This story follows on from I Like A Bit Of Phone Sex In The Morning.
The series starts with The Dilemma
“You don’t need me to do anything right now, do you?” Scott placed his half empty coffee mug on the kitchen bench in front of Clarissa and hovered uncertainly near her shoulder.
Clarissa looked at the mug pointedly. “Can you put that in the sink please. I’m trying to cook here.”
Scott huffed under his breath, but picked the mug up and half tossed it onto another bench. “Happy?”
Not for years, Clarissa wanted to scream. Not since you took up sleeping around and humiliating me.
Instead, she said, “That’s not the sink.”
“I’ve got to head out. You want me to pick up anything?” Scott was already backing away and out of the kitchen. “I’ll be here in plenty of time for the party.”
Clarissa didn’t turn around, just tightened her grip on the handle of the knife as she deftly cubed the warm potatoes into a bowl.
“Where are you going?”
“Rick’s.” Scott’s voice sounded muffled like he’d started talking to his chest. “That was him on the phone before. He wants to catch up over breakfast. Show me the photos from his Canada ski trip.” He rolled back on his heels, his feet agitated, rearing to go.
Clarissa marveled at how easily the lie slipped off his tongue. Like he’d been lying his whole life. Like he did it as naturally as breathing. She looked down at the knife and had a brief image of ramming the blade into Scott’s smug face. The shock as he realized he’d underestimated her. The long groan as he slipped to the floor and died in a pool of his own blood. Just like something from one of those horror movies her and Ashley had watched as teenagers. The thought almost made her smile.
“Fine,” Clarissa managed to get out, her jaw tightening, her back molars grinding together.
As much as she didn’t want Scott seeing his lover, the last thing she wanted was for him to hang around the house with her. She couldn’t deal with him at the moment. Needed some time and space to clear her head.
“I’ll be back before two,” Scott said, moving in to stand beside her, his hand lightly touching her arm.
She shook him off and reached for the sprig of fresh parsley, lining up the ends and severing them with one swift movement, the knife snapping loudly against the wooden cutting board. He removed his hand, but didn’t move, unsure if he had permission.
“You can go to the bottle shop while you’re out,” Clarissa said, wiping a stray hair out of her face with the back of her hand, the knife waving in the air. “Pick up three cases of beer and another case of sauvignon blanc and one of a cabernet merlot. No shiraz.”
“Don’t we still have a case of white wine?” Scott asked, walking over to open the pantry door and looking down to check the floor. “I swear there was a box here last week.”
“It was empty. I just forgot to clear the box until a few days ago.” Clarissa was amazed her voice sounded so steady,but her inner robot had kicked into gear. “Go. I don’t want you to be back late.”
“Okay, love you.” Scott planted a quick kiss on her cheek as he passed her and left the room.
A minute later she heard the front door shut and Clarissa felt her body relax. She exhaled heavily and leaned on the kitchen bench for support. How was she going to get through this party? Mingling and playing happy families seemed like cruel and unusual punishment right now. How do you put on a brave face when you know that your husband has just come from the arms of his new lover.?
His new lover. Anguish tore at Clarissa’s gut, the knife sagging from her hand as she tried to steady her breathing. There was no time to fall apart now. It wouldn’t do any good anyway. She’d fallen to pieces about Susie Hampton and it had certainly achieved nothing there. Just added more fuel to Scott’s excuses. Proof that she was difficult, unstable. How he’d been driven into the arms of another.
Susie Hampton had been Scott’s personal assistant. An effervescent woman of twenty two, keen to get ahead, pretty beyond belief and still under the disillusionment that she would have some kind of meaningful job with the Department of Foreign Affairs. In reality, all she got for her eighteen months with Scott was some illicit sex, a lot of lies, a broken heart and public humiliation when the two of them were discovered in a compromising position at the work Christmas party. It didn’t take long after that for her to be transferred.
The discovery of Susie had been two years ago. Two years that her and Scott had been in limbo, pretending everything was okay, trying not to be with each other too much, talk too much, lest ugly wods were said. They were also two years that Clarissa had buried herself in her work. Taken one assignment after another. Refused to take breaks. Worked weekends. Worked even when she was exhausted and didn’t know why she bothered.
If Clarissa was completely honest, the more she worked the less her career meant to her. She’d love for her and Scott to have a baby. But that had never happened and might well not happen. The doctors said there was nothing medically wrong with either of them, but after three years of trying with no result, Clarissa wasn’t so sure. Maybe the problem was them. Maybe they just weren’t fit to be parents.
Lord knows, Clarissa had asked herself a thousand times how you could have a baby with a man she didn’t trust. As much as Scott said he loved her and would never leave her, every time he flirted with someone. Every time he smiled at someone, she wondered.
No. There would be no falling apart this time. Her husband may be an unfaithful louse, but he was still her husband. And she had no intentions of handing him over to another bimbette who’d become starry eyed over his charm, money and connections. She’d handle things differently this time. Be cool, in control. Once she let him know she knew, he’d buckle and break up with this woman, whoever she was. Then they’d rebuild. they’d done it before.
Clarissa thought of Lex and the promotion. She couldn’t take it, of course. There was no other choice. Scott needed her attention. He was obviously feeling neglected. Taking a deep breath, Clarissa closed her eyes and put down the knife. She noted the rage bubbling through her veins and tried to think calming thoughts.
This was an easy to solve problem. No need to panic. She’d just be a better wife, that’s all. She’d turn down the promotion, her and Scott would take a holiday and soon life could be good again. She brushed aside any fears about what Lex would say when she told him. There were plenty of other Production Managers who’d jump at the job.
With a plan in place and her barracking emotions slowly being pulled back into their box, Clarissa started to feel somewhat better. A little drink and she’d be fine. Opening the refrigerator, she withdrew a bottle of white wine, the chill of the glass reassuring, tingling her fingers. Taking a glass from the cupboard her eyes caught the time on the wall clock. 11.15am. She unscrewed the cap and poured herself half a glass, watched it for a moment as her eyes again went back to the clock. It wasn’t even midday.
But this wasn’t like any other day, she reasoned. Her husband was off fucking some other woman. Clarissa took a large gulp, felt the cold liquid slide down her throat. She felt instantly better so she quickly emptied the rest of the bottle into her glass, only stopping to sip the overfull glass and top it up again until the bottle was finally empty.
Photo by DogFromSpace