Crushed Page 50

I freeze. “Yeah?”

Dad lets out a long sigh. “Your mother and I have decided to get a divorce.” I let this rock through me. My first thought?


Especially since I had myself all prepared for a cancer bomb, or something.

But them splitting? It’s … not a surprise.

“Anything?” he says.

I let out a little laugh. “Is it bad that all I can think is finally?”

His responding laugh is equally low on humor. “I suppose you’d know as well as anyone that it’s been a long time coming.”

I lean forward, hunching, not feeling quite as unaffected as I want to be. I can’t say my family was a wildly happy one, but at least we weren’t broken. Not to the outside world anyway.

“What was the straw that broke the camel’s back?” I ask.

He clears his throat. “Well, that’s actually another thing you should know.”

I pinch the bridge of my nose. “Jesus, there’s more? Happy fucking birthday to me.”

“Your mother and I have both had loyalty issues….”

“No shit. You think maybe that’s why I’m in goddamn Texas to meet her baby daddy?”

To his credit, Dad continues as though I’m not acting like a total dick. Probably because what he has to say makes him an even bigger dick. “I went too far with my last affair.”

I frown. “Is there, like, an adultery scale I don’t know about?”

“Have you talked to Ethan lately?”

Ethan? What the fuck? Why is he bringing up my former best friend?

“No,” I say curtly, hoping he’ll get the hint that I don’t want to talk about it.

“You guys had a falling-out.”

“Sure, you can call it that. Or you could call it he cut me out of his life without a backward glance.”

And, yeah, it still burns, thanks for bringing it up.

“He ever tell you why?” Dad asks.

I shake my head. What the hell is this? “He didn’t have to tell me. I know why.”

I know what I did.

My dad’s silent, waiting for more info, and I ask. “What’s this have to do with you and Mom getting divorced?”

“Just help me out here, Michael. What happened between you and Ethan?”

“It was over a girl, okay?” I snap. “Oldest story in the book. Two best friends fighting over a chick. Happy?”

“A girl? The only girl in Ethan’s life back then was Olivia.”

I swallow against the agony at hearing her name. Especially her name in the same sentence as Ethan’s.

I say nothing.

And my silence tells my dad everything he needs to know.


“I don’t fucking want to talk about it, okay? It’s in the past.”

“Okay.” He takes a deep breath. “Okay. But there may be another reason why Ethan distanced himself from you.”

I don’t think Ethan needed another reason beyond walking into my bedroom and seeing his girlfriend in my arms, but I don’t tell my dad this. He’s clearly gearing up toward something. I just don’t have a clue what.

“Your mother found out that I’d been seeing Debra.”

For a long, blissful moment this doesn’t compute.

And then.

It does.

I lean forward, my head between my knees, half out of breath, half-nauseous.

“Debra. As in Mrs. Price? You’ve been fucking Ethan’s mother?”


“What the fuck, Dad? She’s mom’s best friend.”

A pause. “I know.”

“She was like a second mother to me.”

“I know that, too.”

“Then why? Jesus.”

“I don’t have any good answers, Michael. I made a mistake.”

A mistake. He made a mistake.

He screwed my best friend’s mother.

Just like I’d tried to screw my best friend’s girlfriend.

Oh, fuck.

“Does Ethan know?”

A longer pause this time. “I believe so.”

I groan. No wonder my best friend can’t bear the sight of me. The St. Claires had seriously fucked with his life.

And then it hits me: the answer to the age-old nature-versus-nurture bullshit.

I’m just like my father. Both of them.

Both screw women that belong to other men. Just like I’d made a move on Olivia.

Just like I’d allowed myself to be a plaything for all these bored housewives all summer.

My mouth twists in regret. I’m even more disgusting than I’d realized.

“I’ve gotta go.”


I hang up.

It’s not until I hear the crack that I realize I’ve hurled my phone at the wall across from my bed. I lock my hands behind my head to keep from punching something, and breathing suddenly seems difficult.

For the past year, I’ve put nearly every waking minute toward trying to control the anger boiling inside me.

Today, it breaks.

Chapter 22


It’s not a date.

It’s what I told myself when Devon called and asked if I wanted to grab a drink at Pig and Scout tonight.

It’s what I told myself when I got dressed.

And then re-dressed.

And then, when I changed my outfit one more time into tight cropped jeans, cork wedge heels, and a mocha-colored wrap shirt that shows just a wee bit of cleavage, I reminded myself once more: not a date.

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