When I first met Alex, he introduced himself as Alexander. I thought it was strange that he used the formal version of his name, given he arrived in worn jeans and a long-sleeve faded tee.
He arrived on a Sunday.
My husband Gerard and I had been out all morning playing golf with friends, and we didn’t notice him at first. Gerard had gone inside with the golf bags leaving me to collect our sweaters from the back seat of the car. I sensed Alex before I saw him, causing me to spin on my soft spikes as he approached from behind.
“Do you need any help?” he asked.
Alex looked different from how I’d imagined him when Gerard told me he might drop by sometime. I’d pictured him with menacing features—a sharp nose, lots of piercings or tattoos crawling up his thick neck. A shaved head perhaps. Well, I got the thick neck right. But without a photo from my husband, I’d been at the mercy of my wild imagination, and I was sure his stepbrother would be someone to fear, even with assurance from Gerard that Alex was not that type of badass to land himself in prison.
“No thanks, I’m fine.” I scanned our driveway and yard, confused how he had arrived. He later told us he’d been dropped off by a taxi, that he’d been waiting in the gazebo and had fallen asleep. I doubt that now. I can almost guarantee he’d been watching us from the moment we’d arrived. Assessing our life, calculating where and how he would pull it apart.
When I squared myself to address him, he cocked his head then frowned. Through dark, thick lashes, his intense green eyes searched mine—like he recognized me from somewhere or that I reminded him of someone. I wasn’t sure if my heart skipped a beat because I felt nervous, or because I became intoxicated by the cologne he was wearing. A scent that was sweet, musky, and reeking of trouble.
“Christ, that’s a crop of red hair. You must be Paige,” he guessed, thrusting out a well-abused hand. “I’m Alexander, it’s about time we met.”
I was shaking his hand, still stunned by his blatant reference to my hair, when Gerard burst out the French doors, throwing his arms upward toward the clouding sky. “Aaaa-lex,” he exclaimed, surprised by Alex’s unexpected arrival.
“In the flesh,” Alex sang out, squeezing my hand before dropping it and moving onward to meet Gerard halfway. I rubbed my palm where his touch still lingered, acutely aware of the chemical sensation his contact seemed to have left behind.
Gerard had spoken little of Alex before that day. I figured he was ashamed, perhaps embarrassed that his stepbrother had become incarcerated. It wasn’t exactly something Gerard, a newly appointed attorney, needed overshadowing his career, and I doubt he wanted to risk me discussing Alex amongst our friends. Not that I ever would. And so, Alex was out and looking for work, and it seemed Gerard couldn’t have been happier.
Ignoring me, they plunged into a conversation and made their way inside, leaving me to collect the last of our things from the car. I played hostess for a while, throwing together a platter of food for them to eat before I disappeared through the double doors into the living room, hoping to finish the novel I was reading. When Gerard needed to return calls that kept interrupting them, Alex was left wandering around the house until he found me.
I admit, I was curious about Alex and my imagination went wild as he entered the room. I’d never seen a man like him up close before, at least not in the flesh. His lightly tattooed forearms looked as though he’d spent his days doing chin-ups using the prison’s overhead plumbing. I pictured him pinning down an inmate to beat the crap out of him, complete with blood and teeth scattered across a concrete floor. I shivered, but for some reason, I felt a strange desire to know how a woman would feel being caressed by his thick, strong hands. Did he even have a woman? Had there been one before he went to prison? Suddenly, I had so many questions; I found myself staring. My tongue was twitching, but my mind became frozen as fantasies of him banging a raven-haired beauty materialized in my mind’s eye. Her face being pressed up against a wall not giving one iota of resistance, even though her skin would later look pockmarked from the brick indentations, his lust being worth both the pleasure and the pain.
