Hello, !

I've got another one for you and I think it's about to get really interesting. Oh, man, the tables are turning in episode nine. We all LOVE Jake. I can tell by your votes. But I don't know if we've really given Kyle a chance to shine. I mean, she did marry the guy. 

In this episode, Natalie and Kyle take a Caribbean cruise. Have you ever been on one? If you haven't then you must call your travel agent and book one immediately! Why? What other vacation can you visit multiple countries, eat more than your stomach can hold because it's all-inclusive, all the time, and lounge out in your bathing suit in January? The last cruise I went on was so luxurious that I actually felt too indulged. I didn't even know there was such a thing. 

Oh, I see. You're worried about getting seasick? Yeah, a glass of wine will clear that right up. Trust me. 

Now depending on how you vote, this cruise may be over quickly or we might be on the love boat for a while. It's totally up to you! But don't worry, there's no risk of seasickness. 

Here's my husband and me on one of my favorite cruises back in 2012. Isn't that Cozumel ocean gorgeous? 

If you've missed any episodes, you can get them all here:

My Two Husbands Episodes 1-8

If you don't remember what happened in episode 8, here's a quick recap (WARNING! Spoilers from Ep. 8!!):

Jake's gone and Natalie and their dog Lily miss him more than expected. But it isn't long before he shows up again at Natalie's office. He's figured out that he's not the only one who had the idea that he should move out. Of course, he pesters Natalie for all the answers until she finally spills the beans about what REALLY happened. 

Back in the past . . .

It's been months since they lost baby number two. Natalie can't do it anymore but Jake needs something to get him out of his funk. When an opportunity arises for him to grow his business in Las Vegas, he's practically booked a suite on the strip. All he needs is Natalie's blessing and her money?  Find out if she lets him go on My Two Husbands- Episode Nine!

Episode Nine

NOW

It’s been six weeks since Jake walked out of my office and I haven’t seen him since. We haven’t spoken either. At first, I thought it was a coincidence. But when he let all my calls go to voicemail, communicated Lily’s pick up and drop off times by text in his all-business tone and only on days he knows that I work a lot, it became pretty clear that he had no desire to see me.

It’s fine. I don’t need to see him. But why is he avoiding me? He didn’t seem upset at all the last time we spoke in my office. Kyle’s talked to him, of course. But as expected, their friendship’s changed too. And it’s not like I could ask Kyle about it. I’ve been making an effort to keep Jake’s name completely out of my mouth.

I’m hoping to get some answers today. It’s Saturday—my busiest work day of the week. But as luck would have it, the Delures canceled our millionth property tour to get out of this sauna of a city for a few days. So it’s the perfect day to catch Jake off guard. My car is carefully parked in the garage and I haven’t let Lily out of my sight. I squat on the couch right next to my girl and wait. I just hope he doesn’t rearrange his schedule.

By lunchtime, the doorbell rings and my heart practically springs from my chest. Lily runs to the door, her loud bark piercing my ears.

“I’ll get it!” I call to Kyle who’s in the kitchen.

“It’s probably Jake,” he calls back, seeming unfazed by the whole thing.

My sweaty palm is slick against the doorknob. Am I actually nervous to see him? I let out a calming breath and pull the door open. There he is. With a fresh haircut and smooth jawline. His eyes widen and the whites of them match his pristine polo shirt. The short sleeve clings around his newly bulky bicep and his tan skin glows like he’s just had a facial. Has he had a facial?

No. Jake doesn’t do stuff like that. Not like my husband Kyle who’s holding on to his youth for dear life.

“Hey, Quinn, I didn’t know you’d be home.” He gives a polite smile, but I can tell he’s thrown off. I knew he was avoiding me.

“Oh, yeah, change of plans. I’m taking the day off.” I step aside and motion a welcoming gesture. “Please, come in.”

Lily’s jumping all over him like she hasn’t seen him in months. Jake kneels down, showing her love in return. “No, that’s okay. I just came to get Lily.”

“So how are you?” And why do you look so good?

“I’ve been great. Really great,” he says.

