Thursday, July 31, 2008

THIRTY-FIVE

An hour later, my mother and I had left the spa and were on our way to Amélie and Guillaume's house. I was completely relaxed for the first time in weeks. The massage had done wonders. My mother, on the other hand, was clenching the steering wheel tightly and her lips were pursed into a thin, disapproving line.

"Mom," I sighed, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you that Sidney and I were living together. But we're not anymore, okay? And I promise I won't keep things like this from you anymore." My apology was half-hearted; I wasn't really sorry, but I wanted my mother to calm down.

She didn't reply, so I resigned and slumped into my seat. It would probably take her days to get over this.

We pulled into Amélie's bricked driveway and my jaw dropped when I saw her massive house. It was bigger than Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie's, and much more ostentatious. I couldn't believe a family of three needed all that room—the house was big enough for at least eight people.

I followed my mother, who still hadn't said a word, to the ornate doorway of the massive brick house. She pressed the doorbell once, and almost immediately the door swung open. I stared at the unfamiliar woman who showed us in. She was in a plain gray dress and had her dark hair pulled into a tight bun. "Madame Lemieux is in the nursery with Julien," she said quietly. My mother gave her a curt nod and started up the stairs.

I glanced back at the woman, who was making her way into the kitchen, and it hit me—she was a maid. Amélie had a maid.

"Why does Amélie need a maid?" I hissed to my mother. She was essentially a stay-at-home mother. While Guillaume was off at his mystery job all day, she had nothing to do but care for Julien and do housework. I always imagined her cleaning, cooking, playing with her son…I didn't realize how wrong I had been.

My mother ignored me and walked briskly down the hallway. I could hear my nephew giggling, and I was glad that he was apparently in one of his less monstrous moods. We stepped into the nursery, and I caught my breath. I thought I had stepped into a forest. The walls were a beautiful, lifelike mural of a storybook forest, complete with a knight in shining armor atop of a white horse speeding down a forest path. It was absolutely stunning—I had never seen anything like it.

"Salut, Maman, Karine," Amélie greeted us as she got on her feet. Julien was in the middle of the room, playing with cars. It was hard to believe he was such a brat most of the time. He honestly looked like a perfect angel.

"Salut, Amélie. Your home is amazing!" I had thought she was exaggerating when he described her new home to Sidney and me at Christmas, but I could see now that every word she said was true.

She waved her hand lightly, as if to brush off my compliment, and gave me a hug. "I'm so surprised to see you. Are you in Montreal for work?"

"Not really," I replied. "I got a promotion, and I wanted to tell everyone about it face-to-face. I have to move to Paris in mid-February."

"Ah." The expression on Amélie's face was unreadable. "Let's go downstairs for coffee," she said to my mother and me.

I tentatively looked at my mother and saw that her lips were still pressed into an angry line, and she still hadn't spoken. "Actually, I'd like to play with Julien for a while," I replied. In my opinion, being alone with my nephew was less dangerous than being in the same room with my mother right now. "If that's okay."

"Sure!" Amélie replied brightly. I could tell she was taken aback by my sudden desire to spend time with Julien, but I could also see she was happy about it.

"Where's Sidney?" Julien demanded as soon as my mother and Amélie left the room.

"Sidney couldn't come with me this time," I replied, trying to hide my pained expression from the three-year-old.

"Why?"

"Because he is too busy."

"Why?"

"Because he has to practice a lot if he wants to be really good at hockey."

"Why?"

I sighed, certain that Julien could keep this up for hours.

"Look, buddy, Sidney probably won't be able to come play with you anymore."

"Why?"

"Because right now he's mad at me."

"So what?"

"Well…if he doesn't want hang out with me, then he can't really hang out with you."

"That's not fair," Julien pouted.

"I know," I replied sadly. "I'm sorry."

"Why is he mad at you?"

"Because I did something really stupid."

"Did you push him off the swing? Because one time my friend Lea came over to play and I pushed her off the swing and she got really mad at me and didn't talk to me for a whole hour." His sweet, innocent eyes were wide with curiosity.

"No," I laughed. "I didn't push Sidney off the swing. I lied to him."

"Mommy and Daddy say lying is bad."

"Lying is bad," I agreed. "That's why Sidney is mad at me."

"Oh." He bobbed his head in understanding and handed me a car. "Well, if Sidney can't play with me I guess I you can."

"Thanks," I replied, grinning. Honestly, sometimes this kid wasn't so bad.

***

Half an hour later, Julien was bored with me, so I decided it was time to join my mother and sister in the sitting room. As soon as I entered the room, they stopped talking. Obviously their conversation had been about me.

"Hi, Karine!" Amélie said, sounding a little too animated. "Did my son wear you out?"

