Day 91

Caution: This Drama Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Fa/Fa, Romantic, Tear Jerker, Cousins, Light Bond, Polygamy/Polyamory, Oral Sex, Slow, .

Desc: Drama Sex Story: Day 91 - Following immediately after Cousins on Vacation, John and I are forced to deal with the fallout from Jules' breakdown. John has a secret he needs to share, but I discover that is just the beginning as we struggle to Make It Work.

I stumbled through the door of the apartment at 3:00 AM, stinking of sour beer and cigarettes. My part-time experience waiting tables had not prepared me for working behind the bar.

"Honey, I'm home," I sang out quietly from the front door.

John was sitting on the floor in the dimly lit living room with Jules' laptop open in front of him on the coffee table. He looked up with blood-shot eyes and a sad, weary smile. "She finally agreed to admit herself."

"I'd hoped she would." I put my keys and purse on the coffee table and bent down to give him a quick kiss before collapsing behind him on the couch.

"How'd it go tonight." He hit send on the email he'd been writing and leaned back against me on the couch. I ran my fingers through his hair.

"Fucking sucked. I survived. Made bank. How about you?"

"Lots of waiting. Jules slowly fell apart over the course of the afternoon and evening. It was hard to watch."

"I'm sorry. I wish I'd been there, but I knew she wouldn't stay if I didn't cover her shift."

"Were you still there when her parents showed up?"

"No, I left around three."

"They seemed nice, under the circumstances. Her Dad's rich or something?"

"Big rich, for the area anyway. So what happened after I left?"

"Doctor Valverde spent a couple of hours with her and finally got her to open up and talk. Afterwords she looked pretty wrung out. Hugged her parents and me. I hung back to let her talk to her mom. Her dad and I stood around with our hands in our pockets. He wanted me to thank you for looking out for her."

"That was nice of him. It must have been a little weird."

"Yeah." He shut his eyes and let me massage his neck. "Her mom was the one who finally got her to agree. She kissed me before they took her back to the unit. Her parents seemed a little bothered by that for some reason. I don't think she told them everything about us yet. I came back here to put some clothes together for her, but they wouldn't let me see her when I went back to the hospital again."

"Did you remember to take her allergy medicine?"

"They wouldn't allow any medicines in from the outside. I guess some people smuggle drugs in. The place is part psych hospital and part drug rehab. The only thing I could bring in were seven days worth of clothes. She wanted sweats, shorts, tee shirts, stuff like that. I left both of our numbers with them in case she needs something else during the week."

"Thank you for doing that. Did they say how long she'll be in?"

"At least a week. She can't have any visitors." He took a big breath and let it out slowly.

I had to ask the question that had been haunting me all day. "John, did we do the right thing?"

"Yeah, we did." I could see his jaw muscles clench. "I made the mistake of ignoring something like that once. Never again."

"I didn't know."

"I mentioned the drama from last year, I just didn't elaborate."

I felt goose bumps. "Someone you knew tried to—?"

"I really don't want to talk about it right now."

"It's OK." I hugged him from behind. "I need to get the bar stink off of me." I stood up and stretched my back. The achy soreness in my stomach warned me of my impending period. I'd taken the last pill for the month yesterday, so I knew it was coming, but I still wished it had waited another day or two.

"Mind if I come sit with you while you shower? I don't feel like being alone right now." I smiled and took his hand to pull him up. We hugged for a long moment until he pulled back and wrinkled his nose. "You're right. Let's go get you cleaned up."

We held hands as we walked up the stairs and I said, "Thank you for everything."

"And thank you for everything." He squeezed my hand. "Make it work, right?"

"Make it work." I agreed and squeezed him back.

I picked out a soft cotton nightie, my large cotton granny panties, and a thick pad, then laid them out on the bed. He watched me undress with a smile. "Started today?"

"Yeah, sorry."

"It's fine." He chuckled. "Even oddly erotic given our history." John had stayed with Mom and me over Christmas. We'd felt a certain erotic tension for a few days, then my period started. He saw me suffering with cramps and offered to help with a stomach massage. It was heavenly, then one thing led to another.

"If that is an offer to help me again, I'll gladly take you up on it."

"You know I'll be happy to, but you'll want to shower twice if I do. Why don't I come in with you to save some time."

"That sounds wonderful."

He quickly undressed while I ran the water to get it hot. "I'm really tired, so I apologize in advance if it doesn't work as well as last time."

