I moved my phone behind the agenda and did a quick review of the schedule. Tyler’s legal update was right before the listings summary. If Maria could hold off this nap for another five or six minutes, I was dining on a steak and cheese sandwich for free.

Tyler flipped to another page and the restlessness in the room grew. I eyed Maria Bott and willed her to keep those big brown eyes flipped open.

My phone hummed, warm against my upper thigh. A response from Easton.

Yeah, we could. Or we could explore them further.

18

“I’ve never seen so many balls in one place before.” Chelsea sucked loudly on a straw, then nudged me with her elbow.

“Yeah, yeah, I got it. Very witty.” I pushed my sunglasses on top of my head and squinted at the court, trying to get a better look at this tennis goddess that oozed sexuality. Nicole Fagnani was standing on the right end of the court, her racket in hand, focus on her left Nike. She looked exactly like her internet photos, videos, press interviews, and social media had shown. A normal woman. No one to worry about.

“Here.” Chelsea stuck out her binoculars. “I can literally see the wrinkles forming from your squinting.”

“Thanks.” I used the binoculars and promptly lost the tennis player, three adjustments needed before the tall woman came back into focus.

“How’s it going with Aaron?”

I kept the binoculars steady and reminded myself that she was asking an innocent question, with no reason to suspect that Easton and I were fantasizing about adding him to our sex life. “Fine. He talks to Becca a lot. She stopped by the house yesterday.”

“Really? Did you talk to her?”

I gave up and handed the pair back to her. “No. I was at work. Easton saw her. She was bitchy to him, and wanted to talk to Aaron alone. The two of them sat out back and fought.” That night, Aaron had come back from the gym with a steely expression on his face, one that didn’t encourage comment, and went straight to his room. I heard the shower running a few minutes later, and didn’t see him the rest of the night. I left a portion of food in the fridge for him, and found the plate rinsed and in the dishwasher the next morning. We’d gone to bed around one, so he’d either been really quiet or eaten really late.

“I can’t believe I let her in my mouth.” Chelsea unwrapped a stick of gum, then offered me one.

I accepted the piece of Big Red with a smile. “You didn’t exactly do her any favors. Cleaning your teeth is like running a marathon with flip flops on. It’s possible but exhausting. I doubt she’ll miss having you as a client.”

“Considering you know next to nothing about dental hygiene or running, I’m going to ignore your insult and offer you a juicy piece of gossip in response.” Chelsea balled her gum wrapper into a tiny ball and turned to me, the tennis match ignored.

She could have told me that she was transitioning to a panther and it still wouldn’t touch the email that—three days later—was still burning a hole through my phone. The email that Easton and I had yet to discuss. The email I saw every time I closed my eyes.

They were just fantasies. We can forget they exist.

— Yeah we could. Or we could explore them further.

It’d been three days and I hadn’t had a single impromptu fantasy. Maybe I was cured. Maybe all my body needed was someone to call its bluff.

“You know my dad’s neighbor, the guy who leaves his curtains open?”

“Yep.” I watched Easton climb up the bleachers toward us, the sun reflecting off his crisp white golf shirt. With khakis, a Rolex, and a pair of tortoiseshell Ray-bans on, he looked every bit the image he wanted to project. Young, cocky, and successful. Would anyone know that two of the four credit cards in his wallet were maxed out?

That the Range Rover we pulled up in had a broken A/C?

That his squeaky-clean wife had tipped the scales in their perfect marriage with her confessions?

“He was arrested this weekend and you’ll never guess what for.” Chelsea tapped my leg with a nude fingernail, sanded to a point. “Shoplifting.”

That was surprising enough for me to pull my attention from Easton, who was almost at our row. “This is the guy in the big house?” On her father’s street, every home was enormous. But this guy—if I was thinking of the right guy—was still referred to as the ‘big house’. Covering four lots and squatting on an ocean-front piece of real estate that God himself coveted, his house was forty-thousand square feet of ridiculous.

“Yep. And from Kmart of all places.” She swatted at a fly, then perked up at the sight of a passing woman carrying a blue swab as big as her head. “Oooh, I didn’t know they have cotton candy.”

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