My walk on the beach invigorated me and when I got back to Luna’s I immediately got caught up in all the excitement of the party. I scooped up Zoe and twirled her around and around while she squealed and giggled. Then I held her and kissed her little soft cheeks, one then the other, grinning at her sweet face between each silly kiss, and she wiped them off exaggeratedly with her tiny hands and said, “itchy daddy!” I laughed and apologized. I hadn’t shaved in a while. I put her down and asked Dave to show her the photo of our new kitty while I rushed to find Odette.
“Chris, she needs some time” Luna blocked me at the door. I started to argue with her but the look on her face silenced me. I was confused but decided not to let anger and worry set in just yet, and instead I went to the kitchen to grab a beer and listen to the guys sort out the sleeping arrangements. I knew that Luna would come out and tell everyone exactly where he would sleeping but it was fun to let the guys imagine they would have a say in the matter. If all went well, I would be with Odette tonight and every night for the rest of our lives. It had to go well.
I wandered down the long hallway towards Odette’s bedroom door and stared at the photos on Luna’s wall. She really had lived an amazing life and had pictures of her exploits from all over the world. I smiled at a silly photo of Luna on a camel in front of the Great Pyramids in Giza and just as I was about to turn, a photo of Odette and her sisters caught my eye. They were just in from the beach. Hair wet, tank tops haphazardly thrown on over bikini tops, they were smiling. I wondered when this was taken and again was struck by the unfairness of it all. Why was Meliah’s life cut short? And the baby….. it was all too sad. They were the Swann girls. Three brutally cut to two by cruel circumstances. I hated the pain that Odette was in yet I was powerless to stop it. Dave chastises me for letting Odette off the hook for having the affair but he doesn’t understand the terrible sadness that surrounds her. While it was killing me, maybe this period of reckless abandon was finally waking up my sleeping swan.
When Odette opened the bedroom door she was immediately defensive and tried to explain that she needed a moment alone. I hugged her tightly, kissed her gently and led her out to gather Zoe and head to Bob and Lucy’s. Lucy had kindly offered to sit with Zoe for the night and had all kinds of exciting projects the two would be working on. While Odette and Lucy sipped on wine and spoke about a movement class Zoe was taking, Bob handed me a glass of bourbon and toasted “To the second finest thing to come from Kentucky” while winking at Lucy. She just rolled her eyes and reminded him that she left Lexington 45 years earlier to follow a certain philosopher to the ocean. He kissed her gently on the head and announced that it was time for us to head over to Luna’s.
The party was in full swing when we got back and I was feeling good as an audience gathered to hear our tales from the road. Bob and Odette had stayed out on the porch to talk but I was tired of talking. I wanted to cut loose. I can’t remember whose idea it was, but someone thought it would be fun to swim naked in the cold Atlantic and without thinking I was yelling as the freezing water shocked my warm body. Some assholes grabbed our clothes and went hollering back to the house so it was a big relief when I saw, Bob, Luna and Odette arrive with big beach towels. I grabbed Odette as she gently scolded me and helped me into my boxers. I quietly whispered that soon I hoped she would be helping me out of my boxers and she laughed and moved in closer to me. We stayed down at the beach and I kept my arm tight around her as we chatted happily with the smaller crowd that had gathered away from the party. I was suddenly struck with an urgent need to be alone with my wife and I grabbed Odette’s hand and asked her to walk along the beach. It was a perfect night.
I saw him first – the guy who looked like Jake. Odette suddenly went rigid beside me and I knew that this was no look-alike. This was Jake. He came staggering over to us with that cute little surfer girl I had seen him with earlier. My head began to spin. I remember asking Odette why he was here and wishing I could believe her pitiful excuse that he was with Rissa. One look at Rissa’s face and I knew Odette was lying but I needed so desperately to believe her so I turned to Jake and accused him of stalking me like a pathetic groupie. He started to say these awful things about Odette and he in bed and what he does to her and how she likes it and my head kept pounding and I couldn’t stop the noise. Why wouldn’t he just shut up? I wasn’t really thinking when I took him down to the sand, and started to pound him in the face as hard as I could.