CHAPTER THREE: Sacrifice
“What do we start with?” Ebullience at heart and a list at hand, Amanda’s avidity was over the roof. “I think we should bake some cookies.”
“Bake?” Leo stressed as though he had a sour pellet of Ampicillin in his mouth, “no, that’s boring.”
Oh. She hadn’t seen that coming. She took a stare at the iPad where she’d jotted down her wish list, “Couple’s massage then. I know a new place…”
Leo cut in, “massage?” He fiddled with his phone.
“Ok.” Amanda came with another suggestion, “How about a date? Just like old times.” Hope in her eyes as sturdy as an oak.
Rubbing his forehead, “I really do not want to go out.” Leo declined.
“Then…” Amanda was running out of patience, “…let’s have a movie marathon right here. We don’t have to move an inch for that. I’ll just order some snacks and -“
Hand on his chin to prop up his head, Leo’s dissatisfaction remained unshaken.
He scratched his head with the other hand and for a second Amanda lost it.
“What the f**k do you want?!” yelled Amanda.
He wasn’t going to answer that. If Amanda knew what he wanted, she’d lose every shred of sanity.
“What is going on Leo?” another question but in a calmer tone. She sat next to him on the couch, “I am not happy, Leo.”
“I am sorry.” He couldn’t make eye contact with her because then he’d have to pity her. What Amanda needed was love, not pity.
“I don’t need your apology.” She rose to her feet, “I want you to make me happy.”
“Do you miss them? Do you miss your girlfriends? Those women we left at Georgia? Because I don’t get it. Ever since we moved here and you’ve been away from them, you have been more like a roommate towards me.”
Leo heaved a sigh of frustration.
“Who is she?” She finally had his head facing her direction.
“Who is who?” He replied her question with another.
“It is obvious, Leo. I am not stupid.” She pestered.
“Well you sound like it.”
“You know what?” Amanda ditched her list, throwing the iPad on the bed. “We are going on a vacation. You and I on an island in another country or continent for the next four days. I’ll decide where while I pack our bags!”
Amanda walked out, leaving no room for his negative opinion.
I exclaimed after reading Leo’s text and demanded we meet immediately at the garden. It was a bad idea, we could get seen together by anyone but it didn’t matter to me right now. I would not accept this! No way in hell! Since the conception of ‘us’, Leo and I had not spent a day without seeing each other. This vacation was a no-no for me. Four days of not catching a glimpse of his gorgeous aqua green eyes? I had a vivid imagination where I did not survive it.
Despite waiting in the garden for an hour, Leo never surfaced. I wondered what this meant. Was he okay with the vacation? Did it mean Leo could live without me? Maybe now his wife mattered more. I was overthinking; I knew I was overthinking but I could not help it. Leonard, goddamnit!
The gardener came around. I had to leave. Ignoring Alonzo’s greetings, I chose to return to the house. The curiosity to be sure of what was going on corroded me within. Fate on my side, I ran into them at the entrance. Backpacks and suitcases, it looked ridiculous to me.
Amanda’s elation knew no bounds; I wouldn’t say the same for Leo. He seemed as though he was doing his wife a favor by agreeing to spend some time with her. Last night, he’d assumed it was going to be easy. Today he realized if he wasn’t with me, there was no where he’d rather be.
“Where are we going?” Fake smile spread over my lips, pretending I hadn’t known anything.
“My husband and I decided to go on a vacation. We haven’t done that in months.” With a wide grin and slight blush, she explained.
Leo’s eyes met with mine, “but what about the place you promised to accompany me to tomorrow?” I made up something to save both Amanda and Leo from the journey to the worst four days of their lives.
“What place?” Amanda looked from me to Leo and back at me.
“You didn’t tell your wife?” Now, it was his turn to play savior.
“Yes. I totally forgot. I promised I’ll go with her to a… a… an auction thing tomorrow.” He raked his fingers through his hair, “damn, I can’t believe I forgot.”
Auction thing? I thought he was a better liar.
“Really?” Amanda fell for it easier than I’d expected.
“I can’t believe this is happening.” Her mood switched from hundred to ten. She whined, “I miss my husband so much. Since the last two months, he’s been unavailable emotionally.” She spoke of Leo as though he wasn’t present.
“‘Guess we’ll have to cancel.” She became down in the mouth as though she was going to cry a river afterwards.
“No!” That came out of no where. Leo shot me a look that questioned my reasoning. “Don’t cancel. I’ll cancel. Or go alone. Or something. Don’t ruin your perfect plans for me.”
“Are you sure?” Amanda’s spirits brightened in an instant like a baboon on a banana tree.
Was I sure? I couldn’t answer. I didn’t want Leo to leave. The future of the vacation looked gloomy. I’d be miserable from missing him. He’d be quiet and lonely, being where his mind, spirit and soul wasn’t. She’d be mad because the vacation sucked. It’d be a disaster. Or it could turn out differently, I reconsidered after recalling her melancholic expression earlier. We’d never find out unless we tried.
“Ok. We’ll go ahead.” Amanda wore a big smile I hadn’t seen on her for weeks.
Nodding in acceptance, I took a dysphoric glance at Leo, accompanied by a forced smile of approval. I bid them farewell.
Approaching my bedroom, I could hear my heart breaking, my soul shaking. How would I live the next ninety-six hours without his touch?
Entering into the bathroom, I got under the shower knowing only there could I hide my tears. Although I understood making Amanda’s desire come through was the right thing to do, it didn’t make me feel any better. The selfless act brought me no comfort whatsoever. He was barely out of the vicinity and I missed him so badly. What would I do now? Eyes shut, I let the water saturate my skin. I felt the bracelet on my wrist; it only made me yearn harder.
A knock landed on my door.
Turning off the shower, I grabbed the bath towel and proceeded to get the door. And there he was, standing tall and dapper as always.
“I told Amanda I forgot something.” He walked in.
“Oh, yeah?” I locked the door behind him, “What could that be?”
He pulled my wet body closer; a slow, thorough smooch followed. The kind that would take four days to wear off. Hands in hands, he gave my ear a light bite. He knew he’d get a giggle if he did that.
“Nothing’s changed.” He assured me. “I’ll call when I can, I’ll text, we’ll FaceTime.”
He gave my temple a peck, “I’ll miss you.” He left.
A radiant smile on my face, my heart throbbed with sheer bliss. Quiet serenity spread through me. This was love. I’d found love. Perhaps at the wrong place and time but I was assertive there was nothing wrong about this feeling of euphoria even if it might not last. I was alive. And I was as satisfied as a lark in the garden. What could be greater than to love and be loved in return?
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