After the Ex Games(5)

By: J. S. Cooper & Helen Cooper



I was mad at myself and I was mad at Greyson. I didn’t understand why Greyson had kept her there. She didn’t fit the profile of girls he now helped. She wasn’t a druggie, she wasn’t uneducated, and she wasn’t about to prostitute herself out. The only reason I could come up with was that he was attracted to her. I had to admit that she was a beautiful girl, with her silky blond hair and big blue eyes. She had an incredible body as well, though I would never tell Katie that.

I lay very still as I realized that Meg was in trouble of getting her heart broken by Greyson. He didn’t do anything for love. It was all about sex to him. And I knew from what Katie had told me that Meg was not that kind of girl. And then there was Patsy’s call. She had said Meg was in danger, but I didn’t know what she meant. Why would she be in danger? Unless my worries about Patsy were correct. Greyson had never wanted to see that she was a snake and I’d never wanted to tell him how or why I knew she was.

“You okay, Brandon?” Katie yawned and slowly opened her eyes.

“I’m fine.” I nodded and kissed her forehead. “Go back to sleep.”

“You seem tense.”

“I think I had caffeine last night. I can’t sleep.” I rubbed her shoulder. “I’ll be fine.”

“Harry asked me if he can go to Coney Island tomorrow.” She smiled sweetly at me. “I swear he wants me to make up for all seven years in two weeks.”

“You should take him.” I nodded, an idea coming to me. “You guys will have fun.”

“I guess it could be a fun family trip. Can you get out of work tomorrow?”

“No.” I grimaced. “I have an important meeting tomorrow. I can’t make it.”

“Oh no.” She frowned and rubbed my chest. “Who’s it with?”

“Oh just the owner of a nonprofit I invest in.” I smiled. “Nothing too important.”

“Can’t you cancel?”

“No, I don’t think so.” I shook my head. “I think it’s an important meeting.”

“Oh, okay.” She looked up and stared in my eyes. “You’d tell me if there was something wrong, right?”

“Of course, silly.”

“Okay.” She sighed. “Even if it’s about Maria?” She shuddered.

“Maria.” I stared at her, all color draining from my face. “What do you mean?”

“Huh?” She frowned and rubbed her eyes. “What do you mean, what do I mean? I’m sure she’s pissed at us after everything that went down.”

“Oh, that Maria.” I felt my breathing resume.

“Yes, crazy Maria. You thought I was talking about your college fiancée?”

“No. Yes. I don’t know. I’m feeling tired now.” I looked away from her and closed my eyes. “Let’s try and sleep.”

“Okay.”

I could tell she wanted to ask me some more questions, so I rolled onto my side and put my back towards her. I felt that she could just look into my eyes and see that I was lying. I wasn’t even sure why I had told her that Maria was my college fiancée. Actually, that was a lie. I could remember the exact moment.

We’d been sitting there and I had wanted her to think I was normal. I’d wanted her to think I’d had a normal childhood and a normal love life. I didn’t want her to know that she was my first girlfriend since high school. I didn’t want her to know that my best friend and I had slept our way through college and the subsequent years.

I was ashamed that I’d slept with so many women that I didn’t even know the number. Not when I’d known she was so innocent and pure. I didn’t tell her because I’d known I wasn’t good enough for her. So I’d lied. And it had killed me to have used Maria in that way. It was an unforgivable lie. More unforgivable than Katie lying about her age. There were so many regrets I had about Maria. Greyson and I had lied for so long about her, even creating a new age for her, so that when we talked about her, if we had to talk about her, nothing would ever come out.

I lay there pretending to sleep and all I could think about was Katie’s face when I’d told her I’d been engaged in college. The jealousy in her eyes had made me feel alive. I was ashamed as I thought about the pleasure that had given me. It had been so different to meet a girl like her. Someone who loved easily and wasn’t ashamed to show it. Katie had made me remember the boy I had been in high school. The boy who believed in the sanctity of marriage, in the beauty of love. The boy who had been crushed when he realized that women couldn’t be trusted. It hadn’t helped that Greyson was my best friend. If there were ever someone who was fucked up when it came to love, it would be Greyson. I thought about my ex-best friend and felt sad. We’d said we were going to be brothers for life, but somehow everything had fallen apart. We’d told so many lies, hidden so many secrets from others and each other, that it had been inevitable. Still, I regretted that he was no longer in my life.

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