“Yoo hoo, honey?” Mike’s voice and snapping fingers interrupted my train of thoughts. “Didn’t you hear me calling?” He rushed over.
I was still lost somewhere between my kitchen and being attacked in a pool. I held the knife in my hand as if ready to stab him. He took it out of my hand, setting it down on the counter. Pulling me close, he wrapped his arms around me. That’s when he kissed me. Nothing. I felt nothing.
Corey ruined me.
He pulled back, staring at me. My guess was because I turned into a limp doll on this vacation. He looked deeply into my eyes as if searching for something. “I missed you. You’re not allowed to leave anymore! So, tell me everything. What did you do?”
He caught me by surprise. I didn’t say anything, just stared at him. It was like I didn’t even know who he was.
“Honey, are you okay?”
That was when I snapped out of it. “Oh, sorry. Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just tired. Lots of problems at work. I’ve been on the phone with the office since I got home. Brian screwed up royally. I don’t understand how. He knows that job. Tomorrow’s not gonna be fun. I have to fix one fuck up after another. It’s gonna be a long day.”
“I believe it. That place can’t run without you because you’re the core; the heart of it. Without you, it just falls apart.”
I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or sincere.
He grabbed a sliver of celery, inspecting it before popping it in his mouth. “What’s this? Tic tac celery? Did I lose my teeth while you were gone?”
I looked down. I didn’t realize I’d made them so small. I snickered. “Some recipes call for diced vegetables. That is diced.”
“Oh. Well, it’s good having you home. Diced veggies aside, I missed you.”
“It’s good to be home. I missed you too.” I lied for his benefit.
“Good! So, what did you do?”
I wasn’t sure what he meant. I stared at him. “What do ya mean?”
“What did you do on your vacation? Did you guys do anything fun? Maybe see a concert, a show, a movie, or have some food you don’t normally eat? What did you do?”
Just had sex, dinner, and a great time with Corey.
“Oh! Well, I swam in the hotel pool, gambled, Tania an’ I went to dinner, an’ I just had a great time.”
“You swam in the pool instead of the ocean?”
“You really need to get over your fear of sharks, honey.”
“No, I don’t. We don’t live near a beach.”
“You know it’s strange that you picked California.”
I went back to fixing the salad. I wanted to get off the topic of that beach where my heart was floundering around on the sand like a fish out of the water. “Why’s that?”
“I have family in California with some land. I should’ve told you about it earlier, but it slipped my mind. You could’ve stayed there and we would’ve saved some money.” He shrugged. “That was one expensive ass hotel you stayed in.”
I didn’t really pay attention to him until I heard one thing; family in California. I dropped the knife, staring at him. “What’s that? You have family in California?” I tried not to sound overly interested, or that my heart was beating out of my chest.
“Yeah…” He looked over at me, furrowing his brows. “What’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
“Hm? Oh, it’s just jet lag. I’m really tired. I wanna go lay down an’ not get up till it’s time for work.”
He nodded. He seemed to inspect me as if able to see each and every spot that Corey touched.
I furrowed my brows. “What are you lookin’ at?”
“You look a little off.”
“I look off? What the fuck does that mean?”
“It doesn’t look like you’ve been to the beach. Why aren’t you sunburned? Or at least have a tan? Weren’t you guys in the sun?”
I didn’t think of that! Tania came back with a gorgeous tan. I barely had any color at all. I couldn’t tell him the truth. The sun didn’t reach the bed. I had to think of another lie, a reason why I wouldn’t be sunburned to hell and back.
“No. I wasn’t out in the sun as much as Tania. I found a nice casino. Tania swam in the ocean, but not me! I wasn’t goin’ near the sharks or the surfers.” Now it was my turn. “No home delivery? Did you actually cook?”
He laughed. “You make it sound like I don’t know how to cook.”
“You said it, not me.”
“I worked a lot while you were gone. I’d get something on the way home. Look in my car if you want to see the wrappers.”
“Oh! So ya didn’t come an’ get us because ya would’ve had to clean out your car first,” I teased. “That makes sense.”
He rolled up a dishtowel, popping me in the thigh. “I guess I’m busted. That reminds me, you need to go to the grocery store.”
I just told him that I was tired. I bit back the retort, nodding while smiling. “I’ll add that to my list of things to do tomorrow.”
He leaned on the counter, staring at me as he nibbled on a piece of carrot. I could tell something bothered him. I knew what it was before he opened his mouth. “Did anything happen on this trip?”
I played dumb. “What do ya mean?”
“I don’t know. Anything you might want to tell me about?”
