The kids had Friday off since it was November, so she didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to them. It kind of sucked. Being alone the whole weekend after being surrounded by their sweet laughs and crazy stories made her feel empty.
She went to college and spent her day talking about traumatic experiences and how it affects the mind depending on the age, about psychopathic tendencies, and forensic psychology. She loved that.
It was creepy, to say the least, the things people could do because a cloud call mental illness wrapped around their minds was scary. However, it was even worse when the crimes were related to stable people that acted out of jealousy, fear, and other intense emotions. The human mind was, with no doubt so intriguing as terrifying.
When her shift was done, she went to meet Mike again. The trial was the week after and they had to go over all the details of the case again.
He said that the defense attorney was a shark. They had been on opposite sides of other cases and he almost made him lose several times, but in the end, it was Mike who won. She remembered he said that with a smug smile, so proud of himself. He could be a bit arrogant, but he had reasons for it, he was amazing at his job.
“You need to be calm when you talk, Liz,” he sternly said. “If you get nervous for whatever reason his lawyer could take it as you’re lying or he could try to divert the conversation in a different direction so his client looks like a good man with issues because of his childhood.”
“Yeah, I understand that. He said he had a rough childhood, but it could be a lie. We just have his DNA but with his fingerprints burned we don’t really know anything about this piece of shit. He’s a psychopath with a dissociative identity disorder but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous. I mean, the jury won’t have doubts about it with all the proofs and these pictures.” She showed him one of the crime scene pictures. “Mike, come on, this is so horrid… How could someone feel empathy for this man?”
“Trust me, they could. You don’t know them. You have to act and talk as if they couldn’t feel any kind of empathy, you have to convince them with your words and the facts, not with the emotions.”
“Okay,” the psychologist said as she put the pictures and documents inside her folder.
Mike took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a second, his body relaxing as he did this. “So, how are you?”
Lizbeth chuckled. He was so professional he wouldn’t talk with her as a colleague in the middle of their meeting, but they were done. “Good.” She smiled. “You?”
“I’m doing fine, a bit tired of this case, but fine.”
“Glad to hear that. This is almost done, so don’t worry so much about it…”
“Too bad, I won’t get to see you so much.”
“You’re such a flirt!” She rolled her eyes, acting nonchalant, but the truth was that she felt a bit uncomfortable. She didn’t mind their kiss weeks before, they were adults and stuff like that could happen, but she was seeing Sawyer now, they were in a relationship and having other men flirting with her made her feel uneasy.
“Am I?” He asked with a smirk.
“Yeah, Mike, you are…” She told him with a small smile as she put everything inside her bag. “Well… See you next week?”
“Of course!” He got up from his chair to walk her to the door.
“It’s been so great working with you, I’ve learned a lot. Thank you.” She held her hand out to him.
“My pleasure,” he said with a smile as he shook her hand. “Sleep and take care of yourself, I need your amazing brain at the trial!” He joked.
“Will do!” She waved his hand as she walked away from his office, the clock ticking six.
As she stepped out of the building, she grabbed her phone and called Sawyer. He sent her a message in the morning, but she literally didn’t have a minute to answer. She got stuck in a meeting at university while having lunch and then she had to run to the one she had with Mike.
“Hey, Babe!” She said when he picked up the phone.
“Hello, gorgeous!” Her whole body trembled with enthusiasm when she heard his voice.
“How are you doing?” She asked as she opened the car to put everything she was carrying in the passenger’s seat.
“We’re fine, my mom’s doing great.” His smile at the other end of the line was so obvious, her heart fluttered.
“I’m so glad to hear that! The kids might be so happy—” Someone called her name, distracting her. She turned to face the woman’s voice and her eyes opened wide when she saw her. Those almond brown eyes and that beautiful caramel blonde hair were unmistakable. She hadn’t changed much in so many years. “Can I call you later?”
“Hm… Yeah, but everything alright?”
“Yeah, yeah, don’t worry.” She smiled, trying to fake a calm she wasn’t feeling at that moment.
“Talk to you later, Kitten.”
“Yeah…” She hung up and put the phone inside her purse.
“Hi, Liz!” She said with a smile.
“W— What are you doing here, Maggie?” She asked. Her heart beating hard in her ribcage. She knew Sawyer didn’t think of her in a romantic way anymore, but that wouldn’t change the fact that she would always be part of who he was now. She felt a lump in her throat, so dense, she was almost out of breath.
“I was going to grab a coffee and just saw you here… I just wanted to say hi,” she declared with that beautiful smile of hers.
“Oh.” Lizbeth nervously chuckled. “Hi, Maggie!” She smiled. “How have you been?”
