Authors: Kerry Heavens
I dedicate this book to
Three incredible women who have recently reminded me that life is
short and precious and that I should follow my dreams.
I take a deep, cleansing breath. I never thought the smell of the rubbish tip would be so refreshing. With one final look at the heap through the hatch, I smile with satisfaction when I see that his mum’s platter has smashed under the weight of someone else’s discarded rubbish.
Olivia Constance Harper, you are one vindictive woman
. I dust off my hands and climb back into my car, blasting Cee Lo Green’s ‘Forget you’, as I drive away.
He’s gone to her and I really don’t care. They’re welcome to each other. My thoughts drift as I drive and snippets of the past three wasted years come to mind. No, I mustn’t over think this; I was loving, loyal and happy. I will not let his selfishness take that away from me. I’m angry, sure, but he wasn’t the world to me, I know that now. I have let go of ‘us’ too easily to claim I’m in that much pain. I’m just pissed off that I devoted so long to someone who, in the end, I’m not even that sad about losing… and his punishment for his indiscretion is that he has nowhere to go but to her.
This makes me smirk, I doubt it’s what he wants, but he has made his bed, now he has to lie in it. She’s not that bad I suppose, as long as he doesn’t mess up the towels in her bathroom, or light her just-for-display candles, or change the order of the cushions on her sofa. I’m sure she’s no idea she has just taken on the houseguest from hell. God, I almost feel sorry for her. Well, almost.
Not for the first time this week, I wonder how the hell this even happened. I never saw it coming and not in a dense ‘over trusting my man who is too wonderful’ sort of way. Just in a ‘him and her REALLY?’ sort of way. He might scrub up well, all suited and booted for work. He holds down a respectable job, always smells nice, but, on the inside and sometimes at home the outside, he’s, well… a Neanderthal. I would find my kitchen scissors on the edge of the bathroom sink and learn that they were misused for side-burn trimming or toenail clipping. The ensuing lecture would always fall on deaf ears. Not exactly the respectful gentleman I imagine she’s looking for. He’s a rugged alpha male. She’s a fragile, wide-eyed, Bambi of a girl. Gorgeous, but a closet basket case. He’ll find that out in time. They are, at best, unsuited…. Or maybe they are each exactly what the other one needs. Who am I to say? I clearly wasn’t enough for him, perhaps she will be. It doesn’t matter now. They no longer exist.
I’m grateful I saw it with my own eyes though.
I’d been down in the bar, wondering if he’d made it home from his meeting. If he had, he hadn’t shown his face, so I planned to go and drag him down for something to eat and maybe a game of pool. He’d been working so hard I was worried. A lot had changed at work and no one's job was secure. He couldn’t switch off when he got home, that was why he’d stopped coming down in the evenings. I got it, but I thought I would try and convince him just this once. Maybe we could… well, I’m sure Max won't miss me for half an hour or so…
“Mark, are you home?” I called as I came through the door, but I didn’t even finish the sentence before I saw them, through the doorway, in MY bedroom. They can’t have been at it long because they were still standing. He was removing her top slowly and kissing her neck. She yelped when she saw me, and when he spun round his flies were undone and his face was a picture. Weirdly, I almost laughed! I mean, Mark and Sarah, together? The concept was funny…well, if you ignore the betrayal.
He leapt away from her, shouting insincere, garbled apologies. Giving Sarah her due, she said nothing; I mean what can you say? She quietly covered herself and stood transfixed while he made a total idiot of himself. He got right up in my face, he was all “Babe I’m sorry” and “She means nothing to me” and “I love you.” It was pathetic to watch. I’m sure she was flattered!
I stood, mute, wincing while he tried to touch my face and bring me back to him, holding me, begging for forgiveness. By the time I found the words I had misplaced in my brain, he was sitting on the corner of the bed with his head in his hands. Exhausted from the little scene he’d made.
"Have you finished?" I whispered, unsure if my voice would let me down. He looked up at me, bereft. “Get the fuck out,” I said calmly and I really meant it. It was such an easy decision. Seeing him with her, with anyone, betraying my trust. Doing what my dad did. It was over, easy.
“No, don’t do this Liv,” he begged. He was clutching at straws though. He knew I would be unsentimental about it if he cheated. It was cut and dry for me. He knew I would never back down.
It didn’t stop you though did it? Dickhead!
I shook my head and without raising my voice or getting emotional, I simply reminded him, “No second chances, not with this shit, you knew that. Now get out.”
He drew in a deep breath and got to his feet. I stepped away just in case he had any ideas about touching me. I watched passively as he tucked in his shirt and did up his trousers. Pushing thoughts of how they came to be open out of my head.
I’m glad I arrived when I did. Any earlier and they might have got away with it. Any later and I would have a mental image I’m not sure I could live with. I wonder if I interrupted the first time? Or was it regular sex? Did I want to know? Would it help? No. I didn't need the details.
As he picked up his tie and jacket, I couldn't stop myself.
“How many times?” my mouth managed before my brain could shut it down.
