When I See Your Face, Part 20
He stressed the ‘now’ and looked at her pointedly.
Immediately, she heard alarm bells going off in her head. Part of her was overjoyed that she made him happy and acknowledged that he in turn made her happy; part of her felt that things were going too fast and that she didn’t need him to complicate her new life like that. Unsure how to react, she unfolded her legs and got up from the chair.
“I don’t think you should connect your happiness to now. To me.”
There it was again, that wounded look that darkened his eyes and brought out the fine lines in his handsome face. She hated to be the cause of this, and hated herself for hating it.
“I’d better be going. I want to write down that cake recipe and my thoughts on it,” she said, turning away because she didn’t want his hurt to touch her and because she had to admit to herself that regret was boiling inside her.
“What, is the inquisition finished with its victim so soon? No more questions?”
He tried to lighten up the mood with the joke, but she could see that his heart was not in it. She offered him a smile, already turning to go.
“There’s always time for that, isn’t it? This is a tiny speck of a village. And I’m sure I have many more cakes I want to try out on you.”
Had she just given herself a reason to visit him again?
Slowly, a smile formed on his face. He brushed past her, their shoulders touching quite deliberately.
“I’m always there if you need me,” he answered, and something made her realize that he didn’t mean only being there for tasting her cakes.
Would he always be there for her in a way she was secretly longing for?
“This is so unfair!”
Cathy pressed the button to end the call and set her phone down on the coffee table rather roughly. For a moment, she wished she had taken the call from an old-fashioned land line and were able to slam the receiver down in frustration.
She buried her face in her hands and sighed. Lifting her head, she stared at her laptop screen showing her the ugly truth. Her bank account had a stunning balance of 54 Pounds. This morning when she had logged in before making an online purchase of several baking forms and a blender, the low balance had caught her eye. Her monthly instalment from her husband should have been transferred several days ago. With an uneasy feeling in her gut, she had decided to call her lawyer and tell him to check whether Mark might have stopped his habit. Just now, her lawyer had called back to confirm her suspicion, saying that Mr. Nolan would not pay her a single cent until the divorce case was decided with a court order about financial compensation. Apparently, since she had been the one leaving, he had every right to refuse paying for her expenses.
She sighed again. She was so damn naïve. Of course she should have known that he wouldn’t continue to provide her with funds on a monthly basis, now that they were officially separated. After all, what good was she now to him, what duty had he to provide for her when she didn’t wait for him at home, didn’t accompany him to lunches and brunches and didn’t consent to being abused? For a moment, she imagined him giving excuses or having to dish out the truth to all those who would gleefully jump on the opportunity to ask him where his charming wife was. Served him right. Equally it served her right that he had decided to keep her penniless.
What on earth should she do now? It could take months until the case went to court and she needed so much more money to get a head start on her business. There was equipment to buy, she would need all sorts of ingredients for her cakes, and there was money to pay for creating and hosting a website. Apart from that, how should she pay Mrs. Grindle for the room? Sure, she could try to bake some cakes from the few ingredients ready at hand and sell them to the local bakery or some villagers. However, they would have to be sold for a pittance until she had built her reputation and could move on to the more exceptional creations and target customers who were ready to pay a high price.
Slowly, she got up and went into the adjoining bedroom. She cast a look around at the open suitcase on the floor and her belongings on the nightstand. Was there anything she could sell? She thought of the few clothes in the wardrobe and her collection of well-read books and felt like crying.
For the first time, she regretted not having taken any of the expensive jewelry that Mark had always gifted her after incidents of domestic violence. If only she had thought of packing all those gold necklaces, sparkly bracelets and diamond-studded earrings! She could have pawned or sold them and survived on that money for at least some weeks, maybe some months if she reduced her cost of living drastically. She hadn’t taken any of the fancy party dresses with her, only the clothes she had bought herself and felt comfortable wearing. Those were not enough, seeing how in a few weeks the weather would get colder with autumn hitting the countryside.
God, she was so stupid!
She sank down on the bed and stared at her bare feet, one thin silver anklet with a delicate unicorn pendant gleaming defiantly up at her. She hadn’t planned a single thing, had she? She had reacted like any other dumb victim of dominant men, running away blindly without a single thought on the future.
Opening the drawer of the nightstand, she stared at her wedding ring lying all alone inside it. Looking at it brought no sentimental memories, no positive emotions, and no scruples of parting with it. In fact, the faster she got rid of it, the better. The ring was another reminder of her foolishness and of what she should leave behind her. It was a slim gold band with a ribbon of white gold and a tiny diamond in the middle. How much would she be able to get for this?
With a stab of regret, she bent down and untied the anklet, its weight next to nothing in her hand. Some more pounds to keep her stomach filled until a solution was at hand. There was no way she could part with her phone and laptop, but her watch and her leather purse might earn her another few pounds.
Her face set in grim determination, she tied her sneakers and grabbed her handbag. Shutting down her laptop, she mentally steeled herself for the difficult hours ahead and the even more difficult days and weeks to come. She had taken the decision to start a new life. Now it was on her to face that life instead of dreaming or wallowing in self-pity.
(To be continued tomorrow.)
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