Come Together(2)

By: Jessica Hawkins


She had pinpointed my greatest insecurity and shoved it in my face. David was a player. He had women falling all over him, and I knew he’d taken advantage of that. What made me different? Was it because he’d had to chase me? Without evidence to deny Lucy’s claims, I remained quiet and wrung my hands in my lap.

“I’ve talked to him.” We both turned to Gretchen. “I’ve talked to David,” she said, “and this isn’t a game for him. He is crazy about her. He loves her. He told me.”

My skin prickled as I thought of my David: sexy, tall and strong, with an enormous and loving heart. It gave me the strength to beat back the doubt creeping in.

“That’s utterly ridiculous.” Lucy’s voice, hard-edged, cut into my thoughts. “He’d say anything to get what he wants. What makes her different from the hordes of women he sleeps with?”

“It’s different because every time we’re in the same room, I can barely stand not to touch him, to feel him, to look into his eyes. In his arms I feel safe. I feel loved. Not the way Bill loves me, but loved in a way that I could almost open up my chest and give him my heart.”

They both gaped at me, not bothering to hide their surprise. Lucy visibly grasped at words. “Wow,” she said softly. “I never thought I would hear something like that come out of your mouth. It’s so . . . not you. It’s romantic and – and emotional.”

I sighed my relief and nodded.

“But I don’t think you’ve thought this through. You met David when? At my engagement – oh, God, I’m going to be sick. This is my fault.” She put her head in her hands.

“No, no. I met him at your engagement party, but I saw him before then, the night we went to the ballet. Remember that, Andrew’s firm had tickets? David was there, and we had this . . . I never thought I’d say this, but it was like we were meant to see each other in that moment.”

Gretchen smiled. “It’s really romantic, Luce, if you think about it.”

Lucy’s face was still in her hands. She looked up finally and pinned me with a glare. “Have you slept with him?”

My eyebrows joined with confusion. It was true, what I was doing to Bill was awful, but this was Lucy, the idealist. Couldn’t she see the romance of me and David? My heart skipped when I answered her. “Yes.”

“Oh my – ”

“I couldn’t not,” I pleaded.

“That’s bullshit,” Lucy spat. “You’re stronger than that. You’ve always been strong.”

“Which just goes to show that I – ”

“Stop. Just stop. You’ve been lying to all of us, including my sister, for what? Seven fucking months? Is seven months even long enough to know that you’re ready to give everything up?”

I hesitated. “How long did it take you to fall in love with Andrew?”

The way her face morphed had me shrinking in my seat. “You’re sick, Olivia. If you think messing around with someone like David is anything close to what Andrew and I have, then you know nothing about love. That’s ridiculous.”

“Come on, that’s not fair,” Gretchen said defensively. “Have you ever seen Liv this passionate? With Bill? You know this is the right thing, you just don’t want to say it.”

Lucy averted her eyes as I looked from her to Gretchen. Had she just said I was doing the right thing?

“This is not right,” Lucy mumbled, crossing her arms. “Bill loves you, he trusts you, and this is how you repay him?” She paled, her face almost green. “You made a vow to him. Doesn’t that mean anything?”

My chest grew heavy, and a lump formed in my throat. “Of course it does,” I said, just above a whisper. “I love Bill, but things just aren’t right with him.”

“So you go to counseling!” she cried. “You don’t fuck someone else!”

I tried picturing David’s face from last night, the way he had looked right after I’d told him he was my home. But I couldn’t in that moment, and I began to waver. Had I thought this through? Did I owe my marriage another chance? What was I thinking, agreeing to leave my husband of three years for someone I barely knew? Tears pooled in my eyes, and I bit my lip to hold them back. Gretchen scooted her chair closer to mine and hugged me from the side.

Lucy cocked her head, peered at me and sighed. “Look,” she started gently, “you don’t have to do this. You said you haven’t told Bill?”

“He only knows David and I slept together. He’s known for weeks, but he never even asked if I had feelings for David. I do – ”

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