We stood in the warm spray and kissed for a long time, letting the stress wash away with the water. He rubbed me along my stomach as we kissed, digging in with his strong fingers to loosen the tight muscles. I leaned against the wall and let him hold me up as his fingers moved lower. The cramping ache melted away as he pressed and squeezed, but it was replaced by a tingling desire for release.

"Sweetheart, I know you are tired, but would you be up for something more?"

Growling in response, he lifted me easily, letting me slip my legs around his waist. He pressed me against the wall of the shower and kissed my neck with a renewed energy. I felt his shaft pressing against me as he rocked back and forth to inch his way inside. All I could do was hang on and bite his shoulder as he found a steady rhythm.

"Thank you, thank you," I whispered as I kissed his face. We lost ourselves in the moment as he moved me closer to the edge. I began to gasp and groan, squeezing him harder as the moment came. I pushed down at the end to force him deeper inside, then hung limply as he slowed to a stop.

After I recovered I asked, "Didn't you want to finish?"

"I didn't want to add to the mess," he said, then kissed me on the cheek. I realized neither one of us had mentioned using a condom. Jules was adamant about staying safe, but we obviously didn't have her habits yet.

"You are amazing." I hugged him as he lowered me back down to stand. I noticed we'd blooded the sword, so I got the shower head to clean us both. When he was clean, I let him get out so I could finish alone.

I worried about him as I watched him dry off through the shower curtain. He seemed distant and distracted, which was understandable given what we were going through. What caused me to worry was his comment about the drama from last year.

What was happening with Jules seemed to resonate with something that happened in the past. The quiet, almost off-hand comment she made seemed to trigger a fast reaction in him that bordered on panic. I was alarmed as well, but I have to admit I didn't think to do what he did. I probably would have talked to her about it, but I wouldn't have thought to consult a professional right away.

He was laying in bed with his hands behind his head, wearing pajama bottoms and a white undershirt. He stared at the ceiling while I dressed. When I climbed in next to him, I put one arm under his pillow so I could rest my head on his chest. He brought one arm down to cradle my shoulder.

"Are you okay?" I rubbed his stomach and chest tenderly.

"Not really."

"It's more than just Jules, isn't it."

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Yeah."

"You don't have to talk about it, but you know I'll listen if you ever want to."

"Not tonight, please."

"OK." I noticed him tenting his pajamas a little. "Would you like to finish now?"

"That would be nice." He rubbed my shoulder gently.

I took my time and just kept rubbing him on his stomach to help him relax. When I finally slid my fingers through the slit in the pajamas he was taking deep breaths and making a quiet hum deep in his chest. I brought him out carefully and kept a very slow pace as I touched and rubbed him from tip to base.

I allowed myself time to fondle and explore him in the dim light. We were often so driven by passion that we leapt straight to more vigorous things. I intended to linger a while. I wanted to enjoy him more, to let him build up slowly and increase his pleasure as well.

His head was soft and pliable as I pushed it through a tunnel I made with my fingers and thumb. After stroking him a few more times I saw the first clear drops appear on the tip. I carefully collected them with my fingertips to smooth them around and make him slippery.

I kept squeezing and pushing him through my fist, making a bigger mess with each passing moment. He started holding his breath when I pushed my fingers down, so I knew he was getting closer. I felt him nudge my shoulder and bent down to press my lips against him. The next time I pushed my fingers down, I slid my lips over his head and took him smoothly into my mouth.

His personal flavor was something I'd grown to love. The first time I tasted him I thought it was interesting, but not something I'd put on ice cream. Now after months of associating his taste with the intense pleasure he gave me, I had become as hungry for him as I was for a favorite dish. I kept moving my hand as I slowly slid my tongue around, letting his pleasure build for as long as he could stand it.

When I felt him tense, I slid my hand down to cup and massage him lower. The first twitches signaled his release, so I held my breath and slid him in as far as I could. He cried out, gripping my nightgown and hair in his fist as he emptied himself into my mouth.

I slid back far enough to breath, but didn't take him out straight away. I stayed still to keep him warm and wet as sporadic pulses pushed out the last few drops on my tongue. Eventually he softened and slipped out on his own.

"Thank you." He rubbed my shoulders and hair, sighing deeply.

I tucked him back into his pajamas and gave him a satisfied pat. After snuggling back into his chest, I kissed his cheek and began to fall asleep. A few hours later I woke when he got up to go to the bathroom. It was still dark outside, but I stretched and sat up anyway, too awake to fall right back asleep.

