Imperfect Truth(5)

By: Ava Harrison

“Lenore, I asked you to join me because I wanted to know if you would like to help me plan the wedding, I think it would be a great chance for us to get to know each other,” I said with the utmost sincerity in the world. With my father out of my life and my mother sick, I really wanted and needed a mother figure to help me plan. She raised her eyes to meet mine, and I watched as her pupils narrowed into contempt.

“Oh, Ava, That implies I want to get to know you.”

My hopes were crushed with a simple sentence.

“Hi, Lenore.”

“Ava.” She barely looks at me as she acknowledges my presence in the room.

“So nice to have you here. Will you be spending the day with us after brunch?”

“No.” She walks past me to the kitchen. I’ve been dismissed.

Alexandre joins her in the kitchen, and I follow suit. The table is prepared with a catered brunch that Lenore obviously ordered. I take notice of the piping hot scones, Devonshire cream, A Quiche Lorraine, and many delectable preserves. Turning to Lenore, I gesture to the coffee and tea server sitting on the Calacatta marble kitchen island.

“May I pour you a coffee? Maybe a tea?”

“No.” She turns back to continue her conversation with Alexandre without giving me a second glance. Words flow freely between them. But for me, conversing with her is like pulling teeth.

I walk to the coffee pot and pour myself a cup. Sitting back down, I become lost in my thoughts. My mind searches for when the changes started to occur in my relationship with Alexandre. Although not one moment can be pinpointed, my belief is that my relationship with Lenore, or lack thereof, was the start of the downward spiral. Most of our fights over the years stemmed from his mother’s behavior towards me. A vision from right after Alexandre and I were married becomes vivid in my mind. The first time Lenore had shown up unannounced at our apartment on a Sunday plays out before me.

Lenore appears before me in all her superiority, her shoulders pulled back tight with the poise of a ballet dancer. Her tall, lithe body standing erect, She looks down at me. “Your behavior, Ava. I saw you out to dinner last night with your friend. You are a member of this family now. Some decorum, please. It’s not appropriate to laugh and act like that in public.” Lenore turns and walks to the other side of the room.

I turn to Alexandre, catching his eyes briefly and silently pleading with him to speak up in my defense. Under my breath I speak in a hushed whisper, “Alexandre, she can’t just show up at our apartment and tell me how I should act. I feel as though I’m locked in a cage, and your family has thrown away the key. Please, say something to her.”

He touches my hair ever so gently. I lean into his body seeking his warmth. Lenore turns back to us and unease descends upon me.

Engulfing me.

Silence falls upon us like a dark haze, suffocating me the closer she gets. Once upon us, Alexandre says nothing just steps away.

My body becomes cold.

A part of me snaps and breaks.

I. Am. Hollow.

A throat clearing awakens me from my daydream, and I notice Lenore stand to depart.

“This was lovely, Alexandre, I shall see you next week. Ava…maybe next time you’ll be courteous enough to prepare for my visit.” My mouth hangs open as she walks out of the room.

As if on cue, Delia, Lenore’s maid, steps into the kitchen with a stern look on her round, sun-kissed face as she takes me in. Her hands are tucked into the white apron on her black uniform. She shakes her head in judgment, reminding me how my friend Jules jokes that Delia is the spy hired by Lenore to make sure I’m on the straight and narrow.

As Delia clears the table, I excuse myself from Alexandre and make my way to the den. Grabbing my laptop, I power it up and sign on to Facebook. I click on my blog page and post the buy link for Changing Faces, making sure to tag him in the post, hoping he will see. Ryder Matthews is starting to become my new guilty pleasure. I head back to his profile to “stalk” him a little. He doesn’t supply much information. Closing the icon, I click on his pictures. There are a ton of pictures of his book covers and teasers, but only a few of him. Well, none of him, per se, just of his perfectly tailored suits. I secretly decide that all male authors are really females trying to cash in on female adoration to increase sales. Not Ryder, of course, but all the rest. A window pops up on my screen.