We're sitting in the sun at a little cafe. At the counter as we were collecting our coffees the server went to great pains to draw layered hearts in the cream, as if we were together. I frowned and Caleb ignored the whole thing but tipped heavily, like he always does. The server was confused and busied himself with the next round of orders, not bothering to try and sort it out. I sit down, draw a jagged line through the heart with a wooden stirrer, and Caleb breaks out in a short laugh.
I need the plane.
I haven't renewed the lease, Bridget. I thought you would remember that when you saw us booking business class. The plane is currently in reserve to someone else. I no longer travel nearly as much as I once did.
Fine, I'll book something myself.
You're not going to New York.
You just finished saying everyone over forty is a grownup here so you don't get to forbid a damned thing.
You don't count.
Wow. If Ben were here you'd be happy to book on my behalf.
Bridget, what is the best way to gain or keep power?
Divide and conquer.
How am I doing?
I turn to watch the boats struggle against the wind in the water. I don't answer him. I could tell him maybe he is responsible but he would deny it. I could tell him to leave all of us alone but he wouldn't. I could lavish praise on him for his evilness but he would doubt my conviction so I use silence instead, the only thing from me that he can't understand one bit.
I want you to remember something, Bridget. Out of all the men you've ever loved, I'm the only one who has never tried to push you away on purpose. The only one. My proposals are for your benefit as well as mine. No more worry, drama or doubt. We work well together. We'd be happy. You would never have to work a day in your life ever again.
I consider this as I sip my broken-hearted, overpriced coffee and I smile to myself when I catch him.
Who said I ever loved you?
You did once.
Was there a loaded gun pointed at my head?
No, actually. He says it softly. He can't steer the whole conversation anymore and I can see the fire leaving his eyes. He picks up his cup and takes a sip while he surveys the people around us. You don't remember, do you?
That's okay. It's probably a good thing.
You were loaded, not the weapon.
I watch him as he continues to evade meeting my eyes. Does it count if I'm loaded?
I hope so, Bridget. It's one of the few things that keeps me in line when I want to go very far afield with you.