Angela Amman

Holiday Detour – Part 10

holiday fiction

So, it appears “Holiday Detour” took its own little detour, missing the Christmas exit, shooting past New Year’s, and careening dangerously close to Valentine’s Day. Let’s get this wrapped up before then, shall we?

Continued from Part Nine — or start at the very beginning with Part One!

Vance saw confusion in Margot’s eyes when she turned in her seat, but he couldn’t see any guilt lurking there. In his gut he’d known she wasn’t squirreling away time with the scruffy interloper skulking away from the table, but it’d still been surreal to see his wife sitting and having a drink with another man.

He tried to smile, shrugging in a way that didn’t feel exactly right. “I thought we’d have more of a ‘run into my arms’ kind of moment,” he said.

Her eyebrows arched nearly into her hairline.

He tried again. Apologies didn’t come easily, even when he wanted them to. “I guess it just looked differently in my head.”

“I know the feeling,” Margot said, and he tried to wrap his head around the weariness in her voice.

“Let’s start over,” he said, still unsure why she was looking at him like he might vanish into thin air. “Since fate threw us together when we were supposed to be apart, can I buy you a drink?”

“Fate apparently has a sense of humor,” Margot said.

Vance knew every nuance of her voice, could read them in her text messages and emails and the exhausted calls they squeezed in when they were on opposite sides of the country. He hadn’t expected to hear hurt and resignation in her voice when he’d realized they’d both been sidetracked in Chicago. Once upon a time, they would have looked at the coincidence as an adventure. Had they really grown so distant? And what did that mean for the papers he’d had his lawyer put together so carefully?

He dropped his bag at her feet and pulled the chair closer to hers before sitting. He’d been traveling long enough that his head throbbed from lack of sleep and the dehydration creeping through his body. Habit allowed him to reach for her water glass and gulp more than half of it down before she had the chance to protest. Relief crackled in his veins when he saw her smile, just a little.

“You never think about ordering your own water, do you?” Her words echoed with a sense of nostalgia, which confused him a little more, but he grasped at the small victory turning up the corners of her mouth.

“I didn’t even order our drinks yet,” Vance said, smiling back. “You can’t get mad about the water.”

He could see her struggling to hold back tears, and he reached down to grab her hands. “Margs. Did something happen? I thought this would be fun. Or at least as fun as a severe weather delay can possibly be.”

“Yesterday, I would have thought that, too,” she said, and his heart stuttered as her voice caught somewhere in her throat “But then you served me with papers, and I don’t know what to think anymore. And in a hotel? I don’t know. Maybe it’s better it happened there than at home…”

Vance felt torn between gathering her to his chest and trying to make sense of what she was saying. She’d seemed so unhappy for so long. She should have welcomed the news, even if she was initially surprised, but now she was near tears over it. His head swam. He drained her glass of water, wishing he could somehow start this whole conversation over again.

“What do you mean? I thought you’d want to know as soon as possible,” Vance said.

She pulled her hands back into her own lap, eyes wide with pain. “I just… I knew we were struggling to get back on the same path, but I never thought you’d be this cavalier about getting divorced.”

Vance’s tired brain felt pieces click into place, and he might have started to laugh if Margot’s eyes weren’t swimming with tears.

“Margot, did you even open the damn package?”

to be continued

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