“All set for Christmas?” Ruth asked Ben. They were in the smaller boardroom where they just had a conference call meeting.
“Yes. We’re all set to go fly off to Santorini for a warm Christmas although the weather here has been balmy the last couple of days. Very strange for this time of year.”
“Christmas in Greece should be nice and you’re right about the weather. You can blame it on climate change.”
“What about you? Have you and Gideon decided where you’re going to spend Christmas this year?”
“We’ve decided to spend it right here.”
“Christmas here is always nice. Hopefully, you’ll have a white Christmas.”
“How are things between Chelsey and Gideon?”
“Much improved. They went to the Canaby Festival on Saturday and then for dinner afterwards. I didn’t go with them because I thought it would be nice for them to be alone, get a chance to bond.”
“That’s great. Chelsey has grown into a lovely young lady. Is she dating?”
“Not yet. School has kept her busy. She has one more year and then, it’s off to Oxford.”
“Well, I’m happy that her relationship with Gideon has improved. He’s a good man, Ruth.”
“Yes, he is.”
“Well, I have to run off to another meeting.”
“See you later.”
He got and hurried out of the boardroom. She closed her laptop and stood up. She went over to the window and looked out. It was a beautiful sunny day. She stood there for a few minutes and then, grabbing her laptop, she left the boardroom. She paused to talk to Alice before continuing on to her office.
Going over to her desk, she set the laptop down and checked her messages. There were two. The first was from Gideon asking her if she would like to have lunch with him. The other was from Dushan. Her heart skipped a beat when she heard his voice. Eagerly, she called his number and he answered on the third ring. “Hello, Darling. I’m so sorry I missed you call. Are we still on for lunch?”
“That’s why I called. I’m afraid, something has come up so we won’t be able to have lunch.”
She sat down heavily in the chair, bitterly disappointed. “I’ve been looking forward to seeing you all morning,” she said. They were going to drive to Berkshire and have lunch at The Fat Duck. It was all she could think about since they made plans when they were together at his flat on Saturday.
“I’m sorry, Ruth.”
“So am I. Gideon wants me to have lunch with him.”
“Have lunch with him, then.”
“I’d much rather have lunch with you.”
“I know, but today’s out of the question.”
“When can we have lunch again?”
“I don’t know. I’ll be in touch.”
“Is everything all right?”
“Yes. Why do you ask?”
“Goodbye.” She slowly hung up the receiver and sat there staring at it, crestfallen.
Dushan slipped his cell back into his pocket. He could tell that she was very disappointed that they weren’t going to have lunch but he had to do it. Perhaps, it was his guilty conscience because she was still married even if he wasn’t. His marriage ended in divorce a couple of years ago because of the affair. Evelyn had had enough and so she had filed for the divorce. They parted ways and a year ago, she moved to Cheshire to be close to her family. Perhaps, it was because he had met Chioma. He couldn’t get over how much he had enjoyed interacting with her. The conversation was easy, relaxed and engaging. He looked forward to many more stimulating exchanges.
It was a nice sunny day, very balmy for mid-December. It was his day off from work and he was spending the day in downtown London. He had been to Science Museum for the first time and he especially liked the Our Future Planet and Ancient Greeks: Science and Wisdom exhibits. He wondered if Chioma would have seen them. They seemed like the sort of stuff that she would like too. These sorts of things wouldn’t interest Ruth. He couldn’t imagine her visiting a museum like this and that was fine. They had different tastes and interests. However, he got the feeling that he had more in common with Chioma.
He took out his cell and the business card she had given him. After meeting her yesterday, he had found copies of The Era and went through them and sure enough, there were articles written by her. He reread them. They were excellent, thought-provoking pieces and he looked forward to reading more of them.
He dialed her number. She answered on the second ring. “Hello, Dushan.”
“Hello, Chioma. I didn’t think that I would get you. I was expecting to leave a message.”
“Actually, you caught me at a good time. I just came back from lunch and was checking my emails when you called.”
“I’m sitting outside of the Science Museum. Have you ever been here before?”
“Yes. Twice. The first time was when I was on a school trip and the second time was last year. It’s one of my favorite museums. They have really great exhibits. I’ve seen most of them. Which ones have you seen so far?”
He mentioned the four he had seen and the two which he had liked the best. “Which ones have you seen?”
“The same ones you mentioned as well as Amazônia. I also visited The Winton Gallery because I was curious to see how how mathematics connects to every aspect of our lives. It was very fascinating. I also visited the The Making the Modern World gallery and saw the Watson’s DNA model, the first Apple computer and other thought-provoking objects.”
“Perhaps you can tell me about those other objects and what else you’ve seen at the museum over lunch or dinner.”
“Well, I’m free for dinner tomorrow evening.”
They arranged when and where they would meet, chatted for a while longer and then ended the conversation. He remained sitting on the steps in front of the museum for a while longer, just enjoying the sunshine. He was really looking forward to seeing Chioma again.
And as far as Ruth was concerned, he would have to arrange to meet her somewhere and break the news to her that he wanted to end their affair. He sighed. It was going to be very unpleasant. He would wait and do it on Boxing Day because he didn’t want to ruin her Christmas.
Sources: England Explore; Science Museum