Kendra didn’t go back to the office. She forgot all about Annah’s dessert. She went home, not even stopping at work to explain anything to anyone. She was not up for explaining. She felt gutted, in the most literal way. She pictured her body sliced open her intestines out slipping about on the floor and her poor battered heart kicked to the corner beating just barely but no one noticing.
At home, she stripped off her wet clothes and climbed into bed with Carmen. Carmen was at first confused as to why her person was home in the middle of the day but soon settled into the new arrangements and curled up next to Kendra and went to sleep.
After she stopped crying, she checked her cellphone. It had a line of missed calls from Asra, and two from Annah. She ignored Asra’s calls but called Annah back. Between crying and blowing her nose, she explained what happened. “So, needless to say, there’ll be no dessert for you,” Kendra said trying to lighten everything.
“It’s okay, I can do with a few less desserts. But Kendra, at least talk to him. You don’t know what the sister was on about. She was angry and could have said anything.”
“I think it’s obvious that he’s getting married to Marea. It’s obvious that he is a low lying dog liar. There are just too many half truths and secrets. How does he not mention that his father’s restaurant is not in Egypt but right here in Convent Garden? I thought he wanted honesty. My god, he talked about Marea as if their relationship was casual, more for convenience. They’re getting married! What is it about me that attracts liars? It must be me, I must look like some sort of stupid pushover. Really I thought Asra was different, just goes to show how stupid I really am.”
“Oh Kendra, please don’t talk like that. You are lovely, in every way. This has nothing to do with you. It is Asra. He must have reasons why he was keeping everything secretive. Before you write him off completely let him say what he needs to.”
Annah, always sensible, Annah. But she didn’t need sensible now. She needed loyalty. “Yes, okay I’ll talk to him,” Kendra said knowing she wouldn’t. “I need to go. The landline is ringing.”
Kendra hung up. She pulled the blankets from her bed and carried them through to the sofa. She felt exactly like the loser she was, home alone in the middle to the day, crying, watching soapies, and hugging her cat.
Hy arrived with real chocolate cake instead of the usual wheat-less one made with carob she normally baked, and two bottles of organic wine. “Annah called and said it was an emergency.”
She looked at Kendra on the sofa, her eyes puffy, red and bloodshot, surrounded by candy wrappers. “Oh my poor baby! This Asra has really messed up this time.”
Pushing the blankets to the side she sat down next to Kendra. Befroe she could speak, Kendra said, “I want no sensible talk. No give Asra a hearing. Asra is a lying dog, that will be the standard line today. Deal?”
Hy swallowed the words she had intended to say and nodded. “Okay, deal.”
She fed Kendra cake like she was still a baby and Kendra sipped at her wine, which was calming her despite it’s 2.5% alcohol content. “Asra seemed so honest, like a real gentleman,” Kendra said. “Now I see I was just stupid, blind and stupid.”
“But Annah said you haven’t even talked to him. Maybe you should give him a chance,” Hy suggested.
“No! Ah! Our deal. ” Kendra shook her head she didn’t want to hear anything from Asra. She was done. Finished.
There was a knock at the door. Hy got up to answer it. “Oh … you’re here,” Bianca said not hiding her disappointment at seeing Hy. She pushed around Kendra’s mother and slammed a bottle of Jack Daniels on the coffee table. “Are you okay? Devin called me immediately but I was in a meeting. As soon as it was finished, I came. What a complete ass! I really did not see this one coming! He’s good, very good.”
Bianca took two shot glasses out of her handbag, who but Bianca had shot glasses in a Louis Vuitton handbag, and filled them with the Jack Daniels, handed one to Kendra. They clinked glasses. “May Asra burn in hell!” Bianca said and they downed the shots, followed quickly in succession by two more. Bianca pounded her burning chest. “Medicine, it always hurts going down but it will sort you out eventually.”
“I don’t think you should be giving her such hard liquor…” Hy started.
Bianca interrupted her. “You think,” she picked up the bottle of wine and read the label, “Organic wine is going to get her through heartbreak like this?”
“Well…I… just think talking and …” Hy was struggling, luckily a knock at the door saved her from trying to stand up against Bianca, a battle she would definitely lose. She stood up. “I’ll get that,” she said relieved.
Hy rushed off and Bianca sat down on the sofa, and began picking off pieces of cake with her fingers that had fallen onto the blanket. Hy came back looking sheepish and Kendra knew she’d done something she shouldn’t have, but before she could ask she saw what it was. Asra stood in the hallway his arms crossed in front of him.
“I just thought it would… you know…. be better if you gave him a chance to explain,” Hy defended herself before the charges were even brought.
Bianca stood up. “Let me handle this,” she said to Kendra.
She pushed past Hy and walked toward Asra. “Listen buddy, do you know what kind of damage you’ve done here? You think you can move around lying to people and there will be no consequences? Well you’re wrong! We are sick to death of people like you! You’ve done more than enough damage and I really cannot understand where you got the balls to pitch up here after what you’ve done. Now, you can turn the fuck around and get out of this place or I’m calling the police.” By the time she got to the end of her little speech, her face was inches from Asra’s.
Asra didn’t move. He didn’t step back he didn’t turn his head. He stayed right where he was. “I came here to talk to Kendra. Feel free to call the police.”
He moved around a plant, and though she tried to hide it, a slightly impressed, Bianca, and stood next to Kendra, still sitting on the couch wrapped in a blanket the bottle of Jack Daniels leaning against her hip.
“I understand what happened today at the restaurant might make you question how I feel about you, but it shouldn’t. I love you. I love only you. I told you my family’s a problem. I need time to explain everything to you, about today…about Marea. But I don’t want to do it like this, with everyone here. You need to trust me, you need to trust our love. This is all that I’m asking of you.”
Kendra pushed the blankets back and stood up, slightly wobbly at first but then she steadied herself. “You know what Asra, do you know what I think? What I think is that you saw me in Egypt that first time, and thought here was this vulnerable woman, just broken up from her boyfriend and you decided I was a good target for your game. Someone to play around with until you got married. Some stupid, pathetic idiot fool. But you underestimated me. I’m not weak and I’m not going to let you take advantage of me. And, for your information, I don’t love you! I never did!”
The last words hit Asra. Those pushed him back. He shook his head like a fighter who had just received a particularly nasty blow. “Okay… if that’s how you feel …then, I guess there’s nothing I can say.”
Asra stumbled to the door. Bianca shouted after him, “Just in time! The police are on the way!”
Kendra watched him leave and though she was positive it was the right thing to do, it didn’t make it hurt any less.