I opened Easton’s text first.
Can’t sleep. I tried to call you but it went straight to voicemail. I just wanted to say that I love and miss you.
I texted him back, letting him know that I was awake and missed him too. It was strange, waking up in our bed alone. In five years of marriage, we’d only been apart a handful of times, and the bedroom felt strangely vacant without his presence. On the upside, I didn’t need to worry about the remaining hot water for my shower, and hadn’t woken up six times during each one of Easton’s snooze cycles.
I rolled onto my left side, then remembered the message from Kurt. It had come at 7:19am.
I’ll be in Miami next Sunday if you guys are free. No pressure. We can just meet for drinks.
Drinks sounded incredibly awkward. Casual messages between me and him were one thing, but the three of us, perched at a high top in a bar? I flopped on my back and stifled a groan.
Next Sunday. No pressure. Just drinks. 10 days away.
He seemed like a nice guy. The right mix of playful and respectful. Good looking enough, though he wouldn’t win any beauty pageants. Maybe, shockingly enough, we had found our new third. And it hadn’t even been that hard.
I would have patted myself on the back, but I was too achy to move. The thought of getting dressed up and going into the office was cringe-worthy, which was good, since today was my date to play hooky at Chelsea’s pool.
* * *
I hid my bloated stomach in a muumuu, one that had looked amazing on the Instagram ad (and only $13!) but ballooned out from me like a purple circus tent. I staggered through Chelsea’s pool deck and collapsed on the closest cushioned chaise lounge that was in the shade. “I’m claiming this one,” I announced, and lowered my sunglasses into place. “Hey, Aaron.”
Aaron nodded from his spot beside the pool pump, his toolbox open beside him. “Hey. How’s E’s trip going? He a movie star yet?”
“Not quite, but I’m sure it isn’t for lack of trying. Chelsea, stop putting Aaron to work.”
“It’s his fault. I told him to let me call the guy.” She followed me to the chair and peered down at my toes, a glass of iced lemon water in hand. “Good lord, woman. How long has it been since you had a pedicure?”
I curled my toes against the cushion in an attempt to hide the picked-apart pink nails. “Leave me alone. I’ve been busy.”
“At least take the polish off and let your nails breathe. I’ll go get some remover. Want some water?” She offered the glass, which I took. From her pocket, Katy Perry started playing and she pulled out her phone and answered it.
“Got any Midol?” I whispered hopefully.
She gave me a thumbs up on her way up the steps, her freshly highlighted hair bouncing as she went. I watched the flex of her calves and noticed, for the first time, that she had lost a little weight.
“Aaron.” He glanced up and I patted the lounger beside me. “Come sit.”
“Oh, no.” He stood, a rueful expression crossing his face. “Now I know how E feels when you summon him. What’d I do?”
“Nothing.” I tugged at the cushion and glanced toward the house, which had swallowed Chelsea up. “I’m just wanting to catch up. How’s everything going?”
“Fine,” he said warily, taking a seat and pulling off his baseball cap. Underneath, his hair was sweaty and messy, the damage enhanced as he scratched at the back of his head. “I got a new contract. Restaurant remodel. You know that Chipotle over on—”
“Yeah,” I interrupted. “Congrats. That’s great. How’s it going living here?”
He grinned. “Good.” His grin widened, almost shyly. “Really good. I mean—not that I don’t miss staying with you guys.”
“Right,” I said dryly, watching as a uniformed maid carried a set of towels toward us. “I’m sure you miss doing your own laundry and picking Wayland’s hair out of your toothbrush.” I smiled at the woman, who set the towels down and then picked up an empty coffee cup and half-eaten muffin, wiping down the side table’s surface before quickly walking off.
“Not going to lie, the maid service and setup is pretty swanky.” He pulled his hat back onto his head.
“And what about with Chelsea? Are you guys getting along?”
“You know Chels. She’s super chill. It’s been good. We’ve gotten to know each other more.”
“As friends?” I clarified.
He glanced at me and hesitated. “What—”
“SWINGERS!” Chelsea screamed the word from her upper balcony and down at us. I tensed as I watched her whirl around and into the bedroom, the door slamming shut behind her.
“What the fuckkkk….” Aaron drawled out under his breath. “Did you—”
“No,” I hissed. “I didn’t.”
The back slider ripped open and Chelsea all but fell out, her pink coverup billowing around her as she scurried down the steps and toward our spot in the shade. She didn’t look pissed. If anything, she looked gleeful. “Swingers!” she panted out, pausing before us, her large chest rising and falling in dramatic fashion as she caught her breath.