The Divorce Club, p.22Jayde Scott
They burst into laughter.
"I bet Jamie couldn't keep his eyes off you, eh," Lucy says.
They know Jamie came along? I glare at Mindy. "You told them?"
She shrugs. "Come on, we're all family. There's no secrets between us."
"You go, girl!" Simone says.
Shannon nods. "She's a lucky duck."
"Jamie and I are just friends." I hope they start to see sense and switch on their brains soon. Mel's dirty and inquisitive mind is bad enough, I don't need that fourfold.
"Mindy told us how he stared at you when you were caught in your skivvies at the lingerie shop," Lucy says.
"Mindy!" My cheeks are on fire; I feel as though I've just turned ten shades of red. I knew she was manipulative, but now I can also add blabbermouth to her résumé.
Simone pats my back. "It's okay. We know you're only friends—"
Lucy snorts. "I don't spend the weekend in France with my friends. How is he between the sheets?"
Why would anyone assume we got intimate? Surely, I do come across as a professional. "He's my client. I'd never sleep with him."
"We believe you," Simone says. "You know Lucy likes to spice stories up. But if he's interested, don't waste the opportunity. He's a great guy any one of us would grab in a heartbeat."
"Yeah, we're happy you helped him get over his breakup," Shannon says. "You've helped us all so much."
"To Sarah and the Divorce Club," Mindy shouts, pressing a glass into my hand. I nod and take a sip, the dry taste making the cave of my mouth numb.
"What you did for our Shannon tonight—" Lucy pauses and wipes a tear from her eye "—you're an angel."
I wave a hand in the air. "Not really."
"You've done so much for all of us," Simone says. "If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be who I am now."
Embarrassed, I drop down on the sofa and try to steer the conversation away from me because I'm not good at dealing with all the attention. "What happened?" I ask Shannon.
She guzzles her drink and sighs before she peers up at me. "The bastard found out about the bank and went into a raging fury. I kicked him out."
"Good for you, lassie. Cheers to that," Lucy shouts, almost toppling over. She's wearing a skirt that is too short. I'd rather not find out whether she's sporting any underwear so I turn away.
Shannon smirks. "He thinks he can keep the house though."
"That jerk," Mindy says. "You've got to teach him a lesson for talking to you like that."
I groan inwardly and sink into the plush sofa, wishing Mindy would just keep quiet for a while because I don't trust her advice one bit.
"Leave his stuff out in the rain and then watch him dry it with a blow dryer," Mindy says.
"No." Simone shakes her head. "I bet it took him years to collect all the crap men stack up. Soaking it all in water isn't going to hurt. I say sell it and then watch him try to get it all back. I bet he'll go ballistic."
"You mean a garage sale?" I giggle, unable to help myself. It must be the alcohol numbing my brain.
"That'd be a blast. Too bad he's popping over tomorrow to get his stuff," Shannon says.
"It's short notice, but we can do it," I hear myself say.
Lucy jumps up. "Let's get to work then."
We spend the next few hours sipping more wine while sorting through Shannon's cupboards, basement and garage, and stacking everything that belongs to her husband into cardboard boxes, plastic bags and bedding when we run out of containers. By the time I check my watch it's almost midnight. It's irresponsible of me to leave my daughter alone with a babysitter, but I don't know when I last had so much fun. Besides, I'm too tipsy to drive home. Being charged with a DYI would be even more irresponsible.
I think at some point I call Jamie, but I'm not sure. The last I remember is tuning out on Shannon's sofa and then waking up to loud cluttering outside the window. I rub my eyes against the glaring brightness and peer out. Lucy and Shannon are having a jolly good time setting up the hubby's stuff on the lawn.
"You're awake," Simone says from the door. I turn toward her, marveling at how gorgeous she looks after a few bottles of alcohol and an uncomfortable night on someone else's futon. "Coffee's in the kitchen. Grab yourself a cup and then start helping out."
I groan and lift my dizzy head, wishing she didn't notice I'm awake.
"By the way—" Simone pokes her head back in "—Shannon says if you know anyone who might want some of the stuff, go on and call them over. We need to get rid of as much as possible before the bastard shows up."
