Chantelle looked across the table at James – it was like time stood still. The finest table, in the finest restaurant in town, soft candlelight, piano music playing in the background. Had it really been all that long ago that their story began? Had there really been that many twists and turns? She took a sip of her wine, staring deeply into his dark brown eyes and thinking that they were having their very own Bogey and Bacall moment. How was their story going to end … or was it? Did the tag line read “To be continued.”?
James took her hand in his. “I am very happy that we are having this moment, Chantelle. Wherever it leads, I am truly happy that we are having this moment.”
A wave of nostalgia enveloped Chantelle like a fog, almost overwhelming her. She mentally shook herself, and responded: “I almost said no. I almost could not face seeing you again. Well, that is not true. I wanted to see you again, but I wasn’t sure that I would make it through another parting. Time does not ease that pain. Other people do not ease that pain.”
They went back a long way – but they both remembered every single step – and mis-step – on their path. They met in college, and they were both rising stars. He was destined for the management side of the entertainment world, she was destined to become a writer. They both exceeded all expectations. Their success was what drove them apart – more than once, the bright light of success blinded them.
They were married right out of college. James became a rising star at a top entertainment company. Their time was not their own – it was spent networking and building credibility in their respective fields. Chantelle had two books accepted, and they did fairly well. Her third book, “For Your Eyes Only”, was her breakthrough. It spent sixteen months on the New York Times best seller list, and gave her the confidence she needed to write the stories that were waiting inside her to be written.
James signed what would quickly become a top R & B group, and he never looked back. After three years with the entertainment company, he left to start his own business. The R & B group followed him, and his business grew quickly.
Chantelle became pregnant – a difficult pregnancy, resulting in the birth of a healthy baby boy. The marriage itself was, by this time, not so healthy. They never made it out of the shadows, and divorced when their son was a year old.
“James, remember San Francisco?”
“How could I not remember San Francisco! We had such an exciting time there. It all seemed to go so well – I never understood why you backed away from me. I would have given you the world!”
“James, I know that you would have given me the world. But I wasn’t sure that it was a world that I wanted to live in. I needed more of your time than you realistically had to offer. Choosing to marry David made sense to me. It still does. He and I had a wonderful life together. It was very hard to lose him when I did. Life is sometimes just not fair.”
“I know, and in my pain I married in haste. I don’t know which was worse, the marriage or the divorce. She too wanted more than I had to give, but she had no life other than mine, and I never saw that until it was too late.”
“Chantelle, is it too late to pick up the pieces? Are we meant to meet now and again through our son and grandchildren, and walk away pretending that all is well? I can’t do that any more! I want you back in my life!”
Chantelle thought back to the good times – the shared laughter, the holidays spent together, the random touch, the random kiss. Her throat closed up, and tears came to her eyes. Was what she was about to say the right thing? Would she be deceiving him too badly? No one knew, and she intended to keep it that way.
She took his hand in both of hers. “James, I still love you. I have always loved you. I think we need to give ourselves another chance, and put the past behind us.”
Joy and a sense of peace radiated around them. Chantelle vowed never to let James know that her time left was limited – she was not expected to live for more than a year, two at the most. It was not the kind of thing where there would be a slow deterioration. She would be herself until the end – but there would be an end.
This was their story.
(c) August 2010 Bonnie Cehovet