I met Tom at the pub when I was nineteen. I'd had one other relationship, with a lovely guy called Brent, but he was a little 'safe' and I was getting bored, so when I walked into my local pub one night and set my eyes on Tom- I was gone.
He was tall and blonde with a hint of danger. I watched him all night and every time he went to the bar, I made sure it was time for me to top up as well. Before the end of the night Tom and I were flirting and laughing, and at the end of the evening we left together. That was it for my relationship with Brent.
Tom and I spent the next week in bed, and by the end of that week we were firmly entrenched in a relationship. I moved all my things into his place the very next week and we embarked on life together.
He was funny, adored books, music and movies and loved searching out the next adventure. He always had some new bit of information for me, be it an obscure artist, architect, chef... the boy was perfect.
Not only was he interested in culture, he was a real man and totally adored me- even when I was ensconced in flannel PJ's with a bad dose of PMT. He was the relationship you read about in books. After a hard days work Tom would pour me a glass of wine, make me laugh and cook me a gourmet dinner. All my friends were jealous, we were the perfect couple.
Then I got a promotion at work. Tom celebrated this with champagne and lobster, but soon this excitement turned to dissolution. He got home every day at five- his work wasn't challenging; it was life that was the challenge for him, while my work started to consume me more and more.
I missed dinner regularly- in fact, when I was home, I was checking my emails and blackberry, always on call. Many weekends were spent at the office, and though I was heading where I thought I wanted to go, I noticed Tom being more and more distant. I'd often get home from work to find a note 'at the pub' but thought “well- I'm working, he may as well enjoy himself.” I didn't want him sitting at home like a dutiful 'wife'.
One night he didn't get in until 4 in the morning. The next night same thing, then again and again. I asked some of my friends from the pub if he was playing around- their uncomfortable shifting, followed by weak denial confirmed my suspicions.
One night, I told Tom I was working, but I wasn't. I went to the pub, hiding amongst the crowd in the corner. There was Tom- all over a very pretty girl. They looked very comfortable together and I noticed the other people in the pub treating them like an old familiar couple.
It was nearly 5.30am when Tom got in and I was dying to confront him- but I didn't.
The next night Tom had to go to his brother’s place for a family do, so I claimed to be working, but I wasn't. I went to the pub.
There she was, the girl. She was drinking with friends so I sat at the next table and listened to them. The girl's name was Nadine and she had a thick Irish accent. My eavesdropping revealed a lot. She had been backpacking, and had planned to go home when her visa finished, but was now over staying her visa, and working illegally at a cafe, all because she'd met Tom. My Tom.
When she went to the ladies I followed her, and on the pretense of needing a tampon struck up a conversation. She raved about the lovely guy she'd met- the perfect guy, her job, new flat and her love for Australia. She even went as far to say that Tom was with some career driven cow- but was ending it to marry her so she could stay in the country.
I went home seething, but held my tongue. For once Tom was already home, but he didn't ask where I'd been- he assumed I’d been working. He hardly asked me anything lately, but I still loved him and knew I’d never find a man as sexy and eternally interesting as him.
The next morning I made two phone calls. I rang immigration and told them all about Nadine- where she was working, where she lived and the fact she was in the country illegally. I then rang my job and quit. I'd saved quite a bit of money and I realised, I loved Tom more than I loved the job. I gave a week’s notice.
At the end of the week, after my last day at work I had champagne, dinner, candles- the whole thing waiting as Tom came in from his job. He seemed rattled- hell, he was rattled, and very surprised to see me home with such treats for him. As he sat down I told him I had quit my job and was thinking- why not us drive around Australia, we'd talked about travel and it was time we got around to it.
He looked at me with surprise, his mouth open... then he agreed.
I made one last trip to the pub before we went, alone, and found out Nadine had been raided by immigration at her place of employment and kicked out of the country- with no time to say goodbye to anyone- nothing. She was gone.
Tom and I repaired our relationship as we drove around Australia. Every day was an adventure- we planned nothing and just ended up where we ended up. The romance and connection came back and he fell back in love with me.
It's now six years later and we have a little cafe together, and life is beautiful. Sometimes I wonder what happened to Nadine- but really, I don't care. I have my man, he has me, and we're thrilled to be planning a family... first one due in four months.
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