Grabbing my phone, I hesitate. Technically, Jamie's my client too, so excluding him from our little adventure seems a bit unfair. I speed-dial his number, only then realizing he's standing outside, holding what looks like a huge dartboard while Shannon's giving instructions.
My cheeks start to burn; a little pang pierces my heart. He mustn't see the remnants of last night: bed hair, smudged makeup and swollen eyes. Ignoring the throbbing in my head, I jump up and lock myself in the bathroom to inspect the damage. It's even worse than I thought. The foundation's clogged my skin, and now my forehead's covered in tiny bumps. My dry lips look like parchment paper that's been soaked in water and dried in the sun, and the bruise on my left cheek emphasizes the purple bags under my eyes.
I hold my face under the water jet and use Shannon's cosmetics to minimize the damage. She's a woman, I'm sure she'll understand. By the time I leave the bathroom, I seem almost presentable again.
Outside, the air's thick with moisture. A soft wind whips the last leaves across Shannon's immaculate lawn.
Jamie stops arranging objects on a picnic table and smiles. "Had a good night?"
"About that, the girls and I had so much fun and I just—"
"No need for explanations. I figured as much. You deserve some girl time. Besides, you called." He cocks a brow, amused.
"You don't remember what you said?" His lips stretch into a lazy grin.
I'm mortified. What did I tell him in my drunken stupor? "I've no idea. Tell me the truth."
"You can't handle the truth."
I bite my lip, fearing the worst, my eyes imploring him to just spit it out.
"Okay, if you insist. You said I'm hotter than fire and colder than ice. You were mad I didn't come to the hospital. A work meeting came in between, and then you were released."
I huff, my cheeks are on fire. "I'm over that. Please don't hold me accountable in my drunken state."
He kisses my hand. "Never."
"Did Greg come back to the house? I'm so sorry I left you in that predicament."
"He didn't show up," Jamie says. "I think he knew I'd be there. Maybe he wasn't willing to take me on."
"Thank you," I whisper.
I forgot I'm still wearing the little black nothing and my cleavage is hanging out. I try to adjust the top. The material's too thin; I fear it might rip so I wrap my coat around me. "Don't fix it on my account." Jamie smiles and I know he just got more than an eyeful.
"Is Sam all right?"
Jamie nods. "Her friend came over. Last I looked, they were trying on clothes and giggling up a storm. She asked me to make sure you have fun and don't turn up before noon."
His eyes glint, so I'm not sure whether it's all a joke.
"We're ready," Shannon shouts. "Let's seal some major sales here."
For a moment, I close my eyes against the noise. When I open them again, Jamie's standing next to me. "Why don't you sit down while I get you something to eat?"
"No, thank you." Nausea bubbles inside my stomach at the thought of food. Several cars pull up and people get out. Shannon greets them and they start rummaging in the husband's stuff.
"How did she pull this off so quickly?" I mutter.
"She used to work in event management," Jamie whispers. "You didn't know, did you?" I shake my head. He leans forward, his cheek almost brushing mine. "I found out this morning. It seems like you have a good eye for recruitm
"Come on, guys. Start selling," Lucy yells.
Jamie wraps his jacket around my shoulders and we begin to mingle, getting into the vibe as we approach the first visitors. Shannon's put up price tags, but it doesn't look like she's taking them very seriously.
"Are you sure you want to sell this?" A guy holds up what looks like a set of football cards. Whatever these are, I wouldn't sell them. I'd just chuck them into the bin.
"You can have them for thirty," Shannon says.
"Really?" The guy laughs uncomfortably. "You know I never liked Miles, but these are worth at least two hundred. You should sell them on eBay."
"They're worth crap to me. Look—" Shannon pauses to take a deep breath "—I don't have much time so I'll make you an offer. Twenty-five."
The guy's eyes almost pop out of their sockets as he shakes her hand. "Done."
"Shannon, haggle," I hiss. "You need the money."
She snorts. "I don't want money from all his stuff. All I want is the last twenty-four months of my life back." Shooting a smile at me, she turns back to the guy. "You know what, it's your lucky day. You can have them for twenty."
