Speakeasy (True North #5)(6)

Also, my fight-or-flight reaction had startled me almost as much as catching Daniela cheating. Red-hot anger had sluiced through my veins as I stormed toward their table. And when my hand met Tracy’s face, it had made a sharp, bright sound.

I’m embarrassed by how good it had felt, and how not sorry I feel now. I’m embarrassed about a lot of things, actually. How naively I gave myself to Daniela, in spite of her bad behavior. How vulnerable I made myself to this kind of pain.

And it happened in front of Alec Rossi of all people. When I was thirteen, I’d had the biggest crush on him. I used to sit at the top of the bleachers at my brother’s football games and watch Alec making time with the girls his age. They’d tossed their hair and preened and laughed, doing anything for a little scrap of his attention.

I can’t believe that Alec Rossi just witnessed my life exploding. It’s like the frosting on a cake made of awfulness. When I think of how it must have looked to him, a little groan escapes me.

“You okay over there?” he asks from behind the wheel.

“Sure. Just trying to get over my shock.”

“I’ll bet. I spotted them about a half hour before you came in. Wasn’t sure what to think about it.”

“Really? You recognized Daniela?” I’m a little stunned that he knows who my girlfriend is.

Was. Damn it.

“Yeah. A good bartender never forgets a face. I’m sorry to say that they were in the bar last week, too. And I wasn’t a hundred percent sure that you guys were still together. But tonight I took this photo because I was going to try to figure it out and maybe tell you.” He steers to the side of the road, pulls his phone out of the cupholder, and unlocks it. Then he passes it to me.

And there they are. It’s a very good picture of Daniela kissing Tracy, her ex. And now I spot another ugly detail. Daniela is wearing a very beautiful black V-neck angora sweater. And now I hurt even worse.

“Ugh.” I hand it back. “She was wearing the sweater. Fuck.”

“What’s that?” Alec asks. He pulls onto the highway and we continue on our way.

“I knitted that sweater she’s wearing tonight.”

“You made it yourself?” he asks. “Whoa. There’s some gratitude for you.”

I just sigh.

“Are you going to be okay?”

That is a good question. “I will be.” As soon as my thundercloud of rage passes overhead.

“Must have been hard to see,” he says in a low voice. “A shock, right? The heartbreak will set in later.”

“That’s the thing…” I clear my throat. “I don’t even know if it will.” Once I hear myself admit that, I realize it might even be true.

Alec waits quietly for me to go on. I watch his big hands grip the steering wheel, while I attempt to sort out my emotions. “We weren’t working out. As a couple.” There. I said it out loud. “But I hoped we would. I wanted us to. And in the beginning, Daniela was fun.”

“Then what happened?” he asks

“Well…” This part is hard to talk about. “When we got together, both of us were trying to get over other people. You just met Daniela’s ex, Tracy. I’d never seen her in person before tonight. But Daniela told me straight up that Tracy broke her heart.”

Alec makes an impatient noise in the back of his throat. “I can’t really see anyone falling hard for that rude b—” He bites off the end of the sentence. “She’s someone I never needed to meet.”

“Me neither,” I grumble. Although, maybe meeting her like that had been necessary. “The thing is, I really wanted to move on. But I don’t think Daniela really wanted to get over Tracy. That’s why we didn’t work out. I was ready to try to love someone else, and she couldn’t get there. Not that she handled it very well. She was hard on me, when I wasn’t really the problem.”


“Yeah.” There had been way too many times when she’d been shitty to me, and I had just ignored it. The first time it got really out of hand was last summer, when Daniela got drunk at my brother’s wedding. She’d told my friends and family that I wasn’t any fun.

Come to think of it, Alec had asked me to dance that night. It had only been for a few minutes, but I’d still been flattered.

Now I wonder if he’d been feeling sorry for me.

“I put up with her for way too long,” I say. “But I thought I could wait her out—that she’d remember the fun we had at the beginning, and realize we could have a future.”

“Dude,” he says. “Lots of people make that mistake—hoping things will just get better.”


“My mom spent fifteen years hoping.” He turns off the highway.

“Turn right at the second stop sign.”

And it hits me. This is probably the last time I’ll ever step inside the house we shared. How is that even possible? This morning, on my way to work, I’d thought my biggest concerns were my boring job and wondering if Daniela would remember to run the dishwasher after putting her cereal bowl in it.

“I don’t know how to get my head around this,” I mumble. “I was going to make dinner tonight.”

“Sorry, babydoll,” Alec whispers.

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