The night had fallen over the city when Adele left Joana’s apartment. Walking back from the door, Joana threw herself on the maroon couch in her living room. Bella sat by her side on the floor, staring up at her with concerned eyes. Joana dropped her hand down and gently touched the head of her Yorkshire.

With her green eyes fixated on the ceiling, Joana watched the dancing light emanating from the flickering flame of the candles on the table by her side. She took a deep breath and felt the fruity scent of the candles fill her nostrils. But this time, the soft smell did not fill her with the peace and childish joy it had always done. Although she could clearly feel the scent, her mind was unable to process it. Thoughts rushed through her head like a stampede of wild horses. Could Istvan ever leave her for another woman? Could he possibly cheat on her after so many years of romance and love? Was his love genuine and sincere, or was he another actor, as Gabor did with Adele?

For a long time now, she had felt that things were not going as she had hoped in their relationship. She barely saw Istvan lately, let alone having any intimate moment together as they used to. But she had thought that it was just a passing crisis, and that soon they would return to how they used to be, inseparable. One soul in two bodies. She had always told herself, it will get better. But it didn’t.

Month after month, the distance between them had grown. Istvan would travel every couple of weeks on business trips all around the world, and she would be alone at home, waiting impatiently for his return.

With every new trip her suspicions would rise, and questions would fill her head about her man’s loyalty. She remembered the time she saw pictures from his business dinner, and a woman was sitting next to him, holding his arm strongly and laying her head on his shoulder. He had explained that he had tried to get rid of her, but she kept following him during the whole dinner time. He claimed to have told the girl: “Please stop. I have a girlfriend, and I am not interested in you.” Joana believed him but couldn’t reach full comfort about the situation.

She also remembered the time when he had come back from a trip and hung his jacket, she found a condom in the pocket. He had claimed it was an old one he had found in his car and forgot to throw it away.

She wondered, what will she discover this time?

She worried.

The thought of losing Istvan to another woman was unbearable. She felt her heart jumping in her chest, and her stress rise as she imagined him cheating on her, or simply leaving her.

Yet, despite all these situations and thoughts that rushed through her mind, with every return, she still welcomed him with joy, making sure to have everything set and ready for his comfort: his favourite meal of steak and mashed potatoes, although she was a vegetarian for many years. She prepared freshly washed pyjamas and bed sheets, and she even prepared a hot bath for him to relax. He seemed to enjoy it, he seemed to appreciate it. He would always come back with a small gift for her. He would sometimes give her a soft kiss on her thin lips, and gently caress her smooth skin. She remembered how he talked to her last time.

“I’ve missed you my sweet Joana.”

“I’ve missed you too baby.”

He said it as he gave her the gift and kissed her.

That was enough to make her heart comfortable once again. That was enough to give her hope and strength to fight for her love.

Joana stood up and walked to the bookshelf. She grabbed a wooden frame. In it was a black and white picture of Istvan. Behind the large glasses, his light-coloured eyes showed joy. He was smiling. His thin lips opened the way for his near perfect teeth. The picture was taken on the beach, he was topless, and his large shoulders were visible, giving the hint of his well-built, athletic body. She smiled at the picture and sensually kissed it. “Tomorrow he returns” she thought, with a smile. She thought of Adele and hoped that she as well would soon find the man who would truly love her.

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