“I have always loved this little house. I still can’t believe you moved back here.” My best friend since grade school, Rylee Sampson was sitting at my mothers breakfast bar in her clean kitchen, sipping on a glass of wine with me. I still couldn’t believe I had moved back here either. I had only done it because my mother begged me, her only baby girl, to move back after dad had died. Me or my twin brother hadn’t stepped foot back in town since his funeral almost two years ago. But there were just some things you would even do for your mother.
“Me too. But I didn’t want to tell her no. Plus my interview at the elementary school went really well yesterday.” I had made the most of my five years away studying to be a teacher in Chicago. I had taught kindergarten for six months before applying for the elementary teachers position here over the summer. I was glad things had worked out smoothly.
Rylee gave me a beautiful smile. She was a blonde Goddess and her husband Butch worshiped her. Having an adorable baby girl named Brooklyn was so a plus. “I’m proud of you, Peyton. If you get the job we are so going out to celebrate.” I couldn’t agree more. Rylee sighed heavily then and grabbed her keys. The way she flipped her short blonde hair was a novelty. “I should get back to the hubby now. Brook has probably taped him to a wall.” She added. I needed so much more time to catch up with my best friend but she was so right and I kinda needed to finish unpacking. I walked her out and we made some dinner plans for Sunday night.
Once she was out of the driveway and down the street I went back through my mothers homey living room that smelled like honeysuckle and went upstairs. It did feel good to be back home but I couldn’t wait to get my own place. It was a little sad here since my father wasn’t around but my mom still managed to make her home warm, lovely and vibrant. I went to the door on the right at the end of the hall where I had slept my entire life. Instead of a twin sized bed there was now a queen that my mother had ordered and all of my high school things were packed in storage. My mother and father had a lot of time after he retired to spend at home.
The room looked like a guest room now and I loved it. For the next hour I put things away in the closet, hung some clothes up and organized. I had always been a neat freak like my mom. Thank god.
I was getting comfy in the window seat with a book when I heard the front door open and then my mothers voice cut through the quiet house. “Peyton? I’m home, sweety!”
The book could wait, I got up and made it down the stairs just in time to help her carry the groceries into the kitchen. My mother was a small woman. So very short and petite with her red hair and amazing green eyes. I was just like her in so many ways. Even though wrinkles were evident she still had smooth skin and an adorable pixy face. She had been my fathers queen. The reason that man had breathed. And she had given him a princess that was her doppelgänger. Me.
“Mmm butter pecan ice cream. I don’t even know the last time I had this was.” Two years ago, the night of my fathers funeral we had polished off a whole gallon of BP and a bottle of wine. Not to mention the hundreds of nights as a child; cuddling up with my brother and parents after dinner for a movie and the plentiful, sweet treat. I missed those nights so much.
“And I’m making a chicken pot pie for dinner.” My mother added with a warm smile. Literally my mouth began to water. She was such an amazing cook. We moved around the kitchen for a while in silence, her starting the chicken, me whiping up the crusts. “I seen Dean at the supermarket earlier. You know he is a detective now?” I knew the nonchalance was forced...my stomach did a drop at the mention of his name. The real reason why I didn’t want to move back here. My husband. I had married Dean Bowen right after high school. He was already in the police force at the time. To make a long story short we lost a child and not to much long after he cheated in our marriage. I had ran away after that...far away to Chicago and went to school. Why divorce papers had never made it to me was a mystery. One I didn’t really care about.
“Really, that’s great for him but I don’t care what Dean does for a living, Momma.” I replied. Just like that some memories surfaced that I didn’t want to remember right now; the fighting, lying, cheating. He had been the only real relationship I had been in. Not even in Chicago was there anyone special. A few one night stands and a friend with benefits that only lasted a few months.
When I looked up from rolling the breading my mother was frowning at me with her hand on her hip. Oh, here we go. “He’s your husband, Peyton...”
I sighed heavily. This would be the fourth time in five years that my mother had brought this up. I didn’t want to talk about him at all. “Thanks for the reminder Mom but don’t forget all of the crap I had to go through with him. Legally, yes he is my husband but he never really acted like one.”
“I’m just sayin is all, baby.” Yea go say to someone else. I might look like my mother but I was just as stubborn as my Daddy had been. I was in a bad mood now and I knew it wasn’t her fault. Needless to say dinner was even quiet and afterwards we both went to our bedrooms. I was exhausted, surprisingly, after a quick, hot shower. I didn’t have the energy to dress so I threw the towel off and climbed under the warm sheets.
I was not lying when I said I’d only had an occasional one night stands in Chicago. The last one had been nearly eight months ago and it had been nothing special. So when I woke up the next morning, rubbing my thighs together before my eyes even opened, I wasn’t surprised.
