Chapter Eighteen

1.4K 32 24

I'm sick of trying, buying time, rhyming lines and these subtle crimes. Maybe there's more to crying than just prying, maybe it's a chore that forces flying. –Jackson Killian

Chapter Eighteen

"Sounds like he's jealous," Bettie said, and crunched noisily into a leftover carrot. "Do you want him to be?"

God, yes.

The reaction was automatic. If I thought about it, I might feel differently—if I analyzed it beyond the reactionary affirmative punch in my gut.

Bettie and I navigated the barely visible path between my house and Vivian's. Spreading spring growth had obscured the trail, turning it into a narrow strip of rock-cobbled dirt. The breeze smelled of mud and grass and cleared the subtle sweet reek of manure that clung to the inside of my nose.

Vivian would leave for Boston next week. She'd walked us through the daily routine care of Smudge and Cutter. The vet-in-charge at the clinic was Danny. And of course, Mitchell would be around if we had an emergency. I hoped I wouldn't need to call him.

"I don't know. I'm... I'm so freaking... just. It's easier to handle this kind of shit when he isn't in my face all the time."

She nodded then looked to her feet as she stepped over the reach of a humongous agapanthus. She stopped just beyond its sprawling waxy leaves.

"You already know he's a big slut, right?"

I shot her a look. Her hands went up. "Look, I just didn't want you to be surprised."

I wiped my hair off my face, but the breeze tossed it back. "I already know it."

God how I knew it.

I'd googled him late last night. I didn't know what had driven me to it, but suddenly I'd needed to fill the gap. I needed to see him in the years between our separation and today. I needed to see him evolve.

I knew I'd see the women, but the suggestions from Google Images still unnerved me. Google thought I wanted to see him with this leggy model and that pouty starlet. James Riordan was heavily suggested, along with this one model in particular. Sophia Jane. Her name even sounded boutique. She was the girl I'd seen in the corridor under the stage at the masquerade. She was made of legs and lips and hair. She was taller than him when she wore heels. She had an Instagram where she showed the world how much cooler her life was than mine.

Worse than anything, even the orange nail varnish she wore prominently in several photos, was that I kind of liked her. I liked the shots she took when she wasn't taking pictures of herself. Herself drinking, herself in the tub, herself in a million different outfits and hair colors. Outside a hundred different venues. Places all over the world I'd never see. Deserts and cities so exotic they had to be foreign. Adventure after adventure.

There were a couple of photos of Jack on her Instagram, but I only knew it was him because I knew the shape of his shadow or the slope of his neck. He was recognizable only because I knew those boots or that freckle.

She took the kind of pictures of him I took.

Pictures of his essence.

I wondered if she was the girl who meant well but was just young. I wondered how long they'd been together and if any of his songs were about her. About her whimsy or her grace or her power.

I wondered if he loved her. The thought made me sick.

I ducked a low branch that still swayed gently from when Bettie had moved it. "How's Quinn doing with all this?"

More FerarumRead this story for FREE!