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Authors: Amy Tintera

Listen for the Lie (21 page)

BOOK: Listen for the Lie
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CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE
LUCY

I wake a second time to a door opening. It's morning now, light streaming in through the blinds. Ben is on his stomach beside me, still asleep.


Ben!”
It's a familiar voice from the living room. Paige. “
Are you in there? You know I worry that someone murdered you when you don't answer my texts
.”

He stirs, groaning as he rubs a hand across his face. The clock says it's after ten. We were up late.

He rolls out of bed and pulls his boxers on. As he walks to the door, he holds his hand out. I think that means he wants me to stay put. He opens the door a crack.

“Hey.”

“Hey— Dude, no. I do not want to see you in your underwear.”

“Then don't barge into my hotel room at the crack of dawn.”

“First of all, it's practically lunch. Second of all, you gave me a key, so I'm not sure what else you expected me to do with it.”

“I need to shower. I'll meet you in your room in like an hour.”

“It's going to take you an hour to shower?”

“I have stuff to do. Websites to browse. Political news to obsess over. Just give me a little while.”

There's a long pause. “Please tell me you did not.”

“Just give me—”

“I know that purse, you stupid motherfucker.”

Ben stumbles backward as Paige barges into the room. I sit up, holding the sheet against my chest. Paige doesn't look surprised so much as defeated.

“Hey, Paige.”

She presses a hand to her forehead. “Ben, I swear to god.”

“Does it help if I tell you that this isn't the first time?” I ask.

Ben gives me a deeply exasperated look.

Paige points at him. “You stupid motherfucker,” she says again, to really drive the point home.

Ben takes Paige by the shoulders and gently shoves her out of the room. He shuts the door behind them.

“Ben, what in the hell are you doing?” Paige whispers. I slide off the bed and grab my underwear, edging closer to the door so I can better hear them.

“Can we—”

“I don't know whether to be impressed or horrified that you figured out a way to fuck your own podcast.”

“That is—”

“I told you that I would only work on this case with you if you kept it together, and this is not keeping it together. This is the exact opposite of keeping it together.”

“Since when have you cared who I sleep with?”

“Since it's the woman we are currently reporting on! You know what people would think if this got out, right? You understand that she could unravel your entire season just by telling people you're sleeping together? No one would trust you.”

“I understand that, but one, she wouldn't do that. And two, why would she even want to? This podcast is making her look better than she has in years.”

I feel like I should be insulted by that, but he's not wrong.

“And when you say something she doesn't like? Why in the world would you trust this woman? She—”

“Can we talk about this later?” Ben interrupts.

They're both quiet for several seconds. I creep away from the door and pull on my clothes.

“We're still not giving you a heads-up about things coming up on the podcast!” Paige calls suddenly.

“Understood!” I yell, and decide not to tell her about Ben asking my permission to post that clip from Maya.

Listen for the Lie Podcast with Ben Owens

EPISODE SIX—“NINA”

After what we just heard Lucy say about Nina and Matt, I went through some of my old interviews where people mentioned her. I found something really interesting. Here again is Colin Dunn, in our very first interview.

Colin:
            Of all of Savvy's friends?

Ben:
               Yeah. Which ones did you know well?

Colin:
            Not really any of them. They're all older than me, so we weren't in school together … Oh! Nina. What's her last name? Branson?

Ben:
               Garcia. She changed it back to her maiden name after she got divorced.

Colin:
            Oh shit, she was married?

Ben:
               She was at one time. She's divorced now.

Colin:
            Oh, okay. Cool.

Ben:
               But you knew her?

Colin:
            A little, yeah.

Ben:
               But not well enough to know she was married with kids?

Colin:
            Oh shit, she has kids too?

Ben:
               Two.

Colin:
            Damn. Okay. Good for her. Oh no, wait. I think she did mention a kid once. Huh.

Ben:
               How did you know Nina?

Colin:
            We hung out a couple times. Just, you know. As friends.

I was unable to get in touch with Colin again to confirm a suspicion I had—which is pure speculation on my part, by the way—so I went to Joanna Clarkson for the scoop.

Joanna:
         Nina and Colin? Like in a romantic way?

Ben:
               Yeah. You ever hear anything about that?

Joanna:
         Hmmm … that boy sure does get around, doesn't he?

Ben:
               He does seem to be popular.

Joanna:
         Listen, hon, I don't think I should be confirming any rumors.

Ben:
               But there were rumors? About Nina and Colin?

Joanna:
         There were a lot of rumors about Colin. Who can say which ones are true?

Ben:
               Colin did tell me that he knew Nina.

Joanna:
         Hmmm. Well. Do with that what you will.

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX
LUCY

Are you free for a drink?

Emmett's text comes as I'm finishing up work for the day in Mom's office, and it sends a flash of guilt up my spine. I never responded to his last text, and now Ben has released an episode in which I imply his girlfriend was sleeping with my husband. And then Ben implied that she was also sleeping with Savvy's boyfriend. Years before Emmett, but still. He's probably not having a great day.

I respond that I'd love to, and an hour later I'm sitting across from him at a slightly shady bar off the highway. I've never actually been to this bar, even though it's been here for years. I always assumed it was full of truckers who'd stare at my ass.

I was correct, turns out. Large men in cowboy hats gawk openly at me. An ancient country song plays softly over the speakers. It's peak Texas in here.

Emmett's at a tiny table in back, a full beer in front of him. He takes a sip as I approach, and then makes a face as he sets it back down.

