The door threw open and Alice quite literally growled. She muttered several curses under her breath. Keith stood in the doorframe, leaning against it lazily. He eyed her curiously, a grin splitting on his face. “You goin’ let me in, Angel?”
“Give me one good reason why I should.”
He leaned down to her, his voice came out coarse and husky, “because I can make you scream.” He winked.
“Do you always make everything sexual?” She rolled her eyes and held the door open wider for him. “Get in here, and mark my words, you try to come on to me and I’ll shoot you.” Alice lifted her free arm and dangled her gun in front of him to prove it. “I have the tools necessary to do it.”
Keith laughed, he emerged into the giant foyer and turned to watch her. She wore a short silken nightgown, he tilted his head, and apparently, no bra. “Your nipples are stickin’ out.” Alice growled and turned angrily from him. “I can’t tease you?”
“Nope and I’d like it to stay like that.” She turned abruptly towards the kitchen and practically sprinted for it. “I was going to make some coffee, make yourself comfortable.” She quickly bit her tongue, “and I don’t mean to get comfortable with me either.”
Keith followed, easily keeping pace with her. She flicked the light on and made a beeline for the coffee machine. “Why do you hate me so much? It’s been ten years, haven’t you ever heard of forgive and forget.” Tension settled in around her shoulders, he couldn’t tell whether it was because of being tired or pissed off with him, or both. “Alice?”
“Forgive? No. Forget? Never.” She ground her teeth. “You shattered my heart, Keith. I trusted you with my virginity and heart, and what did I get in return? A life full of hurt and betrayal. Nice trade off there, cowboy.”
“And what would you say if I said I changed?” He asked gruffly.
Alice turned and glared at him. “I would laugh in your face, that’s what.” She shook her head sadly, “Truth is Keith,” she met his stare with clarity and hurt, “I’ll never trust a man with my heart again. My ex-husband did the exact same thing you did, shattered my heart and laughed about it afterwards.”
“I didn’t laugh afterwards.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you didn’t.” She said sarcastically, “I’m sure you were so hurt you went a whole week without another woman.” Alice turned away from him and dropped her head, “I won’t be stupid enough to fall in love again. I would like my heart to stay intact.”
“I didn’t date anyone or sleep with anyone for three years,” Keith admitted with a hint of hesitation, “truth is, I waited for you to come home… and when you did, seven years ago… you had a man with you. It hurt to see that you moved on,” he paused, giving Alice time to turn her head and look at him. “I don’t blame you, you had every right to move on and love another, I guess I held onto hope that you would one day forgive me and come back.”
Alice snorted, he sounded sincere, but so did Brad after the first time she had caught him cheating. Why would this be any different? She turned away from him once more and stared out of the window. The backyard was strewn in darkness, shadows lurked in every corner and a small beam of light shone out of the window, lighting up a small rosebush in the yard. She sighed, when she managed to find her voice, it was soft and low. “I wish I could believe you, God knows I’ve always loved you, but I won’t risk it. Not this time.”
She didn’t mention that she had wanted to come home, every night in her small apartment she would lay in bed crying her heart out until she had a splitting headache and her eyes were as dry as sandpaper. As she stared out of the window, it crossed her mind that she would never love any man like she had Keith, but she wouldn’t voice that thought. Keith had hurt her enough; she wouldn’t allow him to do it again. An innocent girl’s heart had been shattered, Alice had wanted a family with Keith, at one time she would have been able to say she trusted and loved him full heartily, but too like him cheating on her, fate had intervened. Obviously she wasn’t meant for marriage and children. Brad had so carelessly thrown their marriage out the window, Keith had laughed at the whole commitment thing.
Alice bit her lip and felt a tear roll down her cheek. God, how she would love to turn and run into Keith’s arms; to feel the comfort only he could offer. But she wouldn’t. Alice grabbed the small glass coffee pot with shaky hands, she put it under the tap and ran the water. Her breath was ragged as she poured the warm water into the machine. She licked her lips, feeling like a hopeless romantic, when the coffee grounds were in the filter; she sniffled and wiped the tears away. Keith hadn’t said a word and she hoped he was gone when she turned around.
