A cameo suggested by The Writing Reader’s exhortation to write about the night before the morning after.
Joanna tried to remember when it all went wrong. Was there a single moment, or was it the culmination of a series of small events, insignificant in themselves but building to create, first, suspicion, and, then, the certainty, that Carl was no longer the man she had married?
It was supposed to have been a night to celebrate five years since their first date. A candle-lit dinner in a quiet corner of their favourite restaurant. Why did he have to invite Celia? His PA was having a hard time, a messy divorce on top of a recent bereavement. Even so, he could hardly have found a worse time to console her.
Geno had given them a strange look whilst he set the third place at their table. And why would he not? She and Carl had been coming here regularly for so long that Geno knew them well; knew their tastes and their moods. Above all, he knew the importance of the date. So he was probably as surprised as she to learn of the presence of a third person, an unexpected guest.
Carl played the part of the perfect gentleman so well. No-one could have been more attentive to his companions. Was it Joanna’s imagination or was Celia getting more attention than she? She tried hard not to show her true feelings. Told Celia how sorry she was to hear of her problems, offered practical advice based on her years of experience in a solicitor’s office. Somehow, Celia seemed far more interested in Carl’s enthusiastic description of his latest project and how much he looked forward to working with Celia to bring it to fruition.
And then there was the way Celia had dressed for the occasion. Nothing about her appearance suggested she was suffering emotionally. On the contrary, the low neckline and high split hem of her dress made it plain she was pleased to be single again; free to flaunt her sexuality in a way her lately deceased mother would never have approved of.
By the second bottle of claret Joanna was beginning to feel a little tipsy. But Celia’s behaviour gave the impression she was beyond tipsy. That couldn’t be – Celia had not consumed more than her. She must be play acting, using the appearance of being drunk as a cover for deliberate flirting. More, it looked like an audacious attempt to seduce Carl.
Joanna slugged down a long draft from her glass and poured another, ignoring Carl’s frown. When Geno came to clear their desserts and offer coffee and liqueurs she ordered a double Pernod. After Carl dropped her at their apartment saying he would see Celia home, returning later, she poured a generous shot of Vodka and slumped in the settee. That was the last thing she remembered until waking to the stink of vomit two hours after she should have been at work.