He wore his boots inside—the type bikers’ wear. I was hoping he wouldn’t dirty the expensive rug as he made his way around the room, checking out our belongings. He looked scruffy—his shirt having seen better days. Tattered, it was missing almost all its buttons and was too small; by the way it molded itself over the contours of his chest, highlighting his muscular physique. Regardless of his unkempt appearance, Alex exuded a level of confidence I’d never sensed in anyone before. Strong yet unassuming, he was—intimidating.
“You guys have got a lot of nice stuff.” Alex nodded, I gather in appreciation, while he picked up random knick-knacks before his hand caressed a large glass egg. A Jack Storm original, whose price tag could feed a small village rather than be collecting dust in our home. From out of nowhere, I began wondering if Alex was casing the place, causing more heat to find my face.
“Thanks, it’s mostly Gerard’s.” I looked back down at my book and fiddled with the corners of the page as he continued to hover around the room. Out the corner of my eye, I watched him drift over to the bookshelf, where he bent to peer at the horizontal bottle, containing a model ship I’d bought Gerard when we first started dating, some five years earlier. Suddenly, Alex glanced back and startled me.
Having caught me watching, his mouth turned up at the corners and a wicked glint lit his eyes. I didn’t know where to look. My focus darted around the room before falling on my book again, trying to gain control of my breathing.
He wandered over to the windows next, blocking out the sunshine with his dominating stance, crossing his arms and spreading his legs wide. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He was so confident, raw, and masculine.
“What are you reading?” he asked, his back still turned away from me, just staring out at the pool and yard. His question for some reason made me anxious, confused that he was interested in me at all. Then all I could smell was his cologne again. It was as if the rise and fall of his broad shoulders as he breathed, helped the scent permeate the room. I started to notice minute things about him. Like the way his dark hair was matted in places and the oddly shaped scar at the back of his neck. And the way he clenched and flexed his hands that were still folded against his chest, as though preparing to fight. The room became so thick of him, I could almost taste him.
“I beg your pardon?” came my stuttered reply, sounding more like a stupid whimper, as though it wasn’t a reasonable question he was asking. But I was so bewildered by the effect he was having on me, I found it hard to formulate any rational thoughts.
“What are you reading?” he repeated, still transfixed by something outside.
Finally, he turned around. “I can see that. But what’s it about?”
“Oh. Um.” Flustered, I then looked like a complete idiot because I turned the cover over to look at the title. I heard him chuckle. When I looked up, a smile was still lingering, a cheeky grin that softened what I first thought to be a harsh face.
I became so heated, I glanced up at the air conditioner, mentally willing it to turn itself on. “It’s nonfiction, a memoir.”
“I thought as much.” He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jeans and rocked on his heels, his head bobbing, just staring at me.
I didn’t get to know what he meant by that, because Gerard came back and strangely, I felt like our conversation was too private to continue.
“Sorry, Alex. It seems the wicked never rest.” Gerard looked at me and frowned. “Paige, don’t we have any cold beers in the fridge?” He sounded a little annoyed that I hadn’t been hospitable.
Uncurling my legs, I apologized then made my way to the bar, all the while I could feel Alex’s eyes following me. Even when I peeked over my shoulder, as Alex was led to view Gerard’s prized collection of rare books, he was still watching me.
Squatting behind the bar and out of sight for a moment, I tried calming myself in front of the fridge. Wrapping my hands around the cold bottles, I placed them on my burning cheeks. Most likely I was warming the beer, but I didn’t care—my face was on fire.
When I stood, Gerard was showing Alex something in a book he’d plucked off the shelf. I went over to them and held out the opened bottles. Gerard took the beer absently still chatting away, but when Alex took my offering, his hand covered mine; holding tightly for what seemed like the longest moment.
At first, I thought it was an accident because he was paying attention to Gerard, but when he didn’t readjust his hold, I realized he meant to pin me in place. It both scared and thrilled me that Alex could be so bold, to make such a gesture with my husband right there.
