As I mentioned before, I knew what needed to be done so Trevor wouldn’t take Orla from me. Mama and Karly both thought it was a bad idea, but I wouldn’t budge.
It was hot in The Rattlesnake. The A/C was on full blast, but in the summer, there was only so much that could be done. Trevor’s shirt clung to him. He was looking forward to getting home and stripping it off, taking a nice cool shower, then vegging out in front of the tv. It was weird that Reggie had asked him to stay late right at the beginning of his shift. Trevor had only switched exclusively to afternoon shifts recently, and Reggie rarely asked him to stay late. When he did, it was much later in the evening, when it was apparent that it was going to be busy and they needed an extra hand. But it hadn’t even been busy – not exactly shocking for a Tuesday night.
Musta been something to do with a girl,Trevor guessed, feeling slightly envious.
London leaned casually against the wall, the bricks cool against her back. The throbbing baseline pulsed through her whole body. It had been a while since she had been out like this – not since Orla was born. London pulled nervously at the hem of the dress she’d borrowed from Karly. She felt a bit silly in it. She had intended to feel sexy, but she just felt pathetic, like everyone was staring at her stretchmarks and cellulite.
Trevor stopped dead in his tracks when he noticed her, and looked her up and down conspicuously.
Oh yes, whatever London was feeling, the dress was definitely having its intended effect.
Trevor regained his composure and sauntered up to London.
“London, hey.” He inclined his chin slightly.
“Hey yourself, Trevor,” London smiled coquettishly.
“What are you doing here?”
“Oh, me? I just wanted,” London did a slow body roll, her hands traveling down her sides, “to dance.”
Trevor drank in her every move greedily, like someone had just handed him a tall glass of water after he’d been lost in the desert. Although to be honest, London would have considered herself a small glass of water. Like, a shot glass.
When London reached the hem of the dress, she gave it what she hoped was a discrete tug.
“What about you? Shouldn’t you be off work already? You said you were switching to afternoon shifts, so you would be able to care for our daughter full time.”
“Reggie asked me to stay late. Where is our daughter, by the way?”
“She’s sound asleep and safe at home with my mom. I didn’t leave until she’d got to bed. And I work so hard, aren’t I allowed a little,” London bit her lip slightly, “fun?”
“I’m just saying London, this is a strange way to try and prove that you want to keep your daughter.” Trevor was betrayed by the fact that he was staring at her mouth.
Was he always this easy?
“T-Trevor, I don’t want to fight,” London seemed to stutter. “To be honest,” London stepped closer to him, her breasts brushing against his arm and she reached up to whisper in his ear. “I was hoping to see you,” she purred.
Trevor cocked his head and grinned wolfishly. “Is that so?”
London swallowed and nodded.
“Well then, why don’t we get out of here and head back to my place?”
London smiled and looked up at Trevor through lowered lashes. “Now that sounds like fun.”
“Prick!” London slammed her palms against her steering wheel.
“Scumbag!” She slammed her steering wheel again.
“Arrogant bastard!” Out of habit, she was blaring the radio, drowning out her cursing, even though she was alone in the car.
This may be the craziest thing I’ve ever done – even crazier than giving up my chance to marry a prince, London thought to herself.
As she turned down off Speedway, she lowered the volume of her radio. With only one car between her and Trevor now, she wouldn’t be able to blame the noise on a group of marauding teenagers. Soon, the car between them left their convoy and she and Trevor were left alone to wind along the quiet backroads through Bedrock Strait. An occasional car slipped by, passing them with a whoosh, but most families were already snug in their homes for the night.
I wish I was snug at home with Mama and Orla.
Trevor’s muscle car slowed and the light of London’s high beams caught sight of a familiar green sign. With a sigh, London turned on her blinker and followed Trevor down Calle Vista. In a time span that seemed simultaneously dreadfully long and all too soon, their old Spanish Mission style home crept into view.
We were happy once – when we bought this house. Maybe we can be happy again.
Trevor actually opened her door for her and held out his hand.
“What’s this? You’re practically a whole new Trevor,” London teased as she slid out of her car.
“Yeah, I wasn’t joking before, I’ve changed – for you. I’m a whole new man, babe.” Trevor puffed out his chest proudly.
London cringed inwardly, trying to not let her façade slip.
Well, maybe not a whole new man. You’re still insisting on infantilizing me.
