Kristina was still curled up on the sofa. She had been there most of the day and was not currently feeling a single once of guilt for doing so. Even without managing to actually get changed, she had been able to have a super productive day – actually managing to complete what had initially been a very long ‘TO-DO’ list. Breathing a sigh of relief, she shut the laptop down, stretched and wondering over to the drinks cupboard.
It was only 4 in the afternoon – but she felt like she deserved a treat!
Pulling out her ‘cocktail recipe’ book – a well-thumbed print filled with multi-coloured page markers and covered in hundreds of scribbles – Kristina started flicking through the pages in search of something she fancied.
Wondering with the book through to the kitchen and through to the garden (a small courtyard space ideal for growing herbs and drinking cocktails in the sun), she smiled. The mint did indeed need harvesting. It was always a good day when the gardening jobs linked with her cocktail cravings.
Kristina reappeared into the kitchen about 5 minutes later with a small tub full of mint leaves. After giving them a quick wash, she set about collecting the lime, sugar, soda water, white rum and ice from their various homes in the kitchen. Within another few minutes, she had a cocktail jug of minty mojito sat happily on her coffee table.
One of her bright pink jam jar glasses had just been filled with the cocktail mix. Feeling slightly frivolous, Kristina had also just added a matching bright pink umbrella, sparkler and glittery straw to the jar.
She tasted her creation before relaxing into the sofa with a relaxed smile and flicking the telly on. A cheesy Christmas film was playing on channel 5 and Kristina watched it with only the briefest thought as to why they were playing Christmas films in August.
About an hour and a half later, as the credits rolled down the screen –the elf, child and reindeer having saved the bookstore for yet another year of Christmas festivities – her phone started flashing. Someone had apparently sent her a text message.
After peering more closely at the screen she signed in annoyance. It was Carl. What the heck did he want this time? Kristina was still fuming at him for cancelling the other week. She was so bored of him messing her around all the time. Going for another glass, she was disappointed to find that only a few small drops exited the jug. Damn.
Flicking the screen, the message appeared before her on the screen.
I’m sorry I haven’t been around much.
Will pick you up at 8. Wear something nice.
Looking at the time at the top right of the screen she could see it was 7:15. There was just enough time for a shower before she got changed….
Kristina stared angrily at the cocktail jug. She was pretty sure that if it was not for her drinking the jug full of mojito (with a generous quantity of white rum added in) she would not even be considering this. It was so ridiculous. Why did he always do this – the letting her down and then come crawling back?
Deciding that she may as well go – Kristina could not be bothered to cook and did not really fancy a takeaway – she got up off the sofa and headed upstairs for a shower.
It was about 7:55 from he did actually turn up. Kristina quickly moved the empty cocktail glass and jug into the kitchen sink. She was not going to make it so obvious that she was already past tipsy (she had sobered up a little from the shower). He was not going to get ‘an easy ride’. She was not going to let him get away with how he had been treated her.
Having psyched herself up, she pulled the door open to reveal the man known as Carl stood on her doorstep. He was clutching a small bunch of flowers and a bottle bag.
“I am so, so, so sorry about the other week baby. I tried so hard to get out it to be back on time. But I did not have any choice. I had to stay.”
Kristina listened as he was apologising in the same way he always did. It was never his fault. She sighed inwardly, but grinned at him as he handed over the apology gifts.
“Thanks Carl,” she responded, gesturing for him to follow her inside. Examining the bottle bag, she discovered it contained a blue glass bottle of Bombay Sapphire.
It was worth saying yes to the evening purely for this beautiful bottle – she had finished off her last bottle of gin last week trying a gin and honey cocktail recipe she had found on the internet. It was a classic according to the blog site and definitely worth repeating.
After adding the bottle to her drinks cabinet, Kristina found some water for her flowers (bright yellow daffodils this time). Then she headed towards the door, picking out a pair of sparkly flats to go with her black jeans and silvery glittery top. Carl then handed her a coat to match.
They left for town in Carl’s classic Porsche. Within 25 minutes they were both seating in a reasonably nice all-you-can-eat restaurant.
By time Kristina had returned with her plate full of spring rolls, onion bhajis and lamb curry, Carl had managed a plateful of his own and had also found time to buy a bottle of white wine from the bar. The two glasses on the table in front of him had already been poured.
“Thanks for the wine,” she took a seat and gave it a dry. It was light and fruity – very refreshing and a very good pick.
They clinked glasses and then descended into a semi awkward silence.
“So how’s work? You must be busy, you’re hardly ever around.”
Carl flashed her a smile across the table before finishing the mouthful of food.
“A few really interesting new clients. I keep getting people recommending me to people they know. So that word of mouth effect seems to be getting busier all the time. That Linked-In business page you got me to set up seems to be feeding me through a few contacts as well. So all good, and you?”
“Busy. I’m feeling so much better now that I don’t have to work part time as well. I am managing to get a lot of blogging done as well as all the work. Proposals and scheduling social media posts seems to be taking all of my work day at the moment. But I am enjoying the challenge.”
Amelia had been stood next to the oven for most of the last hour. At this point her right hand was starting to ache slightly from the cramp.
She sighed and flexed her hand again as she stared into the chopped tomatoes and beef stock mix.
At least this was not as bad as chopping the onions, she mused – a large red onion and a couple of cloves of garlic had been fried off as the base for the sauce. Suffice it to say that Amelia would have to re-apply her mascara before Mark arrived home.
