“Good heavens, Atticus, do you want us to freeze to death?” Mrs. Sutcliffe exclaimed as she shot her son a reproving look. “Kindly close that window.”
He turned to face her. “It’s a bit fusty in here, Mother.”
“It is not!” she retorted indignantly. “These rooms are aired out every day. Now kindly close it before we all catch colds.”
Muttering under his breath, he shut the windows. He remained standing there, his back to them, clenched hands buried in his pockets, looking out.
“It is a bit stuffy in here,” his sister, Birgit said. “However, it has nothing to do with the air.” She gave him a pointed look.
His lips compressed. She was his sister but he couldn’t stand her. She was always so smug and condescending. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“You’ve been in a foul mood since you broke up with that African woman.”
“That African woman. You can’t even address her properly by her name.”
“Why should I? She’s nothing to me. I can’t say the same for you, though. You’re still pining for her even though you know she’s no good for you.”
“Who are you to determine whether she’s good for me or not?”
“I’m your older and wiser sister. Evidently, you agreed with my assessment because you broke up with her.”
“I thought we had put the dreadful business with that charwoman behind us,” Mrs. Sutcliffe interjected, agitated.
“So, did I,” Birgit said, getting up from the sofa and walking over to the fireplace. “I thought my dear brother had the good sense to move on with his pathetic life but clearly I was wrong. Here he is pining away for a charwoman when he could be out there meeting reputable women.” She shook her head in disgust.
Addicus swung around and glared at her. “For your information, Diarra isn’t a charwoman any more. She got a job at one of the offices where she cleaned. And even if she were still a charwoman, it isn’t anything to be ashamed about. She’s making an honest living. And how dare you make her out to be less reputable because she’s African and used to be clean offices for a living? She’s worth far more than your stupid, snooty friends.”
Birgit glowered at him. “Don’t you dare insult my friends. And as far as you and that charwoman of yours, you can both go to hell.”
“Children, please,” Mrs. Sutcliffe wailed. “Let us stop this bickering. Atticus, I don’t want to hear anymore about that woman.”
“I wasn’t the one who brought her up,” he was quick to remind her. “Birgit did.”
“I only brought her up because I could see that you were pining for her. She really got her hooks in you. You poor lovesick fool. While you’re here longing for her, she’s dating another man.”
In a matter of seconds, he was standing beside her, his expression tense as he demanded, “What are you talking about?”
She shrugged. “I was coming out of the hair salon when I saw her with a tall African man. She had her arm through his. She didn’t see me.”
He grabbed her by the shoulders. “Are you sure it was her? Birgit, if you’re making this up to hurt me, so help me…”
Her eyes flashed at him. “Yes, I’m sure it was her and I’m not making this up just to hurt you. Now, let go of me.”
The color drained from Atticus’s face. Jealousy clawed at his insides. “I have to go,” he muttered more to himself than to them. He released Birgit and turned away.
“Don’t tell me you’re going to see her,” Birgit said.
Mrs. Sutcliffe was alarmed. “Atticus, can’t you see that’s it’s really over between you? She has moved on with her life. Why can’t you do the same?”
“Because I love her,” he muttered tightly before he strode out of the room.
Diarra had just finished making dinner when the doorbell rang. After wiping her hands in the towel hanging on the wall beside the sink, she hurried into the foyer, wondering who it was. When she peered through the keyhole and saw Atticus standing there, her heart leapt in her chest. She pulled back the latch and opened the door, her eyes slipping over his tall frame. It had been months since the break up. The pain was still there. “Hello,” she said. “I never thought I would see you again.”
“I know. May I come in?”
“Sure.” She stepped aside for him to enter and then closed the door. She turned to face him. “Let’s go into the living-room.”
After he removed his shoes, he followed her into the living-room. He remained standing with his hands in his pockets. His expression was tense as he watched her. “I know I have no right to be here or to ask you any questions but there’s one I really need to ask you.”
“What is it?” she asked. How she longed to reach up and touch his face.
“Are you dating someone else?”
She shook her head at once. “No, I’m not dating anyone.”
“My sister, Birgit said she saw you with a man.” He told her where.
“That’s my brother, Khaan. He had taken me for lunch to celebrate his promotion.”
Relief washed over him and he sank down onto the sofa. “I’m sorry. When Birgit told me that she saw the two of you together, I was out of my mind with jealousy although I had no right to be. I lost that right when I broke up with you. Oh, Diarra. What a bloody fool I’ve been. I allowed my family to come between us. I shouldn’t be here. I should leave.”
“Have you eaten?” she asked.
He stared at her blankly. “Eaten?” he repeated and then, shaking his head, he added, “No, I haven’t eaten.”
“I just finished making dinner. Why don’t you stay and have some? There’s more than enough for two.”
“All right. Thank you.”
“I’ll go and share it out.” She was about to walk away when he caught her arm. Her eyes were wide as they met his.
“I’m not dating anyone. Diarra, is there still a chance…?”
“Let’s talk about it after dinner.”
He released her arm and sank heavily down onto the sofa.
After dinner, he was standing at the window, watching the flickering lights when she joined him. “Promise me that you will never let your family come between us again,” she said.
He turned to face her. “I promise.”
She took his hand. “Good. Do you want dessert?”
His eyes darkened. “All I want right now, is you.” Reaching out, he unwrapped the scarf from her head. After it fell to the floor beside her feet, he buried his fingers in her hair as he lowered his head and kissed her. His mouth moved passionately on hers as his love and desire for her raged inside him. She put her arms around his waist and kissed him back as her need for him consumed her.
After a while he broke off the kiss to mutter, “I don’t deserve you.”
“We’ll talk about that afterwards,” she gasped. And grabbing his hand, she pulled him towards her room.
It took a while for things to return to the way they were before the break-up but time, effort and patience kept them on track. And at the end of the following year, against his family’s impassioned objections, he married Diarra.
You are my other half. And when you left, a great part of me was missing. And now that you’re back, we are one and I am whole again – Love Quote Messages
This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompts for today’s word, Fusty. If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.