After sending Rita home, I went back to the office to deal with some business matters.
In the evening, I received a message from Spencer.
It read, “Charles, would you like to join us? Everyone is here.”
I replied, “Okay. I’ll be there soon.”
I typed as I walked out of the office.
Spencer owned the Mint Bar. It was one of the most popular bars in the city, and tonight, it was particularly crowded. As soon as I walked in, I saw Spencer and David. We all had been friends since we were little boys.
“Have you seen Scarlett?” Spencer asked as soon as I was in front of him.
“Yes,” I answered and then asked the bartender to serve me a glass of whiskey.
“Are you really divorcing her?” Spencer pressed, coming closer to me.
“Yes,” I answered impatiently and lit a cigarette.
“How could you, man? Scarlett’s, like, our girl. We grew up with her. You and Rita are being cruel to her.”
I blew a puff of smoke in the air as the bartender set my drink in front of me. I decided not to answer Spencer and just drank my whiskey. But what he said was true.
Truth be told, I was nervous when I spoke to Scarlett last night about the divorce. Meanwhile, she just sat there the entire time, looking all calm and collected. I could not decide whether it bothered or impressed me. We had not seen each other for three years. She was no longer the sweet little girl who wore her heart on her sleeve. She had grown a lot.
Seeing her again in that cool disposition upset me a little.
“Did she agree?” David asked curiously.
“Yes, she did.”
At this time, I was regretting my decision to come out and meet my friends. I just wanted to have a drink with them, and here they were grilling me with all these questions.
“So you’re really marrying Rita?”
“Are you serious? Are you really going to sacrifice your happiness just because she saved you?” David got quite emotional at my answer. He accidentally spilled his wine on my clothes.
“Fuck!” I cursed angrily.
“Oh, my. I’m so sorry, man,” David immediately apologized.
Since I did not want to sit there looking like a total mess, I excused myself and went home to change my clothes. I left the bar and called for a transport service. I had planned on going home, but as soon as I got in the car, I found myself stopping to think.
Then, I asked the driver to take me to Gardner Street instead.
When I arrived, the house was brightly lit, and I could hear bursts of laughter coming through the open windows. A familiar Mercedes was parked in the garage.
It seemed that my mother and grandmother had come to visit.
I walked quickly to the door, but before I could input the password, someone had already opened the door from the inside.
“Where were you? Why weren’t you answering my calls?” My mom trotted over and scolded me.
“I was in a meeting, Mom.”
“And why do you reek of alcohol? Did you drink? Oh my God, you’re a mess. Go get changed.” She wrinkled her nose and ushered me in.
I entered the house and saw Grandma and Scarlett sitting in the living room, talking and laughing. There were fruits and even an apple pie on the coffee table.
“Hi, Grandma.” I went over to say hello and picked up a slice of apple pie, but my grandma slapped my hand away.
“Hands off. That’s not for you. That’s for Scarlett.”
“Charles, what happened to you? Come, let’s get you some fresh clothes.” Scarlett stood up and walked toward me.
“You’ve been married for a long time. Why do you still call Charles by his first name?” Grandma asked Scarlett and then looked at me suspiciously.
“Is there anything wrong with the way I address him?” Scarlett stopped and asked.
“Don’t young married couples such as yourselves call their spouses honey or babe or something?”
Scarlett froze and seemed to think for a while. Then, she cleared her throat. “Come, honey. Let me help you change.”
She helped me take off my suit jacket and flashed me a sincere smile.
“That’s more like it,” Grandma beamed, her tone filled with satisfaction.
She loved Scarlett very much. Whi
le Scarlett was abroad during the past few years, Grandma often asked me about her. I just replied perfunctorily every time.
Before long, Grandma started a new topic.
“Charles, I’ve made an appointment with the doctor for you this week. Don’t drink until then. I want you to go get yourself checked out.”
I was stunned.
“But I’ve just had a physical examination, Grandma. I’m very healthy.”
“I don’t want you to have another physical examination. It’s a more specialized check-up. It’s been several years. Where are my great grandchildren? And I definitely think it’s not Scarlett’s fault. It’s yours.”
Scarlett pursed her lips and looked at me. A muscle flickered in her jaw. She looked as if she was trying not to burst into laughter.
Before I could defend myself, my phone rang, and I heaved a sigh of relief. Scarlett, who was holding my jacket, took my phone out of the breast pocket and saw the name of the caller on the screen. I could tell that it was Rita by the way her face suddenly changed.
“Is it that woman? Oh, for crying out loud!” my mother exclaimed.
I took my phone from Scarlett and rejected the call.
“Is it Rita? You’re a married man now, Charles. Why are you still involved with that woman? You should be loyal to Scarlett. And what were those photos of Rita trying on wedding dresses I saw on the news? What’s going on?” Grandma nagged.
“It’s not what you think, Grandma.”
“Then why did you decline her call? Is there anything that you two have to talk about that you don’t want us to hear?”
I did not know how to answer. I could lie to others but not to my grandma. She always saw through me.
Grandma was so angry that she trembled. Scarlett quickly poured her a glass of water.
“Charles will be more than happy to answer your question, Grandma, but let me take him to change his clothes first,” Scarlett said, pushing me upstairs and into the bedroom.
“I have a couple of white shirts in the third cabinet.”
As Scarlett went to get me a clean shirt, I took off the one that David stained with his wine. It was already ruined. Damn it. I really would not spare David next time.
Then, I felt a palpable silence behind me. I turned around.
Scarlett was standing there and staring at me with one of my shirts in her hand. She dipped her chin, trying to hide the furious blushing in her cheeks.
“How long have you been standing there?”
She did not reply. She just quickly closed her eyes. I walked up to her.
This time, I was able to see more of the new her. She was no longer the little girl she used to be. Her past three years in France had changed her from a mere bud to a delicate rose.
Her long eyelashes were trembling. Her lips were pressed together in a thin line as if she was suppressing something. Her face grew redder and redder with each passing minute.
I took the shirt from her hand and quickly put it on.
After I changed into a fresh shirt, we went back to the living room together.
“I don’t have many years left, Charles. Why couldn’t you just live a peaceful life with Scarlett? Why are you always trying to piss me off, huh?” Grandma was still blaming me.
“Grandma, next time you want to come here, you can call me and I’ll come pick you up, okay?” I still did not know how to answer her, so I just decided to change the subject.
“No, thanks. You’re always so busy. I don’t want to inconvenience you. I just want to see if you’re treating your wife right.”
“Grandma, I’m fine,” Scarlett chimed in.
“Very well then. By the way, don’t forget the 60th anniversary party of the Moore Group tomorrow. Charles, I expect you to buy Scarlett a beautiful evening dress for the party. I want everyone to see how lucky you are to land someone like her. Don’t you make me unhappy again, you hear me, young man?”
“Of course, Grandma.”
After chatting with my grandma and my mom for a long time, I was finally able to convince them to call it a night and saw them off.
Under the circumstances, there was no way I could mention the divorce to them without unleashing one hell of an uproar.
Bye My Irresistible Love, Chapter 3 Unexpected Visitors