Chapter 13: On Bended Knee

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John slowly drove up the drive to Jane’s house. He’d been driving round for an hour, looking at the autumn colour and putting off the dreadful moment. In fact, if he could have driven any slower he’d have been going backwards. Despite the fact he needed to talk to Jane and needed even more desperately to get a loan from her, John was a bit scared.

It wasn’t that Jane was a particularly scary person. Quite the opposite. She was lovely. Everyone in the Wakatipu agreed on that. Pillar of the community, dedicated to the committees she served on , Jane was always there to lend a helping hand and make sure that the things that needed to be done got done.

The only time John had ever seen her lose her composure was when he left her for Angie. Boy, the day he’d made that announcement he’d really discovered the meaning of “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’. He was lucky to get out the room with his nuts intact and the vicious skirmishing between them continued until the divorce became final.

Once that was done, it was like a switch flipped and Jane went back to being lovely, as if none of the preceding aggro and nastiness had ever happened.

No, there was no need to be scared of Jane these days. Since then they’d often stood side by side at graduations and 21st’s as Simon and Sarah’s parents, chatting away like the old friends they’d become.

It was just … something had changed between them recently. John didn’t know what it was but the last time he’d been in her company something had come over him and he found himself telling her that he regretted their divorce. Could have been the booze talking. They were at a party after all but that was just stupid!

John found himself passing Jane’s driveway for the third time and decided there was no point avoiding it any longer. He swung his vehicle to the right and drove the long haul up the hill to the house.

Jane had remarried of course. John had been a little surprised by her choice of partner. He could have sworn that if Tony wasn’t actually batting for the other team, he was the type who’d be keen to help out if they were short. But, hey, whatever made Jane happy.

Jane greeted him at the door.

“John, what a lovely surprise!”

“Oh I was just in the area and I thought I’d pop in!” he said.

“What a shame you weren’t a little earlier,” Jane replied, “Sarah was here. You could have had a catch up.”

“Umm,” John nodded vaguely. Unlike Jane, his daughter Sarah hadn’t forgiven or forgotten.

“Come in, come in,“ Jane ushered him in through the entranceway and into the enormous sitting room. “Drink?”

“Oh, nothing for me, thanks,” said John quickly, mindful of the last time he’d had a drink with Jane and blurted out that ridiculous thing about the divorce.

They sat and chatted idly about for about 10 minutes before John decided to come clean.

“Actually Jane, I wasn’t really just in the area. I’ve come to ask a huge favour.”

He took a deep breath and suddenly it all came spilling out. Vantage Villas, the demands from the bank, the night of the auction, Angie not talking to him … everything he’d been keeping so close to his chest came bursting out in a huge bleeurgh of emotion.

Jane sat thoughtfully for a moment.

“Oh dear. Sarah said she thought something might be wrong when she saw your signet ring for sale on Trade Me.”

“What? My signet ring’s not for sale on Trade Me,” John said. “I’m trying my best NOT to sell anything. My ring’s safely at home in the drawer. I don’t really wear it any more. She must be mistaken.”

“Sarah said she could have sworn it was yours…” Jane trailed off. “Anyway, that’s by the by. How much do you need?”

“Just enough to cover the cost of the painting. I’ve got a deal that’s as near as damnit completed and I’m pretty sure I can keep everyone else at bay until it’s done. I just need to get that painting paid for before the cheque bounces and they start blabbing all over town that I can’t pay my bills.”

Jane stared at him intently.

“Oh, God,“ thought John. “ She’s going to say no.”

“Right, I’ll lend it to you.”

John leapt off the couch and practically punched the air.

“Hang on! “ Sarah said. “There are a few conditions. I’ll email them to you tonight once I’ve transferred the money.”

John wasn’t really listening. He stood up babbling his thanks and made his way to the doorway, promising profusely to pay the money back as soon as he could and to honour whatever conditions she imposed.

He was still babbling when they reached the car and overcome by elation, John grabbed Jane’s hand intending to shake it. He looked directly into her eyes and felt that strange feeling he’d felt last time steal over him again. There was something so incredibly wise and kind and loving in her gaze that he couldn’t help himself.

“Jane, I really did love you, you know, “ he stammered and then, knowing he’d gone too far he got into his car and accelerated off, leaving a cloud of dust and a very amused Jane behind him.

All characters in Remarkables Lane are fictitious and any resemblance to any person alive or dead is purely coincidental…. No seriously, you’re really not that interesting