No. No. No. What the fuck? When did I text her?
I glanced at the time I’d sent Michelle the text. One o’clock in the morning. I switched back to the text I’d sent Kat. Two o’clock in the morning.
My head started throbbing again. I didn’t even remember texting her. I thought I’d fallen right to sleep. My hand hovered over the screen, not sure I wanted to read what I’d said to her or what she’d said back. I swallowed puke again and pressed the tiny envelope on the screen. My text was above hers.
Hey. So. Sorry I was such a dick the first day at Gam’s. Seeing you was a shock, but she really likes you and I really like her, so I’m gonna stop being a dick.
She had responded half an hour later.
Kat: Um . . . okay. I’m not really sure what to make of this. I’m assuming you’re drunk, but I hope that you really mean this and you’ll let me do my job in peace. There’s no reason we can’t be friends, Viper. We have a long history that wasn’t always good, but I still care about you as a person. Anyway, I’m going back to bed. We can talk more about this later.
My heart started pounding. On one hand, I was relieved that I didn’t say something way more fucking stupid, but on the other, I had no idea why I’d even texted her in the first place. Or how I remembered her phone number after all this time.
I flopped back on my bed and started thinking about what Brody said as he’d stormed out of my garage. Maybe calling Dr. Shawn wasn’t such a bad idea after all . . . not that I would ever tell him that.
On my way to the kitchen, I stopped in my bathroom and downed four Advil, praying to everything that was holy that my head would feel better fast.
I didn’t know how Gam drank that shit everyday.
I looked around my kitchen for Dr. Shawn’s business card—it wasn’t on any of the counters, on the front or side of the fridge, or on the cork board I had in the hallway to the laundry room.
Then it hit me.
I hurried over to the kitchen drawer I used to keep all the random women’s phone numbers in and pulled it open so hard I practically pulled it out. Sitting right there in the middle of the drawer was her business card.
My hands shook as I dialed her cell number. I had no idea if things had changed in the year since I saw her last, but she’d never had an assistant. Her clients called her directly to schedule an appointment. The phone rang once and I thought about hanging up. I had no idea what I was going to say when she answered, but I didn’t even have time to think about it because she picked up on the second ring.
“Viper?” her familiar, friendly voice said.
“Hey, Dr. Shawn. Long time no talk.”
“Yeah! Really long time no talk. I’m surprised to hear from you. Is everything okay?”
“Not really. I mean . . . I don’t know. My life has kinda gone into a shit spiral lately and a friend suggested I call you.” The vulnerability of saying those words out loud weighed more than ten Zambonis. I didn’t like letting my guard down, and I hated asking for help, but I didn’t know what else to do.
“Well, I’m glad you called me, Viper, but—”
“So do you have any appointments open today? Maybe tomorrow?”
“Unfortunately, I don’t.” Her voice was soft and she sounded just as disappointed as I felt. “I’m guessing you don’t know this, but I had a baby a couple of weeks ago. I’m actually going to be out on maternity leave for about four months.”
I couldn’t believe what she’d just said. “Baby? You had a baby? Oh, the fucking irony!” I was so annoyed that I started laughing like a maniac.
“Never mind.” I let out a heavy sigh, no longer in the mood to let my guard down. My walls went back up faster than they’d ever been built before.
“I have an associate who’s seeing some of my clients while I’m out. Would you like his number?”
“No, thanks. I’ll figure it out. Don’t worry about it.” Talking to Brody wouldn’t fix me. Talking to Dr. Shawn’s associate wouldn’t fix me. Nothing would fix me.
“I’m so sorry about the timing, Viper,” she said sincerely.
“You have no idea how laughable the timing is,” I mumbled into the phone. “I gotta go.”
Viper’s text confused and infuriated me at the same time. What did “I need to figure some shit out” even mean?
Were we together?
Were we not together?
Did I even want to be with him after the way he’d acted?
I didn’t even see the text until I woke up in the morning, but when I did, I took a deep breath and put my phone away. I was too hormonal and too angry to reply, and what I wanted to say wouldn’t have been good. While I was happy that he finally made contact, after all we’d been through together and a year of him practically living with me, he owed me more than some lame apology by text.
A lot more.
Gam had called earlier that week and asked me to come by to see her. I had no clue what Viper had or hadn’t told her, but I was relieved that she obviously wasn’t cutting off communication with me like I’d feared.
I dropped Matthew off at school and headed to Gam’s with Maura.
She was waiting on her porch for me when we pulled up, and before I even had Maura out of the car seat, she was standing next to me with open arms.
“How are my favorite girls?” She hugged me and Maura together, so tight that I wanted to cry. Other than kisses and hugs from the kids, I’d had no affection for a few weeks and I was desperate for it. I squeezed her back and blinked away tears that had started to sting my eyes.
She pulled back and studied my face with a grin on her own. “God, I’ve missed you. Where have you been?”
“Well . . . busy,” I said nonchalantly, still trying to gauge how much she knew.
“You’re all busy. You’re busy. Viper’s busy. Everyone’s busy. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here getting older by the minute, waiting for company.” She let out a quick laugh as we walked up the steps of her porch.
“You’re moving around really well,” I said, looking down toward her hip.
“Thanks. The therapy is helping a lot, and of course, some days are better than others. But when I saw you pull up, it was like a jolt of energy shot through me. I practically ran across the yard.” She sat down on the couch and held her arms out for Maura, who leaped right into them.