The October moon, like an inverted searchlight, shone across the river and reflected on the marshes. Leafless willow and birch trees rose up as gaunt scarecrows, their scraggy limbs bending to touch the reeds. Sarah slipped off her shoes and let the cold water ripple over her feet. She gasped at first, hesitated, then ventured further, each time allowing one foot to settle on the silt before moving the other. A short way out, as the water sloshed over her ankles, she edged towards a rock and sat down.
Yeats’s Lake Isle of Innisfree crossed her mind: “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore.” Joyce would have called it an epiphany – a moment of sudden and great revelation. She remembered their work from college . . . full of it, those Irish guys. A little like the one she’d fallen for when she’d spent a summer there – another episode in her ongoing relationship saga. She placed her feet on the rock, wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her head on her knees.
Staring across the silk, smooth water, she heard only one sound – Nora’s voice echoing in her ears. Up until now, Sarah had avoided Judy, John and Gary. She had refused to deal with the issue. That had to change. Any chance of happiness meant reconciling with her husband.
She fastened her coat, waded back to the tough, brittle grass and pulled on her shoes. He didn’t know her secret yet, so she still had that in her favour. She would deal with the complications as they arose.
* * *
John kept an eye on the small kitchen television as he twirled the spaghetti on his fork. An open bottle of red wine sat by his glass. He jumped up when Sarah entered.
“Hi, honey! How you doing? I wasn’t expecting you so soon. What? No happy hour this evening?”
“No, I wimped out. I don’t like being away from home so much. It’s hard on you and Natasha.”
“We’re good, hon, really. She’s fine, and I understand the demands of your work.” He took her by the hands and pulled her towards the table. “Come on, share some of my chicken and pasta, there’s enough for both of us.”
“Are you sure?” Sarah said, scanning the food.
“Of course. Pull up a chair. I’ll get you a plate and a glass.”
Sarah sat her gift box on the table and flung her coat over the back of a chair. “Don’t mind if I do, I didn’t realise I was so hungry. It looks delicious.”
“Did you buy me something nice?” John said, pointing to the box and smiling as he dished out the pasta.
Sarah grinned. “I did, actually – dessert.”
“Love desserts. Come on, eat up. Tell me about this big story you’re onto.”
Sarah took a mouthful of food and rolled her eyes. “God, this is delicious. I’d forgotten how good a cook you were.”
“See what you’re missing when you’re on the road. Tell me this story’s worth it.”
“It could be, if my informant’s telling the truth.”
Sarah took a sip of wine as she searched for a convincing response. “Mob related.”
“Get outta here!”
She had him. “That's right. Seems there’s friction between New Jersey and New York. Treading on each other’s turf. Remember that murder last month when they pulled the guy out of the Meadowlands?”
“The one with the bullet in the head?”
“That one. Could be a feud approaching.”
John’s eyes opened wide. “You got that, first hand?”
“Yeah, but the source has to be checked for veracity.”
“Why would someone want to volunteer that kind of information?”
Sarah shrugged. “Most likely he’s next on the hit list and figures if he turns state’s evidence the prosecution will place him in the witness protection programme.”
John finished his food, leaned over and locked Sarah in a tight embrace. “You be careful, hon. Remember what happened to that female reporter in Ireland when she investigated the Dublin drug dealers?”
Sarah savoured the comfort of the strong hug for a few moments. “I know, Veronica Guerin. Shot six times with a .357 Magnum by a motorcyclist. A court witness named Patrick ‘Dutchy’ Holland, a former US Marine, as the assassin, but the prosecution failed to win a conviction.”
John pulled Sarah close and kissed her softly on the lips. “You’re amazing, how do you know all this stuff?”
As his hands slipped to her buttocks she sensed his state of arousal. “I’m a journalist, that’s what I do.” She smiled – a coy suggestive smile. “I do other things, too. How about some dessert?”
“I hoped you had something like that in mind.”
“By the time you’ve cleared the plates, dessert will be ready.” She lifted the gift box. “I’ll be waiting.”
When John entered their room, he found Sarah kneeling on the bed facing the door, a candle burning in the background. As he approached, she opened her dressing gown to reveal a firm figure, naked, but for a tiny red thong. He collapsed into her arms, eased her back, and groaned in ecstasy as they melted into the harmony of conjugal bliss.
* * *
When Sarah woke, the candle still burned and John lay sleeping by her side. She sat up and marvelled at his peaceful repose. She wondered about revealing her secret. How did she tell her husband she was pregnant with another man’s child?
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