Most people, when describing someone’s touch, say it was electric, like heat or a buzz. That’s not what it felt like when Alex held on to me, and it’s most likely why I didn’t jerk my hand away. His touch wasn’t electrical; it was soothing and magnetic, like he couldn’t or wouldn’t let me go. I just stood there like a zombie until he finally moved his hand, his fingers taking hold of the neck of the bottle instead. Then he winked and held my gaze. He didn’t speak, didn’t utter one word. But in those few seconds as his eyes searched mine, I could feel him questioning me.
I eventually excused myself, saying I needed to take a shower. But really, I just needed to get away. Everything about Alex unsettled me. His actions, his deep voice. The way he kept trying to catch my eye. I knew that if Gerard hadn’t been there that afternoon, Alex would have slowly and seductively drilled me. Found out everything he could. Studied my flaws, preyed on my weaknesses.
For the last five years I’d been living a blissful, happy life with the man of my dreams. But suddenly, Alex had me doubting myself. I felt like a fraud, and intuitively, I knew my life was about to get turned upside down.
Sitting at the dining table with my feet tucked up, my knees are pressing painfully against the wooden edge, but I don’t shift my position. I’m trying, to no avail, to dull the nausea that’s threatening to send me to the bathroom because outside, Alex doesn’t seem to have a care in the world. Unfortunately, that’s all about to change.
He’s working in one of the garden beds amongst the shrubs with a shovel in his hand, but he stops to answer his phone. His jeans are well fitted, and when he mounts one foot on the shovel, his ass flexes. He certainly is something to look at, and it makes me question once again how a man can exude so much sexual energy, just by being alive.
When he throws back his head and laughs, he has me guessing at who he could be talking to. A buddy or his parole officer maybe. But a reality check has me suspecting it’s most likely one of the many women I don’t doubt he has.
Glancing down at a cold mug of coffee, I roll it between my palms. My stomach is a cluster of knots, and I’ve barely touched a drop. All the internal bantering I’ve been doing this morning while watching Alex has boiled down to one decision now. I need to let him know what happened last night. It’s not right, not fair for him to be unprepared for what I expect is coming.
In an instant, I have a load of trash as an excuse, and I’m out the French doors.
Alex doesn’t seem to notice I’ve come outside. Either that, or he’s ignoring me, for which I can hardly blame him. For the last six weeks, I’ve been avoiding him like the plague.
After dumping the garbage bag, I slam the can lid and act as though I’m interested in the yard that looks like a golf green now. I can’t deny Alex is good at what he does, but when my attention finally settles back on him, and his eyes dart my way, I’m filled with regret.
The baseball cap he has on, is the same one he’s been wearing every day for the last four months, since he started working here. It’s always turned the wrong way around and it makes him look boyish. But he is far from being a boy.
When his call is over, he shoves his cell phone in his back pocket, rearranges his hat and sunglasses, then strides my way. I search to see if anyone else notices him approaching, acutely aware that the nearer he gets, the farther south my pulsating heart seems to slide. “Christ,” I mutter under my breath, and even though the temperature is already in the high nineties, with his attention now trained on me, I’m wrapping my dressing gown tighter.
“Hey,” he greets, jutting his chin while chewing fiercely on gum.
“Hi. I’m glad you’re here early.” I take a step back when he tries to slip past me on his way toward his pickup truck. Parked beside the shed and shaded by a large jacaranda tree, the vehicle is dented, old, and loaded with gardening supplies.
Taking off his glasses and hooking them on the pocket of his jeans, he locks eyes on me. “You sure about that? Seems to me you’ve been pretending I don’t exist anymore.”
Ignoring his comment, I step closer to his pickup and watch as he withdraws a box full of potted plants. They’re not rose bushes as I’d hoped, but I don’t comment. It’s too late for that now.
Alex stalls, waiting for my reply. When there is none, he shakes the pots slightly. “Okay then. Well, I’m here early because I was trying to beat the heat.”
