That night, Carrie went to the club with a light heart. She had signed off on the Harper deal. Alan was ecstatic and had forgotten the prospectus disaster of the morning.
Publically she had set February twenty-third as the date for the Harper sale; privately she had set March first for her resignation from the firm.
Stan was playing especially well that night, and Lara was nowhere in sight. They went home after the show and made love in the soft glow of the winking yellow light.
Afterward, Carrie cuddled next to him and said, “I reached a very important decision today.”
He gave her a tired, half-smile in the dark. “Did you? How about telling me in the morning. I’ve been up since five a.m.”
“I know. But something really important happened today. I need to tell you.”
He sighed. “Ok. But don’t blame me if I fall asleep in the middle.”
She knew he was tired, but she had hoped for more interest. She considered waiting until morning, but he would probably sleep in, which meant she would have to go to work and wouldn’t be alone with him again until this time tomorrow night.
She began by telling him about the numbers mixup in the prospectus, but halfway through he interrupted. “Look, I get you made a big mistake because your mind hasn’t been on your work lately. You can skip the details of who said what and why it matters. It probably happened because you aren’t getting enough rest, either. You don’t have to come down to the club every night of the week.”
A knot formed in Carrie’s stomach. First he didn’t really want to hear what she had to say. Now he was suggesting she give up the part of the day that she lived for. She tried to keep her voice calm, but she knew the rising tide of emotion inside her made her tone sharp. “That’s not what I meant! I want to be at the club as much as I can. I don’t have enough time to be with you as it is.”
Stan rolled over to face her in the dark. “So you’re complaining I don’t spend enough time with you?”
“No, oh no.” She hadn’t foreseen the discussion going so terribly wrong. “I wasn’t being critical of you.”
“Well, I hope not!” he muttered and turned his back to her.
Despair griped her like a rip tide. She tried again, “Would you just hear me out?”
He sighed and replied without changing position, “Do we really have to do this tonight? I’m tired. Whatever I’m not doing that you want me to do, I’ll deal with it tomorrow.”
“I wasn’t going to ask you to do anything.”
Irritated, he rolled over and faced her again. “Are you sure about that? Weren’t you going to ask me to spend more time with you?”
Carrie was taken aback by his anger. And she hadn’t expected him to guess at least part of the purpose of her plan. “Well, I suppose in a way I was going to ask that. But the thing is, I wasn’t going to ask you to change what you’re doing.”
“Then how do I find any more time to be with you?” he demanded as if the whole idea was completely unreasonable.
“Because we’ll have more time, in general, together. I’m going to resign from the firm on March first.”
Stan sat up and turned on the bedside light. He rubbed his eyes as if everything about their conversation was a colossal trial. “I’m sorry, Carrie. I can’t deal with anything like this tonight. I’m exhausted. I’ll go sleep on the couch.”
“No! Don’t do that!” she reached out to keep him from leaving. “I won’t say anything more about it tonight.”
Placated, he switched off the light and lay down again with his back toward her. Carrie turned her own back to him and let the tears fall slowly and silently into her pillow. She had hoped he would feel the same joy in her decision that she had. Instead, he didn’t seem to care or understand what was driving her to change her life. Finally, exhausted by the day and her emotions, she fell asleep.
She woke with a start two hours later. The beside clock said three a.m. Stan’s side of the bed was empty. From the living room, she could hear the hum of the television.
Alarmed, she got up, pulled on her robe, and went to investigate. He was sitting in his usual corner of the sofa, a glass of wine in his hand and a half empty bottle at his feet.
He looked up when she came in and frowned. “Go back to bed.”
“Can’t you sleep? I thought you were tired.”
“I am. But I started thinking about what you said, and I couldn’t drop off.”
“You mean my quitting Warrick, Thompson upsets you?” She had never expected that response from him.
“Absolutely. You’re giving up ten years of success in your career just to follow me around all day. Do you know how that makes me feel?”
“How?” She was so surprised she could barely speak.
“Horrible. Trapped. Responsible.”
“Responsible to whom?”
“To you!” he snarled.
Carrie felt the world slowly dissolving around her. “But I thought we loved each other. I thought we wanted to be responsible to each other.”
Stan shook his head impatiently. “I can’t say what I feel right now except trapped.”
“But, Stan, I want to quit. I hate what I do. It’s boring and mindless and soulless.”
“It pays the bills. Rather well,” he snapped.
“True. But money isn’t the most important part of life.”
“See if you think that when you start going short every month!”
Carrie paused and tried to size up the situation. Finally she observed, “That sounds like resentment.”
“Oh, that’s a good one! Now I resent you because you make three times what I do, and you want to throw it away to spend all day in bed with me!”
“Wouldn’t you like that? I mean, wouldn’t you like to spend days together, not just in bed, but walking by the bay, having lunch in the cafes, shopping together?”
“There won’t be time if you quit you’re job. We’ll both be waiting tables day and night to make up for the money we won’t have.”
Carrie stared at him. “But I’m going back to music. I’m going to play again.”
“Oh, great. And you think Harry’s going to give you a gig at the club.”
“He’s offered. More than once.”
“Well, even if he does, you’ll find what Harry pays isn’t nearly enough. Want to live like that?”
“I – I ” Carrie stared at the bottle at this feet. “No, I don’t want to live like that. But I don’t want to live like this either.”
“And that means?”
“Walled up alive in the firm, wondering what you’re doing all day and who you’re doing it with.”
“Is this about me and Lara?”
“Yes – at least in part. I mean, it’s about you and anyone you have time for when I would so much rather be with you.”
Stan’s voice took on a low, nasty, insinuating tone. “You just don’t get it, do you? You think you can keep me from seeing Lara if you quit your job and ride herd on me all day?”
“I – no.” But hadn’t she unconsciously meant to do exactly that? The truth of what he was saying spread over her sickeningly.
“Do what you want!” Stan exploded, getting up from the sofa and heading toward the hall where a coat tree held his jacket. “Just don’t expect me to be your willing prisoner!”
Carrie ran toward him and grabbed his sleeve as he opened the front door. “Wait, Stan! Don’t go out now. It’s dark, and it’s cold, and it’s late. Please just come to bed. I’m sorry. I thought this would be good news. I didn’t mean to upset you. I thought you’d want to spend more time with me, too. Please, don’t go!”
But he had already slammed the door behind him.
The entire ebook of Ride Your Heart ‘Til It Breaks is available for purchase at Amazon. com, http://www.amazon.com/Ride-Your-Heart-Til-Breaks-ebook/dp/B00RDJQB8Q. Deborah is also the author of the award-winning novel, Dance For A Dead Princess, http://www.amazon.com/Dance-For-Dead-Princess-ebook/dp/B00C4HP9I0