We are both quiet for the remainder of the ride. We are at the stop sign before my street. My thoughts are chaotic. I don’t even realize we’re not moving. I don’t understand what’s happening. I’m loyal. I love Nick. I don’t want to be with anyone else for the rest of my life. This shouldn’t be happening.
Tyler breaks into my thoughts. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
I shake my head, keeping my eyes out the window. It doesn’t even matter what he said. This kiss meant more than it should have. What’s Nick going to say? What damage have I done?
My phone rings. Nick is calling. How angry will he be when he finds out? I force a smile, “Hey baby.”
“What are you doing, making out with him?”
Surprised and stuttering, I don’t reply right away. He couldn’t have found out through Tyler. He hasn’t touched his phone.
“Did you sleep with him?”
“Are you spying on me?”
“A friend of mine saw you outside her damn house. Answer the question, did you fuck him?”
“No. What friend?”
“Are you telling the truth?”
“Of course. Nick, it was a stupid kiss, I’m sorry but I didn’t sleep with him.”
He pauses and then a breath releases. “Sorry. When I saw the picture I just went nuts. This is a different kind of thing, Katie. You already screwed him.”
“With you there. With your consent.”
“Alright, I’m sorry.”
The fight stops and I’m relieved. But now there is something else blocking my happiness.
“Who took a picture of us?”
He doesn’t respond straight away, “Just a friend.”
“I know all your friends. Nobody lives over there. Who was it?”
“Don’t get upset, alright?”
“I’m getting more upset the more you avoid the answer.”
“It was Maggie.”
The name confuses me. We don’t know any person named Maggie. But then, I remember with knitted brows. “Your old girlfriend, Maggie?”
“Yeah. Baby, it’s no big deal. I’ll talk to you when I get home.”
“How does she have your number?”
“She has it from when we dated. I don’t talk to her often. We just keep in touch.”
“You want to know how I know you’re lying? You changed your number three years ago.” I snap off the phone dropping it in my lap as I wrap a hand over my lips, too blown away to think.
I never even questioned Nick’s loyalty. I never thought I had too. He’s a good man, raised by a Christian family. He believes marriage is forever and not just a momentary phase. He loves me like no one I’ve ever known. Even compared to our friends he’s better than most people. I didn’t think he would be capable of cheating. But why would he lie about her friendship? Unless there was something to hide?
“He wouldn’t cheat on you, Katie.” Tyler’s voice interrupts.
I realize we’re parked on the side of the street.
“I was sure of that too.”
“He loves you. It’s so obvious.”
I get out of the car and follow the path in the grass next to the woods before sitting on my backdoor steps. Tyler joins me with a heavy sigh.
“I’m fine.” I tell him.
“You always look like you’re about to cry when you’re fine?”
I shake my head, forcing a smile. “I’m not going to cry.” I close my eyes as I feel the burn of tears. “I’m just surprised. He tells me everything.”
“Not everything. Nobody can share everything. People are private by nature. There’s nothing wrong with having some secrets.”
“There’s everything wrong with secrets. I’m sorry but I don’t think you have any expertise in marriage.”
His gaze is on me but I keep my eyes on my toes. “Yeah. What do I know about love, right? I just fuck for money.” Tyler stood and though I try to reach for his hand, he slips away and into the house.
I bury my face in my hands. This I didn’t expect. I guess if I could please both of them at the same time, I can upset them both at the same time too. It’s double stress. Double emotions. Double everything. I feel out of my league. Maybe this is why people have only one partner. It would drain anyone to sustain two relationships coinciding.
I get up and figure out something for lunch. I make a BLT with fresh fruit and carry it upstairs. Tyler’s on the bed with his phone in front of him listening to something on YouTube. He glances at me but directs his gaze back down. He’s cute when he sulks. I sit on the bed and rest it on his lap. “You misunderstood me.”
“How did you mean then?” He replies mumbling as he concentrates on the phone.
I touch his hand and he drops the phone to look up at me. “There’s more than just love to make a marriage work. There’s tons of things.”
“I’ve been in relationships before.”
“It’s more than that. Marriage means there’s no out. It’s forever so there’s more compromise, more understanding, and more sacrifice. Secrets can cause a marriage to fail. Just like in relationships. Look what happened to your last girlfriend.”
He drops his eyes to the food. He snags a grape, popping it in his mouth.
I smile, content he’s forgiving me. “You aren’t just a guy fucking for money. I know there’s more to you. I see it more every time we talk.”
Tyler smiles, his face lighting up, his eyes sparkling. “And you aren’t just a nympho.” He chuckles as I slap him.
The front door shuts to my confusion and I stare at the bedroom door, waiting. Then I hear Nick call out, “Katie?”
“Up here.” I sit on the bed and wait as he climbs up the stairs. He walks into the bedroom and flicks his eyes between the two of us. The relief isn’t lost to me and I cross my arms, getting more aggravated by the minute.
“What are you doing home?”
“Can I talk to Katie, Tyler?”
Tyler gets up quick with his plate in hand and dives out of the room. Nick shuts the door behind him. Now I’m the one pouting as Nick attempts to fix his lie.
“I kept thinking about you and Tyler and I didn’t want you to do something stupid because you’re mad at me.”
I snap to my feet. “God, would you act like I deserve a little trust?”
“You say that and you kissed him!”
I am feeling a little hypocritical. I stutter on a response. “You...I was going to tell you. Why does she have your number?”
“We talk sometimes. I told you we were still friends.”
“You lied and you hesitated about telling me. And that speaks volumes. Do you still have feelings for her?”
“No, damn it, Katie. I just…” He releases me and runs a hand through his black hair. “Sometimes when we fight, I need someone to talk too.”
“That’s why you have brothers.”
“My one brother is a total dick and my other brother is a devout Christian. We have nothing in common.”
“Mark and Jasmine.”
“Mark’s a douche. The only reason we hang out with them is because they live next door.”
“I work with Jared. I can’t talk to him about my marriage. It will spread like wildfire at the damn restaurant. Look, she’s married too. They got two kids. And every once in a while, when we fight about dumb shit and I leave the house for a drink, I text her and we meet up. It’s innocent.”
“Yet you kept it from me.”
“I don’t know why. It just really never came up.”
I’m having a hard time believing that. I ask every time he returns where he went and what he did. Surprisingly, she never was around then. I feel like he’s still keeping something from me. Maybe he enjoys her company. Maybe they flirt while they bad mouthed me.
However, I owe him. He’s had a threesome with me, not once but twice. I can let this go. It will be his freebie.
“You tell me when you talk to her. Don’t keep it a secret.”
“Deal.” He wraps his arms around my waist, pulling me to him. I’m distant but I can’t help the smile as he nudges my ear. “Look, this is difficult. I don’t know.” He sighs, “When I saw you…”
“It was stupid. I’ve never done anything like that and I felt awful after. This is a little more than I can handle.”
There is a length pause after that. Like he doesn’t even want to say it. “Should I tell him to go?”
My own hesitation follows.
Nick nuzzles my neck, “I got to say, it’s kind of fun.”
With a mischievous smirk, I nudge back “Did you get jealous today when you saw that picture?”
He chuckles deep in my ear, “Does that turn you on?”
“Maybe a little.”
He kisses me sweetly, “You’ll have to wait till I get home tonight. I kind of ran out without telling anyone.”
I cackle, pushing him to the door, “Go.”
“Be naked when I get home. I just want to walk in and fuck you on the floor.”
I grin, excited. “Okay.”
“And don’t kiss him!”