She turned and he was standing by the doorframe, looking just as uncomfortable as she did. He eyed her curiously, she probably looked like a train-wreck, but she didn’t care. She cleared her throat, but her throat felt as dry as sand. “Sit down, you’re making me nervous.”
He hadn’t moved he just stared at her in muteness. He unfolded his brawny arms and licked his lips. “Look, I’m uh, I’m sorry I hurt you. You shouldn’t let what happened between you and I get in the way of you being happy, darlin’. Lord knows any man is lucky enough to be with you.”
“Not really,” Alice pushed herself away from the counter and walked the small distance to the table and chairs. She pulled out one of the chairs and sat down stiff backed. She rolled her shoulder and groaned. “God, I’m sore as hell. Are you going to sit down or what?” He shrugged and sat down beside her. “You think I’m some saint, well I’m not Keith. I’m a fucking pain in the ass to live with; Brad knew that, I guess that’s why he divorced me. I have too many flaws for a stable relationship.”
His eyebrows lifted and he chuckled. “Nah, that man is a fool to let go of something so beautiful. I know from personal experience, sugar.”
Alice yawned, her eyes watering in the process. “He got bored.” She said darkly. “I guess I wasn’t fiery enough in bed for him. He cheated on me twice, at least for the times I know about.” She looked him dead in the eye, “how many times did you cheat on me?” She held her breath.
Keith gulped; he closed his eyes against the sting of hurt. “Once,” he whispered, “and I’ve always regretted it.”
Dark silence took over, Alice fidgeted nervously, Keith’s words were soft and deep – oh, she wanted to believe him. In her heart, she knew he was telling the truth, but she wouldn’t let him get to her again. He had his chance and he had blown it away.
Wind howled outside the darkened kitchen, lightening cracked outside the house, thunder rumbled in the distance. They sat in silence, Alice looked nervously over her shoulder, the dark rich scent of coffee aroma filled the air, and she sighed softly. “Coffee’s done,” she spoke softly, “do you want a cup?”
When he didn’t answer her, she stood and gingerly pushed the chair back into place. The cupboard squeaked in protest; Alice stared dizzily at the arrangement of coffee cups – she reached for two and brought them down with a soft clunk on the counter. Her heart pounded in her chest, Keith’s words bounced around in her head, she made excuses and arguments against believing his words, he lied before. He hurt you. Shattered your heart in pieces.
Alice came back to the table carrying two cups of steaming hot coffee; she set them down and slid one over to Keith. He took the cup but made no move to drink any of it. She sipped on the thick black liquid, feeling it hit her stomach. She groaned, her stomach was empty and the acidy liquid wasn’t helping anything. Alice studied Keith from the corner of her eye; he sat slumped in the chair, his arms resting on the table. She cocked her head to the side trying to study a tattoo of letters on his arm.
Suddenly she grabbed his arm and turned it. Alice’s head snapped up and she stared into Keith’s eyes with mock horror. A.L.I.C.E. was beautifully tattooed across his forearm. He shrugged from her grasp and looked down at the coffee cup. “Keith, what the hell is that? And why did you do that to yourself?”
He managed a sheepish grin, looking innocent and wolfish at the same time. “Don' matter now, does it Angel?”
“Doesn’t matter?” she whispered, her eyes dropping to the tattoo. “You tattooed my name onto your skin,” she hit her forehead with her palm, “are you stupid? That’s permanent! Are you going to go on a search for a wife named Alice now?” She glowered at him, her jaw held rigid and tight. Through clenched teeth, she spat, “when did you do that to yourself?”
“A year after you left,” he shrugged as if it was no big deal. “I like the tattoo and it’s my skin – so why does it matter to you?” He laughed, “Don’ get all concerned for me Angel.”