“I’m doing great, honestly. Work couldn’t be better and I’m getting married.” She showed her the huge diamond ring she was wearing. She grinned, but for some reason, the smile didn’t reach her eyes.
“Right! Sawyer told me a few weeks ago. Congrats!” She shivered when a cold breeze blew around them.
“Are you in a hurry?” Maggie asked her as she hugged herself and rubbed her arms. “It’s freaking cold out here… Come with me to the cafe, I’ll buy you something?”
“Sure. Let’s go before we freeze.” She closed and locked her door again, following her to the cafeteria across the street.
“Ahh… It’s so much better here. Isn’t it?” Maggie told her. She unbuttoned and took her coat off. She was wearing a beautiful black kimono dress that highlighted her curves. She had always been so gorgeous Lizbeth couldn’t help the pang of jealousy she felt. She knew she looked good too, but that didn’t matter at that moment.
“Yeah, warm is always nicer.” She tried to act as if she was completely fine with that situation.
“What can I get for you?” The waiter said as they sat at a table.
“I want a cappuccino,” Maggie told him.
“A green tea for me.”
“Coming right up!” He said as he walked away.
“Does Sawyer still drink his coffee with just a teaspoon of sugar?” She asked out of the blue.
“Yeah…” Lizbeth raised an eyebrow. “Why?” She asked, pouring herself a glass of water.
“Just wondering...” She giggled. Suddenly, she began to rip one of those paper napkins, chopping it in small pieces. “The truth is… I saw you two the other day at the movies, I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to bother...” She trailed off.
“What?” She coughed, almost spitting the water out of her mouth.
“Yeah…I went with a friend and I saw you with the kids… I didn’t know you had children,” she said, looking her in the eye.
Lizbeth froze, not knowing what to say. “Those were Adam and Sophia, his nephew and niece.” There was no way she was telling her about what happened to Sawyer’s family. She wasn’t part of his life anymore.
“I see… You still looked like a super cute family.” There it was again, that fake smile. “Are you two dating again?” She had some nerve.
The waiter came back with their coffees, interrupting their conversation. “Thanks,” Lizbeth told the man. He just nodded with a light smile on his face.
“To answer your question, yeah. We’re dating.” She had been trying really hard to be nice to that woman because she had done nothing to her, even if she felt so uneasy and stupidly self-conscious, but she was seeking information about Sawyer. With what purpose? She didn’t know.
“I didn’t mean to upset you… I was just so worried—”
“Maggie, he’s doing more than fine without you. He’s stronger than you think,” she coldly told her. What was she trying to do?
“It really hurts me the way everything ended… I mean, I was so immature and so stupid… I’m glad he found a nice woman to share his life with.”
“Thanks.” She didn’t know what else to say, that conversation felt so unreal.
“And how are you doing?”
“Did you finally become a psychologist?”
“I’m actually a professor in college.”
“Oh! That’s amazing! I knew you would get wherever you wanted one day!” She smiled at her, this time it seemed honest. They knew each other when she started dating Sawyer and through their first years together.
Maggie had always been a nice woman, always cheering for everyone, kind and sweet -probably the reason why Sawyer fell in love with her. She didn’t understand why she cheated on him, but that didn’t matter. She hadn’t changed that much and that made her heart sink in her chest. What if Sawyer and her started seeing each other now that she was back in town? Would he fall in love with her again?
“Thank you,” she said with tears stinging in her eyes. She looked at the screen of her phone, it was almost seven and she had been out since seven in the morning, she was exhausted and she didn’t want to be there anymore. A tidal wave of emotions was swirling inside of her, making her feel sick. “I’m sorry, but it’s getting a bit late, so…” She took her wallet out of her purse
“Yeah, of course! And don’t worry about it,” Maggie said as she put her hand over hers. “This is on me.” She smiled, again.
“Thanks.” She got up. “It’s been nice seeing you again, Maggie. I hope everything goes well for you.”
“Yeah… You too!” She said as she hugged her. “Say hi to Sawyer for me.”
“Will do!” She faked a smile.
She practically ran to her car, wanting to get away from there as fast as she could. She hadn’t felt so insecure and shaky in her whole life. Not even when she broke her engagement with Nicolas.
As she got inside the vehicle, tears started rolling down her cheeks uncontrollably. Her heart felt tight and it was hard to breathe. “What’s wrong with you?” She cried out. Sawyer and her had been together for a month and he had been nothing but good to her.