I swear he’s glowing. Maybe it’s a dating-someone-new glow or the I-just-got-head-in-my-truck glow. “You seem good. Did you get a facial or something?”

“You mean this?” He points to Lily who’s slathering him with sloppy canine kisses.

I smirk and shake my head. “Never mind.”

“I’m just kidding. I did actually. Kyle recommended someone.” The guy moves out, doesn’t speak to me, and turns into Kyle? Something’s off.

“I see,” I fold my arms in. “So, I actually need to talk to you about the sixteenth. Kyle and I are going to the Bahamas for a few days. Do you think you can watch her?”

 “The sixteenth to when . . .?” He rises up, keeping his dark eyes on mine.

“Nineteenth.”

His stare shifts away. “Can’t. I’m out of town those days too.”

“Oh, okay.” Wasn’t expecting that. Where’s he going? I shake the thought away. None of my business. “No problem. I’m sure Sloan can keep an eye on her.”

“Great, hope you two have fun.”

Kyle’s heavy steps draw nearer. He makes his way to the doorway next to me, holding what looks like a turkey sandwich. “Hey, man, you wanna sandwich?”

Jake waves his hand. “No thanks, I’m trying to stay away from processed meats.”

Um, what? “You do know that salami is a processed meat, right?” I ask.

“Yes, Quinn, I know that.” He playfully rolls his eyes.

I used to have to make special trips just to get his imported antipasto meats. Working out? Getting facials? And eating better? I know it’s been a while but who is this guy?

“I gotta run,” he says. “But you two enjoy the rest of your weekend. I’ll bring her back on Tuesday.”

My husband hands Jake the leash. “Okay, see you later.”

“Come on, Lil,” he calls and she eagerly follows him to his truck. I stare after them, my brows so knitted that I’ve practically crocheted them together. Kyle shuts the door and takes a bite of his processed meat sandwich.

“Does he seem different to you?” I ask.

“Yeah, he seems happy.”

I tug on my bottom lip. Huh? Jake’s out and he’s happy. Kyle’s happy. Why am I not as happy as they are? Don’t get me wrong. Things between Kyle and me are so much better since Jake left. We’re back to dinner date nights, walks on the beach, silly board games with beer, and of course, having sex on a regular basis. It still feels like there’s the tiniest hindrance between us. Like what happened has left a mark on our permanent record. But Kyle and I have a good foundation and, just like a house, if you have a good foundation, anything is repairable. Maybe he’s feeling the same way because the three-day cruise to the Bahamas was his idea. After the past couple of months, I’m looking forward to getting away in nothing but our bathing suits.

***

It’s the morning of the sixteenth when I pull up to Sloan’s house with Lily in tow.

My BFF opens the door before I even make it up the paved walkway. “I can’t believe you’re going to the Bahamas without me.”

“Don’t be. We’re taking a girls trip in January.” It’ll be the first time Sloan and I have gone anywhere together since Kyle and I got married.

“Yeah, yeah.” Sloan waves me off, then kneels down to meet Lily, whose tail whips back and forth like a windshield wiper during a downpour. “I’m gonna give you so many treats this week,” she says scratching behind her ears.

“Hey, not too many,” I say.

“We’ll see.” She rises up, squinting in the sunlight. “So, have you seen Jake?”

I shake my head. “Not since that day a couple of weeks ago.”

“Huh,” she mutters in suspicion. “You think he’s at the gym right now working on his revenge body?”

That’s what she said when I told her about my last encounter with him. But like I told her before, “No, if he was going to get a revenge body he would have done it when he moved in.”

She lets out a sigh and I watch Lily sniff around her hibiscus flowers. “Maybe you’re right. He’s probably just moving on. And speaking of moving on, you think this cruise is gonna put everything back where it was?”

“When you say it like that it sounds silly,” I say.

She shrugs. “Time heals wounds, Natalie. Cruises are just for fun.”

“Well, in that case. I need to go meet my husband for some F.U.N!” I blow her a kiss, then another to my dog who’s eagerly waiting to go inside Auntie Sloan’s house.

