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       Moody & Saundra, p.1

           S.C. Wade
 
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Moody & Saundra


  MOODY & SAUNDRA

  By S.C. Wade

  Copyright 2013 S.C. Wade

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment. This ebook may not be re-sold to other people. If you enjoyed this book and would like to share it, please purchase additional copies for each recipient. No part of this ebook may be reproduced, copied, or distributed for commercial use. Thank you for your support.

  This is a work of fiction. All characters are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  TABLE OF CONTENTS

  Thursday, the 1st

  Friday, the 2nd

  Friday, the 2nd (Part Two)

  Friday, the 2nd (Part Three)

  Sunday, the 4th

  Monday, the 5th

  Tuesday, the 6th

  Tuesday, the 6th (Part Two)

  Tuesday, the 6th (Part Three)

  Saturday, the 10th

  About the Author

  Thursday, the 1st

  Moody sauntered into his bedroom. The fresh air from the recent rainfall added that much more delight to his team’s unexpected victory. He grinned as he grabbed his boots from the closet and sat at the foot of the bed.

  “We won,” he said to his wife who read her book, the sheets folded neatly at her waist. The breeze from the window stroked the hair on Moody’s arms as he quickly tied his boots and looked back at Saundra.

  Saundra closed the book and placed it on the end table. Without a glance in Moody’s direction, she turned off the lamp and lay down on her side.

  Moody clicked his jaw, pushed himself from the bed, and yanked a T-shirt from the closet. Pulling it over his undershirt, he muttered, “My back brace,” and left the room.

  Moody descended the carpeted stairs and stepped onto the oak flooring in the living room. He searched on and around the couch but found nothing. He marched back upstairs and switched on the bedroom lights. “Where’s my back brace, Saundra? I left it in the living room.”

  He tucked his hands in his pockets and watched Saundra pull the covers up to her shoulders. She nestled for a few seconds then became motionless.

  “Saundra, I need my back brace if you want me to go out and earn a paycheck,” Moody said.

  “Don’t turn this around on me.”

  “Could you please answer my question?”

  “I don’t see why I should, Moody,” she said.

  Moody closed his eyes and shook his head. “Why are you starting? I just want to know where you put my brace.”

  “And I’d like to know why you ignore me.” She sat up and raised a strap on her nightgown that had fallen. “But I guess life goes with unanswered questions.”

  “Fine.” He began searching the closet. “When I’m late for work, I’ll tell them it was your time of the month so you hid my brace from me."

  Saundra grabbed her book from the end table and hurled it at Moody.

  The book’s corner connected with Moody’s spine. “What the hell, Saundra!” Moody arched backwards, his hand firmly planted on his lower back. “What is wrong with you?” He lifted his shirt and backed up against the mirror to inspect his injury.

  “You cheat, and you have the nerve to ask what’s wrong with me?”

  Moody dropped his shirt and froze. He lifted his eyes to meet Saundra’s reflection in the mirror. “What…?” he said softly. “I never--”

  “Deny it, but it’s the only reason I can think of as to why you’ve been the way you’ve been.”

  “I don’t know what to say to that, Saundra.” He closed the closet and fell against the door.

  “Of course you don’t,” she said and pointed to one of the drawers. “Just get your brace and go.” She got back under the covers.

