Breakfast the next morning is … awkward. Andrew starts to wonder if he's done the right thing.
Juliet is as perky as he's ever seen her, chattering about her upcoming overnight with her friend, what's-her-name - Andrew can't think of it off the top of his head, but he's met her, she's been to the apartment and, judging by what he's seen of Juliet's former friends, she looks and acts refreshingly normal; plus, she lives two blocks away - and some school club function that's scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
Picking up trash and eating pizza. Juliet's unreasonably excited about this, but it seems a harmless and wholesome enough way to spend a Saturday to Andrew. He eyes what he can see of her skirt as she bolts her orange juice, wonders whether he should make her change, wonders whether the outfit in her cute Gucci overnight satchel is even more scandalous, decides that it probably is, kisses her cheek, and lets her go without saying anything. It's been too long since she's been this happy, this uncomplicated and childlike.
Once she's gone, silence settles over them. "All right, darling?" he asks her, and Bridget nods and smiles, even raises one hand to touch his cheek. Her eyes don't match the smile, though; she looks tense and drawn. Before she settles the scarf around her neck, Andrew notices a string of faint violet smudges where her neck meets her shoulder. He is instantly swamped by guilt.
Siobhan has that fragile porcelain complexion, too, the kind of skin that bruises at the slightest provocation. She, however, was never shy about telling him to back off; Andrew thinks of the courtly slow-motion ballet their infrequent lovemaking had become before she disappeared, compares it to last night's sexual triathlon, and winces.
Bridget hasn't complained. He highly doubts that she will. But that makes him feel even more culpable.
What have her past relationships been like? He studies her over the top of his teacup, troubled by the wave of possessiveness that rolls over him. From the way that she responds to even the most basic kindnesses, he decides, she hasn't had much experience with chivalry. He imagines her on a platform in some smoky, dimly-lit room, gyrating to club music, white skin vulnerable and glimmering under the strobes, dodging the hands of frat boys and bikers and traveling salesmen in bad toupées, not a person so much as an expendable commodity, a convenience to ease the loneliness of life on the road.
What gentleness has she known, if any?
Certainly she didn't get much from him last night.
"Are you okay?" she asks him, snapping him out of his dangerous reverie. "You look a little … intense."
"I'm fine," he lies, and forces himself to smile. Then her phone rings, and when she glances at the screen to see who it is her face shuts down into carefully-blank wariness.
"Sorry," she says to him, "I should take this." And though part of him wants to quiz her about the caller - is it someone from her old life, someone from that shadowy world she lived in before he knew her, someone who means her harm? - is it her sister, calling to connive with her under his unsuspecting nose? - he cannot bring himself to add to her agitation. He nods, feigning unconcern.
"I should be at the office anyway," he says. "For some reason I slept later than usual." That gets a blush and a half-smile from her, distracted as she is, and when he offers her his cheek, she kisses him with a hint of last night's glow.
He leaves by the front entrance, slides into the car, and directs the driver around the block. Double-parked in the bus lane at the corner, they wait - but not for long; it's not five minutes before she emerges, cell phone still clamped to her ear. Andrew watches her thread herself handily through a crush of honking cabs and disappear into the subway entrance a block away from their building.
Impossible to track her farther - for now, anyway. He sends up a silent prayer that she will elude whatever danger is stalking her, at least for today, and nods to the driver.
Olivia is waiting for him by his office door, disguising her true agenda with a stack of quarterly reports. "Morning," she says cheerfully. "Got a moment?"
"Of course," Andrew says, pretending to a nonchalance he doesn't feel. "One second, though, if you don't mind waiting; I need to make a quick call."
"I don't mind."
He pats at his pockets. "Might I borrow your phone? Mine's at the bottom of my briefcase."
When she hands it to him, he pulls up her photos and scrolls through them until he finds the offending snapshot of Siobhan and Henry. "I meant to ask you yesterday," he says, backing away so she can't grab it back, "who sent this to you."
If she's off balance, she's hiding it well. "Henry, of course."
"Liar," he says, and hits the delete key. Olivia hisses through her teeth.
"Making the evidence go away doesn't change what they did," she says coolly. "Decided to bury your head in the sand, Andrew? I thought better of you than that."
"That," he says, "I highly doubt."
"It's your business."
"Yes, it is."
She gives him an arch look. "I just can't believe you'd rather let her turn you into some pathetic cuckold than confront her with the truth."
If you only knew, Andrew thinks, and bares his teeth at her.
"I will not be leaving my wife this week, Olivia," he says, goaded utterly beyond politesse. "And if I did, it would not be for you. So stop acting like you're personally vested in my domestic affairs. It's none of your concern."
With that, he leaves her sputtering in the hallway and pushes past her into his office, putting a closed door between them.
Time to make some amends of his own.
At six o' clock in the evening, the apartment is overrun with florists and decorators. By seven, it is empty. Andrew sits on the sofa, a solitary traveler adrift in an ocean of candlelight, and waits for her to come home.
At nine-ten, the elevator chimes and she steps out into a pool of rose petals.
Siobhan is not fond of roses, white or otherwise. He's guessing Bridget will be.
It is not their anniversary.
He has no reason to be sitting here with his heart held out to her in both hands. It's crazy, it's unnecessary, and it's likely to end badly - in bloodshed or heartbreak or possibly both, take your pick.
The look on her face makes him very glad that he's taken the risk.
"I love you," she says with a hint of a sob in her voice, and he digs his fingernails into his palms, preferring physical pain to the possibility that it might not be the truth.
There are no lies in those brimming-clear eyes. He wonders if he's gone completely insane, then decides that he doesn't care.
"I love you, too," he says - if this is not the truth, he thinks, it is as close as he can get under the circumstances - and takes her into his arms.