Deciding that the sauce could be left for a while to reduce, she found the matching lid for the pot and turned it down to a simmer. Then Amelia retrieved the freshly ground mince from her local butches from the fridge. After mixing this up with a spicy herb mix – a mix of thinly sliced fresh chillies, fresh basil and fresh coriander – she left the mix in the bowl on the side for a while. Amelia would fry that up and mix it to the tomato bolognaise sauce later on. There was not really anything else that she could get on with for a while.
Amelia wondered over to the box of red-wine and filled a small crystal glass.
Then she proceeded to relax on her very comfy circular corner sofa with her glass and stared out into the garden.
It was still a beautifully sunny day outside and her garden was currently in bloom. The view out of the window was a complete patchwork of colours, textures and shapes. Pulling her phone from her pocket, she pinged Mark a quick text.
Hope work is going well.
Do not forget dinner tonight!
Hope you are having at least a pleasant birthday x
Love you x
Amelia had almost finished her first glass of wine when her phone started vibrating on the arm of the chair.
Birthday going well thanks.
This morning was an excellent start to the day 😉
I promise that I will see you for dinner this evening
She grinned and a sigh of relief that she had not realised that she had been holding escaped her. At least he was still keeping to birthday traditions!
What was starting to trouble her was that the restaurant meal last week had not been Mark’s only sudden cancellation. When they had first got together – then right up to the beginning of this year – he had been the most reliable thing in her life. He had kept every single date they had organised. All of the coffee meets, the lunches and the dinners.
Now she had reached the point where she should start being eternally thankful if he turned up for dinner on time. She was slowly becoming ‘that woman’. Sat at home all day, waiting for him to return from the office. The only reason that Amelia had not gone completely stir crazy with cabin fever was her knitting and the budding friendship with Kristina. Both were excellent distractions and she was eternally thankful for them.
The trouble was all these late night and cancelled meetings always get a woman thinking. There had to be a reason. She had tried just asking Mark outright – and he just blamed work. However, she was well aware that work had always been busy. When he had graduated from his masters, Mark had set up him own business within 12 months. Even in that manic chaos of starting your own business, he had always time for her. He was now a few years into running a very successful local pharmacy business – there was now 4 shops in his group – with a great team of managers and staff. Within the last 3 months his decreasing workload had increase to levels above what he was doing during setup and start-up.
So, logically, Amelia thought to herself, this could not just be work. There had to be something else going on. Mark was not even sharing it with her, so it was something he could not trust her with. She shivered inwardly and tried to push the trail of thought away from the front of her head.
A buzzer went off – signifying that it was time to get the mince fried off. With a small mental shove, she got herself out of her very comfy seat and finished building the lasagne. Once the dish was built in her glass container, she groaned inwardly. Now to have a go at the birthday cake…
About an hour later the dinner was in the oven and the double chocolate cake was cooling on the side. Amelia stared at it in despair and desperately wished that she had left herself enough time to ice it. Rather than a nice, risen, rounded top she had a shallow dip in the middle. The mixture had tasted alright though. So she could only hope that the final result would be just as good.
She had just rescued the rather lovely looking bottle of bubbly wine from the fridge when she heard Mark coming in through the front door.
“Hello!” he called as he wondered in the corridor, “How was your day?”
“It was good thanks. The cake was not a total disaster…”
“You managed not to burn it this time?” he questioned with a grin.
The other year Amelia had forgot to set the timer. By the time she had realised that she had forgotten about it the fire alarm was reminding her. It had taken her hours to clean the over afterwards. So she had asked Mark to rescue a ready-made one from the local Tesco Express (so they has ended up sitting with their champagne and slices of a chocolate caterpillar cake).
“Nope – set timers for everything today. A definite improvement. The dinner will be ready in about another 10 minutes. A glass of something bubbly while you are waiting?”
“If you could pour me one please. I’m going to go and put my phone away upstairs and get changed.”
Overall, Amelia felt that Mike’s birthday dinner actually went pretty well. The main course had involved eating most the lasagne – apparently Mike had not had time to include lunch in his schedule today. At this point, between them, they had made their way through the bottle of bubbly, a bottle of red wine from the cupboard and half of another very enjoyable bottle of red which Amelia had made also magically appear from the alcohol cupboard.
After clearing up the main course she decided that it was time for a bathroom break.
It was after she wobbled to the bathroom (she was pretty sure that her balance had gone after glass of wine number 3) and was safely sat on the toilet that the idea came to her. Initially – even in her drunken state – the idea seemed difficult to accept. This was not something that she had ever felt she had needed to do. But perhaps that would give her the answers she needed. If Mark was not going to give them to her – Amelia felt that had to know before she went totally loopy.
She needed to check his phone.
Amelia stumbled in the direction of the bedroom. It had to be in here somewhere, she was pretty sure that he would not have bothered hiding it. Mark had promised that he would leave it out of the kitchen so that they could actually have a night together.
Upon entering the bedroom, Amelia did a quick 360. As predicted, it had indeed been left in the bedroom. She could see the damn device’s little green LED flashing on the bedside table. He had a message from somebody. Clicking the home button did not help further her investigation – ‘message contents hidden’ was the only thing revealed to her.
Before she could start to process anything further she heard Mike shouting from the bottom of the stairs.
“Oi Amelia! You ok up there? I was wondering if you need rescuing out of the loo? Please hurry up! I want to try this cake!”
Deciding that she wanted to provide a good excuse for the amount of time she had been upstairs – something without the need for long explanations – she stripped down to her underwear and slipped on her silk dressing gown. At least that would distract him from the cake if it was as bad as she suspected it would be…