There comes a time in a woman’s life that she just has to pull her big girl panties up and show the men how it’s done.
-Thought for the day.
I knocked on the door to Downy’s home, his house, not his apartment, feeling like a complete fool.
If he’d wanted me there, he’d have called me, right?
That’s what I’d been telling myself for the last four days.
He’d called me only a handful of times, and I was beginning to get the distinct feeling that he was ignoring me.
The only reason I knew about the party that was going on now was because Reese, Luke’s wife, asked me to come over and hang out with her while the men had their weekly talk about ‘team morale’ with the SWAT team.
A pretty blonde opened the door with a wide smile.
She looked uncannily similar to Reese, so I assumed she must’ve been the sister that Reese was telling me would be here.
“Hi!” She said perkily.
I smiled, although I was sure it didn’t reach my eyes. “Hi.”
“Can I help you?” She asked, still not letting me in.
“Yeah, my name’s Memphis. This is…” She opened the door fully.
“Oh! I’m sorry! My name’s Tru. I was just told to see who it was by Downy. He wasn’t expecting anybody else,” she smiled. “Reese has told me a lot about you.”
Not Downy, but Reese.
I smiled, but I was sure it was more of a grimace, “Thanks.”
I was put off guard when I entered and saw that there was new wood flooring in just ten short days.
There was a new coat paint on the walls as well. A rich, dark brown the color of melted chocolate.
“Looks nice, doesn’t it? Trance, my husband, and I helped paint the walls this past weekend. And he had the floors done just yesterday. It’s coming together quite nicely,” Tru smiled.
My heart sank. “Hmm.”
Why hadn’t he called me to help paint?
I’d been off from the diner that day, as well as yesterday.
I’d only gotten a cursory text from him, too.
I could’ve helped paint!
Trying to not let my anger show, I followed her dutifully into the house, through the living room that looked like it’d received a lot of attention this week, too, and out to the back patio.
Downy was at the grill, while everyone sat on various pieces of outdoor furniture that was also new.
It looked to be something a woman would pick out, though, just based on the color choices.
I knew instantly Downy hadn’t picked it out. He was a brown man. He dealt in shades of brown.
What he didn’t do was choose bright colors like red and white.
Those just weren’t him.
Which was why I never saw him in clothes that had any personality to them. He was a plain black, white, or gray.
There was no branching out, and those cushions were definitely outside of his comfort zone.
He clocked me the moment I stepped outside, and immediately locked down.
His face had been impassive before, but now it was downright blank.
No expression in his eyes. No nothing.
I hesitated when I started walking towards him, which made a flare of anger spark in his eyes.
My escort had left, though, going into the arms of a blonde man off to the side of the yard.
What did happen, though, was a very excited Mocha came up to me and started leaning into me with her big body.
I gave a fleeting smile and bent down to scratch Mocha’s ears.
“Hey, sweet baby. How are you doing?” I asked her.
She licked my face, going to town. “Oh, I know. I missed you, too.”
A clearing throat had me looking up to find Reese and Luke looking down at me, smiling.
“Oh,” I said, standing. “Hey.”
Reese smiled, as did Luke. “Hey! I was hoping you’d be able to come!”
Reese’s declaration made me a little more comfortable about being there, but not enough to totally hide the fact that I could tell that Downy most assuredly did not.
“No problem. I’d do anything to help…when I can, that is. I needed a break from studying anyway,” I admitted, eyes going back to Downy who now had his back to us as he flipped, what looked to be sausage, over on the grill. “Just let me go say hi real quick, and we can get started.”
She nodded and turned into her husband’s arms, smiling up at him.
Which caused my heart to turn over.
I wanted that.
I wanted what they had.
I didn’t want to have to worry that my boyfriend didn’t want to see me when I showed up out of the blue like I was doing now.
I walked up to his back, stopping about two feet from the ride side of him, and said, “Hey.”
He looked up and nodded his head. “Hey.”
My stomach clenched. “Are you okay?”
He shrugged. “I’m doing okay. You?”
Was this even the same person?
“I came over to help with the police department bake sale. That’s okay, right?” I continued when he said nothing more.
He nodded. “Kitchen’s pretty fancy now. You’ll find everything you’ll need in there.”
Not knowing what else to say, I walked into the kitchen and didn’t look back.
I worked with Georgia and Reese until nearly eighteen dozen cookies of all assortments were packaged into tins of twelve.
I’d just met Georgia, Nico’s wife. She was a sweet woman, and had a very interesting job as a social worker for an adoption agency.
She also had two very cute twins who were with their grandparents.
They were the spitting image of Nico, and I had a feeling they’d probably be heartthrobs.
