“Isn’t that Boris, Cate’s fiance?” Mrs. Courtenay asked her husband, Phillip as they waited to be seated.
“Yes, I believe it is.”
“Then, what is he doing with that girl?”
“Perhaps they are just friends, Hyacinth.”
“I doubt that very much.”
“Let’s not jump to any conclusions.”
They were escorted to their table. On the way, they had to pass Boris’s table. Mrs. Courtenay stopped and her husband had no choice but to do the same. “Hello, Boris,” she greeted him stiffly.
He stood up. “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Courtenay.”
“Hello, Boris,” Mr. Courtenay replied.
Mrs. Courtenay eyes shifted to Tulia for a moment and then back to Boris. “Is Cate here with you?”
“No, Mrs. Courtenay, she isn’t. I’m here with my friend and neighbor, Tulia.”
“Is your friend aware that you’re engaged to my niece?” Mrs. Courtenay asked haughtily.
“Yes, Tulia is aware that I was engaged to Cate.”
“Was engaged?” Mr. Courtenay exclaimed, looking puzzled.
“Cate broke off our engagement.”
At first, Mrs. Courtenay seemed at a loss for words. Then, she demanded, glaring first at Tulia and then at Boris, “Is this girl the reason why Cate broke off the engagement?”
“No, Mrs. Courtenay, Tulia isn’t the reason. I suggest that you ask your niece why she broke off our engagement.”
“Believe me, I will,” she declared before walking off in a huff.
Mr. Courtenay apologetically excused himself and followed her.
Boris bristled as he sat down. “Insufferable woman,” he muttered tightly. “I’m supposed to be the injured party but she’s making me out to be the villain.”
Tulia covered his hand with hers. “Don’t let her get to you.”
“I can’t believe that Cate broke off their engagement,” Mr. Courtenay remarked as he sat down after seating his wife.
His wife’s lips compressed. “I didn’t believe a word Boris said,” she huffed. “I believe that what really happened is Cate found out that he was two-timing her with that girl and called off the engagement. Look at him flaunting his affair in public. Cate did the right thing, in my opinion. There are other far better and more suitable young men out there for her.”
“But, Hyacinth, he said that the girl and he are friends and neighbors–“
“Oh, Phillip, don’t be so daft. He could say whatever he likes but I know better.”
“Why don’t we do what he suggested and ask Cate.”
“Oh, I plan on asking Cate, all right and I’m sure she will only confirm my suspicions. Men.” She shook her head in disgust as she opened the menu.
“I hope I don’t run into any more of Cate’s relatives,” Boris said as he paid the bill.
Tulia smiled. “I think you handled yourself very well.”
“You have no idea how hard it was for me to remain polite to her, especially when she was so rude to you.”
Tulia shrugged. “It didn’t really bother me.”
“She tried to blame you for the broken engagement.”
“She saw us having dinner together and assumed that I’m the reason why Cate broke off your engagement.”
“Well, she can assume whatever she pleases. I really don’t give a damn. Let’s not talk anymore about Cate and her wretched family. Let’s just enjoy the rest of the evening. It’s six-thirty and the show doesn’t begin until 7:30. We have time to go for a drive before heading to the theatre.” He got up and walked around to hold her chair as she stood up and help her on with her jacket.
Mrs. Courtenay watched them go. She shook her head and clucked. “They’re leaving.”
“Who’s leaving?” Mr. Courtenay inquired, not taking his eyes off his plate.
“Boris and that girl.”
“Hyacinth, I think you were rude to the girl.”
“I was offended by her. She’s responsible for Cate’s unhappiness.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I know Cate and she wouldn’t break off her engagement unless she had a very good reason to do so. A cheating fiance would definitely qualify.”
“Before we try and convict Boris and the girl, we should speak to Cate.”
“This evening I will call Cate and invite her to come over to our house tomorrow. And you’ll see that I’m right about Boris and that girl.”
Mr. Courtenay didn’t answer. What was the use?
Boris and Tulia left the restaurant and stepped outside into the sunlight. They walked to the car and soon they were heading outside of London.
