I'm a sensible girl. I don't make rash decisions, I do my dishes before I go to bed so I don't have to see them again in the morning, and I always remember to include my phone number when I'm leaving a voice mail. So when I broke up with Jon after 4 years and a broken engagement the sensible thing to do would be to sit at home and give myself some time to get over it. But for once I just didn't feel like being sensible.
I'll admit that the first few days were hard. There were people who wanted to talk to me. Trust me, when this happens to you then maybe you'll have something useful to say to me. When this happens to you maybe you will have the right to tell me to get out of bed. And maybe when this has happened to you I will still not listen to you when you tell me to put the ice-cream back in the freezer or in a bowl. I will however get you a spoon. Because I will know how you feel and what it is like to deal.
It was Katie's idea to go out. Ok, so I was the one who asked her for a suggestion as to what I should be doing to get my mind of that stupid jerk, but it was still her idea. In the back of my mind I was hoping that she would say that we should go out for hot chocolate or possibly a chick flick at the movies. But clubbing was Katie's answer to the worst crisis I had encountered in my life so far. In interests of sticking to my promise to not give that scumbag a moment more thought I begrudgingly agreed and headed to my room to get dressed.
Jonathon Delany and I met through a mutual friend just after high school and sort of fell into a relationship right away. We had most things in common, liked the same music and didn't suffer from awkward silences like I did with most guys. It's not like we didn't run out of things to talk about. It was that when we were quiet we were happy just to be in each other's company. Happy just be with each other. In fact, this was one of the things that I loved most about him.
Sure, I loved his beautiful blonde hair and soulful eyes. Not to mention those shoulders... I really, really loved those shoulders. But although he was one of the handsomest men I had ever met I can with all honesty say it was his personality and how comfortable we were together that made me want to be with him.
We did most things together; we travelled frequently, went to as many live gigs as we could, saw our friends as often as humanly possible and he was even happy to just come shopping with me. We were happy together.
So what changed? Well first you need a bit more background. When I was a child my parents got divorced. My dad moved to Queensland to live with his secretary, and my mum turned to the bottle to cope. We were young you know, my sister and I, so we knew that things were different but not what was happening. I knew that dad didn't live with us anymore, and I knew that mum liked to sleep in a little more than usual -- but other than that it was normal.
I would get up and make my sister lunch and we would walk to school together and function like normal people do. But eventually there was something different. I didn't realise it is all. But I didn't want to invite friends over anymore. And the phone didn't work. And every now and again the lights wouldn't turn on and I couldn't work out why. It wasn't until mum didn't want to wake up one morning and I had to get Pat from next door to call the ambulance that anything really changed. That was when my grandma came and picked Joanie and I up and took us home with her. We didn't see mum again for years -- by then she wasn't the same lady, and we weren't the same kids.
My Grandma is a different sort of woman. Old-fashioned you might say. We went to church every Sunday and have been learning to cook since I can remember. She made nearly all of our clothes as we were growing up, under no circumstances were we to cut our hair shorter than our shoulders and she didn't believe that girls should work. Grandma had a job though, working at a little store that adjusted clothing for people. She worked there until recently when she was fired for arguing with a customer. She still maintains that she was justified in refusing to take the customers hem up any higher. "It's just not proper for ladies to show their knees like that," she declared.
So what has this got to do with Jon and I? Maybe you missed it. I was bought up going to church. And saying grace. And prayers before bed. Not to mention bible classes every Thursday evening with Grandma's bible group. I really hated it. I rebelled against it whenever I could -- keeping mini skirts and rock music at my friends' houses so that I could be me when I was away from her. I really hated her teachings and everything they represented. So when I met Jon and things progressed as they do between a man and a woman ... I was really absolutely astonished to find out that just one of my Grandma's teachings had stuck fast. I discovered that I didn't believe in sex before marriage.
For a few years Jon was really ok with it. He only asked twice. The first time was when I discovered that I held the belief at all. The second was a few days later when he was sure I was kidding. The cold look on my face for him questioning me like that told him that I was deadly serious and he never bought it up again.
Sometimes I think that is the only reason he proposed to me in the first place.
