It is an impossibly great trial to be married to a man one loves and hates in equal proportions.
It was late June and I was dining alone in the breakfast room when Milo blew in from the south.
'Hello, darling,' he said, brushing a light kiss across my cheek. He dropped into the seat beside me and began buttering a piece of toast, as though it had been two hours since I had seen him last, rather than two months.
I took a sip of coffee. 'Hello, Milo. How good of you todrop in.'
'You're looking well, Amory.'
I had thought the same of him. His time on the Riviera had obviously served him well. His skin was smooth and golden, setting off the bright blue of his eyes. He was wearing a dark grey suit, lounging in that casual way he had of looking relaxed and at home in expensive and impeccably tailored clothes.
'I hadn't expected to see you back so soon,' I said. His last letter, an offhanded attempt at keeping me informed of his whereabouts, had arrived three weeks before and hinted at the fact that he should probably not return home until late July.
'Monte Carlo grew so tedious; I simply had to get away.'
'Yes,' I replied. 'Nothing to replace the dull routine of roulette, champagne, and beautiful women like a rousing jaunt to your country house for toast and coffee with your wife.'
Without really meaning to do so, I had poured a cup of coffee, two sugars, no milk, and handed it to him.
'You know, I believe I've missed you, Amory.'
He looked me in the eyes then and smiled. Despite myself, I nearly caught my breath. He had that habit, of startling, dazzling one with his sudden and complete attention.
Grimes, our butler, appeared at the door just then. 'Someone to see you in the morning room, Madam.' He did not acknowledge Milo. Grimes, it had long been apparent, was no great admirer of my husband. He treated him with just enough respect that his obvious distaste should not cross the boundary into impropriety.
'Thank you, Grimes. I will go to the morning room directly.'
'Very good, Madam.' He disappeared as noiselessly as he had come.
The fact that Grimes' announcement had been so vague as to keep Milo in the dark as to the identity of my visitor was not lost on my husband. He turned to me and smiled as he buttered a second piece of toast. 'Have I interrupted a tryst with your secret lover by my unexpected arrival?'
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