He got up and planted a big kiss on the side of her neck, right where it met her shoulder before putting his empty bowl and glass in the sink.
“Stop.” She said, half-laughing, half-serious, “You’ll be sorry if all your charms start working on me. I happen to have a certain faiblesse for kisses in that particular spot.”
“Just providing all that attention that you’re so starved for.” Christian bantered. “Before you go back to your lonely existence.”
“I’ll be so spoiled, I won’t want to go back.” Joanne smiled.
“And yet,” Joanne pretended to sigh, “I must.”
“When are you leaving?”
“Early Sunday afternoon, I think. So I can be back in time to unpack, get groceries, throw out the spoiled food in my fridge, all that kind of stuff, before I go back in to work on Monday.”
“Spoiled food, hmmmm.” Christian mused. “I’m sorry about that. I’ll have to pay you something for the food you’ve lost on my account.”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Joanne exclaimed. “I think you’ve paid me back quite enough with the gourmet meals I eat here. Much better than anything I get back home.” She grinned at him.
“You’re probably right there.” Christian agreed.
Joanne returned to the work in front of her, and Christian headed for the shower.
When he returned to the kitchen half an hour later, the latest song from Nickelback was playing on the laptop.
“From classical to this?” Christian raised an eyebrow.
Joanne looked up and shrugged. “I like music.” She said. “All kinds of music.”
“I have to leave in a bit.” Christian told her. “The shrink wants to dissect my relationship with my father this afternoon.”
“Not a happy relationship, I take it?”
Joanne readjusted things on her page, and Christian sat quietly, lost in his thoughts for a few minutes.
“I used to try so hard, but nothing I did was ever good enough for him.” He said at length.
Joanne looked up and stopped what she was doing.
“I painted something in an art class once, and gave it to him for Father’s Day.” Christian stared at the table as he talked. “It was the best painting I had ever done. I put a lot of effort into the details. I chose the colours carefully, so it all looked good together. I put a lot of thought into how I placed things on the canvas.”
“I was so proud when I brought that thing home.” Christian shook his head at the memory. “I could hardly wait for Father’s Day, so he could open it his gift and see it. I wanted to give it to him right away, but I made myself wait.”
“Father’s Day finally came, and practically bursting with excitement, I proudly brought the gift to him.” Christian continued. “He opened it silently, looked at it, and set it aside.”
“"Don’t you like it?" I asked him.” Christian’s eyes met Joanne’s over the laptop. “He picked it back up and showed me where the perspective was off and where the details were not quite right and then he put it back down again and turned the TV on.”
“I was devastated. I picked up the painting, took it outside and threw it in the trash.”
Joanne’s face reflected all the sorrow she felt for him at that moment. “I’m so sorry.” She said in a low voice.
“My mother found the painting there afterwards, took it out, and had it framed.” Christian told her. “She hung it in her room. My father laughed at me, when he found out what I’d done, because I couldn’t take constructive criticism.”
“Some people are just… well, extremely bad at talking to others you know?” Joanne said. “I mean, they don’t say what they want to say, and what they do say is hurtful, even though they don’t mean to hurt. They are just… totally clueless.”
“Yeah, that about sums him up.” Christian agreed, “Totally clueless.”
“I guess telling you first will make it easier for me to tell the shrink this afternoon.” He sighed. “I had better get going. I bet she can’t wait to dissect this.”
Joanne patted his hand. “You’ll be fine.” She told him.
Christian came back from his appointment with the psychiatrist looking a little subdued.
“All right?” Joanne asked him.
Christian nodded, but his sober, reflective mood lasted all evening.