The sunlight had started fading outside. Kate sat at her desk, working on her newest story. She was glad that Sasha let her do as she pleased. He didn’t force his own ideas on how she should spend her time as his wife; instead, he didn’t interfere. The only rule he imposed on her was that she couldn’t walk out of the house without informing him. She didn’t mind it in the least, considering that he himself didn’t go out without informing her. They were a very normal couple in that sense.
He wasn’t supposed to know that today was her birthday. She looked up when she heard a knock on her door. Sasha was standing there, with a disappointed look on his face, but his eyes shone as if they were on fire.
‘I heard that it’s your birthday’ he lifted his hand to show the champagne bottle he was clutching, ‘I think we should celebrate. What do you say?’
She managed a smile as he walked in; he had never really asked for permission.
‘How did you find out? And why aren’t you at work?’ she sat down on the couch as he took the recliner in front of her.
‘I have a super-efficient secretary’ he sighed, ‘and did you possibly think that I’ll stay in the office after I found out? I’m not so heartless after all. I can bring myself to care about people who care about me.’
‘Is this supposed to be me?’ she felt herself go rigid. He had made it clear in the very beginning…Don’t expect love from this. We both know that it’s for money. I’m desperate, frankly, and so are you…a single day didn’t pass without his words chiming in her head.
‘Come on, love, let’s not start this now’ he blinked at her sharp retort.
‘I apologize’ she answered coolly.
‘Look’ he said suddenly ‘I know you’re unhappy here.’
‘No, I won’t go so far as to say that’ she replied, looking away.
‘Then why don’t you ever smile?’ he asked with unwarranted ferocity, ‘Why is it that you never talk to me? Why are you forever lost in your world? Anyone else would’ve used my credit card up to limit. You haven’t even touched it!’
‘Shopping doesn’t interest me’ she said in a quiet voice.
‘Then what does?’ he asked softly with incredible patience, all the rage having evaporated.
‘Since when does this concern you?’ she snapped.
‘Since that day when you waited up for me…’ he fumbled uncharacteristically, embarrassed, ‘You waited up all night, but you didn’t question me about where I had been…you behaved like it wasn’t even your right to ask… I’m not a monster, Kate. I liked you since the day I saw you at in the corridor. Not love maybe, but I definitely liked you. Why do you think I even asked you…? I didn’t want to see you desperate and depressed. Instead, I get to live with you, and you are quiet and depressed all the time…’
‘I just don’t want to live anymore’ she said half to herself.
‘What are you talking about?’ he asked, aghast.
‘I hated it when I was poor…I hate it when I’m rich. I don’t feel anymore. I feel like I have a mask on my face that I can’t take out. I’m lost. I don’t know what to do with myself…’
He got up and knelt in front of her, looking at her face with beseeching eyes
‘You really can’t try and live with me?’ he asked.
‘I thought your condition was a loveless marriage’ she gave a hollow humorless laugh.
‘And I also say that I’ve come to like you’ he said.
He took a deep breath and extended his hand towards her, “Come” he said, ‘There’s someone who wants to meet you.’
As she put her hand into his, he knew that in a way, she was right. He had told her not to expect love. Nevertheless, what of happiness? No one had a right to be unhappy, and certainly not his wife.