"You're in love with somebody else's wife, Jack."
Those words stung me. I thought Vicky Bradford was special. I thought she would never, ever have a compromising thought against my history with Janet Wood. Vicky was there to support her engagement despite another date; she was there for her wedding that she walked in on. That was all she knew. Anything more than Janet's trip to the altar was what I had told her. She wasn't there and couldn't have possibly known what really went on the other ninety-five percent of the time. In the end, she uses Janet as a reason to screw me over anyway. Lesson learned: when you offer a girl the rest of your life and she says no, believe her the first time.
Today, my day off, I'm going to see Janet. I have her phone number and address, but I want to surprise her so I will not call her. I'm choosing to walk so I can clear my head before arriving. The hustle and bustle of downtown Santa Monica put a damper on that. Every so often, a sound or a sight would trigger a memory with Janet. It is amazing the little things you remember about someone you were once so close to and those little things kept me going until I reached her apartment building on Sausalito Avenue. I looked at my watch and realized that it had been a thirty minute walk. I inhaled as I carried on and exhaled as I realized that her car was in the parking lot. Yes! That gave me a second wind and I practically ran to the second floor, apartment C where she lived. My heart beat fast as I knocked on the door and my breath got heavy as I heard her make her way to the door.
Her face was a mix of disbelief and happiness. It was a pretty little face, nonetheless. Actually, she was beautiful. I looked at her still long, thick hair, her tan skin that was glowing, and her eyes that seemed to shine in the light. I picked her up and spun her around as her legs wrapped around my torso.
"Happy to see me, huh?" I asked as I pecked her cheek.
"And shocked," Janet added as she kisses me back.
"Well, I did want you to be surprised," I said as I put her down.
"Good job," she giggled. "Won't you sit down? Would you like anything? I can get you whatever."
"Maybe a cup of water?"
"I can do that," she said as she went into the kitchen and I made myself comfortable on the sofa. I looked around and noticed all the incredible art that had been hung all over the place. Hey, Phillip was an art dealer. The TV, the furniture that I was sitting on, the carpet; all looked brand new. Janet was certainly living a good life.
"Nice place you got here," I complimented as she came back with my water.
"Well, Jack, I…"
"Vicky left me," I blurted out.
"What?" Janet asked softly in disbelief. She had a seat next to me. "What happened?"
"Janet, there was nothing I could have done that would have made her happy. There had to have been a million red flags, but here I am, Mr. Color blind."
"That's not true."
"How can you say that? I'm talking about the woman who spoiled your wedding!"
"Jack," she inhaled sharply. "She didn't…"
"I should have loved you more!"
I jolted when I realized what was just said. Janet just looked at me bewildered with tears welling up in her eyes. I took her glass of water and chugged it.
"What were you going to say?"
"Oh," she inhaled sharply again and her tears began to flow freely. God, I feel terrible. I sat down next to her again and wrapped my arm around her. "Jack, I was going to call you to meet up."
"Phillip and I are moving. He had a feeling he would be relocating again and sure enough, he got a position in Chicago."
"Well," I say smiling through my disbelief. "Congratulations!"
"That's not all."
My jaw hit the floor. No wonder she looked so beautiful. She smiled so sweetly as I put my hands on her face. I kissed her long and hard on the cheek. I began to cry and so had she when I pulled away from her.
"Are you okay, sweetheart?" She asked me as she rubbed my knee.
"Yeah," I kind of lied.
"Listen, Jack," she said as she placed her hands on my face. "You loved me just fine. I love you."
"I love you, too," I said as we kissed each other and hugged.
Vicky was wrong. I was in love with her long before she was somebody else's wife.