I roll my eyes at Jamie who just shrugs and turns to inspect the dartboard as though it's nothing special, but the sparkle in his eyes gives him away. He wants it badly.
"How much for the dartboard?" I whisper to Shannon.
She shakes her hand. "Just take it. I owe you for getting that ugly thing out of my house."
The woman must be an emotional wreck if she can't even be bothered to consider the financial potential here. If she continues this way, she'll end up with no stuff and plenty of favors to repay. I pull her aside, my gaze imploring her to get back to her senses as I say, "No, please. I insist."
She sighs. "All right. A tenner."
Even I see that's a deal and within my budget. I feel bad for taking advantage of a friend, but if I don't do it then someone else will. "I'll take it." I pull out my purse and pay, then walk over to Jamie and whisper, "That's taken."
He blinks, jaw set, then shrugs. "I wouldn't have the time to play anyway."
"Never say never." I smile.
"It's yours," I say. "You didn't look like you could make up your mind, so I just got it for you before someone else beat me to the deal."
He shakes his head. "I can't."
"Please. After France, this is the least I can do for you."
He wraps his arms around me and pulls me into a tight hug. "Thank you."
I laugh. "You're cutting off my air supply." From the corner of my eye I notice another car pull up. Like in slow motion, a guy that seems strangely familiar jumps out. For a moment, he's just standing in the middle of the street, staring, then his face turns red and he stomps over.
"Miles's here. Quick!" Shannon shouts. "Everyone grab what you want and run. It's all yours. I repeat, it's all yours, free of charge."
"Hey, Jamie, you might be needed." I point at the guy who starts shouting.
With drama unfolding, it becomes obvious that no one wants to play a part in it. The crowd's starting to dissipate, people carry their items to the cars behind Miles's back while he's shouting at Shannon at the top of his lungs. The man reminds me of a Neanderthal. No wonder poor Shannon wants a divorce.
"You must be knackered. Go home," Jamie whispers. "I'll make sure the guy leaves."
I shoot him a doubtful look. "What if he's dangerous?"
Jamie smiles and points behind my back. "I have Lucy for backup."
With a sudden sense of dread, I turn and gape. Lucy's running toward Miles, holding what looks like a broom in her hand, a mean frown perched between her brows.
"Just don't let her kill him," I whisper and turn to leave, shaking my head. Jamie starts to laugh and says something, but I don't stop because my head's throbbing again. I've almost reached my car when I feel someone's hand touch my shoulder. Shrieking, I turn, ready to kick, then my gaze meets Jamie's.
"I called you," he whispers. "You didn't reply." Standing so close to him makes me self-conscious. I barely dare breathe. "This must've been a hell of a day for you," he continues. "Get some rest because we need to talk. I'll pop over once the madness here stops."
I nod even though I've no idea what he's talking about. His eyes glaze over and he moistens his lips. I can sense what he's about to do, and yet I can't force myself to halt the moment and leave.
"Sarah—" His voice breaks off as his lips lower onto mine, barely touching, then pressing harder. I hold my breath, my head spinning. I take in every detail: the faint whiff of aftershave, the softness of his lips, the stubble chafing my skin. And then he pulls back, a crooked smile playing on his lips, his voice sounding just as confident as before. "Drive safely. I'll be there as soon as I can." I stare at his back as he walks over to Shannon, taking charge of the situation as though it's something he's doing on a regular basis.
What's there to talk about? Confused, I haul myself behind the wheel and force my body to turn on automatic. My blood must be still spiked with last night's alcohol, so I drive slowly, paying more attention than I'd usually do because I can't let my mind wander back to Jamie, our first kiss and the mystery surrounding what he has to say.
The streets are busy. It takes me a while to get home. I park the car and take a moment to just sit there, all thoughts coming back to haunt me. It's amazing how my life's turned from boring housewife routine to this chaos in a matter of weeks. It's been a mess so far, and yet I wouldn't want it any other way. I could never return to what I had before, so I hope Greg got the message. My brain's too tired for any more arguments and explanations.
