On their backs now, they lifted their legs, letting them fall back over their heads in what I remembered from a few yoga classes as Halasana.
I heard Pippa’s exuberant “Oof!,” her ringing laugh, and then her shirt slid up her body, exposing most of her stomach and back.
I sensed my sister turning to look at me. “Did you guys . . . ?”
I met her eyes. “I’m not discussing this with you.”
She acknowledged this with a little smile. “I like her.”
Unease settled in my gut. I liked Pippa, too. The problem was the impossibility of it all.
Pushing that aside, I turned my attention back to where my fake wife and my ex-wife continued doing yoga together on the lawn. Standing now, and lifting one leg, bending it at the knee and holding the foot in one hand while stretching out the other arm in front of them—a move I think was called Natarajasana—Pippa toppled facefirst and ended up landing in a clumsy half somersault. Rolling to her back, she held her stomach, laughing. Becky straightened, staring down at Pippa with an amused grin.
It was more than obvious that the jig was up: Pippa was no yogi.
“Hanna and I will throw the red balls,” Pippa explained to me a couple of hours later. “You and Will throw the blue balls.” Giggling at this—I gave her a patient yet amused sigh—she held up a small yellow ball. “This is the pallino.” She placed it in my waiting palm and said, “Toss it past the center line, but not past the four-foot line”—she pointed to the fifth white line in the grass—“that far one, there.”
We were playing bocce, of all things, out on the rolling lawn beside the B&B. After yoga, Pippa had met the rest of us for a mimosa brunch, Becky and Cam in tow.
It felt as though some tension had solidified overnight, and although I was firm in my decision to avoid drama, Becky seemed unsure where to look at all times and ended up mutely poking at her eggs for most of the meal.
The problem wasn’t so much that conversation was stilted; it was that we literally had no overlap, no grounds for conversation to start when it wasn’t polite small talk. It didn’t help that I simply wasn’t interested in catching up or knowing what she’d done these past six years.
I studied Becky in tiny, covert glances. I’d said as much last night to Pippa, but had she always been this quiet, always blended into the background this much? I tried to figure out if it only felt that way because this situation was awkward and she was clearly the bad guy here in many ways so was playing it carefully . . . but really, other than the odd crying yesterday, it just felt like Becky was being Becky.
Now we had two hours before a group vineyard tour, and instead of heading up to the room for a leisurely shower—like I’d suggested—Pippa and Ziggy had challenged Will and me to a battle-of-the-sexes bocce match.
Taking the ball from Pippa now, I approached the court. “Yes, ma’am.”
My sister snickered beside me.
“This is very important,” Pippa added loudly as I extended my arm to throw. “Men versus women, you wouldn’t want to perform badly.”
Pausing, I turned and looked at her over my shoulder. “I don’t think my performance to date has been a problem.”
Ziggy groaned, but Pippa grinned at me. “Yes, but if you recall, I was the one in a position to play with the balls. So—”
Screaming in protest, my sister scurried away just as a giant hand clapped around Pippa’s mouth and she was lifted from the ground. Will removed her from the vicinity with an arm around her waist.
“I’ll take care of this one,” he said, his laugh ringing out. “Go ahead and throw, Jens.”
I turned back to the bocce court and tossed the ball neatly onto the grass. It rolled only a few inches from the four-foot line: a clean throw.
Pippa kicked, wiggled out of Will’s arms, and went to pick up the first red ball. “And now the ladies show you how it’s really done.”
“So this is essentially like shuffleboard?” I asked, getting a hang of the rules. “But we try to get closest to the pallino instead.”
“Right,” Ziggy told me, “but hipsters play bocce at wineries, and old people play shuffleboard on cruise ships.”
“Not only old people,” Pippa protested, bending to throw. “There’s a brilliant shuffleboard table at one of my favorite pubs.”
“Fascinating.” I stood right at her side, speaking directly into her ear, and she startled, turning to fake-glare at me.
“Tell me more about this shuffleboard table at a pub,” I whispered, working to distract her from her efforts.
She turned and looked at me, her eyes a startling blue, and so close. My heart stumbled, and when it picked itself back up, it was racing.
What a strange fling this was.
“You’re pretty terrible at this distraction game,” she said.
She took one more step forward and arced the ball away just as I said quietly, “I can still feel the heat of you all along my cock.”
The ball overshot badly, landing out of bounds by a mile, and she whipped around to playfully smack me. “Not fair!”
I caught her hand, and wrestling, I curved around her, my front pressed along her back, gently restraining her arms. “Pretty terrible, was I?”