Part Two

"Of the thirty-six ways of avoiding disaster, running away is the best."

Somewhere on University Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin
December 26, 2010; 6:42 a.m.

"Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!" Kay swore repeatedly as she drove down the open road. "What the hell were you thinking?"

Her gaze momentarily shifted from the empty road before her to her slender fingers that gripped the steering wheel. There wasn't anything remarkable about her fair-skinned hands. However, the ostentatious ring that typically adorned her fourth finger was sitting on her dresser back home.

When James had insisted on her wearing that particular ring as her wedding band, she was shocked. The platinum gold band was embedded with a large diamond, which was surrounded by a heart-shaped ruby on both sides. It was a very expensive ring, and she was touched that James felt that she was worth all of the money that it had cost him.

But, really, she wasn't all that fond of it. It was too big, too flashy, and too showy. She would have preferred a simply gold band with a small and simple diamond embedded in it. Still, she had let James buy the larger, more expensive ring. More importantly, she had mistaken his willingness to shower her with expensive gifts for love. More importantly, she had married him, believing in his deep love for her. However, she had broken her marriage vows the previous night, during the unbelievable moments of passion that she'd shared with Reese.

Oh, Reese, her heart cried out. She'd wanted to stay with him this morning. When she'd awoken in his warm and comforting embrace, she'd felt that she was finally where she belonged.

But it wasn't where she belonged. She belonged with her husband, not with the only man who had ever and would ever love her.

Reese would be so hurt if he ever discovered that she was married. She knew that he would be beyond shocked to learn that he had slept with a married woman. He would feel betrayed and feel as if he had betrayed his fellow man in some way. He would hate her for causing him to unknowingly have an affair with a married woman.

She had changed so much over the past few years, in ways that Reese would never predict. However, the one thing that remained the same was that she was still Kay Bennett. James had hated his last name – for obvious reasons. He was originally James Pirocanac, but he had insisted on taking her name. Another sign that she had taken to believe that he was truly in love with her, that he was really in love with her family, and not with her. Another sign that she hadn't wanted to see and had refused to acknowledge or accept.

After Miguel married Charity, she had finally realized that her pursuit of her best friend was causing everyone pain and heartache, and that if he didn't love her, she would have to find a man who would.

Of course, by this time, Reese had already left for college. They'd broken up before they left, and she hadn't bothered to pay attention to where he was going to school or even what he was studying.

Was he happy now? Was he happier without her around to screw up his life?

She would never know; she could never let herself find out. She would have to stay away from him and try her best to pretend that the previous night had never happened – no matter how hard that might be.

18 Violet Place
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
December 26, 2012; 7:06 a.m.

She hated her mother.

Well, perhaps that was a bit strong. She just really *really* disliked her mother.

A lot.

But she still kept trying to win her mother's attention, her mother's approval, her mother's love.

Of course, she had almost no success.

She supposed that her marriage to James was an attempt to get her mother to love her the way that she loved Charity, or the way that she loved Jessica. After all, her mother was the first to throw all of her support behind his involvement with her eldest daughter.

But then again, James was probably one of the only people in the world who could honestly tell her mother that he loved her tomato soup cakes. And the fact that he always requested that she make one for him for all the important occasions only made Grace Bennett love him more.

And it made her loathe her husband and his inactive taste buds for forcing her to swallow at least one piece of the dreadful dessert at each birthday, anniversary, and major holiday.

Upon her arrival back home, she'd seen a package from Harmony sitting on the front porch.

His tomato soup cake.

It was that sight that had started her most recent tirade against her mother, her husband, and her fucked up life.

The flashing of her answering machine brought her out of her cycle of self-loathing for a moment. Quickly, she pressed the button, wondering who might have called while she was out the previous night.

"Hey, honey. Just wanted to call and let you know that I'll be getting home at ten-twenty tomorrow night. I really wish we could have spent the holidays together, but I know that you understand that I just couldn't cut this trip short. I'll see you soon, sweetheart. Hope you had a merry Christmas."

Kay quickly reached out to hit the delete button, never wanting to hear the saccharine sweet words that her husband had recorded ever again. She knew that he didn't care about missing out on spending time with her. His actions of the past had proved as much.

Two months ago, he had been out of town on a business trip. He was always away on business trips – not that she minded. Anyhow, her father was planning a surprise birthday party for her mother, and he hadn't thought he'd be able to make it. He was, of course, devastated, but had managed to find a way to come to Harmony for a day before he'd had to fly back to Sicily.

He hadn't even tried to come home for one day for her. Ever.

And that hurt.

That was what had sent her running to Reese the night before. That was what had caused her to climb into his bed and make wild, passionate love to him all night long.

Well, she thought as she dropped onto the couch, that and the fact that it was nice to be loved again, to be treasured again.

James dropped that act barely a week after they were married. Sure, he worked at keeping up the charade that they were happily married, but he didn't seem to care as much about giving her what she wanted or what she needed. After all, he'd gotten what he'd wanted – an 'in' with a normal family, *her* normal family. Why bother about her wants and desires?

She had to admit that she didn't really miss the sex in their relationship. That, after all, had never really been James's forte. But she missed the sweet words, the things that he used to do for her to make her feel like she was the most wonderful woman in the world.

The things that Reese had done for her the night before.

When she had seen him walking out of Starbucks the week before, she'd thought that she was imagining things. After all, what were the chances that Reese Durkee – *her* Reese Durkee – would end up in the same city as her, after all these years?

So she'd followed him from a distance, waiting to find out that her eyes were just showing her what she wanted to see.

But that wasn't what happened. Instead she had seen this man helping a young boy pick some things that he'd dropped on the sidewalk, and she'd seen him open a car door for a woman who'd had her hands full. He was the same, helpful, wonderful Reese Durkee that he'd always been. And she knew it for a fact when she saw him walk into a house with the name "Durkee" written on the mailbox.

When she'd gone to his home the previous night, she had no intentions of sleeping with him – let alone of talking to him. But when she peeked in the window and saw him rolling restlessly beneath his covers, she hadn't been able to stop herself from climbing through the window to get closer to him, to touch him.

Admittedly, things had gotten a little out of hand. She had never planned to take things as far as they'd gone.

But she didn't regret it.

Not at all. Not one moment of the time that she'd spent in his bed.

That didn't mean that it could happen again. In fact, it could never happen again.

She knew that. She believed that.

But she still wondered what would happen if she went to see him again.

Would he take her in his arms again? Would he kiss her deeply again?

Would he tell her that he loved her again?

She reached for the phone, wanting to call him and tell him how sorry she was for leaving him that morning. She wanted to explain everything, tell him everything.

But what if he told her to get lost? What if he said that he wasn't going to be her fuck buddy on the side? What if he told her that he didn't love her, that he couldn't love her? That no one could love her?

Would his words break her heart? Or would they heal the wounds that had been inflicted on it during the course of her lifetime?

It didn't matter. It *couldn't* matter, she decided as she pulled her hand away from the phone. She wouldn't let it matter.

No, she wouldn't go near his bed again. She wouldn't go near his home again. She wouldn't go near *him* again.

At least, not if she could help it.


Part Three to come next week! If you enjoyed reading this, I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks again for reading!