Hello reader! I'm grateful you followed my story till the end. As a thank you I would like you to know that today (Friday) the kindle version of my book is free on Amazon. Just type in "Jolene Marselis". Robert is in it too, and it will make up for what I am about to do... Still, please review and if you have downloaded & read"Say Yes to the Dress" send me a PM with what you thought of it. Thanks for reading! EXTRA! Because I want you to be able to be able to read what happens next (partly) "Say Yes to the Dress" will also be FREE on SUNDAY! So check Amazon tomorrow!
Susan and Robert were happy. They were living in a perfect dream. Being together almost 24/7 did not bother them. The more time they spent together, the happier they were. They had yet to have a fight and any habits that one might have that might bother the other were so minor that they weren't even worth mentioning. Life was good... No, that wasn't doing it justice. Life was terrific – neither one had ever been so in love before, and every day together felt like a blessing. They blossomed. Susan became more outgoing, Robert more certain of his worth. Of course, he learned loads too. Being around Susan, that just came naturally. There were books lying around everywhere, and she was always talking about the things that interested her. He was bound to pick up something from all that, and he loved it. He loved his wise little Suzy and her thirst to share knowledge. He had learned so much about cocktails that they were actually getting customers now that just came for his skill – and recipes – but he kept those a closely guarded secret, on which he only let Suzy in. Of course most of the recipes were based on ones from from books she had brought home – with the addition of his own little twist. Mr. Charles H. Baker remained their favorite source for recipes – there was just something magical about those cocktails.
Then one day, a call came. The call Robert had been dreading since he had last called home. It was Elsie's mom – his aunt – sounding completely panicked. His father had been taken to hospital for a collapsed lung and was on intensive care. It didn't look good.
Susan did not hesitate for a second. "You have to go back."
"What about you?" He didn't want to leave her and felt torn in two.
"I'll wait for you. Or I'll come over once the semester ends. Just go. You are all he has."
"Are you sure about this?"
"Of course." She picked up the phone and started calling the airline to get him on the earliest flight. Within three hours, his suitcase was packed and he said goodbye to her at the airport. One last intense kiss and then he flew back to his old life.
The situation he found at home was horrible. Minutes after he had touched Irish soil, his aunt took him to the hospital. His father looked like a shell of the man he once was, and Robert tried to keep it together, not wanting to let his dad see him worry. His father was still alive – that was all that mattered for now.
Days went by, and worse news came. His dad had cancer, and it had spread. It looked pretty hopeless. He couldn't leave him – he couldn't just walk away from the man that had done everything for him. But Suzy was in the states, studying, making a life for herself. She needed to be there – she belonged there. And where he was, there was nothing. The bleak council estate he had left behind looked even worse than he remembered. More violence then ever now – even to their own – and no jobs. Almost everyone he knew was unemployed. How could he ask her to join him in a place like that? She had a bright future ahead – he had nothing. So he made a choice – the toughest in his life.
With sweaty palms he dialed her number. He felt utterly miserable.
"Robert! How are things over there? I was getting worried." She sounded ever so cheerful.
He bit his lip. How was he going to tell her this? "Not good. He has cancer and, they say it's probably incurable. They have no idea how long he might have – could be a month, could be years, but the chances of him ever getting better are slim. I got to be here for him."
"Of course. Give me your address. Let me come over. I want to be with you." Understanding, kind. Typical Suzy... He had known she would say that. It was the reply he had been dreading. He wanted her with him so much, but it would be selfish of him. And he could not do that to her.
"You have your whole life there..."
"That doesn't matter, I want to be with you," she immediately started to protest.
"Susan, this is Northern Ireland. There is nothing here for you. Not for anyone, to be honest."
She wouldn't understand. She couldn't – no one did unless they lived there. "You are there. We'll be together."
"I think it would be best if we broke up. For your sake. You shouldn't be tied down to me." It sounded cruel, but he meant it. Not for his sake, but for hers.
"No! I love you." Her voice was pleading.
He told himself it was for her own good. "I love you too. I always will. But you have a life to lead. People to help. Mine is just wasted. It always has been. I'm not gonna drag you down with me. I care too much about you to let that happen. If anything changes, if I can get back to the states, I'll contact you, but for now go on with your life as if you never met me." Who knew how long his father had to live? It could be a matter of months. He wasn't gonna drag Suzy through it, though.
"No, Robert! NOO!" Her voice sounded pained, desperate – just like he felt himself.
If he didn't end it now, he never would. And that would ruin both their lives. "Sorry Suzy... goodbye"
"Don't hang u.."
He couldn't hear what she had to say or he was sure he would falter. So he put down the phone as his heart shattered into a thousand pieces. He couldn't do this. But he also couldn't not do this. Susan deserved a wonderful life, and every chance of him being able to give it to her had just fallen apart. So he had to set her free.
Their first fight, with thousands of miles between them. There was nothing either one could do to set it right. There was nothing to set right when everything was so wrong. Robert cried that night, harder than he had ever done before. And then he had to get on with life – his father needed him. The same night his dad took a turn for the worse. Pneumonia – it was touch and go. The next three months passed by in a storm of hospital visits, doctors' appointments, and specialist meetings.
Robert hardly had time to breathe, which was good. Every time he stopped to think he felt guilty – toward his father on the hand, toward Suzy on the other. At night, the demons came as he lay awake, thinking about the what if's. What if he had gone home earlier and had forced his dad to get checked out? What if he had not told Susan to go away? What if she was here right now? Several times he had sat there, phone in hand, wanting to call, but then he would feel like a selfish bastard again. Finally he could not take it anymore.
It was three months later and four in the morning as he dialed the number. He just wanted to hear her voice and beg for forgiveness. His hands trembled.. "Sorry, this number is no longer available." He dialed again, same message. This wasn't possible, the number was right. One more time. Nothing.
She was gone. And idiot as he was he hadn't left her as much as a phone number. Knowing Susan was as stubborn as he was, he hadn't dared, She'd have followed him, even if he told her not to. Maybe the phone was just disconnected... Maybe she still lived there... Or at least somebody there would know where she was and would pass it on. He decided to chance it, and wrote a letter. It came back undelivered. He sent another one, this time apologizing profusely. Again it returned. A letter to the building's owner left him with no clues either.
He decided to write a letter to the university she was attending. All that came back was a note saying she was no longer enrolled and had left no forwarding address. He had lost her for good, and there was no way of finding her again. So that was it. Susan was gone. The best thing in his life and he had just thrown it away. He cried as his heart threatened to tear out of his chest. But he had to go on...
Yes – you want to hear Susan's side now, don't you? Well I am saving that for "Slanté," which I will start writing in the coming months. Don't worry, it might take twenty years for them, but they will get back together. But before I start telling that story ,I need a little holiday... or more like I need a hallway plastered, a bathroom tiled, and a very large garden up to scratch to become an edible garden that not only looks good but tastes good too. None of those activities combine well with writing (Though I am plotting a story around that last one). In the meantime, I have other stories, so I will still be posting each week, beginning next week with "Money or your Life".
I hope you've enjoyed "Irish Coffee". And again please, post your reviews!