Speakeasy (True North #5)(8)

But it’s organic. It cost six bucks a pound.

These are my crazy thoughts as I spot Daniela’s new iPhone resting on the countertop. She must have forgotten it again, which happens a lot. In her defense, Vermont’s cell service is so spotty that smartphones aren’t as useful as they are elsewhere in the world.

I pick up the phone and unlock it—the phone knows my thumbprint, so that I can choose tunes when we’re in the car together. For the first time in our eleven-month relationship, I open up the messaging app. I’m not a snoop. I’m a trusting person. But now that my trust has been eviscerated, I’m curious how long her affair has been going on.

Sure enough—right under a thread of messages with me is a thread with “Trax,” as Daniela’s ex called herself. (I know way too much about this woman, which meant it was always going to end this way.)

I read the last few texts, and I’m already nauseated.

Trax: Tomorrow can’t come soon enough, honey love. I’m so hot for you. Gonna make you scream again.

Ugh! I scroll up hastily to verify that the texts have been going on for weeks. But I scroll one time too many, because I find a picture of Daniela naked on our bed. Her legs are spread, fingertips lightly touching her—

I make a noise of dismay.

“Time to go,” Alec says softly from where he stands leaning against the doorframe. He doesn’t say so, but I can tell he’s keeping watch. He’s trying to protect me from another brutal confrontation.

And that’s a good impulse. I’m done here. Truly done. I click the phone off, so the screen goes dark. But that’s not satisfying enough. So I open the dishwasher, which Daniela forgot to run. I toss the phone into the top rack, slam it shut, and push the ON button.

“Okay,” I say, as the sound of water swishing around inside the machine begins. “I’m ready.”

Alec is frozen in the doorway, staring at me. Slowly, the corners of his mouth quirk upward. Then a full smile blooms. “You are a badass, May Shipley. I’m a little in awe of you.”

I don’t feel like a badass, though, as we roll toward my family’s farm in Tuxbury. I only feel like a failure.

“Everything okay over there?”

“Yes. Sorry.” I’m a terrible conversationalist. “Just trying to rearrange my brain. My family is not going to be graceful about this.”

“What? Sure they will be. They’ll be happy to see you.” Alec’s tone is soothing—the way you’d speak to a crazy person.

“Maybe. But I have quite the rep now as the family fuck-up. When I turn up tonight with your truck full of my stuff, and move back into my old room…” I groan, just picturing their faces. “There will be a lot of handwringing and watching me for signs of stress. I’m my family’s only hot mess.”

Alec chuckles. “No, you’re the family’s only lawyer, right? If you want to be a hot mess, you gotta try a little harder than that.”

This makes me smile, because I like Alec’s take on the situation better than mine. Unfortunately, he’s wrong. While I might be the only Shipley with a graduate degree, I’m also the only alcoholic. Sometimes they treat me like I’ve contracted a novel and potentially fatal disease.

I suppose they’re right.

“It will be awkward.” I sigh, picturing all the sympathetic looks I’m about to receive. Poor May. She’s lost her way again. “You know, I think I jumped into living with Daniela too soon mostly because I didn’t want to be under their microscope anymore.” My family can be hard to take.

“So now you’re back under it?”


“Look on the bright side.” He reaches across the cab to nudge me with a warm hand. “Free food and rent!”

The man has a point. Nobody ever starved at Shipley Farm.

Though, as the dark miles roll by, I can’t stop myself from replaying the ugly scene in Alec’s bar. “Maybe it sounds weird to fixate on this,” I grumble. “But I can’t believe she was wearing that sweater. If you were going out for a date with the Other Woman, would you wear a sweater your live-in girlfriend made? I spent a hundred hours on that thing, and at least two hundred bucks. It was angora!”

“Good thing it wasn’t cashmere.”

“Right? Jesus. That would have been four hundred bucks worth of yarn.”


“Totally. It actually costs more to knit a sweater than to buy one.”

Alec turns his head to give me a quick glance. “Then why knit them? Serious question.”

“Because you can make whatever you want. But also out of love. A handmade thing is better than a store-bought thing.”

“Not always,” Alec points out. “If you ate my cooking you might not agree.”

“Fair enough.” I smile at his handsome profile. “This is going to sound stupid.”

“Try me. I say stupid shit all day long.”

“There’s this old wives’ tale that you’re not supposed to knit a sweater for the man in your life. They say that if you knit him a sweater, he’ll never marry you.”

“Ouch.” Alec’s handsome profile frowns. “I hope you don’t believe that. This thing wasn’t your fault.”

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