Kurt Watley attempted to line up his shot, as Marc paced around the pool table. The former tried unsuccessfully to keep the peripheral movement from distracting his attention. Finally, he turned around and threw his friend a sharp look. “Would you mind?” he said.
“Sorry,” Marc replied, waving his hand apologetically.
“I don’t know why you’re letting it bother you so much,” Kurt said. “So Melissa’s working again. What’s the big deal?”
“It’s not just that. It’s everything. Ever since that incident in West Virginia, she’s been different. Why should the disappearance of some woman I’ve never even met cause such a disruption to my own life? It’s not as though she were my girlfriend, or even my wife for that matter.”
“The boyfriend sends her text messages constantly. I hear that annoying knock-knock ringtone at least ten times a day.”
“Whose boyfriend? Melissa’s?” Kurt asked seriously, fighting to suppress a grin.
Marc glared at him. “That’s what people are going to think, if she keeps it up.”
“Can’t she just tell him to stop?”
“I’ve told her that. Actually, I said, ‘Just ignore the texts. He’ll get the hint.’ But you know how she is. She’s such a soft touch. She just can’t bring herself to turn her back on him. He’s got no family of his own.”
Kurt, his back now turned to Marc, rolled his eyes. “What are they texting about?”
“Who the hell knows? The missing girlfriend, I suppose. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can see why he’s upset. They showed us a picture. She’s a real piece of ass that one, but still, what does it have to do with me?”
“Speaking of a piece of ass, how goes it with that little blond of yours? What’s her name again?”
“Angie,” Marc said moodily.
“Uh-oh,” Kurt said, “trouble in paradise?”
“Well, I’d been telling her that Melissa and I were on the verge of a divorce, so that stupid Williamsburg trip didn’t go over well at all.”
“I wouldn’t think so, no,” Kurt said.
“I thought I’d be able to heal the breach when I got back, particularly since Melissa stayed behind for a while.”
“But…” Kurt prompted.
“But she won’t pick up the damned phone!” His voice had grown to a near shout. Kurt glanced around at him, and he seemed to regain his composure.
“Your turn,” Kurt said.
Marc stepped forward and half-heartedly lined up a shot. “I think she’s got some other guy on the side.” His voice sounded defeated. “She’s surrounded all day long by college kids with more brawn than brains. I can just imagine her pressing her big…” He took a shot. The stick slipped off the cue ball, which spun feebly off in completely the wrong direction. He swore and reached for the chalk.
Kurt had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. “Well, you had to know that eventually she’d…” He stopped talking quickly at the sound of someone moving upstairs.
“Marc?” Melissa’s voice floated down the stairs to them.
“Down here,” Marc said, an irritated edge to his voice.
Melissa appeared at the base of the stairs dressed in a tailored skirt suit and looking tired. “Hello Kurt,” she said. Her greeting was neither rude nor warm.
“Melissa,” he said, stepping forward to kiss her cheek. “Nice to see you again.” He turned back to Marc and extended his hand. “I’d better be getting back. The wife will be wondering where I am.” The two men shook hands, and Kurt disappeared up the stairs without a backward glance.
“Where the hell have you been?” Marc demanded, as soon as he’d left.
“I told you,” she said. “I had a meeting with a client.” Her voice was a cold monotone.
“I see. Well, while you were meeting with your client,” he said this as though doubtful of the claim, “There’s been no dinner on the table-again-in a kitchen that looks like a bomb went off. Do you know how embarrassed I was to have Kurt see this place?”
“Then why did you invite him over?” she snapped. “And while we’re on the subject, why didn’t you make yourselves something to eat? I mean, it’s not as if …” her thought was interrupted by the sound of knocking coming from her purse. She paused, mid-sentence, to pull her cell phone from her bag and check the message that was waiting.
That, for Marc, was the last straw. He snatched the phone from her hand, shoved her aside, and quickly sent a reply: “Enough is enough. Leave my wife alone.”