House of Cards

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March 1993 

"Innocence is always unsuspicious." - Haliburton 

Marc was busily scribbling his latest notes in the pad he carried religiously, when his friend sat down at the tiny table, a double espresso in his hands.

“Sorry I’m late,” Mike Kinville said, his lopsided grin easing his tardiness.

Marc quickly flipped his notebook closed.  “No problem,” the dark-haired college senior said.  “Darci’s late, too.”

Michael regarded his friend for a moment.  “Are you happy with Darci?” he abruptly asked.

Marc stared at his friend in surprise.  “Of course,” he exclaimed.  “Why?”

“No reason,” Mike said as he reached for his cigarettes.  “You just seem so…” he struggled for the perfect word that would describe his friend’s recent unpredictable behavior without offending him “…erratic.”

“Erratic?”  The dark-haired man stared incredulously at Mike.  “What are you talking about?”

The blond lit a cigarette and took a deep drag before answering.  “I don’t know, man, you just seem so intense lately.  You didn’t used to be this way.  But ever since you met Darci…” Michael let his sentence trail off suggestively as he took another drag off of his cigarette.

Marc was about to reply when his girlfriend entered the coffeehouse on a cloud of Chanel No. 5.  “Marc!” she exclaimed as she headed to where Marc sat.  “I’m so sorry I’m late, sweetheart!”

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September 1993

"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread." - Mother Teresa 

There was a dramatic pause, as everyone seemed to be holding their breath awaiting the their first glimpse of the bride, and then the first triumphant strains of the wedding march burst forth.  The assembly rose to its collective feet and heads craned as the bride exultantly entered the church on a cloud of silk and her father's arm.

Marc held his breath as his bride drew closer.  The church was so large that it wasn't until she was halfway down the aisle that he could really see her.  He couldn't see her beautiful face, hidden as it was behind the layers of white tulle that made up her veil, but he was breathless as he took in the gorgeous dress she and her mother had chosen for this day.  No matter what anyone said about his bride flying to Marc eagerly took the three steps, as he had in the rehearsal the day before, to meet her and her father as they approached.  The music quieted, the guests settled into their seats, and the priest cleared his throat.  "Family and friends," he began, "we are gathered here today in the presence of God to unite in holy matrimony Marc Christopher Chelios and Darci Allison Winchester."

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March 1994 

"Dreams, indeed, are ambition; for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream." - William Shakespeare 

Marc didn’t like New York City.  The twenty three year old wasn't unfamiliar with the hectic ways of city life; he had grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, so the urban sprawl wasn't a foreign being.  But there was just something about New York City that never seemed to be home to him.  Something about the metropolis that made him shy about accepting it, embracing it, welcoming it.

Or maybe it was just because he didn't particularly like his life right now, and he was projecting that onto his adopted city.  He was barely eking out a living as a journalist, while his successful fashion designer wife was practically supporting the both of them.

Darci had been encouraging him to go work in her father's New York office, but Marc had been resistant.  It wasn't what he wanted to do with his life, what he had a passion for, and to Marc’s honorable way of thinking, it was blatant nepotism.  Since when had he become the idle son-in-law who needed his father-in-law to hire him just to make a living?  Wasn't that one of the worst clichés in the book?

Once again, that impalpable quality that Darci possessed enveloped him and claimed him.  That ability to make him feel as though anything was possible.  She was right.  They had tried it his way for six months as he desperately searched for a journalism job; now it was time to try something different.  And, as she pointed out, he could continue to write.  He was still going to be a journalist; he would just take a side trip down an unbeaten path.  But he never once doubted that that path would eventually return to the road he had originally chosen, the one that would lead him to journalism.

He smiled at his wife.  “Okay, I’ll do it!”

