“Nothing’s needed,” I assure him. “I know you were caught off guard. We lied to you. I’m sorry for that as well. There wasn’t a good excuse. But next time I see you, I’ve got to tell you some things about Walsh.”
“From when you were younger?” he asks.
“Yes, when I was sixteen, and before you get weirded out, it was nothing sexual at all. But something happened that created a bond between us, and I need to tell you about it because I want you to know why I love him so much. I want you to know that what you saw in the club that night… that was just a small part of who we are. It just goes much deeper, okay?”
“Okay,” he says softly, and I can hear the smile on his face. “And for the record, just one more time, let me say you should choose Walsh.”
“Goodbye, Micah,” I say teasingly.
“I love you,” he replies.
“I love you,” I tell him before I hang up.
I don’t dally in the arboretum, but make my way back to the house. I consider stopping by the grocery store to make something for dinner, but that smacks of a domesticity I’m not feeling, especially since Vince and I are going to have to talk tonight. I doubt I’ll be able to eat I’m so wrought with emotions over this.
I park my car in the driveway and walk up to the house I’ve shared with my husband. It’s the same one he kicked me out of over a month ago.
Part of me is ashamed I’ve come back.
Part of me knows it was the right decision at the time, given all I was faced with.
I don’t know that I’ll ever reconcile those in my mind, so I am going to choose to let that go. Besides, in the grand scheme of things, what’s done is done and I need to look forward.
As I walk up the porch, I pull my keys out of my purse. Before I can even reach the door, Vince is there swinging it open. I can tell he’s relieved to see me, and it makes me feel so guilty.
Perhaps it was an unwise decision to come back.
“What are you doing here?” I ask in surprise as I push my keys back in my purse. Vince doesn’t usually get home from work until close to seven.
“I canceled my appointments for the rest of the day,” he says as he steps back, pulling the door open wider so I can walk in. “Thought it was more important that we talk.”
I nod as I walk by, pausing to put my hand on his chest as I look up at him. “Thank you. I’d like to talk, too.”
I choose the living room, and Vince follows me. Putting my purse down on a side table, I take an end on the couch. Vince chooses an adjacent chair, and when he’s settled, I pull my legs underneath me.
We stare at each other a moment, and then he asks, “Did you sleep with him again?”
“No,” I say with quiet empathy to how this must make him feel. “We just talked.”
“You said you needed to tell me things about Walsh. About your history with him.”
“Yes. But first, I need to tell you that I don’t have a decision made right now. I know what my heart is telling me, but it’s been so battered lately, I don’t know if I should trust it. I want to tell you everything—and some of it’s not going to be easy for you to hear—and then I want you to tell me what you want from me.”
“Okay,” he returns as he leans back in the chair to watch me warily.
“I don’t need to tell you how badly you hurt me,” I start by saying. “But when you had me leave our home, I left believing that I wasn’t worthy of a man. You made me doubt myself and my sexuality.”
“Don’t,” I say gently as I hold my hand up. “You’ve apologized already, and you explained what drove you to say that. I get it. I just need you to know what my frame of mind was when I left, and why it led me to Walsh.”
Vince’s jaw tightens in anticipation of whatever boom I’m getting to lower on him. I decide to just rip the Band-Aid off.
“I went to a sex club with Elena,” I say, then I wait to see his reaction.
He grimaces and lets out a rush of air as his gaze darts to the fireplace where he just stares at it blankly.
“It was a masquerade event, so everyone’s faces were covered. Walsh was there and we had sex, not knowing at first who the other person was.”
Vince turns back to me, clearly distressed by learning his wife went to a sex club because he’d made her feel like shit. “I’m so sorry, Jorie. I didn’t mean to drive you to that.”