Without Jules, my whole world felt out of balance. Sitting on our bed with her things all around made me unbearably sad. I lay back down on our pillow and took deep breaths to find her scent there. John came back into the bedroom and found me crying into the pillow.

"What's wrong?" He sat beside me on the bed and rubbed my back.

I was feeling so low I couldn't stop letting it all spill out. "I'm worried about Jules. I'm worried about you. Everything is broken now and it's my fault."

He climbed back into the bed and stroked my back. "Don't take on more than you own. You aren't responsible for her emotional issues. You aren't responsible for mine either. The worst thing you did was to expect more from our relationship than we did at the time. You know that isn't an issue anymore."

"But it kills me to know I hurt her like that; I never knew how much my laughter—"

"You were kids then. I know you feel responsible, but you need to keep some perspective, Kate. What you did might have triggered something, but the underlying issue was there before you did anything and has nothing to do with you."

"How do you know?" I was a little irritated by his comments and tone.

"I spent a while seeing a professional after last year. I had to after what happened."

I kept quiet partly because I didn't know what to say, but also because I hoped he'd open up about what happened.

He rubbed my back and took a deep breath. "I can't sleep anyway. Why don't we go make some coffee."

After we sat at the kitchen table with our cups, John took a deep breath and said, "Her name was Sarah. I'm not going to tell you everything because it still..." He cleared his throat and continued. "I'll tell you what I can. We dated for most of my sophomore year. She was brilliant, funny, and deep."

"She sounds nice."

"She was."

"Was?"

He paused for a moment and then said, "Yeah." I had to look away from him then.

"My freshman year was hard for me. I'd gone to private schools all through high school, so I was really nervous that whole year. I didn't date much. Made a few friends, but never really hit my stride. That summer I took a couple of classes and picked up a part-time job. That was where I met Sarah."

"Where did you work?"

"Movie theater. It sucked, but I love movies. The staff always had private screenings of new movies before we opened them to the public. Anyway, we got close there and when school started back in the fall we hooked up pretty regularly and became exclusive. I started noticing her mood swings, but she mostly kept to herself when she was down, as she called it. She'd dealt them for years, she said."

I sipped my coffee and studied his face. He was telling it like a rehearsed story, like something he might have written in an essay, but I knew his signs. He kept gripping the coffee mug like he was testing its strength. He looked around me rather than at my face. His pain made me want to cradle his head in my lap, or to be the big spoon for him as he had done so often for me.

"She never came out and told me what she was planning, but looking back it seems like neon signs were spelling it out. Instead of trying to help her, I just complained about her moods and made her feel worse. She left a note that said..." He cleared his throat again and gripped his mug. "She said I made her feel so good that when she was down it'd become unbearable.

"Oh, John." I covered my mouth with my hands.

"I can't stand to go into the details, but I will never let anyone I care about say something like Jules said without doing something." He had tears standing in his eyes and looked so angry. "Never again."

"I understand, sweetheart." Bits and pieces were beginning to fall in place. "When did this happen?"

"Over winter break last year. I was home when I got word from a friend who lived nearby. I never told my parents, but a few friends who had known us both helped keep me going. At one point I felt like I was going crazy and had to see a councilor at school for a bit. I went home again over the summer, but it felt like I was an extra in someone else's movie. My parents could tell something was wrong, but I still couldn't stand to talk about it. After that I didn't want to go home and spoil Christmas for them.

"So you came to see Mom and me. Oh my God, John, why didn't you tell me?"

"I am telling you. You are the first person I've told since I talked to the councilor last year."

I was shaking as I went to him and knelt beside his chair. "I'm so sorry this happened to you."

He touched my shoulder. "I'm sorry, too." He swallowed hard and shook his head. "Thinking I lost you last week ... please just talk to me next time I do something that makes you mad. OK?"

He was trying so hard not to cry, to keep himself together. I felt guilty about how I'd acted towards him and Jules, but I wasn't about to dump that pain on him now. "I promise."

"I need you to know about what happened so you'll understand. You know I love you. And you know I love Jules." He leaned over and took both my hands. "I just can't be here right now. I may look like a coward to you, but I just can't sit here thinking all day. I need to go back to school and work on something or I'm going to go insane. I swear I'll come back the day she gets out, but I..." He looked down and shut his eyes. "Please tell me you understand."

