'And you would be Mrs Fisher then?' the naïve woman, who had presented herself oh so rudely and boldly asked, knowing full well who she was speaking too. Karen took a step backwards and let an expression of disgust and bemusement cross her features. She was rather offended to be spoken to like this, and became even more so when the crudely dressed woman stormed right up to her and spat in her face,
'Back off my husband, you. Back off or pay,' she let an image of loathing churn in her eyes before narrowing her brows threateningly and walking out of the room, her designer scarf and fake Gucci bag flying out behind her.
Karen stared after her, shock registering in her mind, disabling her from making the slightest movement. She blinked over and over, allowing herself this microscopic movement. From the corner of her eye, Karen saw Janeece approach, guilt and awkwardness shrouding her.
'Sorry Mrs Fisher,' she began in a small, timid whisper, 'If I had known who it was, I wouldn't have let her in.'
Karen snapped out of her trance and wiped her tear stained eyes with the back of her hand, 'It's not your fault, you couldn't have known,' she said, trying to be reassuring, putting on an obviously false smile. Janeece grimaced apologetically, before almost running from the office.
Karen blindly found her way back to her chair behind the oaken desk and brought her knees up to her chin and let a few tears spill from her eyes and dribble slowly down her cheeks. This was completely out of character for her, at the most she got misty eyed, but she felt so…betrayed right now that she couldn't help it. Why hadn't he told her?
Seconds, minutes, hours could have passed and she didn't notice. Time seemed irrelevant. She ignored calls and deadlines, refused to write emails, did not answer her door that she had aptly locked some time earlier and cried. She really had begun to believe that something could've happened between them; the dinner, the restaurant, the flirting, that kiss. Hell, she had even dressed nicely and fashionably just to impress him.
Someone began smashing a fist against the door, and a voice was yelling her name over and over. 'Karen, Karen. Are you okay?' But she did not reply. Karen felt like a thirteen year old who had been dumped by text; she wasn't going to speak to anyone anytime soon.
After a while, the pounding ceased, but then came the faint rattling of keys in the lock and, with a huge force, the door slammed open and there he stood, in the mess of the door with broken hinges, revealing the one person she did not want to see right now.
'Karen, are you…are you okay?' Rob called out tentatively, stepping cautiously into the dreary, silent office.
She wanted to get up and scream and shout at him, she wanted to throw stuff at him and kick the walls until they cracked. She wanted to slap him and yell about his betrayal and what he had done. She wanted to yell about how he had kissed her when he was married.
Instead, Karen pulled her knees from under her chin, placed her feet on the floor, cleared her throat, sniffing back tears,
'I just had a lovely chance encounter with your wife Rob,' she said, putting a certain sarcastic emphasis on the word "lovely".
Rob breathed out heavily and smacked his hand against his forehead in exasperation. Taking a seat opposite her, Rob began,
'I'm so sorry that I didn't tell you Karen. But she walked out of our lives, mine and Aiden's, and the only reason I didn't divorce her was because I had no idea where she was.'
Karen nodded her head in acceptance, and glumly replied, 'Well no harm done. Would you please go and attend to your duties Mister Scotcher?' she asked, not really offering him a choice.
He raised an eyebrow at her questioningly, 'Am I back to being "Mister Scotcher" now? Karen, I understand why you're upset…'
He was cut off by Karen's voice, which was hard and stern, 'What makes you think I'm upset?'
He grimaced, 'You've been crying. You haven't answered any calls. I had to physically unlock the door to reach you. I've been shouting through the door for twenty minutes and Janeece was a few minutes from phoning the police! Naomi is a bit rough around the edges and very vindictive and jealous, it's perfectly understandable why. But you can't just ignore what happened between us.'
'Oh, can't I?' she asked rhetorically and motioned impatiently for him to leave, tears once again clouding her vision. He looked like he wanted to say something, but Rob closed his mouth and left, all the while thinking How on Earth am I going to fix this?
Karen locked the door once more after the caretaker left and could not find the energy to trawl back to her chair. So she slumped down on the floor, leaning against the door, in misery and cried; she had just driven away the perfect man because of one thing he hadn't told her. Granted, it was a big thing, but what about all the things she hadn't told him; her divorce, her daughter going missing for a year due to her incompetence as a mother. With these memories of guilt and anguish suppressing against her happiness, Karen leant against the door and just breathed in and out.
X - x - X
'Mum, you've got a visitor!' Jess yelled up the stairs as she pulled open the door of their family home. Harry was out with mates, and she was bored; it was almost ten. Aiden wasn't responding to her texts so now, she was stuck at home with her mother, who seemed slightly lacking in character since she got home from school. Jess had heard that her mother had locked herself in her office all day, but she just thought that it was just a rumour.