I know something's up the moment I arrive at the house. Even though I wish I could just turn on my heel and disappear again, I stop only to catch my breath and then enter the living room. My daughter's sitting on the sofa, her leg's stretched out in front of her. Kendra's not around, but someone else occupies the place opposite from Sam.
The woman, dark-haired with hazelnut eyes and a body to die for, stands and holds out her hand, smiling. "Hi, I'm Chloe."
What's Jamie's wife doing here? I blink several times because I must be seeing a ghost. When I open them again she's still standing in front of me. My knees threaten to buckle. She must know about the kiss. How could she find out so quickly? Maybe Jamie called her and confessed. Sweat starts pouring down my back. My mind's trying to come up with a response, but it's all mushy in there and my lips can't from the words. I frown, peering from Chloe to Sam.
"Mum, what are you wearing?" Sam hisses.
Ignoring my daughter, I finally find my voice and ask, "Chloe, what can I do for you?"
Chloe returns to her seat and turns to face me. The smile on her face disappears. Jamie said they talked about working things out. She's probably peeved about the kiss and that Jamie spent the night away from home, so naturally she wants to confront the other woman. For a moment, it's all so ridiculous I feel like laughing.
"You're here because of him, aren't you?" I clear my throat. "I swear nothing happened. It was just a kiss and not even a long one. More of a peck between friends."
"What are you talking about?" Sam hisses. "You don't make any sense."
My heartbeat quickens. Sam knows Jamie's married, though she probably has no idea this woman's his wife. If Chloe makes a scene Sam will never see me in the same light again. Come to think of it, her opinion of me as her mother is already tainted, and I can't afford being called the names Chloe will soon use. Mel was right once again. I'm such a bad mother and role model for letting Jamie into my life.
"Sarah—may I call you that?" Chloe's frown deepens and she continues without waiting for my answer, "I'm really worried about Sam."
Huh? A pang of anger hits me. She's trying to make me look bad in front of my daughter. "Whatever's going on between—"
Chloe holds up a hand, stopping me in mid-sentence. "I know you onl
"It's my fault, I get it," I shout. "Why won't everyone stop telling me that? If I could turn back the time I would, but I can't because I'm not Merlin."
"Please calm down," Chloe says. "It's not as bad as it seems. Trust me, I've seen worse."
She means to tell me she's seen worse parenting? My throat chokes up again, all heat draining from my face. "Maybe what I did was wrong. I should've waited until the divorce was finalized." I speak slowly, considering each word. "But you're not better than me. Dragging my daughter into this is conniving and despicable."
Chloe's jaw drops and for a moment the room falls silent.
"Mum, what's wrong with you?" Sam's voice sounds high-pitched like she's about to cry. I turn toward her and grab her in a hug, burying my face into her hair. She pushes me away.
"Maybe this isn't a good time." Chloe stands and holds out her hand as if to shake mine. "I'm sorry. I should've called to arrange an appointment rather than drop by unannounced. When can we expect Sam back at school?"
"Wait, you know Sam from school?" I clear my throat as I stare at Chloe. Her faint smile is sympathetic. The creases around her eyes signal concern rather than contempt. There's something fishy here because there's no doubt she recognizes me from Jamie's house and yet she doesn't comment on it. Any woman would show at least some suspicion.
"Of course she knows me from school. She's my math teacher," Sam says.
Chloe nods. "I wanted to discuss the possibility of tutoring with you. Sam told me about your home status, and I thought I could help."
Pressing a hand against my racing heart, I laugh as the weight begins to lift off my shoulders. Chloe isn't here because of the kiss. She's here to help while I'm sort of dating the husband. I'm such a bad person.
"That's so nice of you. Would you like a cup of tea?" I jump up and head out the door before she replies because I need some space. Instead the kitchen, I head upstairs and rip off my slutty clothes, put on a pair of jeans and a shirt and then return with tea and cookies. Sam's gaze softens a little.
"Thank you," Chloe says as I place a cup in front of her.
The Divorce Club by Jayde Scott / Romance & Love / History & Fiction / Mystery & Detective have rating 3.6 out of 5 / Based on25 votes