Story Eleven: THE BIG CRUISE PART TWO OF THREE
Both Richard and Amanda were thrilled when they were being escorted into their “surprise” upgraded suite. It was decked out with bridal floral arrangements, a bottle of champagne, a box of truffles and a basket of exotic fruits. The main highlight was the bed and bathroom. They were both decorated with scented candles and plenty of rose petals that formed the shape of a heart. They thanked Sandra and Adrian, their Personal Butler, profusely. As Sandra was walking away from their suite, she could still hear Amanda squealing with delight.
“If they are this excited now, wait till they see what’s in store for them at the evening turndown service!” Adrian remarked as he and Sandra walked towards the stairs to Deck 9. That would be one very happy couple checked off from her list, Sandra thought.
Inside the Queen Anne suite, the euphoria continued but Richard feared that his new wife might misunderstand. So, he tried to explain, “I did not plan for any of this. In fact, I only booked us a normal suite and arranged for a bouquet of lilies. I hope you know that I am just NOT capable of being romantic at THIS KIND OF LEVEL. This is HUGE – way beyond my league. You do know that I had a lot of help with that airport flash mob thing - mostly from both of our sisters. I could not have done it alone. You know what a really simple guy I am, right?”
Amanda laughed and cuddled the husband of her dreams, “Oh, you are safe! I know just exactly what level of romantic you ARE capable of. Don’t ever forget that I’ve known you for over 9 years. I haven’t forgotten who you really are just because we’re married now.” She pulled him closer to her.
“Well, I certainly hope so because I would be deeply distraught if the day ever came that we can’t be completely honest with each other. I don’t want to hide anything from you and I wish for you to do the same.” Richard spoke seriously.
Amanda looked at Richard and said gently, “I know you have been very concerned that our friendship will change after we’re married. It’s going to be fine, my dear husband. We will be fine.”
“More than anything else, I worry that the way we communicate with one another could change in the course of our marriage. And I would hate that, because you’re my very dearest darling friend. Who would I be able to talk to about anything at all, if not you? Who could I share all my darkest secrets with, if not you? No one understands me like you, and I don’t want that to ever change. You’re the root of my life.” Richard said solemnly.
The newly weds held each other tightly as if to dispel any remaining fears and doubts.
“I can’t promise you that I’m going to be perfectly understanding at all times, or that I would be able to take on everything without losing it. But what I can promise you is this – I will not let you go into the battlefields of life alone. I will not abandon you even when I am pushed to renouncing myself. Above all, I will still love you and care for you even when we are forced to fight on opposing views. This is my vow to you.” Amanda smiled, as she held Richard’s face to hers.
Richard buried his head in the warmth of Amanda’s embrace. It was the assurance he needed to hear again. Amanda had always been and will always be his everything.
Amanda added, “You, my darling, will not be able to get rid of me even if you try.”
Richard looked up with joy, “That’s exactly what I have been waiting to hear!”
They laughed and kissed ever so tenderly - completely obviously to the little drama unfolding beyond their suite. They were completely enamored in their own bliss.
In the hallway, Jeremy approached Sandra and reported that Mr. William Tent seemed worse for wear. Mr. Tent had put up the “DND” sign from the minute he walked into his suite, and had only asked for more ice to be delivered. Sandra decided to leave Mr. Tent alone for the moment, and proceeded in the direction of the Stamp sisters’ duplex apartments. She had a long list of guests to get through before she would be mentally equipped to tackle an emotionally decrepit male.
Nestled in the Balmoral Grand Duplex, William Tent got up to close all the curtains in the room so that not a shred of light could invade. Darkness was his only companion, coupled with the bottles of whisky laid out neatly on the bar counter. He knew that he could no longer attribute the failure of all the relationships he has ever had with women, especially his ex-wife, to entirely being the woman’s fault.
In the past, it was convenient and even comforting to consign the blame on the women in his life – from his mother who held an influential role in molding him to the man he is today, to the girlfriends in between, then onto the wife he had married for over 11 years, and finally, to the three girlfriends after his divorce. The only ones spared from responsibility were his ladies of one-night dalliances. They did not count at all, for none of them had the power to hurt him in any way. However, his ex-wife and ex-girlfriends could. And to him, they atrociously did - at least it was established as so inside the labyrinth of his mind.
All the three relationships he has had after his divorce began with such promise and passion, but quickly disintegrated into an ugly break-up. None of them lasted for more than 2 months. William Tent had been so talented in holding the women accountable for the mess in his life that it became an effortless habit. Sitting in the dark, he had no choice but to take a long harsh look at himself for a change.
After the curtains were drawn and the leading ladies have long forsaken the stage, William’s layers of self-deceit would finally shed like autumn leaves. There was no one else left by his side that he could pass on the culpability to. He was singularly alone at last. The time was ripe for him to face himself, without prejudice or the need for justification.
THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK: "LIFE IS A JOURNEY - A SYMPHONY OF SHORT STORIES".
THE BOOK IS BEING PUBLISHED AS WE SPEAK, BOTH IN HARD COPY AND E-FORMAT.
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