I refuse to feel guilty about that. Jessica has a lot to answer for, and I’m going to talk to her, no matter how hard I have to manipulate her into a conversation.
“So?” she asks, crossing her arms.
There’s a tight expression on her face that doesn’t feel like it belongs there, highlighting the tired lines around her eyes. There’s more fire in her, though; then I remember. While Jessica was never a pushover, she was never one to speak her mind, either. She’s always been the type to stand back and listen, even if she was prone to jumping to conclusions very quickly.
I wonder if having a child was what changed that. Remembering the kid, I look around with narrowed eyes.
“Where’s your kid?” I ask bluntly.
The little color she had left fades away, leaving her white and trembling. She wavers a little, and I’m half afraid that she’s about to collapse.
“How do you know about Owen?” she asks. Then she closes her eyes. “Let me guess; Allison.”
“No,” I snort. “She wouldn’t tell me about a kid if it would hurt your chances of having a relationship with me. Kyle told me.” I give her a hard look. “He told me after I told him who you were.”
She sighs. “If Kyle knows, Allison will know soon. She’ll be upset that I lied to her.”
I laugh bitterly. “Seems like that’s a common theme with you.”
Jessica, who has been leading me to a small kitchen, stops and looks at me. Her expression is stunned.
“How…?” she asks, and then her shoulders slump. “You guessed.”
“It was easy enough,” I scowl.
She looks away, her lips pursed. “It doesn’t matter. Owen is at daycare today. So he isn’t here.”
Good. It means I don’t have to hold my tongue. I can say what, exactly, has been on my mind not just all these years, but since I found out about her son earlier in the day.
“Take a seat,” she says, though she looks like she’d dearly love to just throw me out. “Coffee?”
I open my mouth to refuse. Then I hesitate. Jessica makes an awesome cup of coffee. And drinking coffee will give me an excuse to stay longer.
“Yeah,” I say after a moment.
She bustles around the kitchen wordlessly, avoiding my eyes as she puts out coffee cups and boils the kettle. I take that moment to get a good look at her, now that it’s daytime and she isn’t half hiding in the crappy lighting of a bar. The shorter hair she’s sporting is a good look for her, though she still has that same habit of brushing it aside impatiently when it falls into her eyes. She is sporting a look of constant stress, too, her expression tight as though the entire world is against her. There are dark bags under her eyes, no longer hidden by makeup, and she just looks so very tired, from the lines of her face to the slump of her shoulders.
I feel a brief spark of sympathy. She looks like she’s had a hard life since I last saw her. Then I remember that this is likely because she’s been raising a child from another relationship alone, and my heart hardens once more. I’m not here to sympathize with the woman who broke my heart, especially after her betrayal.
The spoons clink gently on the china as Jessica stirs both mugs and then puts the utensils in the sink. I see her take a steadying breath before carrying the cups over to the table, her chin risen as though in defiance.
“Here,” she says, placing a coffee down in front of me.
“Thanks,” I mumble.
I take a sip. The coffee is as good as I remember. For a moment, it could almost be three years ago again, with Jessica and I sitting around a small table, drinking coffee together, laughing at some joke. Then the thought fades and, with it, the memory of Jessica’s smile.
I haven’t seen Jessica smile much at all since we reunited. It’s an odd thing to think about, but I can’t help but cast my mind back. I don’t think she’s smiled at all since I came by, certainly not in the way I remember. Not that I can complain; I haven’t smiled at her, either, and for good reason. Neither of us were expecting to reunite last night, and neither of us expected to end up having sex, either.
Remembering my loss of control, I bitterly wish I had just thrown her in a taxi last night and then taken a nice, long holiday until I could be sure she was gone.
“Alright,” Jessica says after a long moment. “What do you want to know?”
I look at her incredulously.
“Where do you want me to start?” I ask her with a hollow laugh. “There are far too many answers that I want. But let’s start with this one. Why?”
Why did she cheat on me? Why did she run off? Why did she throw herself at me last night at the first chance she had?