We were happy the way we were you know, then he proposed because I was sure he was getting desperate. He was a boy after all, and we were young. I've got to say that I think the best thing about being engaged was the engagement party. Seriously, have you seen the things that they give you at those things? I don't really have family, just Joanie and my Grandma, but the gifts that Jon's family gave us -- nearly everything to set up a whole new house including furniture. It really made me feel loved not just by Jon but also by his whole family.
The worst bit about that party was late in the night, when Jon's friends were fairly drunk. It was then that his best mate decided that he needed to tell me some very important things.
"Olivia - you got a great man there!" he slurred in to my face, leaning heavily on my shoulders while he swayed back and forth.
"Just the other day he had a really hot chick after him and he said no. You should be proud."
Is it wrong that at that point I didn't think "Oh he didn't take the opportunity to get lucky"? Because what I was thinking was "When was it that Jon went out? He didn't tell me..."
"Yep seriously Livi -- he really could have had some great ass. But he was more interested in waiting for you."
"That's really nice to know Cam. But I knew he would wait for me. We are getting married pretty soon..."
"Yeah! That's right! We told him that!"
The way I took that was that he had to be reminded. That just doesn't seem right to me. But you know what; I refused to think about it. I was at my engagement party, surrounded by friends and loved ones, and I refused to think anything bad. Tonight was my night to be happy.
We were aiming for a short engagement. Normally people would be reminding us that we're young and that we still have time. Why rush right? Well we weren't rushing really. We'd been together nearly 4 years already. We were looking for a house to buy. We even discussed what we would call our kids. Three kids, two girls and a boy. We really did have it all planned.
It wasn't until a few months before the wedding that it really started to feel wrong. No, not wrong. Strange ... I couldn't reach Jon when I wanted to. I sometimes had no idea where he was. It wasn't like I was keeping tabs on him. I would show up at his house when he said he would be there but he wasn't. Just things like that.
It was November first that I found out. I had spoken to Cameron about the plans for Jon's bucks' night. I didn't know the details for it, he just wanted to know what time I expected to be done with dinner so that they could show up and take him. Which was curious. Especially seeing as we weren't having dinner.
"Nah, Livi, you're having dinner tonight remember. Jon's parents are leaving you guys with the house and you're having dinner."
"Cam, if I was having dinner with Jon tonight I would know. He told me that it was his boys' day and he wouldn't be seeing me."
"Oh. Right. My bad ... Bye!"
The tone beeping in my phone signalling Cam had actually hung up on me put me on edge. Why would Cam think that I was with Jon if Jon had told me that he wouldn't be seeing me? At all. He wouldn't even be home so don't bother going around to see him. Something was up.
I had to borrow Joanie's car to get to Jon's house. We had just sold mine to get our house deposit and Jon promised me that we would organise one when we got back from our honeymoon in just over two weeks time. I didn't really mind about it that much -- it wasn't like I was going to drive myself to my own wedding or anything like that so it made sense. Now it just made me angry. I didn't tell Joanie why I wanted her car; just that it was important. She didn't ask me a second time.
The lights were off. That was the first thing that I thought when I arrived. He's not home. It's a misunderstanding. Cam got it wrong and I'm being overly suspicious. I hoped that Jon wouldn't show up right now and have to question why I was parked outside of his house after he told me he wouldn't be there. I felt stupid and started the car up again. Taking one last look at the house before I went to pull away from the curb I noticed something. A movement? Something in the window? So I waited.
I did sit in the car for a few more minutes. The thoughts went through my head that maybe it was the cat. Maybe I was seeing things. Maybe I wanted to see something? But no -- there it was again. The curtain moved as something brushed past it. Someone was home.
My mind was telling me "Go into the house Livi. Find out what is happening. Maybe there is something wrong". My heart said "Just leave it be. You're getting married in next weekend. Jon loves you. You love Jon. Just trust in your relationship and go home". My head won - it was yelling louder.
I've never got out of a car and up to a house that quietly before in my entire life. I don't know why, but I closed the door as softly as I could. I even walked on the grass rather than the gravel path. I know I expected something to be wrong. I wouldn't be acting like this if I didn't think I was about to catch something. But I kept walking toward that house anyway.
