Georgia has become suspicious and decides to follow through on her niggling feelings. Despite the evidence in front of her Nicolas, her husband, manages to convince her otherwise...
The next morning, Georgia pulled over into the car park at King Edward’s, and made a call. The automated system directed her to the correct department as she punched in one option number after the other. Eventually she got to speak to someone.
‘Yes please. Can I have copies as far back as May 2004? My accountant’s gone and mislaid the whole file I gave him.’ She waited a few more minutes, her heart thumping in her chest and her pulse racing, as the woman she spoke to on the telephone actioned her request on the network.
‘Your request has been logged and the documents will take between five to seven working days to get to you by post,’ she responded, ‘Is there anything else I can help you with today?’
‘No, thank you for your help.’
After waiting for ten days, Georgia caught the post as she was leaving for work. The bright red Vodafone logo on the white envelope jumped out at her as the postman, with his usual sullen expression mumbled a good morning to her. She hurried the boys and threw their paraphernalia into the car.
‘Why can’t we walk today? I want to take my scooter,’ whined Zachari.
‘Because I’m going to be late for work and we don’t have time. Now come on….where’s your book bag Andoni? Kristiano have you got your swimming bag? And goggles?’
She just made it in time for work, the traffic bumper to bumper along the lane approaching the width restriction. Georgia ran the short distance from the car park to the Music Office so she didn’t arrive late. She didn’t get a chance to look at what Vodafone had sent through.
It was half past one according to the clock on the dash. Georgia sat in her car staring at the envelope in her hand. She wound down the window to let in the fresh summer breeze and turned the radio on to KISS 100 to calm her nerves. Music always made her feel better. She wished Thalia was there with her but with trembling hands, and a prickle on the back of her neck which made her quiver Georgia slid a finger under the flap and tore open the envelope. She let out a deep sigh and pulled out the sheets of paper. After a few minutes she called Thalia.
‘Hi babe. It’s me. Can you do me a massive favour? Will you pick up the boys for me and bring them home to me. I can’t come to the school…I’m in a mess.’
‘Are you OK? What’s happened?’
‘It’s nothing…I’m not sure. Will you pick them up?’
‘Thanks Thal. I’ll talk to you in a bit.’
At home, Georgia hugged the children as they piled into the house one by one. She listened to their chatter about the bird which had found its way into the atrium and how the caretaker had to usher it out from one of the openings as he hung from a ladder. She listened to Zachari as he told Georgia about their Circle Time activity and how the children had all laughed at the piece of Spanish sausage a classmate had brought to ‘Show and Tell’. Georgia laughed with him, her tears a mixture of joy at her son’s excitement about what had happened and the misery of her own predicament.
Finally, Georgia scooted the children out into the late afternoon sun with an ice lolly each. She sat in the dining room relishing the last of the sun’s rays pouring through the open French doors and handed Thalia the wad of folded papers from her bag.
The tall trees fringing one corner of the garden gave the children welcome respite from the angry sun. Georgia looked up and across at the wispy cirrus clouds looking down on them from a powdery blue sky. The scene before her was one of calm and contentment but inside her stomach was in knots. The children were taking turns bouncing on the trampoline while Andoni kicked a ball up against the back of the folded tennis table, the rhythmic thump-thump echoing off the solid table. The sound of a tube train chugging into Finchley Central Station could be heard in the distance and the slamming of the doors reverberated across the open void between the garden and the train track below at the far end.
Thalia glanced through invoice after invoice, month by month, noticing the same number, which Georgia had noticed too, her red scribbled lines under each one a give-away…Sunday mornings, most mornings mid-week as early as half past five and in the evenings after ten…the night he played football she guessed.
‘The bastard,’ said Thalia.
‘I feel so damn stupid. Even while we were in Florida.’ Georgia’s heart sank again, her voice shaking. He’d made a fool of her. He’d promised her nothing was going on. And she’d always been so proud of her marriage. Of what they had together.
‘Oh my God….’ said Thalia. ‘What are you going to do now? Have you called the number?’
‘No. I’m too scared it will be who I think it is. I’m scared it will be her voice on the other end.’
‘You have to call it Georgi. It’s the obvious solution. That way you’ll know for sure. Look, put it on loudspeaker and we can listen together.’ They edged back from the dining room doors, to escape the noise of the children shouting and calling to each other and to avoid them overhearing anything.
Georgia dialled the number. ‘Ha-llo,’ answered the strong Eastern European voice.
