The Long Way Home
Willy,
“Dude, this one is off limits.”
    My jaw dropped, “Actually, this one can say for herself and
since he bought me my first drink, I am obligated to drink it with him.” I
winked at Willy.
    He stepped back, “It was nice meeting you, J.D.”
    I gave France a look, “What was that?”
    He put me down, “ You drunk? ”
    I nodded, “I am.” I sipped the margarita and smiled, “This is
good.”
    His dark eyes filled with worry, “Baby, you okay?”
    I shook my head, “I can’t talk about
it right now.”
    I watched his jaw set. He took my hand and pulled me inside to
the kitchen. He passed me a sandwich from a tray, “How did you end up here?”
    I swallowed a huge bite, “My heart or my pride broke and I
went into survival mode, and all I could think of was finding you.”
    He looked hurt, “Go lay down upstairs. I’ll be up in a bit,
okay?”
    I nodded, “Okay.” I passed him my marg and pointed to the deck, “I need my clothes. There, in a bag behind a deck
chair.”
    He waved me off, “I’ll get them. Just go lay down.”
    I walked up the stairs, but like a kid who wanted to be part
of the party after bedtime, I stayed at the top of the stairs and watched them
have fun.
    Seeing Mike France in action was amazing. He was funny and
loud, always laughing and having fun. He made a series of filthy, revenge-sex thoughts rattle their way through my addled brain. His shirt was
open, revealing a tight body with a tiny smattering of dark chest hair. He was
tall, hugely tall. I’d never considered myself short; I was average, 5’6, but
he was tall and thick. I had always liked that about him. He made me feel safe,
always. His dark hair was shaggy, like he was from Greenwich Village. The
playoff beard was the part I hated the most, and yet, I imagined how it would
feel on certain parts of my body.
    I leaned against the railing and listened to the laughing and
joking. The guys all looked the same, hockey players and managers. The girls
didn’t look like spouses, more like puck fucks. Mini skirts and bathing suit
tops, bleach blonde hair, and tanned skin. I was like a sore thumb, even in my
freedom dress. It bummed me out that he was having a party like that, even
though that’s just who he was.
    He was a player.
    Willy spotted me and came up the stairs. He smiled and passed
me another marg , “Sent upstairs early?”
    I shook my head, “No. This just isn’t my scene and he knows
it.”
    He smiled, “It’s not a wife party, that’s for sure.”
    “You married?”
    He shook his head, “We don’t work the kind of job that is
conducive to having a wife and kids.”
    “That’s pretty true.”
    “I don’t want to get a divorce. My parents had one when I was
eleven and it was hard. I never want to put my kids through that. So I want to
wait a bit more before I settle down. I want my wife to be the sole focus in my
life. I know hockey isn’t forever and when I fall in love I want it to be
forever.” His whiskey eyes were killing me.
    I sighed, “Wow, I wish I were marrying you instead.”
    He laughed, “You married?” He glanced at my ring finger.
    I nodded, “Not yet. I just threw my engagement ring in the
Atlantic though, sooooo maybe I’m not getting married
anymore.”
    “Just phone him up and say I divorce you three times and it’s
done spiritually. No more engagement.”
    I put a hand out, “You have a cell phone?”
    He laughed and passed me his iPhone. I dialed home and waited
as it rang, plugging my other ear.
    “Hello?”
    “Phil?”
    He sighed, “Oh, thank God. I was so worried. I called the
police. Are you okay?”
    “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you.” I didn’t even hesitate. I wanted the wedding off.
    “Jacqueline, are you okay? What are you talking about? We
haven’t married yet, baby.”
    I swallowed and felt the world moving slowly around me, like
I was the sun. “Please, I just saw you with Ashley and I saw you with Eleanor.
I know you don’t love me.

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