With the turn in weather and impending ski trips ahead of me this season, I find myself reflecting on a lovely little chapter in Call Me Emily. My weekends will most likely entail snowball fights with my seven year old with an added bonus of harder, stinging snowballs to my back and shoulders from my husband. Then there is the cheering I know I won’t be able to contain as I watch my son ski down the hill toward me.
Emily’s trip to the snow is a little different. In chapter 16, titled- A Weekend Away, Graham takes Emily to his parent’s cottage for a ski weekend. She’s never snow-skied before, but braves the trip anyway with high hopes of romance with Graham. But after they finish eating dinner in the cozy cottage kitchen, the conversation takes a hard left turn.
A Weekend Away
It was fun cooking together. Since it wasn’t his or my apartment it felt like an “our” situation. We stood side by side, stirring pots and preparing the bread. We sipped wine, ate and talked casually about nothing in particular. It was simple but one of those times you know you’ll remember.
We ate, and as I popped the last bite of bread into my mouth, I had to admit I was full. “Should we go enjoy that fire of yours now?”
“Yes.” He looked down at the dishes.
“There’s not much … here.” I took our plates and washed them quickly, along with the empty pasta pots. Graham brought our glasses to the living room. I joined him in front of the fireplace. It was cozy and well, let’s face it, romantic. I walked to the fireplace to take a look at the family photographs.
“So these are your parents?” I picked up one of the frames. “This must be your sister.” I pointed to a beautiful blond girl in the photograph. The color drained out of Graham’s face. He looked down at his feet, almost shrinking. A posture I had never seen from him before.
“That’s …” He took the frame from my hands, looked at it briefly and turned it face down on the mantel. “That’s Nicole.” He said her name quietly. I didn’t know what to think.
“Nicole?” To say I was confused would have been an understatement.
“Remember I told you about the girl I dated last year?”
Who Nicole might be became clearer. “Yes, so that’s her? With your parents?” Suddenly I wore the same look on my face. I was sad and, well, more than slighted. His parents didn’t even know I existed, and here I was in another one of their houses with a photo of his previous girlfriend staring at me.
“But you said.” I was crushed. I couldn’t meet his eyes.
“Look, I don’t tell them about my personal life anymore for a reason.”
“ ’Anymore?’ ”
“Nicole was in my life for a long time and… she’s friends with my family. Believe me.” He reached for my shoulders. I still couldn’t look at him. “She’s not in my life anymore. I learned the hard way.” I couldn’t look up and didn’t know what to think.
“Emily?” He touched my chin with his index finger, tipping my face to his. “I’m with you now, only you.” He paused for a few seconds, not waiting for me to speak but trying to find his next words. The skin between his eyebrows crinkled. The look on his face was pain. Now I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He brushed my jaw with his thumb gently. I barely felt it. Time hung in the air between us.