In my last snippet, Sophie managed to sidetrack her friends from going crazy over her bruises, but in this one, which picks up from the last, Lado catches her in a lie. She didn’t trip; there was no fall. Unwilling to continue to lie to him, she has to come clean about what really happened…
Of course Lani wanted to call in the cavalry too, but Sophie talked her down, with no help from a stony eyed Tommy. Thankfully, with these two, style always came first, and it was easy enough to distract them with the clothes and accessories.
Sophie hadn’t had anything new in two years. At first she hadn’t cared. With grief to deal with not to mention writer’s block and the realizations about Robert’s true character and her money problems, clothes had been the least of her worries.
Now, wearing these beautiful things: a decadently heavy cream silk blouse with an embossed floral pattern, tailored camel colored, wide leg trousers, long dainty chains, shiny leather belts, Sophie cried. It felt like her life was getting back on track. And not even the sight of her bruised face in the mirror could take away the joy she felt in these improvements.
Tommy and Lani kept working, shoveling her gently in an out of outfits, ignoring the happy tears as was their habit. Only when the snot started to flow and Tommy had to fetch the Kleenex did she say, “Okay, okay, now. That’s enough. You stain this material it’s ruined, and this was the last one in your size.”
Sophie nodded, gave a giant sniff and pulled herself together.
“You look good,” Lani said simply. “Like your old self, only better.”
“Better,” Tommy agreed, setting a pair of faux snakeskin kitten heels in front of her friend’s size 7 feet. “This is the, been through the fire and emerged like the Phoenix, Sophie.”
“The Sophie who won’t make the same mistakes twice,” Lani offered.
“The Sophie who has learned her lesson and is determined to live life better,” Tommy offered.
Sophie nodded. “Yes. Yes to all of that. Thank you, ladies.”
Tommy, unsentimental as always, merely grunted. Lani contented herself with a casual, “Anytime,” and handed her friend a fabulous brown leather Ferragamo purse. “Throw that shit bag you’ve been carrying into the trash immediately. Matter of fact, give it here. I’ll do it right now.”
They all burst out laughing.
When Lado got home that evening, Sophie was wearing one of her new dresses, deep red, thin straps, with an A-line skirt, it hit her slender legs at the knee. Lani called it a tea dress. And underneath it, new undies, sheer, lacy and black. She said hello like usual, waiting to see if he would notice the difference.
“You look nice. Girls come by?”
She nodded. “I want to pay you for –”
“Don’t even start. It was my Christmas gift to you, okay? What’s for dinner? I’m starving. Lunch seems like an age ago. Work was ridiculous, and of course my bloody assistant was out of the office today.”
“I made soup.”
“I saw one of those little mini dried fruit boards you like. We can have that for dessert?”
“Perfect. I’ll shower. Five minutes?”
She nodded. She wondered if she was ridiculous for loving this domestic dance they did in the evening. Most people might think it was boring – she was actually shocked he didn’t – but he seemed to revel in it too. She’d realized not long after Robert made his exit from her life that she was quite traditional when it came to male and female roles in relationships. Lado seemed to be of the same mind.
“How are you feeling? You’re still limping a bit.” He touched the side of her face gently and whistled. “It’s getting darker, but that’s good. It means it’s healing. Hurt bad?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“Sure? We could still –”
“No doctor. It’s just a bruise and a little stiffness. Don’t fuss.”
“Alright. Alright. If you say so. Girls here long?”
“A few hours.”
“You’ve everything you need for work and all that?”
“I do indeed. I think I’ll go in tomorrow.”
She’d stayed home today to avoid the inevitable questions about her eye and to give herself a chance to heal.
“Yeah. I don’t want to let things pile up. It’s not like I can stay out until the bruise is completely gone.”
“Sure you could.”
Sophie rolled her eyes. “I will not abuse my position as the boss’ girlfriend from some vain attempt to hide the fact that I’m a clutz.” With a psycho ex-boyfriend.
Lado just laughed. “Well, you’d be the first and only one not to. The workplace, hell the marketplace, is all about leveraging one’s relationships. You’ve got them, use them. Did you call about the rug?”
“The rug you tripped over. You said you were going to call to see about that loose thread – you forgot?”
“Oh, yes. I did.”
Lado was looking at her, but Sophie kept her eyes on her bowl.
“You’re an awful liar, my girl. I take it there’s nothing wrong with the rug?”
Sophie hesitated, but she couldn’t lie more to cover up the first lie. “No.”
“What happened then?”
“Nothing. Don’t make such a fuss.”
Lado grimaced. “Well, I wouldn’t but you’ve made me wonder. Why did you lie to me? What happened?”
Sophie hesitated. She opened her mouth once, twice, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to admit what had happened. She didn’t even want to know what Lado would do, and she wasn’t up to a fight.
“Look, I’m not really up to a fight. Let’s just forget it.”
“No. Now I’m doubly curious about what you’re trying quite badly to hide. What happened, Sophie?” His face changed, alarmingly. “Did someone hurt you? Was someone here in the house?”
“Who for heaven’s sake?”
“Robert,” she said baldly.
Lado stared at her like she’d grown another head. For a moment he didn’t say anything, then he put his soup spoon down. “You mean to tell me, your ex came here, knocked you about, and you didn’t tell me?”