Sophia was late. Very, very late. But that had been her plan. She had waited until nearly midnight to make sure she didn’t meet him. Avoidance was the most effective cure for her guilt. She’d heard he was flying early the next morning and was only going to be there for a couple of hours. He should have left by now.
Nearly three weeks had passed since their illicit encounter at the Pergola. That evening, she had gone back to her marriage, determined to end it. Over the following days, she had carefully thought what she would say to Tom and even practised her speech. But little it had helped her overcome her fear of his short-tempered and controlling disposition, and she had once more found herself dwelling on her irresolute nature and loathing herself for her lack of courage. She’d heard from Callum a couple of times. He’d been very discreet, sending her brief, friendly texts that were cleverly intended to pressure her into acting on her decision of breaking up with her husband.
In the meantime, Meghan and Adam had got engaged and were throwing a last-minute party to celebrate it. So here she stood in front of their house, observing the pretty fairy lights that had been arranged all along the path of the front garden and the colourful bunting that hung from the trees. Everything looked perfect. Pushing the red front door, which was ajar, she shyly entered the hallway and walked along the narrow corridor towards the kitchen.
“There you are!” Meghan greeted her.
“Sorry, I am late. I had to wait for Tom and at the end he called to say he could not make it. He had an emergency.” It was her usual excuse, always blaming Tom. But he deserved it, he was hardly at home these days. Not that she minded, she had got used to being on her own and she liked it. It gave her time to dream, to imagine her new life with Callum.
“Well, you are here now,” Meghan smiled, “what can I get you? There is plenty of food and drink.”
“I’d have a glass of champagne, thank you. Can I see the ring?”
“Of course!” Meghan extended her left hand with pride. A large tear-shaped diamond sat comfortably in her fourth finger.
“It’s lovely. I’m so pleased for you two. Congratulations!” Sophia cheered, raising her flute.
“To marriage and love.” Meghan replied. “Come on! Let’s take you to the dance floor before we all turn into pumpkins. Our lounge is officially school disco.”
“Has everybody turned up?”
“Yes, most people have. Although a few have already left, other commitments and blah, blah, blah. It’s Saturday tomorrow, for God’s sake! They should get a life.”
Sophia smiled to herself, she had certainly missed him. She could now relaxed and enjoy her friend’s engagement party.
“All right. But before that, I must pay a visit to the ladies.”
“Go upstairs and use our en-suite, it’d be quieter there. See you in few minutes.”
Sophia made her way to the second floor of the house. It was a three-storage Victorian semi, with a narrow staircase and a big bay window on the right hand side of the landing. Meghan’s bedroom was straight across the corridor. Slowly she turned the door handle, colliding with someone when entering the room.
“I’m sorry,” a familiar male voice said, “we were just leaving.”
“Callum!” Sophia exclaimed, utterly shocked. What was he doing here, in Meghan’s bedroom? She thought.
“Sophia, hi! I wasn’t sure you were coming,” he replied, staring at her face with delight.
“I got delayed waiting for Tom.” She dreamily looked into his eyes. Those eyes that always seemed to be able to read her mind, so caring and comforting.
“Is he here?”
She rolled her eyes. “No, he is not. He had another emergency.”
“I must admit I don’t envy the shifts of a doctor.”
“Callum, darling, I can’t find my purse.” A female voice said from the back of the bedroom.
“You might have left it in the cloakroom downstairs.”
“I did, didn’t I. How silly of me! Hi! The woman extended her dainty hand to Sophia .“I’m Lucy.” She couldn’t have been taller than five foot, with long brown hair and a petite countenance.
Sophia felt her legs wobble and her eyes fill with tears. Talking a deep breath to control the quaver of her voice, she faked a smile and introduced herself. “Hi, I’m Sophia,” she replied feebly, shaking the woman’s hand.
“We should get going, really. I have a very early start. Good to see you, Sophia. I’ll give you a call as soon as I get back from Edinburgh.” Callum interrupted, taking Lucy by the hand and dashing out of the room.
“See you soon.” Sophia murmured.
Sophia hurried into the bedroom, almost choking on her sobs. He might have got cold feet. Her indecision had driven him away again. She stared at her smudged face and felt an intense feeling of self-abhorrence. She was a coward — petty, materialistic and selfish. Breathing deeply, she gave a long sigh and wiped her face with the heel of her hand. He could at least have told her, she thought. But who was she to judge him? She was the one who had married another man.