"No, he just got bored with me. Apparently I'm not very good at playing cars, whatever that means."

My mother stood from the couch. "I'll go see if I can keep him entertained," she said to no one in particular as she left the room.

I sighed, and when I was sure she was out of earshot I turned to Amélie. "So has she been complaining about how I didn't tell her Sidney and I were living together?"

"Actually…no," Amélie replied after a slight hesitation. "She…she's kind of worried about you."

"Worried? Why?"

"Well…" Amélie hesitated once again. I could tell she was battling with herself over whether to tell me what they had been talking about. I had a right to know, but I knew she felt some kind of loyalty to my mother. Like telling me would be betraying her. Amélie sighed and looked at me seriously. "She's worried because she didn't realize you and Sidney were so serious. She's worried that you might not be making the right decision by moving to Paris."

"Amélie," I replied with exasperation, "I don't have a choice. If I don't take this promotion I lose my job."

I noticed Amélie was wringing her hands. "Karine…this is the first time you've seen my house."

I nodded, taken aback by her sudden change in subject. "It's amazing."

She closed her eyes. "Yes, it is. Guillaume makes a lot of money. It was smart of me to marry him." I stared at her, confused by the strange wording of the sentence. "I love him, don't get me wrong. He's a good husband. But…do you remember Victor Colin?"

"Yeah. You dated him for a while in Secondary."

"For almost two years," she corrected me. "Remember when we broke up?"

"Right after you graduated."

"Yes. I've never told anyone this, but the reason we broke up was because he proposed to me."

"What?" I gasped. I knew Amélie and Victor had been serious, but I had no idea they were that devoted to one another.

Amélie nodded tightly. "I turned him down, of course. He wasn't planning on attending a Post Secondary school, and I didn't want to become one of those girls…you know, the girls that get married right out of high school and spend their twenties repopulating the city. So, I left Victor, went to Post Secondary, met Guillaume…" her voice trailed off and I wondered if she was remembering the day Victor proposed. "Anyway," she continued, snapping back to reality, "look, please understand that I love Guillaume. He gave me all of this," she motioned around the room, "and Julien. He's provided me with an amazing life that any woman my age would die for. But Victor still has a large part of my heart. I loved him in a way that I will never love Guillaume. Do you understand?"

I nodded, although I was confused as to why Amélie was telling me all of this. "What does this have to do with me?"

Amélie rested her hands on my shoulders and stared into my eyes. "Karine, some things are more important than a huge house, an extravagant lifestyle…even more important than a job." I suddenly realized what this conversation was about. "I've seen the way he looks at you. He's hopelessly in love, Karine. Are you willing to give up true love for your career?"

"He's not in love with me anymore," I whispered, breaking eye contact.

"I'm certain that he is. You just have to prove to him that you won't hurt him again. You can't go to Paris, Karine." She was pleading with me now, forcing me to make eye contact again. "You can't."

"Is everything alright, girls?" As soon as Amélie heard our mother's voice, she dropped her hands and a smile spread across her face.

"Everything's fine. Karine and I were just talking about color schemes," she lied.

I wasn't sure if my mother believed her or not, but she glanced at her watch and said we needed to leave. "Your father is going to be home soon and he'll want supper."

"Au revoir, Karine," Amélie said, giving me a hug. "I hope everything works out," she added.

"Au revoir, Amélie. Your house is beautiful," I told her one last time. She stared at me, unsure if there was a double meaning behind my words, but I just smiled and turned away.

The car ride from Amélie's house to my parents' home granted me a lot of time to think. Amélie was wrong. Sidney wasn't in love with me anymore. He seemed completely disinterested in me at Ryan's house after the Winter Classic. I could sense that he wanted to get away from me. How can you love someone if you can't even stand talking to them?

I closed my eyes and rested my head against the window. Things were so less complicated before I met Sidney—I always knew what I wanted, and I was prepared to do anything to get it. I was still focused like that, when I could concentrate. But it's hard to fight for what you want when you aren't sure what you need.

9 comments:

anika875 said...

this story keeps me so entertained at work! i love it! can't wait to see what her decision is! ;)

Steph said...

this story is so good, honestly. please update more.

Lauren said...

This story is one of my favorites! I'm glad Amelie pointed out the obvious to Karine :)

More soon, please!

Kimmy said...

I can't see what she decides to do!!

More Soon!!

stovgirl said...

I love, love this story. Update soon, please...

Kaity said...

amzing yet again !

Update soon please (:

KylieD32 said...

You are a fabulous writer! Yay for two chapters today!! Keep 'em coming!

I think I know what's going to bring them back together...

giveupon-me said...

update.
i sped read through these today when i got the chance.
update. please? lol
-ashley

Kayla Elizabeth said...

I can't wait for the next chapter! This story is great! :)