A different angle while I sort out Missy.
His face wavered before her eyes, his expression morphing as the tears swam in her vision. She felt frozen, hovering above a yawning black chasm that was moments from swallowing her whole.
The coo of her child seemed distant in her ears. She found she squeezed Kyle just to remind herself she still held him in her arms. Nothing else felt real and she needed his solid body and warmth to anchor her.
“Cynthia?” he lifted his eyes to the ceiling and sighed like his heart was the one breaking. “Say something, please.”
That thawed her in a hurry. Anger that had warred for a place alongside disbelief and sadness bubbled to the surface so suddenly that she gasped.
“What the hell do you want me to say, Patrick? Thank you for fucking my best friend and springing it on me right before we leave for Mexico?”
“Come on, Cynthia. You’re being dramatic like usual.” He rolled his eyes and some demon inside of her wanted to scratch his face bloody. “It’s not as bad as you think.”
He had the audacity to look put out. Somehow that enraged her more. It took a series of deep breaths to even get herself calmed down enough not to hurt him. That pause had the added benefit of bringing so many things in to focus.
It was Patrick’s silver tongue and good looks that attracted her to him. His towering height and gorgeous body packed with lean muscle had made her feel petite in a way no man had been able to do before. The way he could weave words was what had snagged her though. He spoke in a way that captivated crowds and she’d hung on every word from the moment she’d met him. The stars were out of her eyes now.
“You’re a bastard, you know that?” The hand at Kyle’s back balled into a fist that wanted to plant itself in Patrick’s face.
Working crazy hours, dedicated to the job, work dinners that kept him out until late. Cynthia hadn’t wanted to believe he’d stray because of the way he doted. He lavished her with affection when she found out she was pregnant with Kyle, sending flowers almost weekly and touching her tenderly. She ate it up. After the baby was born, the amount of time he spent away increased. He told her he loved her, work was just hectic right now.
Except the hectic pace had nothing to do with work and everything to do with the woman she thought was her friend.
“How long?” Her voice was flat.
He shifted in the seat, the sounds of people flowing around them at the gate as she waited for his answer. A tiny seed of dread bubbled up, or maybe it was intuition. Something told her the answer would crumble every last bit of faith she held in their relationship.
“A year and a half.”
The baby began to wail and she had to consciously loosen her death grip on him as his cries penetrated the red haze that descended at his reply.
Kyle was six months which means they’d been together long before she found out she was pregnant. He’d been sleeping with Sherry for half of their marriage. The anger gave way to a much scarier emotion: sorrow. It was like a dam broke, bringing a flood of tears. She swiped at her face in a useless attempt to stem the flow.
She smacked away the hand that attempted to comfort her. Just the thought of him touching her made her physically ill. Needing to get away from him, needing a break from the reality confronting here, Cynthia sprung to her feet. She placed a hysterical Kyle into Patrick’s lap.
He grabbed her wrist before she could march away. “Where are you going? You can’t leave me with the baby.”
Instead of shaking him off, she turned and met his eyes. He was jostling Kyle on his knee, trying in vain to sooth him as his cries rose to ear-piercing levels. She realized with a jolt that Patrick didn’t have a clue what to do. In spite of his expressed desire to have a child, she’d been the one to get up and take care of the baby since birth. Bathing, feeding, changing, and loving Kyle had been solely hers with Patrick never once lifting a finger to help. She’d been so blind and it made her realize how many other things he’d never done since they’d gotten married.
“Come on, baby.” He switched on that seductive voice he’d perfected, knowing how she melted like warm chocolate when he applied it. “Don’t leave me here by myself.”
Except this time it turned her to ice. She yanked her arm out of his grasp, noting the surprise that flitted across his face.
Picking up the diaper bag, she dumped in on the chair beside him. “You’re a big boy, figure it out on your own.”
“Cynthia! Please, don’t go. What about the flight?”
Some perverse part of her took pleasure in the panic in his voice. There was no stopping her at this point though. Her need to be away from him surpassed the maternal instinct that ran deep in her. She needed a break, a moment to sort her new reality. Everything else could wait.
Her storm of emotions carried her as far as the last bar in the terminal. The need to consume as much alcohol as possible warred with the urge to pass back through security and run away. Even as she considered leaving, she knew she wouldn’t. Some ingrained sense of responsibility told her she had to stay, had to take care of Kyle, had to go on this ill-fated trip.
The bar was empty at 10am, but that made the need to have a drink stronger. Slipping into the nearest chair, Cynthia waited for the bartender to notice her.
Self-pity washed over her. How stupid was she? She’d never considered herself easily led, but the ways her eyes had been open showed just how dumb she’d been. She’d always credited herself with being able to detect bullshit in life except she’d been swimming in it without once noticing. It was sickening to realize.
She was pretty, knew it without being conceited about it, but her beauty hadn’t prevented her heart from being brutally shredded. Falling for a guy she knew was a player, leaving her job at his prompting, letting herself become dependent upon him, ignoring all the obvious signs. Cynthia closed her eyes, but nothing could block out the realization that she’d invested so much in a broken relationship.
“What can I get you, ma’am?”
She opened her eyes as the graying bartender sat the cocktail napkin down in front of her.
“A new life would be great.” Cynthia glanced out the window behind the bar. Planes littered the runway, taxi-ing out or back in, bearing people venturing to new places. Were they living through the kind of hell she was?
He laughed, a tired sound that drew her gaze back to his. “If I could work miracles like that, I wouldn’t be tending here, would I?”
His eyes spoke of a knowledge from a life filled with a wealth of stories. The tightness in her chest eased a bit.
“A beer will be fine. I’ll take a Bud since it’s still early.”
“It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” He pulled a tall glass from below the counter and filled it up.
She drank it down to halfway the moment he sat it on the napkin. “You’re right, better get another one ready in honor of the time.”
By the time she heard her name over the paging system she’d made her way through two beers and was working on her third. It took another page to penetrate her buzz.
She left a couple of twenties on the bar and pushed to her feet. The world tilted and she waited for it to right itself. “Guess I better get back to that lying bastard before the plane takes off. I should at least enjoy this vacation before I divorce him, right?”
The bartender must have known it was useless to respond. Not that she would’ve heard anyway as she attempted to navigate back to the gate on unsteady feet. How far was the gate anyway?
Cynthia returned to find Patrick pacing at the gate with a still crying Kyle in his arms. The poor dear was red faced with snot covering his lips and chin. The area was empty and the sign flashed the word boarding in red letters.
Patrick’s shoulders relaxed as soon as he spotted her. “Thank God. I thought you’d left.”
She ignored his attempts to hand the baby off, sidestepping him and going to her bag. “And miss out on my paid vacation? You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
Anger had burned off some of the heavy buzz, but she still wobbled a bit as she made her way to the gate door. She smiled at the attendant, holding out her ticket for scanning and then stepping on the ramp with the sounds of Kyle’s frantic cries behind her.
It was time he learned what he was losing. She was officially on vacation and unavailable to help.