September 15, 2015 – Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six, Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine, Chapter Ten, Chapter Eleven, Chapter Twelve, Chapter Thirteen, Chapter Fourteen, Chapter Fifteen, Chapter Sixteen, Chapter Seventeen, Chapter Eighteen, Chapter Nineteen, Chapter Twenty,Chapter Twenty-One, Twenty-Two,Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight
The weather was pleasant when Jenny walked out the door and headed to her mother’s on Sunday morning. The sun shone in a cloudless sky, and the temperature felt warm, yet crisp at 55 degrees. After a few blocks of walking mostly on shaded streets, she realized it was cooler than she anticipated.
That’s exactly how she would have described her conversation with Fiona last night too – cooler than anticipated. It took almost an hour and Jenny’s best conversation skills to get her to warm up.
“Something is wrong, Fiona, but if you’re not ready to talk about it, I will leave you be,” she said after much coaxing. “I don’t like being hounded when I don’t want to talk, so I apologize for prying.”
The reverse psychology method seemed to have done the trick. “I ran into Doug a few weeks ago,” she said, finally letting it flow.
“That must have been difficult,” Jenny said sympathetically, and not at all surprised that it involved her ex.
Fiona looked the saddest she’d ever noticed before and Jenny was sort of surprised it had this much an effect on her. “He was with another woman,” Fiona continued. “At first I thought she might be his wife, but then I found out she was his new girlfriend, the one he left his wife for.”
Jenny shrugged. “He’s an awful man, Fiona. I’m sorry.”
Fiona let out a small, uncomfortable laugh. “He is awful,” she said. “And I guess on some level I’ve always known that. When I followed him into the restaurant and confronted him…”
“You followed him?”
“I wasn’t stalking him, Jenny,” Fiona replied sounding quite annoyed. “I ran into him on the street first, accidentally.”
Jenny smiled. “Sorry,” she said.
“Well, when I followed him into the restaurant he told me that he loved her and had to leave his wife. He didn’t leave for me, but he left for her.”
So that’s why this was about. Fiona didn’t like to lose. Jenny felt certain she really couldn’t love this egomaniac. “He’s a liar, Fiona, a womanizing liar who will not be able to find happiness with anyone. I’m sure he will be cheating on his one soon enough. You are better off to be rid of him.”
Fiona shrugged. “I know you are right but it still hurts. It’s not that I think I loved him. It’s losing him. And all of those months wasted.” Wow, Fiona actually admitted it. That was a huge step for her. If Fiona were honest, she’d have to admit she wasted her entire adult life on the wrong man, and Jenny knew it. However, it was not the time to that point up now when the wounds were still fresh.
“You know, he begged me to leave the restaurant before she came back from the ladies’ room. He told me he’d call me the next day to explain everything.”
“He never called.”
Jenny offered a kind smile. “That’s probably best for you.”
Fiona shrugged. “What could he say that I’d want to hear anyway?”
Jenny realized that maybe Fiona really got it this time. “Fiona, this a huge step for you. I’m happy for you.”
She smiled. “I’m glad, but why do I feel like crap?”
“Because it does suck. Sometimes the best lessons are painful ones.”
Fiona looked at Jenny strangely. “What? I don’t make the rules,” Jenny said in her defense. “Now what are you going to do about it?”
Fiona laughed. “I know you want me to say find a nice available man, but that is way easier said than done. I think I need to fly solo for a while.”
Jenny walked along Chestnut Street on the to her mother’s house feeling happy. Fiona finally did the right thing, and was possibly making a change for a better life. Still, she had the feeling she wasn’t getting the full story, but it was a start. Now if she could get through brunch, all would be right with the world. It struck her that she hadn’t seen her stepsister, since the night she saw her finance with another women. Was anyone ever faithful anymore? She still did not know what to do about that, but in all reality, she did not know the circumstances. It could be innocent. It might be best to leave it alone for now.
She reached her mother’s home about twenty minutes later and received a warm greeting. It had been three weeks since they had seen each other, but even Jenny had to admit it felt nice to see her. In a stranger turn of events, it was just the women having brunch today. The men had a golf outing that was postponed from the day before when they had an appointment for their tuxedo fittings. It already felt like a different circumstance, and Jenny had to wonder if she did prefer the company of women to men. She felt much more relaxed in their company, anyway.
“Did you get my email about the change in plans for the Paris trip?” Sarah asked while nibbling on a cheese omelette.
Jenny shook her head. “I haven’t checked in a day or so,” she said. “Maybe it’s in my inbox.” Jenny had not agreed to go on the trip yet, but she had better make her mind up soon because they already thought she had. She supposed she was just going to have to suck it up and go.
Emma shrugged. “No, Sarah sent it over a week ago. No wonder we didn’t get your reply.”
“Email can be so unreliable,” her mother said. “Why didn’t you call her?”
“We lost her cell number,” Sarah said. “I suppose I should have called you, but at the time I was crazy with details and disappointed in my maid of honor choice since she refuses to help with many of the details, so I emailed.” The “we” that Sarah referred to was not she and her finance, the traditional us for son-to-be married couples, but Sarah and Emma who shared the same phone list and the same brain. Jenny sat back to enjoy the comedy show of their life and see how they could tap dance out of this one.