Dirt is sticking to his sweaty brow and darkening his stubble, emphasizing his bow-shaped lips and reminding me where I’d allowed those masterful pieces of flesh to roam.
With his shirt open at least three buttons down, my gaze drops to linger on his glistening chest, shamefully, for a few seconds longer than it should, until I respond that he failed because it’s already a scorcher.
When I look up, I’m met with an amused expression which sends heat rushing to my face.
“You’ve gotten that right,” he says in a gruff voice. “Here, you can give me a hand carrying these.” Alex thrusts dripping wet pots of hairy leaf and what I think are callistemon in my direction, smirking because he knows how ridiculous it is to suggest I help him right now.
I step back quickly so he doesn’t ruin my slippers. “Alex!”
“Well, what are you doing out here like that?” he gestures at my clothing.
When I give him the stink eye, and tighten my arms over my chest, Alex laughs. “Best you go back inside, Princess. I can’t have you getting all hot and dirty—or can I?” he adds winking.
He turns to walk away.
“Alex, Gerard knows about us.”
Stopping dead in his tracks, he turns around and spits his gum out onto the gravel drive. He takes a step closer. Instantly, I’m clutching at my burning neck, but I can’t help screwing up my face that he just spat out his gum.
“What do you mean he knows? Don’t tell me you fuckin’ told him?” He dumps the box of pots on the ground as my eyes dart to the gum.
“You know, you could have spat that out in the trash, it’s right there.”
“Fuck the gum. Did you seriously tell him?” He glares at me before pulling off his hat to scratch his head and stare at his feet, looking for answers or questions or maybe planning out his escape route.
I shift my weight from one foot to the other, my stomach churning while he processes everything. Finally, he looks up.
“Shit,” he cusses in disbelief, dragging a hand down the back of his neck before his eyes shoot to the upper story of my house. “What’s he doing now?”
I glance up as well. “Still asleep, I hope. I just thought I should warn you.”
“But why tell him?”
“Because I’ve been an absolute wreck since it happened, Alex. That’s why. And because I love him.”
“I do so,” I snap. Staring down at my folded arms, I try calming myself before looking back at him. “I’m sorry, all right. But I just couldn’t keep it in anymore.”
“Obviously! Fuck!” He half turns away then squares himself and raises his voice. “I need this job, Paige.”
“I know. It was just… Oh God, I don’t know.” I chew on a fingernail not knowing what to say.
“Suppose my job here goes to shit?” He slides his sunglasses back on and shakes his head. “Christ, I’m a fucking idiot.”
I glance toward the French doors, praying Gerard hasn’t overheard us arguing, then lower my voice. “He didn’t say too much last night,” I lie. “I begged him to sleep on it.” God, now I sound like I’m chasing a medal. “But… I don’t know—maybe you should just go before he gets up. He hardly slept, and you don’t know what he’s like when he’s tired.” Again, I tell him that I’m sorry.
Alex pushes his sweaty hair back before returning his cap to where it belongs. He juts his chin at me again. “And what about you. How come you’re not out on your sorry ass then?”
“I don’t know. He said he can forgive me, but do men usually do that kind of thing?”
“Fuck if I know, but I’d sure as shit kick your ass out the gate if you were mine.”
“Seriously?” My tone rises again. “Why did I even bother telling you? So much for gratitude.”
“Well, I came out here to warn you, didn’t I?”
“Gee, thanks then, Princess. For getting me fired.”
“Christ, I just told you I was sorry.”
“Yeah, so am I now. But I’m not leaving. If Gerard wants to have it out…” Alex bends to collect the pots. “I’ll be right here waiting, and you can tell him I said that. He knows he had it coming.”
My flinch causes one side of Alex’s mouth to curl. What the hell was that supposed to mean? I open my mouth to ask, but he’s already walking away. Then I remember what Gerard said last night about revenge, and by the time I’ve closed the French doors to our family room, Alex is back digging in the garden as if he couldn’t care less.
