Remember Me - Part Two (Finding Me #2)

By: Michelle Mankin

Finding Me Series - Part Two


REMEMBER

/rəˈmembər/



: to have or keep an image or idea in your mind of (something or someone from the past) to think of (something or someone from the past) again

: to cause (something) to come back into your mind

: to keep (information) in your mind : to not forget (something)





“BELLE, STOP!” CLAIRE shouted. “Wait up.”

I froze when she caught up to me in the Rec Center parking lot my fingers tightening on the cold metal handle of my silver Lexus GS350 F Sport. “Go away, Claire,” I snapped harshly without turning around.

“I won’t. This has gone on long enough. Stop avoiding me and shutting me out. We’re best friends. If I made a mistake, I’m sorry. But you have to talk to me so I can fix it.”

I lowered my chin to my chest. She was right. I needed her. She had been my safe port in a lot of rough weather with Cooper’s injuries, then Faith’s DUI, and always with my husband. I released the handle and turned around.

Her eyes widened when she saw my face. “What happened? Did Charles…”

“No, of course not.” I lifted my hand automatically to touch the bruised cheekbone that apparently I hadn’t slathered on enough makeup to conceal. “It was just me being stupid. Too much wine late at night. I tripped over Trent’s big shoes in the dark and I fell.”

She narrowed her eyes, grey ones that matched Johnny’s. A sharp arrow of pain pierced my heart just thinking his name. I pretended I didn’t feel it. “Why don’t I believe you?” She put her hands on her hips.

“I don’t know why not since it’s the truth.” I pulled up the zipper on my hoodie.

“Maybe because I know you.” She leaned in closer. “And I know your family history. You never drink to the point of intoxication. You’re always too careful.”

“It’s cold, Claire.” The springs in Dallas could go either way from blazing to frigid temperatures, from clear skies to dense towering vertical clouds. It was mid-forties at the moment. “Can we discuss all this somewhere besides the Rec Center parking lot?” A quick glance around confirmed that there were too many people milling about who could overhear our conversation.

She nodded, her brows dipping together, a mannerism he shared. “I’ve got an hour break till my next client. How about Tex Mex?” She knew my weakness for it. “Uncle Julio’s. You drive, but I’m buying.”

I zipped in and out of University Park traffic while Claire white knuckled it. She hated my overly aggressive, riding the bumpers of the cars in front of me style. But I got us there in one piece, and we hurried across the lot, shoulders huddled against the wild wintery wind that had accompanied the latest Canadian cold front.

In a booth over the piped in Mariachi music, Claire started to grill me as soon as we had placed our order. “Why Belle? Why go back to him?”

“I figured you already knew.” I lowered my gaze to the terra cotta tabletop. Charles hadn’t let up laying on the guilt about what he continued to refer to as my island indiscretion.

“I don’t know anything. I just know that when I called your house, since you’d been ignoring my calls to your cell,” she hit me with an accusing glare, “Charles picked up and without even waiting for me to identify myself declared that he had moved back in.”

“For a trial period,” I explained quickly, seeing the expected disappointment in her gaze. “Just to see if we can make it work.” I twisted the napkin in my lap. “I assumed Johnny had told you.”

“Uh-uh.” She shook her head, waves of black skimming her shapely shoulders. A man stared at her from another table. Even in just her work tracksuit with the Lawton Fitness logo, she was as gorgeous as Johnny was handsome, sporting a svelte figure that even her effective workouts couldn’t give just anyone. I knew. I had tried all of them. You either had the underlying assets to work with in the first place, or you didn’t. “I haven’t talked to Johnny since you got back. He’s been out on his boat. He’s as unreachable as you’ve been lately.”

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