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March 1995 

"Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards." - Benjamin Franklin 

Marc caught his breath at the sight of his wife; her absolute beauty and sense of style never failed to astound him.  Her tall and statuesque figure was adorned in a stunning blue Lauren silk dress, the diaphanous material clinging to her curves.  She was sexy as hell and yet refined and tasteful all at once.  Her eye-catching red hair was held in an impressive upsweep that accentuated the delicate features of her face.  Her large, expressive eyes, normally so dazzlingly green, were almost turquoise as they reflected the cobalt blue of her dress.

"Darling," she said as she kissed him on the cheek.  Marc couldn't help himself; he placed his hands on her head and gave her a passionate kiss, right there on the curb for all to see.

"God, Darci, you look gorgeous," he said when he finally pulled away from the kiss.

Her large, expressive eyes were bemused for just a moment as she regarded him.  The bemusement faded almost immediately before a fleeting look of passion took its place and then disappeared just as quickly.  Finally, her eyes hardened and a look of ice settled on her perfectly made-up features.  "I'm surprised you even notice these days."

Marc was confused.  Where had this come from?  "What?" he asked in bewilderment, grasping her by the elbow and moving her toward the restaurant doors, away from the crowded curb and any potential spectators to what looked like it could shape up to be an argument.

"This is the third time in two weeks that you've forgotten about an engagement we had.  And it's always your secretary that calls to tell me."  Darcy’s voice was cold as ice, and she pronounced the word secretary as if it disgusted her to even think the word, let alone have to utter it.  "You spend more time with her than with me."

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March 2000 

"People demand freedom only when they have no power." - Friedrich W. Nietzsche 

The twenty nine year old former journalist stood in his glass encased corner office, which was filled with the trappings of a successful business career, and contemplated his next move.  He had to leave for his meeting in fifteen minutes but Marc was confident in the material he was presenting and, therefore, the young assistant director was fully prepared for that; no, he was contemplating his next move of the personal variety.  Marc sat down and decided to take stock of his life; he had to do something to relieve this restlessness that he was inexplicably feeling. 

He sat in an impersonal but elegant office all day and then went home to an elegant apartment, which, despite the fact that a married couple had called it home for almost three years now, was actually even more impersonal than his office was.  At least at his office he had a framed picture of his wife on his desk.  No pictures littered the art deco tables in their residence; no portraits of themselves or their families decorated the stark walls of their apartment.  There were no images of them or their life together scattered among the expensive crystal bric-a-brac that Darci had so carefully selected to adorn their domicile.

Marc truly thought about the lack of pictures in his home for the first time.  Darci's taste ran to the stark and modern.  Gleaming chrome and black leather.  The harsh contrast of black and white, with a shocking red or fuchsia pink thrown out here and there to breath a bit of color in the otherwise severe décor.  It was very fashionable, something you might expect to find in the pages of a cutting edge decorator's magazine, but it was cold.  Lifeless.  Impersonal.

Suddenly, Marc wanted more than an impeccably decorated high-end luxury apartment.  He wanted a home, a place that looked like a real married couple lived there.  Not something ready to be photographed for a magazine, every item in the apartment placed just so for effect.

Marc suddenly smiled as a plan started to form in his active mind.  Yes, it was time.  Most of their friends were starting to migrate to the suburbs, ready to escape the fast paced life of the city as they settled down and thought about starting families.  That was to be his plan of action.  Tonight he would talk to Darci about buying a house.  Not a condo, or a penthouse, or a time-share, or an apartment, but a house.  No, not a house, Marc reflected and corrected himself.  A home.  Marc wanted a place that he could breath in the air without smelling the obnoxious fumes of the city.  A place where he wasn't afraid to walk at night for fear of being mugged.  A place where he could relax in the backyard on a well-worn hammock and savor the peacefulness of it all.

Marc felt rejuvenated after imagining an idyllic little house, a patch of green grass in front, and the smell of burgers on the grill as he sipped a cold beer and sat out in the backyard.  Perhaps even playing fetch with his Labrador retriever.  Why not? he thought with a smile.

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