The phone was ringing when Leah turned off the shower. She ran to pick it up, her wet feet slipping on the tile and her hair leaving a trail of water droplets as she raced through her bedroom. She grabbed the receiver. “Hello.”
“Leah, where have you been? Why aren’t you answering any of my messages?”
“Doug?” Damn, she should have checked the call screen.
“Yes. Remember me?”
“Look, I’m dripping wet from the shower, Doug. This isn’t a good time.”
“I’ll be in meetings the rest of the day. I have to talk to you, now. Get a towel. I’ll wait.”
Leah walked back to the bathroom and wrapped herself in her terry robe and pulled her hair back in a clip. “What is it?”
“Leah, have you listened to your voice mail or checked your email since yesterday?”
“What’s going on?”
“I’ve been busy with Ali.”
“You can tell me about that later. I have some important things to go over with you.”
Leah hated when he took on his corporate “I’m Mr. Important” voice with her, but he didn’t give her a chance to interrupt.
“I'm flying out tonight, and I’ll be away for three weeks,” he continued. “Things are very unstable with the Euro right now, and I have to secure our investments. I won’t be here when you and Ali arrive, but I want you to know that I’ve arranged to have the corporate apartment ready for you. You can stay there indefinitely until I’m able to leave Amanda and get a real place for us.”
“Ali and I aren’t coming to New York, Doug.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m not coming to New York to be some high-price courtesan you keep until you’re ready to leave your wife. I never intended to be the other woman, Doug. You are always on the verge of leaving your wife, but you never do. The deal was that when I came to New York, we were going to be together—out in the open. Not hiding like two criminals.”
“It’s not like that, and you know it. I’d leave Amanda in a second if it weren’t for the kids. I can’t leave right now, but I will. I promise I will, as soon as I can. The important thing is for us to be together, Leah.”
He paused and his tone softened. “I love you so much. And I need you now more than ever. Please, Leah. Be patient a little while longer.”
Leah sat on the bed and closed her eyes. She felt herself wavering. She could see his face, his expression when he looked at her lovingly.
She opened her eyes. “No. If you love me, show me some respect. Acknowledge me to the world. Tell everyone I’m your woman.”
“I will, Leah, I promise. It won’t be long now, I swear. But, there are some things I have to take care of first.”
“You know what? I have some things I have to take care of, too, Doug. Like me and Ali. And she deserves a mother who doesn’t hide in dark corners and corporate apartments.”
“What are you going to do, Leah? You were all set to come.”
“Yes, well, now I’m all set to stay. Roxie has found me a very nice place on the beach. Ali and I will be just fine.”
“Leah, meet me in Paris, and we’ll talk this over. I can get you on a flight tomorrow.”
“No way. Ali graduates next week. I’m not going to Paris. Look, Doug. You go to Paris. Save the world economy. I don’t give a damn any more. I don’t want to hear it, any of it. You were very convincing the other night. You’re right. Your children need you.”
“Leah, please think about it a little more. I need you in my life. Maybe after Ali leaves for college, we’ll go away together. We can go to Napa Valley and stay in one of those wonderful bed and breakfasts. You can go to the spa—”
“I’m not taking another trip with you under an assumed name. I’m not taking separate flights and lying to protect you any more. Don’t you get it, Doug? It’s over.”
“Leah, they’ve buzzed me three times for my meeting. I’ll call you—”
“Don’t. Go to your important meeting, Doug. Go to Paris. Just go. Good-bye.” She clicked off the phone and tossed it on the bed.
* * *
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