The Truth About Air & Water (Truth in Lies #2) (34 page)

BOOK: The Truth About Air & Water (Truth in Lies #2)
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I run my hands through my hair preparing for confession by taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I hurt you. It was stupid and thoughtless and even though
no one
had yet told me who you were to me at the time, I know I caused you a great deal of pain, and I would never intentionally do that.
Truly. I’m sorry
.”

She barely nods then waves her hand around as if to say, ‘
go on, peasant; explain yourself.’

“Secondly, nothing actually happened on the hook-up front.”

She starts pacing again and flails her arms about. How I ever mistook her for a nurse I don’t know because it is so obvious she is a dancer. I bite my lip again because watching her dramatic movements is its own kind of funny and instantly becomes my preferred form of personal entertainment.

“Really, that’s what you’re going with here, Elvis. That’s the best you can do?
Really
?”

“Hear me out,” I say sobering a bit at what I have to tell her next. “Just
listen
to all I have to say. Just listen and know that nothing actually happened. The thing to know about Kimberley Powers is she is damn thorough and even when her clients fuck up, she is
on the case
so to speak. So here’s the truth about all of that.”

I close my eyes for a few seconds as the shame assails me as if I’m being dumped with tar from above. I open them and regard her intently.

“I took too many painkillers that night. My headaches were getting worse. I’d had it up to here with the camp,” I put my hand above my head, “and Beau Wilson and my dad. I was out of control that night. Add to that the alcohol I consumed; I was pretty much telling Amy Ransom, the LA Times reporter, my life story without a proper filter.”

I stop and take a breath and kind of cringe knowing the next part will most likely set her off all over again. “And then the blonde…Trinna. Yes, she did take me home to her place. That did happen. I used the worst judgment possible. And yes, I got caught looking and acting like a complete jerk to you and everyone else on the front sports page across our great land. Like I said, I was on Percocet for the headaches, took too many of them that night, and between those and the booze, I couldn’t get it up for that girl, which she unhappily informed me of the next morning. But yes, it’s been confirmed she is a fan-girl of the worst kind in search of a ballplayer’s golden ticket. We know this because the four condoms I collected per Kimberley’s vital instructions for me to do so—two of which I found in the crazed fan-girl’s freezer, two by the bed—and yet all four were somebody else’s DNA, not mine. I didn’t fuck her, but I obviously thought about it and must have wanted to, at some point, so you have every right to hate me, I suppose. And I guess you will, if you decide not to forgive me. Even so, I wanted to set the record straight and admit to everything I know as it relates to my amazing fuck-up in LA and state, for the record—
yours
—that I will never do anything like that again nor go out of my way to purposefully hurt you or Cara like that ever again. That’s not who I am, and I think you know that. So, there you have it.”

She starts to step forward and accidentally trips into my arms, and I catch her and manage to keep her upright.

“Let me go,” she says weakly.

I move her bodily toward the bed and set her down on top of it and then step back from her and sort of bow like a knight would before his queen.

She gets this vague smile so vague I begin to think I’ve imagined it.

“One more thing,” I say in the breach rapidly developing between us. “It’s not that I don’t
want
to remember you; it's that I
can’t
. There’s a difference,
Princess
.”

She drops her head into her hands and won’t even look at me now.

“Say something,” I beg after two minutes of her silence.

At last, she looks up at me. Her eyes shimmer with unshed tears. “I don’t know what to say. I don’t know where…to go from here.”

“I know.” I hang my head and refuse to look at her as I admit to one last complete and utter failure. “They’re sending me down. I leave for Fresno early tomorrow. I have to find a place to live, buy a car, and secretly work out somewhere with one of Beau Wilson’s guys on my pitching because, these days, I can’t throw a baseball even if it appears my life depends on it, which it does. I’ve got four weeks to figure it out, or I lose everything—the contract, the signing bonuses, and the house I apparently just bought that I’m signing papers to put back on the market tomorrow. Yeah, I’ve fucked-up all around, haven’t I?”

“I heard you might be sent down.”

“You did? Who
told
you?”

“Sam thought that might happen,” she says looking uneasy.

“Of course, he did. I’m sure he couldn’t
wait
to tell you. Speculation at its finest.”

“He’s not like that. He’s a good guy.”

“Well he has you so of course he’s a good guy,” I say sounding grudgingly diplomatic.

This strange look fleets across her face. Her lips part like she has something to say, but she stays silent.

And because I can’t quite recover fast enough from all the atonement of confessions and hide the disappointment of being sent down, I turn away from her and go over and touch the silky dress running my hands along the fabric like I’ve wanted to do the last twenty minutes. Well, really, I’ve wanted to touch Tally Landon like this for the same amount of time, but I settle for the dress.

“This dress is amazing. Did you get to wear it? Did I get to see you try it on?” I say looking back and just watching her face. She looks conflicted. “I suppose it’s a weird question, but I don’t remember the past six years. None of it,” I say as if that explains the reasoning for asking something so out of left field and decidedly personal.

She shakes her head. “No, I didn’t wear it. I never wore it,” she says in a low voice. Then she gets this little smirk. “I did almost set it on fire one night, but then I couldn’t do it when it came right down to it. I still owe quite a bit of money on it as Visa will attest to, and I was afraid of accidentally setting the house on fire instead.” She laughs a little. “It was too cold to do it outside—to set it on fire, I mean—and really when it came down to it the last thing I needed was the fire department showing up. The paparazzi would have had a field day with that, now wouldn’t they?”

