Time has a way of moving slowly when one’s life is going awry. I had been in John’s house less than a week. As I lay in the same bed where John’s wife died—a fact I did not know until Joann casually dropped it on me like a grenade after she cleared the bedroom and bath—I kept my eye on the lit-up clock as it traveled in tiny increments. In those dreadful hours, I asked myself repeatedly if I had made a terrible mistake.
If I thought for even one moment that I knew who my new husband really was, I was dreadfully wrong. The whirlwind courtship where I had been wined and dined at expensive restaurants and escorted to gala high-end social events blinded me during our nine months of gestation toward wedded life.
On our first date, he took me to the strikingly-designed spaceship-like restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport. Once inside, I realized the room revolved and it gave a 360 degree view of the arriving and departing airplanes, romantic in itself, suggesting faraway places, places I longed to experience.
John expertly ordered for both of us: An expensive sauvignon, Caesar salad, steak, and loaded baked potato. With a flourish, our waiter rolled up a cart to our table and made our Caesar —the smashing of anchovies and garlic, deftly adding of egg yolk, squeezing of lemon, the flick of the wrist while mixing in the olive oil, the dash of Worcestershire, and the final enhancing of the crisp romaine lettuce with croutons and Parmesan cheese. I never experienced such a performance, and was even more mesmerized when, after a hefty steak, John requested crepe suzettes, also done with great fanfare at our table.
A few months later, I remember sunning myself at John’s beach house near Santa Barbara, watching my boys enjoy themselves in the crashing surf, and I believed we were of like mind in those dizzying days of courtship. During that time of assessing one another, I believed we both enjoyed hard work—striving toward goals that would enhance our lifestyle and social contacts. Politically, we were mutually pointed toward the same side of the spectrum, and I truly felt we could enhance each other’s lives. I would be an asset to John’s growing business, and I supposed he thought of me as the glittering hostess that his late wife Gloria never was.
None of these goals, dreams, and expectations was false. They were genuine and achievable. But in the beginning of the marriage, I soon felt as if I were a woman with two children camping amidst the Stewart family.
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