“Bring me back some rum!”

Oh yes, pina coladas await!

***

Kyle and I make it to Miami and onto the Regal Islands’ Royal Fantasy cruise ship by the afternoon and it’s a race to our stateroom suite on deck six. As soon as the door closes tightly behind us, we gawk at each other like two teens that have run off to make out at the cliff while our parents are convinced we’re doing our geometry homework at the library.

He touches his forehead to mine and whispers, “We’re alone.”

I smile and he dives in. His warm mouth envelops mine in a getaway kiss. I wrap my arms around his neck, sliding my hands up and tangling my fingers in his soft, sandy blond hair. He turns me around and presses me against the door. Sliding my hair up with his hands, he traces his tongue on the nape of my neck and a shiver runs through my entire body. His hips press against me and I feel him, all of him, stiff as the breeze over Caribbean waters.

“Oh, Mr. Landon,” I say playfully, “I thought we were going to the pool.”

Kyle pulls the straps of my summer dress down my shoulders “I’d rather dive into you first, Mrs. Landon,” he says low in my ear.

And he does exactly that. Sweat covers our bodies as we glide with each other on the king size bed. His anchor drops to the most unreachable depths of me. Wow, I have to get Kyle out of the house more often. My head rolls back and a moan sails off my tongue, “Oh, oh, Kyle.”

The moment I say his name—that’s right, hisname—he lets out a satisfied growl and we release everything from the present, but more importantly, we let go of the past.

***

After another round in the stateroom, we head down to the pool and snag a double lounge chair and a pair of pina coladas.

“I’m so glad we did this,” he says, putting his arm around me.

I snuggle into him. “Me too. We needed it.”

“Definitely.” He sips the icy drink through a crazy neon-orange straw. “By the way, you were right about the Delures. They are such pains in the asses.”

“Right?” I say, feeling the rush of Caribbean rum to my head.

“They have so much money though.” And Kyle loves his million-dollar clients.

“I know. It’s hard to say no.” I smirk. It’s funny that somehow we’ve ended up in the same boat.

Kyle’s breathing balances and I’m sure the cocktail is working on him too. “Hey, do you remember when you made me watch that romantic comedy Christmas movie a couple years ago?”

I look up at him and his day-old stubble. “Yeah.”

“I never told you this, but that scene where the guy comes to the door with the handwritten signs.” Who doesn’t know the scene? “That’s how I always felt about you. When I saw it, I thought, yep, that guy gets it. I am that guy.”

“Oh, honey,” I roll on my side and little drops of condensation from my glass drip onto his bare chest as I lay my head against his heart. It’s steady, just like him.

“I remember when Jake was gone and I’d come over. We’d sit at the kitchen table drinking beer and playing board games from the eighties. You were so damn competitive. Like way more than you are now.” It’s true.

“Are you still upset about me kicking your ass?” I joke.

“No, that’s the thing. I always felt like a winner because I was spending time with you.” He kisses the top of my head and I practically melt into him. Cruises might just be for fun but I’m feeling pretty healed at the moment.

I sit up to take a sip of my drink, enjoying the creamy crushed ice on my tongue. I glance at the bar. A shirtless, bronzed man sits with his back to the pool next to a toned, tanned blonde in a hot pink bikini. He turns his head just enough for me to catch a glimpse of his profile, granted a pina colada, buzzed glimpse.

I squint my eyes, lowering my sunglasses over the bridge of my nose. Is that who I think it is?

 

THEN

 

“Hey babe, how was your day?” I ask over the clatter of construction drilling through the phone.

“What?” Jake yells.

“How. Was. Your. Day?” It’s like I’m talking to an automated voice receptionist.

“Hold on a second.”

I wait a good twenty seconds before the noise dies down. “Sorry, baby. I’m good. How are you?”

“I’m doing okay. I miss you though.” Jake’s been gone for two weeks and I’ve never felt lonelier. Lily’s feeling it too. She just finally stopped sleeping near the front door. “I can’t wait ‘til you come home next week.”

