Chapter Twenty Two.

She should have found it odd that she passed up Nick’s car as she neared his house.

Well, afraid would have been more like it.

When Amanda pulled up in the driveway, however, she felt a twinge of uneasiness come over her when she saw the front door wide open.

“Almost as if I’m expected to show up,” she muttered under her breath as she walked up to the open door. Stepping through the threshold, she was welcomed with complete silence; the house seemed empty, save for the faint sound of music floating to her ears from the den.

At least she knew where she had to go. What she was going to say and do, however, that was another story.

She found Sandra sitting in a recliner, staring out into the backyard. Past the grass, past the dogs playing, past the trees, past the ocean. She was staring out into nothingness. While she seemed spaced out, Amanda knew Sandra was well aware of her presence in the room, as well as the quickly rising tension.

In a move that would put most mobster movies to shame, Sandra’s recliner rotated slowly toward Amanda, her face revealing nothing about her emotions. Her eyes were a cool, calm brown, not hinting in the very least any discomfort she may have been experiencing at the moment. That, combined with her relaxed stance and the way she regarded Amanda with complete serenity made the tiny, delicate hairs on the back of Amanda’s neck stand on end.

This was the side of Sandra she’d always seen being directed at others; the side of Sandra she never imagined being at the receiving end of.

Saying she was nervous was a huge understatement.

When Sandra made no attempt to break the uncomfortable silence, Amanda took the initiative.

“Hey,” she breathed, her voice faltering slightly.

“Amanda,” Sandra acknowledged, nodding her head slightly in recognition.

Silence again. Amanda didn’t know what to expect. With Sandra, no one ever really knew. All she knew was that this... situation.. was something she really didn’t want to be a part of, and yet she’d thrown herself right smack in the middle of it all when she opened her mouth without thinking.

“Wow,” Amanda laughed nervously. “My full name. That’s new.”

“Is it?” Sandra raised an eyebrow, her voice calm. “I didn’t know trash was allowed such liberties as using nicknames for you upper-class folk.”

“San..” Amanda began.

“No,” Sandra held her hand up, cutting Amanda off. “Don’t you ‘San’ me, Amanda.”

“I’m sorry for what I said.”

“I’m sorry you felt compelled to say it. I’m sorry I had to hear it. I’m sorry you actually MEANT IT.”

“I didn’t mean it.”

“You know PERFECTLY well that the awful truth comes out in fits of anger,” Sandra reminded her, not moving in the slightest from the recliner. “At least you were honest with me.”

“Will you please just hear me out here?” Amanda questioned, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. “I have stuff to say.”

“More?” Sandra smirked. “You mean you weren’t finished with your... tirade earlier? This is certainly surprising,” she held her hand out to the center of the room. “The floor is yours, Amanda.”

Amanda cringed; she really hated the vicious tone Sandra was using when saying her name. Her full name, at that. She crossed the room until she was no more than five feet away from Sandra before she began to talk.

“I didn’t even realize the things I said earlier. I wasn’t consious of what I was saying..”

“Are you ever?”

“Quit being funny.”

“Who’s being funny?” Sandra questioned. “I’m serious, Amanda. When are you EVER aware? You weren’t aware of what you’d said. I’m willing to bet anything AJ was the one that reminded you,” she smirked when Amanda nodded slowly. “You weren’t aware of the good in the situation, you weren’t aware of the love, the trust, everything that man was giving you, without asking for a single thing in return.”

Amanda’s gaze dropped to the floor at the mention of AJ. Sandra noticed her disomfort and smiled with the satisfaction of having hit a sore subject; a heartless act that shook her very little.

“While we’re on the subject,” she continued, lifting her head higher, eyeing Amanda cautiously. “AJ is someone I consider a GREAT person and friend. Forget saving my ass time and again over the years; forget how we met, how he got me fired from that horrible waitressing job, forget all that. There is not an evil bone in that man’s body; none of this,” her hands extended, spanning the are in which they’d all been in hours before, “None of what went on here was something he deserved to witness. But did you care? Of course not. You were out for blood. A terrible injustice had been done to you. You had every right. Is that correct? Every damn right, and you’d step all over anyone to get what was coming to you.”

“Why did you tell him?” Amanda blurted out, changing the subject completely. “Why did you?”

“I’m not going to explain myself.”

“Why not?”

“When I wanted to, you wouldn’t hear of it,” Sandra rose from her seat and eyed Amanda coolly, “Now, I don’t want to. Simple as that.”

Amanda wanted to scream as she watched Sandra stroll over to the mini bar in the corner of the room. So calm, so collected, not a trace of any feelings of hurt readable on her features. She’d give just about anything to have her friend screaming and throwing things in her direction. She’d much rather have San letting her know exactly how she felt, than have her so withdrawn from her.

“Well, I think I deserve an explanation,” Amanda said flatly, crossing her arms across her chest and shotting a challenging glare in Sandra’s direction.

The shotglass flying across the room and shattering into dozens of pieces directly behind Amanda managed to shatter the uncomfortable silence between the two.

It also brought forward something much, much stronger.

“You... DESERVE an explanation?” Sandra asked incredulously, drawing Amanda’s attention from the broken glass back to her. “You know what you deserve, Amanda? A good swift kick in the head, among other things, but definitely NOT an explanation. Not after what I got from you.”

“You betrayed me!” Amanda shouted.

“I opened your fucking eyes!” Sandra shot back. “I saw your perfect world crashing at your feet, and you not noticing it in the least! Had I not said anything, you’d be holding signed divorce papers in your hand right this second, KNOWING you didn’t want them! Whatever AJ said to you was not MY doing. He pried the information out of me, but what he did with it was his own business, and you had it coming, Amanda Kay. You SO had it coming, and you know what? I’m GLAD he gave it to you. Every last word!”

Sandra brushed past a startled Amanda on her way out of the room. She was in no mood to be in the same room with the woman. If she stayed in there any longer, Amanda would end up in a similar way the unsuspecting shot glass did.

“Shut the door on your way out,” she spoke flatly. “Unless of course, there’s more damage you feel compelled to do around here.”

Amanda stayed perfectly still in the center of the living room until she heard a door slam shut upstairs. Then, and only then, did she collapse on the floor in a heap of sobs.

That was how they’d found her.

[chapter list | chapter twenty three]