The conversation tires me, and the sun sinks, bathing the room in a dim glow. I hoist myself off the couch, grab the bourbon, and wander into the kitchen.
Kiersten follows hot on my heels. “So he came back and said sorry? W
hy didn’t you take him back?”
I shove the bottle in the cabinet above the fridge and lower myself from my tippy toes back to flat feet. “Because.” I look her in the eye. “I had already found out I was pregnant.”
“How is that possible?”
“I guess my timing was impeccable.” I answer sarcastically. “Had sex when I didn’t know I was ovulating and bam! Two weeks later, I missed my period. Gave it another week, because I was sure it was stress-related. I was wrong, obviously.”
We stand silently in my small kitchen. Kiersten probably conjures a whole fresh box of questions she wants to ask. Me? A thousand thoughts swirled of what happened back then. How weak I was. How I just wanted to feel loved after Law made me feel unworthy. How I let someone use sweet words and empty promises to coax me to open my legs.
Kiersten had it right the other day at the coffee shop. I’m a thirty-year-old woman who hasn’t had sex since I conceived Evelyn. Not because I carry a torch for my lost childhood love. As a teen, I always thought my first time would be Law. Stupidly, I ruined that.
The biggest reason is I lost the ability to trust myself to make that decision. A one-night stand is completely out of the question. Been there, done that, had the child to show for it. I can’t be like Kiersten and throw myself into bed with a willing participant. I want to get to know the man I sleep with first. In all the years since I moved to Arrow Creek, I haven’t been able to let myself open up to someone enough to date them more than once or twice, never mind anything close to having sex.
My battery boyfriend and hand have worked just fine.
At first I told myself I had to focus on my daughter and my career, but as those months bled away to years, too much time has passed to the point now I’m just scared.
The decision I made all those years ago was so wrong, but the reality of it is that I had said yes. He asked if it was okay, and I invited him to go ahead. And that’s the most shameful part of it all. Well, almost.
The most shameful part is who he is and how that’s the deepest betrayal of all.
“Are you going to tell me who—??
The shriek is blood curdling. I bolt out of the kitchen so fast I don’t even spare Kiersten a glance. I round the corner into the hall and fly through Evelyn’s bedroom door, surprised I don’t take it off the hinges.
“Baby, what’s wrong?”
I survey the scene, but see nothing out of place in my teenager’s untidy room. A trail of clothes on the floor, papers scattered across her desk, uncapped and open tubes and palettes of makeup on her dresser. The only thing out of place is Evelyn cowering in the corner of her unmade bed.
“I saw a mouse.”
“Eww.” That comes from behind me.
“Shut up, you did not.” The words fly from my mouth immediate and horrified.
“I did too! I was at my desk, writing, and leaned down to scratch my foot, and there it was in the corner.” She indicates to the corner where she keeps her trash can.
“Was it just one mouse?” I hate rodents. I can deal with bugs and spiders just fine, but rodents gross me out. The traps make me feel awful, too. Either I kill it or I have to set it free. Either way, I don’t want to go near the damn thing.
The one time I wish I had a man around. I can handle everything else but this.
“Um, I’m not sure. It could have been two.”
I shoot her a motherly glare that says I-didn’t-birth-you-to-deal-with-this-shit and tiptoe across the room. Thankfully, there isn’t a mouse that I can see. There is, however, a banana peel and god knows what else in her trash.
“When was the last time you emptied this? Are you keeping food in here?”
She shrugs. “I don’t know. Last week? I’m sorry, I’ll take it out right now.” She leaves her perch on the bed and approaches me.