“You know, I think you all get better every time I hear you.” Sam smiled, taking my hand as we walked through the high-street.
“Liar. That was one of our slowest rehearsals.”
“Slowest, maybe. But you definitely have quality.”
“You’re sweet.” I grinned, squeezing her hand gently.
“Tell me about it.” She smiled, but then her smile faltered. “Cara, I need to talk to you about something.”
“What? Is something wrong? Because you’ve not been completely yourself all night and I was worried-“
“Caught that huh? Well no, it’s just that I have to go on another trip, another long trip, and I tried to book a place for you, so it could be like Italy again, but they want to keep it strictly clients. No plus ones.”
“Oh. Well how long?”
“Just under two weeks.”
“Two weeks?” I groaned, shocked.
“It’s to cover a wide variety of areas. I don’t know if I told you that I have another show room in London…?”
“No, but go on.”
“So my other show room is run by a friend, Kate, and she is going on her honeymoon next week which is right when we have all our meetings, accounts… normally I’d be down there for a few days and do the rest by email or phone, but because she’s going I need to be there to handle it. You could come and stay down there but you won’t see me much at all. I’m going to be in meetings about that and when I’m not I’ll be on the clientele based tour. It’s to look at all the exhibits, galleries etc that are looking to sell paintings. It’s rare art work that if I could get my hands on it…” She drifted off thoughtfully for a moment. “Sorry, where was I?”
“You were telling me I wouldn’t get to see you even if I came to London.”
“Oh, right. So, you can come, is what I’m saying but…”
“… But you think that considering everything I should stay here and have time with my friends while you take care of business?”
“No I just-“
“It’s fine Sam. Really. When do you go?”
I gawped at her.
“That’s in three days.”
“I was going to tell you before but there was the girls weekend and I was trying really hard to get them to let you in.”
I sighed and rubbed my eyes, stopping in the street.
“Ok. So we’ll just skype, and I’ll come down when you’re free, spend an evening with you…”
“Sure. I’m sure there’ll be an evening free. It’s not normally like this, it’s just Kate is getting married and…”
“… I get it, it’s ok.” I frowned. It wasn’t. It upset me. Two weeks without her? I’d not gone that long without her since I’d met her. Not even when we had our ‘day off’ could we last the full day, and that had been after our second date. I smiled at the memory. That was the night we’d first slept together. “I mean it’s not. I’m going to miss you like crazy. But I can’t exactly tell you that you should ignore your business for me can I? And if you agreed you wouldn’t be the woman I fell in love with.”
“Come here.” She muttered sadly, and pulled me in to her arms. “I wish I could say I thought I’d deserved a woman like you. But honestly I think you could do much better.”
“I couldn’t. Anyone else wouldn’t have my heart.”
She kissed me, smiling, and then chuckled.
“Yeah, the guys are right, you’re one soppy shit Cara.”
I thwacked her arm and began walking again; she followed chuckling. Then suddenly I stopped.
“Do you really have to go?”
“And I wouldn’t see you much even if I came with you?”
“Hardly at all.”
“But isn’t that better than not at all?”
“Shall we do this in our home?”
“Do what? This? Why? Is it going to turn in to a scene that you want to hide away?” I snapped.
“Forget it. I guess time away is something that comes up in every relationship.”
“Let’s just go back home.” I shoved my hands in my pockets and stalked off.
“Cara damn it. Your mood changes are faster than a train.”
“Yeah well maybe I was in shock for the first few seconds.”
“I think I liked the shock better.”
“Oh really?” I glared.
“No, well yes, but-“ She started, frustrated.
“Sam, I get it. Two weeks, you can clearly manage that long without me, I guess I can manage that long away from you too.”
“It’s not time away. I’ll still call or text every free minute and-“
“Sam, you’re not helping. Just let me think about this alright? I don’t want to be yelling,” I realised, calming myself a little, “I just didn’t realise this sort of thing was going to happen. I thought I’d get to come with you. So just let me think ok?”
“Actually, I’m going for a walk. I’ll be back soon.”
“Are you sure, it’s getting dark?” She said, glancing up at the sky.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I won’t be long. Just go home ok? I’ll be there soon.” I gave her a peck on the cheek and turned and walked in the opposite direction. Once I’d rounded the corner I got out my phone and dialled.
“Hey… can I come round and talk?”
“Is everything alright?”
“I just need to talk to you about something.”
“Sure come on over. You have a key.”
“Thanks Anna. See you in a minute.”
I walked up the steps and in to Anna’s apartment, using the key she’d given me. I never thought I’d use it, not like this anyway. I thought it would be like… if she’d forgotten something or needed a hand… not for me coming over at night to discuss my relationship.
“Hey, I’m in the kitchen. Hot chocolate?”
“Please.” I went round the corner in to her kitchen and smiled to see her in her pjs.
“What’s up?” She asked, turning to me with a hot chocolate in her hand, passing it to me. I stared in to it for a few moments before I could work out what to say.
“Do you think Sam is getting bored of me?”
“What?” She asked incredulously. “No, of course not! You two are inseparable.”
“Huh.” I sniffed, looking down in to my chocolate again.
“What happened?” She asked, a note of concern in her voice now.
“She’s going to London to deal with some business down there and she says she can’t take me.”
“It’s for two weeks.”
“Ah.” I looked up and saw her pursing her lips.
“What? See! You think the same as me right?”
“Well wait a minute, do I know all the facts?”
I told her what Sam had told me and what I’d said in return.
“So it was out of her hands really?”
“I guess. She thinks I’d have more fun up here with you guys.”
“Which you probably would considering you’d be alone down there if she was always busy.”
“Well yeah but that’s not the point. We’d still get some time together.”
“But you’d be lonely and miserable the rest of the time. You know Sam and I haven’t always seen eye to eye but you and her are good, and you’d better not throw it away by trying to make her feel bad about doing her job.”
I frowned and looked down again. Anna padded across to me in her bunny slippers and peeped up at me, pulling a funny face. I lasted a few seconds before chuckling.
“Ok, ok… I was just upset that she wanted to go without me.”
“Sounds like she wanted to go with you to me. She can’t be in charge of everything you know. Sometimes she’ll just have to stick her head in her work and do the running around. You shouldn’t give her such a hard time.”
“When did you get so wise and… well I hate to say it but… when did you care so much about how Sam feels?”
If there was a slight blush in Anna’s cheeks it faded fast, and she coughed.
“I’m trying, for your sake.”
“I know. And I think that’s amazing of you. But… Anna you seem different?” Her face reddened more obviously this time. “Oh my god! What is it? Tell me!”