Madeline was walking down the street on her way to the salon to get her hair done, when she spotted Markus. She turned and called out to him. He stopped and faced her. Smiling, she walked over to him. “Markus,” she exclaimed after hugging him. “It’s been a while since we last saw each other. How are you doing?”
“I’m doing well, thanks. What about you?”
She flashed him her left hand on which was an exquisite diamond ring. “I’m getting married,” she told him gleefully.
“Congratulations. When is the big day?”
“In May. You should be getting your invitation in the mail very soon.”
“Thanks for inviting me. I will be there.”
“Eliška is going to be there, of course. She’s my maid of honor. She will be flying in from London two nights before the wedding. She isn’t bringing anyone.”
“Speaking of Eliška, do you still have that photo you took of us at her place in London? I think we were sitting on your bed talking when you walked in and took our picture.”
“Oh, yes, I do.” She went into her handbag, took out her cell and browsed through it until she found what she wanted. “There it is,” she said, showing it to him.
He looked at it. It was the week before they broke up. “Why do you still have it?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I didn’t even remember I had it until recently. I sent it to Elvira who showed it to Elna. I thought of sending it to Eliška but I decided not to.”
“I’m glad you didn’t. I’ve moved on and I’m sure she has.”
“You weren’t in love with her, were you?”
“No, I wasn’t.”
“A pity because she was in love with you. It broke her heart when you broke up with her.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt her, Madeline but I couldn’t continue seeing her when I didn’t feel the way I ought to about her.”
“I know, Markus. Love is a funny thing. Not all couples are in love with each other but only some of them have the courage to admit that and end the relationship. You did what you had to do. Eliška realized that but it didn’t lessen the pain. It took a long time for her to get over you.”
“I hope she finds the happiness she deserves soon.”
“What about you? Have you found happiness with someone else?”
“Whoever she is, she’s lucky. You know there was a time when I was hoping that you and I would hook up but then, you started dating Eliška and after you broke up, I decided that it would have been in very poor taste to make a play for you. Anyway, you and I are friends and we’re with the people we’re meant to be with. Bring her to the wedding.”
Madeline glanced at her watch. “Oh, I’ve got to run or I’ll be late for my hair appointment. It was great seeing you, Markus. One of these days, I’d like us to do lunch.” She reached up and kissed him on the cheek. “Goodbye.”
“Goodbye.” He watched her scuttle off and then, turned and continued walking in the opposite direction. His brow was knitted as he thought about Madeline’s invitation to the wedding. He wished he could take Elna but he couldn’t. How would it look, him, a teacher, showing up with a student? How would he explain that? Until she graduated, their relationship had to remain under-wraps. He didn’t want to go without her. Maybe as soon as he got the invitation, he would RSVP and come up with a plausible reason why he couldn’t attend after all.
“Madeline is getting married,” Elvira told Elna.
“That’s great. When’s the wedding?”
“It’s in May. I’m allowed to invite someone so I’m inviting you because you’re my best friend. Would you like to come?”
“Who else is going?”
“Well, aside from our parents, a few aunts and uncles, Bjorn’s family, Madeline’s friends…Eliška is going to be there, of course. She’s the matron of honor. And guess who else is going to be there?”
“Mr. Adelmann. Madeline sent him an invitation. I wonder if he’s going to come alone or bring a date. It would be very interesting to see what happens when he and Eliška see each other again.”
Elna didn’t say anything. Markus was going to be at the wedding. She knew that he couldn’t take her because their relationship was to be kept secret. She wondered what it would be like to spend the entire time pretending that there wasn’t anything between them and what it would be like to see his ex-girlfriend, Eliška in person. It was going to be a very interesting wedding.
“So, would you like to come?” Elvira asked again.
“Yes, of course. Thanks for inviting me.” She wouldn’t miss it for the world.