“No, I’m sorry. I can’t marry you,” Tammy said to Rory. He looked baffled. He didn’t know what to do or say.
“Why?” He asked.
Tammy shook her head and turned away. Rory looked around and everyone was looking at them at the restaurant, some horrified, others bemused. He got up and sat down on the chair. Tammy left for the washroom.
Tammy washed her face but the tears kept pouring through her eyes. She had imagined this day a million times, dreading this moment but she had never thought it would be this hard. She kept crying for fifteen minutes before she could finally clear her eyes and face. Still on the verge, she composed herself and went back to her table where Rory was still sitting with the ring in his hand. She could feel all eyes on her as she sat down on the table and looked at Rory’s dejected face as his hand swiftly moved the ring back into his pocket. She couldn’t feel her stomach anymore and kept playing with her food. Rory was doing the same.
“Just tell me why?”
“You know why?”
“Please,” Rory urged.
“Please,” Tammy said with finality. Tammy could feel Rory’s anger, the subtle vibrations of his hand on the table, the heat coming from his face, the slightly raised chin, everything told her how upset Rory was right now and how much he was trying to control himself.
She looked down at her food unable to meet his eyes.
“Tammy,” Rory said and she looked up slightly. “Eat something,” he continued, adding some pasta on her plate.
Rory started eating his food as if nothing had happened. She looked around and everyone was furtively looking at them but the waiters had gained their composure and had started to work as before.
‘Professionals,’ thought Tammy.
She tried to eat but her heart was not in it anymore. She was amazed that Rory was still eating as if nothing had happened.
“Please pack the rest,” Rory told the waiter once he was done.
“Sir, including the… cake,” the waiter said with a pause.
Rory nodded. Tammy closed her fists tightly to control herself. The journey back home was a long one. Rory had planned the dinner date at a fancy restaurant on the other side of the town. It would take them more than an hour to reach home. By the time they reached home, it was past 10 pm.
“You go in the house, I’ll park the car in the garage and come,” Rory said stopping the car outside the main door. Tammy went inside where the baby-sitter was eagerly waiting for them.
“You can go now Sam,” Tammy said to her and picked Tanya.
“Tanya was asleep in her bed but I think the car woke her up. She has had her dinner and her homework is also done,” Sam gave Tammy the report. Tammy gave her some money and thanked her.
“Thank you,” Sam said and left. Rory entered almost at the same time.
“Daddy!” Tanya said and pushed herself towards Rory who picked her from Tammy’s arms.
“How was your evening Tanny?”
Tanya began telling him everything in great detail. Tammy looked at them and smiled. She still couldn’t believe what had happened a couple of hours earlier. She went to her room and laid down on the bed. An hour or so later, Rory came into the room.
“She told everything that happened in the past five hours in great detail and then asked me to do the same,” Rory said as he joined Tammy in the bed. Tammy snuggled up to him.
“Is it weird that I’m trying to find comfort from the same person whom I have hurt?”
“Yes,” Rory said and hugged her.
“Tanny loves you more than she loves me,” Tammy complained.
“Well, I’m her father and you are just her mother,” Rory said and laughed at his own joke.
“How are you laughing so easily after what I did?” Tammy asked.
“If I don’t have a choice, I might as well laugh.”
“Why Tammy? We have been together for over ten years. We have a daughter together. Why?”
“I can’t do it Rory. I’m sorry.” Tammy said and started crying again. Rory hugged her more.
“It has been 12 years since your divorce Tammy.”
“Yes. I know. But I can’t. I can’t get married again. Every time I think about marriage, I can only think about him. It just scares me. I’m sorry.”
Rory sighed. “I was really hoping that Tanny could say that her mom and dad are also husband and wife.”
Tammy laughed and cried at the same time.
“I don’t think she cares.”
“Oh! she does. That’s why she loves me more.”
Tammy laughed and kissed Rory.
“Thank you for understanding.”
“Yes, you do. Otherwise, we won’t have been here, together, with a daughter, without marriage.”
“Yeah. Marriage or no marriage, you are mine Ms. Tien-Ni Tseng. And I, yours. And we have a kid together.”
“And possibly another kid on the way.”
Rory looked at her shocked. Tammy nodded and smiled. Rory smiled.
“Now two kids to love me more than they love you,” Rory said and laughed.
Tammy punched him as she joined the laughter.