Archive for July 14th, 2008


Summer Love Chapter Five


What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted?


When I met with Stephanie that afternoon, I was still in shock. My encounter with the Amazing No-Spill Man was the most bizarre thing I’d ever seen, and I needed to get to the bottom of it. One of the few things Perry and Amber agreed about was that I needed to talk to Stephanie right away. (Amber, of course, also threw in the comment that I had to get to the bottom of it “before you wake up one morning with Mr. Happy dangling off the end of a meat cleaver.”)

When I knocked on the door to Stephanie’s hotel room, she opened it immediately, beaming. “I think I’ve found the solution to our little problem.”


“A drive-in movie. I checked up on it! I found the last one open in the state. It’s about an hour away, but I won’t feel all cooped up and you’ll be able to watch your movie.”

“Oh. Well…”

She wrapped her arms around me. “That is… if you really want to watch it. I’ve heard that people often do other things at drive-in movies.”

It was like a hunger… an itch. When she got this way I wanted her… needed her like nothing else I’d ever known. But I bit my lip and fought it back. “Stephanie… I need to talk to you.”

She blanched away from me. “What’s wrong? What is it?” Her eyes looked weary, then, and I recognized that look. I’d been on both sides of the “We need to talk” conversation before. When I was the one who started it, the girl usually looked confused. When she would start it, though… well, I’m an eternal pessimist. The look I always had was half-expectation, half-resignation, as if I’d known all along the end was coming and it was just a matter of when. That was the look Stephanie had now.

I told her about the encounter at the coffee shop – the weird guy who talked about her, who seemed to know her, who warned me to stay away from her. The only thing I left out was his bizarre method of not drinking coffee, because the brain has an uncanny ability to convince you that you’re wrong just because what you saw doesn’t make any sense. When I was done, her face was ashen, and I realized that no matter how perplexed I was by what happened, I hadn’t said anything to her she wasn’t expecting.

“Well?” I finished the story and we were sitting in silence – her on the bed, me in the chair next to the window. I was looking at her, while she stared right down at the floor.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“Then you do know what this is about?”

“Yes, I suppose I do.”

There was another long silence. “Are you going to tell me?” I finally asked.

“Promise me you won’t freak out.”

“The very fact that you said that makes me pretty sure I will.”

“True enough.” She rolled her eyes around the room like she was looking for an escape hatch. “Do you want something to eat? I’ve got some nice, fresh fruit in the refrigerator.”

“Fruit? You’re offering me fruit? It’s worse than I thought, isn’t it?”

“Adam… that man was sent by my husband.”

I floundered for a moment, desperately grasping for some definition or interpretation of “husband” I hadn’t previously considered, but I kept coming back to the classic. It was now my least-favorite word in any language.

“You… sent by your… you have a what?”

“It’s not what it sounds like, Adam.”

“Really? Because it sounds like you’re married to someone, you’ve completely neglected to mention it to me, and now he’s sending human skeletons around to Perry’s coffee shop to freak me out!”

“Okay, so it is what it sounds like.”

“How could you…” I blurbled, words and syllables popping out of my mouth at random, trying to decide what to be furious about first. On her list of crimes, not telling me about the husband was pretty high, but for some reason I didn’t think it was going to be number one.

“We’re separated, Adam. I’m trying to leave him behind. I want him out of my life entirely but…” she buried her face in her hands. “I never wanted to be with Ha-Harry in the first place.” I couldn’t believe she had a sob in her voice.

“But you were.”

“What, you never had anyone else in your life before me?”

“No one I was married to!” My shoulders fell. “It’s not that you were married, it’s that you didn’t tell me.”

“You don’t tell someone something like that right away.”

“No, but you tell them before they’ve gotten as far as we have. Certainly before the husband in question sends someone after him. Geez, Steph, what else don’t I know? Do you have kids? Angry in-laws? I’ve got it – do you own a timeshare with him?”

“Adam!” She snapped, but there was no real bite in her voice. “It’s over. It never should have happened. I never wanted it to happen.”

“I suppose your mother made you do it.”

“Actually, my mother hates him.”

I couldn’t suppress my snort at that one. She looked at me, despondent, but despite what I’d heard as a sob, she wasn’t crying. That’s when it dawned on me that I’d never seen her cry at all.

“I’m sorry, Adam. I hoped that, if it ever came down to it, he’d be out of my life by then. But he’s involved in my family business and he keeps coming after me. I just can’t keep him away.”

We fell back into that awkward silence again. I had no idea what to say next. I didn’t even know what I wanted to say. Finally, that uncertainty materialized as a question, but from Stephanie’s lips.

“So… where do we go from here?”

I stood up. “I’m going home.”

“Are you coming back?”

I was honest. “I don’t know.” I stood up and walked past her. As I did, she reached out and grabbed my arm, stopping me. She didn’t turn to look at me, though.

“I don’t love him, Adam. I never loved him. I think I may be in love with you, though.”

My voice cracked. “Yeah. Me too.”

I left.

Next: Chapter Six-Everybody Gets What They Deserve


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Summer Love by Blake M. Petit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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July 2008

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