Karen finished wiping off her slightly smudged makeup and splashed her face with cold water, before, in jeans and a jumper, she traipsed down the stairs, not caring that she looked like hell, not even caring who it was.
Jess smiled encouragingly, blocking the person stood in the doorway. She disappeared into the study, a large grin etched across her lips.
Karen shook her head before turning to the character in her door-frame, who was clutching a bunch of white lilies in their right hand.
'Sorry to be impertinent Karen, but can I come in and maybe we could talk?' Rob suggested eagerly, stepping into her house. Karen glared at him unobtrusively, but allowed him to enter her house and she guided him to her living room, steering off to the left to put the lilies in a vase in the kitchen.
She went into the living room and sat down on the sofa opposite him.
'So, can we at least talk about what happened?' he suggested, shuffling his feet nervously, not wanting to dirty her lavish cream carpet. She sighed out in anxiety before murmuring,
'What is there to talk about? You're married and I know my place.'
Rob shook his head in disbelief. Why do women never listen? 'Karen, me and Naomi are over. I don't know what she thought she was doing coming in and speaking to you, but nothing is ever going to happen between us.'
Karen nodded, slightly reassured. She pressed her hands to her mouth before crisply asking, 'But, why didn't you tell me?'
'I didn't think it would be an issue. She left four years ago; I just carried on with my life, as difficult as it was, and left it in the past.' Rob stood from the chic leather sofa and went and sat on the material one next to Karen. He took her right hand in his left and squeezed it comfortably. His murky green eyes found hers and he was shocked to see them surrounded in tears which she had not let escape. He pulled her into a gentle and loving embrace and she wrapped an arm around him.
'What I said earlier about ignoring what happened between us,' she began shakily, her voice dripping with remorse, 'I couldn't and wouldn't Rob. It's been years since I felt this…in sync with someone like this and I don't want to let that go yet.'
'I conquer to that,' he chuckled. She gazed at him for a few seconds longer, keeping the eye contact beyond just flirting and, without a word escaping from his mouth, Rob slowly leaned in and pressed his lips against Karen's. She responded swiftly, placing her right hand on his cheek. He rolled his fingers delicately through her hair, almost stroking it, like it was made out of the finest silk. Needing to breathe, they drew away.
'I'm getting far too old for this,' Rob sighed and he leant backwards. Karen beamed before draping herself across his lap. He smiled at this gesture; he smiled at how comfortable she was with him. He stroked her hair impassively and she shut her eyes contentedly, slowly drifting off into a deep, happy sleep…
When Rob finally noticed that the woman lying across him was asleep with exhaustion, he gently lifted her up into his arms, kicked open the door to the room they had been sat in for the past two hours and carried Karen to her bedroom, with a little help from Jess who was smirking maniacally.
He pulled back the covers of her bed and, as gently as possible, laid her down on the bed. She stirred slightly as he drew away from her, the absence of his touch scaring her slightly.
He brushed back a strand of hair hanging across her face and whispered in her ear, 'I love you. And because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.' He kissed her on the forehead before turning off her bedside lamp and stumbling over to the door. He was about to exit the room when a small, whispering voice asked,
'What did you just say?'
Rob stopped dead in his tracks, and, trying to bluff out his careless words, said, 'I said I would rather you hated me for telling the truth than…'
'Rob, what did you say before that?' Karen asked inquisitively, turning on the bedside lamp again, leaning up against the backboard and staring up at him. He walked back over to her bed and sat at the foot of it whilst she sat up.
'I said I love you. And I know it's far too early to be even thinking about that, but I really do…' he began, a blush rising in his cheeks and the corners of his lips rising slightly.
Karen gaped at him, her mouth hanging open, ajar in shock. Misinterpreting this entirely, Rob stood to leave, mumbling apologies and goodbyes. But before he could reach the door, Karen rose from her bed, straightening out her jumper quickly, and blocking the entrance to the room with her form. She swept her eyes across him like a sensor, before a small grin tugged at her mouth.
'I-I think I love you too Rob. It's never really been my style; I mean we've known each other a month, but I really do believe in this,' Karen said in a hushed tone. He took a step towards her, trapping her against the door and very slowly met her lips. They melted seamlessly into one another and when she put her arms around his neck, he tightened his grip on her waist almost subconsciously. The kiss itself was tender to the very last second, a perfect exchange of love. Because they on only one date, and she was the headmistress and he was the caretaker, perfect kisses in perfect settings in perfect moments didn't really happen that often. So they made the most of it whilst they could, completely forgetting about the world of prejudice lying outside of that bedroom door.