Lucy rolled over to reach out for Steve. She touched the empty
opposite pillow. He had left for his run. She had slept in and it was late.
She buried her nose in his pillow as images of the previous night filled
her mind. Stretching lazily, she thought of how the wine released a
primitive abandon to their lovemaking. Afterwards, she had fallen
asleep on the sofa watching a movie with her head in Steve’s lap, and
woken around midnight. Sleepily preparing for bed, they’d begun to
argue. It came back to her slowly. Worry about the mortgage made them
both tense, particularly when it was rumored there’d be cutbacks at the
station. It would be disastrous if one of them lost their job. To make
things even more complicated, Steve had been offered a great position on the east coast, which would mean leaving their new home. Lucy
refused to consider it.
She felt a stab of guilt and wanted Steve here with her. They would
sort it out, have great makeup sex, and the whole thing would be
forgotten. She’d have to be patient; nothing bar an earthquake would
stop him taking his Saturday morning run. Living together wasn’t
always easy, but since meeting Steve at the local radio station where they
both worked—she as a research assistant and he as a journalist—they
had quickly grown close, to the extent that she couldn’t bear to think of a
future life without him, financial worries and all.
Throwing back the duvet, Lucy leapt from the bed and walked to the
window. The view through the trees, a grand expanse of aquamarine
water, always made her catch her breath. She and Steve were thrilled
with their quaint little house. They were eager to renovate it. It was just
one bed and a sitting room—the bath and kitchen tacked on at the
back—but it was built on waterfront land. A narrow stretch, admittedly,
and they could only just afford to buy it with Lucy’s inheritance, Steve’s
savings and a massive mortgage. They planned to double-story the
house, adding an airy master suite, bathroom and a nursery.
Steve was right; worries were best dealt with, with exercise. Lucy
stretched and went through her twenty-minute routine. She pinned up
her dark brown hair and jumped in the shower, running the water hot,
cool, and finally icy cold. A habit she’d picked up from her father, who
believed it to be a miracle cure for whatever ailed you.
Ready to tackle a day in the garden, Lucy dressed in white shorts and
pulled on one of Steve’s shirts that came down almost to her knees,
leaving it open over a singlet top. She made her way to the kitchen and
put the coffee on to perk. After feeding Stripe, their male tortoiseshell
cat, she sat drinking her coffee as her mind drifted.
She placed her cup in the sink, then checked her watch. Steve had
been gone almost an hour longer than usual. Perhaps he’d decided to
run further today but she doubted it, for it was now close to nine and
already the barometer was climbing. It was going to be another blistering