“But I just started moving in here!” cried Envy. She removed her hat in a dramatic gesture and flung it across the room. It was straw and had a floppy brim and soared like a frisbee, landing gracefully on a stack of unopened cardboard packing boxes.
They’d spent the day at Spanish Beach, lounging and cuddling and eating the picnic Bob had prepared and transported in an old-fashioned basket, where the plates, wine glasses, cutlery and other accoutrements all had their special storage places. He’d made, of course, fried chicken and potato salad. Envy’s contribution was a cold bottle of rosé.
Envy’s skin burned easily. She found hats uncomfortable, but she needed to wear one in sunny weather even as they sat in the shade. Now, that hat had found another use.
Bob purported to hate drama. But, Envy found, all drama-creators hated the drama they created.
“And it’s a pretty nice apartment,” said Bob, strangely calm in the face of Envy’s outburst. “I like the big windows and the balcony. Nice crown moulding. What’d you pay for this place again?”
Envy gritted her teeth. Ok, they were engaged now, but she hadn’t ever told Bob what she paid for the condo. He continued to open his mouth and spit out whatever was closest, no matter how intrusive or bad mannered it was. Well, she could be radically honest too.
“I never told you what I paid. And I don’t intend to.”
Bob shrugged. He always said he wouldn’t be radically honest to others if he couldn’t take it himself. Envy didn’t know if that was true or whether that shrug was a carefully crafted and honed reaction that hid outrage or hurt.
She sighed heavily. “I don’t want to move into your house. I don’t like the location. It’s suburban, miles from everything.”
“There’s that giant park next door, the outlet mall is only a five minute drive, and there’s a satellite college campus—“
“Whatever ,” said Envy unpleasantly, wondering absently when had been the last time she’d been so rude.
“It’s not like you to be so abrupt,” said Bob.
“We’ve had this conversation. I don’t want to move, I haven’t even moved in here.”
“You’ve been living out of cardboard boxes for six months. I took that as a sign of your reluctance to settle in here.”
“I don’t need your amateur psychology, Bob.”
“I’m glad we’re having this conversation,” said Bob.
Envy stifled a scream.
Why hadn’t she unpacked properly though? This was the apartment of her dreams, light, bright, with high ceilings and polished wood floors, plenty of wall space for her art— yet none of it unpacked.
And what was the real reason she didn’t want to move in with Bob at his suburban but otherwise charming Victorian reno home right beside the park with the rose garden, which she adored and remembered visiting as a child? Bob even wanted to get married there.
Envy said, “I’m not ready to move.”
Bob nodded. “Not ready to move on, you mean. From Marcus. From all that.”
She thought of the last time she saw Marcus. In prison, when her leg was still in a cast, and he didn’t even have a lawyer. She got him one, and he pleaded guilty to the arson but not to the attempted murder.
That was love. That was passion. That was simpatico, trust, joy, heart-stopping sex, loyalty, even fealty. It was impossible to pinpoint the day when their connection began to erode. If there ever truly was a connection. If.
She was twisting the ruby engagement ring round and round her finger. She and Bob noticed this gesture at the same moment.
“No rash decisions,” he said.
“No rash decisions,” said Envy.