Once I got inside I walked up the stairs and around to hall to the right. There was a glow coming from under Jon's door and I wondered why I couldn't see any light from the street. This was the room with the curtain that moved. Something was in Jon's room. I opened the door.
Nothing. His bed was empty and made up. The lamp on the bedside table was on, and there was a bluish green scarf over it, making the room a beautiful soft shade of ocean. And then I heard a jingle, and Oscar ran at me from under the curtain.
"See! Nothing" I said out loud.
Someone had left Oscar locked in Jon's room and that is it. I'm going back
outside. I'm going to leave the key back under Jon's ashtray at the side of the
house. I'm going to go home and forget that I was even there. It was as I
turned to go out of the bedroom door that I heard it. A giggle. A girl's
giggle. From Jon's ensuite.
I don't remember crossing the room but I opened the door. Jon was in the bath. And there was a naked girl dancing on the bath mat. She was dripping wet, obviously just having got out from the bath. The same bath that my Jon is in. My fiancé Jon -- in a bath -- with a naked girl. I slammed the bathroom door and ran out, leaving the back door swinging in the wind.
So I guess you can see now why I broke the engagement. I didn't speak to him; I spoke to his mother. Anna was crying on the phone and telling me that she doesn't understand why he did this. He never denied it to them. He'd been seeing her for a while and he couldn't give them a reason why. She begged me to just give him time.
"Forgive him please Olivia! Please! You're our daughter -- don't make us lose you because of him!"
She tried for hours to talk me around. But there was no way that I could take him back now. So instead I made myself useful. I packed all of our gifts and sent them back to the generous people who had thoughtfully bought them for us for our engagement party. And I cancelled my wedding plans. The only unreasonable thing that I did was burn my wedding dress. My Grandma would be angry at the waste of money; but she did always say it was wrong to have bought a dress when she could have made one twice as beautiful for half the price even if it was on sale. And just like that it was over.
So that leads me back to where we are now. Katie is going to take me out tonight. I'm going to the final touches on the dress I'm just finishing and go make myself up. And I am going to get trashed.
Katie and I well and truly stood out in the club that night and not only for good reasons. Yes, we looked amazing (I'm not going to be overly modest, we were hot and that was the point.) Yes, we were having so much fun that people would look at us as we walked past. But I think what made us stand out the most was that we were probably the only girls there over 20. At just 21 years old I think we were without doubt the oldest girls there. Not the oldest people mind you. Apparently the Leisure Lounge is the place to go if you're in your late twenties looking for a young girl to pick up. I wish someone had warned me.
"Do you want to leave?" Katie yelled at me over the music. It was Walking On Sunshine, one of my favourite songs ever.
"Not a chance! I'm not here to meet a man! I'm here to have fun and dancing with you and having a couple of drinks is what I think is fun right now!"
So we stayed.
My father never really thought things through. He built a multi-million dollar property empire and then up and got sick. I know it wasn't him who decided that now was the time he would get sick. He didn't want prostate cancer any more than the next guy -- but it's still not the right time for it you know?
Mr. Workaholic suddenly found it in himself to take a step back from things and focus on the more important things in life. To me that would be spending up big and picking up chicks. For him though it was making sure that things would be ok once he was gone, so my sister and I started to spend a lot of time at home with him.
"William Marlowe sit down, we need to have a chat."
"You know that is not my name..."
"Your mother named you Rhett, and it doesn't mean I have to like it. I've always gone by my middle name..."
"And you'll notice Father that I am not you."
I don't know what it is about him but I have never felt comfortable calling him anything other than Father or Mr. Marlowe. I guess it's because he's just so straight and imposing. Something about him just makes you feel like anything other than the most formal would be insulting to him. I know that it isn't, because my little sister Amy has always called him Dad. But I've always put that down to how much younger she is than me. Father was just never "Dad" to me.
"Well, Rhett, I have something that I really need to spell out to you. This is important so you need to listen."
I picked up the book at the end of the counter, turning it as I looked at the covers absentmindedly.
"You're not. You're pretending to. That's different. You really need to listen to me."
I put it back down, still not even knowing what book it was.
"I've had another look at my will; goodness knows I didn't think that I would even need it at this point in my life. But it looks like I do. The thing I need to tell you about is this fun new thing that I included in it."
"Your mistress perhaps? Do I inherit her too?"
