Ariel – August 1985
Ariel was conscious that her life lacked purpose but found it difficult to be dissatisfied for long. She loved her husband Frank and doted on her two children Sebastian who would be eight in December and Emily who was nearly seven. They had enjoyed a party filled week out in the Hamptons with Caitlin’s daughter Charlotte as their guest. Charlie had fitted in right away and the three children had torn about the grounds riding ponies, swimming and playing tennis.
Ariel was now counting the days for their trip to London. She and Frank were both looking forward to their weeklong visit with Caitlin. Charlie was looking forward to seeing her mama and her two were excited about seeing London, particularly the Tower of. Frank and Ariel had news of their own to impart by which Caitlin would be gratified.
Caitlin was likewise engaged and having examined her options was quite sanguine about her pregnancy. She was a big girl now; no one was about to tell her off for being silly. Either way she felt her parents would accept her decision. When her guests finally arrived she greeted them with tears of joy. She couldn’t believe how much Charlie seemed to have grown-up in the two weeks she’d been away.
Her daughter, with naturally olive skin tanned by the outdoor life, glowed with health, her hair a shade of tawny blonde impossible to create artificially; she was turning into a real beauty Caitlin considered proudly. Her half-siblings Emily and Sebastian were striking looking children, tall for their age, both with the blonde good looks of their mother, Sebastian developing the powerful build of his father. She hugged her father tight and greeted Ariel with affection.
Ariel guessed right away that Caitlin was pregnant but kept the feeling to herself prior to confirmation. Once she had settled into the top floor guest suite that Caitlin had created from two old bedrooms Ariel suggested to Frank that he took a nap; an idea with which he concurred immediately. He hadn’t slept much on the flight as he had been engaged on some important papers. Dropping a kiss on his forehead Ariel made her way down stairs by way of the children’s quarters. Charlie’s bedroom cum dormitory was perfect for sleepovers and the generous sized playroom attached was serving to entertain the three children for now. Ariel left them to it. She was keen to have a private catch up with Caitlin.
Ariel’s speculation that Caitlin was expecting increased to a certainty when Caitlin offered a cup of tea in preference to their usual shared bottle of wine. Ariel lost no time in establishing the fact by asking Caitlin baldly,
‘Have you something to tell me, Caiti?’
‘I knew that you’d guess it’ rejoined Caitlin, ‘Yes, I’m pregnant.’
‘And who’s the lucky father?’ Ariel was surprised that they’d not heard anything about a new man in Caitlin’s life.
‘Well, it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind’ Caitlin hesitated to say romance, ‘affair.’ She finished.
‘Are we going to meet him?’Ariel asked meaningfully. She was concerned that another hasty relationship may end in tears for Caitlin and felt conscious of her duty as a stepmother figure.
‘I’ve invited him over on Sunday to meet you’ again Caitlin hesitated; this wasn’t as easy as she had thought it would be, ‘he doesn’t actually know that I’m pregnant’ she confessed ‘I’m not sure what to do. I’d actually finished with him when I found I was pregnant. But ever since then he’s been showering me with flowers and messages and gifts.’ She exaggerated aware of the contrast between the generosity of Mario and Michael. Ariel’s face was a picture, Caitlin thought Ariel was trying to be ‘motherly’ and it wasn’t really working out. Caitlin tried (badly) to suppress her laughter. Exasperated Ariel pushed her tea away and announced that she was going to resort to a glass of wine. Caitlin jumped to her feet and poured apologising and giving Ariel a hug as she presented the wine.
‘Sorry Ariel, I didn’t think, I might try a small one too. I’m getting over the sickness now.’ Ariel took a sip of the Macon and mused on the situation. Finally she announced,
‘Well we’ll have to keep the information from your father for the time being. At least till you’ve discussed the situation with your lover and decided what the pair of you are going to do. At least you’re not showing any physical signs. The no drinking can always be put down to dieting.’ She paused and looked archly over ‘At least you’ve tried this one out’ which provoked a bout of giggles from Caitlin, ‘Any good?’ she asked, slipping back into their old friendly relationship.
Caitlin gave Ariel a sanitised version of her meeting and subsequent affair with Michael. Ariel listened intently once she had heard Michael’s name mentioned. Frank had mentioned this very person at a dinner party very recently. The men had been discussing rising stars and after their analysis of Wall Street had fallen into discussing the London stock exchange. She remembered Frank saying with some admiration that there was nobody in London to touch the track record of Michael Peterson.
‘He’s tipped for a peerage.’ I understand, Frank had added.
Ariel – August 1985