Chapter 19


In what’s becoming a frustrating occurrence, I feel my face becoming flushed and hot.  When Sam turns the corner from the kitchen into the living room, a red haze filters my vision.  Eric slowly reaches my t-shirt on the floor and hands it to me, but it barely registers even though I take it when it’s offered.  I see Sam in front of me, blustering and raging, but a dull roar is all I can hear.

I disregard the furious man in front of me and turn to my right.  “Eric, can you excuse Sam and me for a bit?” I ask calmly.

His famous blue eyes flick back and forth between us.  Me – seemingly calm, rational, and pulling on threads that can only generously be called a t-shirt; Sam – panting, sweating, and borderline hysterical.  “Are you sure you’ll be okay?”  He sounds worried.  It’s sweet.

“Oh, I’ll be just fine.  Sam and I just need to talk.” I fix my eyes on my ex’s golden brown ones and bite the inside on my lip to keep from laughing at his expression of moral superiority.  Folding my arms over my chest, I lock my stare.

Eric is clearly uncomfortable.  “If you’re sure… um… yeah, I’ll just go…” he trails off before pulling on his shirt.  He leans in toward me as if to kiss my cheek, reconsiders, and pats my shoulder before walking out.  The pitying look he gives my ex as he passes would make me smile if it were anyone other than Sam on the receiving end.

We stare silently at each other until the distinctive roar of the Corvette fades to nothing.  Sam lets his eyes roll over my barely-dressed body and scowls.  “So Miss Virtue and Morality is a human after all.  I’ve suspected for months, but to actually see the act…”  He trails off and takes a step back.  “You’re no better than your mother.”

I don’t think he could say anything that would dissolve the tiny amount of guilt souring my stomach and restore my fighting spirit faster.  I narrow my eyes and step closer.  “Remember when we agreed to be exclusive, Sam?  What was the single promise I asked you to make? What was the sole requirement for me to be yours and yours alone?” I ask in a deceptively calm voice.

“Fidelity,” he spits at me.  “Like everyone else in this town, I knew about Michelle’s ‘extra-curricular’ activities.  Silly me for thinking you’d be any different than her.”

I throw off his attempt to insult me and continue.  “What did I say would happen if you weren’t faithful, Sam?”

“This isn’t about me!  This is about you, naked, with that –“

I grab my phone.  “This is all about you, Sam.  What did I say would happen if you cheated?

“How is this about me?  If you bring up that Goddamned list –“

I scroll to the picture while he rants, barely paying attention as he rages.  “Answer my question.  What.  Did.  I.  Say?” I repeat before turning the phone to show him the photographic proof of his adultery.

Every bit of color drains from his ruddy face before it starts filling in uneven blotches of bright red.  “I… you… she…” he stutters, looking back and forth between my face and my phone.

Since he seems incapable, I answer the question for him.  “I told you that if you cheated we were done.  No excuses, no discussion, right?”  I nod my head at him and he dumbly mimics me.  “As such, as soon as you put your hands on her,” I wave the phone in his face, “I became a free agent.  I can do what and who I want.  You don’t have a say anymore.”  I turn my back on his sputtering and start gathering my clothes off the floor.  “Oh, and leave my keys on the table.  I wouldn’t want my ex walking in whenever he wants.  Who knows what he might be interrupting.”

The cheating cockblocker regains his ability to speak (pity).  “Sookie, it’s not what you think!  Dawn and I…”

I roll my eyes and tug on my shorts.  “I.  Don’t.  Care.  What part of ‘no discussion’ do you not understand?  Leave your keys and get out.  I want to enjoy the rest of my day off.”  Reclining on my couch with my eyes closed, I follow the sounds: my keys landing on the kitchen table, door closing, Sam’s ancient engine starting, and ultimately, silence.

I finally let the weight of everything hit me.  Wiping my tears of frustration and betrayal from my cheeks, I make myself a promise.  I know this thing with Eric isn’t going to go anywhere after this summer.  He’ll go back to California and I’ll stay here, being the townie rental agent.  But, damn it, while he’s here and interested, I have no problem exploring, if nothing else, a solely physical relationship with him.  I would be a stupid, stupid woman to turn my back on that if it’s still being offered.

I hate that he has been drawn into my drama.  I’m sure that’s something he didn’t want when he started his vacation early.  If Holly or Dani had been the one to work on Easter, would this have even started?  I take a deep breath and stretch.  No.  I’m not going to frustrate myself and delve into hypotheticals.  I’m going to take what’s offered and be happy with it.

Heading back to my bedroom, I find my sandals and change into a more appropriate shirt.  I grab my purse from the kitchen table and lock the house behind me.  Getting on the road, I make the familiar turns to get back to the lake.  I fully intend on picking up where Eric and I left off.list next

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