Author:M.S. Force

The reminder that I’m supposed to be on my honeymoon hits me like an arrow to the chest. “Crazy few days.”


“I’m sure,” she says with a low chuckle. She and my dad are thrilled with my choice of a wife. What would they think if they knew that my need for dominant sex and the fact that I lied to my wife about it has sent their new daughter-in-law running from me? “I wanted to talk to you about the wedding reception we’d like to have for you and Natalie.”


Tears fill my eyes, and I take a seat on the sofa, pressing my thumb and forefinger to my eyes. It becomes very clear to me right then and there that if I’ve permanently lost her, I’ll never get over it.




“Yeah, Mom, I’m here. Let me talk to Natalie and see what works. I’ll let you know, okay?”


“Of course. Whatever you guys want. We’re beyond excited to celebrate with both of you and to welcome Natalie into our family.”


My parents have been so wonderful to her, so amazingly welcoming and supportive during the firestorm that followed her painful past being made public. I can’t bear to disappoint them by confessing to how badly I’ve fucked things up with her. I hope I never have to tell them that. “It’s really nice of you to want to do this. Thank you.”


“Are you kidding? It’s purely selfish. I’m so happy to see you in love with a sweet, caring woman who loves you for all the right reasons. You have no idea how long I’ve waited for this moment. You bet your ass we’re going to celebrate.”


It’s all I can do not to break down into sobs, to beg my mom to come over and tell me everything is going to be okay. But I don’t do that. I can’t do that. “We’re looking forward to it. I’ll get back to you.”


“I’ll talk to you soon. Love you, sweetheart.”


Sweetheart. That’s what I call Natalie. “Love you, too, Mom.”


For a long time after we end the call, I stare at the pool in the backyard, trying to imagine life without Natalie. There is no life without her. And I’ve spent enough time dicking around today feeling sorry for myself. It’s time to fucking fix this.






My sister and I pick up right where we left off, and by the end of our afternoon together, it’s like no time has passed since we last saw each other. We talk about everything and everyone we ever knew back home in Nebraska. She catches me up on all the gossip from Lincoln and what has become of the girls I was friends with before my life imploded.


“They asked about you for years,” Candace says. “We never knew what to tell them. Dad warned us not to talk about you to anyone. It was so bizarre. It was like you were dead, only we knew you weren’t. Dad was like a madman. He couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe one of his kids did this, like you were the one to blame rather than Oren. He got rid of the Wi-Fi at home and tried to make it so we wouldn’t see the trial coverage, but we read the papers in the library at school so we’d know what was going on. And then, when Oren was convicted… Dad was worse than ever.”


“I’ll never understand how a parent picks a lifelong friend over his own child in a situation like this.”


“You wanna know our theory? Mine and Livvy’s?”


“Um, yeah?”


She laughs at my blatant curiosity. “We think they were in love with each other and pretending to live a hetero life because back then, Oren never would’ve had a chance in politics if he was living as a gay man.”


I’m stunned speechless. “That sure would explain a lot.”


“Think about it—did you ever once see Dad act affectionately toward Mom? Did you ever see them hug or kiss or hold hands or anything?”


“No. Never. I just figured they kept that stuff private. This is such a bombshell, but suddenly it all makes sense.”


“No, it doesn’t make sense, because he still should’ve protected you. No matter what he felt for Oren, you are his daughter. You deserved so much better than what you got from them.” She glances at me, seeming hesitant. “After they saw you at the hospital, they had the biggest fight ever. Mom was crazy over him forcing her to leave you there alone after Oren raped you.”


“If you really think Oren and Dad were gay and in love, how could Oren rape me the way he did?”


“Livvy and I think Dad was resisting him on something, and attacking you was Oren’s way of making a statement. We also think he was a freaking pervert.”


“But, you know, they both had kids and how could he like… have assaulted me that way… if he wasn’t into women?”


“Pills,” she says bluntly. “We think they both were bisexual, but they would’ve chosen each other over their wives in a second if they’d had that option. But they didn’t back then, not if Oren wanted the career in politics his family had always groomed him for. I’d actually think it was kind of sad, except for the fact that they were a couple of lawless monsters who hurt so many people. When Oren died in jail? Dad was inconsolable for weeks. He was never the same after that.”