“In any case, the Paris trip has been moved up two weeks.” Emma walked over to her purse on cue and pulled out an envelope to hand to Jenny. “It’s a plane ticket and our itinerary. We leave the first Saturday in May.”
“It was moved so the girls could meet with their dress designer, who will be in Paris that weekend for a fashion show. What an opportunity that will be,” her mother said. “Although I like your new look, perhaps can talk to her about some more new clothes for you, Jenny.”
Jenny shook her head. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to go then,” she said. “I have something urgent going on that weekend.”
“What could be more urgent than our wedding?” Sarah asked. Then she looked at her sister. “I knew she would try to get out of this. I told you she would.”
“I’m not trying to get out of anything,” Jenny said. “Moving the date up two weeks, and then emailing me the details, isn’t very responsible. I could believe it means you don’t want me to go.”
“Jenny,” her mother said, “Of course they want you to go. And I’m sure whatever it is you have going on can be changed.”
Jenny shrugged. “And why is that, Mom? Because I have nothing important to do? You’re wrong. That weekend is the biggest night of the year for me.” Jenny didn’t want to sound so dramatic, like Sarah and Emma did when they spoke, but it was the truth.
Emma looked at her and couldn’t help but laugh. “Is it the book club’s annual spaghetti dinner or something?”
Sarah laughed at her sister’s joke. “Don’t be mean, Emma. That happens once a year, you know.”
Jenny looked at them both, thrown that they would treat her like this. She never gave them any grief, and was not even competition for them. She stayed out of their way, so this attack seemed undeserved.
“Whatever it is, Jenny, I’m sure it’s important, but you’ll have to postpone. This is family.”
Jenny looked at her mother in surprise. “I can’t do that. I’m committed.”
“You committed to us,” Sarah said.
Jenny was losing her patience now. “Why is it so important that I go to Paris with you?” she asked.
“It’s important to me because we’re family,” her mother said. “What could be more important?”
“Mom, I’m sorry. I didn’t know the date had changed. I can’t give you all of the details because they are still private, but it involves the DIH annual ball.”
“Oh, it’s top secret,” Sarah said with a laugh. “Did you join the CIA? That could be a reasonable explanation for your unexciting lifestyle. They do like to keep their agents under the radar.”
Emma laughed. “But not that under.”
“Girls, stop!” her mother cried. “There’s no need to bully her. And Jenny, surely the DIH fundraiser isn’t that important.”
“It is important,” Jenny said. “Besides, this is the bachelorette party. I will be at the wedding.”
“Yeah, until you can find an excuse to get out of that, too,” Sarah said. “I think you’re jealous of us!”
Jenny laughed. “And why would I be jealous?”
“Because you don’t have a man!” Sarah snapped.
That was the comment that put Jenny over the edge. It was her Achilles heel. “I’d rather be alone that be about to marry a man who cheats on me,” she snapped back at Sarah. She felt ashamed she stooped to her bullying game, but she had lost her ability to reason.
Sarah looked down, but it was Emma who came to her defense. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing,” Jenny said. “I spoke out of turn.”
“You did,” her mother said, looking shocked at the scene unfolding before her eyes.
“You shrew!” Emma said, her words snapping like the mouth of an angry alligator.
“What do mean?” Sarah asked in a surprisingly a calm voice. Jenny realized she had to tell her everything now.
“I’m sure it meant nothing,” Jenny said after her confession of seeing him on the street with another woman. “She could have been a work colleague or his sister for that matter.” This conversation seemed so familiar, then she realized it was the same lie she told Fiona a few weeks ago. They appeared too cozy to be just colleagues or family.
Emma nodded. “That would explain it. They don’t have a sister, but they are always taking business dinners with clients and…
“He’s cheated before, you know,” Sarah admitted looking into her sister’s hopeful face. “I thought it would stop now that we’re getting married.”
“And it will,” Emma said. “No need to get all upset over this minor detail.”
“Minor detail?” Jenny questioned.
“You’ve done enough!” Emma snapped.
“Look, I’m sorry I blurted it out the way I did. I felt cornered. But if he is cheating, it’s better to find out before the wedding.”
“Why is that, Jenny? So my sister can call it off and become a frustrated old maid like you. That’s not going to happen, is it Sarah?”
“Emma, why are you attacking me again?” Jenny asked.
“Because you are threatening everything I want. We’ve planned our wedding together since we were little girls, right Sarah?”
“But you don’t want to marry a man who cheats?” her mother added finally breaking her silence. She was actually the voice of reason here and Jenny was glad she spoke up.
“We don’t know that’s what was going on,” Emma said.
“But if he did cheat, you’ll…” Jenny was interrupted.
“We’re less than two months away from the wedding, and I’m marrying him,’ Sarah said. “ I’ll find out for sure what he’s doing, but the wedding is still on. I want you all to promise not to say anything about this. I will handle it.” Sarah got up and ran from the room, and Emma followed close behind. Odd, since it was usually Jenny who did the running.
After an uncomfortable silence, Jenny’s mother spoke. “I’m sorry your friend Andrew couldn’t join us today,” she said.
Jenny nodded. “He’s busy with the details of the speech he’ll give at the DIH benefit, but next time, Mom. I promise.” While she had no right promising something she probably couldn’t keep, Jenny rationalized that at least she didn’t overlook the actions of a man who cheated just so she could get married. Relationships were much more complicated that she realized.