There was no other choice but to buy toys if you had a sex life like mine. “Fuck...” I whispered quietly to no one in particular but my vagina as my eyes fluttered open. I studied the white ceiling for a moment, grinding my teeth in annoyance before I leaned over and found the handle to the aqua colored bedside table. I had put my little red vibrator away in the back yesterday amongst putting away my things. My hand grabbed it from memory and I snatched it up.
Growing up, my mother had taught me to embrace my sexuality...to sate my own needs. She had held me while I cried after losing my virginity to a jock in high school. Let’s just say my father hadn’t taken it as calm as her. But of course he didn’t find out that I was having sex until I was with Dean.
I was glad I hadn’t gotten dressed after my shower last night. All I had to do was spread my legs and it was all access. Slowly I ran my fingers along my body. Over my nipple, down my belly and then between my opened thighs. A quiet moan left me. For several moments I teased with my fingertips, feeling the metal jewelry that decorated my hood piercing until I was biting down on my lip. I had gotten the piercing two years ago. It had been unexpected but the guy I was sleeping with then convinced me it heightened pleasure. He had been right.
When I turned my vibrator on the buzzing felt promising in my hand. Before I could even get it between my legs a soft knock came at the door.
“Peyton, honey? Breakfast is ready.” My mothers soft voice was muffled on the other side of the door and a second later I heard her footsteps going back down the hall.
“You’ve gotta be fucking...kidding me...” I hissed, tossing the blankets away. Before my feet even hit the floor my iPhone started ringing beside me. I snatched up, didn’t bother checking the caller ID and answered it. “Hello?” The annoyance was thick. ‘God, I missed sex,’ I thought.
“Mrs. Bowen? This is Mr. Weist from the Elementary. I was just calling regarding your interview with us on Wednesday. Are you available to talk?” My eyes widened at the professional sounding male on the other end and my heart started to race.
“Oh! Um yes, of course I can talk. How are you?” I sounded a little winded but I couldn’t help but smile.
“I’m doing great, thank you. I was wondering if you would be interested in starting as the Kindergarten teacher on Monday? We’ve had a substitute teaching them for the first month and we would really be excited if you accept the job.” Before he even stopped talking I was practically jumping on the bed.
“Oh my God, yes of course. I would love to, thank you so much Mr. Weist.”
“My pleasure. Can you make it to my office today by three? We just have some paperwork to go over and sign.” I got up from the bed then and found my robe laying across the window seat.
“I will be there.” I promised as I slipped into my silk robe and tied it shut. Only a handful of words were exchanged then and I hung up. When I dashed out of the bedroom and down the stairs it reminded me of the many times doing it as a kid; late for school, going to a party with Rylee on a weekend.
My mom turned from the sink when I made it to the kitchen. “I got the job!” I squealed like a cheerleader, prancing and she came over to me. Teaching in Chicago had been one of the best times in my life, and there were few. I was glad I had something to do because lord knew in this town there wasn’t too much.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” It was a line I would rather have not had to say twice in one day. My brow was popped as I pulled into the address Rylee had sent me. We were having drinks tonight, which I was okay with. The only thing that had me ‘what the fuckinging’ was the twenty sum motorcycles that were parked out in front of the restaurant/bar.
As soon as I parked I got my cellphone from my clutch and called Rylee. She answered after the second ring. “Where are you? God I forgot how slow you are.” I could hear the music playing in the background and glanced down at my outfit. I was in a red pencil skirt, black heals and a tucked in white v-neck. My long, red curls were down tonight, flowing past my breasts. And going into a place like that, I didn’t think I would fit in.
“I am not going in there, Ry. Are you serious?” I replied and rolled my eyes as I turned the engine to my car off. I was so going in there.
“It’s a new place. Just come in and no promises, you might run into someone you know.” Oh because that was soooo reassuring. I scowled at my steering wheel for a second before I grabbed my keys and clutch.
“That is exactly why I don’t want to go in there. And I forgot how fucking ridiculous this town is.” I bitched as I got out of my Mercedes and pressed my lock button. In response my car beeped and I made my way closer to the entrance.
“It’s fine, Peyton. Hurry! We already got you a drink.” She didn’t give me a second to reply before hanging up. The entire time I neared the door, my heals tapped on the concrete parking lot and I cursed quietly, shoving my phone and keys into my clutch. I would rather celebrate on the sofa with a pint of BP. Rylee so owed me for this.
When I finally reached my destination, I was met at the door by a big biker doorman. This place was filled with bikers and I knew all about them too well. I ran with them once because my husband wasn’t just a cop-detective. He was a biker.
“How’re you doin, tonight Babydoll?” He asked, toothpick sticking from between his lips, eyes sexually assaulting my entire freakin soul. “Got ID?” He asked me next before I could curl my lip.
