Stuart Kinemann, the Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award winning author of the non-fiction book, The Sugar Scandal was in desperate need of a secretary. His current one, Sophie was getting married in a fortnight and moving to Queensland, her soon to be husband’s home state. He stood at the window, looking out at the flickering lights in the distance. “Where on earth am I going to find someone as qualified as Sophie?” he wondered aloud.
“Why don’t you hire your Shandra?” his long-time, live-in girlfriend, Natalia asked him, sarcastically, spilling a little of the wine as she walked unsteadily over to the chair beside the fireplace and sank rather unceremoniously onto it.
Grimacing, he turned around and faced her. “Shandra already has a job,” he informed her tightly.
She had taken to drinking heavily after her friend, Lulu told her that she had seen him several times with a young African American woman and based on the description, she knew it had to be Shandra. When she confronted him about it, he didn’t deny that he had been with her but he denied that there was any hanky-panky between them. She didn’t believe him. “I’m sure she’ll quit her job just for a chance to work with you. Maybe she has the qualifications you’re looking for. Maybe, just maybe, she’s capable of doing other things besides sleeping with other women’s boyfriends.”
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough to drink?”
“What do you care?” she demanded.
“Getting drunk is very unbecoming of you, Natalia.”
“It’s your fault that I’m drinking like this. If you want me to stop, end your affair.”
“Fine. If you want to drink yourself to death, be my guest.” He didn’t mean that, of course, but he was tired of denying that there was an affair between Shandra and him. Natalia’s constant jealousy and accusations were beginning to wear him down. This wasn’t the first time she had accused him of cheating on him.
Last year, she accused him of flirting with Melody Adams who was the one of the actresses featured in the movie adaptation of The Sugar Scandal. Melody had to set the record straight. Then, a few months ago, she saw him talking to Jacqui, a fellow author and flew into a jealous rage. He literally had to drag her away before she and Jacqui came to blows. And this evening when they were at the Morlands’ dinner party, she hardly said a word to anyone and he had to insist that she didn’t have anything strong to drink. She was resentful but the expression on his face brook no argument. So, she had to made do with mock-tails.
It was getting to be embarrassing for him, especially when the news of Natalia’s behavior appeared on social media because of his fame. He had no idea what had happened to turn her into the insecure and jealous woman she had become. Since they been together, he had never ever given her reason to doubt his love and fidelity to her.
“Maybe she’s like this because you two have been together for seven years and you still haven’t asked her to marry you,” his brother, Jim surmised. “Maybe marrying her will solve your problems.”
“I don’t want to get married right now, Jim. I’m fine with the relationship the way it is. We’re living together like most married couples. The only difference is that we aren’t married.”
“Are you going to continue living common-law indefinitely?”
“For now, that’s how I want it to be, Jim. I’m not going to be pressured or bullied into getting married.”
“All right. It’s your life but if I were you, I would not have attractive female friends like Shandra.”
Granted, Shandra was very attractive but his relationship with her was strictly platonic. He wasn’t a cheater and she would never hit on him because of Natalia.
Natalia stared at him. “How can you be so cruel?”
“I don’t mean to be cruel, Natalia but I’m fed up with your accusations. I don’t know how many different ways I can tell that I’m not cheating on you with Shandra or anyone else.”
“I don’t believe you,” she retorted before taking a swig of the wine.
“Fine. Don’t believe me then.”
He moved away from the window.
“Where are you going?”
“For some fresh air.”
“Liar. You’re going to see her.”
He didn’t answer. He strode out of the living-room, slamming the door hard behind him, making her jump.
Natalia took a sip of the wine before she threw the glass against the fireplace, smashing it.