COMPLICATED {1}

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Liam had been looking forward to the weekend for weeks. No phones, no work, no Maya, and no interruptions. His excitement traveled through him and led to some slight discomfort and eventual adjustment in his jeans. He had another hour on the road but it was short time compared to the next 48.

Elise had known she’d reach the house before him; she always did. It gave her a chance to sneak a puff and lounge around before he arrived. She folded her legs beneath her on the porch swing and began her mind-numbing rolling. The sky was dark and cloudy overhead and a few miles away, thunder cracked ominously. She’d always loved this place: the near-constant rain, the seclusion of the house itself, and any opportunity to hide from everything and everyone. The crunch of the gravel surprised her, disturbing the silence around her as the truck pulled into the driveway. Liam was normally late to their rendezvouses and she momentarily longed for the time she’d spend waiting for him.

Seeing him brought other thoughts to mind. He grinned widely when he saw her, cross-legged and wistful on the porch and he was at her side in several strides. “Gimme that,” he said, taking the blunt from her and inhaling.
“I thought you didn’t partake.”
“It’s been a while. But with all the trouble Maya’s getting into at school, and all the grief her mother is giving me, I’ll chance it,” he said, inhaling once more and passing it back.
“You rebel, you,” Elise jested.

With the rain over their heads and the smoke dissipated, Elise and Liam tangled themselves with their embraces. He’d hiked her skirt to her knees and wrapped his fingers around her clitoris, pulling a gasp from her lips. “You know, we’ve never made it on the porch,” he said, his breath warm and ragged on her neck. Elise, never one to back down from a challenge, swung her leg over to straddle him.
“Care to change that?”

Sunday Brunch was a time for Elise and her girls to catch up. With their ever-busying lives, it was important to them to make time for one another. “Sorry, sorry, sorry! I’m here!” Elise said to her two best friends, shuffling into the empty seat at the table.
“Took you long enough. We almost drank your mimosas,” Josalyn said, sliding the two champagne flutes across the table. Elise downed the first one to catch up.
“Where the hell have you been all weekend?” Amara immediately cut into her.
“Hi, I’ve missed you too,” Elise said, reaching across the table to stroke their hands.
“You didn’t answer her question.”
“I went on a retreat,” Elise said, lying into her menu.
“What kind of retreat?”
“The kind where I lounge outside and smoke all day.”
“So you went to your sister’s dorm room? Classy,” Josalyn said sarcastically. Elise whacked her with her napkin as they laughed.
“No, it was just up north. My aunt has a house that she needs help with so I look after it sometimes.”
“And why haven’t we been invited on any of these retreats, ones you’ve been taking more and more of?” Amara asked.
“It’s a rundown place. One bedroom, one bath kinda deal.”
“Like we haven’t been sharing beds since we were 13!”

The three of them had been inseparable since the summer before high school. Both Amara and Josalyn moved into the neighborhood and their friendship quickly blossomed. They’d been through everything together and, miraculously, had held it together for nearly 17 years. “Well, once I get the place totally together, you guys can come up,” Elise lied again. She’d felt guilty she had excluded them from her secret, but she liked having one thing that was solely hers. She knew if they’d known about Liam, they would spend the rest of their relationship dissecting every word or action he had. She knew her friends were caring and compassionate, but she feared they wouldn’t understand and that lack of understanding would push her to do something she would never do on her own. Her thoughts swirled back to Liam and flashbacks of their lascivious weekend sent flames to her face and neck. “Oh, Liam’s on the way, I hope you guys don’t mind,” Amara said, casually. Elise managed to gracefully spill her drink across the table.

The girls excused themselves to the restroom, leaving Liam and Elise alone.
“Did you tell them?”
“Of course not.”
“So this was a genuine invite?”
“From Amara,” Elise said carefully. Liam grinned and swung his arm around Elise, drawing closer to her. “I’m still full from the breakfast you fed me this morning. But I can eat,” he said in his soft voice, before returning to his menu.  Elise’s face had remained steely calm as the girls returned, but she was almost sure she’d ruined her underwear.

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