54. The Queen of Diamonds

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After some delay, we buried Earl Waites next to Ahiga Segany

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After some delay, we buried Earl Waites next to Ahiga Segany. His tombstone marked the date of his death and the death of my virginity.

I was starting to mourn the latter.

It took me a handful of tries to get the hang of it (pro tip: you need to stop psychoanalyzing it) but once I did, my God, I was insatiable.

It was enough to make me question where the line for high sex drive ended and nymphomania began.

And I adored having sex with Jake. I loved the way he made me feel, loved the things he did to me, loved the things he let me do to him. I loved the smooth warmth of his skin and loved the touch of his rough, calloused hands.

Hell, I was pretty sure I loved him.

So why the long face?

Well, in the beginning, I think Jake loved having sex with me too. But as things became more frequent, I sensed him pulling away, the act becoming less and less intimate, leaving me to spend way too much time worrying that he was getting bored of me, that maybe it was true that boys lost interest once the thrill of the chase was over.

There were some other things that weren't adding up either. For one, we never did anything besides have sex. No dinners, no movies, no dates.

There were no public displays of anything, nothing but perfunctory hellos and goodbyes when we ran into each other. Hell, there were no private displays of affection, no cuddling or kissing after sex. No, we just kind of disengaged and got dressed. Jake never initiated it, and while I wanted to, I was afraid of seeming clingy and desperate. Oh, there was that one time I'd tried and he'd stiffened and moved away. That put a real damper on any future attempts.

Lastly, we never talked about anything serious. Burying his father, for example. I'd brought the subject up a few times, questioning the delay and wondering if I could help, but he'd shut me down every time.

At the end, it turned out that Carson Beaudry had taken care of all the arrangements, via Mr. Duval. I didn't understand why Jake couldn't have just told me that, but at the end of the day, I guess it was frankly, none of my business.

So basically, all the signs were pointing down, but I kept telling myself that I was reading him wrong, that I couldn't expect him to be considerate of my neurosis with all this other chaos in his life.

Anyway, more than two hundred people showed up to Earl's graveside service, which was a surprise. Mom and Buck came, as did Peyton and Charlotte. Billy even brought Shana over, though they stayed in the truck and watched from there.

I came with the Harris' but didn't join them at their seats. I waited for Jake.

He came late, alone, and positioned himself at the back. I shouldered my way to his side and stood beside him. He smiled, but it was tight.

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