Jezri's Nightmare Books

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Wedding Set

The Wedding Set
By Lisa McCourt Hollar
 
Sophie stood over her husband’s sleeping form.  Drool formed at the corner of his mouth. She always loved watching him sleep. Even now, as angry as she was with him, she couldn’t stop her heart from loving him. Reaching out, she brushed her hand across his cheek.  Hank released a small sigh at her touch and the corners of his mouth turned up. She wondered what he was dreaming about.
 Probably her.  
Sophie frowned as the thought of her husband dreaming about another woman entered her mind. It was entirely possible. She knew he was seeing someone, even though he swore up and down he wasn’t.  She’d overheard them talking on the phone, tiptoeing down the hall so that she could hear him on his cell while he thought she was watching TV in the livingroom.
“I don’t think Sophie knows, but she’s becoming suspicious…  Don’t worry, I’ll find a way to get out and meet you… “
And then yesterday; it had all been too much for her. She had followed him, catching him during his clandestine rendezvous.  Hank thought it was over, the fight that had erupted when she confronted him about his infidelity.
“You’re insane,” he said, going to bed and leaving her standing alone in the living room, tears flowing down her face. Then this morning he’d gotten up and left for work like always, kissing her as he went out the door. His lips had lingered a bit too long on hers; a sign he felt guilty about something. As soon as he left, Sophie went to work, checking the bank records and credit card transactions. The evidence was there; he’d spent a large amount of money the other day at Gretchen’s… the priciest jewelry store in town.  When they had decided to marry, Sophie had wanted a wedding set from the store. Hank had told her they couldn’t afford it and talked her into a cheaper design from a discount store.
“You didn’t even try to hide it,” she said bitterly, looking down in disgust at her unfaithful husband.
Hank stirred, the sound of her voice waking him. “Sophie, what’s going on? Is everything okay?”
“It will be.”
Sophie slashed downward with her knife, aiming for his cheating heart. Groggy, Hank almost didn’t move in time, raising his arm to block her attack.
“Sophie, what the hell…?”
She struck again, this time catching him under the arm. Blood was already beginning to stain the sheets from the first wound, now more poured out.
“Sophie, have you lost your mind?” Hank rolled across the bed, falling onto the floor. Sophie charged across, aiming for his stomach.
Grasping at her arms, Hank held onto her wrists, squeezing until she dropped the knife onto the floor. “You bitch, what the hell… you tried to kill me!”
“I told you, if I ever caught you cheating on me…”
“I’m not cheating. Sophie, I love you, why can’t you believe me?”
“I saw you with Helen. I’m not stupid.”
“I explained that; she’s my boss, she took me out for lunch to discuss my promotion.”
“Yeah… discuss your promotion. I’m sure you earned it.”
“That’s not fair. You know I work my ass off at that company.”
“You worked something off, so tired when you come home… straight to the shower and then bed.” Sophie spat the words out, angrily.
“I’ve been working overtime. Sophie, I was going to wait until tomorrow, but…” Hank turned his back to her. Reaching into his dresser drawer, he began rummaging around inside. Sophie reached for the knife.
“You were right, there was more to my meeting with Helen. I needed a small advance and I didn’t feel right discussing it with her at the office. Gail was always there, giving me dirty looks. I’m sure that gossip monger is the one that put this idea into your head…the bitch never can keep a secret, or I would have let her in on it.”
His voice came out in a rush. Sophie’s anger surged. Was he getting ready to admit his guilt? He was right, Gail was her best friend and had been the one to tell her something was going on between him and their boss.
“They’ve always got their heads together.”
“Happy Birthday…” Hank turned as Sophie brought the knife down into his chest. Shock filled his eyes, then pain and he fell backwards against the dresser, knocking bottles of aftershave and trinkets off the top. His hand opened. Sophie watched something small and square fall to the floor, then Hank followed, sinking to his knees and tilting towards the side.
“What did you say?” Sophie’s voice came out in a whisper. “Hank, what did you say?” She looked at the calendar she had hanging on the wall. August 17th. She’d forgotten her own birthday.
Sophie bent and picked up the box. It was a ring case…the name of the jewelry store was on top; Gretchen’s. With shaking fingers, she lifted the lid. The wedding set she had wanted when they’d first married was inside. Pulling the gold band from the cushion, Sophie peered at the inscription:
To Sophie, with all my love, Hank.

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