“Concerned?” She forced a laugh that sounded hollow to her own ears, “I’m pissed. That’s what I am. Concern isn’t exactly on the top of my list at the moment.”
Keith grabbed the small coffee cup, dwarfing it with his giant hands and chugged the coffee down in one go. He smirked at her and stood. “Thanks for the coffee; I’ll go home before you hurl somethin’ at my head.” He tilted his head and chuckled, “or slap me again.”
“Or shoot you with my gun,” she muttered.
“Or that too,” he laughed. “Night Angel.”
Keith turned and walked out of kitchen doorframe. Alice sat in the dim light in the kitchen, her own coffee long cold and bitter. Words were exchanged in the foyer, one feminine – Alaine’s, one masculine – Keith’s. The words were muffled as they met her ears, but then again, she wasn’t really listening. Alice had dazed out, thinking on the tattoo and conversation she had with Keith.
Alaine came through the kitchen doorframe cautiously, as if she expected to get shot at. She took in the site of her sister sitting on the chair, her feet were curled underneath her, and her sapphire eyes were dull and glazed over. Alice’s hair was tucked behind her ears, but a few stands managed to escape. For the first time, Alaine noticed how pale and thin Alice looked. She looked so small and vulnerable in her oversized night gown and bath robe. She was paper-white pale. Dark purple bags hung under her eyes as if all the blood in her face had settled underneath her eyes and were content on making a show of it.
But no matter the state her twin was in, Alaine couldn’t deny that Alice was the pretty one. She had men groveling at her feet. When she was healthy Alice could have been a model, but her height had kept her from doing so – and her brains. She was the smart, pretty, and intelligent one of the two. Alaine was shorter than Alice, with more of a bronze then brunette hair color. She was heavier in weight naturally too. Alice leaned towards thin and curvy, Alaine leaned towards plumper and a bigger waist. Alaine blew out a stream of air, feeling it wheeze through her teeth. Why was she getting worked up over her twin?
Because she has everything I don’t, Alaine thought with a sudden shock of hate towards Alice. She shook her head and cleared her throat to get Alice’s attention. “Hey, sis, what you doing down here all by your lonesome self?”
Alice shrugged, “thinking.”
“Oh,” she murmured, Alaine walked the few feet to the table and pulled a chair out. “So…” she drawled on as she sat down, “what was Keith here for?”
Alice rolled her eyes and snorted, “To do what he likes best, pester the fuck out of me.”
“He can be a pain sometimes,” Alaine took a deep breath and suddenly felt uncomfortable with her sister staring at her. “What?”
“What’s on your mind?”
“Nothing,” she lied, “it’s none of my business.”
“Alaine, come on,” Alice insisted, “Tell me. Or ask.”
Her twin hesitated, her brows drawing low over her hazel eyes. Her voice came out soft and wispy, “do you still love him?”
Alice physically pulled back from Alaine. The shock registering both in her mind and face. “Why does it matter to you?”
“No reason,” she whispered, feeling the lie barely cover the truth.
“I thought I did,” Alice lied easily, feeling the need to cover her emotional tracks, “but that’s in the past. Why?”
Because I slept with him and I’m pregnant with his baby, Alaine closed her eyes against the sting of tears that threatened to escape. “I’m pregnant,” she whispered.
Alice jumped out of her chair and backed up with her hands up, as if to defend off demons. “No, no, fuck no!” She gasped for air, her eyes widening as Alaine’s words sunk in. “Jesus fucking Christ, Alaine! Is it Keith’s?” Alaine only stared at her hands that were knitted together in a tight bundle on her lap, just below the tiny bump on her stomach. “I’m going to rip him a new fucking asshole!” She snarled savagely. Alice lunged for the gun on the table and cocked it. She was midway out of the kitchen, then turned and glared at Alaine with all the hate and hurt she could muster. “And you better stay out of my way, Alaine. I mean it.”