I looked up from my egg and bacon breakfast just in time to catch him entering the resort’s crowded restaurant.
As if sensing my gaze, he immediately found my eyes across the room and smiled.
Liquid-fire pulsed through my veins, temples to groin. I blushed. I shouldn’t be feeling like this, I thought. I’m married. Newly married even.
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I held his gaze and smiled back. My wedding day had been perfect. Now, barely a few months in, I realised it was the only perfect thing about this marriage.
I’d expected a honeymoon period where everything was blissful and easy, but it hadn’t been that way before marriage: he’d been unwell with mental health issues, restless and stressed.
We’d been together less than a year when we got married. His intensity and intelligence attracted me. Surely the rest was temporary?
It would change after we got married, I thought. We moved a few times, hoping a different place would help him feel better, but it only made him more stressed. Coming home from work, I never knew what mood I’d find him in.
Occasionally he’d be full of energy, wanting to take me on a romantic dinner date. More often though he was sad and grumpy.
I found myself in the role of therapist: listening, encouraging, and hoping I could love him to happiness. If we ever disagreed on any issue he got upset, so I added peace-keeper to my repertoire too.
"Mmhmm, that’s a good point," I’d nod in agreement, shoving my opposing opinions deep into my gut.
It felt like a small death, especially when he spouted racist remarks, but it was better than fighting all the time with my new husband.
My new job came with an unexpected perk. Every year they would fly all the reps to a resort for a long weekend. Two of the days were filled with meetings but one whole day was for sightseeing.
My new husband and I hadn’t been apart for even one night so I thought I’d miss him, but I bounced off the plane into an unfamiliar town, light and excited.
Early in the conference, I found myself seated next to a guy a few years older than me with blonde hair and a huge smile.
He’d clearly worked for the company for a while because he seemed to know everyone. He wasn’t the kind of guy I usually found attractive but his sense of humour and positivity was magnetic. I couldn’t help feeling drawn to him — he was the polar opposite of my moody, intense husband.
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