"Thank you for coming." he says to her. They are looking into each other's eyes and she is trying not to blink. The words sound to her like she imagines they would if he were talking to one of his clients at the office. She does not respond. She neither wants to be there under the circumstances nor is she about to make the whole process easy for him. She is pissed and a whole lot at him.
He sighs. Then he rubs his eyes. They look tired. She mentally chides herself for filling sorry for him. She wants him to feel as bad and as hurt as she is. He senses her coldness and the weight of it make his shoulders sag. He is upset with himself that he is the result of her pain.
"How have you been?" he asks, then wonders what he expects her to say. She does not disappoint.
"How do you think I feel?" her retort is sharp and swift.
He tenses. She is spoiling for a fight and he refuses to give her one. First, there is no reason to fight and second, they are in a public place.
"This is not where I expected to be. You must understand that." he tells her.
"I should know," she replies sarcasm drenching her words and bringing her upper lip up in an unpleasant snarl, "I am supposed to be on my honeymoon." She pauses and touches her finger to the lip as though in thought, "but no, no, my fiancee has broken it off to go be with his..."
"Be careful" he warns, the tone of his voice sending a chill down her spine and bringing tears to her eyes. He never would have spoken to her like this in the past. Now...
He sees he has shaken her and is immediately contrite. He reaches for her right hand that she has placed on the table beside her untouched glass of water.
"Barbara, I am sorry..."
She shakes her head and pulls her hand away to reach in her purse for her handkerchief. She needs to stop the tears and buy herself time for composure. He realises that some of the other patrons in the restaurant are beginning to stare at their table. Most of them are staring at him in accusation; especially the women. They seem to all know that he is responsible for her distress. He sits back in his chair and looks at the table setting before him.
"I only came because it seemed like no one was going to leave me alone until I did." she says finally. Her voice is no longer as strong or as bitter. Now, she too is showing her fatigue. It has been a long day and a long year for both of them.
"I never got a chance to say how sorry I was. I promise you that I never betrayed the relationship the way you always imagined...."
"I know that you never slept with her." she tells him.
This is news to him and it shows on his face. "Then why...?"
"It is not only through sex that one betrays a relationship. No, you never cheated on me physically but yes, you betrayed me. Because every moment that I thought I was sharing my life with you, you were sharing yours with someone else. What I don't understand is why you played along until the very end. You would have married me, wouldn't you, had I not called it off?"
He does not answer and instead looks at his hands.
"How is she?" she asks. He thinks about how she is and a small smile comes to his lips. Barbara sees it and a little part of her dies an abrupt and painful death. It takes all of her not to gasp out in pain. Instead, she channels all her energy into maintaining a fixed mask of tired indifference.
"She is doing great. She sends her regards. She would have come..."
Barbara knows that too as well as why she didn't. She knows that Khaltoume does not need to come to speak with her because she already has. It was that conversation that has propelled her to meet with Martin in this restaurant overlooking the lagoon.
"I am not sorry I love him or that he loves me. I am only sorry that our doing so is causing you pain. We never planned it or even worked to make it happen. It just did. It is okay if you never forgive me but you must forgive him because he fought to stay with you for as long as he could." Khaltoume had said.
To Barbara, that statement makes no sense at all. All she knows is that her boyfriend of three years and fiancee of one is now married to her daughter.