Bonnie Vincent forced her eyes open and looked into the bathroom mirror, waiting for the fog from the shower to dear. After another restless, anguished night, she was virtually sleepwalking through her preparation for another day. She stood motionless and fixed a pained stare at the glass, seeming to anticipate something detestable when it unclouded.
As her image crept into view, she drew back and winced at how much she had changed from the woman who attracted admiring glances from men in a crowded room. She emitted a resigned sigh and then turned her eyes upward toward the skylight, searching for a clue about the weather as the morning light sifted through and glowed.
"I hate February in Dallas," she said to her reflection.
"It's such a guessing game. You never know what to wear."
"Guessing game" was an apt description for North Texas winter.
Sometimes, shards of icy air invade overnight and hang there stubbornly, sending unwary residents scurrying for an overcoat stuffed in a guest closet or scrambling for an ice scraper squirreled away in a tool box. At other times, a frosty chill whips through in the earliest hours but just as quickly recedes, yielding to a cool, blue day that permits shirtsleeves by ten and a comfortable tee-off by noon.
In either case, late Texas winter is consistently unsettled, much like Bonnie's volatile, unpredictable marriage to Udo Holthaus.
She returned her attention to the haggard image in the mirror. The redness of her eyes and furrow in her brow signaled the toll that her stormy union with Udo had taken. since their move here.
"You have to get ready," she whispered a desperate pep talk. “They need you at the office for staff meeting.”
Bonnie's morning routine rarely varied. She had perfected it quickly after she and Udo had come to Dallas and she had grasped the importance of pattern to her sanity, and of getting out of the house quickly each day.
As a reporter in Austin, her daily activities had been dictated by the speed bumps and gales that define news reporting. Now, she was adjusting to the slower, more predictable corporate world.
She had eagerly embraced the change. Months earlier, the Pearson Accounting Company had offered her an attractive position as public relations director. Her drive to succeed propelled her enthusiastic reaction.
Her husband didn't share her joy.
"It's not a good fit," Udo had protested adamantly when she told him of the offer at dinner. "You've just started improving your journalism skills. Now you want to go off and become a God damned corporate PR hack in a city you don't even know?"
"It's a wonderful opportunity," Bonnie argued, ignoring his profanity. "I would be working for a prestigious company, and the salary is fantastic. Udo, they want me."
"Tell them no."
"I can't let you make my career decisions for the rest of my life," Bonnie asserted stubbornly and then assumed a more caustic tone. "I know you're an important news director and I'm just a newspaper reporter, but it's about time that I made career decisions for myself." She paused nervously, but there was no stopping the words from tumbling out. "You can follow me or not-it's your choice."
Udo narrowed his eyes at the threat.
She softened, appealing. "I love you, Udo. And admire you. You mentored me in the business when I was na'ive and unsure. But I can't be satisfied any longer with riding shotgun."
"Tomorrow, call them back and turn it down."
A gaping silence fell between them. Bonnie's response was to pour a second glass of wine and shake her head hopelessly.