"I completely understand. There is no way I'd think of you as a coward. I'll be fine here and keep you up to date. I only ask that you please, please call me. Phone, video call, I don't care which one, but I have to hear your voice."

"I couldn't stand it now either. Are you sure you'll be okay? I feel so guilty leaving you here."

"I'll be fine. Promise. When are you going to go?"

He stood up and stretched. "I might as well go now. I can't sleep anyway, but I'll stop for a nap in a rest area if I need to. I'll call you along the way as well, just so you don't worry."

"I'll miss you."

"Me too."

It was dawn before he finally got away. We kissed through the window of his car in front of the apartment. I watched until he turned the corner before I broke down and cried.

I went back inside the apartment and cleaned up from breakfast the day before. We'd left dirty dishes in the sink and I didn't want to get ants on top of all our other problems. While I cleaned I mentally checked off all the things I needed to do.

It was the second of April and I had no idea how I was going to cover our rent. Without access to Jules' share I was going to have to come with both halves in three days. My part-time job at the mall would be putting me on the schedule now that I was back, but I wouldn't see a paycheck for a couple of weeks. School would be starting on Monday and I had no idea how I was going to be able to concentrate. I still needed to go see Mom and clear out my room.

I finished the dishes and sat down at Jules' computer to check my email. My manager at the mall wanted me to come in over the weekend. I wasted some time on Reddit, then got up to take another shower before getting dressed in some old, comfortable clothes.

I decided to tackle the rent problem first. I poured out our house money jar on the kitchen table, pulled all the change and loose bills left over from vacation, and even scrounged through Jules' purse. Rent was $1000 and after I counted and stacked everything including the change, I had $468.27.

I suddenly remembered the tips from taking Jules' shift at the bar. I hadn't really thought about it because I intended to drop it in the house money jar for Jules. I ran upstairs and dug through my dirty jeans pockets and pulled out a wad of small bills and loose change. When I counted it out and added it to the stacks on the table I was up to $595.38.

If I could pick up a few more of Jules' shifts I might be able to make it. The problem was the shift hadn't gone very well. I managed to break some glassware and even spilled a drink on a customer. On the plus side, I came out even on the register and figured out how to close out all the wait staff without too much trouble. I even dropped off the money in the night depository at the bank without any problems.

I called Jules' manager to let him know how the night had gone and to make my pitch to keep working her shifts. There was no answer, so I had to leave him a voice mail. He had sounded pretty bad when I checked in at the beginning of my shift, so he was probably still sleeping.

I spent a few hours doing our laundry. I put the delicates to soak in the sink and took loads out the apartment washers and dryers. It cost $10 in change from our house money. Every quarter I used would have to be earned back to put towards rent. I hated each clink as I fed them in.

While the machines spun, I couldn't stop thinking about Jules. I didn't know what happened inside a place like that, so I could only imagine wild scenarios based on movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest or 12 Monkeys. They were not comforting thoughts, so I tried to put them out of my mind.

After everything was folded and hung, I decided to take Jules' car over to Mom's house to get the rest of my stuff. Boxes were not something I wanted to spend money on, so I drove over to our neighborhood grocery store to ask the manager if they had any I could take. Sometimes it pays to ask. I walked out with a half dozen good sized boxes for free.

I sat in front of Mom's house and called her cell. When the phone rang, I noticed a car parked in the back of the driveway that I didn't recognize. I felt an odd tingling all over as I realized what it meant.

"Hello, Kate. I expected you yesterday."

"Something came up."

"So when are you going to come over."

"I'm out front."

She was quiet for a time. "Why don't you go eat lunch and come back in an hour."

"It's okay, Mom. I'm happy for you." I really was, just shocked. As far as I knew she hadn't been with anyone since Dad died over a decade ago. She had given me condoms one time, which implied she might have been active, but had never gone out on dates that I knew about. When she didn't say anything, I said, "May I meet him? Or her? Or would that be weird?"

"Fuck," she whispered. She never dropped f-bombs.

"Sorry, Mom. I'll come back later."

I hung up and took a deep breath as I considered what I was going to do for an hour. The phone rang just then and John gave me a quick progress update as he crossed the Virginia state line. I was starting the car when I heard a tap on the passenger window. Mom stood next to the car in her robe. I rolled the window down a crack. "I shouldn't have come over without calling."

She sighed. "Just come in. If I can deal with you kissing strange women and sleeping with your cousin, I can handle you meeting my friend Chris. Just don't be ... weird about it. OK?" She flushed a deep crimson as she turned back towards the house.