“Liv,” he whispered. I didn’t want to know anymore and I couldn't trust myself not to ask. Waving my hand to stop him answering, I said, “I’m going back to work, be gone when I get home.”
I turned to go and Sarah flinched, I’d almost forgotten she was there. Why did she jump, maybe she thought I was going to hit her? I always had a nagging doubt that she was too prissy to be my friend. Maybe that’s why he likes her; maybe that’s what he wants. She is all sweet and feminine, vulnerable, not like me. Maybe I'm not his type at all.... Well, I don’t have to worry about that now. For a start, she’s no longer my friend and he’s her problem now, if she will have him after that sickening display.
Back down in the bar, Max, my best friend, saw my blanched face and followed me into the kitchen.
“Hey, what happened?” he asked. He looked so concerned as he wrapped his arms around me that I broke into uncontrollable sobs. I could handle anything right then except Max’s kindness. It was more shock than hurt, but in his caring embrace I really let go.
“Shhh, Liv. Tell me,” he soothed.
“You were right about him,” I wept.
He tried to pull away. “Where is he?” I pulled him back to me.
“Gone,” I muttered meekly, I didn't want Max losing his cool. He can look after himself so I wasn’t worried about that. But Mark isn't worth it. “Just leave it, please. I need you.”
He held me until I was all cried out.
It’s mid-morning when I go downstairs. My head is banging and I feel vaguely queasy, just how I deserve to feel after last night.
I know it was only four days ago that I caught Mark with
, but I’m moving on. I’ll miss him; I’m not made of stone. He’d lived in my flat for couple of years. We were enjoying the 'now' but we really hadn't discussed the future. I’ve briefly analysed the part I may have played in our demise. I will admit to having no work/life separation, but I’m not taking responsibility for his wayward genitals and massive ego. If we had problems, there were a thousand other ways to address them. I’m hurt and furious, but this isn’t a hopeless situation; it’s a golden opportunity.
The overprotective dream team of Max and Connie, my aunt and self-assigned protector, are mollycoddling me. It’s been exhausting. I’m trying to forge ahead and make the most of this phase of inspiration and they’re trying to hold me down and force me to 'acknowledge my grief'. Grief? Honestly. When I cleared out his stuff, they said I was being rash and not giving myself time. I’ve tried to explain to them that I feel good, clear headed and enthusiastic about my future. They think I’m bottling my feelings and suppressing my emotions. I literally can’t win. I want to be up and they think I should be down. I’m going to have to ride it out; they both love me and think they’re helping.
As for my behaviour last night…I’m trying to have some fun, I keep telling everyone. But in truth I am attempting to be promiscuous, something I am not. It’s just not me. What I wanted to do after slinging Mark out on his ear was to loosen up and experience a little bit of life. I own a bar for goodness sake! I watch every day while people get drunk, flirt and then go home and have casual sex. Some of them don't even make it home; we have CCTV, we know!
But it’s like I watch it through a window. For some reason, I’ve only ever managed to have non-casual sex. So I thought if I tried really hard to be not myself about it, I might just get laid… Well, I was wrong. Even if I fight all my natural instincts, I can't quite let go enough.
What is my problem? I JUST WANT SEX!
But the kind of sex that doesn't lead on to a relationship so that I can do it all again tomorrow. Is that really bad?
Max can see straight through my intentions and has lectured me about staying true to myself. I've told him, I've already had one more father than I need in my life, so butt out. But I’m going to have to admit soon that it’s not really my style. Then he’ll be all ‘I told you so’. God, this is annoying, who would have thought I would turn out to be like this? I have attempted to defy convention every day of my adult life, but apparently not where sex is concerned.
The memory of last night is mortifying. But fortunately I went home alone, not my intention, but in all honesty a relief. I won't be admitting this to Max though; I won't give him the satisfaction. I try for nonchalant as I open the door that connects the stairs to my flat with the back of the diner. No one is around. Good. I ease myself into the booth at the back and open my laptop. I’ll just sit here quietly and catch up on some bookwork. Hopefully Mr. Perfect won't notice me and I can avoid another lecture.
As I’m sifting through emails, a coffee slides across the table in front of me. I glance at the coffee and then guiltily up at Max who is wearing a look of disapproval.
"Thought you might need this," he says in a way that makes me feel about an inch tall.
"Okay," I sigh. "Can we just get this over with? I’m too hungover to deal with this right now.”
"You'll need some breakfast too." He raises his eyebrows to silently convey the unspoken end to his sentence…
to soak up all that alcohol.
Oh, this is going to be a long day.
Ten minutes later, he’s back and I’m relieved to see a smile on his face as he slides in opposite me with two of our famous Grand Slam Breakfasts. It can't have been that bad last night if he’s prepared to eat with me.
I drown my pancakes in maple syrup and dig in greedily. It's SO good; some days I love this place. We’ve worked so hard and I’m so proud of what we have achieved. The food is really great now that we have a good kitchen team. I managed to hire Jake, a bona fide American chef, last year and he has tweaked things to ensure authenticity. His pancakes are just a-maz-ing.