Why hasn’t he signed the divorce papers? Money, that’s why. The no good lowlife always wants money from me.
Just three months after the wedding, she’d realized he’d married her for her wealth. Thank God her father was still alive and owned the business her mother had created and turned into a multimillion-dollar company. Dad had supported Mother and had taken care of all the accounting for the business.
Rising, Julia sauntered to the kitchen. She glanced around the open architecture, which had made her fall in love with the house to begin with. Dad always wanted to see her happy, so he’d bought her the five thousand square foot home as a wedding present, with just one catch—the house would remain in his name.
“Why would you do such a thing?” Her voice rose.
“Calm down. You’re a woman in love and don’t see what I see. One day, you’ll thank me.”
Those words kept coming back, and she praised God for her father’s wisdom. Every time Damien ran dry, he came back and asked her for money then disappeared for weeks at a time, sometimes months. Another conversation came to the forefront, and she leaned on the island, playing it through her mind.
“Why are you doing this? We love each other.”
“Your business is not profitable yet, but one day it will be,” her dad said. “You’re too much like your mother, God rest her soul, and your business will bring in millions. I don’t want him to walk away with the sweat of your brow.”
She waved the papers she held at him. “This is a prenuptial agreement, are you serious?”
“I’m dead serious. Mark my words, the day will come when you’ll thank me.”
Julia sighed. “Thank you, Daddy,” she whispered. “Mom, you married a wise man. Not like me, who married a complete jerk.”
She opened the refrigerator and took out the bottle of white wine she’d opened a few nights ago, pouring some in a Waterford wineglass. After corking the bottle and placing it back in the fridge, she curled up on the sofa. Staring into the shadows of evening, she beat herself for having been so blind with respect to Damien. “Love is blind” turned out to be so true. Damn! Could I have been more stupid?
Disgusted with herself to the point she couldn’t enjoy the book, she placed the paperback back on the bookshelf and went up to the master suite to enjoy a hot bath. Julia lit all the aromatic candles and filled the tub. While the water poured into it, she ran downstairs to pick up the wineglass she’d forgotten in the gathering room.
Almost asleep in the jetted tub and with steam filling the large room, it took a while before she heard her cell buzzing. Who could possibly be calling at this hour? She tightened her lips,and scrunched her brow. She stood and wrapped her body in a plush white towel. This was supposed to be her time to relax. Anger and anxiety rushed through her.
“Hello?” she said with a bit more force than she wanted.
“Hey, babe, I’ll be home for Christmas.”
“Damien, where are you?”
“I’m in the middle of an investment deal in Qatar.”
Had she heard right? “Where?”
“Qatar, baby. You know, the Middle East.”
Not in the mood to hear about his new gamble in whatever kind of business venture he’d embroiled himself in, she hung up and shut off her iPhone, returning to the tub of lukewarm water. Letting some of it out, she refilled the tub with steaming water then sank down to her chin and closed her eyes. If anyone needed her, they could just show up at the house.
When her bath cooled again, she slipped into her robe, tied it at her waist, and stretched out on the bed.
Cold crept into her bones, and she shivered. Darkness surrounded her. How long had she slept? Sitting up, she grabbed her cell phone and turned it back on. Goodness, it was 8:15 p.m.Pangs of hunger burned her stomach, but she didn’t feel like cooking at such a late hour. She dialed for delivery.
“Hello, I’d like to order veal Parmesan….”
With the order on the way, she slipped into silky pajamas, French braided her milk-chocolate brown hair, and went downstairs to wait for the food to arrive.
The gourmet kitchen surrounding her had been a joy to create with the help of Marcello DiStoia, a wonderful designer of kitchens and baths. A place where she’d dreamed of cooking with her newlywed husband. He did help for the first few months of marriage, but then all his failed ventures took him to different corners of the earth as he looked to gamble in varied “business opportunities” as he called them. Apparently, now he was in Qatar, of all places. She rolled her eyes and closed her hands in tight fists. A few deep breaths and she let it all go, reminding herself Damien was not worth a single thought.
A sigh of relief escaped her when the doorbell rang announcing the arrival of the food.
“Thank you.” She took the package from the older man, giving him a twenty-dollar tip.
“Have a good evening.”
Before closing the door, she stuck her head out to admire a few flurries. Only the beginning of October, it seemed too early for snow. In Virginia, it almost never snowed until after Christmas. Back at the counter, she laid out one place setting and sat on one of the high chairs. As she shoved the first bite in her mouth, the cell rang. Huffing, she reached for it to see who called.
“Hello, Dad. What’s up?”
“You were supposed to call to let me know if you want to go out Saturday night to grab some dinner and a movie with your old dad.”
“Oh my God!” She raised her hand to her chest. “So sorry, I forgot all about calling. Yes, I want to go out with you on Saturday. What movie did you want to see?”
“I thought we could just see whatever is playing at the Bird Theater, since you enjoy eating at Can Can.”
“Sounds perfect! I love going to Can Can.”
“I’ll pick you up at seven thirty.” The higher pitch in his voice let her know how happy and excited he felt about the date.
The phone disconnected.Ever since a little girl, she’d loved her special moments alone with her father. He’d involved himself raising his only child and sharing the duties of a soccer mom. Julia had loved that about her father, and she’d grown close to him, developing a unique and open relationship.
After clearing the counter and throwing the boxes away, Julia went back to her room to brush her teeth and slip between the covers. Exhaustion took over, and when she rested her head on the pillow she fell asleep.