“Tess honey, I promise you I didn’t fuck anyone last night. I did what I said I was going to. You can ask the guys. Blake and Ethan were right there with me.”
“I’m not stupid, you dickhead. I know what lipstick looks like. That’s hooker red lipstick on your fucking shirt, Pollo.” She backed away from him, folding her arms over her chest. “I knew it was too good to be true.” Her voice was barely a whisper. “I knew something bad was going to happen here and I was right. Wasn’t I?” She looked at him, waves of pain and heartbreak shimmering through her beautiful green eyes. He couldn’t take it.
“No baby, I swear to you.” He stood, taking a step toward her only to watch her move away from him. “She was there, waiting for you to leave. I had no idea because I was only looking at you. Tess! Don’t you get it?” he pleaded. “I see no other woman but you.” She shook her head, staring at the floor. Apollo sighed and slumped down on the bed. “She came onto me but I turned her down. I told her I was taken but she didn’t seem to care. She tried again and I had to physically remove her from my space so I could leave. She had me cornered.” Tess gasped, fresh tears escaping down her already wet cheeks.
“I just got through moving her aside when she latched onto me and kissed me. Damn, babe she was like a fucking octopus,” he shivered in disgust. “She was all over me and I hated it. I had to get rough with her then and pushed her off me. I told her to get the hell away from me. Blake and Ethan must have heard the scuffle because they showed up just in time to keep her from coming at me again.” He sat there, not daring to look at her yet, his jaw tense as he tried to stave off his emotions. Laying the shirt on the bed, he stood and walked over to the dresser. He dressed quickly, pulling on a pair of joggers and a tee shirt.
“I love you, Tess,” he said as he stared at the sliver of sunlight through the curtains. “I love you more than life itself. The thought of touching another woman makes me sick. I guess I thought I already proved that to you but I thought wrong.” He shoved on a hoodie and tucked his phone in the front pocket. He slipped on his socks and running shoes, finally lifting his eyes to hers. “You know I can’t really be mad at you, babe. This is my fault. I was just hoping we had worked through all this and you finally trusted me.” Grabbing the keycard, he opened the door.
“Pollo, wait,” she said. He turned to look at her again. She was taken aback by the deep hurt mirrored in his eyes.
“It’s ok, Tess,” he said. “I’m going for a run. I’ll be back soon.” With that, the door shut quietly behind him. Tess stood by the bed. What the hell just happened? Had she been the one this time to break him? She sunk to the floor and leaned back against the mattress, her mind numb.
“Meda?” she whispered into her phone. “I think I fucked up. Bad.” That was all she needed to say as Meda came barging in a few minutes later. Seeing her best friend in a crying heap on the floor, Meda rushed to her and gathered her in a comforting embrace.
“Oh honey,” she sighed into Tess’s hair. “It’s going to be ok, babe. I promise it will.” She rocked Tess, soothing her the best she could until Tess’s tears were no longer falling. “Tell me what happened, presh.” Tess grabbed the shirt off the bed and put it in Meda’s lap. “Oh that evil harpy!” she growled. “So that’s what she was doing.”
“What do you mean?” Tess asked, her voice shaky and hoarse from sobbing. Meda smoothed her hair back.
“That bitch did this on purpose, that’s what I mean. Blake told me what happened, that he and Ethan ran to Pollo’s rescue. Blake recognized her from last year and had a feeling she was up to no good. Looks like baby boy was right.” The look of horror on Tess’s face almost sent Meda into a panic. “Oh honey! What did I say?”
“Oh God, Meda!” Tess cried. “I accused him of cheating on me with her! I practically assaulted him! I saw that red lipstick and I lost my fucking mind!” She began sobbing again, uttering incoherent sentences as the tears streamed freely again. “I’ve lost him! I just know it! And it’s my fault this time! It’s all my fault!”
“Hush you silly girl,” Meda said as she rocked Tess again. “You haven’t lost him. He’s not going anywhere, babe. He loves you too much.” Sighing, Meda pulled her up on the bed and got her to lay down. She snuggled in with her BFF and pulled the covers over both of them.
“You didn’t see the hurt in his eyes, Meed,” Tess whispered through her tears. “It was like I pulled his heart straight out of his chest, then stomped on it with combat boots.”
“Yeah I won’t lie, babe, you hurt him bad but you guys can work through it.” Meda tilted Tess’s tear stained face up. “He loves you so much, you crazy woman. My brother is one hundred thousand percent in love with you. I promise you’ll get through this and you’ll be stronger on the other side.”
“Why the fuck did I freak like that?” Tess huffed. “I should have let him explain first. I should have given him the benefit of the doubt but something just…snapped when I saw that lipstick! Ugh! I’m such an idiot!”
“Well, yeah you kind of are,” Meda chuckled, “but I can’t say I wouldn’t have reacted the same way. I mean, look at your history with Pollo, sweetheart. For years, you pined after him and he ignored you then flirted with you then ignored you and…well you get it. Then, Toronto happened. I think you were just waiting for ‘it’ to happen again.” Tess stilled. Meda was right. She had let her subconscious fear take over and she lashed out with ferocity. She not only hurt the man she was head over heels in love with but she crushed him. Quite possibly forever.
“What do I do now?” she whispered.
“Go get yourself a good, hot shower and get dressed. You’ve got morning skate in an hour. Then you are going downstairs with me to get yourself a good breakfast. Pollo should be back by then and you two can talk or at least make up enough to get you through skate.” Meda dropped a sloppy loud kiss on Tess’s forehead and scooted her out of the bed. Tess did as Meda said and was soon on her way down for breakfast. She knew her face was red and blotchy from all the crying but there was nothing she could do about that. She simply plopped a Fury ball cap over her thick red hair, pulling it into a ponytail through the back.
Meda wrapped her arm around Tess’s shoulders, hugging her as they descended to the first floor. She sat Tess down and grabbed a plate from the buffet. They didn’t talk but Meda made sure Tess ate. After she was finished, the girls left again and headed back upstairs. Tess laid her head on Meda’s shoulder. “Thanks, babe. I feel better.” Reaching their floor, they hugged and parted ways. Tess entered her room, despondent, thinking of Apollo and the pain in his beautiful blue eyes. Pain she had put there. It didn’t matter to her how much he hurt her in the past. It only mattered that she hurt him now.
She stood by the bed, deep in thought. The sound of the door opening whipped her head up to lock eyes with Apollo. With a trembling lip and fresh tears tracking down her cheeks, she launched herself in his arms. Her legs wrapped around his waist and she clung to him like a spider monkey. “I’m so fucking sorry, baby,” she cried into his neck. She kept repeating herself. Apollo didn’t say a word. He just wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly to him. He walked them toward the bed and sat on the mattress.
“Shh, ángelos. Ola tha páne kalá (Everything will be all right.)” Apollo kissed her temple. “S ’agapó tóso polý ómorfi kókkini petaloúda mou (I love you so much, my beautiful red butterfly).”