Page 18 of One Perfect Lie

“Don’t want to.” Jordan walked through the living room, where he’d left his backpack, and Heather dogged his heels.

“Or why not go with Evan, but see if Raz can come, too?”


“No.” Jordan swung his backpack over his shoulder, its black straps flying.

“Why not? Why can’t you take Raz?” Heather went after him, talking to his back.

“Evan doesn’t like Raz.” Jordan disappeared down the hallway.

“Wonder why,” Heather said, but by then, she was talking to herself.



Chapter Twelve

Mindy Kostis took a sip of her G & T, on her laptop at the kitchen island. She knew the alcohol wasn’t helping her diet, but no matter what she did, she couldn’t lose weight anyway. She worked out with a personal trainer and had just started yoga, but she knew it wouldn’t work. Her goal weight was 125, and Mindy was pretty sure she would be 125 years old before she reached it, then she would be dead. Her epitaph would read, SHE REACHED HER GOAL WEIGHT, THEN DIED OF SHOCK.

Mindy scrolled down on the Photos page, scanning their vacation pictures. They’d spent spring break in the Cayman Islands, and she wanted to pick the best photos for a Facebook album, The Kostis Family in the Kaymans! The vacation was a true getaway for her, her husband Paul, and their son Evan. She’d scheduled parasailing, paddleboard, and scuba lessons, and Evan had left his phone behind, which was a miracle. Mindy had even gotten Paul’s attention, a rarity of late.

She eyed a photo of Paul gazing out at the water. He was a hematology oncologist at Blakemore Medical Center, and his cases often weighed on his mind. But this was different. She knew him better than that. They’d met in the cafeteria line at Blakemore, where she was a nurse and he was a resident. They had been married twenty-two years, happy until he’d had an affair with a nurse fifteen years younger and thirty pounds skinnier. Mindy didn’t know which hurt more.

Mindy glanced at the clock on her laptop, surprised to see that it was 10:16. It was strange that Paul still wasn’t home. He’d said he’d be home by ten. She prayed he wasn’t having another affair, but she couldn’t bring herself to ask him. Last time he’d denied it, and she’d believed him. But that time, she had proof. This time, she had nothing but an underlying worry that drove her to read his texts while he was in the shower, go through his pockets before she dropped his clothes off, and try to get into his email, though it was password-protected.

“Mom?” Evan scuffed into the kitchen in his sweats and slides, holding his phone. “I need a check for our jackets tomorrow.”

“Jackets?” Mindy couldn’t focus, wondering where Paul was. She glanced at her phone. There were no calls or texts from him.

“Yes, for the team. You know. Tomorrow’s the last day to bring in the money.”

“Oh, right, of course.” Mindy shifted mental gears. She herself had organized the bulk purchase. She went into the side drawer and found the checkbook they used for household expenses. She dug around for a pen, wrote the check, then tore it off and handed it to him. “Here we go.”

“Thanks.” Evan turned to leave, starting to text.

“Did you finish your homework?”

“Yes.” Evan walked away, and Mindy felt a pang. On vacation, they’d had nice, long walks on the beach, and Evan had told her about girls he was dating, Ashley Somebody, a freshman at CVHS, and Brittany Somebody Else at Rocky Springs. Mindy was pretty sure he’d had sex already. In fact, he was probably having more sex than she was. But maybe not more than his father.

“Honey, hold on,” Mindy called after Evan, on impulse.

“What?” Evan turned, texting. She couldn’t see his face, and the lights were recessed spots on a dimmer, and the granite countertops, black with orange flecks, glistened darkly around him. The kitchen was state-of-the-art and top-of-the-line, but sometimes it struck her as a stage set, since they never ate at the same times.

“Did you get dinner?” Mindy hadn’t gotten home in time to feed him.

“Sure.”

“What’d you have?”

“A sandwich. The leftover tuna.”

“How was school?”

“Okay,” Evan answered without looking up, texting.

“How’s Ashley and Brittany?”

“Fine.”

“Is that who you’re texting?”

“Mom…” Evan didn’t have to finish the sentence. Mindy had already agreed it was rude to ask him who he was texting.

“Okay, so how’s the car?”

“Awesome!” Evan looked up with a smile. “The sound system is incredible.”

“Good!” Mindy felt cheered. It had been Paul’s idea to get Evan the BMW for his birthday, and she’d gone along with it because she’d rather have him in something with state-of-the-art safety. The best use of their money was taking care of their only son, and their standard of living was the trade-off for Paul’s long hours, after all.

“Can I go now, Mom?”

“Sure, honey. Don’t spend too long on the phone. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

“Good night now.” Mindy blew him a kiss, but Evan didn’t look up, shuffling from the kitchen. She swiveled back to the laptop, where the vacation picture was still on. She found herself getting back on the Internet, going to Gmail, and logging in as Paul.

She took another stab at guessing his password.



Chapter Thirteen

Susan Sematov clutched her cell phone like a security blanket. It was 10:30 P.M., and Ryan still wasn’t home, nor had he called or texted. She stood in the family room and looked out the picture window, which ghosted her reflection against the Dutch colonials, clipped hedges, and green recycling bins. Her makeup had worn off, emphasizing the bags under her eyes and the shine on her upturned nose. Her eyes were tired, and her mouth made a tight line. Her brown hair hung limply to her shoulders, and she still had on her navy suit from J. Crew Outlet and brown pumps from DFW. ValleyCo employees were required to shop its outlets, which had been Susan’s idea.

The scene outside the picture window was dark and quiet. They lived on a cul-de-sac, and their neighbors were home, so if any headlights appeared, they would belong to Ryan. Susan had spent the entire day worrying about Ryan. She’d called the local hospitals, the police, and two of Ryan’s high-school friends, but neither of them had heard from Ryan in months. Still she couldn’t just stare out the window.

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