We both know exactly when she was going to set the dress on fire.

We share this funny moment and then it turns awkward because I caused all of this.

“I’m sorry,” I say looking over at her.

“I know. And I…” She bites her lower lip and shakes her head side-to-side, and then she looks at me intently. “And I forgive you because you’ve said nothing happened, and I believe you.” Then, she smiles. It is both generous and moving. It is the magic of the sun’s rays and the miracle of a rainbow after an unexpected rainstorm.
She could charge people to come and see it.

I have to stay exactly where I’m at, concentrate on taking in air in any way still possible, and keep myself in check. It feels like I might lose it right in front of her because her benevolent smile makes me want to break down for some unfathomable reason. There is this overwhelming sense of loss that is trying to take me down from the other side. My head starts to pound. I wince at the sudden onslaught of pain.

“Are you okay?” She asks.

“I’m fine. Just a headache. They come on like a freight train sometimes. Brad has me on supplements of every kind and off of the Percocet completely now, but it appears chronic headaches are something I’m going to have to learn to live with from here on out. That and this raging thirst all the time.”

She’s looking at me strangely as if she has something to say about that, but all she says is “do you want some Tylenol?”

She makes Tylenol sound sexy. And my body reacts in kind.

“Sure if you have some. I ran out of the house without all that stuff. I was in a hurry to get here before you changed your mind.” I dip my head. “Thank you for letting me come to see Cara. And you.”

She nods. “I’m sorry about everything.
Too
.” She sighs and looks at me for a long time. “Thank you for the flowers. That was very thoughtful of you. No one knows about them though. Because that’s easier, and I was still really pissed off at you.
Obviously.
” She frowns. “Although I must confess I don’t completely understand the
Miss Cloves and Vanilla
reference. You’ll have to fill me in sometime.” She laughs. “Okay. Let’s get you some Tylenol.”

She’s almost at the door and unlocking it when I say, “Will you try it on sometime? For me.”

She turns back with the ghost of a smile. ‘Sometime, yes. For you.”

“Okay. Then.”

She looks taken aback by what I’ve just said. She sucks in her breath and seemingly holds it. “Okay. Then,” she says but looks guilty at having said these two little words back to me as if they belong to someone else.

We enter the world now destined for chaos despite all the guests having left including Tally’s parents. Tally dutifully hands me some Tylenol and a glass of water, but her attention is needed elsewhere.

We’ve been gone longer than a half-hour and in our absence, Elliott fell off the slide, and he’s sporting a two-inch gash across his little knee that’s bleeding profusely. Marla is now an official wreck while Charlie performs first aid on his son’s knee at the kitchen sink.

Sam glowers in the farthest corner away from everyone holding my kid. Of course as soon as Cara sees me, she flies out of Sam’s arms into mine. I know, deep down; this is how the battle is going to go with this guy. We will be vying for Tally and Cara’s attention at every turn. I will always win on the Cara front, but I have serious doubts about the Tally front.
Miss Cloves and Vanilla seems pretty tough to convince let alone tame.
And I’m out of practice and still not completely in her good graces already because of the LA thing.

After some kind of order returns, Tally walks over to Sam, extends her hand to him, and he pulls her into his lap. Fascinated by their heady exchange, I can’t help but watch them interact with each other now. I’m looking for all the telltale signs that they are sleeping together. So far, the jury is out on that one. Charlie will have to fill me in later.

Then, Cara pushes on my face demanding my attention. “Daddy, Elliott hurt his knee.
Bad
.”

“I know, but he’s going to be okay. Charlie is a great doctor.” I carry her over to Elliott where she begins to stroke his hand and sweetly tells him he’s going to be okay. Tired out from the true confessions in the guest bedroom with my former fiancée just minutes ago, I make myself useful by putting my arm around Marla, hugging her tight, while she holds onto Elliott’s little hand, and Charlie does the gory clean-up and assessment. Elliott is still crying, but Cara and I try to help him out by cleaning up his face with a wet cloth just to distract him. “Hey buddy. It’s going to be okay. Don’t cry, Elliott.”

Tally continues to talk to Sam in a low voice so none of us can hear what she’s saying to him. Sam’s looking decidedly unhappy but he’s nodding.

“It’s going to need stitches,” Charlie says to me and Marla. “Looks like we’re going to Daddy’s work, big guy,” Charlie says gently to his son. In a daze, Marla nods while her lips tremble. I move to help them pack up all their stuff.

All the while, Tally still talks to Sam but soon enough she’s walking him over to the front door. There are brief good-byes for him among the group except for me. But let’s face it; we're not ever going to be friends and neither one of us wants to start down that unproductive path in the first place. We share an interest in the same exquisite prize and only one of us is going to win her. Instead, we nod at each other. Sam says his good-byes to Cara and wishes her happy birthday one more time. And then, he’s gone, and Tally’s shutting and locking the front door.

Next, she goes over to Marla and hugs her tight and tells her everything is going to be okay. Marla laughs for probably the first time in the past half-hour at something Tally whispers to her, and then they’re joking aloud about role reversals.

It’s half past five and just beginning to get dark outside. I help Marla and Charlie load up their SUV as well as the wounded Elliott. After saying quick good-byes, they leave for the ER.

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