A couple strolled along the boardwalk, linked arm in arm. The woman dressed in a fine camel coat and expensive shoes swung her legs in a manner suggesting she had no pressing schedule and had not for quite some time. The man politely, if absentmindedly, walked beside her, dressed in a not so fine attire but still one to give the appearance of being dressed rather smart. The pair were well matched in stride and ease. They moved together in the type of comfortable silence only developed after years of acquaintanceship.
"Your little sister is getting married," the woman said.
“What do you think of that?”
“My parents are not thrilled at her choice, but she seems happy."
"And you? Are you thrilled with her choice?"
"I suppose he'll do for a first husband."
"Something you would know much about.”
Steering their course around a planter where a large dog was relieving itself, they moved along the rail, gazing down the river. Noise from city traffic hummed in the distance. The weakened winter rays of the sun did little to protect them from the breeze off the water.
"Is there a date for the wedding yet?"
"No, I haven't had much time to think about it."
"Why don't I be your be your date?"
The man looked at his companion and before he could answer she said,
"Why not? It’s not as if your family doesn't know me and I'll be far more charming and better behaved than any of the sort you've been keeping around these days."
"The might know you but they would wonder what you were doing there.”
"That's a fine thing to say. Will they be so skeptical when they learn the honeymoon has been ‘anonymously’ taken care of?”
Stopping, he turned to look at her.
"Of course I did. I am filthy rich, thanks to my dearly departed, and you are my closest friend. Don't give me that look – we've known each other for many years and I'm just as much of a loner now as I was then. Your sister is getting married and it was a nice thing I could do.”
The pair continued walking, he gazing ahead and she letting her gaze wander with her thoughts. Eventually he said, “You didn’t have to help with the –“
“I didn’t have to do anything. Very little I do with the money makes me happy and this made me happy to do.”
“You didn’t have to marry him if it made you so unhappy.”
"I was perfectly happy when he was alive. Then he died and it all went to hell: the lawyers and the fighting and the whole unholy mess. In the end, I did not earn that money, I paid for it."
"Then give it away."
“What? Have a business venture I would be interested to hear about?”
“No, I’m serious.”
"Perhaps I should. I'm not hungry anymore. I have no reason to hustle. People say that wealth doesn't change you but it does – makes you lazier than all get out and the loneliness and oh! The boredom!”
“You’re bored because you’re lazy. And it is your choice to be lonely.”
“Maybe. The funniest part about all this is I spent the last 10 odd years chasing after some dream, that I would find whatever it was I was looking for and that I would never be as lonely as I was then. It was a fevered madness that sent me galloping across the world only to wind up right back where I began. And here I am, begging an old friend for a wedding invitation."
"You don’t have to beg anything, I was just surprised-"
"I'm being dramatic and feeling awfully sorry for myself," she said, running a fingertip just under her eye. Flicking her head and sniffing she looked at her companion, her eyes warm again. "This won't last forever, this malaise, this...mourning. It was quite a shock, when it happened, but I've let it go on too long.”
They looked out across the river.
“Don’t worry about me.”
"I never do."
"So that's yes to the wedding date then?"
Smiling, he placed his arm around her and they continue to walk along the river.