"Tell me, if you were in my position, what would you do?"
"What position is that?"
"Imagine your husband bought a gold necklace and, come Christmas, gave it to someone else?"
"Would you wait to find out if it's just a necklace, or if it's sex and a necklace, or if, worst of all, it's a necklace and love? Would you stay, knowing life would always be a little bit worse? Or would you cut and run?"
"Oh, God. I am so in the wrong. A classic fool."
"Yes, but you've also made a fool out of me. You've made the life I lead foolish, too."
1 month later
She didn't look up from sorting her husband's dirty laundry of the past month, during which his alternating job had had him out of the country since the day after Christmas until today. Harry had offered to try cancel after realizing she had found out about Mia almost immediately, but she had told him that maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to be apart for a little while; for her to be able to process things by herself first.
Thus, Harry had left the morning after Christmas, December 26, as intended. Karen had called him on New Year's Eve, mainly for the children, but hadn't been in touch with him otherwise. Daisy and her by two years older brother Bernie had often asked about him, but she had always said that their Daddy was very busy with solving issues no one else could.
As usual, he would most likely have found some time to buy presents for them, and she knew from the moment that their two darling children would see the things Harry had bought, it would all be forgotten as if nothing had ever happened.
Honestly though, she had truly needed some time alone, to think things through. She couldn't simply pretend as if she hadn't unluckily found that necklace, realizing Harry to be secretly buying gifts for other women; gifts she had always only dreamed of getting, for Harry had never been quite romantic.
He had often tried calling her from Minnesota, though. However, when he after numerous days of fruitlessly calling with no single response from her side thought that perhaps Karen didn't want to talk to him, he had quit trying.
Actually never had there been an 'I love you' at the end of their phone conversations, or anything like that, but things didn't look good for them right now. Harry for sure didn't want to lose his wife forever; even though he might really have bad ways of showing just that, he still loved her dearly. She had brought his children into this world; had given him the joy of being a father. It wasn't something he would, or could, just simply throw away.
Karen winced audibly as she slowly got up closing the washing machine's door, before activating it with a simple button push. "Karen. I swear, nothing ever really happened between us."
"Harry… I have seen the two of you dance, and…"
"Karen," he whispered, more softly, gently holding her wrists as she tried to get past him into the doorway. He wouldn't let her, though. Harry quietly released her left wrist, then tenderly raised her chin to look at her red, tear streaked cheeks. She must have been crying while doing the dishes, and unpacking his suitcase, while he himself had been upstairs tucking in their children. "You haven't said anything…"
"What is there left to say, Harry?" She questioned, tears springing into her eyes.
"A lot," he replied. A few silent moments went by, in which Harry released his wife's other wrist, too. She didn't take a run for it, not even when his warm hands slowly covered hers, squeezing briefly. She didn't squeeze back.
"I would like to believe that the children both were really happy with their presents," Karen spoke.
Harry merely nodded. "I could have guessed." Karen tried to smile, but found herself unable. "I haven't forgotten about you," he continued. "I brought something for you as well," he said, slowly releasing her hand, then feeling into his pocket until his fingers closed around a small box, retrieving it. Harry slowly brought up his wife's other hand before placing the little black box into her now open hand. Karen looked from her hand up. "I love you," he whispered.
Karen's hand closed tightly around the velvet-like material that clad the box, then fell into her husband's arms. Harry sighed internally, wrapping himself around her, holding her really close. The two of them stood there in the doorway between laundry room and hallway for a little while, until Harry leaned in, whispering, "How would you feel about opening it?"
Karen gently unwrapped her arms from around his middle, his arms remaining closely around her, though. She looked up at him nervously before opening his gift, carefully lifting the velvet lid to reveal the most stunning bracelet she could have ever imagined. Harry thought that a necklace maybe would have been a bit too painful, yet he had really wanted to give her something shiny, something fitting; something just as pretty as she was.
At first, Karen only looked at the piece of shining silver with tiny emeralds, then carefully lifted it from the soft, dark blue layer of satin underneath. She really, really liked emeralds. Karen carefully held up his gift to eye it a tiny bit better, vaguely noticing some etching at the backside and consequently turning the bracelet between her fingers to be able to read it. 'I'll always love you.'
Karen quietly placed the silver and emerald bracelet back and closed the little, black box again. Harry looked at her worriedly, asking, "Don't you like it?"
"I do, I do," she said, nodding. "Thank you, it's just…" She instinctively reached up to wipe at the tears now spilling over her cheeks again. He, however, beat her to it, lovingly stroking them away from her cheeks with his thumb.
Her arms then flung around his shoulders without thinking much, while as a rather instinctive response to that, Harry's arms closed around her tighter, suddenly causing her to wince into his shoulder. "What's wrong?" He asked, releasing her more again.
"It's nothing. I'm fine."
Karen sighed. "I just have been having a bit of trouble with my lower back lately. I'm almost sure it's just gotten worse because of the bloody cold, though."
Harry quietly raised his eyebrow at her, asking, "Do you remember being pregnant with Bernie and Daisy… sweetheart?"
Karen pulled back, looking into his eyes. It had been years if not more since he had named her that. Sweetheart. She remained quiet at the shock for a few instants, then nodded. "Of course."
"Then do you remember how I used to rub your battered lower back every night until you had fallen asleep on me?"
More tears slipped over the woman's cheeks, but neither of them cared to wipe them away. She nodded. "You would always notice whenever it bothered me… Whenever I needed you to… You never seemed unable to make me feel better."
"Do you think I could still have that effect on you – I mean, your back?"
Karen doubted for a few instants again, then nodded and leaned up to entangle one of her hands in his hair, lips then meeting his in reawakened passion.