Marie didn’t know where to turn. She needed a moment. A moment to console herself. The guests kept coming over, laying a gentle hand here, few kind words there. But it was all fodder to her. So what she was wearing black? So what she looked completely devastated? So what she was a widow at 51 and completely alone? She eyed the house for an exit. Any more words of condolences and she was going to burst into tears, and they weren’t exactly going to be for Drew, were they? She hadn’t ever learnt to love Drew. Not before the wedding, nor afterwards. Nor any of the thousand times he tried to woo her. And her interest in him had completely fizzled once the doctor told them the reason they were having difficulty conceiving was because drab old Drew was also sterile.
‘Excuse me.’ She managed to sound distraught enough so that she could walk away from the huddle of ladies.
Out in the open garden she could finally breath. A sigh of relief really. She didn’t have to pretend with the Gregors that she even cared for Drew. The whole family knew their marriage had died a long long time ago. Drew had even been ready for divorce but Marie wouldn’t have it. After all, years of her youth sacrificed wasn’t just so she could get divorced at 35 and go back to being dependent on herself for income. No, she deserved better. A good chunk of the Gregor fortune in fact.
‘Are you okay, Marie?’
She startled somewhat and turned around to face Bill. ‘And you?’
Bill shrugged. ‘No body really expected him to live as long as he did.’
Marie nodded. One thing every Gregor family member knew about her late husband, Drew, but the public hadn’t the slightest idea was that Drew was an alcoholic. His liver had died way before he did.
‘You’re going to be okay going back home alone?’
Marie debated whether to tell the truth, yes, or reply no. Perhaps what she hadn’t been able to do all those years ago, she’d be able to do now. After all, she was still in her finest shape, whereas Bill’s wife had let things slide enormously. ‘I don’t know… The house gets so quite, I almost feel like I’m the last one left on Earth.’
‘Why don’t you stay with Erika and myself for a couple of days? It’ll be a change for you, and you’ll have company?’
Marie smiled, a smile she hoped conveyed how grateful she was for his offer. ‘That would be a God send.’
Bill nodded and extended his arm towards her. Marie gladly took it, weaving her arm through his. ‘What would I do without you, Bill?’
‘Probably run away from this whole lot and wonder whatever happened to that vivacious young woman who bounced through our house way early for a party.’
Marie laughed. ‘Ah yes. Perhaps my mistake.’
Bill escorted her into the huddle of mourners and sympathizes. ‘I would have introduced you to Drew either way. In fact, it was the very reason I’d asked you to one of our drab parties.’
Marie felt her checks flush with heat. ‘What do you mean?’
Bill smiled down at her. ‘Drew saw you with me once and asked who you were, so I had promised I’d introduce you to him.’ He waved at a passerby who clasped his hand in a show of condolence. ‘And the rest is history.’
Marie could feel the anger boil inside her. How dare he? How dare he?
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