As Camille left the nightclub, I whirled on Octavia. “You planned this! You wanted this to happen.”
Octavia turned wide, innocent eyes on me. “How was I supposed to know she would be here?”
“I don’t know! Maybe he’s your friend or something, but you sure as hell didn’t do this for me. You’re not my friend. You humiliated me. Don’t you ever call me again.” I ran out of the club, tears streaming down my face. How could Camille have done this to me? How could Octavia? I thought we were friends! But a real friend would never engineer my public humiliation. And Camille…I always knew she was hesitant to get serious, but I never – not in a million years – would have dreamed she was cheating on me.
I nearly collapsed right onto the sidewalk, but I somehow made it home, slamming the front door behind me. I trudged up the stairs in time to see Hadley come out of her bedroom.
“Shirley? What’s wrong? What happened?” She asked as she followed me into my room.
I dropped onto my bed, sobbing. “Camille is cheating on me. I saw her with her boyfriend.” I buried my face in my hands. “Octavia set me up! She knew they would be there.”
“Oh, Watcher, honey, I’m so sorry.” Hadley pulled me into her arms and let me cry onto her shoulder.
“I’m gone,” Shirley called softly as she left for work.
I stood at the stove, scrambling up some eggs for breakfast before I had to leave for work. It had been a month since The Incident. My sister was spending most of her time locked in her room, but I at least didn’t hear her crying much anymore. Sometimes she would even come sit in the living room with me after work. I wished that I knew how to help her, but how do you even begin to help someone who has been hurt like Shirley has? She’s lost not just her trust in other people, but in herself. I could only imagine how she must feel, knowing that not one, but two people she had put her trust into had betrayed her. I just tried to be understanding.
Seeing my sister so miserable made me feel a little guilty because everything with Houston has been going amazingly. At least twice a week we either go out to the museum or, occasionally, a bar in Willow Creek, or he’ll come over here for dinner. Tonight, actually, would be one of our stay-in dates. Even though I wasn’t a great cook, I was going to make dinner for the two of us.
The only slight hiccup was that he never stayed the night. We’ve made love, but he always chooses to go back to his place instead of sleeping over. I’ve asked him about it, but he just says he sleeps better in his own bed. But, really, that’s a minor thing when everything else is so wonderful between us.
I continued to muse on our relationship and where I hoped it would soon go while I finished my breakfast. I spent all day at work thinking about Houston and could hardly wait until dinner with him tonight.
I had a smile permanently in place as I prepared pan fried tilapia, one of the best dishes I could make; I’ve been making it constantly for myself and Shirley just for practice. I already had dinner ready when I heard his knock at the door. A brilliant smile on my face, I opened the door for him.
“Hello, baby,” he purred in his deep voice, pulling me into his arms.
I smiled and melted into him, breathing in his familiar scent of sandalwood from his aftershave. “Hey. I missed you.”
He kissed my hair. “I missed you, too. Dinner smells great.”
I led him into the kitchen and we helped ourselves. “Thank you. I keep reading cookbooks so I can be better at it. I’m not a very good cook, I know.”
“Would you hush? You’re a great cook.”
I huffed softly. “Not hardly, but you’re very kind to say so.”
We asked each other about work and he asked me what pieces I was working on now. We moved into the living room for a while, snuggling on the couch while one of those sappy rom-coms I liked played on the tv. When he started kissing and nuzzling my neck, I knew it was time to move upstairs.
“Haddie,” he said, a while later as he sat on the edge of the bed. “There’s something I need to tell you.”
I frowned at the seriousness of his voice. “What is it?”
He took a deep breath. “There’s really no easy way to say this. I’m married.”
I blinked at him slowly, rolling the words around in my head, trying to make them mean something other than what I knew them to. “You…I’m sorry, what? I don’t think I heard you correctly.”
“I have a wife. You don’t know how terrible I’ve felt lying to you like this, but I felt such a deep connection with you and before I knew it…I was falling for you. I couldn’t keep lying to you, but I want you to know how much I want to keep seeing you.”
I felt a hundred different emotions all at once. Joy that he was falling in love with me. Anger that he lied. Hurt. Jealousy. I was so confused, but I had already fallen so hard for him. I looked at him helplessly, knowing there was only one answer I could give him. “I want to keep seeing you, too.”