With a still pounding heart and a cluster of nerves on overdrive, I go over to the sink and scrape last night’s burned disaster down the garbage disposal before flushing it away. Wishing, praying it was that easy to dispose of the shame I feel inside.
I want to blame the scent of the lilies. Make excuses because I had my monthly ‘visitor.’ Wish I could lay blame on anything other than myself. But there was no running from the mistakes I’d made in both cheating on Gerard and then telling him about it. The straw that broke the camel’s back. What a stupid saying, and yet those damn flowers and Gerard’s beautiful smile last night had done just that. After hours, days, and weeks of despising myself, I was ready to burst, and I had, literally, into tears. I then tore my husband’s heart right out of his chest while he held out a bouquet, their scent overwhelming my better judgment to stay quiet and shoulder my shame until I died.
When he arrived home after work, he started telling me about some play that was coming to the Empire Theatre. He asked if I’d like to go.
“What’s it called?” Reluctantly, I took the flowers from him, and in that exchange, I imagined a searing hot A burning its way through my chest, branding me forever as an adulteress.
“No Man’s Audience, by some fellow called Byrne. I’ve never heard of him, but the reviews are good,” he said enthusiastically, knowing I’d love to go.
My lack of response because I’d been stewing on a confession all day, made Gerard look twice before I forced out a reply. “I guess. I mean—it has been some time since we’ve been on a date.” I pulled a tight smile then picked at a dead leaf amongst the otherwise perfect bunch of lilies, wishing he wasn’t always being so goddamn nice, that I had a legitimate reason for cheating on him. He frowned at me before meandering toward the counter to pick at the cut-up carrot from off the chopping board.
And then it was like he flicked open the confessional shutters, his voice all warm and buttery while his ridiculously iridescent-blue eyes softened and looked concerned. “Oh honey, what’s the matter? I thought you’d be excited?”
It all came out in a groan when I slapped the bunch of lilies on the counter instead of putting them in a vase. Those damn flowers had become a weapon that crucified my soul. Why in the hell did Gerard have to ask Alex to work for us in the first place anyway? Make him our gardener. Here at our home, and then be there in the shed, acting all macho and seductive. Christ, it was like putting a cat in with a mouse. I loathed myself for being so vulnerable and naïve. The shame I was harboring made me pathetic. I even tried taking the easy way out.
“You need to divorce me, I’m leaving you, I need to go.” I paced the kitchen, crossing and uncrossing my arms, stuffing my hands in my pockets, only to rip them out again to cover my face and slump in a chair.
“What?” He recoiled so fast you’d have sworn I slapped him. “Why on earth would I want to do that? You’re the best cook around.” He tried laughing through a mouthful of carrot, but when he noticed me wiping at my wet cheeks, he stepped closer and his smile slid away. Then he started ranting about his age.
“You’re not old, Gerard. Stop saying that all the time. You know I’m not concerned about our age difference.”
“Well, what is it then, why would you say something like that?”
I braced myself, took a deep breath before looking straight at him. “Because I cheated on you.”
There it was, out, along with his heart which I may as well have tossed onto the floor for how quickly he looked down. He stood frozen, his beautiful eyes wide and staring at some space near my feet.
He came up slowly to search my face. “You mean—with another man?”
“No, at backgammon. Of course I mean with another man.”
He frowned at my sarcasm, but I think I was deliberately baiting him to grab me, shake me, slap me across the face, and punish me. Instead, he lumbered off into the living room, shaking his head and going straight to the bar. I apologized over and over. Telling him I couldn’t explain how it transpired. “It was a thoughtless and stupid thing to do. And it happened so fast. But I was just there, and suddenly I wasn’t me anymore.”
“Not you? What the hell does that mean?” He slammed a tumbler onto the wooden bar, making me jump.