“Yeah, I miss you too,” he says. “I’m sorry I haven’t really been able to talk to you with the time difference and everything.”

“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I just wish you weren’t twenty-five hundred miles away.”

He sighs. “I know. Listen, I gotta go. But we’ll talk again tomorrow.”

“You mean it? Because we didn’t get to talk at all yesterday.”

“Yes, I mean it.” He says a quick I love you and clicks off the line before I can utter the words goodbye. I know this is a big job and it means so much to him but I’m starting to feel like I don’t matter much. 

I drag my feet over to the fridge. Ugh. Nothing but a wilting salad and some leftover salsa. Guess I’m scrounging tonight. I set everything out and grab the crumbling, half-empty bag of tortilla chips from the pantry.

Ding, dong!

Lily races to the door, barking so ferociously that it makes my heart leap into my throat. Geez. I meet Lily at the door and peek out the glass window. Kyle? And a pizza? I open the door, shushing my guard dog’s growls.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” I grin. The smell of hot, melted cheese wafts between us. My eyes lower to the six-pack he’s carrying in a plastic grocery bag. “You know Jake’s not back from Vegas, right?”

“Yeah. I thought you might like some company.”

It’s like he read my mind. “Really? That was nice of you.”

“Well, Jake asked me to check in on you from time to time.”

“How sweet,” I say, trying not to appear too annoyed at the notion. Kyle wouldn’t have to check in on me if Jake were here. Yes, I know. I told him that he could go because I thought it would be easier. I thought it would make things better. But now everything is harder. Everything is worse than before. “Well, come in.”

Kyle walks right to the kitchen table and sets the oversized pizza box next to my shitty salad and spoiled salsa combo. “Wow, looks like I came just in time.”

“You have no idea how perfect your timing is.”

“You’re not kidding.” Kyle points to the kitchen window. Fat drops of rain hit the glass.

Kyle sits next to me and serves me up a slice. I ignore the pizza and go for the beer. Natalie needs a drink. So I chug. Chug. Chug!

“Whoa, slow down,” Kyle says. “It’s not a contest.”

I gulp back my last swig of the barley beverage. “It’s been a rough couple of weeks.”

“I know. But I’m here now.” Why is he saying it like a prince who’s just rescued me? He must be wondering the same thing because he shakes his head and stuffs the cheese-covered triangle in his mouth.

“Where’s your girl, Emily tonight?” Emily is the one he’s been dating for a couple of years now, and it’s getting really serious. She seems nice but I always get the impression that she doesn’t like me for some reason.

The light in his blue eyes turns gray. “Um, we broke up.”

I swallow hard, almost choking on my pepperoni. “What? I thought you were going to propose.”

He lets out a long sigh, lowering his slice. “Yeah, that didn’t exactly work out the way I planned.”

Oh, wow. She said no? “I’m so sorry, Kyle. I had no idea. When did that happen?”

“About ten days ago.”

“Oh shit. Why are you not guzzling beers too?”

“I’ve excepted it. It wasn’t right. It should feel right.”  

“It should.” Or maybe it doesn’t matter. I had zero doubts about Jake when he asked me to marry him. So much certainty that it scared me. Now, all I have is doubts. Certainty feels a lot farther away than twenty-five hundred miles.  

After three beers and three slices, Kyle and I sit on the back patio, lounging in a couple of chairs poolside. I’ve got a glass of chardonnay and he’s still finishing his second beer. I watch the rain drip from the screen cover and into the pool. With every ripple along the water, I think more and more about Jake. Or rather, stew more and more about Jake.

The pool.

It was the pool.

If I’d never gotten into that pool, then Jake would have never kissed me. We would have never fallen in love, gotten married, gotten pregnant twice and ended up here. Unhappily ever after.

I’m supposed to be single with a hot, rich boyfriend who won’t marry me for fear I’ll take his money and run. It sucks when someone does that to you. I know that now.

“You okay?” Kyle asks. Finally, someone who gives a shit.

I clench my jaw thinking about how letting Jake go to Vegas may have been a horrible mistake. “Not really.”

