A frown of discontent marring his attractive face, 25 year old Albert sat down in the window seat on the 7am Virgin Airlines flight from Gold Coast Airport to Sydney. He managed to fold his long legs into the narrow space and rested his tired head against the window.
He sighed and closed his eyes. “Last night’s sending off party was a rave!” Running his tongue over his full bottom lip, his face softened. He could still feel Sandra’s legs wrapped around him, not caring that anyone could walk in on them. “Oh boy”.
He was jolted out of his reverie as the plane took off. “Here goes my freedom…..”
“Back to prison you go my boy. Even worse – there is no real choice but to forge ahead with this marriage to Elsbeth. If father just kept his sticky fingers out of his legal practice’s trust account this would never have happened in a year of Sundays. And then, to top it all, he goes and kills himself, leaving me and mother dear with the financial mess we now find ourselves in.”
He turned his iPhone to flight mode and plugged in his headphones. Idly he scrolled through his list of messages. Saw three new messages which must have downloaded before he boarded. Another syrupy one from Elsbeth. “Ugh she is so excited that she is going to see me again. Bitch won’t let me do more than kiss her goodnight at her front door! Sooo fucking chaste she bores me to tears.”
He rubbed the back of his neck and looked at the ceiling. He flicked his tongue over his bottom lip. “She is the sole heiress of her grandmother’s multi-billion dollar estate.”
Albert rubbed his hands together. “Luckily her mother and Mother have been best friends since they were six. Mother said they both agreed that there is no need for a prenup. I will just have to keep her happy so there is no post-nup either. I know how to satisfy women. There is after all also that saying about red heads….. For all I know she turns out to be a hottie in the sack. She is not that bad looking, coming to think of it.”
He looked back at his phone, his eye catching the two unread messages from Lydia. He stared out the window, a smile of pure satisfaction lighting his face. “Ah the beautiful Lydia with her velvet smooth skin. I can almost taste her. Silky blonde hair and baby blue eyes.” Goose bumps raised on his arms. “What a night that was three months ago. Who would have thought she was a virgin with that alluring sexiness? Wow. Thank the gods that be her mother was on night duty at the hospital that night. It was a marathon night.”
He opened the two messages from Lydia and blanched. He gripped the phone in both hands. His stomach married itself to his spine. He dry swallowed. A frisson of dread danced into his chest and delivered a painful pinch to his heart. His pulse kicked into a gallop, booming into his ears. “Shit I will just have to avoid her like the plague!”
He switched off his phone and called the air hostess ordering a double whisky.
“We don’t serve alcohol on this flight, would you like something else?”
He plugged in his earphones, switched on the TV monitor in front of him and scrolled through the menu.
Too quick for comfort the seatbelt light flashed red. The landing announcement ripped him back to the present.
He grabbed his bag off the carousel and dragged it to the pick-up and drop off zone. He saw his mother standing next to an old BMW, waving her hand at him and he walked towards her.
“Where is the Mercedes?”
“Sold to cover debt. The house is going under auction next. You had better step up.”
He clenched his jaw and stared out the passenger window as his mother prattled on about the arrangements for the upcoming engagement party. His head throbbed.
They got home after an excruciating twenty minutes. He took his baggage from the boot and slammed up the stairs to his room.
“Elsbeth is expecting you this afternoon at 3pm.”
He turned his back on his mother and thumped his baggage on his bedroom floor. He went into the bathroom where he found Panadol and swallowed four. He lay back on the bed without taking his shoes off and closed his eyes.
The early afternoon sun poured golden rays through the large kitchen window, highlighting Elsbeth’s auburn hair, casting it into a shimmering copper crown.
Elsbeth checked the kitchen clock. It is close on 3pm. Excited butterflies stirred in her stomach. A dreamy smile played on her full rosy lips. She opened the fridge, taking out the homemade iced tea made from Grandma’s special recipe. She set the jug on the crocheted tray cloth, laid with shiny crystal glasses.
The shrill screech of the doorbell ripped her back to reality. “It can only be mother who chose that doorbell!”
A spring in her step, she skipped to the front door. Albert stepped through, bent down and hugged her, dropping a light kiss on her upturned lips. “Hello Baby. I missed you”.
