ADVENT STORIES #8 | DUST SETTLING

‘You need to talk to her AJ. She cannot speak to me like that.’ Wendy is still fuming from the showdown with Ava at Oliver’s school.

‘I’m sorry, I will talk to her.’ AJ and Wendy have been at it all day since the meeting with Ava at Oliver’s school. It was his fault, he got held up and sent her to collect his son. He had no idea it would all blow up like that. But he dares not talk to Ava about it, she would kill him and most likely get away with murder. ‘Are you at least going to eat?’

‘No. I’m going to bed.’ She walks up the stairs and slams the door to a bedroom.

There goes his night. AJ heaves a sigh. He isn’t up to yet another argument tonight, they argued about it yesterday, this morning, this afternoon. The kitchen was pretty much an ice box between them, and awkward; staff walking around on eggshells all day and he hates that. He grabs his coat from the cloakroom and leaves the apartment. He thought he’d spend the night making it up to her but no such luck.

‘Ayyyye there he is. I thought you weren’t coming.’ Theodore Hastings, AJ’s best friend lets him into his home, he’d only blown him off every night this week when Theodore asked him to come round.

‘Hey man.’ AJ hangs his coat in cloak room before heading into the living room.

‘Hi Uncle AJ.’ Daniel, Theo’s younger son.

‘You’re getting big Danny. How are you?’

‘Good. Where is Ollie?’

‘Oliver is with his mummy tonight, but I’ll bring him next time shall I?’

‘Okay.’

‘Hello AJ.’ Meena, Theo’s wife, walks in from the back entryway, having just walked the dogs with their older son, Brandon.

‘Hello.’ AJ notes she is pleasant enough this time.

‘Hi Uncle AJ.’

‘Hey B, how are you?’

‘Good.’

‘How’s your FIFA score looking?’

‘Much better than yours.’ Brandon replies with cheek.

‘Good night.’ Meena says to Brandon.

‘Good night dad, good night mum, good night uncle AJ.’

‘Please help your brother brush his teeth, I’ll be up soon.’

‘Yes mum.’

Theo and Meena were really good friends with Ava and AJ, before he went and blew everything up. Ava severed ties with them because they are AJ’s friends; in that pernickety detail when it comes to divorce, he inherited the things he came to the marriage with; his friends. They’d been such good friends. Meena still hasn’t forgiven him for that but at least tonight, the hostility has dulled some.

‘You hungry?’ Theo asks AJ.

‘Nah I’m good.’

‘I’m going to finish up some work in my office. Good to see you AJ.’

Theo rolls his eyes, Meena is still salty that AJ’s shenanigans with Wendy cost her a friendship.

‘The grand Prix replay is on. Come on.’

Both men retire to Theo’s den where the channel is already tuned to Sky Sports where the race is already playing. AJ sees the name Sebastian Rose-Jones in the ticker, in the lead. His ex-wife’s cousin’s husband. The legend among men, as the press dubbed. That email from Rocks still gets his goat.

‘How are things?’

‘What things?’ AJ is irritated at seeing Rock’s husband’s name on TV and being reminded of the issues in his marriage.

‘Just things AJ. What’s eating you?’

‘Sorry.’

‘What’s going on?’ Theo offers his friend one of the two glasses of whisky he just poured.

‘Ava and Wendy got into it.’

Theo let out a low whistle. ‘How did that happen?’

AJ tells Theo about the encounter with Wendy and Ava at the school.

‘Why would you send her to collect your son from school?’

‘Because I was held up. I thought I was doing the right thing.’

‘No you weren’t.’ Theo and AJ have been friends long enough for honesty to be the cornerstone of their friendship. It is why AJ did not tell Theo about the relationship with Wendy and his decision to file for divorce until after the fact; his friend would have torn him a new one. After AJ told him, days after Ava told him; the night he left her and she called him in floods of tears, they’d fallen out big time.

‘You think I would purposely send Wendy just to get Ava’s goat?’

‘AJ, you filed for divorce from your wife to be with your girlfriend whom you’d been having an affair with. Oliver doesn’t know her like that and quite frankly he shouldn’t know her like that.’

‘Why not?’

Theo spares AJ a look.

‘What is that supposed to mean?’

‘You need me to tell you?’

‘Tell me what?’

‘AJ, this is a phase for you. You’re not serious about Wendy.’

‘Why would I file for divorce from my wife if I wasn’t serious about my girlfriend?’

‘Because you’re impulsive. You get a new toy and it’s the bright shining thing for a while. And the sex is good.’

‘Don’t say that. I love her.’

‘Okay.’

AJ hates that tone. ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’

‘We don’t have to; I just want you to know that I see it from Ava’s point of view.’

‘You do know that I am filing for custody,’

‘And as I’ve told you, that’s a shitty thing you’ve done. Regardless of your feelings for Wendy, you should never have done that. Ava is Oliver’s mother, the divorce was not necessarily amicable, you did a shitty thing then and you’re doing a shitty thing now. She didn’t ask you to sleep with your sous chef, you did that all on your own, and you claim to be in love with her-’

‘I am in love with her.’

‘If you say so.’

‘I do say so.’ AJ enforces.

‘Okay then. But I still maintain, you should never have asked Wendy to collect Oliver from school.’

‘I came here to get away from judgement.’

Theo concedes, ‘I’m sorry.’

‘And can we watch something else I don’t want to watch Sebastian Rose-Jones be fawned over like he’s the second coming or something.

Theo laughs. ‘You are a salty son of gun.’

AJ cannot shake off the feeling that Theo’s words leave him with. Man alive what a mess he’s made.



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