When she returned, I took the glass of wine she handed over and said, somewhat guiltily, “You know I haven’t told Nate about St Andrews job yet, right?”
Faye stopped with her drink hovering before her mouth. “What do you mean, you haven’t told him?” she demanded. “I thought you accepted the job already!”
I winced. Yeah. There was a reason I felt guilty. “Yes. Sit down before you fall down.” I leaned on the armrest and sighed. Humbug. I seemed to be doing a lot of sighing this evening. To be perfectly honest, I wished I hadn’t mentioned the St Andrews job; I was excited about it, but the fact that I hadn’t told Nate about it yet had been bothering me for weeks. If I’d stopped to think about it I probably would have clocked that it was because I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t told him yet. I mean, why not? “I haven’t found a chance to tell him. Nate hates Scotland.”
“Yeah, but it’s only for a year, right?” Faye said. “Anyway, you better tell him soon. Aren’t you guys thinking about buying a house?”
Don’t remind me… “Yeah…kind of…” I frowned. “Well, he wants us to buy a house.”
“Well, you don’t want him to start looking for one — or, you know, put down an offer — if you jetting off to Scotland might put that on hold for a year.”
“True…” I looked down at my wine glass and discovered it was empty. Shit, how had that happened?
Faye frowned suddenly. “You don’t seem all that excited about the idea of buying a house with Nate. I don’t know, isn’t it kind of a big deal? It’s like you’re turning into a grown-up.”
“Hah,” was my intelligent response.
“Come to think of it, you weren’t exactly leaping for joy when you two got the dog, either.”
“Bad back, you know,” I drawled.
She ignored the reference and poked me in the arm. “Are you happy?”
My eyes flew to her face. “Of course I’m happy! I love Nate! Why would you think I’m not happy?”
“Jeez, no need to get defensive, Fish, it’s just a question,” Faye said. “Just sometimes you don’t really seem like you particularly want to be with him.”
I scowled down at my empty wineglass. Surely it had been full only a minute ago. “We’ve just been so busy lately and things are really tight so we’ve been stressed. I’d say you know how it is, but since your relationships are more of the ‘hit ’em once and run for the hills’ kind…”
“Oi,” Faye said. “I resemble that remark.”
Frowning, I continued, “Nate’s been trying to find a permanent job, but you know, he’s been commuting to Leeds and back every day for that teaching position and so he’s tired and irritable all the time. And I have my part-time post at Trent, which is, you know, fine, but Nate keeps pushing and pushing for me to find something full-time because our finances are so tight.” I paused. “Which means that really he ought to be thrilled about the St Andrews job, because even if it’s not permanent it’s at least full-time.” I sank further back into the sofa and turned the wine glass in my fingers. “That’s why I didn’t want the dog. But Nate really wanted her, so we went ahead and got her, and of course dogs cost money to keep, and you have to walk them, and since Nate has to leave early in the morning for work and doesn’t get back until late, I’m the one who ends up walking Gatsby… I mean, I love Nate, of course, it’s just that I feel sometimes like I’m the one who ends up having to everything with the house and the dog and everything else because Nate is never home, and when he is he just wants to crash. Of course he’s working really hard and he’s exhausted so it’s fine, it’s just…” I trailed off and shook my head, feeling miserable. Which was stupid. I was in a committed relationship with a wonderful man. Misery should not be coming into the picture.
“Hah,” Faye said. “I’d attempt to offer some sage advice regarding where Nate can stick it, but we’ve had this disagreement before and I know you’ll only defend him, so…let’s talk about this St Andrews thing instead.”
I blinked furiously, pushing back the tears threatening to spill over. No, I was not going to cry. Back, you bastards! “I kind of assumed, since it’s only a fixed-term post, that I’ll go up for the year and find a place to let while I’m there, and come down as often in the meantime. And hopefully in the meantime he’ll find a permanent position somewhere, and we can move there and maybe buy that house he wants so much, and then when this St Andrews post is up I’ll look for a permanent position that’s within a commutable distance from where we’re living.” I sniffed. “That sounds good, right? I mean, I’m not being unreasonable?”
“Come here,” Faye said, taking my wineglass and putting it on the table. She flung out her arms. “Fish needs a hug.”
When I resisted, she dragged me over until I was half on her lap, cuddled me until the tears had dried and I no longer felt like crying, and then proceeded to tickle me until I was giggling and breathless and we’d begun to attract attention from several other guests.
“Fuck men,” Faye said eventually, resting her head on my shoulder. “You and I can run away together and live on an island and be lesbian lovers. Except for the sex part, because I love you but not like that.”
I laughed. Oh yeah, I loved Faye. “Deal.”