Suspiciously Obedient

Page 33

“Well, good morning to you, too, Mary Sunshine,” Lydia said, her voice dripping with snark. “That’s a hell of a way to greet someone.”

“Am I right?”

“Yes,” Lydia admitted.


“Good?” That surprised her. She’d expected Krysta to be upset or to disapprove, or to…who knew. Nowadays, she didn’t know what anybody would say or think about her behavior.

“You needed a rebound guy.”

“Jeremy’s not my rebound guy,” Lydia protested.

“He’s the guy after Mike, right?”


“Then he’s your rebound guy.”

“Rebound guys are the guys you practice on before you move on to the real guy,” Lydia said.


“You think Jeremy’s not right for me.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Yeah, I know, you didn’t say anything. You never say nothing, but when you say nothing it tells me everything you’re thinking.”

“How can it tell you everything I’m thinking if it’s nothing?”

“It just…because…” Lydia sputtered. “It’s friend magic.”

“Friend magic?”

“Yes, don’t question it. You’ll get your invitation to the BFF Friend Magic School soon.”

“Is that like Hogwarts?”

“Yeah, but with ice cream.”

“How was the sex?”

“Why do you get to be the blunt one all the time?”

“Because I’m not the one having sex with two different guys.”

“I didn’t have sex with two different g—”

“You had sex with two different guys at two different times.”

Oh, phew, Lydia thought. It was almost like Krysta had read her mind. That threesome dream wouldn’t get out of her head. She could almost taste Mike’s skin in her mouth, smell Jeremy’s hair, feel four hands roaming across her body at once. The palpable sense of the dream so vivid that even now, the mere idea of the memory of the dream was enough to make her sigh, and for parts untended to need more attention.

“I don’t approve or disapprove, I’m Switzerland.”

“You’re Switzerland?”

“I’m neutral.”

“You’re about as neutral as North Korea.”

“If you’re calling me North Korea, then you’re saying I’m crazy.”

Lydia’s turn to be silent. She let the seconds tick by.


“See, you’ve got it,” Lydia interrupted. “BFF friend magic.”

“Ugh.” Krysta uttered an exasperated sigh. “You know what? Lydia, honey, you’re free to do whatever you want. You don’t owe Michael Bournham a damn thing, and if you want to fuck his best friend…”

“I don’t—”

“Lydia.” Krysta’s tone was abrupt again. “I know you. If you’re talking about him, you’re thinking it.”

“No fair,” Lydia said. “You do know me too well. Next time I’m home, I’m going to do the same thing to you.”

“What do you mean?” Krysta laughed.

“I’m gonna make you ’fess up about Caleb.”

“We’re not talking about Caleb right now,” Krysta protested.

“No, we’re not,” Lydia said, “but we will be.” She could feel Krysta’s blush from a five-hour plane ride away.

The phone went silent. “So, Jeremy, huh?” Krysta finally said. “Really, he’s your type?”

“I don’t have a type.”

“That’s true, I never would have picked Matt Jones,” Krysta admitted.

“Hell, I never would have picked Michael Bournham,” Lydia said sarcastically. “He’s still really missing?”

“Not missing in a face on the milk carton kind of way,” Krysta replied, “but yeah, nobody really knows what’s going on with him.”

“So you’ve got Jeremy in front of your face,” Krysta continued, “and Michael Bournham is a thing of the past. What are you going to choose, Lydia? The hot Viking in front of you?”

Lydia snorted.

“Or the hot CEO who no one can find?”

Chapter Ten

He had not touched his cell phone long? The wireless at Escape Shores Campground was fabulous, and he’d been using his laptop, but the phone had just become just a non-entity in his life. A sudden change that had startled him when he noticed it shoved in a pair of pants as he did laundry the morning before the talent show. It had gone dead, so he went back to the cabin, found the charging cable, and plugged it in. Later that day he realized that he had seventeen text messages and forty-two voicemails. Email had been easy to check on the laptop but this…this he’d missed.

As he checked texts he found that most of them were from Jeremy right after he'd landed in Iceland, reporting that Lydia was “well taken care of”, and one from his mom just asking him to check.

And then, the voicemails. Joanie asking a detail that he could deal with later. Susan Morgan, the senior vice-president of communications, asking that he call her. A second message from her. A fourth. A ninth. And then, finally, a big one from Joanie.

“Hi, Mike, it’s Joanie. A Lydia Charles has been trying to reach you and I’m hoping that you get this message. She’s been contacting Susan Morgan over and over again from Iceland and is wondering about her job. And what you don’t know is that at the end of the month the company is going to be cutting that position, so it’s kind of a political mess here and if you could call me I would appreciate it so I can try to explain this to people. I don’t even really understand it,” she added. “But…please call.”

