"But you had my heart, Adam. That's what you took with you when you went to…hook up with her."
"No. We're done. It's over."
Joan walked swiftly from the room, barely glancing at Grace and Luke before heading for the nearest exit. Luke started to follow her, but Grace grabbed his arm.
"Dude, just let her go."
"We can't just leave her alone."
"Maybe that's what she needs right now."
Luke opened his mouth to respond, but he stopped when he saw Adam exit the classroom. "How could you do this to her!" he yelled.
"I'm sorry", Adam said in a tearful whisper. "I never meant – "
"You're sorry? That's all you have to say for yourself? You-"
"Enough!" Grace interjected, noticing that they were creating a scene. "Let's go, Luke."
"Grace…" Adam looked apologetically at his friend.
"Not now, Rove."
Grace pulled on Luke's arm, and with a final glare at Adam, he followed her out of the school. Adam stood in the middle of the hallway and watched them go, feeling almost as alone as he had when his mother died. What had he done?
Joan walked out of the school and kept walking. She didn't have a particular destination in mind. She just walked because she didn't know what else to do. Her mind was racing. Was this really happening? Did Adam really cheat on her? Her Adam, her sweet, wonderful Adam? Tears continued to run down her cheeks as she remembered Bonnie in the hallway and what Adam had confessed to. How could he have done this? She loved him so much, and he said he loved her. Was sex so important to him that he was willing to throw that all away? Maybe she should have just slept with him that night after the concert. Then maybe he wouldn't have gone looking elsewhere. But then again, maybe he would have. Maybe he would have used her like he used Bonnie. And he thought Bonnie was a freak. He didn't even like her, and yet he could still… She didn't even want to complete the thought. She felt so sick inside.
This whole time they'd been planning their anniversary, he'd been lying and going behind her back. She had thought about changing her mind about having sex. She'd thought about possibly making their anniversary something more and giving herself to him. Remembering this thought brought another one into her mind. Would he have even told her about Bonnie if she hadn't come up to them today? If she and Adam had had sex, would he have kept having sex with Bonnie too? Her stomach turned once again. She continued wandering the streets of Arcadia, feeling lost and alone.
Luke and Grace walked silently side by side after they left the school. Neither one knew what to say. Luke had been absolutely stunned by what Grace had told him, and Grace, even after a couple of days, still had trouble processing the fact that Adam had cheated on her friend. Those two were so stupid about each other, and she never saw something like this coming. They were silent for so long that Grace actually jumped a little when Luke finally spoke.
"What in the hell happened? This just doesn't seem like Adam at all."
"I don't know, dude. I couldn't believe it when he told me, either. I guess he got tired of waiting for Joan."
"But she loves him. And I thought he loved her."
"Well, he's got a great way of showing that. How long had this been going on?"
"I don't know. He said a couple times. I don't suppose it matters much though."
Both fell silent for awhile until Luke spoke up again. "I'd never do that to you, Grace."
"Of course you wouldn't. I'd kill you," Grace replied, but it lacked her usual ferocity.
Once the pair got to Grace's house, Luke walked her to the door.
"I should probably go home. See if Joan is ok. Well, as ok as she's going to be right now, anyway."
"Right. IM me later and let me know how she's doing, ok?"
He kissed her goodbye and started walking toward his own home. As he turned onto Euclid, his steps slowed. He wasn't sure exactly what he was expecting, but he knew the scene in his house probably wouldn't be pretty. He'd been surprised at Joan's lack of hysterics at school after Adam confessed, though. She was crying when she left, but quiet and stunned too. This had completely blindsided her. "What an asshole," he thought to himself as he climbed the steps to the front porch and tentatively opened the front door. The house was pretty quiet as Luke entered, which surprised him.
"Hey, Geek, how's it going?" Kevin asked as he wheeled past him toward the kitchen.
"Hey, Luke, could you help set the table? Dinner's just about ready," Helen said as she spotted him.
Luke was a little confused. This was definitely not what he'd expected.
"Luke?" Helen asked questioningly. "Did you hear me? And where's your sister? Did she go to Adam's?"
"I, I don't know. She's not here? She left before Grace and I did. And she's definitely not at Adam's house," he added derisively.
"Luke, what's going on?" Helen, as well as Will and Kevin who'd come into the dining room were all looking at Luke as he struggled to find the words to explain what had happened.
"Adam and Joan broke up. She left in a hurry, and I figured she came home."
Will, Helen, and Kevin just stared at Luke in stunned silence before Helen recovered somewhat.
"They broke up? Do you know what happened?"
Luke took a deep breath before deciding to just plunge on in. "He cheated on her. With Bonnie." Luke was again met with stunned and silent stares.
"I don't believe it. Adam wouldn't do that. Are you sure?" asked Helen.
"Yeah. He told Grace a couple days ago. Apparently it's been going on for awhile, but Joan just found out today."
"Why would he do something like that?" Kevin wondered.
Luke really hated being in this position, but he figured he may as well tell them what he knew. "Well, um, I guess that since Joan wouldn't sleep with him, he found someone else who would. He barely even knows or likes Bonnie, but I guess that really didn't matter too much. He told Grace it was just about sex, and not to tell Joan. I don't know if he would have ever told her if Bonnie hadn't come up to them in the hall today."
