“I just don’t like the idea of you keeping secrets from me.” she looked up at him with huge, sad eyes.
“And you’re not keeping any from me?”
Mira gaped at Roman. How on earth could he even think that? She loved him, she’d never hide anything from him.
Except for maybe that little splurge last week on that to-die-for dress, and that time she’d gotten utterly hammered at the work Christmas party and totally unintentionally snogged Michael. Thank God he had a girlfriend and they both just agreed it never happened.
But he was totally hiding something, she knew it. And if that something turned out to be some other chick, or a past relationship with consequences…
“Oh my god, you have a kid don’t you.”
Roman stared at her in confusion.
“What? No! Where the hell is your brain going right now?”
“You’re hiding something, I can tell. And I can’t be with someone who isn’t honest with me.”
Roman raised an eyebrow, she hated when he did that, mainly because it looked so cool and she couldn’t get it to work.
“You sneak around behind my back on a daily basis and you want me to be honest and open with you? Why should I?”
“What? When have I ever lied to you?”
His sardonic look poured rocks into her stomach even before he opened his mouth. “Your work Christmas party maybe? Do you want to see the photos I got from your friends of you with your tongue down Michael’s throat? Or the credit card bill I got yesterday with a triple figure charge from that boutique next to your work? One thing with your lies love, you’re incredibly bad at them.”
“But they’re little things. Whatever it is you’re hiding is big.”
He shook his head, “No, Mira, they’re not little things and anything I hide is a direct result of your behaviour.”
He grabbed his jacket off the back of the chair, “Since you feel you can’t trust me, and I rather clearly can’t place any faith in your integrity. I think we need to call it quits. I’ll pay the credit card bill this month, then cancel it. You need to find some other chump to pay for your parties.”
By the time she’d found her voice, he’d walked out of the apartment, closing the door quietly behind him.
He couldn’t do this, they were together, hell, they lived together, this was his home. A horrible thought crossed her mind and she rushed into the bedroom, throwing open the doors to their shared cupboard.
No, his clothes were still there and, she poked her head into the ensuite, yes, there was his toothbrush and razor and everything. This wasn’t a preplanned setup thing, he’d be back. He’d have to be back. He couldn’t leave over one little silly tiff.
She shook her head and went to close the cupboard doors. That’s when she noticed. He really didn’t have many clothes. Her outfits took up all but the tiniest space. And their chest of drawers, he had one to her four and even then there was room in his for her overflow.
She slowly walked around the flat. No laptop, just an ancient tablet, a few books on business and a couple of weird fantasy novels he’d read and laugh over on weekends. It was just a guy thing though, right, they weren’t as into clothes and nice home things. That was her job. He’d be back in a couple of hours. And she needed to make sure she was in bed and asleep by the time he came in. She wasn’t going to look like she was worried.
So, she switched off the lights, went through her bedtime routine and tucked herself under the covers.
It was strange not having his big, warm body next to hers, but he’d travelled for work before, she’d be fine. And so she kept telling herself as she drifted off to sleep.
He wasn’t there when she woke up. And no sign of him having been there either, no dent in the pillow, no lingering warmth, no scent of his shampoo or aftershave.
Fine, maybe he’d stayed at a friend’s place. She tried to conjure up an image of one of his mates and what an uncomfortable night he probably spent on their too-small couch. She couldn’t remember meeting any of his friends. Work colleagues and footy team mates, yes, but they’d never seemed, well, close enough for a late night appearance.
Well there was always a cheap motel or sitting all night in one of those twenty four hour cafes. He’d be home this evening after work and she won’t have even noticed his absence.
He wasn’t home that night, or the night after. When she messaged him, it bounced, the number was disconnected. She tried contacting him at work, and realised she couldn’t remember its name, or where it was. She wasn’t even sure she could remember exactly what it was he did for a living. It was technical and complicated and paid for all her little splurges. Oh shit, the credit card bill, oh shit, the rent. She checked her accounts.
The credit card had been paid in full, and cancelled. Her rent was paid up for the next six months, then her lease was to be terminated.
What? Who? She needed help. She counted to ten, then twenty, then fifty. Then picked up the phone and called her mother.
In another city, Roman sat at a table by a window. It was a large window, looking out onto a wide expanse of water and green. The table belonged to a high end restaurant and he was sitting in its almost empty dining area in the middle of the afternoon, nursing a beer and thinking about life.
The chair opposite was pulled out and a person who was meant to be on the other side of the planet dropped into it.
“Mira got a little too curious and a little too acquisitive.”
“She would have shut her mouth in a heartbeat if I’d cut up her credit card but she’s been wanting more, trying to get her claws in deeper.”
“I don’t think it’s true love if you’re describing her in those terms my friend.”
“It’s not, it wasn’t. She’s fun, hot and not bright enough to put two and two together. I hadn’t counted on her territorial instincts.”
“Ahhh, decided you were keeping secrets and that there was Another Woman.”
“Funnily enough, the first thing she went to was me having a kid.”
“Interesting. So what did you do about it.”
“Walked out, paid the bills for the next six months, then she’s on her own.”
“Sounds like a pretty clean break to me.”
“Unless she decides she wants to go all girl detective on me. I haven’t been that careful in my clean-up – people get suspicious – and she’s way too into those books where the diner waitress or ditzy receptionist catches the murderer while boinking some hot guy who tries to stop her doing things.”
“You sound very familiar with the genre.”
Roman gave a dry laugh, “I read so many of them when we first moved in together and didn’t have my own books, I ended up writing a few. Under a pen name of course. I’m one of her favourite authors.”