Natalie drove into the city. She loved the expensive shops and restaurants in the city. She took Tara to Edward’s for lunch. Edward’s was the place for elegant dining, and everyone at Edward’s knew Natalie. As soon as they entered, the Maitre’D greeted them and said, “Ah, Mrs. Jacobson, your favorite table is available.”
“Wonderful, Charles,” and Natalie and Tara followed Charles to a table by a large window overlooking the river that divided the city into the part of the city that Natalie loved and the part she’d never set foot in. It was a lovely view. The sun was shining and there were several brightly colored sailboats on the water. Tara never came into the city on her own. She didn’t really like the city. She was glad that Jaime had agreed to live in the suburbs.
They were seated and Natalie ordered a glass of wine. Tara simply ordered water with lemon.
“Oh, Tara, darling, you really should try the wine. It’s a lovely vintage with a refreshingly light fruity taste.”
“No, thank you, Natalie.”
“Well, what shall we eat? How about the filet mignon with crab-stuffed portabellos and a garden salad with the French vinaigrette?”
“I couldn’t possibly eat all of that.”
“I’m sure you’ll realize just how hungry you are, as soon as you taste the divine fare.”
When the waiter arrived at their table, Natalie ordered for both of them.
“What have you been painting lately?” Natalie asked.
“The last thing I painted was a watercolor of some children playing at a park. I finished that about a week ago.”
“Then you should start something new. Put all of the conflicting emotions you’re feeling into a wonderful painting. I really want to help you hold an art exhibit at Dorian’s Gallery. You are a talented painter and should be earning money for your work. You’ll have to do something to earn a living now.”
“Oh, I don’t think I’ll be able to paint for a while, and I am not desperate for money yet.”
“You need to find something to keep you busy and keep your mind off this terrible tragedy.”
“Why is everyone so interested in keeping my mind off of my husband’s death?” Tara was becoming distressed.
“Tara, darling, we just want what’s best for you. The sooner you can get on with your life, the better you will feel.”
“Are you crazy? I loved Jaime! I was looking forward to spending the rest of my life with him and having a family! I am lost without him and don’t know why someone murdered him!”
“I’m sorry, Tara. I didn’t mean to upset you. Keep your voice down and let’s enjoy our lunch. Then I’ll take you back to Jacobson Mergers for your car.”
The rest of the lunch was spent in meaningless small talk separated by spaces of tense silence. Tara wasn’t really hungry but she did find the food delicious. She ate about a fourth of it.
Tara was relieved to finally get into her car and return to her own home after Natalie had dropped her at Jacobson’s Mergers. She needed some time alone. She was tired of everyone thinking they knew what was best for her.
Tara was surprised to see that someone had cleaned up the glass from the broken vase and set the chair upright again. The house looked just like it always did, but she couldn’t get the image of Jaime lying on the floor behind the desk out of her mind. She wandered aimlessly from room to room on the main floor for a while. Then she wandered upstairs.
She’d gotten angry at Natalie for suggesting that she start a new painting, yet she felt drawn to her art studio. She always had done her best paintings when she was feeling some strong emotions. She wandered around her studio and then stood and looked out the window at their garden and courtyard below. She had a big, beautiful house with a beautiful garden and courtyard and the three acres of wooded area out behind all of that, but it felt so empty without Jaime, even though he hadn’t spent much time here in the past two years.
Tara began to think over those past two years, and she realized that it was during those two years that Jaime had really grown distant from her. She had tried to be a good wife. She was a good cook, though Jaime hadn’t eaten much of her cooking for quite some time. She tried to take an interest in his work, but he never wanted to talk about it. She had asked to tag along on some of his business trips, but he always said she’d simply be bored because he’d be in meetings all day every day.
She wondered what made things change so much. They had been married for almost eight years. Yes, their eighth anniversary would arrive in just three months. For the first half of their marriage they had been so happy. They had big dreams for their lives, but for some reason, Jaime’s dreams didn’t include children. She thought, when she married him, that they both wanted a family. They had talked about it many times and she was sure he’d make a wonderful father. She just couldn’t figure out what went wrong, and now, Jaime was gone, murdered, which brought more questions: who killed Jaime and why?
Tara went into the bedroom, picked up a shirt of Jaime’s that had been tossed on the back of a chair as he had changed clothes in a hurry, and lay down on the bed holding Jaime’s shirt close to her chest and face. She closed her eyes and breathed in the smell of his cologne and she began to cry. Her cries turned into gut-wrenching sobs and when she couldn’t cry anymore, Tara fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.