Love Realized (The Real Love Series)
Author:Melanie Codina

chapter TWO

Damage control needed to be done, and fast, before everyone in her life figured out what was going on! Think Gillian think! Come up with something! She didn’t go through all the horror of his affair alone, never confiding in anyone; just to have it all erupt here and now. Hell no!

When an idea sprung into her head, she hoped that she was going to be able to actually speak, since her throat felt like she had swallowed sand, and her tongue felt like it was ten times bigger than it was. She turned to Logan, made eye contact with him, and saw the pleading look he was giving her. She knew that he was begging her not to say anything and cause a scene.

She also knew that look he gave her was him begging her to hear him out. Yes, she had seen that look before. Yeah right! Like anything Gillian did at this moment was to make things easier for him, no way! In fact, the desire to swiftly knee him in his manhood was pretty hard to control right now. This was not about him. This cover up was about protecting her and their kids from his screw up, and the complete and total shame she felt because of it.

“A bee,” she managed to get out of her drier than dry mouth. Clearing her throat she continued, “I think I was stung by a bee … on my hand. It caused me to drop the tray.” She then looked back to Adam and his family, and for the first time, noticed the little girl standing next to Jody. She looked like she was shy and probably frightened by the bit of commotion caused by the clattering tray. Gillian bent down and smiled at the little girl. “I'm sorry, sweetie, if I frightened you. I didn’t mean to, but we will just blame it all on the bee.” After a pause, the little girl was still looking a little uncomfortable, so she continued, “My name is Gillian, what’s your name?”

Paying attention to the child helped distract her from what was actually happening. The shy little girl with dirty blonde hair and big brown eyes gazed at Gillian and then smiled, suddenly relaxing and said, “Rachel.” Gillian smiled back; she was a cute kid, probably close to five or six, and it certainly was not her fault that her mother was a slimy whore. That could not be held against her. Thankfully, the kid was a spitting image of Adam so there was no concern whose kid it was. Dodged that bullet Logan! Gotta look for the silver lining here, people. “Well Rachel, I sure hope you brought your bathing suit because all the kids are in the pool. Can you swim?” The little one nodded to Gillian and then begged her mom to allow her to get in the pool.

And that is when Gillian heard, in person for the first time, the voice of “the other woman.” Gillian had heard it once before, over a year ago when listening to the voicemail she had left for Logan. It sounded different in person. It was painful to hear and sliced right through Gillian. Like nails down a chalkboard. That was the voice that Logan listened to, the voice that left him messages, the voice that whispered in his ears when Gillian had no idea it was even happening. This was the voice that Gillian always feared he would want to hear instead of her own.

Suddenly, shame and humiliation enveloped Gillian, filling her with the need to run, curl up in a ball, and pray for this to not be happening. NO! No, dammit! How dare she have that kind of power? She could not let this happen again. Feeling the sudden burst of energy course through her body, she squared her shoulders and turned to Logan, glared at him and said, “Logan, baby,” in a sickly sweet voice that he would know was her I’m-pissed-and-putting-on-an-act-voice, “this is Adam. He recently started in the radiology department at the medical center, and this is his family. I'm sorry, what was your name again?” she said as she looked to Jody. And since she had to put on a show, she put out her hand in an offer to shake. Jody responded with a timid handshake and said, “Jody. Thank you for inviting us; you have a lovely home.”

Gillian had a quick image flash through her mind of using Jody’s hand, which she currently held, to hold her in place while simultaneously pounding on her with the other. Of course, she also managed to visualize her girlfriends jumping in the mix, too. She knew they would have her back, if only they knew what the hell was going on. The image in her mind of beating the crap out of this woman made her feel a little bit better and brought a smile to her face. An evil smile, but it was a smile nonetheless, which was appropriate, considering she was supposed to be smiling. Remembering she needed to respond to Jody, “Why thank you Jody. This is my husband, Logan; he and his partner remodeled it and can take credit for it.” Gillian watched as Logan appropriately extended his hand out to shake Adam’s, and then Jody’s, hand. She was once again filled with anger at the site of the brief contact of Logan’s skin against Jody’s, causing her to stiffen. Logan picked up on it, and immediately pulled Gillian into his side, with his arm securely holding her in place against him.

The front she was trying to put on was beginning to collapse, though. The contact with Logan made it weaker as she thought about the enormity of this situation. She could hear the muffled rumbling of Logan’s voice as if it were coming from somewhere in the distance. “Welcome to our home, please come on in, relax. It already appears that your daughter is comfortable with her surroundings since she’s already in the pool. Beer is at the bar, soda and juice is in the cooler. Please, help yourself.” As soon as he rushed to expel all of that, he turned his attention toward her and said, “Where did the bee sting you? Was it on the hand? Let’s go check it out, and put some ice on it.” Then turning back to Adam and Jody, he said, “Please excuse us.” Logan then quickly took the tray from Adam with his free arm and handed it to someone. He ushered Gillian into the house and away from everyone else—away from Jody. Smart man; it would certainly benefit him to get her away from Jody.

