Life was so plain and I missed Fred a lot. Everyday when I went to bed and as I woke up, the days which I spent lying in the same bed with him would be my only thought. If only life could be a little different. I still hadn't removed my wedding ring and I didn't wanted to, for I truly loved Fred. Life can be miserable in solitude. The only thing that kept me going was the work at the restaurant. As Fred's aunt had planned to start a new branch in a different place, she was often out of town to look after her new branch works. She had high hopes on me and left the restaurant under me during those trips. As of my tumor, it was getting worse everyday a little, and my God parents were really God sent, helping me through my hospital bills, appointments, and treatments.
As I walked into the restaurant one morning, I had a feeling that there was something that's going to be different. I looked outside the window and it had started to rain heavily. Yearning for hot coffee, I headed straight to the kitchen, ordered a coffee and had a chit-chat with the members there as I drank it. Everything was scheduled so perfectly that I had nothing much to say. Aunt Grace had given some legal paperwork to me and I was going through it when I heard a knock on the door.
"Come in," I said not looking up engrossed in the paperwork.
Someone came inside but kept quiet. Losing patience, I lifted my head to the person who entered. I was shell shocked to see Fred standing in front of me.
"Fred," I called out unconsciously smiling at him. My heart started beating as if I ran 100 meter dash and I stood up extending my hand to greet him. Happiness welled up inside me and choked my throat which I gulped as fast as I could, not wanting to cry at the moment. I saw his face which would've mirrored mine. Shock and confusion was all I saw in him as he took my extended hand. The moment our hands touched, I went totally weak and wanted to hold on to it forever. His expression loosened up and he returned my smile.
"Sit down Fred," I said wanting to sit in my chair very badly.
"Jane," he said after he sat down looking straight into my eyes. "What are you doing here?"
"I started working here again as soon as I came and told your aunt not to inform you," I said looking down unable to meet his gaze.
"That's so bad. You thought I wouldn't find out," his brows furrowed a bit.
"You didn't until now," I said and he made a crooked smile.
"By the way what are you doing in my aunt's room. Where is she?" He asked relaxing and leaning behind in his chair.
"She has gone for the new branch work and left this one under me," I said feeling proud.
"Poor lady. She doesn't know what mess she's gonna come across after coming back," he mocked and kept looking at me which made me shy like a little girl. For God's sake, he still was my husband.
"Why are you looking at me like that Fred?" I asked slowly looking at him.
"How have you been Jane?" He asked concerned all over his face.
"Am fine Fred. You?" I breathed and repeated his question.
"Fine too," he said looking away.
"Seeing someone here Fred?" I asked half-expecting a 'no' and also an 'yes'.
He half-laughed shaking his head 'no'. "Came here to register for bigger rodeo events. That's it."
Silence took over and neither of us didn't know what to talk. I wanted to hug him tightly and kiss him and he spoke again.
"Any improvements on your tumor? Did you see the doctor?" He asked curiously.
"Yeah, saw the doctor and there is an improvement only in the tumor and not me," I said sarcastically but of no use. He grew serious. All these staying apart didn't do any good for I was able to read each and every expression of his.
"Ok I'll leave then. Take care," he said getting up.
I didn't want him to leave so soon but couldn't tell anything as he walked away. I walked behind to see him off. And as we entered the restaurant hall, it was very badly crowded.
Seeing Angie waiting for someone I walked to her.
"Angie, why is the hall crowded so badly?" I asked her as someone dashed me walking across.
"There has been a heavy downpour like never before Jane. People are standing to get themselves away from getting caught in the rain," she said walking and nodding as people were making their orders.
In the crowd I had lost sight of Fred and was wondering if he left. As I walked past, people searching for him, he stood near a cold window talking to someone over phone.
"Looks like I can't go out of here," he said as I stood beside him.
"Yeah. You can wait in the office for some more time till the rain comes down a bit," I said hiding my enthusiasm.
He nodded and as we walked back, he ordered coffee which came a little later after we settled in the room. He took it and started drinking. That's when I noticed it, he still wore the wedding ring.
It was Jane, I saw in my aunt's office. I couldn't believe my eyes. Happy having seen her after such a long time, I was still worried that her tumor had taken her away from me. If only I could help her recover.
