Home > Dirty Red (Love Me with Lies #2)(5)

Dirty Red (Love Me with Lies #2)(5)
Tarryn Fisher

— Which was followed a few seconds later by a single word: Cry

I did both, and Caleb left with me that night. But, it was a short-lived victory. The girl he was seeing was an old girlfriend from college. Unbeknownst to both Caleb and me, she was pretending to have just met him, trying to squeeze her way back into his life for another round. I found this out after breaking into her apartment. I went straight to his condo with the evidence clutched in my fist, ready to out her scheme. She looked like trouble. I should have known the minute I laid eyes on her that it wasn’t a casual thing by some unsuspecting girl he’d met. It took me some time to figure out. He wasn’t home when I got there. I let myself in with a key that he didn’t know I had and studied the mess he left behind like I was f**king CSI. He had obviously cooked dinner for two. There was still the unmistakable smell of steak lingering in the halls. Had she been here with him? I felt sick. I found two wineglasses in the living room, and in a panic, I rushed to the bedroom for evidence that they had been together. His bed was unmade, but I saw no sign of sex anywhere in the room. What traces would he leave behind anyway? Caleb didn’t — wouldn’t use condoms. I’d gone on birth control shortly after we started dating because of this. He said the sight of them turned his stomach, so I wasn’t going to find any wrappers lying around.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I went to his dresser and opened a drawer, running my hands along the back of it until I found the square Tiffany box that held my engagement ring. I cracked it open and felt tears spring to my eyes. It had almost happened. He was getting ready to propose when that damn accident wiped me from his memory. I deserved to be with him, wearing my two-carat, princess cut diamond ring.

I got rid of her.

For a while.

After I drop Caleb off at the airport, I go shopping. Seems sort of shallow, like I should feel guilty … but I don’t. I want to feel the buttery silks beneath my fingers. I decide that since I no longer have a basketball attached to my waist, I need a whole new wardrobe.

I pull my new SUV into a spot at the Gables and head right for Nordstrom. In the dressing room, I avert my eyes away from my belly. It feels good to slide into dresses with cinched waists. By the time I head for the doors, I am carrying over three thousand dollars in merchandise. I toss everything on the backseat and decide to meet Katine for a drink.

“Aren’t you nursing?” she asks, sliding into the seat next to me. She eyes my burgeoning br**sts as she plucks a cherry from the bartender’s garnish tray.

I shrug. “Pumping. So?”

She smiles all condescendingly and chews on her cherry. Katine looks like a blonde, botoxed Newt Gingrich when she’s being snotty. I lick the salt from the rim of my margarita glass and feel sorry for her.

“So. You’re not supposed to drink when you’re nursing.”

I roll my eyes.

“I have plenty of stock in the fridge at home. By the time I need to pump again, the alcohol will be out of my system.”

Katine widens her eyes, which makes her look even dumber than a blonde should.

“How’s Mommy Dearest?”

“She’s watching Baby Dearest,” I say. “Can we not talk about that?”

She shrugs like she couldn’t care less anyway. She orders a gin and tonic from the bartender and drinks it entirely too quickly.

“Have you had sex with Caleb yet?”

I flinch. Katine has no filter. She tries to blame it on the fact that she’s from a different culture, but she’s been here since before she could walk. I motion for another margarita. The bartender is attractive. For some reason I don’t want him to know I’m a mother. I lower my voice.

“I just had a baby, Katine. You have to wait at least six weeks.”

“I had a C-section,” she announces.

Of course I know this. Katine has regaled me with her disgusting birth story over a dozen times. I look away, bored, but her next words make my head snap around.

“Your vagina is going to be all stretched out and useless now.”

First, I check to see if the bartender heard her, then I narrow my eyes. “What are you talking about?”

“Birthing, naturally. What? Do you think everything just snaps back into place?” She laughs a true hyena laugh. I watch her exposed throat as she throws her head back to finish her cackling. How many times have I wondered what it would feel like to slap my best friend? When she calms down, she sighs dramatically.

“God, I’m just kidding, Leah. You should have seen your face. It was like I told you your kid died.”

I toy with my drink napkin. What if she's right? My fingers begin itching to pull out my phone and Google. I do some Kegels for good measure.

Would Caleb notice a difference? I break out in a sweat just thinking about it. Our relationship had always been about sex. We were the sexy couple; the ones who kept things alive when all of our friends were retiring into a life of half-lucid missionary sex after the kids went to sleep. For months in the beginning of our relationship, he would get this relieved look on his face when he reached for me and I responded. I never pushed him away. I never wanted to. Now, I had to consider that he might push me away.

I order another drink.

This was going to cause all kinds of new anxiety. I would have to schedule an appointment with my therapist.

“Look,” says Katine. She leans toward me and her overly sweet vanilla perfume creeps into my nose. “Things change when you have a baby. Your body changes. The dynamic between you and the husband changes. You have to be inventive, and for the love of God, lose the baby weight … fast.”

She snaps her fingers at a server and puts in an order for a basket of fries and fried calamari.

Bitch.

Chapter Four

Past

I met Caleb at Katine’s twenty-fourth birthday party. It was held on a yacht, which was significantly better than my twenty-fourth birthday venue at one of South Beach’s swanky nightclubs. I invited two hundred people; she invited three. But, being that my best friend’s birthday is four months after mine, she has the advantage of outshining me every year. I call it even since I am prettier and my father placed twelve spots above hers in Forbes.

I was wearing a black silk Lanvin dress that I’d seen Katine eying the week before as we shopped in Barney’s. Her hips had been slightly too wide to accommodate the slim cut of the dress, so I scooped it up when she wasn’t looking and bought it. She would have done the same to me, of course.

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