I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue this story… It took a few weeks to convince myself to go on. I hope you enjoy. And you can find part one here.
Jealousy. It was my only goal. Because the truth was Oliver was an ass. He’d been overly familiar with me from the moment we’d met. How he and James had ever managed to connect in college and remain friends was a mystery to me. They were as opposite as light and dark, hot and cold, summer and winter. Nevertheless, they were friends. Or at least they had been. It seemed like the friendship had become more habit, something you didn’t quite know how to break, even though there was no longer any reason to keep up the routine.
Recently, it had been Oliver who had made the overtures. James hadn’t been the one to reach out in a very long time. Except of course for those obligatory occasions when your ‘best’ friends had to be included. Holiday parties, birthday parties, Labor Day picnics —that kind of thing. And even more telling, Oliver had started initiating those invitations with me. He made the excuse that James never got back to him in time—probably true—and that he was always sure to get a quick response from me. One of his eyebrow-raising euphemisms that I pretended were lost on me.
Oliver was telling another one of his funny ‘client’ stories and I tried to listen with one ear and eavesdrop on James’ conversation with Genevieve with the other. They found each other thrown together once again while Oliver monopolized my attention. Tonight though, something was different. Genevieve actually looked engaged, animated… Happy? For a change…
Oliver touched my hand. “Lainey, you’re ignoring me.”
I shook myself back to attention. “Sorry, what were you saying?”
He resumed his story and I absently followed along so that I could laugh at the appropriate moments, make the right remarks. I watched my husband reach across the table and take Genevieve’s hand. For just a beat, maybe two, their fingers threaded together in a subtle act of… Of what? Allegiance? Empathy? Intimacy?
I laughed out loud, touched Oliver’s hand, hoping James would pay attention. God dammit, what would it take to get him to pay attention to me? One thing I realized recently… I realized that I’d given James all the power in this relationship.
James is a really good looking guy. Even more than when I’d first met him. Age has given him that worldly, distinguished, educated and elegant air that women find so beguiling. I’d always felt like he was kind of out of my league, actually. But that is my low self esteem talking… Anyway, I’ve always told him how handsome and attractive I think he is and recently, it’s been my tactic to get him in bed. Not that it’s worked. But the side effect is that I think he feels like he never has to worry about me, or work to keep my attention. AND without saying it, it also implies that another man might never be interested in me. So Oliver became my willing participant in these games, these attempts to get my husband to notice me. To notice another man noticing me, desiring me.
But if it was having an effect, he wasn’t manifesting it in any way I could recognize. Even the little bit of ‘jealousy’ he had with Oliver the first time we had lunched together alone, he got over rather quickly. And when I told him about meeting Oliver for coffee last Thursday? Because yeah, I told him… He had shrugged and said ‘say hello for me’ and ‘have a good time.’
On one hand, I appreciated that he had trust in me. But on the other, should he so readily trust that another man isn’t thinking about his wife in a more than friendly way? Apparently that is a foreign concept to him.
James’ hand returned to his own side of the table and he picked up his knife and fork. My eyes drifted over to Genevieve who had resumed making small cuts in the steak she’d barely touched. Why would you order the most expensive thing on the menu if you were going to push it around your plate?
I stared down at my pasta dish, barely eaten and sighed. A hypocrite, that’s what I was. My ploy to make James jealous was backfiring in spectacular fashion.
Oliver had gone quiet and I hadn’t noticed. When I met his gaze across the table, the expression on his face was pained. “Lainey,” he said, softly. “You’re ignoring me again. Don’t you do that to me, too.”
Continue reading here.