Natalie’s Phone Message

Gina was in the bedroom about to remove her shoes when the phone rang. She didn’t feel like answering it so she let the machine pick. She pulled over her shoes and wriggled her toes. That felt good.

“Hi Gina, it’s Natalie. I was at Yorkdale today, shopping for a birthday present for my mother. I ran into Matt and we had a nice chat. I apologized for not inviting him to my wedding and explained that it would have been awkward but he was very understanding. Anyway, after he and I parted ways, I was walking through the mall when I spotted Tanner and Melania. They were sitting in front of a store, I can’t remember which one and they appeared to be in a very deep conversation. They didn’t see me. I had no idea that they even knew each other. I’m sorry now that I didn’t go over and say hello. Anyway, call me. ‘Bye.” She barely finished before she got cut off.

Gina sat there. Tanner and Melania knew each other? That was very interesting. She stood up and undressed. After changing into a sweater and jeans, she went to get Cam’s dinner ready. They ate together at the table as usual and talked. Afterwards, she had him watch a bit of television while she cleaned up. At eight, she told him to go upstairs and get ready for bed. When she had read him a bedtime story, kissed him on the forehead and turned out the light, she went downstairs to the living-room. The television was on but she reached for the phone and called Natalie.

Her cousin answered on the third ring. “Hello, Gina.”

“Hello, Natalie. I got your message.”

“I’m very annoyed with Tanner for not telling me that he knew Melania.”

“Maybe, he doesn’t know her. Maybe when you saw them at the mall, it was the first time they were meeting.”

“No, I don’t think so. They looked and acted like they knew each other which makes me wonder why he never mentioned that to me. Hmm.”

“I wonder if Matt knows.”

“How would he know?”

“Maybe Melania said something to him.”

“Maybe she did. I don’t know but I wish Tanner had said something to me or to at least to Graham. They’re cousins, for Pete’s sake.”

“What does it matter if he and Melania know each other?”

“Doesn’t it bother you?”

“Why should it?”

“I saw you and him together at the wedding.”

“So?”

“He asked me for your address so I presumed that he was interested in pursuing a relationship with you.”

“Natalie, I really don’t appreciate you giving out my address.”

“Tanner asked for it and I saw no harm in giving it to him. He isn’t a stranger and I saw the two of you talking and dancing at the wedding.”

“We weren’t talking. He was hitting on me and we only danced once.”

“Is he the reason why you left the reception so early?”

“No, but I was glad to be rid of him.”

“Oh, Gina. You’re so hard on Tanner. He’s a terrific guy. If I weren’t crazy in love with Graham, I would go for Tanner myself. But, it looks like he’s got his eye on you which makes it confusing for me that he was with Melania. Maybe, they’re just old friends.”

“Maybe.” Gina was going to find out. First, she had to make sure that there was something fishy going on between Tanner and Melania and if there was, she was going to let Matt know. She wasn’t doing it to hurt or spite him but to expose that little hussy he had divorced her for. She couldn’t imagine that a man like Tanner would be attracted to Melania let alone be in a relationship with her but who knows. Maybe Melania threw herself at him as she did with Matt. Gina’s mouth tightened. How she loathed that girl.

And what about Tanner. Every time she saw him, he always hit on her. Was he hitting on Melania too? As much as she disliked him, she couldn’t deny that he was a very attractive man who got her pulse racing, especially when he had told her that he wasn’t boring in bed. And when he had kissed her hand, she felt something burning in the pit of her stomach. Still, if he were the last man on earth, she wouldn’t date him.

“Gina, are you still there?” Natalie’s voice interrupted her thoughts.

“Yes, I’m still here.”

“I was asking you what you think I should do.”

“Don’t do anything.”

“What about asking Tanner about Melania?”

“Don’t ask him anything, Natalie. He might not appreciate you poking your nose in his business.”

“Why should he mind if he has nothing to hide?”

“Take my advise and don’t ask him anything.”

“Fine.” She sounded annoyed. “It’s getting late. I have to go.” Now, she wished she hadn’t said anything to Gina and had gone over to say hello to Tanner and Melania. She would have found out what she wanted know then.

“All right. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

Gina hung up the receiver and sat there for a long while, thinking.

Natalie stood there, fuming. Why had she bothered to call Gina and tell her anything? Why didn’t she just call Tanner and ask him what he was doing at the mall with Melania? It didn’t seem to her like they had just met. It seemed to her like they knew each other. They were in a deep conversation. What were they talking about? Oh, why didn’t she go over and say hello?

She was tempted to pick up the phone and call Tanner but she resisted although it was really tough. She was really annoyed with him. Why didn’t he ever mention that he knew Melania? How long had they known each other? When and where did they meet? Could it have been here in Canada or in the United States? Like Graham, Tanner was American. He was born and grew up in New Jersey before he moved to New York where he went to Columbia University. Then, he recently moved to Toronto.

Did he and Melania meet in New Jersey or in New York or did they meet here in Toronto? Were they friends or more than friends? There must be a substantial age difference between them. Tanner was forty-one and Melania was in her twenties. If they met in the US, she would have had to be in her teens and why would a grown man like Tanner be involved with a teenage girl? No, they must have met here in Toronto.

This was extremely frustrating. She was dying to find out how they knew each other and why neither she nor Graham knew about it. She hoped that Gina would find out something and tell her. And she hoped that Gina would give Tanner a chance. He was by far a better catch than Matt ever was, although Matt was a really sweet guy. There were times, though, when women didn’t want sweet guys, they wanted the sexy and exciting ones. And Tanner was sexy and exciting. So was Graham, thank goodness or she wouldn’t have married him.

Speaking of Graham, he was probably in bed wondering what was keeping her. Smiling, she switched off the light in the living-room and made her way to the staircase. As she climbed the stairs, she unbuttoned her shirt.

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