After we’d finally made love, Eadmund decided, with Cloe’s blessing, that he should choose someone with whom he would settle and commit to having a proper public relationship.
He talked to everyone he trusted most about it. He made his decision. Isla.
I shouldn’t have been expecting anything else. I was engaged, for Christ’s sake! With Isla he could be open and public. With me it would have to be a secret, sneaking around. These were all valid reasons for not choosing me, but it killed me.
Isla was so happy. After hiding their previous fling and then the current situation from everyone including his wife, she could be open at last. In her new role at work, she was not only employed by the cheese shop but also by Cloe’s company. The decision made, she had to go to a meeting with Cloe that afternoon.
‘I was so relieved,’ she told me as we were packing up to leave work, ‘I was off to a meeting with the wife of my boyfriend. She never knew about us before. I was so scared… but she gave me a big hug when I got there and said, ‘It’s ok, Isla. It’s ok.’’’
I sympathised. I tried to be appreciative but I was dying inside. He should have chosen me!
We understood each other. We got on well together. We were compatible on so many levels.
Why had he not chosen me?
Eadmund could tell I was devastated.
‘If it’s any consolation,’ he said, ‘Joe thinks I made the wrong choice. He thinks I should have chosen you. But I think it’s better this way.’
He was trying to make things easier for me. I was, after all, engaged, a fact I had conveniently neglected to remember. This way, I didn’t have to choose. I could go back to my boyfriend with no second thought. What he didn’t know was that made me feel like my dreams had come to an end.
‘I do care a lot about you,’ he continued, packing papers into a satchel to carry home, ‘It isn’t completely clear. The thing is, I love you…’
He coughed, realising the impact of what he’d just said and immediately tried to back track, ‘Um that is, I think I do… in as much as one can say that of course. Ahem and shares can go down as well as up.’
By choosing Isla he had been trying to take the simpler path for him but also for me. By blurting out that he loved me, he had just made things much more complicated again. But he’d said it. It was out there. He loved me. Of course I loved him too. I had done for years.
I spent the rest of the weekend at a friend’s house. We drank wine and chatted then the following day we watched blockbusters on DVD. I watched Titanic and have never identified more deeply with over-emotional issues of love, loss and separation. I was quiet. I think I got away with disguising my emotions as a hangover, which I did also have, but inside I was resigning myself to a slow death.
The next day we saw each other again. I told him I couldn’t bear it.
He told me it was a more sensible choice. I didn’t care.
Joe had said I was right for him. His own best friend said I was right for him. He loved me. He too, thought that I was right for him.
To be in a relationship with someone he didn’t love when he loved me was wrong, not only on my account. It wasn’t fair on Isla.
This time I convinced him. Despite my fiancé, Isla and the toll it would inevitably take on me, we were officially in a relationship.