“I’ve never been to the Harold Pinter Theatre before,” Tulia said as they walked along the pathway overlooking the beach.
“Nor have I but I’ve seen photos of it. It looks grand.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing the play, Good because David Tennant is playing the lead role. He’s my favorite Doctor Who.”
“To be quite honest, I’ve never been a fan of Doctor Who.”
“The new Doctor Who is a woman.”
“Really? That’s good.” They came to a concrete wall. He stopped and leaned back against it with his head turned towards the coastline, the sun in his face.
She joined him and leaning forward, she remarked, “What a beautiful place.”
“Yes, it is,” he agreed. “I love coming here especially on balmy days.”
“Have you and Cate ever been here?” she asked.
He leaned against the wall with his back toward the view. “No.”
She was relieved to hear that. Another place where he hadn’t taken Cate. Those were the only places she wanted to go with him. She moved away from the wall and they continued walking as the sun started to set. It was seven-fifteen when they arrived at the theatre.
It was a very good play about a literary professor living in Frankfurt in the 1930s. It explored how seemingly decent people could have their lives and motives drastically altered by Nazi ideology during their regime in the Second World War. Boris took Tulia to the stage door where they met David Tennant and the other members of the cast. Tulia had her photo taken with David and him sign her autograph.
She was beside herself when they walked to the parking lot. “Thank you, Boris,” she said.
He smiled. “You’re welcome.”
On the drive home, they talked non-stop about the play. When they were standing at the steps where she had found him sitting on the day Cate jilted him, she suggested, “Nightcap?”
He said, “Yes, but why don’t we go to my flat this time?”
She stared at him. “Are you sure?”
She followed him to his flat which was opposite hers. He opened the door and held it open for her to enter. She stepped into the foyer as he switched on the light before locking the door. “Go on straight into the living-room while I pour us two glasses of white wine.”
While she was in the living-room, his phone rang. The machine beeped and she stiffened when she heard a woman’s voice say, “Hi, Boris. It’s Cate. Please call me,” followed by a click and then silence. Tulia’s legs gave way and she sank to the floor.
Why was Cate calling him? What did she want? Why did hearing her voice scare her so? Dread filled her. What if Cate was calling him because she decided that she wanted to get back with him–what then? Would Boris take her back? What was she going to do if he did? Leave England and put as much distance as possible between it and her yet, no matter how far she went, she knew that she would be leaving her heart behind because it belonged to him even if he didn’t want it. She closed her eyes in despair. Why did she have to be in love with a man who will never return her love?
Boris walked into the living-room and stopped when he saw Tulia sitting on the floor. “What are you doing there?” he asked. “Why aren’t you sitting on the sofa where it’s more comfortable?”
“Your phone rang.”
“Yes, I heard it. The machine will pick up. Come, let’s sit on the sofa.”
She remained where she was. “It was Cate.”
He looked surprised. “Cate? Why on earth would she be calling me?”
“She–she wants you to call her.”
“She didn’t say.”
He put down the glasses on the coffee table and went over to her. Getting down on his haunches, he asked quietly, “Is the call the reason why you’re here on the floor?”
She nodded. “I guess hearing her voice upset me.”
“But why should it upset you, Tulia?”
“What if she wants to get back with you?”
“That’s hardly likely.”
“But what if she does? Would–would you take her back?”
“Of course not! Why would I?”
“Maybe-maybe because you still love her?” her voice trembled slightly.
“I was in love with Cate but I’m not anymore.”
“No. And you’re partly responsible for that. Your friendship has helped me to get through a really tough time in my life.”
“So, are you going to see her?”
“No. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing more for us to say to each other. Furthermore, I’m going to block her calls.”
Tulia studied his face and she could see that he meant every word he said. Relief washed over her. She got to her feet then. “I’m relieved to hear that.”
He stood up. “Now, let’s drink our wine.”
They relaxed on the sofa, sipping their wine and chatting while smooth jazz played softly in the background. A couple of hours later, before they headed off to the bedroom, he deleted Cate’s message.
Source: London Theatre;