and on each other’s lips the next. Someone’s gotta give . . .
Lanie and Nick were coming home from their honeymoon and I was thankful in about a billion ways. Namely, that a relatively sane person I trusted could look me in the eye and remind me with all the prior knowledge needed that I was a grown independent woman with no logical reason to need anything from Sully Hart. Answers, mouth-to-mouth, monkey sex in a cave…Answers.
None of it.
Not that any of those things were on my mind the last two days since crawling in the dirt (I hadn’t been back yet) and the day before that’s one-on-one outside City Hall. At all. Or that I’d been obsessing over every word, every look, every inch he’d closed between us, or the way his hand had automatically closed over mine one day and had to touch me the next. Or that I was thinking of him or Kia—or him and Kia—or any of it while I drove home from the last minute trip to the vet’s office for Ralph’s food (I promise, he didn’t starve), fully aware that Maple Street was just four measly little blocks off of Main.
Because I was an adult. A responsible, un-flaky adult. Turning her blinker on. Driving down 8th Avenue. To Maple.
I shook my head all the way down the road, unable to believe what I was doing. This was the kind of thing I fussed at clients for doing. Obsessing over their ex’es. I wasn’t obsessing. I was just curious. Curious over what could make someone so untethered and beautifully free want to fence themselves in. Yep, that was all.
I didn’t have long to find out. I turned left on Maple toward the five-hundred block and felt my palms start to sweat. My pulse start to race. And somehow I knew it was the one with the big black Chevy before I even saw the number. The Chevy I’d parked next to at City Hall the other day. Of course I had.
The house itself was ordinary. Brick and wood, one story, kind of non-descript with no real landscaping. Looked like some flower beds might be marked off for the future with stakes, but that was about it. I rolled past it slowly, my mouth going dry like a teenager on a stalking mission.
“This is crazy,” I muttered.
And then he walked around the side of his house and I hunched over and gunned it at the same time, parking around the corner but still in view.
“How pathetic am I?” I whispered.
My phone screamed through the speakers and I yelped and then clapped a hand over my mouth as I hit the button.
“Hello?” I whispered.
There he was. In a tight ratty tank top with holes and old jeans, a baseball cap turned backward on his head, the muscles in his arms rippling as he drove a shovel into the ground. Now that was how to sink a shovel. Sweet Jesus.
“Hey, we’re at the airport,” Lanie said. I could hear Nick muttering something in the background. “So we should be home in a couple of hours. Well, after they find our other suitcase, anyway.”
“Awesome,” I hissed, watching Sully turn over dirt, one shovelful after another. “Drive safe.”
“Awesome?” she said. “They lost our suitcase.”
“Oh, sorry,” I said. “Hope they find it quickly.”
“Why are you whispering?” Lanie whispered.
And breathing fast. Whispering and breathing fast. Because I’m hiding around the corner from Sully Hart’s house, of all things, watching him play in the dirt and get sweaty.
“Um, I’m in a building,” I said, just as a truck pulling a squeaky trailer drove around me.
“You sound like you’re outside.”
“Okay, we have things to talk about when you get home,” I said. “So plan on some ice cream on the couch girl time tonight after you get unpacked. Nick and Ralph can go bond somewhere.”
Lanie laughed. “I’ll let him know. See you soon. And Carmen?”
See? That’s what I needed. But in person, with a leash or a stun gun. Or a box of imported chocolate. I dropped the phone in my lap and watched as my tattoo—his tattoo—moved with him. He had more of them now, but the one on his left bicep that matched the tiny one inside my left breast tugged at me. An infinity sign.
I love you, Carmen. Forever.
It was supposed to signify that. Something we’d done together the day before he left me—forever. Well, I guess it was significant after all.
The old pain stabbed through me like it was coming straight from that fifteen-year-old ink, and I welcomed it. Yes, remember that.