In the years since Gabriel’s wedding I’d enjoyed getting to know Isabel. She’d helped me get started in publishing and we’d worked closely on the Harrington biography.

On the evening of the book’s launch, I came across Gabriel in the lobby looking unshaven and desperate.

‘Gabe,’ I said. ‘Isabel’s big day—you could make an effort.’

‘Oh, I have,’ he replied.

I frowned, gesturing towards my face.

‘It doesn’t matter, Sean.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘She’s seing someone. That’s what matters. What am I going to do?’

I couldn’t believe it. Surely I’d have noticed. She’d mentioned nothing. She’d shown no sign.

‘You must be wrong.’.

‘Then how do you explain this?’ He handed me a sheet of paper.

‘You idiot. It’s from the book. It’s Harrington’s words.’ But I couldn’t help wondering why she’d printed them out like that, isolated in the middle of the page.

Nothing will stop us being together.

Neither expectation.

nor shame

shall prevent it.

It was how she’d laid them out in the book. ‘Don’t you think it’s romantic?’ she’d said, leaning on my chair, her heavy hair on my shoulders.

‘It’s typical of that arrogant man.’ I looked again at the printout. The tycoon’s words to his second wife, written when she’d been his wife’s best friend.

 

2011-Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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