I tap my lacquered fingernail in rhythm with the ringing.
Brrng. Brrng. Brrng. Brrng.
Just as I'm about to hang up, I hear his baritone voice tickle my ear.
"Amorcita. How goes it?"
"Tom, are you alone, can you talk, or is She nearby?"
"Hattie is running errands with a girlfriend. Why? What's the secrecy?'
"Tom, you know as well as I do, that, although you choose not to recognize the reality, your beloved fiancé, soon to be wifey number one, okay, only joking, is NOT my biggest fan."
"You and I have been friends for longer than Hattie and I have been a couple, so you, my gal pal, are part of the marrying package ."
"Speaking of your nuptials, can you come over, I've got a proposal to share with you."
"See you soon."
It'll be great having a spec of time with good, old Tom, instead of 'Hattiom.' I hope, deep in my heart, that when they finally slip on those bands of gold, she, Hattie, will relax back to her former non-diva self.
I smile upon hearing my door creak open, reminding me to oil the hinges. Hattie doesn't like Tom having a key to my condo. I bet She won't be giving me the keys to their new abode. Tom will.
Tom's scent announces his arrival, that fresh, musky citrus aroma that no cologne replicates.
"Grab a cup if you'd like, the pot is freshly brewed."
I watch his movements across the hardwood to my cupboards, those long fingers slipping into the mug's handle. He always chooses that same mug; variegated colours are shaped like a mini.
Tom folds his body next to me on my cushiony couch, his long legs resting on my coffee table. I take my cue to start my pitch when his blue eyes connect with mine.
"Tom, I have a proposition about your honeymoon. Your wedding expenses continue to blossom and bloom as you tell me all the time, leaving you with less money for the honeymoon."
"Well, what would you say if I had a plan for gifting you and Hattie with an all-expenses-paid fantabulous honey-moon?"
"I'd say, 'when did you rob the bank?' Shouldn't you be on your get-a-way before the cops break down your door?"
"Haha. I'm serious. There's a new reality show for couples, engaged to be wed, to win a dream honeymoon. The show's called 'Love and Divas.'"
"You seriously don't believe Hattie would agree to such a thing."
"Tom, of course, she wouldn't, but I, WE could."
His brow wrinkles while silence sits between us. I wait in patience. After a slurpy sip of his coffee, then a deep breath, I recognize he's ready to respond.
"Samorn, we are NOT in a romantic relationship. How in the world would we make this illusion work on a reality show?"
"We have the acting chops, remember uni! We know each other better than most couples do. This would be my way of showing Her, Hattie, that I wish you all the very best on your new marriage."
"And, She has turned into a Diva, hasn't she."
My eyes roll back into my head and our giggles grow into chortles and belly laughs.
"We're registered already."
I duck from his swatting hand.
"You'll be 'Tom,' and I'll be 'Samorn.' I said our cutesy couple nickname is 'Tamorn.' I thought it was kind of reminiscent of your two-some moniker, 'Hattiom.'"
"I absolutely HATE Hattiom."
"But, Hattie LOVES IT!"
Since you're marrying her, Tom, my man,
you had best get used to this quirk of her personality.
"Anyway, the show runs for two weeks. We live in their apartment set. There are only two rooms with any privacy: the bathroom and a walk-in closet-dressing room. Otherwise, actions and words are captured for posterity."
"Hattie won't like us sleeping in the same bed."
"Tom, we've done this before. Remember, skiing trips, the cottage, Cancun."
"The on-camera talent, so to speak, 'drops-in' unannounced to add zest to the proceedings."
"Okay. My work schedule allows me to zoom, google.doc so that will not be an issue. I'm away next week and Hattie is away the following week, so we appear good-to-go."
"Great! I'm so excited to be able to give you such a spectacular honeymoon. Go get packed, meet me here, and I'll finalize the arrangements with the show. I believe our check-in is 6pm."
A quick buss on my forehead and Tom strides away.
We stand hand-in-hand, key in Tom's right hand, before our new passion purple front door where a gaudy fake floral wreath hangs. On one panel of the door hangs an appliquéd cloth hangs. The quote aptly describing Hattiom: 'Two minds without a single thought.'
I tip-toe to whisper in Tom's ear, "Remember, we're IN Character all-the-time."
Slipping the key in the lock, we step into our lover's pad. Periwinkle adorns the teeny foyer, powder room and hallway while the living-dining room sits resplendent in plum, peeking into a heathered kitchen in
My heart thuds at the prospect of the remaining room colours. My eyes gaze in gratitude at the crisp porcelain trim and double doors leading to the bedroom, dressing room and bathroom.
The doors swing open. Ahead looms the king-size bed dressed in restful rice coloured linens. To the left lies the dressing room calm in chiffon, and to the right, our bathroom is crisply white.
"When we go back into our bedroom, give me a kiss, like you really love me!"
"But my dear, I DO love you, just NOT like I love Hattie."
Once in our bedroom, Tom's arms enfold me, and I wrap my arms around his neck, looking upward towards his mouth. As his head bends towards mine, my eyes close as my lips part.
Our lips meet with such sweetness that a tear threatens to trip down my cheek.