I got the boxes from the car and went inside the house. The door to Mom's bedroom was shut, so I took the boxes to my old room. It was just as I'd left it. I started by pulling the sheets off the bed and taking them to the hamper in the bathroom.

I put the boxes on the bare mattress and began to fill them with the contents of my desk and bookcase. Once I started emptying drawers and shelves the boxes filled quickly. I took the full boxes out and returned to decide how much more I had left. I was going through the clothes left in the closet when Mom poked her head in.

"Would you like to have breakfast with us?" Her demeanor made it clear she was only asking to be polite. I was also a little amused she was having breakfast a couple of hours after noon.

"Thanks, but I'm not hungry."

"Why don't you come and let me introduce you so you can get back to work then."

I was oddly excited to meet the person giving my mother the old in-out. He was standing at the stove frying bacon with an ease that implied he had done this before in Mom's kitchen.

"You must be Kate. I'm Chris." He was big, well over six feet tall with broad shoulders and a large, round belly. He just looked so normal, like any older man I would see at the mall or grocery store. In fact, I'd probably seen him before in the area and didn't remember him.

"Hi Chris, nice to meet you." I extended my hand over the kitchen counter with a smile. He wiped his hands on a towel and gave me a firm shake.

"I'll have the bacon done in a sec. You want me to fry you an egg or two?"

I wasn't really hungry, but was suddenly so curious about him I decided to eat just to talk to him longer. "One please, over medium." Mom frowned at my change of plans.

I sat at the kitchen counter on a stool while Mom got the toast out of the toaster. No matter where she looked, I could tell her attention was solely focused on the two of us.

He had a jovial, easy manner that made me like him instantly. "So, Kate, tell me about yourself."

"I'm a student at Pellissippi State working towards a business degree. It's only a two year community college, so if I want to keep going I'll have to transfer somewhere else. I've recently discovered I really enjoy writing. I live with my best friend, Jules. I work at the mall part-time and sometimes pick up shifts at restaurants and bars. How about you?"

"I sell insurance and do financial planning. I used to work at a larger company, but now I work for myself out of a smaller office. I like fishing and camping, but I've recently been encouraged to take up dancing." He gave Mom a long look and she smiled. "I have two sons from a previous marriage, a little older than you I'd imagine. One is in the Navy and the other is working in Virginia."

He handed me a plate with an egg, bacon, and toast on it. Mom put down a small glass of orange juice next to me with a worried frown. "So ... how did you two meet?" I picked of a piece of bacon and nibbled the end.

"I handled your family's insurance for years and knew your mother and father pretty well. After Dan passed away, I helped your mother with the life insurance and other financial matters. A few years ago, after admiring her for a long time, I asked her out on a date. She said no."

"I said not yet." Mom had an embarrassed grin on her face.

"I kept after her, though. Since I live in the area, I kept running into her at the grocery store and the mall. Each time I saw her I'd ask her again. It got to the point she greeted me with 'not yet' instead of hello." He chuckled as he said it, which made me smile along with him.

"I'm really happy for you both. Mom worried me for years. At first I thought she didn't ever date because she missed Dad. Then I felt guilty because I thought it was my fault for some reason. It's a relief to know she has you."

"I'm glad you feel that way. Some kids don't react well when they suddenly find out their parents are really just older people."

"Yeah, some parents don't react well when their kids do unexpected things either."

They brought their plates around and sat next to me at the kitchen counter. She must have decided it was safe to join the conversation. "Where's Jules today? I expected to find her helping you."

I didn't want to share too much about her situation. "She's going to be away for a week or two."

Mom looked perplexed, but my phone interrupted our conversation. "Excuse me." I stepped away and took the call from John. "Hi."

"Hi. I made it safe and sound."

"I'm glad. I was getting worried."

"You doing okay?"

"I'm fine. I'm at Mom's house cleaning out my old room. Keeping busy."

"I still feel so guilty about leaving you there alone."

"It's fine, really." I realized it was fine. I was sad, but it wasn't that horrible kind of loss I'd felt when we were fighting. "I'll call you tonight when I get back home."

"I miss you."

"I know. Me, too."

"Call me if you hear anything."

"I will. Bye."

"Bye."

Mom was looking at me when I returned. "John made it home safe and sound."

"Oh." Mom looked puzzled and then a little alarmed. I realized that she thought Jules might have gone with him.

"John?" Chris asked as he cut a bite of egg.