I laugh. I can't help myself. He's just really cute sometimes, in a little-boy way. I'd forgotten that. It had made him seem a little goofy when we were kids—not the kind of guy I wanted to date—but it's endearing now.

He looks up and a smile flickers across his face. “Hey, Lucy.”

“Not a good beer, I take it?” I slide into the seat next to him.

“I don't actually drink much. Not a fan of the taste. But it felt like the thing to do today.” He takes another sip and grimaces again. I hold back my laugh this time, since he seems miserable.

I raise my eyebrows in question, and signal to the bartender that I'll have the same as him.

“Is this my fault?” I ask.

“No. Well, not exactly.”

“The podcast?”

He sighs. “I hate that fucking podcast.”

The bartender delivers my beer to the table. I take a drink. Emmett's looking at me expectantly, like I might agree, but I don't actually hate the podcast.

“She's upset?” I ask, treading carefully. I don't actually know what Emmett's upset about. Maybe that Nina was cheating on her husband? Or sleeping with her former best friend's husband? It's all a bit of a clusterfuck, but nothing that actually involves him.

He lets out a short, humorless laugh. “She is definitely upset.” He takes a longer sip of his beer. No grimace this time. He's toughening up. “She's still sleeping with Matt.”

I stop with my glass halfway to my mouth. “What?”

“Not all the time, but yeah. There had been some signs that she was cheating on me. I didn't want to believe it, but then that episode came out and she sort of broke down and admitted it.”

On the bright side, it turns out I never should have been jealous of Nina. Her choices are just as stupid as mine.

“She said they had a connection…” He rolls his eyes and sits back in his chair. “Their connection is drinking. They're both drunks.”

Nina pounding that margarita floats through my memory.

“She'd been doing really good in recovery, and she said it helped that I didn't even like to drink that much. She wasn't tempted, you
know? But Matt…” He shakes his head and takes another sip of his drink. “I hate Matt. I've fucking hated him since I met him.”

My eyebrows shoot up. “Seriously?”

“Yes. I tried to be nice because he was your husband, but he's such a cocky asshole. And now after what he did to Julia and to—” He cuts himself off suddenly, red crawling up his neck.

I don't help him out.

He looks away. “I just really hate him. Actually, I was considering going over there and punching him, but I thought this might be a healthier option.” He gestures at me.

I smile. “I'm always happy to get together to talk about how much Matt sucks.”

He leans forward, resting his jaw on one hand. I can imagine how his stubble must feel when you touch it, and I almost reach out and touch the other side of his face.

I look down at my beer instead.

“It was stupid, dating Nina.” He wraps his fingers around his glass. He has great hands, but I already knew that about him. “She's not the same person she was in high school, and I knew that. I knew she had issues. There just aren't a lot of options here.”

“Why did you stay?” I ask.

“I don't know. It was supposed to be temporary, after college. But then you have an apartment and a job and it just seems so daunting, moving to another city. I kept putting it off and putting it off, and now I'm almost thirty and I guess this is where I live now.”

“It's not too late. Look at me. I up and left.”

His eyes flick up to mine. “I always admired that.”

“Yeah? I think most people thought it was stupid.”

“No, it was brave. And smart. No one likes you here.”

I let out a surprised laugh. “Wow, Emmett, don't hold back.”

“You know it's true.” He smiles, and a silence settles between us that feels more charged than comfortable.

A lot of moments between the two of us had felt charged, espe
cially as my marriage started to fall apart. One moment in particular comes back, making my heart pound.

“You can talk to me, you know.” Emmett had me cornered in the upstairs hallway. Downstairs, I could hear Matt laughing with our friends.

“I know,” I said softly.

“About anything.” He jerked his finger in the direction of the living room. “Including him.”

I took in a tiny breath and tried to keep my expression neutral. I tried to smile reassuringly, but it was hard when Emmett was looking at me like that. He didn't usually look at me like that. Like he wouldn't mind if I pushed him into the bedroom right now.

He put a hand on the wall behind me, so close suddenly that I could smell his soap. I rose up on my toes, and that was all the invitation he needed. His mouth covered my own, his body pressing against mine.

I almost pushed him into that bedroom. We could do it quickly, while Matt was still downstairs. I loved that idea. Maybe I'd even forget to put my underwear back on, so he could wonder later when he found it if something had happened.

I winced and quickly ducked away from Emmett.

“I'm sorry, I can't.” I rushed away without looking at him. New low, considering using one of my best friends to piss off my husband. The friend I knew had feelings for me, probably since high school.

I reach for Emmett's hand. I'm actually a little surprised when he doesn't pull away.

“I wish I'd left with you that night,” I say quietly.

He cocks his head in question.

“That night we kissed. I should have just left Matt and gone home with you.”

“Oh.” The word comes out as a laugh. “I would have loved that. And I honestly would have loved to see his face while you did it.”

I laugh too. He squeezes my hand.

“You should come to L.A.,” I say. “Just pack your stuff and come.
We can…” Hang out? Start over? I don't know how to finish the sentence.

He laces his fingers through mine. “Don't say that if you don't mean it.”

I almost say,
Unless it turns out I actually did murder Savvy
. I almost make it a joke, and act like an asshole, as usual.

Instead, I smile. “I absolutely mean it.”

Emmett's eyes catch something behind me, and his smile fades. He slowly drops my hand.

I turn. Keaton Harper is walking—stumbling, really—across the room toward me.

BOOK: Listen for the Lie
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ads

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