“Excuse me, am I interrupting something?” Claudia’s sharp voice cut into the room as she leaned against the doorway, looking at them with inquisitive eyes.
“No,” Van said, slowly releasing Kristin as she quickly endeavored to pull herself together. “Kristin recently lost her husband and the grief is still pretty strong.” He stood completely upright again and handed Kristin a napkin from her desk to dry her eyes.
“Oh, honey, I’m sorry to hear that,” Claudia mechanically poured out of her mouth. Her red lipstick shined as bright as the short red skirt she wore. Both were meant to draw attention to their wearer.
Kristin couldn’t detect an ounce of sincerity in Claudia’s voice, which made her mad. She hated phoniness. For years her motto has been: Mean what you say or keep your mouth shut. A motto that she’d practiced religiously.
“I’m fine now, Claudia. My cousin and I were just discussing my late husband and I guess I got stuck in my grief,” Kristin explained, trying to discreetly reassure Claudia that Van was not an option for her. She can have him. My heart hasn’t healed from the last man I loved.
“Cousin? You guys are related?” Claudia asked with a satisfied smile that threatened to break into a full grin. She came further into the office, eager to hear more. I might have to be nice to this one, if I’m ever going to ‘really’ get on his good side, she mused, determined to use anyone and anything to get in good with Van.
“Actually, Claudia, we’re related by marriage only. Kristin was married to my third cousin Sammy,” Van quickly injected. He didn’t want Claudia or anyone else to think that Kristin was off limits to him, because she most certainly wasn’t in his book.
“Oh, I see,” Claudia said at length, her smile now gone. Suddenly, she turned to walk out. At the doorway, she looked back and said sarcastically, “Now remember to wash your face real good, honey. Your makeup is a mess!” With that barb she strutted out of the office.
Van frowned at that as he politely said goodbye and left Kristin’s office soon thereafter. Claudia was a good worker and certainly attractive, but her attitude was awful. In fact, it stunk like an un-emptied garbage can left at the curb for two weeks. Claudia’s stinking attitude was exactly why Van had ruled out any possibly of having a relationship with her, no matter how many times she’d subtly encouraged it. No, he liked the sincerity he saw in Kristin. Earnest women like her were hard to find and when you did, you knew to hold onto them.
Like Claudia, Van’s ex-wife hadn’t been so sincere, either. Laura thought of nothing, but money ever since he received his inheritance ten years ago. All she wanted to do was travel and spend money. And they did for a while. But when Van wanted to start investing some of the money into business ventures, she complained.
Laura couldn’t seem to understand that they needed to plant the money in various places, so that it would have a better chance of growing into something they could use for the future. Then when Van suggested that she help him run the businesses, she complained even more. Laura had wanted to be a lady of leisure, traveling to exotic places and hobnobbing with other people of substance.
Van had wanted to settle down and have a family, build a stable life for them. At the time, he thought that his wife did, too. But after the inheritance came into the picture, she promptly changed her mind. Then when Van became so busy with the businesses, Laura started traveling alone, spending weeks away from home at a time.
With them literally living two separate lives, their marriage finally buckled under the pressure and failed. The sad part about all this was the fact that Van didn’t know that the marriage was even over until he happened to come home early from work one day and found a moving truck in front of their house with nearly all of their belongings inside.
What made matters worse was the fact that Laura didn’t seem to feel an ounce of remorse concerning their failed marriage or her underhanded act. Her eyes had only held anger and lots of it when Van confronted her outside by the orange and green moving truck.
“What are you doing home so early, Mr. Workaholic?” Laura had said with raw contempt. Her once beautiful face was balled into a snarl, making her suddenly look like a pit bull, tense and ready to attack.
Van remembered wondering why he hadn’t noticed Laura’s vicious nature before. Secretly, he knew. His ex-wife had kept it hidden under all that makeup, feigned love, and pretentious demeanor.
“I’m leaving you, Van. You were never there for me, so I had to find someone else. Someone who enjoys spending time with me, doing things I love,” Laura spat out vehemently, trying to place all the blame on his shoulders as she moved to walk past him.
One of the movers was already at the wheel waiting for Laura and his partner to get inside, hoping that this moment wouldn’t turn into an ugly domestic scene. He’d witnessed one of them before and it had not been a pretty sight. He’d had to call the authorities and everything. They don’t pay me enough to be going through that stuff, the slender man mused, sticking the key in the ignition. Now where is Billy? It shouldn’t take this long to get an end table.
“I was never there?” Van said incredulously, halting her departure with his outstretched arm. “You were never here. In fact, I didn’t realize it until now that you left me a long time ago, Laura. Today is just a formality.” Then Van planted a smiled on his face and added, “And I’ll tell you something else. You can have all of that overpriced furniture that you tried to sneak out of here. I don’t want any of it.” He pointed towards the house just as the other mover exited it, carrying a table. “Pile the rest of it in the truck, if you want to. But just so that you know, you’re not getting one more dime from me. I will not finance your new life with another man with my granddaddy’s hard-earned money.”
Laura scoffed in his face. “You don’t have to. My new man is richer than you anyway,” she said triumphantly, before getting into the orange and green truck.
Ironically, Van didn’t feel as bad as he thought he would when she left. After a quick divorce, he sold that house and purchased another one void of disappointment and bitter memories. A year later, Laura called, begging to reconcile. It turns out that her rich boyfriend had quickly grown tired of his country-bumpkin-trying –to-be-a-sophisticated-lady girlfriend. But by that time, Van’s heart had completely healed and he refused to go backwards. He and Laura were history.
© 2007 by Suprina Frazier