"My cousin who lives in Virginia. He went on vacation with us and drove home early this morning." I decided to continue the fiction from the trip. "He and my best friend are dating."

"Are you seeing anyone special?" He raised an eyebrow at me, giving me a cute look. Mom was visible over his shoulder mouthing 'no' at me.

I had to suppress a grin. "No."

"I can't believe a cute girl like you isn't fighting them off with a stick."

"I have rather particular standards."

"I see. So what are you planning on doing over summer break?"

I decided to be hopeful. "My best friend and I want to move to Virginia after school is out."

Mom froze with the fork at her lips. "When were you going to tell me?"

"I've tried to talk to you about things." I was still a little angry she wouldn't even listen to me that last morning at the hotel.

Chris seemed to sense the tension and changed the subject. "I was hoping your mother would let me take her on a cruise this summer."

"I can't afford it, Chris, and you know I'm not willing to let you pay for the whole thing."

"Why not? I want to and can afford it."

"I'm just not ready for that."

"You mean 'not yet' right?" He chuckled as he wiped up some of his yolk with a piece of toast. "My life would be so dull if I didn't have a 'not yet' popping up now and then." He leaned over and kissed her on the top of her head.

The familiar gesture made me smile. They showed a level of comfort with each other that warmed my heart to see. "I've intruded enough on your time together. I have to go scrounge up some more boxes and call Goodwill for the furniture and other things I don't want."

"I'll be happy to help. I've got a closet full of boxes in my office that I don't need anymore. I can be there and back in twenty minutes or so."

"Thank you so much, that would be a huge help. I'll do an inventory with Mom and we'll call for a pickup."

"You could try posting it on Craigslist. Maybe those things are worth more than you think. At least you'd know before you just give them away."

I saw Mom frown and voiced her objection before she could. "Mom doesn't want strangers coming to the house like that. At least with Goodwill you know they've been through an employee screening."

"Thank you, Kate." Mom touched his back. "No matter how much it brought in, I wouldn't sleep for weeks, especially now that I'm home alone. I can't help it."

"OK, well let me pop out for the boxes. I'll be back in a bit." He kissed Mom on the cheek and headed out the door. I turned to go back into my old room to move the furniture and to look for small things I may have missed.

"You're planning on moving in with him?" She was holding an even tone so far.

"We both are, I hope."

She seemed to be struggling to come up with something to say. "This will never work. Someone will find out at some point. Are you prepared to destroy his family?"

"He said I am his family."

"Oh for God's sake, Kate, you sound like a child when you say things like that."

She knew how to push my buttons. I decided to draw the line on this issue. "Mom, I'm not asking for your blessing. I'm not asking your permission. I'm not even asking for your opinion. I suggest you drop this before we both say something we'll regret."

"I'd like to, Kate, but this is my family, too! Watching you struggle all week with which side of the bed you want to lay on was the last straw. I never wanted to know this much about your love life, but if you do this with John it is going to impact all of us, not just you."

I bit my tongue and turned my back to her. "We're going to make it work."

She softened her tone. "Have you really thought about this? About what people are going to say when they find out you're dating your cousin?"

"Just imagine what they'll say when they find out we're both dating Jules, too."

That finally shut her up for a minute. I pulled the desk away from the wall and unplugged the desk lamp. I pulled the bookcase away and picked up all the bobby pins and hair ties that had fallen behind it over the years.

She finally whispered, "It's some kind of ... threesome thing?"

"Yeah. We had a fight on vacation. I assumed they felt like I did, that we had a more permanent arrangement. I reacted badly when I found out I was wrong. The thing with Lydia was a mistake. I never meant for you to be hurt in the blow back. It turns out John really did want more. Jules is still struggling with it, but she really loves us both."

"Oh my God, Kate. I'm going to be sick." She left me alone to finish taking apart the bed frame. I only cried a little.

Chris came back in with boxes and offered to help pack the closet and last few items. We had the whole room packed up before Mom came back in. I could tell she'd been crying. He gave her a one-arm hug and looked around the room. "Looks like we got it ready to ship out."

"I can't thank you enough, Chris. I never could have done this without you."

"Anytime, Kate. I'm happy to help."

Chris helped me carry the last few boxes to the car. Mom wouldn't meet my eyes as I said goodbye and left.

I got a call from Jules' manager on the way home. After a quick shower and change of clothes, I went to pick up Jules' shift. I hoped to get tired enough to sleep, so I wouldn't feel so alone.

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