3. The Guest

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Sally looked at the clock. 5 more minutes until he arrives. 5 minutes to lose herself in thought. She put her whole heart to cleaning up last night’s mess, and cooking, and looking after Amy that afternoon so that she didn't have time to think about her feelings properly. She was dressed in a new creamy dress that was light and ruffled just as she liked them. Her skirt spread out all around her, and it did make her feel just a little bit beautiful. She had done her honey-brown hair up in a large bun at the side of her head, just by her left ear. She put her pearls on and even put a little lipstick on. She knew Michael wouldn't notice her efforts, but maybe, just maybe Jack would notice.

The truth was- Jack was all she thought about since the day she met him. His firm and assertive gaze that followed here wherever she went, his strong, steady posture. His soft warm voice and the kind words he spoke to here. Thinking about him sent a nervous jolt through Sally’s stomach. The idea of him was too exciting and horrific to think of. She couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was about Jack that made her soppy like a schoolgirl. The best solution she came up with was that he seemed to care about her. That’s all it took. She felt pathetic admitting that. She didn’t know if he would have her though, with her extensive luggage that included a husband and a child. She still wasn’t sure if she’d have him! She had to do the right thing for Amy. And surely, that was keeping her family. Stick together. Sally froze on the spot, looking out of her kitchen window. NO. Fuck Michael. Fuck everything. What has he done to deserve her or Amy? Sally compared the two men: Michael and the façade of her supposedly comfortable life, or Jack, the glimmer of a faint flame of hope. Surely she wasn’t considering leaving Michael, leaving her life, for the fantasy of a man she met only just last night. And yet, whilst maybe not taking the idea seriously, she certainly mused over it and made up hypothetical situations that made her blush. Hypothetical, hypethetical, Sally thought. Her whole stability was hanging on a few loose strings at the moment; Michael was worse than ever, and Sally’s head and heart were miles away. That could not go on, Sally schooled herself. And yet even as she was thinking this another feeling of tense excitement came over here. He was going to be here, in her own house, tonight.

The doorbell rang.

“ I’ll get it!” She shouted just about managing to sound calm. Hysteria rushed over her. Her hands were shaking as she walked through the kitchen. She clenched them and told herself not to be stupid. This was just a dinner party. She put on her nicest smile as she walked over to the door, trying not to think of anything. She opened the door and as soon as she saw the manly jacket that couldn’t possibly belong to Mrs. Moor she stared at the ground. She knew it was him. She couldn’t bear to see him, the life changing, ground-shaking him.

“Hello.” Came a quiet greeting.

Sally could feel herself blushing nervously, yet at the same time, felt much more at peace with herself than she had all day.

“Hello.” She eventually answered even quieter, smiling politely at the floor. She couldn’t look up and cursed herself over this. This was no way to be a good host, or a good seductress.

Jack held out a bouquet of flowers.

“For the lady of the house” he said in a grave voice. Sally plucked up the courage to finally look up, and she looked straight into his eyes.

“Thank You.”

He passed her the flowers, and as she held her hands out to accept them their hands met. Jack quickly drew his hand away, but Sally found herself sub-consciously reaching for Jack’s hand and placing it on her cheek. As she realised what she was doing she quickly let go of Jack’s hand and looked up at Jack, bewildered. To her surprise and relief he didn’t take his hand off, but stroked her cheek gently with his thumb. Sally closed her eyes to savour the moment.

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