Come Together

By: Jessica Hawkins

THE SIZZLING WAS ALMOST ENOUGH to make me scream. Plumes of smoke spiraled up from the table. Chunky guacamole sat untouched next to a full basket of salted tortilla chips.

Tension grew between my two best friends and me as silence stretched over the tiny table. Lucy blinked finally, but the horror on her face remained. When the wait became excruciating, I repeated myself. “I’m leaving Bill.”

“You’re telling us this over fajitas?” Lucy asked, shaking her head with disbelief.

I shrugged, not casually, but because there was no appropriate way to respond to such a question. I glanced from Lucy to Gretchen, who reached out to clasp her hand over mine. I was drowning, and she could tell.

“Is this why you’ve been distant since I returned from Paris?” Lucy asked me. Her eyes cut to Gretchen. “And why don’t you look surprised?”

“I’m not,” Gretchen said evenly.

“Did something happen while I was on my honeymoon?” Lucy continued, subconsciously touching her new wedding band.

“Something happened,” I confirmed. “And that something is that I’m in love.”

Up until that moment, Gretchen had looked almost relieved. Now she gasped as a breathtaking smile broke out across her face.

“Well, I’d have to be, wouldn’t I?” I asked.

She nodded, her mass of blonde curls bouncing joyfully.

“You’re in love with your husband,” Lucy stated, straightening her shoulders. “Bill.”

“Luce.” I took a deep breath and addressed her with unwavering focus. “You and Gretchen have been my best friends for a long time. When something this big happens in my life, I want to share it with you. I’m in love with someone else, and I’m leaving Bill for him.”

She lunged against the table. “What the fuck?” she screeched.

I winced. Lucy was sweet, doe-eyed and polite. She didn’t screech, she squealed – and she never cursed. “I know it’s shocking,” I said. “I wanted you to hear it from me before I talk to Bill.”

Her mouth fell open. “You haven’t told Bill?”

I shook my head.

“Who is this guy?”

The night before, I’d leaped, literally and figuratively, for ‘this guy.’ And he had caught me in his arms, taking my weight with ease. Rain drenched us, our lips joined and relief melted the muscular arms around me. Our foreheads met. He told me he loved me. I told him he was my home.

A small smile dissolved the tension in my face. “I’m leaving my husband for David Dylan.”

Her brown eyes doubled in size, and she gripped the table until her knuckles whitened. “Excuse me?”

My smile faltered as reality slashed through the sweet memory.

“What are you talking about?” Lucy intoned. “Do you hear what you just said?”

“You’re in shock,” Gretchen said. “Just listen.”

“You knew about this?” Lucy shot back, redirecting her glare at Gretchen.

“Some of it.”

“David Dylan,” Lucy echoed. “As in, my client, Andrew’s friend, Dani’s – ” Her eyes darted frantically over the table as she tried to find the word.

“Yes,” I said softly. “Your client, your husband’s friend and the man your sister was involved with.”

“How did this happen?”

“I’m sorry to spring this on you both, but like I said, you’re my best friends.” I looked between them. “I need you now. I need you there after I tell Bill.”

“How?” Lucy repeated quietly.

“David and I have a . . . connection. I wish I could show you how I’m feeling, Luce, because it’s impossible to describe. Bill has always been good to me, and I love him, I do. I don’t want to hurt him. But with David, it’s different, it’s – ”

“Of course it’s different,” Lucy interrupted. She held up her fingers to tick off each point. “David is gorgeous. Wealthy. Charming. Experienced.” Her hands flew up in exasperation. “He knows exactly what you want to hear.”

“You set him up with your sister,” I pointed out.

“That’s something else entirely. He knows she’s not the type you just fool around with.”

“And I am?”

“No, but that’s irrelevant because you’re married. You’re married,” she repeated. “What are you doing?”

I just stared at her, my mouth hanging open slightly.

“He is a total player,” Lucy continued, her face contorting with disgust. “I set him up with Dani so he could see that there are women out there worth settling down for. But he’s not the type of guy you leave your husband for. Jesus Christ. I mean, does he think of you as some sort of challenge?”

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