, I knew from the start that I’d hurt you.
“So what was the real reason? My dad told me that I probably was just plain jealous. Jealous of a dead woman. You always described Julie as nothing but absolutely perfect to me. She was obviously the most beautiful woman in the world to you and the general epitome of female perfection. You never mentioned a single argument. She was on a huge pedestal, I felt like I couldn’t compete with that. I felt so intimidated by her presence that I even hesitated to accept when you proposed to me, even though it had been my greatest dream.”
“Rachel, I’m sorry, really. Of course Julie had her flaws. Of course we had arguments. But I suppressed thinking about those aspects after her death, it felt inappropriate, like it would soil her memory. I’m sorry if I depicted her in such a way to you. Of course you could compete with her, I loved you just as much as I loved her.”
“Oh, Alex...” she sobbed and was about to fling herself at me.
“Wait a moment. I said you could compete with her, and I was talking about the past. Right now you can’t, because something has terribly soiled my image of you.”
“Alex, just give me a chance to prove myself to you, to make it up somehow. Maybe I can just stay around you until you have come to trust me again. I’ll be patient. You may even glorify Julie if you want to, I will learn to live with it.”
“I don’t know, it isn’t that easy...”
“I’ll spend my time getting you back in any way I can, however long it takes.”
“Quite impressive speech, Rachel. I believe you.”
“Thank you for even speaking with me again.” She was obviously unsure what my neutral answer meant for her.
“No problem, I’m even surprised how calm I am about it today. Sorry for yesterday, that was impolite, I’ve been surprised.”
“Don’t worry. Alex. How are you feeling about me? I still love you, only you. I haven’t been with a man since that fateful night. And I’ve had sex with him only once.”
“I’m quite cool about it now, I think I’m mostly over you.”
“You’re not mad anymore?”
“No, but I also don’t love you anymore.”
She flinched, but recovered soon. “That’s bad, but it won’t stop me. It could be worse. You fell in love with me before, you might do it again. And I’m going to be nicer to you this time, a whole lot nicer.”
“Rachel, I might be calm about you now, but I also don’t know how I could ever trust you again. Sure, I have misbehaved in some way, but your reaction was totally out of proportion. I would always wait for the other shoe to drop. What will you do if I keep forgetting to take the trash out? Hire a killer? Shoot a gangbang video with you as the star? Re-gaining the trust in you is not even a goal for me right now.”
“You can trust me, I won’t ever be that dumb ever again. And if we ever get back together, we will have a contract. If you leave me for whatever reason, I will have nothing. No money, no access to our children. The same if I might leave you, you will get everything. But that won’t ever happen, anyway.”
“Children?” I had to laugh.
“Yes. In the unlikely case that we get back together, I want some. Here’s the contract.”
Surprised that she had already prepared something, I read it and immediately saw that it was extremely harsh. She would get nothing if we split up for whatever reason, not even custody or visiting rights for potential children. I assumed that this was not even legal.
“Has Carl written this?”
“Yes, it’s that obvious?”
“He’s really let you have it, I assume?”
“Yes, and mom too. And most of our friends. All of them seem to have at least a rough idea about what’s happened, I don’t know how.”
“Not from me, I’ve only told Carl about it.”
“I know. Keep the contract, it’s already signed. You don’t need to sign it, just put it into a safe.”
“Okay, just to honor Carl’s effort. But I wouldn’t want to be with you because a contract binds you. And the main problem remains - I don’t love you anymore. I don’t trust you anymore, I’m not even sure that I like you anymore.”
The last statement shocked her a little. “Not even like me? Well, I guess I understand. I’ve hurt you badly, even cruelly for no good reason. Alex, how about this - you show me San Francisco. I’m new here. This way you can road test me, just by spending some time with me. Let’s just be friends.”
Well, there it was. Did I want to avoid her? Would it look like running and hiding from her? That would be weak. No, I resolved to be able to have a cordial friendship with her. I had to admit that, regardless of what I’d said, I still liked her and that I didn’t want to feel like a coward by continuing to run away from her. And I had no friends here at all, some company was more than welcome. It was a good thing to prove to me that I was over her, just spend time with her without falling in love again.
“I’m not that familiar with San Francisco either. But I think I can show you the few places I know.”
“Thank you, Alex. But first, I’m going to make breakfast.”
She went into the kitchen, humming and singing. She might be a little too confident, I thought. Not my problem. I didn’t mind her presence any more, but I also couldn’t see a chance of us getting together again as well. It just wasn’t tempting, contract or not.
For the weeks to come, she jumped at every opportunity to spend time with me. The ensuing scenes were almost comical. She generally wore quite revealing clothes and touched me whenever she thought she could get away with it.
One time, as we were in my kitchen, she wore a very, very loose fitting T-shirt and tried to bend forwards whenever possible. I could have had a clear, unobstructed view of her tits if I wanted to. But I had seen them time and again and for some reason I didn’t even care to look. But if she wanted to play with me, I was game. Inwardly smiling, I looked virtually everywhere apart from her cleavage. Most of the time she followed my view, trying to put her boobs into my line of sight. Finally, I had to stop this before I burst out laughing and left the room under some pretense.
A few days later, again in my apartment, she tried another tactic. She decided on some hot pants as her seduction weapon du jour. I was just glad she didn’t wear that thing in public, as it was cut like a Brazilian bikini bottom and I was constantly visually informed that her pussy lips threatened to leave the garment any time. The shoes that were the best match for this seemed to be cfm heels. And she spent most of that day looking for some stuff at ground level, bent forwards and away from me, keeping her legs straight.