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Secrets & Lies
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I never expected to see her again, but, when my ex shows up, a child in tow, I know things are spiraling out of control.
Three years ago, I was happy.
But then Jessica leaves, and nothing is the same,
I try my best to carry on, but I never forgot her.
I will never ever forgive her,
She’s done enough.
I hate her now.
Until she returns, a kid in her arms and apologies on her lips…
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I yawn widely and blink several times. I glance at the clock for the third time in the last minute and groan when I notice that the hands have barely moved past nine o’clock. I’m more than ready for this night to be over, despite the fact that it’s barely started.
“Rough day?” one of the women sitting at the bar asks sympathetically, nursing a red drink in her hands.
“Yeah,” I sigh, rubbing my forehead. I’m so tired. “Hopefully it’s a quiet night.”
The woman snorts. “Fat chance of that; it’s Friday.”
She perks up then and turns away from me, grinning as she sees two more women come into the bar. She slides off her seat and heads toward them; she’s been waiting here for the last fifteen minutes, getting progressively more impatient as the minutes ticked by. I’m almost glad she’s gone; she’s spent the last five minutes whining about how late the others are.
At the moment, the Anchor Bar, where I work, is quiet and almost empty. But I know that will change very soon; it’s Friday night after all, and the place will fill up quickly. I think about the long hours that are stretching ahead of me and I wish I had just called in sick. Fiona McIntosh, the other bartender, would have been eager to pick up an extra shift. I’m just not in the mood to deal with anyone tonight.
A man approaches the bar and I head toward him. He’s smiling and he says something about having a long day at work, so I smile back and give him a beer after taking his money. He’s still chattering about something or other, and I try and nod in all the right places, not really listening at all. It takes me a moment before I realize that he’s taken his drink and left.
“You look like death warmed over,” a new voice says.
Blinking, startled, I look around.
“Kyle?” I ask, confused; when did he come in?
Kyle Jacobs grins at me, his large form hunched over the bar, ridiculously tall even while he’s sitting down. He’s not a quiet man by any means; I must be more tired than I thought if I didn’t notice him arrive and sit down nearby.
“Long day?” Kyle asks.
“You could say that,” I reply, rubbing my head.
Not that I did much. No, most of my problems right now are because of the sleepless night I had suffered through, tossing and turning into the early hours of the morning after waking abruptly from stupid dreams. Eventually, I gave up at seven and got out of bed to drink as much coffee as my stomach could stand.
“Where’s Allison?” I ask.
“She’ll come soon,” Kyle says with a shrug. “She went to pick up a friend.”
“A friend?” I ask, curious. “Jacqui?”
I’ve met Jacqui Clark a few times, now. She’s an interesting woman; blunt, cheerful and full of bad jokes and sage advice. She’s definitely the perfect match for Allison Miller, who is headstrong and would easily run headlong into danger without both Kyle and her best friend corralling her.
“No,” Kyle says. “An old friend from school that she reconnected with. She doesn’t get out of the house much so Allison wants to drag her out…against her wishes.” He rolls his eyes but there’s a fond smile on his face that I can’t help but feel jealous of. “She’s fucking nosy.”
“She is,” I say with a laugh. “Looking out for her must be a full-time job.”
Kyle’s smile drops and he sighs. “If she isn’t trying to rope me into some sort of feel-good, enlightenment shit, she’s throwing herself in the path of pickpockets.”
“That’s oddly specific,” I point out.
“Did it two days ago,” Kyle grumbles. “Some fucking pickpocket stole a guy’s wallet, and he started yelling for someone to catch the thief. Allison saw him running and stepped right in front of him. Guy would have bowled her over or shoved her into traffic if I wasn’t there.”
“What did you do?” I ask.
“Beat his ass,” Kyle scowls.
I snort. “He’ll probably think twice before trying that again, at least.”
“He ran off, leaving the wallet behind,” Kyle says, shrugging. “The police haven’t been at my doorstep, asking me about it, so he didn’t cry assault.”
“You got lucky,” I remind him. “The last thing you need is to tangle with the police. They’ll take one look at your record and throw you away.”
“That was years ago,” Kyle protests.
In his teenage years, Kyle had been a problem child following his father’s death, from what I gathered, committing robberies and assaults with a larger group. His current employer, the mechanic, pulled him off the streets and gave him an opportunity to turn his life around after he caught Kyle stealing. All this happened nearly ten years ago, but…
I frown. “I don’t think it matters. A record is a record, and you’ll never get away from it.”