A month before our second year anniversary, Art and I had dinner at a fancy hotel, thankfully it was one which the menu items were easy to read. It was strange being dressed in fancy clothes. Normally when we went on dates we wore nice shirts, but shirts jeans and the occasional hat. I wasn't really in the mood for dinner so I sat in silence as my mind had a battle with my heart. It was time to tell Art about James, but I was afraid of how he would react. As our salads arrived, Art took my hand.
"Charlie I get the feeling you're hiding something from me. You haven't said a word since we left your house."
Damn he was good at reading me!
"Well, there's something I need to tell you." I said in all seriousness.
"Okay, well first off I love you, and second I don't ever wan to lose you, but there's something I haven't told you and I feel if I don't tell you my mind will never leave me at peace."
"Okay?" he said a little cautious. "What do you need to tell me."
"I was engaged once before,his name was James, and the reason I'm not married to him is because he died an awful death. I hadn't been on a date for four years before I met you and I just felt happy with you, but in the back of my mind I can't help but feel guilty about being happy because I'm afraid James wouldn't be happy."
Art had been listening but I think he got lost because he let go of my hand and rubbed his temples. Finally after moments of painful silence he spoke.
"I'm not mad about you not telling me about your previous engagement. But why do you feel guilty?"
"I don't know!" I nearly screeched.
"Charlie listen t me," Art insisted. "I'm right here, and I know at one point you loved this guy but he's not here, he can't come back . There is nothing you should feel guilty about, all this makes me feel like you can't ever love me because your afraid to hurt some guys feelings whose not even on this earth!"
This was the first time Art had ever raised his voice or even argued with me. His words were true, but I wasn't going to listen they were harsh and hurtful and I'd had enough hurt to last me. I stood up and grabbed my coat, Art immediately followed me.
"Charlie wait!" he called as I left the restaurant.
It was starting to thunder when I made it outside and I began trying to hail a taxi.
I ignored him.
"Charlotte! It's going to rain! please come back! I'm sorry!" he cried out.
"I'll talk to you later!" I screamed as the rain poured down.
"At least let me take you home!"
"Just leave me alone right now Arthur!"
I ran down the street into the night. My friend Jake lived on this side of town and luckily he was home. He drove me home and said nothing, he knew if I wanted to talk I would have done so. As I entered my house the light on my answering machine was blinking furiously. I unplugged it and locked myself in my room. The next few weeks I locked myself in my room and called in sick. My dad had come to take care of Jax while I was in hiding, then after awhile he brought me my work, thanks to Ezra I wouldn't lose my job as long as I would answer a few columns or write something.
I answered no calls or texts or emails, or letter. The only thing I was answering was Ask Andy. My dad had given Art the key to my house so that he could feed Jax and bring in my work. I always kept my room locked so he slid things through the crack under my door. He knew when I was crying but he never said anything, he just sat in front of my door, he always did. My mother called almost every day. But I just would let the phone ring, Art did too. I never answered my cell and I would blast music when Art tried to talk to me through the door. Childish I know but still. Later on he started making meals for me, and walk Jax, he'd give me my mail and then sit on the sofa or in front of my door. My family quit calling and my friends would drop by then leave. Art never left he stayed. When I had to return to work I would leave as early as possible before Art could talk to me, and then stayed out until Art went to take Jax for his walk. At work I didn't talked to anyone I just answered columns and locked myself in my office.
Finally I couldn't take it anymore, after a month of hiding I finally had to talk to someone. But someone who understood and had felt the pain I'd felt. About three day before our anniversary, Art had taken the dog out for a walk, as soon as he'd gone I opened my bedroom door to grab the house phone. Locking my door again I sat on the floor and called Mrs. Jane Harris, Jame's mother.