The message ended and then one more from Susan Morgan, a clipped tone. “Hi, Michael, Susan Morgan here. Call me.”

He sighed. The threads of his old life were woven too deeply into the fabric of something that he was trying to weave for himself. With great dread, he dialed Susan, who picked up on the first ring.

“Mike, good to hear from you. Glad you still have your old number. Thought you might be dead.”

“No, not dead.”

“Well the press is covering you as having ‘disappeared.’ Rumor has it you’re in rehab.”

He looked around at the woods, the glint of the ocean behind the children laughing and playing on the playground, the sound of an RV chugging slowly down the 5 mph main road and he laughed. “Well, no, it’s not drug and alcohol rehab but you could call it that. Rehab…for this. Rehab for CEOs,” he said wryly.

“Whatever you call it,” she responded dismissively, “we’re cutting that strange position that you created for European operations, and umm…the admin that you promoted three levels above herself,” she said derisively. “She doesn’t even know what to do. I’m not sure why she’s there,” Susan said with a leading tone to her voice.

His stomach sank. Had he been that transparent? The decision to promote Lydia to get her out of the country, to just get her somewhere safe, may very well have backfired and brought more attention to her. If only he had known that Diane would be such an odd saving grace, her narcissism stepping up to absorb what Lydia would view as exposed horror. How could he play this off? What was the best approach to optimize getting Susan this trail? God, how he hated to think like this. Back to the daily analytical mind that schemed, the corporate sociopath who turned every interaction to his advantage.

He hated this, but if it meant helping Lydia…

“It doesn’t really matter now, I suppose. She just resigned,” Susan added.

“Resigned?” he spat.

“Oh?” she said in a mocking tone. “You didn’t know?”

Click. No need to listen to one more word of her crap. He dialed Lydia’s number. Turning his phone off had been so stupid. No recent messages from Jeremy. What could be going on?

He got Lydia’s voicemail. In an unusual state of panic, he shut the phone off. What would he say? “Hi, Lydia. I’ve infiltrated your family’s campground and made friends with your parents. But I’m not a creepy stalker. Swear.”

If Lydia resigned, it meant she was coming home. Sandy hadn’t said anything, though. Could Susan be lying? Washing his face with his hands, he let himself massage the questions out of his skin. The only way to know what was going on was to listen and observe. For the past few weeks, Mike had gotten a taste of what it meant to reclaim himself.

Maybe Lydia had done the same.

“Where’s your hot Viking, Lydia?” Madge asked, arms outstretched to envelop her granddaughter in a hug as Lydia came out of the gate and into the luggage area at Logan Airport. The hug was her welcome home. She knew that Sandy would give it to her five times as hard and vigorous and enthusiastic. But Madge’s quick, tight embrace was more than good enough.

“No hot Viking, Grandma. In fact, I think I’m done with Iceland as a resident. I resigned from my job.”

“You’re done with a hell of a lot more than Iceland, then,” Madge said, wrapping her arm around Lydia’s waist and guiding her toward the luggage corral.

“Yeah, I’m done with Bournham Industries.”

Madge pulled back and held Lydia by the shoulders as bag after bag made their slow way past them, Lydia keeping half an eye out for hers—a large black bag with a rainbow string on it. She’d shipped everything else home, hanging onto her laptop, a carry-on, and this one smaller bag. By the time she got to Maine she would need everything, because between Grandma’s apartment and home, all of her worldly possessions were safe and where they needed to be.

“You’re moving out?” Perceptive as always, Grandma had caught what she really meant.

“I’m really done, Grandma. I—”

“It’s about that sex tape, isn’t it?” Madge asked. She waved a hand. “You know what, Lydia? If they’d had all these video things sixty years ago when I was in my prime, I’d have been on one of those too.”

Lydia laughed. “I don’t doubt it, Grandma.”

“You know…I slept with one of the Kennedys,” Madge added.

“Really? Which one?”

“I don’t remember, they all look the same.”

“Not Eunice?”

Madge shuddered. “No, one of the men! I don’t swing that way.”

“Don’t talk about swinging, Grandma!”

Madge laughed and reached over and, with virtually no effort, grabbed Lydia’s sixty-pound piece of luggage, hauled it off the rack, propped it up on its wheels, and deftly walked them out to the car, guiding the suitcase.

“Your mom doesn’t know you’re here, does she?”

“No. Did you tell her?” Lydia had texted Madge in advance and she had replied I’ll be there. Typical.

“No, no, I didn’t tell your mother. I’m not going to ruin your surprise. So, her gain is my loss.”

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