“I missed you too. These roses are beautiful!”
“Not as beautiful as the most amazing rose of them all. You, my love!”
A warm smile lit up Elsbeth’s face. “I made us some special iced tea and I baked some petit fours. Would you mind taking the tray out to the patio table? I just want to get your copy of the draft prenuptial agreement my solicitor drew up.”
Scowling at Elsbeth’s back, Albert grabbed the tray and stalked out to the patio.
Taking papers from an envelope, Elsbeth sat down next to Albert. “This is your draft for you to discuss with your solicitor.”
“Is it not a bit premature to discuss agreements when we have not even set a date for our wedding yet?”
“My legal advice from Grandma’s dear trusted friend and solicitor was to get the agreements settled before our engagement next weekend. He has been of untold assistance to me since Grandma passed. As soon as you send me your solicitor’s details, I will pass them on to him. Once the agreements are settled, we can set a wedding date and announce that at our engagement party.”
Stunned speechless Albert grabbed a glass and took a large gulp of iced tea. His breath strangled in his throat and he started coughing uncontrollably. Heaving and gulping he got up from the bench, his face beet red.
The Evening of the Engagement Party
Albert constantly scanned the merry crowd in the huge ballroom from where he stood near the balcony door shadowed by the heavy red brocade curtain. A gust of cold air stuck his sweat damp shirt to his back.
Checking his Rolex for the umpteenth time – “Forty more minutes to midnight, before I can decently excuse myself. At least I have managed to avoid Lydia …..
“Where have you been hiding all night?”
“Shit” Albert’s mind screamed as he looked at 17 year old Lydia.
“I have not been hiding, why should I?”
“I think we both know the answer to that one, now don’t we Albert. You’ve been in the city for more than a week and you made NO effort to contact me nor arranged to visit as usual. You ignored ALL my messages. AND THEN, your darling little sister tells EVERYONE this past week how EXCITED she was that YOU were getting engaged to Elsbeth!”
“Look I just have not had the time. I was …..”
“Lydia please not so loud, people are starting to stare at us.”
“So WHAT, let them stare.”
“I need some fresh air. If you want this conversation to continue you can come out with me. But…… If you stay inside you do so at your own peril for I shall never talk to you again in my life.”
“Let’s see what explanation he comes up with.” Lydia thought.
“What a mess! I never thought she would take it this bad. Shit, I should have broken it off with her three months ago. What to do, what to do!”
“If he thinks I am going to just let this go like it was nothing, he is in for one BIG surprise. To think how I sat glued to the phone since his return to town, waiting and waiting for his call….”. Lydia rubbed her still flat tummy.
“Baby, I love only you, but I just cannot be with you right now. It is truly breaking my heart, but I have no choice. I must marry Elsbeth. My family’s survival depends on it. Surely you understand how important that is. You know father lost nearly all our money a year ago in the shares slump. I….”
“STOP RIGHT THERE!!! Your snivelling makes me SICK TO MY STOMACH!!! I should have known when you could only come visit when no one was around, wanting to keep our love our secret. I should have known. I should have known. I should have known!”
“It is not like that Lydia my love, please. I will only ever love you.”
“BULLSHIT. YOU took my virginity promising me endless love, the SUN, THE MOON THE STARS! At the same time, planning to marry a RICH girl for her MONEY?! You despicable SKUNK! I have news for you. I will make sure EVERYONE knows who the father of OUR CHILD IS!”
“WHAT?! You cannot be serious. We had sex once only.”
“YES. Three months ago. And it was one night, but more than once that night. The night you left town and convinced me of your NEVER ENDING love.”
Elsbeth felt sick to her stomach where she stood in a dark alcove on the balcony next door. Her cheeks stung as she watched Albert grab Lydia into an embrace silencing her tirade with a kiss. She whirled away, rushed through the ballroom and ran down the steps.
She found Martin standing next to the Bentley.
“Please take me back to Granny’s farm.”
“Not to the house Miss?”
“No, to the farm.”
“And your parents?”
“I will speak to them tomorrow, just take me to the farm.”