What I didn’t do, though, was enjoy myself.
My mind kept replaying mine and Downy’s relationship.
Had I overthought the entire thing?
Was it just sex?
I mean, sure, it was sex. Good sex at that. But I’d thought it’d been something more.
But he was treating it as if it were a temporary thing.
The moment the wall had gone up, something had changed with him. As if he’d only been scratching an itch for that long because of a circumstance.
It was as if the wall coming down had been the only reason he’d given me the time of day.
Two hours later, feeling left out and alone, I decided now was a good time to leave. Downy wouldn’t even notice. He was too busy carrying on with the same chick that I’d met before.
I didn’t really give a shit that she was Reese’s sister. Nor did I care that she was married.
What I did care about was that he somehow managed to find time for her and not me. The woman who’d been sharing a bed with him…or had before said man had replaced a wall and decided to find other ways to occupy his time.
Knowing when to say enough was enough, I slipped my jacket over my shoulders and started walking towards the front door, going unnoticed by everyone in the room.
I opened the door, swinging it wide, and was surprised to find a man standing there with what looked to be a young, gangly teenager glaring daggers at the man.
My guess it was because the older man had the boy by the collar of the shirt, and he was fisting it so hard that it was digging into his neck.
“Yes?” I asked, eyeing the man with a raised brow. “Is there a reason you have to hurt him?”
The man sneered at me. “Do you know who I am?”
I shook my head. “No. But that doesn’t mean you need to be hurting this boy. Let him go. It’s probably really hard to breathe.”
The man let the boy go. “My name is Ronnie Prescott.”
I raised my brows as if to say, ‘and,’ which caused his face to go a little darker shade of red.
“Uh, huh,” I waited for the explanation.
“Jonah was on my property looking for his brother. His brother, however, does not live on my property, and the next time I catch him trespassing I won’t be nice and bring him back.”
With that lovely statement, Ronnie Prescott left, taking his ugly loafers and three-piece suit with him.
I turned to the boy.
He looked a lot like Downy, except he had brown hair.
He had the freckles. The eyes. The same pretty blue ones that I’d seen on another woman for the last half hour, were Downy’s as well. Which only made the ache in my heart I was experiencing even worse.
“You okay?” I asked, stepping out into the night.
He nodded. “I’m okay. I was on my way to a friend’s house, and my car broke down about a mile that way.”
My eyebrows creased. “Aren’t you fifteen?”
At least that was what I’d thought Downy had said. Fifteen wasn’t old enough to drive a car.
He nodded. “Yes.”
“And you’re driving?” I asked.
He nodded, and I closed the door.
“Did you want to go in there? You’re more than welcome,” I said, stepping down from the steps and walking towards my car. “Or I can give you a ride to wherever you need to be. I don’t have anything better to do.”
His shoulders slumped in relief. “Would you? That’d be great.”
Huh. So he didn’t really want to see his brother. Interesting. ‘Cause neither did I.
I nodded and gestured to the POS, as I liked to call it. “Get in.”
Once we were down the road a little ways, I saw the broken down car.
It was a beater nearly the same as mine.
“What, did you go find a car on the side of the road and buy it for a steal?” I teased.
He nodded. “Yes. That is exactly what I did. How did you know?”
I shrugged. “I did the same thing.”
As I said it, I ran my hand down the cracked and broken dash lovingly.
He gave me his first genuine smile I’d seen on him in the ten minutes I’d known him.
That wasn’t like Downy.
Downy was always smiling.
Well, except for today. I didn’t think I’d actually seen him smile today, which was unusual for him.
He was normally so happy and upbeat, but today I’d guessed his missing smile had to do with the fact that I’d crashed his party.
Whatever the fuck the problem was, I was out. I couldn’t do it anymore.
I was fairly positive that my heart was broken, too.
“Where am I going?” I asked.
He pointed in the direction past Downy’s property. “My friend lives at the end of this road, about two miles down. I wasn’t really going to see Downy. I was just cutting through his property to get to Tim’s.”
I nodded and pulled onto the street, following his directions before I came to a stop just at the bottom of the drive.
“Do you want me to take you all the way up there?” I asked when I saw a boy on a four-wheeler waving at him.
“No, I’ll get out here. Thank you,” he said, tossing me a smile before he got out and started running towards the boy.
The boy grinned and gestured to the back of the 4-wheeler, which caused Jonah to quickly jump on and slap his friend on his back.
The boy took off, raising dust and rocks in his wake, causing me to smile for the first time in nearly four hours.
Ahhh, to be young again and not have a care in the world.
Now it was back to reality for me.
The reality where Downy no longer belonged to me.