Imperfect Truth(4)

By: Ava Harrison

Ava Readsalot: Hey, Ryder, How are you today?

Ava Readsalot: Something I can help you with?

Oh shit, I sound like a bitch. Fuck. Is it too late to throw in a smiley face?

Ryder Matthews: No, no I’m good. Just wanted to give you a heads up…My new book is up for presale. I’m going to send you the link.

Ava Readsalot: Oh, yes, of course. It would be my pleasure to post. Thanks :-)

There. Smiley face included. Oh my God, why am I acting like a high school girl? Why is this man I don’t know already giving me butterflies when we’ve hardly said two words to each other. Is it because he is famous? What is wrong with me?

As I prepare my witty repartee, I’m lured out of my thoughts by the sound of my phone ringing.

“Ava? Where are you?” He sounds irritated.

“Good Morning to you too, Alexandre,” I roll my eyes.

“We have brunch with my mother in a few minutes.” He informs me of this as if it is an everyday occurrence. It’s not, thankfully.

“Really? Can I skip it today? I’m not dressed.” Please, God, say yes.

“No, you can’t skip it. My mother is expecting you. I suggest you come home and make yourself presentable.”

His words cut into me, etching away at my already low self-esteem. My hands close into fists as I try to shake off the dejection I feel. I collect my belongings and hurry home. As I open the door, my body shivers at the shrill sound of her voice.

She had beaten me home.

“Well, look who decided to join us,” she says to Alexandre as she glances down at her watch and shakes her head. “A little tardy, and what is she wearing?”

Alexandre rises from the couch and walks over to me. “Would you please freshen up?” he says in a hushed tone under his breath.

With haste, I make my way into my bathroom, and within minutes my clothes are off and replaced with my classic black pants, a crisp white button down, and a face void of emotion. Sweeping my long dark locks out of my face, the transformation is complete. I’ve become the perfect Stepford wife.

The door to the bedroom creaks as I emerge into the hallway. Taking brisk steps, I find them sitting on the pristine white couch in the living room. Lenore sits aloof, a perfect ice sculpture in her iconic strawberry tweed Chanel suit. Her long ebony hair is blown straight, and there is no emotion on her botoxed face. Her thin lips purse as she takes notice of me entering the room. As she turns her long and delicate frame to Alexandre, a memory flashes through my mind from a few years back, right after we announced our engagement.

We sat at the rickety wooden café table at Bagatelle, a French Brasserie in the Meat Packing District. The air was crisp and refreshing, as the retracting glass walls were pulled open to enjoy the perfect fall day. Lenore sat across from me, pushing the food around her plate to keep up the pretense that she was actually consuming it. I had invited her to lunch to try to get to know her better, but the silence between us was deafening. Awkward and uncomfortable, I finally mustered up the courage to speak.

“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.

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