As they walked through the front door, London tried not to gasp. The house, which had once been meticulously decorated, was a now a bare-bones bachelor pad. London was furious to note the front room, which she had labors for hours to meld decorations with nods to both her Hispanic heritage and Trevor’s Irish roots, now stood empty – apart from an ugly bar. All that was in the living room was a huge flat screen tv hanging on the wall, a wore out pleather couch across from it. On the other side of the living room was a set of mismatched tables and chairs. The table was covered in piles of clutter and a couple stack of dishes next to the couch were tell-tale signs that since London was no longer there to insist Trevor eat at the table, he didn’t.
“Trevor, what happened to all the décor?”
“I got rid of it. You know all that frou-frou crap isn’t really my style Lon.” Trevor shrugged.
“You got rid of it,” London repeated incredulously. All that time and money down the drain. She had always imagine someday, when she could finally afford her own place, she would come back and reclaim her things.
“Well, I gave some of it to my mom. But she doesn’t have much time for that – uh, the Hispanic stuff.” Trevor cut himself off. London knew the rephrasing was because he was about to say something racist. She clenched her fists. He certainly wasn’t making this easy.
“You know, it doesn’t really fit in with her style, since she’s not Hispanic. She didn’t want to… be culturally appropriative,” Trevor finished lamely.
London pasted on a fake smile. “Of course.” She gestured toward the bar. “Hey Trevor, why don’t you show off those bar-tending skills and make us a couple drinks.”
I’m going to need it, she added silently.
“Sure thing, babe.” Trevor swaggered over to the bar, London following behind him. She took a seat as he began rummaging through the bottles.
“So, what’ll be, baby?”
“Um,” Just hand over the bottle of whiskey. “How about something… fun and flirty? You know, to put us in the mood.”
“What mood is that,” Trevor leered.
London just covered her face and giggled, trying to hide the fact that she’d just thrown up a little.
“I think I know just the thing,” Trevor said, grabbing a bottle of cherry liqueur. “It’s called Cupid’s Kiss.” As he mixed their drinks, he couldn’t help but show off, tossing bottles and launching cherries. Stuff that might have impressed London before she had Orla, but these days, she preferred skills like those that Allegro had.
“So, London, what does you boyfriend think about you being here?” Trevor had always had the uncanny ability to know what London was thinking – almost like he was reading her mind.
“He’s not my boyfriend anymore. We didn’t work out.” The words rushed out of her without thinking. It still hurt too much to think about Allegro.
“Aw, baby, I coulda told you that. Things never would have worked out with a… guy like him.” More thinly veiled racism. “You need a guy like me.”
“And what sort of guy is that.” London snapped, her emotions finally get the best of her.
Trevor studied her. The way he looked at her left her feeling raw. “The sort of guy who will fight for his family,” he said finally, handing London her drink.
London down half it in one gulp.
“Whoa, slow down there, Caliente.” Trevor topped off her drink. “We don’t want to wreck the party.” The drink’s aphrodisiacal properties must have taken told right away, because London didn’t feel sick at Trevor’s connotations. In fact, she felt downright giddy.
“Trevor, that’s why I texted Reggie tonight. Oops!” London sloppily clapped her hand over her mouth, but it was too late. Trevor raised an eyebrow at her.
“So you’re the girl who made me work late?”
“Yes. Don’t be mad. I needed to see you. I’ve been thinking about what you said… before.” London cringed, remembering Trevor’s very public impassioned speech, then threats. “I think maybe you’re right. Maybe we should get our a little family back together. Not just for Orla’s sake, but because… well, because I miss you.”
And in that moment, London wasn’t lying. As he stared at her, lust in his eyes, she remembered the way her heart had pounded in her chest the first time she walked into the lecture hall. The way he had teased her when she couldn’t get her eggs to form stiff peaks. And how their next tutoring session had ended with the sounds of their love making echoing off the lecture hall’s walls. London became flushed.
“Hmm, you think so, huh?” Trevor took her hand and lead her over to him, barely listening. He looked ready to devour her. London glanced down at his crotch. The Cupid’s Kiss seemed to be working on him, too. He slid his hand up her thigh.
“London, you seem to not be wearing any panties.” Another suggestion of Karly’s.
“How about we move this to the bedroom?”
“Now that definitely sounds like fun.”
At the foot of their old bed, Trevor wrapped his arms around London and finally kissed her. They fell into bed and it was like nothing had changed.
“So,” London lay with her head on Trevor’s chest and laced her fingers with his. “Do you think Orla and I can move back in? It’s only Karly needs to move in with my mom and there’s definitely not enough room for us all.”
“Nah, I don’t think so. In fact,” Trevor unwound his fingers and jumped out of the bed. “I’m gonna need you to put on your slutty dress and get your conniving ass out of her.”
“What?” London was unable to comprehend what he was saying.
“London, I know what you’re up to. Trying to seduce me to keep custody of Orla? Cute trick, but it’s not gonna work.”
