Chapter 43 : One of Us

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"No, that's not what I'm proposing," Marcus says.

I should be relieved by his words, but my heart is still beating wildly against my ribcage. Am I misunderstanding him? Was there something in my subconscious that made me imagine...

"Okay?" I say the word slowly. Maybe I'm doing it to give me time to think, to digest this... ridiculous turn in our conversation.

"I'm not asking you to have an affair with me, Kate."

"Of course not." I keep my tone casual, as though we're discussing the price of cabbages. Because this is Marcus. He doesn't propose inappropriate relationships with the wife of his best friend and the man who's technically his employer. I can't even imagine him having an affair with anyone. If the years I've known him taught me anything, is that this man avoided any kind of drama in his life.

"But if it helps," he says, "you can tell Raul that we are."

My jaw drops. So much for No Drama Marcus. "He'll kill you." I swallow. "I mean... not like he'll be jealous or anything but, Marcus, you're his best friend."

"Yes. His best friend who's burdened with the secret of your marriage. You'll explain to him that it's better that it's me rather than someone else who may not be so ... discrete." At that, he finally turned to look at me.

I blink. "That's a little extreme, don't you think?"

He shrugs oh so slightly, barely moving his shoulders. "It's an option. You asked me what you should do."

"Thank you." I clear my throat. "But I don't think anything good comes out of lying."

I still can't believe we're having this conversation. But then, I guess this is what happens when you ask your husband's best friend how to convince your husband to get a mistress.

His only response is a nod. Without another word, he starts the car engine and we got back on the road, on our way to Olivia's.


"I'm all right, really," Olivia says. She sets the basket of flowers on a table by a window. "I'd be at work tomorrow if Mr. Marin didn't give everyone instructions not to let me in the building until next week." She smiles at me. "So I'm just going to be here, not knowing what to do with myself."

She walks back to where Marcus and I sit on the sofa. Sitting down on a white wicket chair across the coffee table, she tucks her feet under her and folded her hands on her lap. She's in a loose striped grey and white sweater and leggings, and her long auburn hair was pulled back in a messy bun. With no makeup and clear signs of lack of sleep in her eyes, she looks vastly different from the energetic, polished woman I know from work.

"I get it," I say. "If I were in your place, I'd feel the same way. But if you don't take time off, Raul and the other people at the office will keep wondering if you're okay." I give her a wry grin. "It's really best for everyone that you just enjoy this paid leave. Maybe you could see your friends?"

Her laughter sounds forced. "Yeah, I suppose you're right. And yeah I'm meeting up with some friends for dinner and drinks Wednesday night."

"Good, good."

"Could I offer you some coffee?" She gets up before I could reply. "It won't take long. I was just about to make myself a cup."

"We would love some," Marcus says. "Thank you."

I can tell she's desperate for something to do, and I think Marcus noticed it too.

"We're not going to bring up the incident, right?" I ask him in a low voice after Olivia headed to the kitchen to make the coffee.

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