  Moody snatched his back brace and dashed out of the bedroom. He shut the door, took a breath, and let the first tear fall.

  ~~~~

  Friday, the 2nd

  Moody had worked his usual eight hours for the manufacturing company, reliving the argument in his head overnight. After clocking out, he hung around in his car, having nothing but the prior night’s exchange to engage his time.

  He spotted the blue SUV drive into the parking lot, so he opened his door and stepped out. Dark clouds were overhead and the glow from the light poles reflected off the glossy pavement. He was attacked by a gust of fresh air. Nearly nine hours earlier, he relished the scent. Now it came with an unwanted memory.

  The SUV parked one space away. Jessica stepped out with her purse dangling from a shoulder. “Good morning,” she said.

  “Morning.”

  She frowned. “You and Saundra had another argument?”

  He nodded. “I don’t know what to do, Jess. I mean, I go home, we make up, but the problem is only ignored until the next fight.” He took a deep breath and looked to the sky. “She accused me of cheating on her.”

  “What did you say?”

  “I said I didn’t. What more could I say?”

  Jessica bit her lip, glancing at the ground. “Maybe she needs some space.”

  “She accused me of cheating on her,” Moody repeated. “I would never do that.”

  “Moody, I can’t say I understand how you feel, but I think a little space might help her realize just how devoted you are. I have a cousin who used to argue with his wife. Real bad. He stayed away for a while; she realized she took him for granted and wanted him back. They’re a lot happier now.”

  “You can’t expect that to work on Saundra,” Moody said.

  “I’m offering a suggestion. You’re the one who said that what you’ve done in the past hasn’t worked, and you’re too embarrassed to go to your family for advice.”

  Moody lolled his head back to look at the sky. As the year had gone by, his and Saundra’s communication had decreased and their arguments intensified. Who was he to reject an idea when he had nowhere else to turn?

  “I guess I can try it.” He shook his head.

  Jessica smiled. “Why don’t we meet for lunch today? We can talk about it more.”

  The two parted, and Moody drove to Paul’s apartment. Not only had Moody and Paul served as best man at the other’s wedding, but they’d been best friends from grammar school. There was a good chance Paul would let him stay since he was home alone for a couple of weeks.

  Moody strolled down the carpeted hall of Paul’s apartment building, running everything he would say through his mind. He knocked.

  “What’s wrong?” Paul asked once he opened the door. “You never come over this early.”

  Moody slouched. His thread of idle chit-chat was now pointless. He focused on the floor and noticed Paul’s polished black shoes, signifying Paul had to leave for work soon. “Um, can I stay here for a little bit? Saundra and I had another fight.”

  “Are you insane?"

  Moody blinked then looked at Paul’s face. “What do you mean? Aren’t Kellie and the kids in Raleigh?” He peeked over Paul’s shoulder to look into the empty living room.

  “You and Saundra had an argument, and you’re avoiding her?” Paul’s eyes flickered. “What part of your brain actually convinced you that that’s a good idea?”

  Moody shrugged, exhausted. When he noticed Paul staring at him with his arms folded, he said, “Just say yes or no.”

  “There’s more to it than that. If I turn you away, you’ll probably end up going to a hotel. And while I wouldn’t want you spending money on such a foolish cause, I really don’t want to play accomplice to you not mending things with Saundra. So, please, forgive me if I’m thinking this through.”

  Moody fit his hands in his jeans pockets and looked down. He should be home eating breakfast and resolving things with Saundra. But that was part of the problem. They always a
ppeared to have everything resolved, but when one did something the other didn’t like, an argument ensued that rehashed everything.

  “Okay.” Paul unfolded his arms.

  Moody mustered a tired smile and stepped inside, not surprised by the neat placement of the photographs on the hallway table. The floor was vacuumed and the apartment contained the usual faint smell of vanilla.

  Paul closed the door and guided Moody into the kitchen. Moody was relaxed by the classical music that played softly from the under-the-counter radio. A bowl of cereal rested untouched on the table. Compared to Moody’s life, Paul’s seemed so orderly and carefree.

  “There’s more in the cabinet if you want some.” Paul took a seat in front of the bowl and poured in the milk.

  “No, I’m good.” Moody sat in the seat across from Paul. He closed his eyes, leaned back in the chair, and stretched his legs with a relieved sigh. He heard Paul’s spoon swirl around in his cereal, followed shortly by crunching. He felt fortunate to have a friend like Paul who was willing to take him in. “Thanks, Paul.”

  The crunching stopped, followed by a gulp and the clink of the spoon hitting the bowl. Moody opened an eye.

  “I think you’re making a mistake.”

  Moody shut his eye and frowned. “I needed to do something.”

  “Avoiding her is your ‘something’? Don’t let hurt feelings stand in the way of settling things. Moody, come on, you know this.”

  “It’s not about hurt feelings, Paul.”

  “Then what is it?” Paul leaned over his bowl. “For months, Kellie and I have been trying to help you two solve your problems, but it’s hard to offer a solution to a problem you don’t really know the details of. You both shut us out.”

  Moody stood and pulled a glass from the cabinet. “Arguments happen. It’s not a big deal.” He walked to the water cooler to fill the glass.

  “It became a huge deal the moment you decided not to go home,” Paul said.

  “If Saundra wanted to talk to me, she could call.”

  “Yeah, I’m so sure your imaginary cell phone will ring any minute now. Did you tell her you were coming here?”

  Moody gritted his teeth behind his sip of water. Paul was trying to help, he knew that, but revealing the condition of his marriage to him was unnerving. Although Paul’s opinion carried a lot of weight, he’d only suggest he go home and work things out. The only other option was the one given by Jessica. After several months of talking with her, her opinion also carried a great deal of weight.

  But what about Kellie? She’d been a marriage counselor for nearly seven years, and she and Paul’s marriage did seem to be perfect, though both would reject that theory. Presumably, she’d advise the same as Paul…but that advice might be biased, with Kellie being Saundra’s older sister. Moody needed someone neutral, and neither Kellie nor Paul fit that description. Jessica did.

  Moody set his glass of water on the table. “Do you mind if I take a shower?”

  Paul sighed. “Go ahead.”

