“We’re just talking,” I tell her.
It can’t be anything more than talking. I’m far too bitter, right now, for anything to happen. Maybe I still would have been, even if there hadn’t been a kid and a possibility of cheating on the table. After all, it’s been three years since I last heard from her, and I still don’t understand what she was thinking when she threw herself at me last night.
“Anyway, thanks, I appreciate that,” I say. “Hey, any chance you know where her kid is?”
“He goes to daycare on Saturday afternoon, more to give her some time to herself than anything,” she says. “He’ll probably be there by now.”
“Hopefully,” I agree.
“Well, good luck,” Allison says cheerfully.
I hang up, feeling a little bad at that manipulation. Poor Allison has no idea of what’s happening, and I just manipulated her into giving me Jessica’s address. Hopefully Jessica won’t be too mad at her.
I glance at the address. It isn’t too far from here. Part of me wonders if I’m doing the right thing. It would probably be more sensible to leave this in the past, where it belongs. What’s the point of chasing after Jessica for answers now? It won’t give me any closure, not after so long. I’ll just be reopening a wound that I’ve been doing my best to hold closed.
But, on the other hand, I need that answer. Even if it just causes more pain, in the end, my need to know what happened hasn’t changed at all.
Sighing, I stand up and gather my jacket.
“You going, Grant?” Kyle calls out.
“Yeah,” I say as casually as I can. “I got somewhere else to be.” I manage at my two friends, appreciating them and their effort to make me feel a little better, even if it didn’t work the way they hoped. “Thanks, guys.”
“Anytime,” Ethan grins.
I wave goodbye to them and leave them to their squabble over the scores, shaking my head at them with a fond smile. When I leave the building, however, my smile falls and I straighten my shoulders. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I get to Jessica’s place.
But, somehow, I’m going to figure out what’s going on.
Jessica’s place is a ground-level apartment in a quiet suburb. There are a handful of kids biking up the street, and I stupidly wonder if one of them is Jessica’s before I remember that the child would only be three.
Will the kid be there? I’m not sure I can handle seeing him, but I need to do this now, before I lose my nerve. If her kid is there, I’ll just be more careful about what I say; I don’t want to frighten him because it won’t be his fault that his mother betrayed me.
I take in a deep breath, closing my eyes for a moment, and then march into the building, quickly finding the door marked with a three. Then I knock firmly and wait.
There’s no movement, at first, and I wonder if I’ve psyched myself up for nothing because Jessica isn’t actually home. Then I hear quiet footsteps coming toward the door and I stand up straighter, hoping I’ve wiped all indication of irritation off my face; I don’t want to scare her off inviting me in, and I don’t want to argue with her in the hall, where all her neighbors would be able to hear us.
The lock clicks open and the door swings on its hinges to reveal Jessica standing there, confused about who is at her door. The confusion quickly changes to shock and horror when she sees me, and I can’t help frowning.
“Jessica,” I say, trying to loosen my clenched fists. “We need to talk.”
She just gapes at me, struck dumb by the realization that I’ve tracked her down and am now standing on her doorstep. She blinks wildly at me.
“How did you know where I live?” she asks blankly.
“I tricked Allison into giving you my address,” I told her. Then, because I can’t bring myself to care for her comfort, and there’s a small part of me that needs this petty bit of revenge, I add, “It involved confirming we slept together, so be prepared for that.”
Jessica’s face drains of color. She grips the door frame tightly. She hasn’t yet slammed the door on me, though, so I’ll count this as a win.
“We need to talk,” I repeat. “We can either do it here, where everyone can hear us, or you can invite me in.”
“What if I just shut the door?” she challenges, though her voice is shaky.
“Then I’ll shout what I have to say t
hrough the door,” I tell her.
It’s a calculated risk. I’m not about to shout to her through a closed door, nor will I begin this conversation in the hall. If she calls my bluff, I’ll be forced to leave. From the frightened look she gives me, however, before relenting and stepping aside, Jessica believes, right now, that I would do either of those things.