Henry and I throw parties every weekend.
It began as just a handful of us, enjoying each others’ company. Of course we invited Rachel. Then there was Bracks and Edith, Henry’s cousin and his wife. And Henry’s best friend, William. Now, however, every Friday has become a great ordeal. Thirty people show up with bottles of liquor and their instruments. I’m practicing my hand at the violin. We throw excellent parties.
Lila loves the attention. As an infant, Rachel and Edith just loved fighting over who was going to hold her. Now she is nearly two years old, and she has really blossomed into quite the tiny social butterfly, just like her mother. I love the little character she is growing into, and it’s nice that she seems to need me a little less.
Now that she’s talking, though, William and I decided it would be inappropriate for her to understand our secret. It wasn’t such a problem when she was an infant, but no need to take unnecessary risks.
Tonight, I am running late to my own party.
Rachel finds me in the bedroom, pulling the straps of my shoes over my feet.
“Hi lovey,” she says.
“Sweet friend!” I holler over my shoulder.
“How was your week?” she asks, sitting down next to me on the bed. A brief scent of sex wafts from my pillows. I hold bite back a blush that threatens to burn my cheeks.
“It’s been good,” I say. “Lila’s been into everything.”
“And Henry?” she asks.
“Oh, Henry’s fine. He’s been very busy at work. I believe he’s wrapping up another project here of late. Perhaps we’ll be seeing more of him during the day for a bit.”
“Toni?” she pauses, “I have to ask you something.”
I love to hear my name spoken by someone other than William. It’s so rare to hear it aloud. It has a full flavor to it, something completely rich. I like it. She faltered, though, and so whatever she has to ask me must be important to her.
“Well what is it, Rach?”
She hesitates and I can tell she’s struggling with how to form her words.
“Do you think I’ll ever find a Henry like you did?” She doesn’t mean my Henry, of course. She just means a husband.
“Don’t be in such a hurry, love.”
“But I am, Toni.” My name again. I savor it for a moment and then carefully pick my words.
“Rachel, you are beautiful in every way. You will find someone, and when you do, make sure it’s for all of the right reasons and not because you’re desperate to find a man. I promise you’ll find what you are looking for. It’s just that you must quit looking.”
“Do you think it’ll be William?” She spits out the words so quickly that I can hardly react before I reach for the broom and pan to sweep them up off the floor.
I laugh. But not too obviously. William throws everyone off of our trail by charming every other lady in the room. It doesn’t make me jealous. It amuses me.
“Well, Rachel…” I start, but pause to find my words. “Maybe not William, but maybe someone better than William?”
“Maybe,” she takes a breath. “Or maybe it’ll just be William.”