‘The fucking Romanian katsela! The fucking Romanian cow! I am going to kill her. Then I’m going to kill him. That bastard. I don’t believe he’s doing this to me! Oh my God what am I going to tell the boys? They won’t understand all this. They won’t understand infidelity. They’ll want him to stay. What am I going to do?’
‘Calm down Georgi. You don’t know anything for sure. Yes, it’s her voice but that doesn’t mean they’re at it. And you can’t confront him with the boys home. Not in this mood. Let’s take the boys to mine and you can pick them up later. That way you can talk to him and get the answers you want. There might be an explanation for it all. And stay calm. Stay in control.’
‘Yeah, you’re right hun. But let’s call again to make sure.’ She hit redial; the same voice, the same monotone accent. Georgia hung up. Her heart felt like a dead weight in her chest.
Nicolas strolled in a few minutes before six o’clock and went straight up for a shower. Georgia waited in the kitchen shifting from one foot to the other until he eventually came back downstairs.
‘Of course I’ve got her number. Why wouldn’t I? She works for me doesn’t she?’ said Nicolas.
‘What do you need to call her for?’
‘If she’s running late, if she’s not well enough to come in, if she’s missed the bus to work…loads of reasons. What’s with all the questions?’
‘I’ll tell you why! Because her number is all over the Vodafone bills like a rash! Her number is there every fucking day! You made call after call after call to her. Sometimes five, six times a fucking night. In the mornings. On Sundays. On. Sundays. When you should be watching your son play football you’re on the fucking phone to her for an hour, for two hours!’
‘Oh come on. How do you know that?’
‘Because, darling, I have seen the bills.’
‘Look I can explain. There’s nothing going on. She’s been doing extra shifts what with those workmen coming in at the end of the day. I couldn’t cope on my own. And she’s having a hard time with her boyfriend. He’s possessive. She just needs someone to talk to. I’ve done nothing wrong. I promise. I’ve promised your mum and dad. I’ve promised my mum too. On the boys’ lives I haven’t done anything with her.’
‘Don’t you dare swear on the boys’ lives!’
‘And my mum and dad aren’t stupid! They don’t believe you and neither do I.’
‘I promise, Georgia please…’
‘I don’t believe you. You just said it’s because she’s late or ill. Now you’re saying something different. And if nothing’s happened, you want it to. She wants it to. The fucking cow! She knows you’re married. She’s met me. She’s met the boys!’
‘Look I care for her. She works for me. She’s on her own. She’s here without permission. Imagine what that’s like for her.’
‘What it’s like for her? You are joking, right? Why do I want to imagine what it’s like for her? I’ve been out of my mind with worry. I’ve been thinking the worst; that you were ill, that you might be in debt, having a break down or something. And you want me to imagine what it’s been like for her? You imagine what it’s been like for me. You do that just for one fucking minute!’
‘You’re such a drama queen. It’s not about you or me. It’s about helping her out. She’s in trouble here. She’s without her family. She has no-one. We have each other and the boys and our families. You’ve got me. I’m working my arse off to give you the life you want. To give us the life we both want.’ He ran his hand through his hair, nervous.
‘Liar!’ Georgia wanted to bash his big fat head on the kitchen wall behind him, but instead she turned and stomped out. He didn’t follow her. Grabbing her car keys she walked out, slamming the porch door behind her. She had no idea where she was going. She just drove around for a while.
Georgia didn’t have the energy to weave in and out of the late evening traffic and apologised to Thalia for being so late; she’d got there past the boys’ bed-time. She rushed back home, promising to fill Thalia in the following day. At home, after a quick hug from their dad, the boys were tucked up in bed.
She made herself and Nicolas a mug of tea.
‘Where were you? I was really worried,’ said Nicolas, reaching out for the proffered mug.
‘I just needed a bit of space. Clear my head.’
‘And are you okay now?’ his tone calmer.
‘Yes. I think so.’
In bed, she snuggled into him, the mattress holding the contours of her body, and Georgia did the thing that she knew would turn him towards her. It worked every time. It took a while that night but finally, just as she was beginning to doubt herself and wondering whether the strong physical connection they’d always had had waned, she felt his hard on between her legs. If she could still do that to him, for as long as she could, Nicolas wouldn’t go anywhere. They fucked and she was the whore in the bedroom he liked her to be. It was fast and furious, without the usual foreplay and teasing and although she felt appeased there was a niggling little thought at the back of her head that maybe he was cheating on her.
‘I love you. You know that?’ Nicolas whispered his breath hot on the top of her head, as his fingers traced her collarbone. She nestled further into the crook of his toned arm, a tiny smile settled on her lips. Although spent from the emotional exhaustion of the last few hours, days, weeks, she knew she had won him over.