"That little punk," said Kevin angrily. "I'll kill him."
Will's face darkened with anger as well, and Helen sat down heavily in a chair.
"Do you have any idea where she may have gone? Grace's maybe?"
"No. And I was just at Grace's house."
"Will, where could she be?"
"I don't know. I'll get in the car and start driving around."
Kevin decided he'd do the same, and Luke went to call Grace. Helen tried calling Joan's cell phone, but it was turned off. She left a voice mail and sat back down with the phone and her worry.
Joan didn't know how long she'd been walking when she finally looked at her watch. She was cold and tired, and it was well past the time she should have been home. She also noticed she'd walked a lot farther than she realized. Fortunately, she also noticed a bus stop nearby. She boarded the next bus when it came and saw Old Lady God sitting in one of the seats and sat down next to her. Their conversation didn't make the pain go away, but the comforting embrace helped.
When she reached her house, she noticed that almost every light was on. She looked at her watch again, and realized her parents were probably worried about where she was since she was supposed to have been home hours ago. So much for her plan of sneaking upstairs to her room and hiding under the covers until the next century. Maybe she'd try it anyway, she thought as she opened the front door as quietly as she could.
Joan froze at the sound of her mother's voice and then turned toward it. Her parents and brothers were in the living room (Kevin and Will had just returned from an unsuccessful search effort) and by the looks on their faces, Joan knew that they were all aware of what had happened with her and Adam. Helen got up from her seat and walked over toward her.
"We were so worried. We didn't know where you were."
"I'm sorry. I just needed to…walk for awhile."
"Are you – "
"Look, I don't want to talk about it, ok?"
"No. There's nothing to say. I loved him, but it wasn't enough…" With these words, Joan's face crumpled and her tears started again.
Helen gently guided her to the sofa and put her arms around her once they were seated.
"Why did he do this? What's wrong with me? Why wasn't I enough?" Joan sobbed as she looked at her mother with pain-filled eyes.
Helen's heart broke for her daughter. "I don't know, sweetheart. But there's nothing wrong with you. This is his fault, not yours."
Helen noticed the dark looks of rage on her husband's and sons' faces at this exchange. She was beginning to feel a bit murderous herself.
"I wondered why he was working so much all of a sudden," Joan continued. "He started coming by the bookstore when he got off work, and he was being so sweet. I thought it was because of our anniversary." She paused and drew in a shaky breath. "But he was lying the entire time. He was with her. Oh God…" Her stomach lurched as a new realization hit. "He went from her to me. He had sex with her and then came to make out with me."
Joan practically flew off the sofa and toward the bathroom, barely reaching her destination before emptying the contents of her stomach into the toilet. Helen and Will quickly followed, but Kevin and Luke only went as far as the kitchen. When Joan continued to heave long after her stomach was empty, and then started crying again, Kevin turned to Luke. "I feel like taking a little drive. Wanna join me?" Knowing he was planning on paying a visit to Adam, Luke readily agreed.
Adam sat in his shed, the events of the afternoon replaying over and over in perfect detail in his mind thanks to his photographic memory. The look of revulsion, anger, and pain on Jane's face when he admitted he'd had sex with Bonnie would be an image that would haunt him forever. He was realizing it had never been "just sex" that didn't mean anything. It definitely meant something. It meant that he had just lost the most important person in his life. He loved Jane more than anything, and he wondered if she'd ever be able to forgive him or if he'd ever be able to get her back. He wearily leaned his head into his hands as the echo of the last words she'd spoken to him, "It's over", reverberated through his head. This was a nightmare.
It was getting late, but he didn't want to go inside and run into his dad, who would want to know what was wrong. When he heard the door to his shed open and someone step inside, he reluctantly looked up, expecting to see his father. He was startled to find himself looking into the angry faces of Joan's brothers.
"What the hell were you thinking, Rove! How could you do that to her!" demanded Kevin as he pinned Adam to his workbench with his wheel chair.
Adam opened his mouth to try to form an answer, but Kevin didn't give him a chance.
"And just how long did you think you could go on lying to her? Were you ever going to tell her you were cheating on her?"
"I wanted to tell her."
"And when would that have been? Before or after she eventually decided she was ready to sleep with you? Maybe you were trying to start your own little harem."
"It wasn't like that!"
"Oh really? And just what was it like?"
Adam didn't have an answer to this now any more than he did earlier in the day when Joan had asked a nearly identical question.
"Bonnie doesn't mean anything to me. It didn't mean anything."
"The hell it didn't!" Luke responded, sending a fist into Adam's face at the same time. "It means plenty to Joan! It means she's left with a broken heart and wondering what she did wrong or why she wasn't enough for you."
Adam slumped down against his workbench, completely defeated. Kevin backed away, and he and Luke headed for the door. Luke turned back after Kevin had begun to wheel himself toward the car. "Joan loved you so much, Adam. With all her heart. How could you just throw that away?
Luke disappeared into the darkness, and Adam placed his head on his arms and sobbed.
To be continued...