3: Heather

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Heather took the week's food shopping out from the grocery bags, and placed each item carefully into their respective homes in their pantry. She had everything in its right place, everything just so. Everything designed to be right. 

"Mom, can I go over to Jimmy's house after lunch?" 

Heather turned around to see Sebastian standing at the doorway. Her son had gone through a bit of a growth spurt over the last few weeks, and it almost gave her a glimpse of how he'd slowly become a man. For now, thankfully, he was a happy little seven-year-old. 

"Of course, honey. Will I drive you over to his place?" 

"No, that's okay," Sebastian said. "His mom offered to pick me up already. They're at the shopping mall right now, so he said she'd be over in about 20 minutes." 

Heather didn't like Jimmy's mother, Olivia, very much. She couldn't lose her grip of the bitterness she felt towards her when they were younger, because Olivia was still as much of a gossip as she had been in high school. She was always dying to get the juiciest tidbit of dirt on any other girl in school, just so she'd get the attention of the masses to listen to her every sordid detail. Olivia hardly hit the fact that she lost her virginity to the gym teacher, yet she acted like a saint nonetheless, and Heather had seen through her for years. 

Thinking about Olivia made her uneasy, but she couldn't deny that Jimmy and Sebastian were wonderful friends since kindergarten. Heather would feign a smile for Olivia at each birthday party, playdate, or when she'd collect Jimmy from the boy scout trips. 

Feigning smiles had become a more common chore, lately.

"Hey doll," Andrew, her husband, chimed, giving her a peck on the cheek as he made his way towards the coffee machine. "I haven't forgotten our date night later. Will I book us a table at the Kingston Arms later on?" 

"Yeah, sure." 

Andrew glanced over at Heather as he turned on the machine. 

"Everything okay?" 

"Yeah, sure," she replied, unaware she had repeated herself. "Just got a lot to do today." 

As Sebastian ran back to his room, Andrew walked up behind Heather and wrapped his arms around her waist, cuddling her. 

"You sure? You worried about my dad staying with us?" 

"Not exactly," Heather replied, "but I guess it's just one more thing to throw into the mix, right now. Seb is on his summer break from school, you're busier than usual at work, and now I have to play nice with your dad on top of everything else." 

Andrew leaned back a little, surprised. "'play nice'? We've been married eight years, baby. I think you shouldn't have to pretend to be anything other than yourself, by now." 

"No, of course," she softened. "I just mean that I'm gonna be in 'hostess mode' while he's here." 

"Stop, babe. He's just my dad, not the King of England." 

"The King of England probably wouldn't be as hard to read... if they actually had a king, over there." 

Andrew kissed Heather on the back of her neck before going back to the coffee machine, now ready to pour the first of many cups for the day. 

"Seriously, relax. You don't need to entertain him. Anyway, he'll probably go downtown and hit the gym later, and it's just while the renovations take place." 

"That's a fair point. What time will you be home?" 

"I just need to tie up a few loose ends," Andrew replied, stirring a spoonful of sugar into his freshly brewed black coffee. "I'll be back to freshen up by six, and we can grab an Uber by seven at the latest. That sound okay?" 

"Yeah, that'll be nice. Kingston Arms always has a good menu." 

It wasn't until Sebastian got collected by Olivia and Jimmy, and Andrew went to work, that Heather heard footsteps upstairs. By then, she had drunk half of the coffee that Andrew brewed, washed the dishes after Sebastian's breakfast, and checked her work emails. The only thing she hadn't done was change out of her bedclothes, but she didn't care about that just yet. She had enough on her mind. 

Soon, the footsteps moved from the guest bedroom, slowly, towards the staircase, into the living room, until Victor stood in the doorway of the kitchen. He was wearing only his pyjama bottoms, showing off his mature, but toned, physique. At 55, he was still a regular at the local gym, and had trained most of the personal trainers there, before retiring. Now, he had a bit more time to work on his other interests. 

"Good morning." 

"Good morning, Victor." 

"Has he gone yet?" 

"Yes. Jimmy as well." 

"Good," Victor replied, walking towards the dinner table. 

Heather could already feel her heart beating hard in her chest. 

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