Tomorrow arrived with a missed alarm clock, a constantly ringing telephone and a stream of Spanish swear words. “I don’t believe this” Carlos thumped the shower with the palm of his hand as if that would make the water run hotter. Needless to say it didn’t, so there was another flurry of cursing.
He could hear the phone ringing again, the answer phone took it. Probably another of his students mothers phoning to say that little whoever couldn’t make their lesson today because of the stomach bug that was going round.
He had also forgotten that he had put the answer phone to loud speaker, so he was more than surprised to hear Catherine’s voice leaving him a message.
Swearing again he jumped from the shower, covered head to foot in suds, slipping and sliding his way to the phone in his bedroom. Leaving behind him a trail of soapy water.
He grabbed the phone and answered it breathlessly “Hola? Catherine?”
Catherine’s day had started in a far more sedate manner. After the best nights sleep she’d had in a long time, she had woken up at a reasonable hour, taken a leisurely bath whilst listening to the radio. She had washed her hair, primped and preened then decided to call Carlos to see if he wanted to join her for lunch. There was a market on in the town, she had been making a mental shopping list of all the things she needed. She could retrieve the juicer from the back of the cupboard, and get some nice coffee.
Sitting on the bed she dialled Carlos’ number, the phone seemed to ring out for ages before the answer machine cut in. She was about midway through leaving a message when a very breathless and husky sounding Carlos interrupted her.
“You sound like an 0898 number” she laughed “Should I ask what you’re wearing?”
“Pardon!!!” the husky breathless voice now sounded shocked.
“I’m sorry” but she didn’t sound sorry as she gave way to a fit of giggles.
“Young Lady I am a respectable Music Teacher and Opera Singer” he sounded indignant “I do not appreciate such obscene comments at this time of the morning”
Catherine was unable to give any kind of reply as tears of laughter rolled down her face. She could tell Carlos’ was trying hard not to let his laughter show in his voice and he was doing a much better job of it than her.
“Well when you have yourself back under control, I would like very much to come over for lunch, shall we say 1pm? And for your information I am naked and covered in suds” with that he hung up.
He turned and sighed as he noticed the soapy trail across his bedroom floor and the steam that was emitting from the en suite as he’d forgotten to turn the shower off. Now the water would be scalding hot. Today can only get better can’t it it he thought.
Catherine had gone a very delicate shade of pink as she replaced the phone. An image had appeared unbidden in her mind and she couldn’t get rid of it. Today might well prove to be very interesting.
Catherine was so immersed in her food preparations she didn’t hear the doorbell at first. She had music playing and was singing along in her own little world.
It was only when a very loud baritone voice yelled “Hey! You promised me food!” through the letter box did she realise her visitor had arrived.
She opened the door and apologised profusely “How long have you been standing there? I’m so sorry”
“Ages” replied Carlos with a completely straight face “I have lost track of time I have been stood here for so long”
“Oh no! I was busy in the kitchen and..”
She didn’t get to finish her sentence because she suddenly found herself on the receiving end of a very determined kiss. She wound her arms around his neck and gave back some determination of her own.
“I was thinking about you all last night” Carlos whispered, his mouth somewhere between her ear and her neck.
“I’ve been thinking about you all morning” she whispered back “You and your suds..”
They both burst out laughing “Come on, let me get you that food I promised you”
They sat in the garden to eat lunch. Catherine had prepared salad, quiche, potato salad , fresh orange juice and fresh coffee.
“This looks delicious” Carlos remarked as he sat down “My compliments to the chef”
As they ate Carlos told her about his disastrous morning, and she told him about a man on one of the market stalls who had loudly commented to his friend that Catherine had a “nice arse” as she walked away. “I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life”
“Who is this man? How dare he say that to you” Carlos looked most annoyed but added “even if it is true”
“Oh Carlos it was nothing calm down. It’s not like he asked me to marry him..” the words were out before she could stop them and an awkward silence fell between them.
“I asked you to marry me because that’s what you and my mama wanted” said Carlos flatly.
Catherine stared at him, angry at how he could make such a throwaway comment about something that had haunted her for years.
“I beg your pardon. I wanted no such thing and I certainly didn’t go hatching plans with your mother to get you to propose in front of a room full of people!”
“Then why did you point out that ring the very evening my mama tells me I should be doing exactly that?” retorted Carlos.
Catherine’s anger rose and so did her voice “I pointed that ring out because it looked so stunning not as a broad hint for you to do something so bloody stupid”
“Stupid!!! Oh yes I felt stupid! Asking the girl I loved to marry in front of all our family and friends only to have her throw it back in my face! Because I thought that was what she wanted. Yes, very bloody stupid as you put it”
“You.. how dare you! How dare you! I loved you too Carlos! I didn’t throw anything in your face, but I wasn’t going to say yes just to please everyone else. I didn’t want to be tied to the kitchen sink with a brood of kids by the time I was 25! And I’m surprised you thought I did”
Carlos was so angry he became flustered and couldn’t get his words out properly “No! My Mama said.. and my Papa gave me money.. and you saw the ring.. and I thought maybe a long engagement.. and everyone was looking.. and I was so nervous.. and… I should go home”
He pushed his chair back, stood up and started to walk back to the house. He didn’t want her to see the tears in her eyes. She hadn’t wanted to marry him at all. All of that for nothing.
“And how the hell do you think I felt?” Catherine shouted at his back, her own tears falling down her face “I had to break your heart in front of all those people. You think I wanted to do that? We were too young. And too foolish to say the things that should have been said. And now you’re leaving and I don’t want you to go”
She put her head in her hands and sobbed her heart out.
Suddenly she herself being lifted from her chair by two strong arms, that then wrapped themselves around her and pulled her toward their owner. Who then buried his face in her neck and let his tears mingle with hers. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry” he whispered over and over.
They stood together for what seemed like an eternity, letting themselves cry.
“I thought today couldn’t get any worse” said Carlos eventually.
“I often thought about what would’ve happened if I’d said yes”
“So have I” admitted Carlos
He sighed “We’d have had a huge wedding, lived with my parents, had a couple of kids and divorced after 5 years”
“That’s what I thought too”
“Instead you met Richard, had Susanna, who met Mark and had Dylan. A far better outcome I think”
“But you never married though”
“I kind of got put off asking anyone. So I blamed fame and fortune instead”
They stood again in silence, just holding each other, thinking about the past, the present and what the future might hold if they let it.
“I still love you Catherine. I always have. I’d never have come between you and Richard of course, but, it was still there. Do you think you can…”
This time it was he who didn’t get to finish his sentence as Catherine gently turned his face toward her and covered his mouth with her own. They both felt a fire slowly start to ignite inside them.
“Yes” she whispered “I think I can”