He looked at her with such loving eyes she melted every time their gazes met. He was honest and had started to slowly open up to her, telling her about his fears and feelings. He was the best lover she had ever had. Between them it wasn’t just sex. Every time their bodies connected, he sent her to a parallel universe where there were just the two of them, wrapped in that warm, sweet, atmosphere she loved so much. She had never felt like that with a man before and she wondered how Sawyer felt about it all.
She had never been an insecure woman, she rarely cared about her partners’ ex-girlfriends, but that was different. She knew Maggie, she had seen them when they were crazy in love, not being able to take their hands off each other. They had shared seven years of their life, loving each other until she broke his heart.
That was years ago, woman! “I’m being so irrational. What’s wrong with me?” She tightened the grip on the steering wheel and let out a heavy sigh. She turned on the engine and drove back home.
When she got home, she went straight to the bathroom. She was alone, sad, and stressed. She needed to relax. She opened the hot tab and waited until the water was warm enough to plug the bathtub. After picking a coconut scent for that night, she undressed, but before she touched the water with her foot, her phone rang. Who the hell is now?
She wrapped a towel around her body and walked out of the bathroom. She took the phone out of her purse sitting on the couch and saw his name was written on the screen.
She didn’t know whether to pick up the call or not. She was feeling a bit disturbed after meeting Maggie and didn’t want to let him know. That side of her was pretty ugly.
The call ended, but two seconds later he was calling again. She sighed and slid the button up to pick up. “Hey…” She said in a low voice.
“Hey… Are you alright?”
“Well… It’s almost eight and I haven’t heard from you…”
“I’m sorry…” She gritted her teeth to hold the emotions in.
“Liz…” He sighed. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” she smiled so he couldn’t sense her unstable emotional state.
“Come on, Kitten… Your voice is gloomy and deep, and that only happens when something is worrying you.”
“I’m an amazing observer.”
She softly chuckled. “I hate that you know me so well…”
“You’re like an open book to me, yeah, but that’s part of what I like about you.”
She smiled and sighed. “I saw your ex today.”
“Huh? What ex?”
“How many ex-girlfriends do you have?”
He laughed. “Well, I wasn’t celibate during all these last two years so…”
She rolled her eyes and huffed. “I mean real girlfriend, not a fling or anything like that.”
“What did she say?”
“Nothing really… She just saw me when I was getting into the car.”
“That’s why you hung up?”
“She invited me to a coffee.” Lizbeth bit her lower lip. “She asked me how you were doing and if we were dating. Apparently she saw us the other day at the movies… Anyway, she just wanted to know how life was going for you and me, and stuff like that.”
“I see… Well, that’s not so bad, right?” His words felt like a slap right on the face. Didn’t he really not get it?
“Yeah, she was pretty nice, as always…”
“Then… What’s the matter?”
“I… Sawyer, would you still be with her if she didn’t cheat on you?”
“What?” He asked in a loud voice.
“I’m sure she must have changed at some level, with all do, but she was still the sweet and kind woman she used to be and… I don’t know. What if you start meeting again and—”
“Stop it right there. Listen, Liz. Yeah, I loved her with all my heart when we were together, denying that would be lying,” he stated. “But I don’t anymore. I don’t know what would have happened if she didn’t cheat on me, to be honest. I loved her until the very end, but we had fought a lot and we wanted different things from life… That can shatter any relationship, no matter how strong the bond is.”
“Yeah…” She sniffled, trying to hold the tears in.
“Liz…” He paused and took a deep breath. “I’m crazy about you and at some level, I’ve always been.” Her heart skipped a beat when she heard those words. “When I met Maggie I was still thinking about you. She was nice and looked like a lost puppy, she needed me, not like you, so I decided to give it a try.” He paused for a second and took a deep breath. “I never thought it would turn out that way, that I'd end up falling for her, but I did. However, that never changed the way I felt about you and she knew... It’s so fucking refreshing being around you. You’re like a ray of light in the dark… Fuck! My life is so much better whenever you’re in it, and I never felt that with her.”
By the time Sawyer stopped talking, Lizbeth was already crying. Her heart beating hard in her chest, so full of life again it was even painful. She was feeling insecure for no reason, Sawyer was so sure about his feelings for her that it made her dizzy. “Babe?” He whispered, worried.
“I’m sorry…” She sniffled and wiped away her tears. “I’ve just been so fucking emotional for a few days and seeing her shook me a little…”
“It’s fine. I don’t think I’d deal pretty well if I met your ex, and I don’t even know him so…” He chuckled.
“It’s hardly been a day and I already miss you, Sawyer…” She whispered.
“I miss you too… I wish I could be with you tonight and hug you until you fall asleep in my arms…”
“Me too.” She smiled.