The sound of male laughter rang in the air as Martin watched his girlfriend sit on her suitcase to close it. He laughed so hard that he lost his balance and ran into the stand table adjacent to the bed.
“Have you ever considered packing less stuff,” he giggled. “Wouldn’t that be easier? I mean, we are only going for the weekend.”
“Probably, but I never know what I want to wear,” Sheena returned. “So I have to take a variety of things.” She smiled at her live-in boyfriend of five years. She was almost certain this was the weekend he was finally going to pop the question she’d been waiting to answer since she fell in love with him.
“We’d better hurry. We’ll miss our flight,” Martin said. He picked up the bags and headed out the door.
“You called the restaurant and everything is okay, right?” Sheena didn’t like leaving their business without at least one of them there.
“Everything will be fine, honey. I put Melanie in charge. She knows the way we like things done.”
As much as Sheena disliked Melanie, she knew Martin was right. She was as much a perfectionist as the two of them. Still, the economy had done a number on their business of late. Sheena worried they might not be able to keep the doors open if things didn’t turn around soon.
The flight to Sheena’s parents’ house was a short one. They arrived on time and rushed in to kiss and hug everyone in attendance. Sheena could smell her mother’s pot roast cooking in the oven.
Dinner went well with the whole family talking over one another to share the happenings in their lives. Sheena’s sister, Barbie, was set to graduate college in one month. Her brother, Tony, and his wife were going to have a baby. All the happy news made Sheena wish she had some of her own to share.
Sheena reached over and squeezed Martin’s hand lovingly. She was surprised when he looked away suddenly. It was as if he could read her mind but wanted nothing to do with her thoughts.
Once dinner was over, everyone scrambled. Sheena asked Martin to take a walk with her. They held hands and enjoyed the brisk fall air. When they were done, they sat on the front porch swing. Martin reached to brush a strand of red hair from his girlfriend’s face. Then he looked deep into her green eyes.
“We need to talk,” he said, looking serious.
“Here it comes,” Sheena thought to herself. “He’s finally going to ask me to marry him.”
“It’s about the restaurant,” he sighed.
Sheena’s heart fell. She had a difficult time masking her disappointment.
“What about it?” The words plunged from her mouth in a strange monotone way. She hoped Martin wasn’t able to gauge her mood.
“The books are a little worse than I let on,” Martin mumbled. “Actually, they are a lot worse than I let on. We only have a couple of months to turn things around or we’ll have to close,” he finished.
Sheena looked at him with shock and anger. It was then she suspected he still had more to say. Her stomach began to churn.
“You may not want to continue anyway,” Martin purposely avoided Sheena’s eyes. “I’m leaving you.”
Sheena’s heart skipped a beat. His words made no sense. He’d given her no indication they were having problems. Just the night before, they’d made passionate love and he’d declared his undying love.
“Whaaa…? ” Sheena found the words just wouldn’t come out.
“It’s Melanie, Sheena. She’s pregnant with my baby. I have to marry her and take care of them. It’s the right thing to do.”
“The right thing to do?” Sheena spit the words out of her mouth with fury as she pulled as far away from Martin as possible. “The right thing to do? How about telling me you were s******g another woman? Wasn’t that the right thing to do? We’ve been together for five years, Martin. Shouldn’t you have left me before deciding to hop into bed with someone else?”
“I know you’re right, Sheena.” Martin’s face paled. He refused to look her. “Sadly, there is more.”
“More? What other pain can you inflict on me?” Sheena was inches from bursting into tears. Her heart was broken. She felt dead inside.
“I’m moving out when we get back. I can’t make my share of this month’s rent. Melanie needs the money to pay her rent. I have to think about my new family.”
Sheena stood and looked down on the man she’d once loved with utter disgust. She wondered how she’d allowed herself to be fooled by him. He was not worthy of her. The dark hair and eyes now looked shallow and ugly. She searched his face for a modicum of decency. She found none.
“How dare you come with me to my parents’ house to break up with me? What kind of man are you? Even Melanie deserves someone better than you.” Instinctively, Sheena slapped Martin’s face.
“I wish I could do more but truthfully I’m ashamed I gave into that tiny bit of anger,” she admitted. “Now get out of my sight. I never want to see you again. Be gone before I get back home.”
Martin rose and walked down the steps without another word. Sheena’s tears began to fall once he finally faded from view. Now it was time to pull her life back together.
Moving inside, Sheena went into her father’s study. She closed the door behind her. Then she ran into his waiting arms.
“What’s the matter, pumpkin? Didn’t that cad pop the question yet?” Her father searched her face for some sign of hope. There was nothing but sadness. “Maybe you better tell me what’s going on.”
Sheena sat next to her farther and explained everything. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I think it is best to go ahead and close the restaurant. I know for a fact we can’t turn it around in just two months.”
“You have a good business mind, Sheena. If that’s what you think, you are probably right. As for the rent thing, I’ll lend you the money.”
“No, Dad. I’ll figure it out. However, I do have a favor to ask.” Sheena hated what she was about to ask.
“What’s that, pumpkin?”
“Can I come back here for a few months until I figure out what to do next? I promise I won’t stay any longer than that. I can use the room above the garage.”
“You can stay in your old room if you want. We’d be happy to have you. Don’t worry about that.”
Time passed. Sheena and Martin closed their restaurant. He got a job working as a manager at a competitor. He and Melanie married as planned. Sheena moved back home to regroup.
One day, during one of her long walks, a familiar voice rang out. Sheena turned to greet a smiling face.
“Sheena, I heard you were back in town.” A blonde haired, blue eyed man rushed to hug her enthusiastically. “You are just in time too.”
“In time for what, Barry?” Sheena found herself returning the man’s enthusiasm automatically. She was happy to see her high school sweetheart.
“I opened a restaurant here a couple of years back. You know, like you and I always talked about. It’s doing well but my chef isn’t up to par. I need you.” His eyes searched hers for a hint of agreement.
“How do you know I’m any good?” Sheena’s heart began to beat faster. She knew it could be the break she’d been waiting for.
“Are you kidding? I’ve eaten at your old restaurant. The food was amazing. You are exactly what I need. Please say yes. I promise I’ll make the salary worth your while.”
Sheena laughed. “Walk and we’ll talk,” she grinned. “It’s so good to see you, Barry.”
Inside Sheena’s heart flip flopped with joy. Somehow she knew everything was going to be all right after all.