Romeo’s phone was ringing before he got into his room. It was his wife again. She was up and getting ready for her run.
Romeo lied that his phone had been on vibration since his presentation the previous day and he’d forgotten to reset the mode appropriately. She told him she understood and went ahead to fix a lunch date with him.
After she rang off, she realized she hadn’t believed a word of what he said. It was a strange feeling because she had never doubted him before.
If Andrea sustained any benefit of the doubt in credit to her husband, it was dissolved that afternoon when he didn’t show up for their lunch date. She kept calling him for almost an hour without any response.
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At that same moment, Romeo was being stood up at another restaurant. He had left a message asking Shea to have lunch with him.
As he sat there waiting, he began to think it was probably meant to be a one night show without any future spin-offs. Just as he was making up his mind to leave, Juliet slid in the seat opposite him, grinning. Romeo grinned back. “I know you’re not really here.”
“You know nothing, Romeo Woodrow,” she replied.
He smiled, knowing how fitting that line was from Game of Thrones. Sometimes they watched movies together, and in an absurd way, it felt completely normal. “This is unhealthy.”
“If you really believe that, then go see a doctor. Except, oh,” she paused for effect, “you’re a doctor of sorts too.”
“I just need to control where and how you pop up.”
“And where’s the fun in that for me?”
Romeo rubbed his forehead. “But how can you be so real, and yet . . .”
“And yet so real?” Juliet cut in.
“Why can’t anyone else see you?”
“If they did, you would not be the only one yearning for me anymore. You think you could use some competition?”
“It’s just that -“
The manager of the restaurant interrupted him with a tap on the shoulder. His face bore a very worrisome expression, having a customer who appeared to be speaking to the thin air. He leaned lower to maintain a very private volume of speech, and asked politely, “Are you okay?”
“Oh, no, no, it’s not what you think,” Romeo said, understanding his obvious confusion. But in that instant, as he glanced at the seat across his table, he noticed Juliet was typically gone.
Romeo came bearing gifts. He figured no explanation would cut it this time, and just decided to buy his way out. Andrea played along with his dramatic gesture, showing sweet gratitude, and pretending to have been successfully manipulated. But she was nobody’s fool, and would get the answers to her unspoken questions.
When Romeo woke up, the blinds were up and Juliet was standing quietly beside the window.
He became frantic and looked around to see if Andrea was beside him on the bed. Upon realization that he was alone, he afforded Juliet more attention. He walked up to her and noticed she was unhappy. He took her hands, rubbing them gently, “You look cross about something.”
Her eyes fluttered. She was trying to fight back the tears welling up in them. When she spoke, her voice was like a broken string of notes. “Your mind is my world, and your heart has always been my home. Recently it doesn’t feel so anymore. It feels invaded at best, and totally overtaken at worst.”
Romeo understood what she meant. “You’re talking about Shea.”
“I don’t care that she has your body, she can’t stay in your heart.”
“She’s not in my heart.”
“Romeo, I live inside of you, there’s no lie you can tell me. You feel she’s a live form of me – a form that does not come with the natural limitations of a virtual existence.”
Romeo held her hands firmer. “What do you want me to do?”
“Get her off your heart–off my property.”