“This is ridiculous, Olivia,” Daniel snapped, pulling our attention back to him.
He stood with both hands flat on the table, leaning forward and pinning Olivia with cold eyes. I tensed, bracing for impact because his control had finally snapped. Shoving the twisting ache in my chest aside, I inhaled hard, ready to cut Daniel off.
Unfortunately, I was too late.
“This is my business. Not some playground for you to try and take like an entitled, spoiled little girl. This is my livelihood—mine. Just because you decided to come along and sleep with my best friend doesn’t give you the right to claim it. You’re being childish, and it’s bullshit.”
Daniel’s rant knocked the last of the wind out of Olivia’s proud posture. Instead of pulled back, her shoulders curled in. Instead of head held high, her chin dropped to her chest. Her pain gripped my heart and yanked hard, creating a whole new kind of hurt. One that spread a fire through my veins, pulling my muscles too tight, urging me to fight and defend.
“I don’t know what the fuck has been going on with you, but I—”
“That’s enough,” I barked.
His eyes cut to mine, and I held his glare with one of my own. Very few times had Daniel and I argued, and I hated every single one, but this was my wife, and I wouldn’t sit there and let her be talked down to anymore. Not by anyone—including my best friend.
His lips parted, and I softened my glare, silently asking him to not make this any worse than it already was. He fell back into his chair with a grimace but didn’t soften the anger pouring off him.
Silence filled the room like a living thing taking up so much space it was hard to breathe. Somewhere along the way, everyone stopped watching the argument like some kind of ping pong match and refocused their attention on the table.
“I think it’s time we call it a night,” I stated.
Without facing me, Daniel gave a curt nod.
“That sounds like an epic plan,” Ian exclaimed, always the one to break the tension in a fight. “Carina and I have a baby-free house tonight, which means getting weird wherever we want.”
Carina snorted but hurriedly pushed her chair back to stand.
Chairs scooting along hardwood mixed with Alex and Erik muttering their excuse to leave too. Daniel sighed and finally joined everyone else in standing. We collected our jackets and headed to the door, where the women hugged goodbye. Daniel tried to get my attention before I left, but I shook my head and waved him off. Not tonight. Not with the heavy weight of being the middleman churning in my stomach.
Some of the discomfort eased when Olivia slid her hand in mine but quickly returned when instead of the usual warmth touching her brought, doubt crept in, leaving me hollow.
By the time we reached the car, my patience was shot. Too many emotions, too many questions, too much doubt. It all bled into the exhaustion after working all week.
Olivia sat quietly for the first half of the drive, and I couldn’t tell if I wanted her to talk and distract me or leave me be. I wasn’t sure of my answer until she finally spoke up. Then I knew—I wish she would have let me be.
“Thanks for sticking up for me,” she said softly.
Silence would have been better. Silence wouldn’t have made me face how angry I was at being put between my wife and my friend. Silence wouldn’t have given me an outlet to lash out, releasing an ounce of the pain crushing me. “Don’t,” I snapped.
She jerked like my sharp tone had struck her. “Don’t what?” she whispered.
Don’t make me face that you broke your promise.
Don’t make me face that you lied.
Don’t make me admit how scared I am that you don’t want me anymore.
Don’t make me ask you why you’re not happy.
I was spinning.
I barely saw the floor in front of me while we walked down the hall to our apartment. Squeezing my eyes shut, I willed it away, hoping everything would fall back in place once I opened them again.
Except it didn’t.
Just like it hadn’t when we got in the car.
I’d thought once we were away from everyone, I’d be able to breathe—I’d be able to slow down and stop.
Instead, Kent’s abrupt tone only spun me faster. His anger knocked me off kilter, leaving me to spiral out of control. It was the only excuse I had for lashing out as soon as we stepped through the door. I’d damn near choked on the suffocating silence in the car, and now it spewed free.
“What the fuck is wrong?” I demanded as soon as the door closed behind us.
“Not tonight, Olivia.”
My jaw dropped to the Carrara marble floor of our foyer that he fucked me on when we first moved in. He didn’t even bother to stop—barely acknowledging that I spoke. Instead, he waltzed into the living room, undoing the buttons of his shirt like it was just another night. “No. You do not get to shut me down. I gave you your time in the car, but now you need to talk to me.”