I looked around as if trying to remember with a look of confusion on my face as if I didn’t know what he was referring to. Then I nodded, smiling sheepishly. “Oh! Yeah. I was a klutz our first night there. While walkin’ to dinner, I slipped an’ fell in the pool with my clothes on. I had to go back an’ change.”
“Why didn’t you answer your phone?”
“Your cell phone. I called and it went straight to voicemail. I thought you met another man and was going to run off with him.”
For a split second, I thought he knew. I kind of hoped he had found out. Then I realized, I just wanted a baby, not a new man in my life. I had to stop thinking about Corey if this was going to work.
I smiled, leaning over, kissing while chuckling softly. “Why would I want anyone else when I’ve got the complete package at home. I had to take the battery outta my phone. I stuck it in a bag of rice an’ forgot about it.”
“You didn’t miss me?”
“Yes, I missed you.”
“I couldn’t tell.”
“All my information is in that phone. I didn’t have anyone’s number an’ Tania didn’t bring her phone. She didn’t want to be disturbed. I couldn’t have even called my mother if I needed to. So, it wasn’t my lack of wantin’ to talk to ya, I had no way to do it. I mean, I guess I could’ve looked it up in the yellow pages or the white pages, but I didn’t think my phone was gonna take that long to dry. Besides, I figured you were busy with work. You’re usually too busy to talk to me. That’s why ya weren’t beside me on that trip.”
“Well that’s true, but a voicemail from my sexy wife would have been good.”
I smiled, touching his nose lightly. “I would’ve called you from the landline, but I didn’t remember the number. I couldn’t turn on the phone until it was totally dry an’ I had no clue when that was gonna be.”
“I worried about you. I almost booked a flight to California to find you.”
“Well, you can stop worryin’. I’m home an’ all yours.”
He stared at me. I could only guess he didn’t like the reason. He might have been trying to decide if I was lying. Finally, he shrugged as if realizing that it could have happened like that. “Good, now things can get back to normal.”
He took another bite of celery. “Stop cutting the vegetables so small.”
“Maybe I like them smaller.”
“It’s not like we don’t have teeth to chew.”
I stared at him. He wanted to chastise everything I did? I wasn’t in the mood. “Since ya don’t like the vegetables…” I took the knife, scraping it in the sink, turning on the garbage disposal. “I guess we’re eatin’ out tonight.”
“What the hell are you doing?”
“You obviously didn’t want a salad.”
“Have you lost your mind?”
“No. We’ll have pizza instead.”
“I don’t want pizza. I’ve been eating fast food all week. Just whip us up something quick and easy.”
“No. You said it yourself. I have to go to the grocery store. I’m not goin’ the day I just got home from my vacation. I’m tired.”
“Then fix something with what we have. That’s why I sent you to cooking school, so you can just make something out of nothing.”
“What do you mean no?”
“I’m not makin’ anythin’. I’m tired. I just got home. Everythin’ isn’t always about you! I’m tired! I’m not doin’ shit but relaxin’… plain an’ simple! You know, just how you act when ya come back from a business trip!” I stormed over to the phone. I was ready to call and order pizza.
He didn’t want it, which he made clear when he took the phone and hung it up. “Honey, let’s not fight your first day home.”
I sighed. Maybe I was overreacting. “I don’t wanna fight either.”
“Good. Let’s have a nice quiet dinner and just enjoy each other’s company. I missed you.”
“Fine, but I’m not cookin’.”
He shook his head. “I let you go away for a full week’s vacation and you come back with this attitude. Next time, I won’t let you go anywhere unless I’m right by your side.”
I didn’t think I heard him correctly, but what I thought I heard, I didn’t like. “What?”
“Now, be a good girl and stop arguing and just pop us something in the oven. Let’s have a glass of wine and enjoy our night.”
“Wait. Go back to what ya said.”
He looked confused. “What did I say?”
“You let me go?”
He shrugged. “What about it?”
“Never mind all that other bullshit ya said. You think I went because you let me go? You honestly believe that’s the reason I went?”
“Yes, I let you go.”
Oh heeeeell no. He didn’t just go there. He said it so absolutely as if he really believed that was the only reason I went. “You didn’t let me do shit!”
“Actually, I did.”
“Actually, you didn’t. I do what the fuck I want. I don’t ask for your permission! I’m a full-grown adult. I didn’t ask if I could on this vacation. You bitched an’ whined an’ whimpered because you weren’t goin’ with me!”
“You’re overreacting, Elyse.”
“I’m not overreactin’. I’m not gonna let ya treat me like I’m your daughter.”
“…and the drama queen award goes to.”
“Fuck you!” I was pissed.