Secrets & Lies (Roughshod Rollers MC 3)

Page 44

She looks up, shocked. I stare at the murky liquid of my coffee, not meeting her eyes.
“On that day,” I continue when she doesn’t say anything, “you were so mad, and I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t figure it out. I was going to take the flowers over to where you were staying and ask to talk to you. It was this huge bunch, too. It had lavender and daffodils, the flowers you love. I picked up a box of chocolates to go with them, and asked the lady at the store to help me wrap them. Then I got home.”
I don’t want to explain what I had felt when I walked into a suddenly empty home, to realize that Jessica had been serious about breaking up. So serious that she had come home in the middle of the day, while I wasn’t there, taken all her things and disappeared on me.
My heart had dropped all the way to the floor. I had sat on our (my) couch for hours, wondering what the hell to do now, before I got the motivation to at least try and contact Jessica to ask why. I tried to phone her but her phone was off. Every message went unanswered. None of her friends or family would say anything to me, either. It was like she had suddenly disappeared.
Then, three years later, she shows up and says she wants another shot? Even if she hadn’t lied to me about our son, I still wouldn’t do it. I’ll never be able to forget that terrible, empty feeling she left me with, even if I could bring myself to forgive everything else.
“I’m sorry,” Jessica whispers.
I snort. An apology now? It’s far too late.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” I say sharply. “At the end of the day, what you’re asking for is impossible. You and I don’t work together, that was made clear. And starting a relationship with you… How can you ask me to do that when you’re still keeping secrets from me? I don’t even care what those secrets are anymore.”
Though, that’s a bit of a lie. I do care. I just don’t want to chase the answers anymore.
“Yeah, I get it,” Jessica says, sinking down into her blanket. Her eyes are lowered and she’s the very picture of despair. “Regardless of what you say… I do understand. I put you through something terrible, didn’t I?”
I look away, refusing to confirm that.
“One day, I’ll try and make it up to you,” Jessica promises. “But, for now… Can’t we try friendship, at least? For Owen?”
I glance at her. Her eyes are beseeching me to at least agree to this. It feels like a mistake, as though she’ll run a mile if I give her an inch. After a moment, however, I sigh grudgingly.
“Yeah, we can try that,” I grumble. I drain the last of my coffee and heave myself out of my chair. I need something stronger than that. “Beer?”
“Please,” she says with added emphasis, obviously feeling the same way.
I grab a couple of bottles out of the fridge and carry them over. In the distance, I can hear the rumble of my dryer. Hopefully, it will be finished soon, and we can put this awkward conversation in the past.
Four hours later, however, the dryer is the last thing on my mind.
“Wait, seriously?” Jessica exclaims. “That was you?”
“Yeah,” I say with a smug smile. “Sorry.”
“No, no!” Jessica says, waving her hand. “Dad never figured it out! Then the damn things showed up again, and he was just so angry! It was hilarious! Last Christmas, Jace got him a wooden spoon as a gift, and I thought he was just going to throw it back.”
I can’t help but grin. Jessica’s father was a strict man who had never liked me much and, one year, in a fit of youthful retaliation (or, rather, I was just out for petty revenge), I stole every wooden spoon in the house. Paul, who was a baker, had been ropeable, but he never once suspected me. The next day, he grudgingly bought some new ones and, overnight, I replaced the ones I had stolen.
He was so angry, I was half expecting him to call a detective to do some forensic tests on them to figure out who the culprit was.
“Where is Paul?” I ask now.
“Oh,” Jessica says, rolling her eyes. “He and mom are in Washington. He calls all the time. He absolutely dotes on Owen.”
“He does know Owen is my son, doesn’t he?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Actually, you went up in his opinion,” Jessica snorts. “If only because I went down. He’s been trying to convince me for three years to contact you. He thought it was a disgrace that I got knocked up, and then kept it a secret from you.”
“Woah,” I say, blinking. “You know, seeing the look on his face when I walked through the door with you and Owen would almost be worth getting back together with you.”
Jessica snorts into her beer. What I had said was actually quite cruel, but we were both more than a little tipsy at this point after several bottles of beer each. We’ve long since gravitated to the couch, and there’s some sort of game playing on television, but neither of us is paying much attention to it.
Somehow, we’ve managed to start reminiscing about the past. With the alcohol to dull all the hurt, it feels nice to sit with her and think about all the good times. I’ve had precious few moments where I could think about all the good without it being painful.
A distant part of my mind is screaming at me, telling me that this isn’t going in a good direction, and that I need to kick Jessica out before it gets any worse, but I ignore it. I’m surprisingly content as I sit next to Jessica, thinking of our antics when we were a little younger and listening to the patter of the rain on my window. The rain hasn’t let up once, and it offers a soothing backdrop to our conversation.