Sheena rambles on about her oh-so-tragic life while Andy, Joe and Pete try to ensure that the readers don't leave the sinking ship until her FOB crush guy is identified.
About two weeks have passed since the accident. An accidental kiss? That sounds almost as dumb as the stuff Kyle tries to feed me. But you know it wasn't planned or anything. A weak moment, if you will.
I'm sure Patrick doesn't have a clue. And why would I want to upset him? I love him.
I kept myself busy with work for my students. I might have given them too much assignments lately. But correcting them in the comfort of my office gave me a good excuse to a) avoid Patrick more than usual and b) not think about what had happened that day in the kitchen. I'm sure you know it's a lot easier to lock torturing thoughts away than try to deal with them. Guilty consciene? Of course. I mean I cheated on my husband. It starts with a kiss, you know. I've heard stories. No happy endings.
But what made me feel even more like the slime that Andy sometimes used to gel his hair back, was the fact that for some reason I didn't regret it. Does that make sense? You feel bad about something you've done but you don't exactly wish to take it back. It made me feel good, about myself. Patrick hasn't managed to do that in... I lost count.
All the attention I have been paid lately. Sometimes he would text me to ask how I was doing that day. There have been days, long gone, when Patrick and I had been on the phone forever when he wasn't around. I would even break the rules and text him while my students were busy filling in some exercise in their textbooks during class. And you know me, I don't usually break the rules.
Unless I kiss one of my husband's best friends.
I've tried to cover my worries and rotten self-image with being extremely cheerful. How natural, I know. Ever since that day it has become even more difficult to be intimate with Patrick. I've been feeling a certain distance between us before that, which should be no surprise. But now, it felt totally mechanical. Most of the time my thoughts were elsewhere. And sometimes they were with someone else. I should be going to hell. But I think I've arrived already.
Maybe a crush. A crush as a placebo, I realize as much. I just wish to project my feelings I once had for my husband on somebody else because it's easier to feel infatuated with someone if you don't know them that well, if you don't know about all the things about them that will eventually drive you mad.
Once again the guys would hang out at our place and play poker so I had to prepare myself to face him. We've talked on the phone but never touched upon that subject. I wasn't quite ready to give up my high on him just yet. However, I also didn't want to discuss matters and bring the kiss up and what it meant to either of us and therefore make it impossible to let go sometime in the near future.
"Pete's late as usual," Patrick pointed out as they set up the game chips. I was sitting on the couch, watching them.
"I bet he's busy answering the e-mails we've sent him," Joe chuckled.
"Why are you sending him e-mails?" my husband asked confused.
"Geeez, Patrick. Do you really think anybody is still interested in Pete's ass?" Andy sighed. "We've been bombarding him with fake fan mail for the better part of the last three years."
Joe nodded, "I'm starting to run out of ridiculous questions about his private life. There's just so many intrusive questions a straight guy like me can think of asking another man."
"And you're doing this why exactly?" I chimed in.
"Well, part of it is just for the fun of it," Andy informed me.
"But we also think it helps him... He kinda needs the attention," Joe added. Bullshit. Maybe thoughtful bullshit though.
"Who doesn't need attention?" I squeaked. A bit too loud to not be noticed by Patrick. He shot me a questioning look. We eye-locked for a few seconds. Utter confusion reflected in his eyes. I didn't move a muscle in my face, which probably resulted in coldness radiating from me.
He was about to say something when the doorbell rang and I got up to answer it.
"Yo, Sheena. Saw Patreena outside a tattoo shop today. You think she's gonna get a 'I heart Mom' tattoo?"
'Patreena'. That took me back. It used to be Pete's name for Kyle when she was a baby. A blend of both Patrick's and my names. Would have resulted in her intials being 'P.I.S.S.'. Occasionally I regret that we didn't call her that.
Pete fell in love with Kylene the day we took her home from the hospital with us. It goes without saying that she was the gem of her parents' lives but Pete proved to be an extraordinarily devoted uncle. He watched her countless times and shoo-ed Patrick and me out, 'to have a good time'. As she grew up, a strong bond developed between the two of them. Sometimes I would call her on her cell, wondering why she hadn't been home yet, and she would tell me she was with Peter. Things changed once she hit puberty. People older than 25 were considered 'porridgers' and she spent less time with him. Instead she obviously took joy from grossing me out by exchanging flirtatious remarks with him but I can tell fact from fiction. Probably because I am the latter myself.
"I bet, Pete," I replied and let him in. He joined his pals at the table.
Maybe it was the fact that I had concentrated all my energy on my relationship with Patrick and the oral faux-pas and therefore I just hadn't noticed what's been going on with her, but lately it seemed that Kyle was staying out of trouble. A couple of days ago a weird thing happened though. I picked up our ringing home phone and said "hi" or something to that extent.
"Hello?" I repeated.
"Kyle? Is that you?" a female voice asked. I can't say that my daughter's friends were terribly blessed with good manners which would include greeting a parent on the phone. With the exception of Dana, though. A great kid.
"No, this is her mother. Wait, I'll get-"
Click. Hung up. Like I said, good manners are not to be expected.
I didn't even bring it up. I was slightly confused that somebody would call her on that phone and not her cell but I don't get teenagers anymore. Maybe I never have.
Back to the present. The past present to be precise. I was back in my office, staring at the young Patrick picture I keep there, when my cell phone buzzed. A text message from ...
'We need to talk about what happened. I tried to work it out on my own but it doesn't work. Let me know when you get out of school tomorrow and I'll pick you up.'
After two minutes I was still staring at the small screen. Another message came in. Same sender.
'I'm sorry, Sheena.'
Yeah, we had to talk this over. I sent him back the time when I was finished and then placed the Patrick picture back into the drawer. The past was gone and it was time to face the present. Oh well, the past present.
- - - - -
I swear in the next or the one after the next chapter Mystery Man's identity will be revealed. Swear it on my copy of IOH that I will have to wait another week for. Honestly. With the "H" pronounced.