Before Nick could discover her mother’s presence, Steph came out of the kitchen wiping her hands. He’d shaved and she still wasn’t used to the smooth kiss. “Hey.”
“Dare I ask?” He indicated the large case in the hallway.
“Umm…” She avoided his accusing gaze. “There’s been an incident at mother’s and she’ll be umm staying for a little while.”
His hand swept his hair back and he stared at her. “Serious, Steph? Not right now. I...”
“What do you expect me to do? Throw her out on the street?” She tucked her tea towel into the belt of her jeans. “She’s my mother.” To get round him she moved in closer and rubbed his chest. “We could… you know… you me and that silky nightie of yours.”
He pulled away. “I’m not a sex object.” And he ran up the stairs.
That one she wasn’t letting him get away with and Steph ran up after him. She stood in the doorway of their bedroom and glared at him. He stood there and did nothing.
“I want to get changed.” The way he moved and hooded his eyes was like when she walked in on Jake in his boxers.
“So? I’ve seen you in your undies before.” She moved into the room. “Since when were you not my sex object?”
All he responded with was a shrug.
It wound her up. In fourteen years of marriage she had never, ever wanted to slap him more. Apparently, this other woman in their lives was interfering with their relationship. She’d barely met her and already she wasn’t sure if she liked her. “Well come on? Are you trying to tell me the woman doesn’t want to have sex with me? I mean she’s been avoiding me for over a month now. I don’t even know her name. All I damn well know is she’s taken my man away from me and won’t give him back.” Aware her mother was downstairs it all had to be delivered in an angry whisper. “Well?”
She threw her hands up in the air and sighed. “When you get changed then you can take Mother’s case up to the spare room. She’s making a chicken dinner.” Her head again fought her instinct instead of slamming it she closed the door gently. Before going downstairs she went into the bathroom and locked the door. Steph splashed her face until she’d forgotten she was angry.
A thump indicated that Nick was bouncing the suitcase up the stairs with as much bad grace as he could possibly get away with.
“Nicholas, that suitcase has some precious and very expensive things in it. Be careful!” Mother admonished him.
“Whatever.” He muttered as he banged past the bathroom. “Fucking women. Fucking destroying my life.”
For the first time in her marriage Steph felt like there was a great long path of eggshells separating her and Nick and that they were both walking on it in bare feet. She sat down on the toilet and postponed the moment when she had to go and face her family. Her feet ached, her toes ached, her entire body ached and she didn’t have the energy to stand up. Fact was she needed Nick’s help or she’d be here for an hour. But no she wasn’t going to shout. It was a humiliation too far but she needed to be held by him.
“Mum,” shouted Ellie from outside the bathroom. “I told Grandma I was vegetarian and she said she knew that’s why she was cooking chicken.”
"Best Possible Taste" is very loosely based on real life events.