“Ok, Mom, what gives?” Chelsey asked Ruth.
Ruth stared at her blankly. “What do you mean?”
“You’ve been pacing up and down like a caged animal. I was talking to you but you haven’t heard a word I said. What’s the matter?”
Ruth sat down on the sofa and attempted a smile, as she said, “Nothing’s the matter. I just have a lot on my mind.” That was far from the truth, of course. She had been crying all morning and just before Chelsey came into the room, she had been close to tears. Ever since she had almost ran out of Dushan’s office, she had been an emotional wreck.
He had seemed so cold towards her, not at all the passionate lover she remembered and yearned for. His indifference and obvious displeasure at seeing her pained her greatly. And when he confirmed that he went to Buenos Aires with his “girlfriend”, she had tried to laugh it off. She refused to believe that the woman was anything more than a fling whom he would soon grow tired of.
In a fit of jealousy, she had lashed out at him and accused him of cheating on the new woman in his life once he tired of her. And in desperation, she had offered to be his lover again. Her offer had been promptly and vehemently rejected because he loved this other woman. His declaration had floored her and his words, “For the first time in my life, I’m in love,” pierced her heart. It meant that he had never loved her, Ruth which was why he didn’t leave Evelyn for her.
Even though he didn’t love her or want to be with her, she was still desperately and hopelessly in love with him. She would end her marriage and give up everything just to be with him. She would rather be his lover than to be Gideon’s wife. There were times when she wished she hadn’t married Gideon. She could have tried to raise Chelsey on her own and then, when she was old enough, she would go away to university. Then, she, Ruth would be free to see and be with Dushan as often as she pleased. Perhaps, she could even have persuaded him to move into the manor. Yes, if she hadn’t married Gideon, Dushan wouldn’t have ended their relationship and he wouldn’t be with this other woman…
“Mom!” Chelsey’s irritated voice startled her. “There you go again not listening to a word I’ve been saying.”
“I’m sorry. What were you saying?”
“I was telling you about Yiddish film director Zelda Altermann. She’s going to be in London on February 4.”
“Is she?” Ruth feigned interest. She didn’t want Chelsey to ask her any more probing questions but she wished she would go away and leave her alone.
“Yes. She’s coming to promote her new film. I read about it in The Era. She was in Buenos Aires when she was interviewed about it. I don’t usually like reading interviews. I find them boring but this one was really good. I think it was because of the writer–she made it very interesting. Gideon told me that she’s one of the magazine’s best writers. She has a funny name—it begins with a C.” For a moment, Chelsey racked her brains, trying to remember what it was.
Ruth tried to hide her annoyance. “It really doesn’t matter what her name is–“
“Chioma!” Chelsey cried. “That’s it.”
Ruth stared at her. “Chioma?”
“Yes. She’s Nigerian, I think.”
“So, this writer for The Era was in Buenos Aires?”
“Yes. She went there to interview Zelda Altermann.”
“Do we have a copy of the issue with the interview?”
“Yes, we do.” Chelsey got up and went over to the coffee table where there was a stack of magazines. She found The Era and took it over to her mother. Ruth took it from her and flipped through the pages until she found what she was looking for. “Are you going to read that now?” Chelsey asked her.
“Yes,” Ruth informed her with a feigned smile.
“All right. I’m going up to my room and will stay there until it’s time for dinner.” She grabbed her handbag and left the room.
As soon as she was gone, Ruth stared at the article’s heading and then at the name of its writer. Chioma Lawal. The name seemed to jump off the page. Now, she knew who her rival was. She was a staff writer at The Era and a Nigerian.
The magazine sat on her lap. She wasn’t at all interested in reading the interview. She was more interested in its writer. When did she and Dushan meet? Where did they meet?
She wondered if there was a picture of this woman knocking about somewhere. Reaching for her cell, she googled The Era. Unfortunately, there weren’t any photos of the staff, just their names and job titles. Disappointed, she tossed both her cell and the magazine aside.
For several minutes, she sat there, her mind whirring. She had to see the woman whom she had grown to hate. The woman who stood between Dushan and her.