Friends

20 February 2012

Trust Not The Vow ... Chapter 18


Rachel crouched under the sepia coloured umbrella that Gary had found on one of his jaunts. It was a ridiculous colour for rainy weather; a brighter hue might have succeeded in lifting her forlorn morale. She transferred the carrier of tinned dog food to the hand holding her handbag and knocked on her parents' front door, glumly regretting the decision not to go straight home.

It was the concept of the empty hours waiting for Gary that had steered her up Tewkesbury Road, craving company and a hoped-for invitation to tea. However, since there was no reply, it looked as if she was destined to eat a solitary sandwich in her own home. She went round the back, in case her knocks hadn't been heard. Pushing open the gate, she gritted her teeth in anticipation of the agonising creak as it swung inwards. Surprisingly, the grating noise had vanished. ‘Not before time,’ she muttered, supposing her father had at long last oiled the hinges.

Closing the gate behind her, she noticed a strip of light beneath the closed curtains and stepped across the blue brick yard to rap on the door. Getting no response, not even to her second knock, she concluded the light had been left on by mistake. She went away, not sure if she was pleased or sad to be going home.

THE MYSTERY HOUSE looked even more neglected in the rain. Water gushed from a broken section of guttering hanging at an angle from the edge of the roof; it descended like Niagara Falls, almost obscuring the largest window. How anyone could live in such a place was beyond Rachel's comprehension. She hurried by, foolishly hiding behind the umbrella lest she be captured by lost souls and hauled inside.

She kept going until safely on her own front path where she could breathe normally and chuckle at her childish lunacy. Pushing a shoot of winter jasmine out of the way she ducked into the porch, propped the gamp against the meter box, and felt in her pocket for the key. There was a squeal of brakes as a car turned into the road. It was Gary, home earlier than expected.

Inevitably, her heart leaped at the sight of his grinning face as he drew near. She waited, watching him secure the windows of his beloved Volkswagen before climbing out and locking the door. He ran lithely up the path, showing no sign of tiredness after his long journey.

Inside, Rachel peeled off her raincoat and hung it in the kitchen to dry, while Gary poured sherry into the best glasses. ‘It's a bit early for drinking,’ she said, accepting the glass he offered.

Gary dropped into a chair. ‘I'm whacked. It's a long haul in the wagon this weather.’

‘How was Terry?’

‘Fine.’

‘He rang this morning.’

Gary's head shot up.

Rachel gave him the gist of Terry's call, emphasising the fact that he might be gone for a while. ‘I'm surprised he didn't tell you,’ she added, feeling an odd sense of justice as she waited for his reply.

‘He didn't stay up north. He came home early on account of his job.’

So, it was all above board and Rachel had no reason to fret. Nevertheless, she felt deflated, deprived of the row she had worked towards all day. Feeling distinctly ruffled, she began the preparations for tea.

SHE STOOD AT THE BEDSIDE, her body concealed by a large white towel, her head swathed in another. She was contemplating the mark on Gary's neck, squeamishly picturing her husband in the arms of his lover, and that lover's teeth sinking into his flesh. She had felt edgy all evening, suspecting something major was wrong.

And now she knew what it was.

Professing to be too tired to watch television Gary had gone to bed early, leaving her to her knitting, silently fuming. The saga about Terry had continued to disturb her. Someone was lying, she was certain, but who, and why? Eventually, she had abandoned the tedious work and gone upstairs to bathe.

Eric was right, then, and Rachel now had proof though what she would do with it was another matter. Peeling off the towels, she dressed in the warm pyjamas and left the room, unable to think straight yet experiencing a tingle of relief.

Rex struggled to his feet as she passed his bed and followed her down the stairs. ‘I wish you wouldn't follow me everywhere,’ she groused, as she sat on the living room couch. Rex wagged his tail and happily brushed against her legs, then raised his head to lick her face. That did it. His consummate affection made her cry, forcing her finally to give way to her sorrow. While her body heaved with great racking sobs, she pleaded with God to help her through the mess that was her marriage. Folding her arms around the dog, she rocked to and fro, moaning in her misery, until there were no more tears to shed and her brain once more began to function.

Nothing had changed.

The thought crept in even as she queried what course to take. Nothing had changed, except that Gary now sported a livid love bite on his neck. Curiously, she speculated about that, conjuring up visions of men making love. What was the real cause of Terry's premature return? Was he really going away? And who was the prevaricator, Terry or Gary?

Much later, fatigued by surging, unanswered questions, she went upstairs and climbed wearily into bed, pulling her share of the duvet to her side. As she drifted into sleep, she promised herself she would tell Gary what she knew; maybe then he would feel inclined to talk about it.

(to be continued)

11 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

Oh tension is building up here, and I wonder what the teaser at her parents' house means.! You are an accomplished writer, Valerie, you know how to keep a story going.

Montanagirl said...

Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive! Can't wait to read the next chapter...I'm hooked on this story!

Denise said...

Wonderful read, can't wait for the next installment.

Valerie said...

Jenny, thank you. I'm thrilled that you think so.

Denise, a week isn't long to wait... smiles.

Mona, yes indeed!

Ron said...

Valerie, this story just keeps getting more and more intriguing as the chapters unfold!

I can't believe Gary had the nerve to come home with a LOVE BITE on his neck. Has he no shame?!?! HA!

Can't WAIT to read how Rachel confronts him!

Excellent chapter, dear lady!

Have a great day.....X

Banker Chick said...

The story keeps getting better and better. I am all caught up now.
Good job on the captcha. It is awful. I wonder why they changed it? I have never used a word verification, and lucky to have had no problems with commenters.

Valerie said...

Hi Ron. It's hotting up, don't you think... Grins.

Banker Chick. So pleased you are enjoying the story. Re the captcha.. Blogger caught 8 spam messages but stopped them for me. I now know that the word verification wasn't wholly necessary.

Brian Miller said...

smiles...really enjoyed this installment valerie...the tension is palpable and feel the moment coming to a head soon....well writ ma'am

Akelamalu said...

She's got to ask him about that love bite! I hope he doesn't tell her he slipped and banged his neck!!

Valerie said...

Pearl, lol, that's good!

HermanTurnip said...

This is better than any soap opera!