“You should have checked,” he hissed.
“Yeah, I can hear that too. The acoustics out here are incredible. It’s like being in a concrete bowl.”
At least he didn’t sound like he was crying. I pushed by Easton and pulled open the door, giving him a cautious smile. “Hey there.”
“God, you guys have convoluted conversations. Your concern for me was overshadowed by like nine other things.”
“We were getting back around to you,” Easton said, following me out onto the porch and pulling the door shut behind him.
“Well, I’m fine.” Aaron took a sip of the beer, his gaze returning to the pool.
“You don’t have to be fine,” I moved the other chair into the shaded part of the porch and sat in it. “It’s okay to be upset.”
“Honestly, I’m just exhausted right now. I’m just glad it’s over. C’est la vie.”
I watched as he took another sip of beer, his handsome features blank and unemotional. He did look exhausted. I thought of him in the limo, the way he’d closed his eyes and rested his head back on the seat. What had he said? That he was tired. Tired and heartbroken.
Three and a half weeks later, and he certainly hadn’t gotten any rest.
Easton picked up the stack of papers. “This looks thick.”
“That’s what she said.” He gave a weak smile, then lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “It’s all legal jargon. I didn’t even read it. If she’s fucking me, she’s fucking me.”
Easton shot me a look and I subtly shook my head, not wanting him to push Aaron, especially when he was in this mood.
I pushed out of the chair and opened the cooler. Shifting through the half-melted ice, I snagged two more beers. Cracking the tops off both, I passed one to E. “Hey. To new beginnings.”
Aaron held out his beer. “To new beginnings.”
We clinked bottles and I saw a bit of the tension ease out of Aaron’s shoulders.
We finished a case of Bud Light over fish tacos, all while sharing every terrible story we had about Becca. I told them about the time she borrowed my Betsy Johnson purse which had twenty dollars in the inside pocket, and returned it sans the cash. Aaron told us about the time she got so drunk that she told his Cuban grandmother that political refugees were the downfall of the South Florida economy and culture. We were horrible and cruel and laughed harder as the night grew later. At ten-thirty, I sent her a text that outlined in typo-riddled clarity, all the reasons that she was a terrible person. At eleven-fifteen, we decided to Viking funeral the copy of the divorce papers and spent thirty drunk minutes assembling a boat. Easton produced a cracked skimboard as a base, and we created a structure out of beer bottles, a starter log and twigs, the stack of papers set on top and then doused in Wild Turkey.
Sitting on the top step of the pool, I watched as Aaron stood in the dry shallow end and held a lighter over the bottom of the pile. Flames flickered and he carefully pushed the board forward, the mini-island cutting a path through the green water of the deep end. A few feet in, it ignited.
I cheered and the boys joined in, Easton tilting back his head and letting out a long howl that brought Wayland barreling into the picture, his own head lifting to join in. I tried to mimic the sound, my tiny voice soon paired with Aaron’s, the sounds lifting into the night sky along with the crackle and smoke of Aaron’s marriage.
The Range Rover’s air conditioning was still out, so Easton and I took my car to dinner. Friday nights in Miami used to mean Smith & Wollensky’s, but our new budget constraints now meant we crossed 395 and went to a mom and pop steakhouse that felt upscale if you got drunk early and didn’t mind stained linen napkins.
I gave my car keys and a kiss to Easton when he walked in the house, a bottle of cheap Moscato already half gone, my skin buzzing. I’d written a contract on an eighteen-month rental—oceanfront—that would bring in four thousand dollars, and I wanted to celebrate. I’d already bought a new pair of shoes, a slightly too-small but on sale pair of Jimmy Choos that would make a Catholic priest reconsider his vows. My pinky toes were already burning in pain. When we walked up the cobblestoned path to the restaurant’s front door, I swallowed a wince at the rub of pink leather against toe.
“You okay?” Easton pulled open the door and frowned at me, his gaze dropping to my feet.
“Perfect,” I said breezily, sweeping by him and into the restaurant. A bored teenager stood behind the front desk and gave me a slack look. “Reservation for two,” I managed. “It’s under North.”