Gazing down on Oliver’s regular breathing helped to steady mine. Tom and I hadn’t said a word as we entered the villa. I touched the soft blond curl behind Oliver’s ear and lent down to inhale in the scent of him. A tear rolled down my cheek. What the hell was I doing? What was happening with us or was it just with me? Oliver’s happiness was the most important thing here. Not me and not Tom.
I felt Tom standing by the door. I couldn’t look at it him. It was three in the morning and I didn’t know what to do. I was shattered and needed my bed but not if it meant sleeping next to Tom. I longed for Ollie to wake and drag me beside him where I could wrap him in my arms and forget the world.
“He missed you.”
“I missed him.” My back stiffed. I didn’t want Tom intruding into my thoughts.
“But not me.” Without looking at him I knew his arms would be across his chest. He had every right to feel defensive.
“That’s not quite true.”
I put my finger to my lips and crept out of Oliver’s room. If we were about to have a blazing row I didn’t want it to take place in there. I watched Tom back off towards our bedroom. I didn’t want to infect the air in there so I whizzed past him to the stairs.
Once in the kitchen I put the kettle on. Rather than making mint tea I really needed something stronger. “Would you like one?” I asked as I heard his feet hit the tile floor.
“No. What I’d like to know is what is happening in that head of yours.”
I sometimes wondered that myself but I wasn’t going to admit it. He doubted my sanity enough as it was. In fact he just didn’t believe me except my comment about taking through divorce with Julia. He clearly took that very seriously.
Tom came close behind me. I could feel my body reacting to his proximity. He always tried to get around me with the physical side of things but even that had been lacking lately. I held my breath waiting for his touch but it didn’t come. He just stood there behind me and suddenly I felt his confusion. It matched my own.
Cool air rushed toward my back as he walked to the other side of the room. I rubbed my arms and stood staring at the kettle that wouldn’t boil.
“So you didn’t miss me.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Then maybe you should tell me then what you meant.”
“You haven’t given me a chance.” I watched the tea bag wilt under the boiling water.
“You’ve got it now.”
“Right.” I turned with the mug in my hands. I was enjoying the warmth in my fingers. “I did miss you in a way.”
“That’s good too know.” His arms were across his chest again.
“You didn’t let me finish.” I paused and waited for interruption. “I missed the Tom that I married all those years ago.”
“But you didn’t miss the me of now. Is what you are saying?”
“Yes, in short that is very true.”
“Great.” He started walking.
“See that’s it. In the past you would have waited for me to explain what I meant instead of just walking away. You don’t have time for me any more.”
“Well, that makes it mutual.” He stopped in the door way.
“That is so bloody untrue.”
“From your stand point.” He walked through the door and called from the stairs, “The guest bed is made up. Why don’t you sleep there tonight? I’ll take Ollie to school in the morning.”
I looked at the empty doorway. That had gone well. My dread of having to share a bed with him again had been solved. I didn’t have to worry about that any more. I sipped the scalding tea. I couldn’t taste the mint but I could still taste the salt from my tears.
I unlocked the back door and walked into the early morning air. All was still black and scent from the frangipani tree filled the air. I sank into the nearest chair. What has happened to my life? I was a few days off being forty and I was more confused than I had been at eighteen. Back then I knew what I wanted and Tom was it. Now twenty-two years later I had him. Or did I? I didn’t think so. He may say that he is still with us but I can’t help feeling these are empty words. When did he leave us?
The call of the mosque told me it must be just after five. Dampness had settled on me and the tea was cold yet I still held the cup in my hand. I looked up to the sky and saw nothing. There were no stars or moon. What was I going to do? Was I going to let go of Tom and our past? But what of Oliver and his need for two parents. If I walked away from Tom it would mean leaving Dubai and that was all Oliver had known. He had never lived in England more than a few weeks at a time. How would I cope living back there? Had it really come to this? Yet Tom had told me to sleep in the guest room. Should I go crawl into our own bed and try to make amends. I thought of all the times I had woken him with caresses that lead to amazing sex. Would that fix things? Or would it just highlight the problems even more? Physically the attraction was still there but was there anything else?
I stretched my legs and stood up. The possibility that he wouldn’t respond to me hit like a slap in the face.