Dirty Red (Love Me With Lies)
Author:Fisher, Tarryn

I heard the shower in the adjoining bathroom, and I rolled over to see if I had a view of him through the open door. I did.

 

The previous night we made it through three drinks and dinner without a pause in conversation. It was like talking to someone I had known for years. I was so comfortable with him, and I presumed he was with me, because he answered any questions I had without hesitation. When we left the restaurant, there was no doubt whether or not I would go home with him. I hopped into his convertible, and we drove the short fifteen minutes to his high rise. Our trail of clothes started at the front door and ended at the foot of his bed, where we playfully tossed aside the last of what I was wearing. It would be nice to be able to blame the alcohol for my recklessness, but truth be told, we both stopped drinking before we ate. Everything that happened ... happened without the influence of liquor.

 

When Caleb got out of the shower, I was still leaning on my elbow. I made no pretense about watching him. He ran the towel over his hair, making it stick up. I smiled broadly and patted the bed. Dropping his towel, he climbed in next to me.

 

“Are you still sad?” I asked, leaning my chin on his chest.

 

He surrendered a half grin and tweaked my nose.

 

“I’m feeling a bit more cheerful.”

 

“Oooh — a bit more cheerful …” I mocked his accent and started to roll out of the bed. He caught me by the ankles and pulled me back.

 

“A lot more cheerful,” he offered.

 

“Wanna have one more go and then get lunch?” I asked, tracing my finger across his chest.

 

“Depends,” he said, grabbing my hand.

 

I waited for him to continue without asking the customary “on what?”

 

“I’m not looking for anything serious, Leah. I’m still all messed up in the head from — ”

 

“The last girl? “ I smirked and leaned up to kiss him. “Whatever,” I said against his mouth. “Do I look like a commitment sort of girl to you?”

 

“You look like trouble,” he grinned. “When I was growing up, my mother used to tell me to never trust a redhead.”

 

I frowned. “There are only two reasons she’d say something like that.”

 

Caleb raised his eyebrows. “And they are?”

 

“Your father either slept with one, or she is one.”

 

I buzzed under his crooked smile. It extended all the way to his eyes this time.

 

“I like you,” he said.

 

“That’s swell, Boy Scout. Real swell.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Five Present

 

 

 

Two days after Caleb left for his business trip, my mother packs her bags and informs me she’s leaving as well.

 

"You can't be serious," I say, watching as she zips up her suitcase. "You said you wanted to stay and help."

 

"It's too hot," she says, lightly touching her hair. "You know I hate the summers here."

 

"We're in air conditioning, Mother! I need your help."

 

"You'll be fine, Johanna."

 

I notice the slight tremor in her voice. She’s slipping into one of her depressions. Courtney was the one who knew how to deal with her when she got like this. I always seem to make it worst. But, Courtney isn't here; I am. Which made Mother Dearest my responsibility.

 

I shrugged. "Fine, let's get you to the airport. Caleb comes back at midnight, anyway."

 

Let her scuttle home to her Michigan McMansion and pine away, popping pills into her mouth like Tic Tacs.

 

On the way back from the airport, I crank up the radio and feel like a bird out of her nest for the first time. Estella starts screaming from her car seat five minutes into my bliss. What does that mean? She’s hungry? Carsick? Wet?

 

 

 

I had almost forgotten she was there ... here … on this planet … in my life.

 

I do some Kegels and think bitterly of Caleb — baby free Caleb, who is basking in the Bahamian sun, drinking snifters of his damn Bruichladdich and eating crab cakes. It isn’t fair. I need a nanny, why can't he see that? Caleb is such a stickler for what is right and wrong. With all of his old fashioned values, I should have known that he would insist on me staying home and raising her myself. He is such a boy scout. Who raises their own children anymore? White trash, that’s who — because they can’t afford the help.

 

I bite my lip and turn up the volume on the radio to drown out the wailing. Right now she sounds like a tiny, shrill alarm, but what will happen in a few months when her lungs are stronger? How will I tolerate that noise?

 

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