XIX - Breaking up

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[RECAP: Carl Spencer has been racked with guilt since his student Juliet kissed him on Hallowe'en, and can't get her out of his mind.]

There was only one thing Carl could do. It was one of the hardest conversations he had ever had to have.

Rebecca was furious. Disbelieving and furious. "You can't do this to me! To us! I've done all this preparation towards our wedding, what are we supposed to do with all that?"

If anything, her response vindicated Carl's decision. He had done all he could to soften the blow, even blaming himself as much as possible for "not being ready".

But the cold hard truth was that he simply didn't love her enough. He didn't really love her at all.

"I think we both need to take some time to think about our values, and what we both want," Carl said. Then he immediately regretted it because it left the door ajar. He wanted this to be a final break up. He simply couldn't imagine any future scenario in which he would feel any renewed desire to marry Rebecca.

"I know exactly what my values are," Rebecca told him. "And I wouldn't have been spending so much effort and time planning this wedding if I hadn't known what I wanted."

Carl noted, not for the first time, that Rebecca's focus was on the wedding rather than on him or the two of them as a couple. She could have said "I want you" but she didn't. It had worried him before: once all the planning was done, and the big day came, and they were finally united: what then?

"I'll cover all the expenses we've already run to," he said.

Rebecca stared at him, open mouthed. "I can't believe you're talking like this. You're not thinking straight. You need to speak with Pastor Brown."

"I'll speak with him if you like, but it's not going to change things. I've prayed over this and I've thought about it deeply. It's not right for either of us. We're not where we should be as a couple, and I don't think we ever will be."

She looked furious. "This is about all the physical side, isn't it? Your constant attempts to push for that. It's only a few months that you need to be patient for, I don't understand what your problem is."

There was so much more anger in her than sorrow, so it seemed to him, but perhaps it was her way of dealing with it.

"How do you think that side of things would have gone, after the wedding, Rebecca? People talk of 'chemistry' but do you think it's guaranteed? Because right now I don't think that we have it."

"That's because I've been praying and exercising self control," she snapped. "Besides, people put too much emphasis on that. It shouldn't have to be some kind of obsession."

Carl looked at her. "Have you ever felt it? With me? Have you ever even felt tempted?"

There was a faint flicker of fear and uncertainty in her eyes before she replied. "I can't believe you would ask me something so disgusting, so sinful."

"I don't think it's sinful to talk about it. The couples in the marriage DVDs talk about it quite openly, how they struggled with it ahead of the marriage. It's only a sin if you yield to temptation."

Saying this, Carl got a pang of guilt thinking about Juliet and the kiss. Though he had managed to keep things professional since that devastating encounter.

"Well maybe it's for the best," Rebecca was saying. "You seem to have become some kind of sexual deviant. I'll pray for you, Carl, and I hope you come to your senses."

* * *

"Oh my God you'll never guess!" Margot was bursting with excitement.

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