"Tell her man," Jag's voice echoed in my mind but still I couldn't. I knew she liked me a lot but love!! If she had really loved me, she wouldn't have packed her bags to get away from me. We talked for sometime and I couldn't stand her sitting on the other side of the table. All those familiar wonderful feelings came rushing back just sitting in the same room. I was scared that I would do something stupid like hugging and kissing her right in this office though I badly wanted to. More than anything, I wanted to put some sense into her and take her back with me. Unable to control my renewed feelings, I took my leave and stood up. She too got up and I knew that she would follow to see me off. As I waited like a gentleman for her to come, she arranged all those scattered papers to one place. That's when I noticed it. She still wore the wedding ring.
The restaurant hall was too crowded that I found it difficult to move an inch. I managed to move near a window and saw the heavy downpour and slightly flooded streets. If it was raining so heavily here then surely my way to home wouldn't be good enough to travel. I called my workmen and asked them to take care of everything till I come. I called Jag too asking about the weather conditions there and he suggested not to drive home and stay in town. Frustrated by all these, I closed the phone and looked behind to see where Jane was. Deciding to wait a little longer, we headed back to the office as I ordered coffee on the way. Back in the room we sat in silence for a very long time. Since she had started doing the paperwork again, I didn't wanted to disturb her by talking and just looked into my phone to vile away the time. I used to check on her now and then and caught her looking at me twice while she caught me thrice. Those moments were slightly embarrassing and I sat laughing to myself. These might add to the list of memories back home.
After what it felt like a lifetime, there was a knock on the door and Angie came in.
"Most of the crowd has left. I think it'll be better for you to leave now," she said looking at Jane and then looked at me sitting on the couch. "Oh, Mr. Callahan, nice to meet you," she greeted me and I nodded my head in response.
"Okay. It'll be still better if we close down for the day since you all should be safe," Jane said and got up. "Will be back in a few minutes Fred," and she was gone. I was thinking where to stay if I were not traveling back to Surrender.
"We'll leave Fred. The weather seems a bit fine now," she said packing her things. As we headed out, she ordered the staffs to close down and came near me. I didn't know when I would see her the next time which made me sad.
"It was nice meeting you after a long time Fred. Take care," she said again extending her hand.
"Yeah, it was nice. You too take care and you are free to ask any help whenever you want," I said taking hers in mine and shook it, not wanting to let go. "How will you go home?" I asked as it dawned on me.
"I'll take a taxi from here," she said searching for something in her bag.
"No, no, no Jane. The weather is not good. I'll drop you home, come," I said taking her elbow and she withdrew back.
"No Fred. That's okay, you really don't have to, you know," she said with a mixed expression.
"It'll be my pleasure Jane. Will You? For me?" I asked politely hoping she would say 'yes' so that I would get to spend some more time with her.
"Fred..." she looked here and there and finally nodded her head.
Punching the air in my mind, I led her to my car in the parking lot and started towards her home.
The drive was silent and mostly because I had to take a closer look at the things outside which started to blur as the rain was pouring, even with the windshield on. Finally, we arrived at her apartment. Silence again.
"Ah... umm... Fred... do you want to come over for some coffee?" She asked with an irresistible face.
"With pleasure," I agreed and parked my car in the parking lot and got out.
Her fingers were shaking as she tried to open her front door.
"Let me," I said getting the keys from her and opened it.
Nothing much, had changed since the last time I came here.
"Sit Fred. I'll brew the coffee," she said placing her bag on the dining table as she headed towards the kitchen. "The couch is a little bit broken. So be careful," she called out from the kitchen as I was about to sit. Thank Goodness.
She came with two cups of coffee and handed one over to me and sat opposite to me on a chair.
"So how's everyone back home. Any news that I should know," she asked casually.
"Yeah, there are many actually..." I started narrating her everything. It was like the old days. It was completely us, with all the teasing and laughing. I completely enjoyed it.
"Well, I think it's time for me to leave," I said looking at my watch.
"We'll check on the rain first," she said and even before we could confirm things, there was a hard thunder followed by a very bright lightning. "I don't think it's good for you to step out Fred," she said as we looked outside the window witnessing a heavy downpour again.
