Matthew had been gone a week when Margaret called me late Friday afternoon to ask to come out to the house in Virginia for the weekend.
'Oh, I can't, Margaret, I'm in the middle of these new illustrations and can't leave them. I'll be lucky to meet the deadline as it is.'
'Well, come for the day, then,' Margaret insisted. 'One day can't make that much difference.'
But I was firm. With my marriage most likely in ruins, I'd need my work more than ever. 'No. Not even a day.'
Margaret heaved a deep sigh. 'Oh, very well, have it your way. It beats me how anyone so meek can be so stubborn. Have lunch with me Monday at any rate.'
'All right,' I agreed quickly, glad I had won so easily. 'Stop by the apartment around noon.'
After hung up the telephone, I stood by the hall table deep in thought. What did Margaret mean, saying I was 'meek'? And why was she so insistent on seeing me? Ever Since my marriage to Matthew, Margaret had given up the constant surveillance of her activities and appeared to have gone on to new and greater challenges.
She obviously had something on her mind, and, knowing Margaret, it wouldn't be pleasant.
On Monday, as soon as we had settled ourselves in the sedate old-fashioned restaurant, Margaret came right to the point. Her choice of a place to have lunch, out of the way and quiet, only confirmed my suspicion that she had more on her mind than a casual sisterly meeting.
'I suppose you know,' Margaret began when we had ordered, 'that Lara Jones father is on Matthew's mission to Palestine and that she went with him.'
I hadn't known, and I couldn't hide the look of stunned surprise on my face as I looked into Margaret's probing, narrowed eyes. Then I thought quickly, what difference does it make to me?
'No,' I said, recovering myself, 'I didn't know. Is there some significance to that fact?'
Margaret snorted and leaned back in her chair. 'I wouldn't even trust William with that man-eater,' she announced, 'and no one is safer than William. He doesn't even like blondes.'
I reddened, suddenly angry. 'If you're implying that Matthew and Lara...'
Margaret held up a hand. 'I'm not implying anything,' she cut in. 'I'm only saying you're a fool not to have gone with him. Why tempt fate? Didn't he ask you to go?'
'Well, yes, he did, but I couldn't. I have this new job.'
'Oh, damn your job!' Margaret cried in exasperation. She leaned across the table and lowered her voice to a hiss. 'Your precious job will be cold comfort if you lose your husband over it.'
I forced a weak smile. 'If I should lose my husband, Margaret, I'll need my job more than ever.'
Margaret opened her mouth to deliver a stinging retort when the waiter appeared with our lunch. When he was gone we ate silently for a while. I was glad of the respite, and the chance to mull over Margaret's disturbing news.
Actually, I had nothing to fear from Lara Jones, given the conditions of my marriage to Matthew. I supposed it was quite possible he might have an affair with her, but I wasn't worried about Lara. I could have fought Lara. My real rival was Beth, and I had already resigned myself to the fact that I couldn't compete with a ghostly illusion for Matthew's love.
'Well?' Margaret said at last. 'What are you going to do about it?'
I continued to eat my lunch. 'I'm not going to do anything about it,' I replied calmly between bites. 'I'm not worried about Matthew.'
YOU ARE READING
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