I knew it was a lame excuse. I just shouldn’t have been there. I was weak, that’s all there was to it. And even though I didn’t deserve it, I sought his understanding.
“I promise it was only the one time, Gerard, and it meant nothing. It was a dumb mistake.” I stood behind the sofa, smoothing the suede fabric, hoping it would protect me in case he suddenly became enraged. But he took his anger out on the bar fridge instead, kicking the door shut with his foot before dropping ice in his glass and filling it to the brim with Scotch whiskey.
“And you think that makes it all right? Are you going to add that it won’t happen again as well? Fucking women.” He took a large gulp from his glass and glared at me, making me wonder if that was how he studied his clients before they went to trial. As though his silence would draw out any last thoughts, which seemed to work because then I blurted that I didn’t even enjoy it, a blatant lie and another thing I’d never done to Gerard before.
After several minutes, he settled down on the overstuffed couch, rolling his glass between both palms and taking sips in quick succession, just staring at the floor. I used the opportunity to lower myself onto the sofa opposite him, pulling my legs beneath me and making myself small.
After what seemed like an eternity of him smoothing his face, trying in vain to palm his grimace away, he placed his tumbler gently on the glass coffee table and locked eyes with me.
“Who was it?”
When I didn’t answer, he leapt to his feet and paced in front of the couch. “When did it happen, was it recently? Was it that slimy, little waiter prick at Donovan’s? He made it no secret he thought you were beautiful. Ogling you then asking if my daughter was single. I should have smashed his face there and then.” Gerard rolled his eyes at the ceiling, lost in thought for a moment while I stayed silent.
“Where did it happen? Please tell me you didn’t fuck someone in our bed. I’ll burn it. Christ, I’ll burn this house.” He trod the carpet again.
“Six weeks ago, and no, it wasn’t in here. Please, Gerard, stop. Stop pacing!” I reached out for him, but he ignored me and grabbed his drink, gulped down what remained before getting another.
“Who?” he demanded again.
I shook my head. “Just punish me. Tell me to leave, do whatever you need to do, but don’t torture yourself with knowing everything.”
He thumped his fist down on the bar. “Why damn well tell me if you’re not going to fully confess?”
I agree, he had a point, but telling him the sickening truth? I knew it would kill him. So I stalled, hoping he’d give up, but he became manic.
“Christ,” he exhaled. He slumped back on the sofa, then sat forward again, cradling his head in his hands for a moment, unable to console himself. “It was Nadal, wasn’t it? He fucks everything in a goddamn skirt. I will fuck his wife if it was him, then burn his precious restaurant.” He was referring to our neighbors up the road, and I groaned at the thought of Gerard screwing Jenna.
“Gerard. It wasn’t him or the waiter,” I said calmly.
He leapt to his feet and knocked the table, his drink splashing everywhere.
He scared me so much. I began sobbing, couldn’t answer even if I wanted to, which I didn’t.
He went to the bar again to refill his scotch, waiting for me to calm down. When he returned, he was also carrying a glass of wine for me. He held it out; just out of my reach and glared at me. A gesture that screamed volumes.
“Paige, who was it? Tell me now or so help me…” His fixed jaw conveyed his seriousness.
I swallowed hard. “All right. But before I tell you, promise me you won’t do anything about it tonight, that you’ll sleep on it and let yourself calm down.”
Gerard stepped back as though I’d pushed him. I’d said nothing, but somehow—I’d implied everything. He started shaking his head and a wicked grin ruined his otherwise handsome face.
“No, I have a suggestion for you—Paige. You tell me exactly what happened, and I’ll tell you who it was.” He moved away and stood near the bar.
Pushing his jacket front aside, he placed a hand on his waist, looking almost amused. “You heard me.”
“Gerard! You do not want to know the details.”
“Yes, I do, and you will tell me.”
I grabbed my glass and took another large mouthful of wine. “No. You’re angry, I get that. But telling you all the sordid details will only…”
“Sordid, that’s a detail, now tell me more.”
