Georgia loves her husband, Alan. She shows him kindness with actions and words, but Alan responds in a heartless, selfish way. To receive respect and admiration from people, he believes he must have a perfect wife—so he criticizes Georgia at every opportunity—even tells her she’s fat! Alan’s best friend Ken and his wife Jana reassure Georgia that she remains the gorgeous beauty queen she was during her college days. Who will Georgia believe—her friends or the mysterious, handsome stranger who comes into her life?
Circumstances bring a change to Alan’s attitude. But is it too late to save this marriage?
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~~Georgia loved this Italian restaurant, and having dinner with her husband’s best friend, Ken, and his wife was a treat too. And to top it all off, Jana, Ken’s wife, had become her best friend. Fine food with companions she loved—an evening couldn’t be better.
At least until this moment, anyway. Georgia wished the topic hadn’t switched to political leaders.
“Georgia, you don’t know what you’re talking about. That guy is a bozo.”
Georgia cringed as though bitten by a scorpion. Why did he need to sound so condescending?
Ken winked at her and reached out to touch Alan’s shoulder. “Hey, old buddy, don’t get all excited. The four of us can share different opinions, can’t we? Shoot, you and I’ve been friends since kindergarten. Have we always agreed? Nope—not hardly. Remember those days when we argued at recess? You wanted to play tag with the girls and I wanted to swing. I ended up going with you. Turned out well, chasing those little lassies was fun too.”
How kind of Ken to defend her after Alan’s embarrassing remark. Had her sweetheart harped on such things before they married? Georgia sighed. No, she didn’t think so—didn’t remember any. When they dated, he’d complimented her and seemed pleased with anything she’d said. If he’d made some of the observations he’d made today, she might’ve entertained second thoughts about the life-time commitment.
Jana sipped an iced tea. “Ken always defends the underdog. Don’t you, honey? He’s been like that ever since I’ve known him, but I agree with Alan. That politician is a bozo.”
Georgia toyed with a napkin. “I didn’t care for the way he voted on the tax issue, however he’s done well with other matters.” Who cared if this group failed to appreciate her opinions? She held the right to speak them, even though she risked her husband’s scorn. On the other hand, would this kind of reaction cause him to treasure her? Probably not. She wanted Alan to appreciate and value her accomplishments. Oh well, she’d keep trying to make him see her as special.
“Which day in our history did you become an expert on current events? When we dated, you were a party girl—the campus beauty queen. You weren’t tuned into politics.” Alan waved a dismissive hand as he spoke to Georgia. “Now, me? I’ve always been interested. I study the issues and learn what’s going on.” He wiggled a finger. “After three years of marriage, you’ve become a real know-it-all.”
“Maybe you’ve taught her a lot about world affairs.” Jana crossed her legs and shifted her weight. “You’ve shown Ken a thing or two. He watches cable television now—even reads the newspaper. I like having him at the morning table with me rather than sitting at the computer.”
How polite of Jana to smooth things over.
A server carried a large tray on his shoulder and the aroma of garlic drifted down to their table.
“I thought he had our order. I’m starving.” Alan viewed the dimly lit restaurant as if he hoped another server would appear with their meal. “I made sure my customers’ bread baskets were full to go along with their drinks when I waited tables in college. Our waiter doesn’t understand his job.” He held up a basket. “Look at this. This thing should be restocked with rolls, and the guy can’t bother to refill our glasses, either. He won’t get much of a gratuity from me.”
Jana nodded. “He’s forgetful but I’d hate not to give him the fifteen percent.”
“When a person does a respectable job, I tip twenty to thirty percent.”
“Perhaps he’s new.” Georgia lifted her eyebrows as she scanned the room.
“No matter. He needs to use common sense. When I held his position, I earned more money in tips from satisfied customers than all the servers combined. The staff couldn’t figure out how I did it. I used my head and checked on people.”
Georgia patted Alan’s arm. “You did well, honey. You took me to some elegant places during those days. We even went to restaurants similar to this. Alan was very romantic back then.” She fingered the white table cloth. “Our favorite Italian bistro sported red-checkered cloths and candles instead of this neutral color.”
“If I’d known Ken through college years, our dates might have been hot dogs and free movies.” Jana touched her husband’s arm and gave him a wink. “And I’d have loved every minute of it. Too bad I didn’t meet you earlier.”
“I wish you’d been around, too. Hot dogs would’ve tasted gourmet with you there.” Ken shrugged. “The paycheck from the campus bookstore was small—Alan earned more in the restaurant, but I enjoyed the job. Reading has always been a hobby to me, and now as editor of Always Texas Living, it’s my career.”
“But we didn’t take the paper in the early days of marriage.” Jana’s tone carried a hint of reproach, however she smiled apologetically and glanced at Georgia. “A long-time habit. Had to have my newspaper first thing with coffee.”
Now why couldn’t Alan be more like Ken? How she longed for cozy moments similar to the ones her friends shared. Georgia tried to ignore the gnawing ache of loneliness in her heart.