White noise and numbness started to overwhelm her. She could hear buzzing sounds that must belong to the people around her. Why does it sound like I'm in a tunnel? Or maybe even underwater? Yes, white noise is the best way to describe it. Gillian numbly walked inside the house, escorted by Logan. He held her hand positioned in front of her like there was something wrong with it. Oh wait, there was supposed to be something wrong with it. A bee sting. Clever thinking on her part. She would definitely pat herself on the back for coming up with that one, but she couldn’t right now because she was faking a Goddamn bee sting! Ugh! Gillian’s thoughts were drowning her, so she just allowed Logan to lead her through the house.

Holy shit! Did that really just happen? Was Jody really here? How long has she been here, in town? Oh God! Did Logan know she was here in town? God dammit! Think Gillian! Try and remember… what did Adam say? That he had been here for six months before transferring to the medical center where they worked … and that was over four months ago! Ohmygod! She has been here, in this city, the same area code, for at least the last ten months. Ten! Fucking! Months!

Her silent freak-out didn’t faze Logan, who continued to escort her through the house, most likely taking her to the bedroom where he could talk to her. This should be good. You could almost hear the wheels turning in his head, trying to think of what he was going to say. A small giggle escaped her mouth. Yep, definitely losing it! Wonder what he is going to say to handle this. What could he do but deny it? Did he know she was in town? I have to ask him … Oh god … what do I do if he did know … and has been with her the whole time?

Logan’s hands were anchored on Gillian in a very possessive way; maybe he thought she was going to bolt. That didn’t sound so bad to Gillian, actually. But wait, this was Gillian Baxter’s life and this place, these people, were Gillian’s! No way was that … that person … that bitch out there gonna get them, too!

Another giggle threatened to escape her as she realized she was referring to herself in the third person. Keep it together Baxter! She chastised herself for even the possibility of falling apart. They finally made it to their bedroom where Logan urged her to sit on the bed. Feeling almost zombie-like, she complied. He then knelt down in front her and clasped her hands in his. She was looking directly at him and could see his lips moving, but couldn’t hear a thing. Could someone turn up the volume please? Snap out of it, this is something you wanna hear. It’s time to climb out of the well of humiliation you were flung down and see what’s going on.

Still staring at his lips moving, no sound was registering in her numb mind. Concentrating, she felt the numbness begin to subside. At that, the enormity of what just happened washed over her. Tears began to form and roll down her face unbeknownst to her. Never show weakness dammit! But her traitorous tears continued to fall. Then a sob escaped, and she gave in to it. The skeletons that had escaped the closet were now dancing in circles around the bedroom. Seriously, she knew they were there, why did they have to be so rude? She needed to pull it together and focus. The mistress was not brand new information to her, just her location was. Her world may have been tilted on its side, but this was also her son’s birthday party, a celebration is going on outside, and she refused to allow this to ruin it.

Focusing, she looked Logan in the eye and the sound of his voice began to slowly register through the fog. Getting clearer. Come on, just a little more. “Gilly, baby, talk to me …” There! She was back. Logan continued, “Gilly, baby, you’re scaring me. Please talk to me. Are you okay?”

“Did you know?” was all Gillian could get out. Logan’s eyes went wide, but he remained silent. She repeated herself, this time through gritted teeth as her body began to respond to the adrenaline that it was producing. “Did. You. Know?” she implored again, emphasizing every word. The deer in the headlights look remained, and she knew the answer … he did know she was in town. The mistress now lived in close proximity to her husband, and he was fully aware of it. Rage and fury started to churn in her stomach, causing bile to rise. Fortunately, she hadn’t eaten yet, so there was nothing to bring up. But rage and fury were good; she could handle them, it was far better than humiliation and shame she felt three minutes ago, that’s for sure.

“Are you still seeing her?” she snarled at him. But her question was once again met by silence. Okay, take a deep breath—in through the nose, out the mouth. Just breathe. The skeletons must have picked up on her fury because they decided to stop dancing and just stood in the corner quietly.

“Are you going to respond to any of my questions? Don’t you have the balls to answer my questions Logan? Or should I go ask her?” Once again, it came out through gritted teeth. Her jaw was beginning to hurt, but that got his attention.

“Yes, I did know she was living here now, baby. I'm sorry I didn’t tell you.”

“That’s one way to avoid the other question. Your evasion of it, though, can only lead me to assume that you are, still in fact, involved with her!”

“Gillian, please, let’s not get all worked up over this. We have guests here, and this is something we can talk about later.”

