“Thank you all for joining Eleanor and me for this momentous occasion.” James stood there, his chest swelling with pride.
“What are we celebrating?” Hillary asked.
“I won the Liebster Award,” Eleanor gushed, her face flushed with excitement and joy.
“Sorry, what award did you say?” Harry asked, looking positively perplexed.
“The Liebster award,” James said.
“I’ve never heard of it before. What kind of award is it?” Vera asked.
“It’s a very prestigious award. I won it for my blog, Mangy Max.”
“Yes, she’s the young protagonist of my first novel. The girl in the mangy coat. It was nominated for The Booker Prize.”
“Since the book was such a success, I suggested to Eleanor that she created a blog to continue Max’s story.”
Eleanor touched his arm. “I’m so happy you suggested that, Darling. The thought never occurred to me.”
“Yes. I thought a Mangy Max blog would be splendid idea. Do you know, that as of today, the blog has 200 followers? And this isn’t her first award. She won the award for Outstanding Blogger in April. We were in Paris when she found out. We had dinner at Le Jules Verne is a restaurant located on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower to celebrate.”
“I mentioned that in my acceptance post.”
Hillary rolled her eyes. All this fuss over a bloody blog.
“So, you see, friends, we have good reason to celebrate this evening.”
“I couldn’t have done any of this without your constant love and support, James.”
“What about all those times when you supported me, my Darling. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you inspire me to inspire you.”
“In other words, we inspire each other.”
How nauseating, Hillary thought, her expression one of disgust.
“So, let us raise our glasses and toast to my darling wife and her Liebster Award. Here are to many more awards, my Sweet.”
Everyone raised their glasses, including Hillary although she would have preferred to throw it at them.
While the others surrounded Eleanor, congratulating her, Hillary stood there, watching them, thinking how utterly ridiculous they all were. She could understand celebrating the Pulitzer, the The British Book Awards or even Goodreads Choice Award but the Liebster Award? And why would anyone waste their time blogging or better yet, visiting or following blogs? Who wanted to hear about someone’s boring life?
She finished her champagne in a few gulps. Time to leave. She had had enough foolishness. Picking up her handbag, she was about to head for the door when James accosted her.
Frowning, he asked, “Where are you going?”
“Aren’t you going to stay for dessert?”
“No. Say goodnight to everyone for me.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay? The night is still young.”
“No, I’ll call it a night.”
“I worry about you, you know.”
“Don’t. I’m fine.”
“You’re going home to an empty flat when you can stay here with family and friends.”
“You’re my brother and I love you but I wish you’d stop making a fuss. Go back to your party.”
“All right but not before I get a hug.”
“Very well.” They hugged. “Good night, James.”
“Good night, Hillary.”
Half hour later, she let herself into her spacious and luxurious flat facing the Thames. She slipped on her wedding ring which was on top of the table in the foyer. She never wore it when she went out. No one knew she was married. If they did, she could lose her job at the university and he could be expelled. They decided that they were going to wait until a year after he graduated before they went public.
Her family wouldn’t approve, of course. He was more than half her age and he was South Asian but, she didn’t care. She was mad about him. And he was mad about her.
She headed for the bedroom, her heart racing in anticipation.
He was waiting up for her. “How did it go?” he asked.
“I’ll tell you in the morning,” she said as she removed her earrings and got undressed. “Right now, I have a more urgent matter on my mind that I’d like to take care of right this minute…”
He smiled as she climbed into the bed and reaching up, he clutched the hair at the nape of her neck and pulled her head down so that they could passionately kiss.