Pulling away, Tom's hand lie on my waist, those baby blue eyes searching my green irises.
I step away.
"How about you check out the food and beverage situation while I unpack? Go. Sooner I get this done, we can relax together."
I turn to walk to our dressing room, sinking onto a built-in upholstered seat, my head in my hands. My heart races with such a heady concoction of emotions which I struggle to ignore.
When I open my eyes and stand up, I discover that we are unpacked already, in fact, extra clothing, in our sizes, lay waiting for our use.
"That was fast!"
"Seems they already had unpacked for us. They even supplied some stylish duds too."
I accept a generous goblet of red wine from Tom then we toast our adventure.
Soft jazz plays while candles flicker as we nibble and imbibe, just like we had done so many times as Tom and his gal pal, Amorcita.
As bedtime approaches, tension grows until Tom excuses himself, loping towards the bathroom. I extinguish the candles, tidy up our dishes before padding on bare feet to our shared room where Tom has flicked on the two side lamps, bathing the room in a golden glow.
Off to the dressing room, I search for my night-clothes without success. Desperately wondering what I'll do, I spy two nighties and dressing gowns folded in the closet drawers, gratefully choosing one set to wear that night.
The door to the bathroom lies closed. I walk close to the door, about to knock, when my ears catch part of a conversation. I press my head to the door.
"What do you mean you're not away next week?"
"Of, course, I LOVE when you don't have to go away for work!"
"I'll call you, my love, tomorrow around the same time. I'm sending you a kiss on the phone right now. SMACK!"
My feet carry me to my side of the bed, where I sit still as a statue, sad, forlorn, and confused.
The bathroom door opens, spilling sharp light into the room. I smile as we pass each other. I mindlessly brush my teeth, floss, wash my face, and cream my skin, readying myself for bed. I stand breathing, facing the closed door, feeling like an actor about to enter stage left.
Tom's head rests on two puffy pillows, the duvet exposing his bare chest. He glances up briefly from his novel as I slip into bed.
"Naughty nighty. Not usually your style."
"My dear, I'm simply trying to keep our relationship fresh."
I lean over, my breasts nestling his chest, to plant a kiss on his mouth.
"I think I'll read for a bit too, just like you."
I throw my focus and my mind into the novel, straining to maintain a grasp of the plot instead of my hyper-awareness of my state of undress and Tom's bare chest.
Ding-dong. Bing-bong. Cling-clang.
It's eleven at night, and we have visitors.
"I'll go," Tom whispered, pulling on a dressing robe then walking to the front door. I strain to hear the words spoken in our hallway. I pull the duvet over my breasts as the talkers come closer, then enter the bedroom.
The MC of the show and a videographer stand with Tom gazing at me.
"Good evening, Samorn. I'm Lou-Lou, and this handsome guy is Fred. We're here for a candid drop-in, night one for "Love and Divas. Tom, how about you scooch back into bed, cuddle up like you normally do, and we'll have a wee chat."
Somehow, we meet mid bed, I lay my head on Tom's chest, hoping for all the world that it looks like a familiar pose. His skin warms mine, his chest hair tickles my cheek like a caress. I wiggle discreetly, trying to find a safe place to lay my arm away from his abdomen.
"Hi everyone, I'm Lou-Lou, on a first-night candid-drop-in with Tom and Samorn. Let's review together, shall we, tonight's escapades."
A large television rises up from the trim displaying the opening credits, followed by us, in Technicolor transparency.
"Before we leave you, I have one piece of advice to gift you — if you crave INTIMACY you can press this button on the television and you will be off-screen for 2-hours. Hopefully, that will be enough time."
I can feel the heat staining my cheeks brilliant red.
"One more thing, before we go, it's our show's tradition, the first night kiss good- night. When you're ready."
I mouth the word, 'Uni.'
Tom takes my face in his hands, bending over me, crushing my breasts to his chest, his lips teasing mine, then growing more urgent.
"Okay, that'll be perfect."
I had forgotten we were being filmed.
"Sweet dreams, lovers. We'll let ourselves out."
I feel immersed in Tom's gaze, my lips saddened to be separated from his. He lowers his head, our lips electric, oxygen on the fire of our passion.
One week passes in pleasure; however, my brain broods about Tom's pending phone call to Hattie. I feel her hovering over us like a black cloud.
I poke my nose in my novel, now fully engrossed in the tempestuous plot, barely acknowledging Tom en route to the washroom. As the door clicks closed, I drop the book open on my lap, dread weighing me down. Tonight, now, Tom will be talking with Hattie.
When I hear the lever moving, I grasp my book, pretending to read.
"I told Hattie I would be away at work for next week."
"We need to talk, now."
Tom removes my book, placing it on one side table, before taking my hands in his.
"We can't go on like we have. It's not fair."
"What do you see as our options?"
"Well, Tom, that depends on you. What do you want? We're in this place because I'm trying to win a great honeymoon for you and Hattie."
"I am in love, just not with Hattie."
My teary eyes blur as I sniffle softly.
"I love you Amorcita, Real love, with all your vagaries."
"So we need to own up to Hattie, but when?"
"Tom, before we WIN this contest, that's when."