  ~~~~

  Friday, the 2nd

  (Part Two)

  For the third time Saundra yanked back the linen curtain in the living room and surveyed the slick streets with anticipation. But Moody’s car was still absent; the sloshing she had heard was her neighbor’s car.

  “Was that him?” Barbara asked.

  Saundra shifted the cordless phone to her other ear and stepped away from the window. “No,” she said, resuming her phone conversation.

  “All for the best. You need to get your fanny into work early. Mister A-Hole is having a bad day.”

  “It’s been nearly two hours since he should’ve been home. Do you think he was in an accident?”

  “Are you hearing me, Saundra?”

  “Yes, I hear you, but…” Saundra sighed, sat on the couch, and held the back of her neck.

  “Don’t feel bad that you doubt Moody’s fidelity,” Barbara said. “You shouldn’t be sitting there like a bump on a log waiting for him either. You have a job. You have responsibilities.”

  “Just because you don’t care that your husband comes home hours late doesn’t mean I’m the same way, Barbara.”

  “Don’t knock what works.”

  “You’re both screwing other people, and you call your husband A-Hole. You think that’s normal?” Saundra asked.

  “Color me wrong, but if Moody wanted to spend time with you, Saundra, wouldn’t he be home right now?”

  Saundra hung up and walked to the kitchen. Though she knew Barbara had the influence to get her fired – since she was married to the boss – she also knew she wouldn’t exercise it. For whatever reason, Barbara wanted to be her friend, but Saundra only put up with her because she was the one person in the department store who made attempts to be sociable.

  Saundra returned the phone to its cradle and stared at the plate of cold bacon and eggs sitting in the microwave. After their fight, Saundra thought Moody wouldn’t have wasted any time getting back home. He was so often willing to fix anything.

  “Something has to be wrong.” She grabbed the phone, images of Moody’s overturned car in her mind. She hesitated and thought perhaps he was working overtime and forgot to call. She dialed the number to his job and looked heavenward.

  The receptionist answered on the second ring. “Good morning, this is Jessica.”

  “Hello, my name is Saundra Rhine. I’m calling about one of your overnight stock employees – Moody Rhine.”

  Jessica paused. “What can I do for you?”

  “I was wondering if he was working overtime today.”

  “No, I saw him leave when I came in today.”