"Yeah, I know. But I need to go Jane. I'll book a room somewhere for the night," I said looking at her beautiful face.
"You can say here Fred. No problem. Where will you go searching for a room in this weather. It's not safe," she said with a worried look.
The more I wanted to stay, the more I wanted to leave. Finally, I agreed to spend the night with her and went to my car to pick up my travel bag I always keep just in such situations.
We both bathed, watched TV, had our delicious dinner and chit-chatted some more about the common things.
"Have you overcome your fear of thunders?" I asked remembering how she got scared the other night at Surrender.
"Not yet Fred. That's an inborn quality of mine," she shrugged which was cute. "You still remember all those things," she said and I couldn't judge if it was a statement or a question.
"I would remember the times we spent together till my last breath," I said looking straight into her eyes because I wanted her to know that the truth behind those words.
"Why are you still wearing our wedding ring Fred?" She asked after a long silence. The only sound was the weather reporter voicing the climatic conditions.
"May I ask you the same question Jane?" I asked not wanting to answer it. She stayed silent and then got up to leave. "Where are you going Jane?" I asked again.
As I wanted to finish my paperwork, I started doing it and most importantly to avoid any heartfelt dealings with Fred. But as if God had planned something else, Fred offered to ride me home and circumstances led him to stay back. Though happy that I got to spend a night with him under the same roof, I was scarred that all those lost yearnings and feelings would come back. I was determined not to do or say anything stupid which would lead to things that cannot be forgiven. I was tired and felt sleepy after all the talking, so I got up to leave.
"Where are you going Jane?" Fred asked looking like a boy.
"Am feeling sleepy Fred" I said looking back. "You can sleep on the bed. I'll take the couch."
"No. A gentleman doesn't allow a woman to sleep on the couch. I'll be fine sleeping here," he said reassuringly. I gave him a pillow and a blanket as he prepared himself to sleep. "Good night Jane," he said as I left the hall.
"Good night Fred," I wished back.
I thought I would fall into a deep slumber as soon as I hit the bed. But, I was wide awake thinking about the man I loved who was lying just across the room.
There was huge noise from the hall and I got up switching on the lights.
"Fred, are you alright. What happened?" I called out as I went. There I saw a completely broken couch and looked at Fred who showed a puppy dog face.
"I just turned to my side and it broke down. Am sorry," he apologized.
"That's okay Fred. I had already planned to replace it. No worries," I said smiling at the look on his face.
"Okay," he smiled back. "Is there any other couch I could sleep on?"
I stiffened to his question because there was none.
"No Fred. We have to share the bed," I said as a shiver ran down my spine at the very thought of it.
"It's okay. I'll sleep on the floor tonight. No problem," he said picking up the pillow and blanket.
"Fred please no. It's fine with me sharing the bed with you. Come." I said getting the pillow and blanket from him.
After he settled himself on the right side of the bed, I turned off the light lying on the other side not wanting to look at him.
There was a heavy thunder again and I gripped the sheets very hard out of fear or I would go crashing into Fred's chest like before.
"Are you okay Jane?" Fred asked from the other side and I couldn't reply as I was holding everything so tightly as the thunder continued. "Jane, you're ok?" Fred asked placing his hand on my right shoulder moving it up and down my hand in reassurance. There was again a hard one which sent shivers all over my body and I turned over crashing into Fred in fear. He hugged me tightly and soothed me.
"It's okay Jane. Am right here with you. Don't worry. Am here," he said running his hand up and down my spine to calm me.
I was breathing so heavily and realized the silence after sometime. Fred was still hugging me and I wanted to stay in his arms forever. Without breaking from him, I looked up at him and he smiled so lovingly.
"Fred," I whispered.
"It's gonna be fine Janey. Am here," he said caressing my cheeks, wiping away my tears and kissed my forehead.
"I don't think this should be happening Fred," I said as my heartbeat raised from that simple kiss.
"We are still man and wife Jane," he said locking my face in an angle, bent down and kissed my lips.
@Ash: Sorry that I made you wait too long. Hope you enjoyed this one.
@Wanjiku Gaitho: Will keep your wish in mind. Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting.
@Sariah: Thank You. Hope you liked this one too. Keep commenting.