He really had some nerve! Where did he get off counseling her on how to act? She was about to pounce on him, to take out her rage on his clueless expression, when Jason rushed into the room.

Jason Michaels was Jake’s slightly older brother, but more importantly, Logan’s business partner and best friend. A tall, broad-shouldered, brooding, Alpha male, he could command the attention of everyone when walking into a room, simply with his size. Brooding aside, he was certainly a good-looking male specimen. In fact, the brooding might even enhance his attractiveness. He looked intimidating, and could probably glare a weaker man into submission, but to those of us who knew him, he was a total marshmallow on the inside. Especially when it came to anybody important in his life needing his support or attention, it was clearly a family trait.

“Logan what the hell is going on?” Jason growled at Logan as he proceeded to sit next to Gillian and put his arm around her. He was glaring at Logan expectantly, while awaiting an answer, but he remained silent. Well, at least Logan was being consistent with his lack of answers. The shocked look on his face was priceless as he stared back at Jason. Jason then turned and looked at Gillian, his face softened and asked, “Are you okay, Gilly? What do you need me to do for you? Should I ask her to leave the party?”

That was when she realized that Jason knew who Jody was. Of course he did! Why wouldn’t he, he was Logan’s best friend? But for some reason, just knowing that Jason knew what was happening, and that he was supporting her in the matter, brought more tears to her eyes. She turned and quickly threw her arms around his neck, taking in the comfort of a friend’s support. Jason, of course, hugged her back affirming that she could lean on him if she needed. She could hear the muffled sound of Logan grumbling at Jason over the big shoulder and chest muscles that seemed to be drowning him out. “Jason what the hell are doing? I'm trying to talk to my wife here. Get the fuck out!”

“I don’t think so, man! What the hell is that woman doing here?”

“I didn’t invite her here! Gillian works with her husband, apparently, and she invited him!”

“That’s not what I mean, and you know it! What the hell is she doing in California?” Jason growled at Logan while still holding firmly onto Gillian. She just smiled inwardly as she let Jason do all of the questioning. Unfortunately, Jason’s questions were once again met by silence.

Gillian pulled her head back and looked up at Jason, who relaxed his hold, but still held onto her. “Thanks Jason, I appreciate you asking. Obviously you know exactly who Jody is, but does anyone else know?”

Jason smiled down at her. “No Gilly-girl, I don’t think anyone else knows who she is. Your secret is safe with me. What do you want me to do?”

“Could you please knee your best friend and business partner in the nuts?”

Jason flinched. “Ouch! I am sure that shit-head you’re married to deserves that, but it’s against the guy code to do that unless under the most dire of circumstances, sweetheart. But I could deliver a right hook to the jaw, if it would make you feel better.”

“Thanks, but no, that would just earn him sympathy. It’s his boy-parts that keep causing me pain.”

“How about a direct blow to the gut, would that help a little bit?” he asked with a teasing tone, but Gillian knew that Jason would do it for her.

Logan decided to chime in with a disgruntled bark. “What the hell man, I’m sitting right here! Quit talking shit!”

Jason turned his mean glare on his best friend once again and growled at him. “Can it Logan! It’s complete bullshit that your goddamn mistress is crashing your son’s Eighth birthday party and that your wife has to deal with this. This is not about you, so I suggest you shut the hell up!”

Even though it was nice to have someone else in the know, it still didn’t change the fact that there needed to be some form of action here. Glancing between the two of them, she knew it appeared that things could definitely escalate from verbal to physical quickly. “Stop, please, both of you.” Gillian turned toward Jason. “Thank you for your offers, but you really have no idea how much of a help you have been just by knowing.” She hugged him again.

“I'm sorry, Gillian. I didn’t realize what was going on ‘til it was too late.” When she pulled back to look at him, the look in his eyes was pained and sympathetic. He knew everything. He was confessing that he knew what Logan had done and was silently begging her to accept his apology. It surprised her how strangely comforting it was that he knew. She didn’t have to explain anything to him.

Logan interrupted her thoughts and was obviously trying to take her attention off Jason and what he was saying. “Gilly, baby, we need to talk.” She turned to face her husband of sixteen years and was slightly startled at how panicked he looked. This was not the usual Logan Baxter. He was always so put together. This realization just further confirmed the fact that he knew he was caught, and that he had, in fact, still been involved with another woman. She shook her head at him. Jason still had his arm around her, and it made her stronger. “No Logan, now is not the time. Clearly, you have some explaining to do … but as you already pointed out to me, we are supposed to be celebrating our son’s birthday. And that is exactly what I plan to do. I strongly suggest you suck it up and put on a happy face, for his sake. You will not mar his birthday with your inability to control yourself.” With that, she stood up to leave the room.