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

I catch her drift and nod slowly, my eyes becoming wide at the possibility. Could I do it? Hire someone to come in and take care of the baby on the days that Caleb is gone?

 

My mother is an expert in the art of deceit. Once, before Caleb and I were married, we took a break at his request. He had just been in a terrible car accident and suffered major memory loss due to a blow to the head. To my absolute horror, he didn’t remember who I was. I remember thinking, How could this happen to me? I was about to get engaged to the man of my dreams, and here he was, looking at me like I was a perfect stranger. I had quickly gathered my wits and resolved to be supportive until his memory came back. It was only a matter of time before he would remember how much he wanted to be with me and placed the huge Tiffany’s rock I had found in his sock drawer on my finger. But, instead of getting closer to me as we waited for his memory to come back, he pulled away, opting to spend more and more time alone. Soon, he announced that he was … seeing another girl, if seeing is the right word for the shadiness that was going on, and girl is the right word for the cunning, worthless tramp that almost ruined my life. I called my mother right away to report what he had told me.

 

“Follow him,” she said. “Find out how serious it is, and make him end it.”

 

I had done just that, following him one evening to a tacky apartment complex in an even tackier neighborhood. The blocky buildings were painted a bright salmon color. I glanced at the pitiful attempt at landscaping that did nothing to cheer the place up and parked my car a block away from Caleb’s Audi. I was an emotional mess, knowing that he was probably going to see the girl. Through my rearview mirror, I watched as he walked right up to a door and knocked. He hadn’t consulted a piece of paper or his phone to find it. It was as if he knew exactly where to go. The door opened, and though I couldn’t see who was standing inside, I knew it must be her, because his face immediately broke out in a grin that was usually directed toward me; flirtatious and sexy. God, what was going on here?

 

I waited for several minutes before climbing out of my car and approaching the door. Just to make sure I was doing the right thing, I texted my mother, who responded with a firm: Go in there and get him before he does something stupid!

 

— Which was followed a few seconds later by a single word: Cry I did both, and Caleb left with me that night. But, it was a short-lived victory. The girl he was seeing was an old girlfriend from college. Unbeknownst to both Caleb and me, she was pretending to have just met him, trying to squeeze her way back into his life for another round. I found this out after breaking into her apartment. I went straight to his condo with the evidence clutched in my fist, ready to out her scheme. She looked like trouble. I should have known the minute I laid eyes on her that it wasn’t a casual thing by some unsuspecting girl he’d met. It took me some time to figure out. He wasn’t home when I got there. I let myself in with a key that he didn’t know I had and studied the mess he left behind like I was fucking CSI. He had obviously cooked dinner for two. There was still the unmistakable smell of steak lingering in the halls. Had she been here with him? I felt sick. I found two wineglasses in the living room, and in a panic, I rushed to the bedroom for evidence that they had been together. His bed was unmade, but I saw no sign of sex anywhere in the room. What traces would he leave behind anyway? Caleb didn’t — wouldn’t use condoms. I’d gone on birth control shortly after we started dating because of this. He said the sight of them turned his stomach, so I wasn’t going to find any wrappers lying around.

 

Breathing a sigh of relief, I went to his dresser and opened a drawer, running my hands along the back of it until I found the square Tiffany box that held my engagement ring. I cracked it open and felt tears spring to my eyes. It had almost happened. He was getting ready to propose when that damn accident wiped me from his memory. I deserved to be with him, wearing my two-carat, princess cut diamond ring.

 

I got rid of her.

 

 

 

For a while.

 

 

 

 

After I drop Caleb off at the airport, I go shopping. Seems sort of shallow, like I should feel guilty … but I don’t. I want to feel the buttery silks beneath my fingers. I decide that since I no longer have a basketball attached to my waist, I need a whole new wardrobe.

 

I pull my new SUV into a spot at the Gables and head right for Nordstrom. In the dressing room, I avert my eyes away from my belly. It feels good to slide into dresses with cinched waists. By the time I head for the doors, I am carrying over three thousand dollars in merchandise. I toss everything on the backseat and decide to meet Katine for a drink.

 

“Aren’t you nursing?” she asks, sliding into the seat next to me. She eyes my burgeoning breasts as she plucks a cherry from the bartender’s garnish tray.