  Saundra released a heavy sigh, thanked her, and hung up. She looked out the living room window again before reclining on the couch with a pillow to her bosom. She searched for any other reason Moody wouldn’t be home, but the only reason that surfaced was Barbara’s suggestion that Moody was cheating.

  If Moody was in the arms of another woman, who could it possibly be?

  Hurrying into the kitchen, she removed the phone book from the drawer, placed her hands on the counter, and took a few deep breaths.

  Only Paul would have the slightest clue whether or not Moody was seeing someone else. But asking Paul that kind of question would set a lot of things in motion, particularly if she was wrong.

  But what if she was right?

  Saundra flipped through the phone book for Paul’s work phone number.

  ~~~~

  Friday, the 2nd

  (Part Three)

  That evening, Moody sat in Paul’s living room recliner and gazed at a wallet-sized picture of Saundra. He wanted to talk with her, but she had to be the one to cave, not him. Despite Jessica being steadfast throughout lunch about the plan to make Saundra miss him, Moody felt guilty eluding Saundra the way he was.

  “This is stupid.” He stood, placed the photograph on the arm of the chair, and walked to the hallway table. He stared at the phone. He should call, if only to let her know where he was staying. But how would she respond? Did she even want to talk to him? Jessica had said Saundra hadn’t called the job, so maybe he wanted Saundra more than Saundra wanted him.

  Moody stepped away from the phone and dragged himself back into the living room. Just as he took his seat, the apartment door opened, and Paul stepped inside.

  “I saw your car still in the parking lot,” Paul said, hanging his keys on the key hook. “You’re spending the night?”

  “Can’t I?”

  “That depends.” Paul sat across from Moody. “Is there anyplace else you’ve been spending the night?”

  Moody cocked his head. “What?”

  Paul leaned back on the couch and rubbed his forehead. “Saundra called me at work.” He lowered his hand. “And she asked if you were cheating on her.”

  “Again?”

  “Again? This question was asked before?”

  Moody thrust his head against the back of the chair. “Last night.”


  Paul’s eyes widened. “You stupid idiot. She accused you of cheating and you came here?”

  “I was letting her calm down.”

  Paul stood and paced. “Yes, I see the logic. Spend time away from the person who’s worried you’re having an affair whenever you’re not with them.” He folded his arms. “It’s absurd she doesn’t see how committed you are.”

  Moody glared at him. “I’m not cheating on Saundra.”

  “I’ll reserve my judgment.” Paul sat back down. “But when a man ignores his wife for years, red flags are definitely raised.”

  Moody angled the chair away from Paul. “It was only when I watched games--”

  “I don’t really care if you were watching Jesus walking on water. In your mind, how does anything justify ignoring your wife?” He leaned forward. “Tell me what’s going on.”

  Moody couldn’t dance around the problem, not after Saundra swung the door wide open. “She doesn’t talk to me. When she does, it’s with an attitude.” Moody took a deep breath and focused on the throw rug. “When I try talking to her, she gets upset.”

  Paul dipped his head. “If I pieced everything together correctly, you ignoring Saundra only came about because she was talking too much. How can you sit there and say she doesn’t want to talk to you, when you’re the one who turned her away?”

  Moody glanced at the picture of Saundra.

  “You need to go over your priorities,” Paul said. “And talk to Saundra.”

  Television – sports in particular – had become a big priority in Moody’s life. But when? Why? Saundra’s comments and questions during the games were never anything extensive. In fact, they used to watch the games as a family before Connor’s bike accident. Everything changed after he died.

  What if Paul was right and all of this came about because of his TV watching? Why would Saundra not share how she felt? If she was really feeling pushed away by him, why not mention it in a peaceful manner?

  “She’s beginning to assume things, Moody,” Paul said, walking into the kitchen. “People do that when they don’t have enough information.”

  “Can I sleep on it?”

  “You’re going to do what you want to no matter how I answer. But the phone is there when you need it.”

 
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