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Rico let out a low whistle as Chloe descended the stairs with her matching camel-colored clutch under her arm. She was beautiful and he made sure she knew it.
âIâm the luckiest man in the world to have you on my arm tonight. You look beautiful, sweetie,â Rico complimented as he took her hand when she descended to the last three steps. When she made it to the bottom, he lifted her hand and brushed her wedding band with his fingers before planting a kiss on her hand.
âThank you.â Chloe blushed a little and returned the compliment. âYou look nice, too.â She noticed that he was wearing her favorite cologne as well, but didnât make mention of it. Rico placed her hand around his arm and escorted her to the car. Their drive to the Improv was filled with chatter from Rico about what they did on previous anniversaries. She didnât add much to the conversation, only nodded and smiled mostly. She had to admit that those times were nice, but this one was much different. In her mind was the insurmountable obstacle in front of them.
Rico had purchased their tickets online so they walked straight past the ticket booth to the entrance, where they were greeted by a hostess and shown to their VIP table near the stage. Noting the dim lighting, soft R&B music and the newly renovated facility, Chloe remembered their first date at the Improv, where they saw the comedian Arnez J in standup. They laughed until their stomachs and throats were in pain. She was hoping she would get another whiff of that tonight, although she didnât know who the comedian was going to be. She just knew that she could use a laugh right about now. And not just any laugh, but a magic laugh that would take away all of the pain that she was feeling and trying so hard to push aside. The type of laughter that would somehow wipe the slate clean for the two of them. She was sure there was no such thing, but she was ready for the magic she hoped the night would bring for her.
She ordered a Caesar salad and he ordered buffalo wings to enjoy before the show started. On cue, the show began when the waitress came to take away their empty plates. They were tickled a little by the warm-up acts but nothing like what she was waiting for. However, she was feeling more relaxed and her body didnât stiffen as it did earlier when Rico pulled her chair closer to his and put his arm around her.
There were still a few residual laughs from the crowd as the host appeared onstage to announce the headliner for the nightâWill the Thrill. Chloe didnât recognize the comedianâs stage name, so she knew she hadnât heard any of his jokes before. New material. Great.
Will the Thrill jumped straight into his routine after the round of applause subsided. His first joke was about dating and how he wasnât ready to commit to his girlfriend by getting married.
âCâmon now men. Yâall know how much extra work it is to hide the side woman when you get married. Gotta put all these codes in your phone, use aliases and lie, lie, lie. Even when you get caught, stick to the lie. Ainât that right my man?â he joked as he gestured toward Rico.
Her anticipation waned at those jokes. In fact, they werenât funny at all. Bad choice in her mind. What began to tick her off was that Rico was doubled over in laughter . . . clearly, something he shouldnât have been laughing at given the situation they were in.
âWhat in the hell is so funny, Rico?â she sneered, leaning to the side to look up at him wiping tears from his eyes.
âWhat?â Rico asked, clearly confused.
âSo cheating is funny?â
âSweetie, these are just jokes. Câmon now.â
âIâm glad you think ruining our marriage and our lives is funny. Iâm getting out of here!â Chloe scooted away from the table, snatched her purse and walked away with Rico following close behind.
âLooks like someone got caught doing what I just said not to do!â the comedian joked to their retreating backs as they exited the room, causing an uproar in the crowd.
Rico grabbed her hand and she spun around. She yanked her hand back and folded her arms across her chest. The look she gave would have killed him if looks could kill. Infidelity was a sore spot with her and definitely not a laughing matter. Rico couldnât understand why she took it so seriously. Everyone in the room, except her, knew that those were only jokes. There was no reason to get upset over nothing. But to Chloe it wasnât nothing; it was the reason her life was turned upside down.