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July/August 2018

During our two weeks in England, the closest we had come to living together, I found nothing dreary or unpleasant in Laura. Nor was there anything in the least vulgar about her, at least nothing I could see, and I looked pretty hard. Until now I had never met a woman in whom I couldn’t find a flaw, a disqualifying flaw, insofar as my even thinking about marrying her was concerned. I didn’t keep a checklist, but if I had Ms Laura Ross would have checked out perfectly: high intelligence, sense of humour, sexually pleasing, ambitious, loyal, kind, naturally refined. What, I wondered, was I overlooking? Where was the missing flaw?

As the plane landed with a gentle bump at O’Hare—using miles from our law firm, one of my perks as a senior partner, we flew first-class — I felt a strange but pleasing contentment. Apart from the occasional weekend in Vegas, I had never travelled at such length with a woman before, and this trip with Laura was in no way disappointing. We disagreed about nothing, I never felt myself pushed in a way I didn’t want to go, everything, in short, was copacetic. As I dropped Laura off at her Marine Drive apartment, I thought I should have done something to advance our relationship further. Suggest we try living together, perhaps. But, maybe out of jet lag, I didn’t.

We fell back into our old rhythm. Laura and I saw each other usually three, sometimes four nights a week, Saturdays always among them. We also spent most Sundays together. Laura seemed to have no objection to this arrangement; if she did, she kept it to herself. I went on pretty much with my old life, except now I had the refreshment of the company of this elegant, smart young woman. Why push it?

One Wednesday, on LaSalle Street, I ran into Laura in the company of a young man, whom she introduced me to as Ted Monroe, a new associate at Sidley Austin. He looked to be roughly her age. He was well set-up physically, blond, with a strong smile. They were on their way to Title & Trust to check on a lien on a property owned by one of Laura’s clients. The day was windy; there was a chill in the air. We soon separated.

Later that evening — Laura was working late, and so we didn’t meet for dinner — watching a Bulls game, my mind turned to Ted Monroe. I went over our brief meeting on LaSalle Street. His good-looks, I discovered, offended me. Were Laura and he merely cordial, or more than that? And what if they were? Laura and I had never set any rules about seeing other people. If she wanted to see someone else, why not, that was her right? The same freedom applied to me, or so I assumed. Except now I was keeping company with her I had no wish to see anyone else.

I began to imagine Laura and this guy Monroe as lovers. Nor did it help that I had a vivid picture of Laura’s black-and-white bedroom, which gave too full and faithful a context for my fantasies. I preferred to think myself above such low emotions, but I was, no question about it, jealous. I recall reading somewhere that the distinction between envy and jealousy is that you are envious of what other people have and jealous about things you have. But I didn’t, in any serious sense, “have” Laura. We weren’t married, engaged, even in the loosest sense commited to each other.  Did I even have a right to my jealousy? Right or not, jealousy was what I was feeling, and it wasn’t pleasant, goddamnit. 
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