When they pulled up in her driveway, she crawled out of the car and stretched. The early afternoon summer heat had not abated. She opened the door, and a blast of heat immediately hit her. Janae quickly went to the thermostat to adjust the temperature, then opened the windows for a few minutes to let out the stale air. Devin brought in her bags and set them near the hallway.
“What’re you doing for dinner?” he asked, taking a seat on the sofa.
“I don’t know. There’s nothing in the refrigerator, so I’ll have to go shopping. Unless you want to cook for me at your place.”
“Hey, my refrigerator is just as empty.”
“How is that? You’ve only been gone three days.”
“True, but I’ve been working a lot of hours and didn’t have time to shop.” Devin worked as an architect.
“I don’t feel like sitting in a restaurant tonight. Can we get something and bring it back?”
“Yep. Sounds like a plan. How about Chinese food?”
“That works. I’m going to take a shower.”
“I’ll probably do the same, then relax for a while. I know you’re going to be in that studio, so I’ll come get you when it’s time to eat.”
“You know me so well,” she called over her shoulder.
Janae entered her studio after showering, inhaled deeply and let it out slowly. She hadn’t painted in two weeks and missed the feeling of peace and relaxation that came over her whenever her brush touched the canvas. The time in Santa Fe had given her more inspiration than she knew what to do with. Some she’d photographed with a camera, while others had been captured in her mind. The first one on her list would be the desert sunrise. Dreams about Terrence had kept her awake at night, so one morning, instead of going back to sleep, she’d gotten up, sat out on the patio and watched the sun greet the day. The explosion of oranges, pinks and purples crossing the sky had left her breathless, and she was eager to get started. She painted for over an hour before Devin poked his head in the door.
“I’m going to get dinner. I already called it in, so I should be back in about twenty minutes. Get cleaned up and be ready to eat.”
“All right, all right. I will.” She had held up dinner many a night as a teen, and often, someone would have to drag her out of the studio.
After painting for a few more minutes, she cleaned up, put away her supplies and went to wash her hands. By the time she came out of the bathroom, she heard the front door opening. She met Devin in the kitchen.
“See, you don’t have to drag me out,” she said, sticking her tongue out at him.
He tugged on a curl. “Sit down and hush.” He got plates, glasses and serving utensils. Taking the chair next to her, he blessed their food.
She filled her plate and moaned with the first bite of sweet and sour pork. “Mmm. I haven’t had this in so long.” They ate in silence for a while.
“So what happened with Terrence?”
Janae paused in midbite. She finished chewing, set down her chopsticks and wiped her mouth. “What do you mean what happened?”
“What did he do to you? And don’t insult my intelligence by saying nothing happened.”
“He didn’t do anything to me. Things just didn’t work out.”
He dug his cell out of his pocket, pushed a few buttons and handed it to her. “Do you recognize anyone in that picture?”
Her eyes widened upon seeing the picture of her and Terrence dancing at the CD release party. Although her face was partially blocked, anyone who knew her well would recognize her. “Where did you get this?”
“Tina sent it to me. Apparently a friend of hers went to the party and was surprised to see this guy with a date, so she sent this as proof.”
Tina would definitely know her since Tina’s brother and Devin had gone to school together. She handed the phone back.
“I knew this guy was lying about his name. It’s Monte, not Terrence.”
She released a deep sigh. “Devin, his first name is Terrence. Monte is his middle name. Can we talk about something else, please?”
“No. I want to know what he did to you. Something happened that weekend. I bet he was messing around with other women at this party like all these popular music stars do. When I get done with him—”
“No! No, he wasn’t.” She blew out a harsh breath and rubbed her temples. “I simply fell in love with a guy who has no room in his life for anything but music. He never led me on, or anything. It just happened. I fell, he didn’t.” Janae felt the tears gathering in her eyes and tried to blink them back. “Please, please, let it go, Devin.” She swiped at a tear that escaped.