Chapter Eighteen.

“J. My buddy. My Homie.”

“Your NEGLECTED Homie,” he corrected, casting a pained glance at Sandra.

“All right, you neglected child,” she laughed. “How are you?”

“So kind of you to remember the little people,” he sighed, letting her into his house. “Once Manda showed up, you probably even forgot what my name was.”

“I did not,” she smiled. “Arnold Jerome. See? I remembered.”

“Smartass,” he shot her a dirty look.

“You love me, admit it.”

“Not right now, I don’t.”

“Right.”

“I don’t!”

“Uh-huh.”

“San..”

“AJ..”

“Stop.”

“No.”

“Seriously,” AJ sighed. “I’m glad you’re here, actually. I need to talk to you.”

“About?” Sandra asked, concern written across her face.

“Amanda. This.. situation we’re in.”

“The marriage?” Sandra questioned.

“No, it’s not a marriage,” he sighed. “It’s a situation. It’s always been this.. inconvenience to her, as much as I tried to make it something worth having.”

“Tried? Past tense?”

“Right,” he nodded. “I’m getting tired of it. I love her, San. You know I do. She’s probably been aware of it for quite some time now, too. Nothing works, though. Not a damn thing. I tried to make her see, give her a glimpse of what could be, but she won’t budge!”

“AJ, don’t give up,” Sandra warned, a hint of desperation in her voice.

One that AJ immediately caught on to. “San? What’s with the pleading?”

“J, just don’t give up,” she repeated.

“I want to know what’s so wrong with me, what’s so horribly wrong, that she won’t even consider opening up to me! What did I do, what flaw do I posess, that she won’t even think to give this, me, a chance?!”

“It’s not you, J,” Sandra sighed. “Believe me.”

“Where have I heard THAT before?”

“She probably told you the exact same thing,” Sandra pointed out.

“On occasion, yes,” he said sarcastically.

“She was telling the truth.”

“She’s not as creative with her excuses anymore,” he said smugly. “Maybe it IS time I give her that fucking divorce she seems to want so badly.”

“NO!” Sandra exclaimed, jumping to her feet. “AJ, no. Don’t do that, please.”

“All right, San,” AJ walked over to her, placing his hands on her shoulders. “I’ve been watching you since you showed up. There’s something incredibly off in you, and I wanna know what it is.”

“J..”

“Now, San.”

“It’s not my place to tell..” she trailed off, shrugging apologetically.

“Ask me if I care,” he replied sarcastically, further challenging her.

Sandra sighed. If she wanted to leave that house alive, she had no choice. Besides, she had shown up there with every intention of helping out. This seemed to be the only way.

“You should’ve heard this from her,” she began. “She should be the one to tell you, AJ. But if you’re so hell bent on knowing...”

[chapter list | chapter nineteen]