“You’re lying,” Arora says.
“I’m not. I love Heath. He’s the most amazing man I’ve ever met and I’m not going to let you poison his mind against me.”
I watch Sylph’s face. Does she mean that? Does she actually love me, or is this part of the lie?
Arora tries to keep up with her high-and-mighty act, but Sylph’s close proximity and aggressive nature has taken her off-kilter. Even Theo seems to know to stay back.
“You’ll poison him yourself. I just have to sit back and watch it all fall apart.”
I’ve had enough. I need to talk to Sylph and figure out what the hell is going on.
“I want both of you to leave,” I say.
Arora looks like I just slapped her. “You’re kicking us out after she’s the one who lied?”
“It looks that way, doesn’t it?”
Arora’s lips pinch together before she huffs out an irritated harrumph and stomps away.
“We need to talk,” Heath says and drags me back to the closet where we’d just fooled around.
I’m too nervous to say anything. I wonder what they found out about me and how bad it is for his situation. I wait for him to speak. At first it seems like he’s too mad to get the words out. I start to tremble.
Finally, he asks, “Were you married before?”
I don’t want to tell him my horrible secret, but I won’t lie to him either. It’s taken me years to get over how awful my marriage was. It’s still hard for me to trust or open myself up to someone. Before I met Heath I was sure I would never find anyone I would want to be with. But he’s changed me for the better. He’s changed my life completely. I owe him the truth.
“Yes, when I was eighteen. It only lasted a year,” I say.
“Why? And why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t think it was important information with this job. And I left him because he used to hit me. It’s a part of my past I’d rather forget.”
A muscle in his jaw flexes. “He hit you?”
I nod and a tear slips down my cheek. Half the reason I don’t like to bring it up is because whenever I even come close to talking about it, I always cry. I felt so stupid for the longest time because I let something like that happen to me. I blamed myself for his violence. When I was still with him, I used to justify his anger and convince myself if I would have talked sweeter to him he wouldn’t have hit me. I thought it was my fault. And when my friends would ask questions about the bruises on my body, I would lie to them as much as I would lie to myself. They must’ve thought I was the clumsiest person they ever met.
Heath’s expression is terrifying, his face as red as a boiled lobster. “What’s his name? I’ll kill him.”
“It was a long time ago,” I say.
He takes my face in his hands, cradling it. He wipes the tears off my cheeks with his thumbs. “I’m so sorry that happened to you.”
“I’m fine, Heath, really. He moved away, we don’t speak anymore. Right now, I’m more worried about you. What if the twins tell your parents about Mandi’s wedding service and my other marriage?”
“I’ll take care of it. You don’t have to worry about a thing. This isn’t your problem. It’s mine.”
He starts to leave, but I take him by the arm and stop him. “I meant what I said,” I tell him.
He studies me, searching for answers. “Which part?”
The part where I said I loved you.
But I don’t say that.
“The part about you being the best man I’ve ever known.”
He kisses me. It’s short, but fierce. Then he leaves.
The next morning I go over to Mandi’s apartment. She’s finally there. She probably wasn’t expecting me to show up in the middle of the day since I’d been trying to get ahold of her mostly in the evenings. Well, she can’t get away from me now.
I don’t even bother knocking. Instead, I use my key and I’m quiet so she can’t disappear into her room. There’s loud music playing and she’s dancing in the living room. I stand there and watch her for a moment, looking forward to scaring the shit out of her when she finally realizes I’m standing here.