This is the fifteenth part of a fiction serial, in 800 words.
If Roger was concerned that his new relationship with Emily would make things awkward at school, he needn’t have worried. Her behaviour didn’t change at all, and if anything she had started to act more like the others. Although she was still getting an A for every test and homework project, she had stopped adding so much detail he hadn’t taught the class, and she was learning not to answer every question immediately, but to give the others a chance.
Even if they got it wrong.
Life with Delia was settling into a pattern. He was getting to know her better as a person, and to become aware of some of her frailties. The longer he spent in her company, the more he liked her. She had stopped asking him to move in with her, and seemed sure he would choose to do that in time. More staff members appeared to know that they were seeing each other, but that soon became old news.
The Saturday morning tutorials with Emily had also settled into a routine. She would take notes as he talked, and Yamada would gaze out of the window, seemingly disinterested. So far, Roger had not attempted to sell the diamond. He had left it in Delia’s small safe in one of her wardrobes, when she had happily told him the combination to reassure him he could retrieve it at any time. That day she had also given him a front door key, telling him he should feel free to treat her home as his.
But he still rang the doorbell.
As Christmas was coming up, with the longer break from school, Roger asked Emily if she still required tuition during the holidays. “Oh yes please, sir. We don’t celebrate Christmas, so I would be grateful if you could continue as normal”. During his now frequent visits to the lakeside house, he had occasion to use the bathroom. He had been directed to a family bathroom along a narrow hallway, and noted that all the doors leading off that were closed. On his way back to the living room one morning, he tried some of the handles, hoping to get a sneaky look into other rooms.
They were all locked.
There had been no relaxation of the mood when he was in Emily’s house. It was always quite a formal atmosphere, and he had little chance for general conversation, let alone personal questions. Delia had suggested he should just come straight out and ask them anyway, but that was not in Roger’s nature.
Delia was planning a traditional Christmas meal for them on the 25th, and when he arrived that morning, he was taken aback by just how much effort she had gone to. A massive decorated tree filled one corner of the large sitting-room, and there was a pile of wrapped presents underneath it. He asked her if others were coming, and she laughed. “Of course not, my darling. It is going to be just the two of us”.
Feeling embarrassed, Roger handed over the small gift he had remembered to buy. He had paid extra to have it gift-wrapped in a department store, and had asked the advice of the sales girl on what to purchase. It was a very popular perfume, she had assured him. A qualilty product. At fifteen pounds, it certainly seemed expensive enough for a gift, so he had bought it. Delia was effusive in her gratitude. “Oh, that’s wonderful! I had been thinking about trying that perfume, how thoughtful of you to go to so much trouble”. He eyed the pile of presents under the tree again, counting seven parcels. Hopefully, they would not all be for him.
But they were.
The meal she had prepared was more like a banquet. He sat at the dining table as she brought out course after course, finally ariving with a turkey big enough to feed a family of six. She handed him a large carving knife and two-pronged fork. “You carve, sweetheart. I like to see a man carve the bird”. Roger didn’t have the heart to tell her he was already full, and sliced off a few pieces of the breast meat, declining a leg in addition. When they had eaten that, she suggested they wait until she brought out the pudding and cream.
He nodded, much relieved.
Trying not to doze off on the sofa, he listened as Delia droned on about it being a perfect day, and how many more perfect days they would enjoy together. Then just after five that evening, the doorbell sounded. Delia looked at him, and raised her eyebrows. “Who could that be? I am not expecting anyone”. She got up off of the sofa, and Roger followed her to the front door.
It was Riku Yamada.