I really rolled my eyes and unzipped my clutch. I fished the damned thing out I handed it over. Really it wasn’t his fault I looked like a seventeen year old. Twenty Five years strong here. “Chicago huh?” Biker bodyguard said. It was a question without the question mark and I took my ID back when he was done looking at it. “Have a nice night miss.” If I stood there a second longer the asshat might’ve started drooling. It wasn’t that he wasn’t handsome, just men like this didn’t see very many women like me in a town like this. He would probably have shit himself if he knew I was born and raised here for nineteen years.
“Thank you,” I mumbled and stepped passed him as he held the door open for me. It wasn’t like I had expected. The environment was cool and calm. Music played, forks scraped plates and people were chatting and laughing. There was actually all types of people here but more motorcycle cuts hung from the men’s backs then not.
When I found Rylee she was sitting at a table across the bar and waving me over. I made my way through the tables and people. More than a few eyes turned my way as I went. I let out a long sigh when I finally reached their table. Rylee was up in a second, embracing me.
“God you look so good, doesn’t she baby? Congratulations!” Whyyyy was she so chirpy. When Rylee pulled away from me I smiled over at her husband. Butch was European and they had met while in college at NYU. Why he moved to this town to be with my friend, I wouldn’t know.
“Yes she is beautiful, indeed, my Love. What a pleasure to meet you again, Peyton.” Butch took my hand and kissed my knuckles because I guess that is what European people did.
The plate of chili cheese fries had my immediate attention when we all got comfortable at the table again. I was starved and before I could start in on the margarita in front of me I had to get a few bites in. It was greasy heaven.
“So? Tell me all about it. When do you start?” Rylee lived for the details. I got so excited by her question though. I couldn’t wait to teach again.
“Monday. I went to the school this afternoon and got a tour of everything. Gosh, I am so excited, Ry.” For the next thirty minutes I tried to pay no attention to the crowd. We managed to get two margs down as we giggled and gossiped. I adored how her husband just sat back and listened, chuckling or adding something in occasionally. I was getting a good head change after the two drinks and would have happily stopped there but I knew Rylee would not let that fly.
“I’m gonna go get the next round.” I said and slid from my chair. Oh yea. A good head change. When I reached the bar I barely recognized the woman behind it. “Six tequilas please.” I said, digging in my clutch for a twenty. The celebration was really about to kick off.
“Peyton Bowen, do not tell me you have forgotten who I am.” I looked up at the black haired lady and my eyes widened. Then I smiled. My mother-in-law. Dean Bowen’s momma was smiling back beautifully at me.
“Claire, oh my god. You’re here? I thought you owned the bar downtown?” I asked, suddenly my stomach tumbled. Fuck.
“I do, still. We actually just opened this one up about a month ago. And I thought you lived in Illinois? What brings you hear?” Wow I wondered how long it took until the whole town knew I had left my husband and jetted the hell out real quick. Who could blame me though? I had just lost our baby and instead of comforting me he was out letting someone else comfort him.
“My momma. She just doesn’t want to be alone anymore you know, after everything with my Dad.” I replied, as she worked her hands with skill, pouring the shots like a pro. Claire knew this, she had been at his funeral two years ago.
“I understand. So are you living here now?” Claire asked me next, as she set the full shot glasses on a small round tray and slid it over to me.
“Um, I am, yes. I actually just got a job at the elementary school teaching, so I think I will be here for awhile. I’m celebrating with Rylee.” Yes I was probably giving away too much information. The look on my mother in laws face said she wanted to tell me something but she just stuck with the small, gorgeous smile. God her son looked so much like her.
“Congratulations. The next round is in me.” I could not agree more with that. Before I could take the tray Clair leaned over and touched my cheek softly. “I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately beautiful girl. For good reason I presume. I’m glad you’re back.” She always used to get this twinkle in her eyes when she was being sincere. It hadn’t changed. I smiled as warmly as I could make myself.
“Thank you.” When she pulled away I took the tray and with one last glance I made a mad dash back to our table. It’s not that I didn’t like Claire Turner, we had gotten a long well. I had confided in her when her son had not been a good husband, when we had lost our baby. It had angered her when I had left. Not anger for me but anger for him. Dean respected his Mom, he knew he had fucked up.
“Forget to mention my freakin’ mother-in-law owns the bar?” I glared over at Rylee as I took my seat back. Butch was fidgeting awkwardly in his seat and gave me an apologetic look, then shrugged.
“I know. I’m sorry. We should have just went somewhere else and I’m not just saying that because Claire owns the bar.” My bff confessed. For a few moments I was completely confused until she looked away and my eyes followed her gaze. Near the door there was two hundred and fifty pounds of nothing but a male that stood over six feet and was packing enough muscle to make up my whole body weight. His icy, dark blue eyes were on me, his beautiful jaw was set hard. That was the man I had so foolishly married at the age of eighteen.
“Fuck. Me.” And not the good way either. Yea, fuck the lime and salt too. I took my first shot of the night like a damn champ.