Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 80byrpsuch©
This did not look good. Jeff had never wowed me with his sartorial splendor, but this outfit was not anybody's concept of wedding attire.
He led me into a bathroom and closed the door for privacy. Was this a metaphor for flushing our wedding down the toilet?
"Couldn't we have done this just a little bit earlier?" I asked. "We're supposed to start in around fifteen minutes."
"They never start when they're scheduled; I'm pretty sure that would cause a rift in the time-space continuum."
I suddenly realized everything would be alright. I had misjudged Jeff yet again.
"I needed time to think. And," he blushed, "I was being childish. I wanted you to suffer."
"I'm so relieved."
He looked surprised and uncomprehending.
"You're not perfect."
"Not by a long shot."
"I didn't trust you. I should have known, but I didn't trust you. And again, today, I didn't know what you were going to do. I should have just trusted you."
"How do you know what I'm going to do?" Jeff asked.
"You were late; very late."
"You've lost me, Ashley."
"You would never have come this late if you weren't going to go through with it. You would never allow all these guests to come and wait only to be told there would not be a wedding. You could have made a decision not to marry me and to punish me harshly for my lack of trust. But, you could never make all these guests suffer to carry that out."
"Nice bit of deduction, Watson. Or maybe you're Holmes. I'm not sure."
I grabbed him and hugged him as hard as I could. He hugged me back.
"I love you, stupid. And you deserve that name for being too stupid to live. I've pieced together what happened from what you told Mom and Sandy. This would have been a much more difficult decision if you hadn't realized on your own what you had done.
"If you had carried your attitude through today I probably would have shown up earlier and called it off."
My heart felt like it stopped at that possibility.
"We might have been able to get over it later. But, if you needed somebody else to tell you what you had done, I think that would have been the end. I would never have been able to trust you if you couldn't trust me until somebody told you that you should. I would have no idea what your limits would be if you couldn't figure out you were wrong."
"I'm so sorry."
"I know. So, tell me, why exactly was I an asshole?"
I winced. I didn't just fail to trust him; I went nuts.
"Well, first, Sabrina told me you seduced her."
Jeff started to laugh and he didn't seem to be able to stop.
"She's gorgeous. She's almost as beautiful as I am."
"She's really smart. She may be as smart as I am."
Jeff was shaking his head. "I don't think so. It wouldn't matter anyway."
"Why not? She could be a real prize."
"She would be fool's gold."
"I don't understand."
"She appears to have essentially the same qualities you have. She doesn't. You could sweat a drop of your empathy and lose more than she has to begin with. The only person she would make an effort to find the perfect gift for is Sabrina. She has that hard edge you appeared to have. Hers is real."
"Oh." I was again unsure of his assessment of me. He was dead on about Sabrina.
"What did Ebenezer contribute to the merriment?"
"He backed up her story. He said she told him not long after it happened. In my defense, what little there is of it, she is a really good actress. She didn't show any sign of deception."
"In your defense?"
I held up my hands and turned away. I had no defense.
Jeff's brow furrowed. He looked doubtful. I looked worried.
"There has to be more. That's as flimsy as him saying, ‘Please allow me to offer you a red herring.' It isn't just that I don't think you would buy it; he would never think he could sell that by itself. So how did he season it?"
"Well, even with what he added, there's something missing. I couldn't get him to tell me what."
"I'm sorry, Ashley, I'm unable to read your mind. Forget what's missing and tell me what isn't. What did he say?"
"Do you remember the loud conversation you had with him in his study? The one you didn't want to talk about?"
Jeff tensed up. "I remember."
"He told me he hadn't mentioned it before because he didn't want to hurt me. He said you suggested you could be bought off for a million dollars."
Even with the door closed that would have been heard by anyone in the next room and probably anyone near the door in the hallway. It evinced absolute shock and a depth of anger I hadn't thought possible.
He opened the door of the bathroom.
"I'll clear this room out. Get Mephistopheles in here. We're going to have a negotiation."
"Ebenezer. No, get to Sabrina first. Put on a show for her. Pour on the tears. Tell her she's ruined your life; chased away your one true love. She's dumb enough to buy you being that sappy. Then tell her I want to see her, but you're not sure she should do it. I look angry enough to hurt her. Then bring in that sack of slime who alleges he is your father."
It wouldn't take any acting to convey that Jeff looked angry enough to hurt her. I wasn't sure he wouldn't.