I pinched my nose, tried to ease the dripping. “You know what I mean, and no, I don’t think I should tell you anything else. If you can’t forgive me and you want me out, just say so.”
I rose from the couch, already mentally packing a bag, thinking of accommodations and whether Gerard would let me at least leave with the Lexus when he said, “Well, there’s something I need to tell you then. It was most likely a revenge fuck, Paige. That cocksucker Alex wanted his revenge.” He strode over to the couch and sat on its edge.
“What do you mean revenge?”
“So, it was him.”
My stomach lurched and I’m sure I turned pale.
Gerard reclined back into the couch and crossed his legs, then threw an arm over the top. I’d never seen him look so smug.
“I should go. I’ll get a hotel or something,” I said, making my way out of the room, intending to pack.
“No—I don’t want you to go—it wasn’t your fault. He was just using you to punish me. I should have expected it really, the cunning little shit.”
Stopping short of the doorway, I turned to face him, my tears drying instantly while he went on.
“I’m sorry I got mad at you. It was hurtful to hear but I’m not surprised. Alex is more your age, and look at him, he’s built like a damn porn star, most likely he acted like one too.”
I shook my head, but I couldn’t answer him. All I could think about was what a mistake I’d made, what a complete fool I was. I became dizzy, found it hard to breathe. How could I have been so cruel, not to mention insane, risking everything I had?
“I don’t expect you to forgive me.” My voice, barely a whisper, drifted toward my feet. “I think I should just go. I’m sorry I had to tell you, it was just… I’ve been a complete wreck. Every day he’s here, reminding me of what I’d done.”
“Please, come and sit down,” he suggested, coaxing a reluctant me back to the couch for further interrogation. “We’ll talk about it, get everything off your chest. You made a mistake, that’s all. I just need to understand why.”
I tried to gloss over details, but he was insistent, demanding to know everything. Where had it taken place?
“In the shed,” I replied, draining my glass.
“Why in the shed, did he fuck you standing? Did you arrange to meet, was he expecting you or did it just happen?”
“Gerard, stop. But if you must know, no, it wasn’t planned. I was just there to ask him about roses.”
“Yes. I wanted him to plant roses instead of those ugly plants the both of you decided on.”
He flinched at my remark but didn’t miss a beat.
“So, what made the transition, did he just grab you or did you entice him?”
I buried my face in my hands, desperately wishing I could just vanish. I couldn’t understand why he was torturing himself, wanting to know every detail. Even when he got up to pour himself another drink, he continued badgering me.
“Well then, tell me this. Who, kissed who first?”
“Gerard, enough! Stop asking questions, I’d just want to forget about it.”
“But I need to know. How did he excite you?” He gestured with a bottle of red, asking if I wanted another. I shook my head in both disbelief and refusal but watched as he poured himself another glass of scotch, a big one. He was onto his fourth, it was concerning. So was what he asked next.
“Did he make you come?”
“Well, I think I have a right to know—Paige.”
“Please don’t make this any uglier than it already is.” Again, I was on the verge of leaving, but when he sat down next to me, he rested a reassuring hand on my knee.
“Are you in love with him? Have the two of you formed an attachment?” Looking high, he took small sips eyeing me over his glass.
“No! It was a mistake and I regret it. Gerard, Alex has nothing on you. I love you—I always have, you know that.” I looked into his eyes, my hand cupping his face in assurance.
“You understand I will be having a word to Alex about this, but yes, I will wait until tomorrow like you suggested.”
Relieved, I hugged into his chest, relishing the way his fingers then trailed up and down my spine as he sipped quietly on his drink.
Then, without another word about it, we made our way to bed. Turning off an oven, that until minutes ago, contained burned Coq Au Vin. No doubt it’s now a dish, that will never be Gerard’s favorite again.
Copyright © 2018 – 2020 Ariana Keddie – All Rights Reserved.