As Riley prepared the quiche for lunch, he rehashed the conversation with the Andersons. Were they right? Did he need to give Bria some space? It made sense on a cerebral level, but he was fearful that giving her space would have the opposite effect and she would really be fine without him. He had always given her what she wanted, even doing the things that would make him more appealing as a future husband to her. With Bria, he felt at her mercy. Happy if she was happy. Gutted because it never seemed to be enough.
He wanted his wife and yes, he wanted her to want him just as much too. Maybe it was time for him to find out if he was worth it.
He had spent some time searching online for rules on social distancing. He figured if they both kept their masks on and some distance, they could eat together outside. She had to be climbing the walls spending so much time inside for fear of encountering other residents on the compound.
Riley sent her a text and asked her to meet him at the cliff side for lunch.
He looked around at the blanket he had spread out with the meal. The wine was chilled and the platter of fruits and cheeses, with the slices of the quiche, was covered and waiting to be opened. He looked nervously up the path from which she would come. It was the same path she had walked to marry him in the spot where they would picnic. Would she come? If he left, would she miss him? He prayed the Andersons were right because he was out of options. She had to want him too. He saw that now.
His heart skipped a beat as she walked onto the path and headed towards him. She had worn a veil on their wedding day, now she wore a mask. At least he could see her eyes. They looked a bit wary. She was probably wondering what he was up to now.
“Don’t worry, I won’t be making any more declarations today. Come and eat.” Riley stood and reached for her hand before remembering he couldn’t touch her.
“This looks amazing. You are a man of many talents Mr. Collymore.” Her smiling eyes warmed him.
“Here, try this.” Riley took a fork and spared a piece of cheese.
They broke into laughter when she tried to open her mouth without removing the mask.
“Take the cheese, now have a sip,” handing her a glass of wine.
“Oh, this tastes amazing. The flavors are waking up my taste buds.”
Riley laughed. “Good. Well take a plate and have as much as you like.”
They both filled their plates with the food and toasted to a swift end to quarantine and the island’s lockdown. He switched conversation to talking about the property and the maintenance checks he had conducted that morning. While the townhomes were all sold, the tenants paid fees to ensure that they were maintained and secured. This has been a recurring stream of income that allowed him and Bria to live comfortably.
“Lunch was wonderful, Riley. Thank you. You have made the last week survivable.”
“You’re welcome. You would have done fine without me. I have never known anyone more capable of taking care of themselves than you, Bri.”
Riley swirled the wine in his glass. It was a perfect image of what his insides felt like.
“Bri. I’ve got to go away for a few days.”
“Hold on a minute, let me explain. The property we bought down by the bay was broken into. I’ve known about it for a couple of days but didn’t want to leave you. I understand some people have taken to squatting in it and have also damaged the windows. I need to go down there and spend a few days securing it.”
“But what about me?” Bria’s face was distressed, and he felt awful for being the cause.
“Like I said, you are more than capable. I’d already ordered the groceries for the next few days. They should be delivered in an hour or so. There’s no internet in the building so I will have to miss our tennis and movie night. We invested a lot of money in that place, and it isn’t a good idea to leave it unsecured another day.”
Bria chewed her lip but said nothing. He wished she would, but she was doing what she always did. He could feel her emotional pull back in his belly. Now more than ever, he wanted to reach for her and hold her close. He was losing her when they were only now making headway. What had he done?
“I guess you are tired of me already.”
“Do not do this Bri.”
“So, what was all that talk about wanting to be with me?”
“I didn’t think you heard me. You acted as if I got down on my knees like that daily. Then again, maybe I do. I have been bending over backwards the past six months trying to fix whatever it is that I did wrong. Which has been impossible since you won’t tell me what I did that is unforgivable and worthy of being served divorce papers rather than telling me to my face. I should have taken the hint months ago when you moved out. Rather I followed you, like I’ve been doing since the day you asked me to fix a flat. I can’t do that anymore.”
Riley began to put the items into the basket with shaking hands. He closed his eyes and looked out at the waves crashing into a cave at the far end of the beach. He had not meant to say much. If she did not hear his heart, then he truly had lost her for good. He would need to get used to that idea. It was never something he had considered before. Now he had no choice.
Bria watched Riley’s truck drive away. She had done it. Finally, drove him away for good. Rationally, she knew where he was going and why but that last conversation had seemed final. He was over it. Over begging for another chance.
Isn’t that what she had wanted…for him to leave her alone?
If he were going to have the family he wanted, then he would need to move on without her. She never expected it would hurt so much. But it was for the best. She should have expected this. After all, she set it in motion from the moment she filed for divorce. But she felt no relief. It hurt. It hurt deeply in a part of her soul that she had not felt an ache in decades.
A knock sounded at the door a few hours later and she jumped up to answer it. Maybe he had changed his mind.
It wasn’t Riley.
The delivery company had brought all manner of foods and snacks. This made the pain even worse. He made sure that if her quarantine were extended, she would not need to call on him for anything.
When night came, she tried to watch a movie as normal, but it was not the same. She was tempted to call him to see how he was getting through but didn’t. She had to get through this without him. He had told her she was capable.
But was this what she wanted? To be capable and alone?
Well, she had been alone before. She had been the homebody and he loved to socialize. Most of it had to do with his business and the car racing scene. Lots of beautiful women around him but she never worried that he would cheat. She always knew he would come home. Even when she moved into the apartment, she had always known where he was. She left for work every morning knowing his truck was in the driveway. That had given her a sense of peace. Now, his parking spot was empty and would be for as long as he chose to stay away.
She gave up trying to watch a movie and went to bed. Sleep eluded her for hours and eventually she got up to browse social media. She had never been one to post her business online and she was not about to start. However, she loved seeing what her friends were up to. Some were living their best lives in countries that no longer had COVID-19 cases.
Upon refreshing her page, a new post from Riley popped up.
Never doubt that I love you. Sweet dreams.
She was tempted to like the post.
But what would their friends say? Did it matter?
Her friends weren’t the ones who had been checking to make sure she was alive and not going crazy. Riley aka Mr. Social, who she expected to have found a way to have thrown a lockdown bash by now had been playing it safe. Taking care of her, making sure she had everything she needed to stay well and talking to her in the wee hours of the night when she was worried about getting ill.
She liked the post then closed the laptop and promptly fell asleep.