Love Is Hard: Chapter 1
Charlaine Harris owns these characters.
Eric and I will be celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary next month. Well, I guess, technically, we won’t be celebrating. At least not together. He’ll be in Rome shooting and I’ll be…well…right here. In our beautiful, enormous home in Brentwood. I’m not exactly looking forward to being apart from Eric on our anniversary, but it’s not as if it will be the first time. There have been quite a few anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s days—all kinds of special occasions—that I’ve spent alone in recent years. Thank goodness for cell phones, right? Sometimes, I wonder if that’s what’s keeping our marriage together.
I was planning on spending the day today shopping with Tara, having lunch, getting a manicure; but now I’m in a fair amount of pain and think I might cancel our plans. The doctor told me to expect some cramps after the procedure, and I just laughed internally. Women experience cramps every month—how bad can they be? Well, they are pretty bad. I’m certainly not laughing now.
I pulled into my garage and took my cell phone out of my purse to call Tara. She answered as I entered the kitchen.
“So, how did it go? When will you get the results?”
“Um…fine, I guess. There wasn’t much to it, really. The doctor just filled my fallopian tubes with some sort of dye and took some x-rays. It was a little uncomfortable, but not that bad, really.” The cook was standing mere feet away, cleaning out the refrigerator, so I continued through the house, heading up to our bedroom for some privacy. Juana didn’t need to hear about my ailing fallopian tubes.
“Hold on, Tara. Let me get to my room.” She waited patiently while I crossed through the dining room and living room, climbed the stairs and followed the hall all the way to the last bedroom. I opened the door only to see Margarita changing the bed. “Wait, um…let me find an empty room.” I turned around and walked back down the hall to my second-most used room in the house—my office. I closed the door behind me and sat in my desk chair. “Okay. The good news is that the dye that goes through my fallopian tubes also flushes them out, making me more fertile. The doctor said that a lot of women get pregnant after this procedure just from that alone. The bad news is that I’m having cramps that could cripple a race horse, and like a fool, I said no thanks to the painkiller prescription.”
“Well, let me run something over to you, hun. You know my medicine cabinet is full of goodies. Do you want a Vicodin? Percocet? I’ve got loads leftover from my last lipo.”
“No, no. No thanks, Tara. Really. I’ll just take a couple of Tylenol and lie down.” I wondered if there was a bed in the house that wasn’t in mid-strip. “But, I’m going to have to cancel our lunch and manicure. I’ll call the salon.”
“Are you sure? A mani-pedi might be just what the doctor ordered.” The leaf blower outside the balcony doors started up. I looked out to see the gardeners working around the pool.
I yelled into the phone. “Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll call you later, okay?” I was pretty sure she said good-bye, but the noise was too loud to be certain.
I searched the bedrooms, and just as I’d predicted, found the beds stripped. I couldn’t imagine why they needed to be changed every week. Nobody ever slept in them. I went back down the stairs and found some privacy in the den. I closed the door and walked through the room to the bathroom, but there was no Tylenol in the cabinet. I dug some out of my purse and washed them down with water collected as I cupped my hands under the tap. I imagined the hell I’d catch from my friends for drinking tap water, but didn’t much care. I called and cancelled my manicure appointment and finally flopped down on the sofa. I pulled the cashmere throw over me and curled into a fetal position, waiting for the pain to diminish.
The leaf blower finally stopped and I closed my eyes, hoping to fall asleep. But within minutes, the vacuum cleaner noise replaced the leaf blower, and I gave up. I lay there in a little ball and thought about everything I had gone through in the last year and a half trying to get pregnant.
Shortly after Eric and I bought this house, we decided it was time to start trying for a baby. Eric had wanted to wait until we were more financially secure, and I wondered just how much money that would take. He finally agreed that we shouldn’t wait any longer, and that’s when it began.
Prior to that we had lived in a little old house in Venice that we bought shortly after we got married. It was a two-bedroom Spanish house built in 1927 with a little yard and only four blocks from the beach. Yes, it was small, but because of its proximity to the ocean, it was also a small fortune. And it needed work. Eric was between films and had time to fix it up. I was working for Alcide, but I only had normal office hours at the time—no heavy press schedule—and was able to help Eric with the house quite a bit, especially on the weekends.
It was such a blissful time in our marriage. The house was almost always a mess, but we loved it. When we weren’t covered in paint or plaster, we were walking the beach or working in the yard. I discovered I had quite a knack for landscaping and by the second year in the house, I had the back yard looking like a dream. It was enclosed by a high privacy fence, and was a little piece of paradise where we could relax and make love under the sun or stars.
When we bought the house, Eric was worried about the mortgage. But by the time he’d finished his next film, the mortgage was paid off and our savings account was filling up again. I got regular raises at work, but it wasn’t long before my salary seemed insignificant compared to Eric’s. He kept telling me that I could quit work if I wanted to, and while I appreciated the sentiment, I really did love what I did for a living, meager as it was.
It wasn’t until we bought this house and moved to Brentwood that I finally decided to quit. I doubt if it was a coincidence that every single woman I knew in Brentwood, including my new neighbor and friend, Tara Thornton, did not work. Brentwood wives ran their households, took lots of yoga classes, and had perfect children. This was the dream life that Eric and I had been aiming for since we moved to Los Angeles. We had lots of money and lots of friends and a bright future together.
I looked at the huge diamond ring on my hand and thought of the night Eric presented me with it. We were out to dinner at Spago when he reached into his pocket and pulled out a little light blue box. Of course I knew what it was—it was Tiffany blue. The diamond was ten times the size of my engagement ring. My inner voice screamed no as I removed the tiny diamond and handed it to Eric. I’d always loved that ring, but didn’t have the heart to tell Eric that I preferred it over the huge rock he had just presented to me. The new rock represented all the hard work he’d done and success he’d achieved and the last thing I wanted was to seem ungrateful for his efforts. So I put the rock on my hand and watched as the little blue box with my tiny diamond in it disappeared back into Eric’s pocket. There wasn’t much left of that night that seemed special. We were interrupted by Portia Bellefleur and her entourage. Eric had just acquired her for his next film and all eyes in the room watched their exchange of air kisses. Four or five more interruptions later, I gave up on trying to have a conversation about the ring, and we went home.
I turned the diamond around so it wouldn’t scratch my face as I rested my head on the back of my hand. The vacuum cleaner finally stopped and I closed my eyes, wishing my uterus would stop complaining.