"Very funny. No, it's the ‘Here is your inspiration to get your life on track' clause. Unless you get married and have a child before I pass away I will leave you with only the clothes on your back and what ever you have managed to leave in your bank account. The rest will go to your cousin to look after Amy and the business will go to Karla. She's basically running it for me now."
"Oh yes, Karla with a K. The only woman who's not terrified of you."
"She's a good sort, Rhett; it would do you good to get along with her."
I eyed him suspiciously. Was he serious? Did he really want me to try to get along with that gold-digger? She oozes contempt for everyone around her unless they are worth enough financially to justify her good favour. She's made it clear on more than one occasion that it would be a good thing on both our sides for us to try out a relationship. She just wants an arm to hang off and a little more cash to spend adorning her bony frame. No thanks.
So there it is. My father is dying and all he can think of is making sure the Marlowe name goes on and that I pull up my socks to look after his stupid empire. But the funny thing was that it wasn't all that much of a surprise. It was expected all along, since I was a boy I was groomed for this. Now that it was in writing, it just made it more definite. The thought of losing the business didn't bother me I've got to say. It was the thought of Amy being taken away from me. She's the only family I have left.
"Father, so how long have we got?"
"About eighteen months, not much longer than that anyway."
"You realise that this is archaic for me to have to marry to prove myself to you right?"
"Yes. But you're going to do it anyway aren't you?"
My god did I need a drink.
It was Andy's idea to go to a club. I hate those places. They're full of desperate girls, sleazy guys, and over priced drinks. Not that I'm worried about the price of drinks. But still, I should have to pay for a whole bottle to get one shot. Our family didn't get to be in the comfortable position we're in by ignoring how much we spend. But it wouldn't stop me spending it tonight.
Walking straight past the line of scantily clad girls out the front Andy lead me right up to the door. He leaned in close to the girl in charge of the red velvet rope and she giggled as she pulled it out of our way. I have always wished that I had his skill with the ladies.
The noise that inundated my senses as we walked into the building however made it painfully obvious that my call to him earlier requesting he join me for a quiet drink to discuss the bombshell my father had dropped had fallen on deaf ears. I'm guessing that he heard "find a girl" and "need a drink" and came to the conclusion that one of his regular haunts would be the best place to end up. Stupid Andy. Well, we were in now. No point turning back - so I headed to the bar to single-handedly keep the place in business.
"Katie! I think that I might be a little drunk" I declared, pointing at where I was sure her face should be if it would just stay still.
Ok, so maybe drinking tonight wasn't the greatest idea. Another thing to blame Jon for. I was always designated driver. I haven't had a fair go at alcohol in I don't remember how long. And now it was showing.
"Livi my dear, I think you're wrong. You're not a little drunk. You may well be smashed."
"Ok. You're the boss tonight. THAT MUST MAKE ME SMASHED!" I yelled to who ever it was dancing right behind me elbowing me in the ribs. I knew I could feel the elbow for sure, but it wasn't hurting. Not the greatest sign for my sobriety but it didn't bother me.
"Now that you're here and you're smashed and you've danced like a complete wanker - are you ready to go home?"
"Not a chance, Katie. I'm gonna have fun until they throw me out of here."
I hadn't really intended to get this drunk, but it helped me to not think about that skeez. I was running out of polite words that I could use to describe him. I know that the bible had taught me to forgive people who wronged against me, but I'm guessing the only reason it didn't specify "unless you catch your intended in a bath with another person" was because there was a lack of baths back then. I believe that the bible would be on my side on this one.
And yet I was having fun. It was the kind of place that wasn't just playing techno and hoping that people would be trashed enough to not notice that they hadn't actually changed the track in the last few hours. They were playing the songs that we grew up with, with a couple of decent newer songs thrown in. The best bit about that is that as well as dance we could sing along to our hearts content. And seeing as we weren't there to impress the guys, that is exactly what we were doing.
That was until half way through the summer of '69 when my mouth started to water. To me my mouth watering means one of two things. It could be that I just smelt something delightful and wanted to eat it. The second option was that I was about to be sick. And judging from the fact the club smelt like a large sweaty smoker with terrible B.O I was voting for option two and dashed for the ladies.
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