“Oh my god,” Kelsey breathes, her eyes wide. I nod.
“I know. Anyways, to make a long story short, the vandalism and the threatening behavior were reported to the police, and it turned out that Michelle had a long history of psychotic behavior. My stepsister ended up being put in a psychiatric hospital.”
Kelsey nods and pauses.
“This is all incredibly sad and twisted but what does it have to do with us?” she asks, clearly confused. “I’ve never met Michelle before.”
I take a deep breath.
“No, you have. At least, sort of. The girl on the tarmac the day we got back with the long black hair was Michelle. The messages at the hotel were from my dad, letting me know that the hospital had let her out. It’s the pandemic. Some administrative idiot decided because Michelle has asthma, she was better off not being in the hospital where she might be more readily exposed to the virus.”
Kelsey’s brow scrunches.
“Just like that? Because of asthma?”
“Yes. They’re even letting people out of jail early because prisons are breeding grounds for the virus. But the problem is that my ex-stepsister isn’t better. She’s a manipulative sociopath who’s fixated on me, and in fact, the last time she was out, I had to get a restraining order against her which is still active. She won’t hesitate to hurt any woman she sees with me, and I couldn’t let her hurt you, so I ignored you when we were de-boarding.”
Kelsey is utterly confused now.
“This sounds like a bad soap opera,” she says.
“I know, and it is, but unfortunately, this is my life. Look, I have proof. I stopped by my dad’s place and this is a photo of my dad’s wedding to Michelle’s mom. It has both me and Michelle in the picture. We were kids at the time, but there’s no mistaking that combination of jet black hair and blue eyes. That’s her.”
Kelsey scrutinizes the picture, and I watch her as she looks at it. The curvy girl is so beautiful. She has no make-up on and chocolate brown ringlets have escaped her topknot to brush her cheeks. She takes my breath away and I realize how important it is for Kelsey to understand I would never hurt her. She means far too much to me.
The curvy girl nods as she stares at the photo.
“Yes, this is her. She was gorgeous even back then. I believe you about Michelle, but there’s more wrong here than that. This started when you shut me out that last night in Tahiti. And then you snapped at me on the plane and made me feel so small, like I didn’t matter at all. Why did you do that? I don’t like that side of you.”
My shoulders slump.
“I know I was wrong for speaking to you like that, but I was stressed out and worried that Michelle would find out who you are to me. I was trying to protect you, and the truth is that my world DOES revolve around you, sweetheart. I never imagined that my stupid ex-sister would come back into the picture, and potentially put you into jeopardy. I panicked, and I’m sorry. I’m not perfect but I love you, Kels. I can’t imagine a world without you, and the thought of you in danger just kills me.”
She’s silent for a moment, looking at me with big brown eyes.
“You’re in love with me?” she whispers, as her eyes begin to get teary.
“Yes, sweetheart. I think we’re in love with each other. At least, I know I’m in love with you. Are you going to tell me that you don’t love me?”
I know the demand is arrogant, but I have to have her. I can’t let the curvy girl escape. She sniffles again and a small smile comes across her face.
“No, it’s not that. I do have something to tell you and I don’t know how you’re going to feel about it, but please, hear me out.”
My heart is beating a million miles an hour. What could she possibly have to say that could make her hesitate? Kelsey begins slowly.
“So we made love multiple times in Tahiti and I was on birth control. I never gave it a second thought, and I was so caught up and head over heels in love with you that I didn’t even consider the consequences…”
“Whoa, hold up, honey. What are you saying?”
She smiles at me tearfully again.
“Let me finish, Keith. I’m trying to get to what I have to say but it’s hard. Anyway, I took my birth control like I always do, except we were halfway across the world and in a different time zone. I messed up the schedule. I think I actually missed a day and my birth control failed just from that once. Remember how we made love upon arriving at the resort? It could have been then because Keith, I’m pregnant.”