London sat up, covering herself with the sheet. “Trevor, no.”
“Spare me London.” Trevor stalked out of the room.
London jumped out of bed, and hurried after him, pulling on her dress.
“Trevor, what the hell? I thought we had a real connection tonight.”
“The only connection we had tonight was me fitting my tab A into your slot B. So get your skanky ass out of my house, unless you never want to see your daughter again.”
At the mention of Orla, London’s blood began to boil.
“Isn’t this what you wanted? Our precious family back together?”
Trevor rolled his eyes. “You’re joking, right? Yeah, sure, once upon a time I wanted you back. But that was before you embarrassed me on national television. But you’ve been hoing it up with that foppish prince and that womanizing “artist”. You’re used goods, London.” He stared at her meaningfully. “Nobody would want you now. You’re unfit to be a mother.”
“How dare you speak to me in such a way! And when God only knows how many women you’ve slept with. Oh, and for you information, I never even slept with Stellan.”
“And the playboy?”
“That’s none of your business,” London blustered.
“Ugh, and you’ve probably picked up crabs or something from him. Now I’m going to have to be checked for crotch rot.”
“Why did you sleep with me then, anyway?”
“Cuz you were throwing yourself at me, and despite your disgusting stretchmarks, you’re still a pretty hot piece of ass.”
“Stretchmarks I got giving birth to our daughter!”
“I’ve known tons of girls who didn’t get stretchmarks because they took care of themselves and didn’t pig out cupcakes. How did you manage to pass the decorating class, by the way? Did you sleep with your teacher, too?”
“I’m not even going to dignify that with a response. And that’s not the reason some women don’t get stretchmarks.”
“Whatever, you keep telling yourself that, fatty.” Trevor walked out the front door.
“Don’t you run away from me, Trevor!”
Trevor laughed derisive. “I’m not running away from you, I’m trying to get your harpy ass out of my house! Skree!” He mimed claws with his fingers.
“Fuck you Trevor, I’m not a harpy. I just wanted the best for our daughter.”
“Right, which is why you nagged me constantly. ‘Oh Trevor, get another job so I can go to this birthing class.’ ‘Oh Trevor, get another job so I can have my pretty pretty princess dream wedding.’ ‘Oh Trevor, buy me this house so we can start our lives together in insurmountable debt.’ How convenient for you that the best for our daughter meant the best for you while I slaved away paying for celebrity endorsed classes and designer diaper bags.”
“I didn’t have any of those things! You slaved away so we could make ends meet while you worked your crappy job as a bartender.”
“Which I had to take after I got expelled from the academy for fraternizing with an underclassman!”
“SHUT UP,” someone down the street shouted through an open window.
“YOU SHUT UP,” Trevor shouted back.
“Trevor, I told you before, I didn’t know they were going to expel you.”
“Why did you think they wanted to know? So they could throw us a joint baby shower? God, London, you are so unbelievably dumb sometimes.”
“N-no, that wasn’t why.” In truth, London hadn’t even considered what would happen to Trevor before she cheerfully admitted to Dean Price that she and Trevor were a couple and they were expecting a baby together.
“Whatever London, I don’t give a fuck. We’re through and I’m going to get full custody of our daughter and you’ll never see her again. I’ll see you in court.”
“Your out of your God damn mind if you think I’m going to just lay down and -”
Trevor took a menacing step toward her. “London, leave. Now,” Trevor said in a low growl.
“Tell your bitch mother I want my stuff -” London started feebly, unable to know when to stop. Trevor grabbed her by the throat, cutting her off. His face was bright red.
“DON’T YOU EVER TALK ABOUT MY MOTHER THAT WAY, YOU WORTHLESS PIECE OF TRASH!” Trevor hand clenched around her neck, crushing her windpipe. Flecks of spittle hit her in the face.
“THAT’S IT, I’M CALLING THE POLICE,” the voice down the street shouted again.
Trevor looked up, then sneered down at London again and threw her down the stairs. London caught herself before she fell, then fled.
When I got home, Mama was sitting in the living room waiting for me. She gasped when she saw my neck and insisted we call the police. I ran upstairs and locked myself in the bathroom. What could I tell the police? That I was trying to seduce my ex-husband in order to keep custody of our daughter? They’d be on his side. Mama pound on the door, until Orla started crying, the commotion disturbing her. Hearing her cry made me cry, too. How did this happen? I used to think I loved Trevor so much. Had he always been like that or had he changed? I would have never dreamed he would lay a hand on me before. And now? Will he hurt Orla, too? I have to protect my daughter. I will do anything.