CH. 30: RACHEL
Rachel has always had a fear of crowded spaces. Her doctor once thought she may be agoraphobic, but the diagnosis embarrassed her so much that she’s since fought hard against her natural tendency to isolate. She never followed up with a psychologist and never sought therapy. The mere thought of it overwhelms her. She brought it up to Andrew once, knowing he was in the field, but he quickly dismissed it, telling her she doesn’t need to worry about that. She isn’t crazy. She’s just introverted, and he likes her just the way she is. “Besides,” he’d said. “A woman is happiest in the home. You won’t have to worry about jobs or going out much once we’re married.”
Are you here? she texts, looking around nervously. I’ve got my baggage, just not sure where I should go now.
SeaTac is much larger than Boise, and much busier, she observes.
Her phone chimes.
Just go to the front doors. Hurry, I can’t park here long.
She rushes toward the large glass doors, pulling her luggage behind her and trying her best to avoid bumping into anyone. If people would just look up from their damn phones, she wouldn’t have to work so hard to crisscross between them.
She recognizes Andy’s black Mustang immediately. He steps out and walks around, taking her luggage and placing it into the trunk of his car.
She smiles, wanting so badly to embrace him, but with all the commotion around them, decides against it. “It’s so nice to see you again,” she says, flustered.
Andrew smiles back at her. “I hope it wasn’t too much trouble for your parents to watch the baby.”
“No, they understand. Everyone agreed that the stress of flying would have been worse with an eight-month-old in tow.”
Andrew climbs into the car and Rachel quickly follows suit. “And how is she?” he asks, checking the mirrors before pulling out.
“Aside from the teething, she’s great. It was hard to leave her.” She turns to look out the window, relieved to finally be on the highway. “I’m not looking forward to going back,” she admits.
“It won’t be for much longer.” He rubs her thigh reassuringly.
“My dad thinks it would have been easier just to have the wedding in Idaho.”
“It just doesn’t make sense to do that,” he cuts in. “You’ll be residing in Washington. My practice is in Washington. What would be the point of getting married in a state I have no intention of living in?”
“You don’t think you’ll ever change your mind?”
“Washington is my home.”
“It rains all the time,” she trails. She fidgets after noticing his jaw clench. “Never mind, sorry,” she says. “So is Heather out of the picture?” she ventures, eager to change the subject.
He exhales from his nose. “I told you, I’m working on it.”
“Well, she has to know that there’s nothing left to hold onto. You told her we were getting married—What does she expect will happen when you move out?”
“She’s having a hard time. She’s very emotional and I’m trying my best to get through to her. You have no idea how difficult it is dealing with the mentally ill. I do it everyday, it’s just going to take some time. Have some faith.”
A lump forms in Rachel’s throat. “Will you be staying with me at the hotel?”
“I’ll be with you as much as I can,” he says, turning to smile at her.
“So, did you ever end up sleeping with anyone?”
“What?” he asks, his tone clipped.
“You mentioned in an e-mail about needing a sexual release…”
“Oh, right. Chris’s girl Tammy blew me. that was a one time thing, and I didn’t want to do it, you know that.”
“Isn’t that Heather’s friend?”
“They aren’t friends.”
“But they were?”
“Maybe, I don’t know.” The car’s engine roars as it accelerates.
“I mean, It’s fine, whatever. I was just wondering. I didn’t know it would be someone you knew, though.”
“Like I said. It was a one-time deal.”
“Does Chris know?”
Andrew scoffs loudly.
Rachel glances at the speedometer. “Can you slow down a little bit, the roads are wet.”
He rolls his eyes.
“So, the reason I was asking is, I’m wondering if you’d think it would be weird if I wanted… I don’t know.” She bites her lip.
“What?” he says pointedly.
“Um, have a one-time thing with a girl before we get married?”
Andrew pauses, clenching his jaw again. “Who?” he asks, his tone giving some anger away.
“Well, there’s someone I know up here, we’ve been talking on and off for awhile. She recently told me she’s always been attracted to me, and I guess it’s flattering. Back when I thought I was into girls—before you—she was kind of my girl crush.”
“I thought Heather was your girl crush.”
“Heather was a mistake.”
They pull into the Holiday Inn parking lot. He pulls the E-brake and stares at her. Rain lightly patters the windshield and roof of the car, only seeming to add to the lingering silence between them. “I don’t ever want to hear you say something like that again,” he says firmly. “Your days of experimentation are over. They were over the day you took my cock.”
Rachel swallows hard. “Sorry,” she murmurs. “I shouldn’t have asked.”
“What’s her name?”
“Why?” she asks, shrinking into herself.
“I don’t want you socializing with her anymore. I don’t want you to see her. You both have feelings for each other, and I’m uncomfortable with it.”
“Jennifer…” she says hesitantly. “DeMarco,” she adds, when he doesn’t look away.
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Andrew plops her luggage on top of the bed and looks around. “I have some business to take care of, but first thing tomorrow we are going to get the marriage license.”
“Are you really leaving so soon?” she asks, her stomach dropping.
“I have to take care of some things,” he repeats.
“You mean, we’re not even going to…”
“I think it goes without saying that you’ve put me off it with that dyke fantasy of yours.”
Andrew casts her a scathing look. “I’ll text you later. Just stay here, don’t leave.”
She looks around, unimpressed with her surroundings. She doesn’t want to stay put, she wants to meet up with old friends, maybe catch a movie. Finally free from the responsibility of caring for an infant, and she’s being told she can’t do as she wishes? She lets out a deep sigh and throws herself onto the bed. It isn’t fair, she thinks.