The Beauty of the End

The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells

Book: The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells Read Free Book Online
Authors: Debbie Howells
said.
    She looked blankly at me.
    â€œYou said something about not being sure,” I said, curious.
    â€œOh.” A frown flickered across her face as she glanced away. “He said he’s looking forward to seeing us. You know, on New Year’s Eve. He was talking about announcing our engagement.”
    â€œWouldn’t that be something! He’s a good mate, isn’t he?” I pulled her into my arms, thinking of Will’s party again. How unexpectedly great life was. So much had changed this last year, I couldn’t help but wonder what the next would bring.
    Then I felt her sigh against me, as her eyes sought mine.
    â€œI’m so happy, Noah. But sometimes . . . Don’t you wish we could run away? From everything? Go somewhere it’s just us . . .”
    Her voice was quiet—and wistful. I felt a sudden flash of disquiet.
    Gently I pulled away from her, looking into her eyes. “Hey, if that’s what you want, we’ll do that. We can go away, get married on a beach somewhere. Anywhere. Just us.”
    I meant every word. It could have been a small-town registry office for all I cared. I thought she was talking about our wedding, but she could equally have been talking about our future. And I’d have moved to the other side of the world with her. All that really mattered was being together.
    * * *
    Over the next few days, we told our friends, then lightly sketched the outline of our wedding day, April at last conceding that a country wedding somewhere not too flash or ostentatious, now she’d thought about it, would be amazing.
    Then early on New Year’s Eve, before breakfast, she went out, alone. “I just need to get one or two things,” she said, reaching up to kiss me, before pulling on her big coat, then winding a scarf around her neck.
    â€œI’ll come with you. I could do with a walk.” I looked around for my jacket, then hesitated, remembering I’d promised to call my mother.
    â€œI’ll just make a quick call. Two minutes—okay?”
    But she shook her head. “It’s okay. You stay here. I won’t be long.”
    Though she didn’t say, I guessed it was one of those times she wanted to be alone. After calling my mother for the briefest of conversations, I switched on the television, picking up the end of an old film, then watching the one that followed, only at the end realizing April still wasn’t back.
    I was starting to get anxious when I heard her key in the door. When she came in, instead of flushed from the cold, her face was pale.
    â€œHey, are you okay?”
    Still in her coat, she came and sat on the sofa, staring at the carpet, before pulling off her boots.
    â€œNot really. I don’t know. I was walking I think I got cold.”
    I took her hands in mine. They were like ice. “You should have called me.”
    She shook her head. “It’s my fault. I should have come back—but I went and sat in the park. I thought it would pass, but it hasn’t. I just feel really sick, Noah. And I ache.”
    â€œIt sounds like flu.” I watched as she slipped her coat off and curled up on the sofa. Then I fetched a throw from her bed and gently covered her.
    She didn’t protest, just closed her eyes. A few minutes later, from the rhythmic sound of her breathing I guessed she was sleeping. An hour later, she hadn’t moved.
    Much later, as it was getting dark, gently I woke her.
    â€œYou’ve been asleep for hours,” I told her softly. “I don’t think we’re going to get to Will’s.”
    She lifted her head. “Oh, Noah . . .” Her head sank back onto the sofa. “I’m so sorry. I know how much you wanted to go tonight.”
    â€œIt’s okay. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a party.” I’d been looking forward to it, but it wasn’t important. There would always be other parties.
    â€œYou should go. I’ll

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