“You want to talk about it?” he asks.

“Talk about what? How I lose two babies and my husband abandons me months later? How he’s taken everything I’ve worked so hard for and invested it into something we have no idea is going to work out? Or how my husband’s been gone for two weeks and I haven’t had a conversation with him that’s lasted longer than ten minutes? What should I talk about because I have no idea where to fucking start!” I toss my glass into the pool, the glass sinks while what’s left of the chardonnay dissipates like it never existed at all.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay,” Kyle says gently. He jumps from his chair over to mine, facing me as I cover my eyes. I shouldn’t have had those last two beers. Kyle rubs the edge of my shoulder. “It’s not always going to be like this.”

“Thank God, because I’m not sure how much more of it I can take.”

“Jake will be home next week. And in the meantime, I can bring dinner again tomorrow. We can play one of those board games you like. Bring Sloan if you want.”

I will my trembling chin to steady and look up at him with tears puddling in my eyes. “Why are you being so nice?”

“Because I care about you—you guys.”

I stare into his blue eyes and for a split second wonder if I chose the wrong guy. But I shake it off and the thought is gone as quickly as it arrived. I need to get my shit together. Jake’s the love of my life. We’re just going through a rough patch. I’m lonely, horny, and drunk. Of course Kyle’s gonna look like a million dollar property on the water to me.

“I should go,” he says.

“Yeah, it’s getting late.”

***

Kyle keeps his promise and shows up with Sloan at seven on the dot. This time with cartons of Chinese and a tattered Monopoly box. An hour later, I’m winning. No surprise. The two of them don’t seem to care about more than their glasses of pinot grigio. And for the first time since Jake’s been gone, I actually feel okay.

My phone buzzes against the table. It’s Jake. Even better. “Excuse me, guys.” I grab the phone and answer, “Hello?”

“Hey.”

I turn back to the table. “Don’t even think about cheating. I know exactly where everything is.” Kyle and Sloan share a look before I return to the call. “Sorry, baby.”

“What’s going on?” he asks against another noisy background. Maybe I should cut him some slack. It can’t be easy for him working so hard over there while we’re here having a blast.

“Sloan and Kyle are over here playing board games.”

“That sounds fun. I’m glad they’re keeping you company.”

“Yeah, but I’m looking forward to your company next week.”

“Yeah, about that . . .” Uh-oh. I don’t like the way that sounds. “I’m not going to be able to come.”

I swear my heart just stopped. “What?! Why not?”

“We ran into a huge snag at one of the builds that may be an issue with the other ones.”

“Wait, what kind of snag?”

“Nothing crazy as long as we catch it now,” he says.

“Isn’t there someone who can cover for you this weekend?” Anyone?

“No, this is something I have to handle. I’m so sorry, Quinn. This just isn’t a good time. I’ll come home as soon as it’s resolved. I promise.”

I shake my head. “I had a feeling something like this was going to happen.”

“What do you mean?”

I step out of the room and shut the door behind me. “That you’d get stuck out there and I wouldn’t see you for months.”

Jake scoffs. “Don’t be dramatic. It’s only been a couple of weeks.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear you’re having a great fucking time in Sin City while the old ball and chain’s at home taking care of everything else!” Right now, I’m not sure I want him to come home.

“This isn’t a vacation. I’m trying to do something good for our family.”

“What family?” I throw my hands in the air, wishing I could pitch my phone too.

“Don’t go there with me, Natalie. You’re the one who gave up trying. Not me.”

Natalie? Did he just call me Natalie?

“I gave up trying? What do you call running away to the other side of the country when your marriage is in trouble?” The door may be closed but I’m sure Sloan and Kyle have a front row seat to the Natalie and Jake smackdown.

“You said it was okay!” he yells.

I ball my fists, tears streaming down my cheeks. “Well, I was wrong. It’s not okay.” Please say it will be okay. Say you’ll come home and make this all go away.

“It’s too late now. We have to see this through.”

I just hope there’s something left when we get to the other side.

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Amanda Aksel

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