I stand up, blocking her way. “We’ll keep it between us. You don’t have to tell him shit.”
“Yes, I do!” she wails. “Secrets are poison. They eat away the soul of a relationship.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Jenn—you really need to stop hangin’ out with my brother.”
She points in my face again, backing me up toward the window. “This is all your fault! You tricked me!”
“I didn’t trick you!”
“My nana was right about you—you’re a Satan.” She picks up the first thing she can grab—the ball gag—and throws it at me. “Get thee back, Satan!” The blue dildo follows next. Then the handcuffs.
I put my arms up as sex toy projectiles hurtle toward me. The giant dildo bounces off my forehead.
Probably gonna leave a mark.
“You’re supposed to fling holy water!”
I turn and scramble out the window. Descending quickly, I make it about halfway down before my foot catches—and I fall the other half.
I land on my back—possibly rupturing a kidney.
As I breathe through the pain, I hear Jenny slam the window shut above me and I stare at the sky. It’s black as ink and white stars blink down on me—like a million mocking eyes.
I cover my face with my arm. Tonight did not go as planned. That’s been happening a lot lately.
But I realized something crucial. Absolutely life changing.
I am a man in love. Just not a man in love with Jenny Monroe.
My first thought after this realization is: fuck me.
The second is: Drew Evans is going to laugh his ass off.
• • •
I take my time getting back to my parents’ house, trying to process it all. My brother would tell me I should meditate, and for the first time since he went off the deep end, I consider that he could be onto something. Feelings rush through me, too quick to hold on to, like a twig going down a raging river.
I push the door to Sofia’s room open gently, making out her form in the dim moonlight streaming in from the open window. She’s on her side, the luminous skin of her bare back facing me.
Tenderness floods my chest, and a sweet, relieved feeling—like coming home. I force my mind to silence, push out the crazy confusion that’s swirling, stripping down to bare skin. Then I slide into bed, determined to focus on this moment. The simple here and now. Just her.
But before I touch her she turns over, surprising me.
“How’d it go with Jenny?” she asks.
I push damp hair back off her face. “It was . . . enlightening.”
“What do you mean?”
Truthfully? I have no idea. For so long, I thought Jenny Monroe was my endgame. It was a certainty, like the sun rising in the east. To realize that nothing about it is certain, and that I’m actually okay with that, is throwing me for a major goddamn loop.
I wonder if this is how people felt when they discovered the earth wasn’t flat? It’s a shift in perception—in how I view the world—and what my place is supposed to be in it.
My thoughts about Sofia are a whole other level of fucked up. What I feel for her extends further than admiration for her stupendous tits and magnificent intelligence. Deeper. I know that now—I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do about it. Would she believe me if I told her? Is there any chance she feels the same way?
So I’m not going to do anything. Because when you’re driving a car, if you try and change gears too quick? They’ll grind, screech, possibly cause the transmission to drop out of the bottom of your car.
When in doubt—it’s better to wait it out.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Her face tightens, like she’s going to push the issue, but then she turns onto her back and complains, “It’s so fucking hot—I’m literally melting.” She wipes sweat from her forehead.
I smile. “My grandma used to say Mississippi was closer to God. The downside is when you’re closer to the heavens, you’re nearer the sun—and that’s why it’s always so goddamn hot.”
Sofia chuckles. Then she arches her back and rolls her neck uncomfortably. “I’m never going to be able to sleep.”
That’s when I have the best fucking idea.
“I want to take you somewhere.”
• • •
“Are you sure it’s safe?”
“Completely.” I pull on the handlebars, testing the weight the rope will handle. It creaks like an old house in a storm, but holds. “See?”