“So I kicked him out,” I said, straightening and working to sound more sober. “But as it turns out, it’s not that easy. He said you can’t live with someone for eight months and just pack it all up in a day. I told him to give it a go, and I would burn whatever was left.”
“You were pretty angry, of course,” Jensen said quietly, pulling the other earbud out.
“I was angry, and then hurt—bloody hell, I’m twenty-six and he’s over forty, he shouldn’t have to go elsewhere for a shag! Don’t you agree? I bet your London mistress with the lingerie and takeaway on the bed is younger and fit and perfect, right?”
His smile curled half of his mouth. “My London mistress?”
“Not that I’m perfect, and I sure as fuck don’t eat takeaway on the bed, but I would—if he insisted, or wanted to stay in bed all day. But he has the lunchtime shag friend, so why would he want to do that with me? So then I got angry again.” I rubbed my face. I was pretty sure I wasn’t making any sense at all.
Jensen was silent at this, but when I looked up, he seemed to be listening still.
It was like being with Mums on the couch, except here I had distance, and I didn’t have to worry about them worrying about me. Here, I could pretend that my dull job and my wanker ex were something I could leave behind forever.
I turned in my seat to face Jensen and let it all out.
“I’d maybe been a bit of a trollop before him, yeah?” I said, nodding absently when Amelia asked if I’d like another champagne. “But when I met Mark, I thought he was it for me. You know how it is at the beginning?”
“Sex on every flat surface, right?” I clarified. “I’d come home from work and it felt like bein’ a kid runnin’ downstairs on Christmas morning.”
At this, he laughed. “Comparing sex to childhood . . . give me a second to catch up.”
“But every day was like that,” I mumbled. “His wife had cheated and left him, and I saw him go through all of that and just . . . hoped for so long that he would come back to life. And then he did—he came back to life with me—and we were together for so long—I mean, like eleven months, which is an eternity for me—and it was so good at first . . . until it wasn’t, all of a sudden. He didn’t clean, and he didn’t fix anything I asked him to fix, and it was always my paychecks paying for the groceries and the takeaway and the bills, and then before I knew it I was footing the bill for his new business.” I looked at Jensen, whose face seemed to swim a little before me. “And I was fine with it. I was! I loved him, right, so I would have given him whatever he wanted. But I guess giving him a lover to shag on my bed with the sheets torn off so he wouldn’t have to wash them before I got home was maybe a step too far for me?”
Jensen put his hand over mine. “Are you feeling okay?”
“I want to put my boot up his arse, but otherwise I—”
“Sometimes, when I fly,” he said, gently cutting me off, “I have a drink, and maybe another, and I forget, occasionally, how it affects me when I land. The altitude will make it . . . worse.” He leaned forward a little, so I could focus on his face, I suppose. “I don’t say this to judge you for wanting some champagne, because this Mark guy sounds like a real asshole, but just to maybe tell you that flying and drinking is a different experience . . .”
“I should have some water instead?” I hiccuped, and then
I bet a man like Jensen didn’t go around belching like a hobo in public.
Or date a girl who did.
Or even have a speck of lint on his suit.
With a mumbled apology, I climbed over him and headed to the loo, where I could splash some water on my face, take a few calming breaths, and give myself a lecture in the mirror.
After some minutes, when I returned to my seat, Jensen was asleep.
The landing was bumpy, and jerked Jensen upright in his seat beside me. He’d slept for nearly four hours, but I’d been unable to close my eyes. Alcohol made my friends sleepy; it woke me up. It was unfortunate, on this flight in particular, because I would have rather slept than mentally cataloged all the ways I’d remained oblivious to Mark’s infidelity and then gone on to make an arse of myself with a stranger.
Logan International stretched out, gray and dull ahead of us, and Amelia made what I assumed were all the regular announcements about staying seated, and removing luggage carefully, and please fly with us again.
I chanced a quick glance over at Jensen, and the movement banged a metallic gong in my head.
He smiled politely at me.
Lord, he was pretty. I hoped he had someone to go home to and tell all about the insane, disheveled Brit on the plane.
But once we were allowed to stand, he pulled his phone from his laptop case and gazed, frowning, at the long scroll of notifications.
“Back at it, then?” I asked with a smile.
He didn’t look up at me. “Have a nice trip.”
“Thank you.” I literally bit my lips to keep from adding a rambling explanation for why I’d babbled incessantly at him and belched in his direction, and instead I followed his perfect ass into the terminal, ten steps behind him.
Crossing the terminal and going down toward baggage claim, I found Grandpa waiting at the bottom of the escalator in his Red Sox T-shirt, faded khakis, and suspenders.