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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Yours Truely, Cameron by Kaarina Brooks

Melanie peeked into her lingerie drawer. Yes, there it was, the pink envelope, tucked inside her silky lace camisole. Just as Cameron had said it would be.

Eagerly she opened it.

Ah! Her eyes misted as she gazed at the beautiful, sparkling roses on the card. Cameron was such a romantic and he knew she was a sucker for mushy cards. He’d bought her the anniversary card before he went on the road and had tucked it in her drawer, making her promise not to open it before the morning of their anniversary, celebrating the day they moved in together two years ago. He would be home later tonight and take her out for a romantic dinner.

Melanie opened the card and read the loving verse, whispering each word to herself.

Then she gasped. The signature at the bottom read, “Yours truely, Cameron.”

She slumped onto the bed as an icy lump slowly settled inside her stomach.

Yours truely! That’s how people signed business letters, for goodness sake! She knew Cameron could be a joker, but this didn't look like joke. This was a serious, romantic card and these words just didn’t compute.

Sometimes before he left on a road trip, Cameron had left a funny card on the kitchen table, or on her pillow, just for a laugh. He would sign it with a gag signature like, “Yours truly, Mr. Cameron White”, and she could imagine him in his truck, chuckling over her reaction. Of course there would always be “I love you and miss you, Baby” scribbled somewhere in a corner.

But not in this one. She turned the card over and even opened it up to expose the blank insides. No “I love you” anywhere in sight!

What did it mean? Was he trying to tell her he no longer loved her? That he wanted to end their relationship?

Melanie knew there were people who called it quits on Twitter, or via e-mail, or some other rude and impersonal way. Would Cameron do that?

Melanie stifled a sob. Could he really be telling her he wanted out? And here she’d thought they'd been happy!

That had to be it. There was no other explanation for this cold formality. But what a horribly insensitive way to do it!

Melanie shuffled into the kitchen and poured herself a coffee. For a long time she sat slumped at the table, fingering her un-tasted coffee cup, trying to come to grips with this revelation. Was it his intention to break the news to her tonight in the restaurant? Right after their "romantic" dinner? That was so cruel! Using their anniversary to tell her he no longer loved her!

Anger began to build up inside her. The nerve of the man! By the time Cameron stepped into the house late in the afternoon, a black fury was churning in her stomach. She didn't turn to greet him and pretended to be absorbed in her book.

Cameron came up behind her and kissed the nape of her neck. “How’s my favourite girl?”

“Fine,” Melanie replied curtly.

Cameron hands froze on her shoulders. “Something wrong, honey?”

“No, nothing at all.” Melanie turned around and gave him a toothy smile.

His brow furrowed. “You sure you’re okay?”

"I told you, I'm fine." Her reply was as frozen as the weather outside.

“O.K. then. I’ll just change and we can head out. There’s snow in the air and the traffic isn’t the greatest.”

“Good.” Melanie got up. “Let’s get going. If we’re going.”

“If we’re going? I told you I’ve made reservations. Am I imagining it, or is it snowing inside this house, too?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Melanie said with feigned innocence.

“All right then.” He didn’t sound convinced.

At the restaurant the waiter showed them to a secluded corner. Melanie knew Cameron had arranged it that way so they could have an intimate dinner. Hah! So he could tell her the bad news in private, was more like it! He was probably hoping the card had already prepared her for the worst, and she wouldn't upset the other patrons with her tears.

He shouldn't have worried! She was totally cool. There'd be no tears from her!

They sat down at the candle-lit table and Cameron chatted about his week on the road. Melanie noted with growing dismay that he didn’t once mention the little vacation they’d been planning for next month. Why? Because they wouldn’t be going, that’s why.

Cameron reached for her hand but Melanie found an excuse to look in her purse for her lip gloss. Then she re-folded her linen napkin and inspected the fork and spoon for possible stains. Amazing how many things she could find to fidget with until the meal came. It would be too painful to allow him to touch her.

Two painful hours later, they entered the house in silence. Cameron immediately marched into the living room and looked around. Greeting cards usually sat on the side table by the couch.

“The card I left for you,” he said. “Didn’t you find it?”

“Oh, yes!” Melanie couldn’t prevent the sarcasm from dripping out of her words. “I found it, all right!” She went into the kitchen and fished the rumpled card out of the wastebasket.

"Here." Her nose wrinkled with distaste, she held the card between her thumb and forefinger as far away from her as possible.

Stunned, Cameron stared at the card. “What happened? It’s a mess!”

“Yes, things are a bit messy, aren’t they?” Melanie agreed dryly.

“O.K. Melanie,” Cameron snapped. “Let’s have it out! I’m getting tired of this drama. What exactly is going on?”

Melanie poked at the signature with an accusing finger. “You tell me what’s going on.”

“Oh, that!” Cameron burst into a loud guffaw. “I guess you didn’t figure out my subtle message.”

Melanie stared at him. She'd certainly figured something out, but it didn’t look like her conclusion had been the right one, judging from the way Cameron was laughing and enjoying himself.

“Figured what out?” she asked at last, failing to sound and look exasperated. Bewildered was more like it.

“Didn’t you notice the way I spelled ‘truely’?” Cameron asked, chuckling. "T-r-u-e-l-y."

“What about it?” Melanie was beginning to suspect she'd somehow missed the boat here.

“Ouch! I assumed you'd get my meaning. You didn't, did you?”

“Obviously not." She tried to sound haughty, as a last-ditch effort to retain her dignity. "I was always taught that's a closing for business letters. It’s certainly not how people sign anniversary cards.”

“But don't you see? I signed it ‘Yours truely’, with an e. Get it?”

Melanie still drew a blank. “No.”

“I was trying to say I’m ‘true-ly’ yours. I misspelled it on purpose.”

The cold lump inside her slowly began to melt. “You did?”

“I guess I was being too clever for my own good, and ended up messing things up instead.”

Cameron had no difficulty pulling her into his embrace. Melanie's insides were starting to turn to mush and the firm support of his arms felt good.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled against her hair. "What did you think was going on?"

Now totally melted, Melanie snuggled against him. Never would she tell him of her silly suspicions. Never!

“If you’d written, ‘Truly yours’” she murmured. “It would’ve said something totally different to me."

Cameron slapped his forehead. “You’re right!" he exclaimed. "That’s what I meant to say. In my hurry to hide the card I put the words in the wrong order.” He gave her a big, wonderful kiss. The first one in over a week!

Melanie was beginning to feel downright hot. “From now on,” she purred against his chest. “Would you please just write, ‘I love you’ and avoid any misunderstandings.”

“Yes,” Cameron agreed. “That does say it all, doesn't it?”

About the Author: My publishing career is varied, from children’s books to romance, but my focus is romance.

A retired teacher with BA in English, I belong to CANSCAIP (Canadian Society for Children’s Authors) RWA (Romance Writers of America) TRW (Toronto Romance Writers) and FATA (Finnish American Translators Association), which “says it all”.

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