Sunday morning comes around quickly, the morning sun filling my room with light too bright to ignore.
I don’t want to get up. I’m exhausted, my life is a train-wreck, and Adam’s car woke me up at three this morning.
I might have been able to get back to sleep more quickly if he hadn’t had a friend with him. A friend who giggled like a school girl and made loud moaning sounds as they kissed outside my window.
It’s unlikely to be the last time it happens, either. I’ve been out with Kristy, Logan, and their friends enough times to know that Adam doesn’t lack for female attention.
Cursing Adam’s late-night exploits once again, I get up and take a long shower. By the time I’ve dressed and made myself presentable, it’s well past midday. I’m just about to make a start on lunch when I hear someone honking a car horn. Curious, I go to the front window.
A woman is making her exit from Adam’s house in a sexy black strapless dress. Adam walks out after her, wearing a pair of faded blue jeans and a grey t-shirt. His hair is messier than I’ve ever seen it. Total bedhead. He should look ridiculous, but the style – or lack of, rather – suits him somehow. Or perhaps it’s the satisfied smile he’s wearing that suits him more as he sees the brunette into the waiting taxi.
There’s no goodbye kiss. She’s no girlfriend, clearly.
The taxi reverses out of the driveway, and I’m about to step away from the window when Adam looks in my direction and waves. For someone who can’t stand me, he has a sixth sense when it comes to me. I want to ignore him, but I did ask him to be civil yesterday, so instead I give him an understated wave before stepping away from the window and walking back to the kitchen.
Several hours later, I hear Logan’s Ute pull into the driveway, followed by the toot of his horn. I run out of the house with my feet bare. My focus is solely on throwing myself into the arms of my best friend and hugging the living daylights out of her until I come face to face with Adam. Maybe he’s come outside to greet them, or maybe he’s here to watch me with Logan. What are the chances he won’t watch everything I do and say to Logan like a hawk, then misinterpret it?
“Well if it isn’t my very own peeping Tom,” Adam says.
“You were watching me say goodbye to Hailey. Funny, I didn’t pick you as the voyeuristic type.”
“I’m not. And even if I were, you’d be the last person I’d be interested in watching.”
His expression is amused as he turns to look at me. “I thought we were trying to be civil.”
“I’m civil and truthful.”
Adam chuckles. I don’t think he’s ever chuckled at something I’ve said before and it makes me feel…nervous.
I’m so desperate to get away from him that when Kristy opens her car door, I sigh with relief and run at my friend, nearly knocking her off balance.
She giggles and returns my embrace. As soon as I let her go, I take the time to look her up and down. She’s kept up with her exercise regime – even though she was never, ever as big as she tried to make out – and her newfound self-confidence is evident in the clothes she’s chosen to wear. The skin-tight jeans and tight-knit sweater show off her assets and slim figure. She’s glowing. Her dark hair is hanging in waves down her back, and her eyes are sparkling with joy. One guess who’s responsible.
“You look great, K.”
I glance over at my best friend’s guy – the man at least partly responsible for her happiness. He and Adam are doing the whole man hug thing. And then Logan breaks away from Adam, walks towards me and wraps his arms around me.
“Welcome home, Jess.”
My heart beats faster as I register the feel of his arms around me and I smell his clean scent. Am I still attracted to him, or am I anxious because Adam is observing us?
Hastily, I let go of Logan, pulling back so I can study him and get a handle on what I’m feeling. He looks as well as Kristy, his blue-grey eyes light and happy, his expression joyful. He’s attractive – gorgeous, really – but I don’t feel desire. Nor do I feel envious or jealous of Kristy. All I feel is genuine gratitude that Logan and Kristy are so happy together.
“Thanks, Logan. You guys look like you had a good weekend.”
The intimate and knowing look he shoots Kristy makes me smile.
“We had a great weekend,” Kristy says. “But it’s good to be home.”
Logan winks at me. “My girl missed you.”
Kristy slings an arm around me. “I did. I’m so glad you’re back.”
I’m relieved to hear it, but I can’t help remembering her reaction to me dancing with Logan not long before I left. Has Kristy been happier with me gone – with the space to explore her first real relationship in years? Of course, she sounded excited when I told her I was coming back to Melbourne, but how long will that happiness last when she realises I’m back for good? That I was fired from my job and that my career might be over?
“I’m putting on a roast tonight to celebrate,” Kristy says. “Adam, you have to come. It’s the least I can do since you looked after Cricket for us.”
Great. Dinner with Adam. It’s not enough that we’re neighbours, now we have to eat together, too? I hope this isn’t one more attempt by Kristy to force a friendship that will never, ever happen between Adam and me. I look at Adam, hoping he declines the invite.
Instead, he’s smiling at Kristy and nodding. “You guys owe me big time. I have to go into work briefly this afternoon, but I’ll be there with bells on. You know I can never turn down your cooking, Kristy, baby.”
Logan mock-glares at Adam. “Are you hitting on my woman again, Granger?”
“Always,” Adam jokes, nudging Logan in the ribs.
Before I went to London, I would have been so focused on Logan that I missed Adam’s reaction, but that’s not the case today, and I catch something interesting. There’s a slightly guilty expression on Adam’s face. And the way he’s looking at Kristy right now? It looks like longing to me.
I quickly evaluate every interaction I’ve seen between Adam and Kristy and the evidence fast grows to support my hypothesis. The way Adam lights up whenever he mentions Kristy? Not normal. How protective of her and her happiness he is? It’s over the top. And it would also explain why he’s given me such a hard time about being interested in Logan; he was projecting his guilt and anger at himself onto me.
As Adam’s gaze stays locked on Kristy, acid bites the lining of my stomach, and I feel hot and shaky. He’s such a hypocrite.
Ugly, he called me. Ugly on the inside. But he’s as ugly as I am. No, he’s uglier. The idea that he’s hated me from the beginning of our association for something he’s just as guilty of, it makes me madder than I’ve been in my life. He hurt me with his cutting remarks. He slipped beneath the armour I always wear and knifed me where I felt most vulnerable. He got to me. And he’s going to pay for that.
I can’t afford to go back on our truce yet. I can’t afford to get on his bad side right now. Not until everything that happened in London is out in the open, and not while he’s agreed to be civil. But when he turns on me – and I know he will – he’s going to find out just how ugly this woman can be.