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    Mrsgnomie
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Tied up in Knotts - 9. Chapter 9 - Taking a step back

I woke up to my phone buzzing on the side table. ‘Pleeeease?’ Tia’s text ended with the prayer hand emoji. She swore up, down, and all around that the green blended drink from Starbucks was thee hangover cure. Since I was freeloading in their guest house, the least I could do was fetch her drinks. I’d drive to the Starbucks in Portland if it showed them how much I appreciated their generosity.

‘Anyone else want a drink?’ I texted. I pressed send and rolled out of bed. I was grabbing a cleanish pair of pants when I noticed a certain dark-haired guy sleeping in my bed. I stopped, pants in hand, and watched Penn. He was lying on his tummy with one arm dangling over the side of the bed. He was wearing my favorite pair of lime green spandex boxer briefs which hugged his body nicely.

The buzzing of my phone broke me from my reverie. It was a list of drinks. Looked like quite a few people crashed last night. No wonder Penn was sleeping in my bed, there was nowhere else for him. I wondered where Cam was. She was still there when I left but it sounded like she was on her way out with some friends. I know where she wasn’t. With Penn.

Before my thoughts ventured to places they had no business being, I made my way to Starbucks.

****

I left Starbucks with a lead weight in my stomach. I hadn’t considered what the total would be. Getting Len and Tia drinks to show my appreciation was one thing. Buying drinks for a dozen people when I had no idea what my future financial situation was? That was a whole other beast. But I wasn’t about to go back and demand money from them. It wasn’t that I was technically broke. Lee and I had done well but I wasn’t bringing anything in now and I was worried Lee would see a purchase for $40 at Starbucks and flip his shit. I didn’t owe him a thing after what he put me through but he was now the sole earner for the two of us. As long as we were sharing finances, I was okay financially. The second we split them; I’d have to worry.

The couches were full of lifeless bodies recovering from the night before. After doling out drinks, I joined them in front of the TV where they were half watching a golf tournament.

If track hadn’t been my whole life in high school, I think I would’ve played golf more seriously. I always liked it. I played some over the years, mostly charity events, sometimes with friends. I especially loved watching it. There was something about golfers I found sexy.

I managed to nab a loveseat and an oversized ottoman to myself. I was stretched out watching the TV when fingers ruffled my hair. I looked up to find Penn pouting.

“Thanks for getting me a coffee.”

“You were sleeping.” I held out my drink as an offering which he accepted with a smile. He sipped it like it was the most precious thing he ever tasted.

He was wearing my clothes. A pair of jogger sweats that bordered too small and a hoodie. He flopped down next to me and laid his head in my lap like it was something we did every Sunday. He settled his head on my lap and wrapped his arm around my thigh like a boa constrictor.

“Nice clothes.”

“It was either this or the costume.”

I vote that costume,” his brother shouted from the other couch.

Me too.

The morning was quiet. Penn and I shared my coffee and watched the cute boys hit balls around the course. The girls were fanning over Rickie Fowler, who I thought was overrated. I loved confident guys but he always struck me as kind of...a dick. He dressed nice but he wasn’t all that attractive.

“Ugh, what is it about that guy? He’s not even cute,” I complained.

“Okay then, who has your vote?”

“Phil Mickelson, duh.”

Penn looked up from my lap like I was crazy. Believe it or not, Phil was a total hottie back in the day and even in his advanced age, he was giving the younger generation a run for their money on the green. He was a force to be reckoned with if you asked me.

“Hey, Phil is a classic,” Ryan defended. “There’s nothing wrong with him.”

“Of course you’d say that,” his wife’s voice was full of innuendo.

“What can I say. I have good taste in men.”

“What does that mean?” She cried.

I laughed as they bantered back and forth. The discussion kept going and everyone had an opinion about who the hotter golfers was. Every time a golfer was showcased, we rated him. When it came down to it, talking about cute golfers came naturally to me.

“Oh, look, Penn, it’s your boyfriend,” Angie cooed as ESPN panned a shot of Bryson DeChambeau hitting from the sand trap.

I looked down to see how he’d react to being teased. That’s when I realized I was fingering his hair. It wasn’t awkward when he did it to me a few days ago because I was distraught and he was being a good friend. This was different and I felt very uncomfortable about it. He was married and, even though I was on my way to divorce, I was married too. Penn might not have feelings for me, but I was sure feeling things for him. I didn’t want him to get the wrong impression from me.

“Whatever, he’s cute,” Penn shrugged in my lap. His fingers, which were still wrapped around my leg, brushed against my inner thigh as he shifted. That stupid touch had my brain short-circuiting.

I slipped out from under Penn and made my way to the kitchen. Anything to get away from him and the guilt I had for thinking and feeling things that were off-limits.

He was my friend. He was my friend. He was my friend.


He’d been there when I had no one. He was supportive and caring and did what he could to make sure I was happy. What was I doing in return? I was using him as a surrogate husband.

I busied myself cleaning up in the kitchen so I wouldn’t have to deal with my traitorous, adulterer’s mind. They continued to tease Penn about DeChambeau and his affinity for blondes—which reminded me about Cam. The worst part was the fact he didn’t seem embarrassed or upset by the teasing, in fact, he added his own jokes and comments about the cute blonde golfer. It was all so confusing for me.

Penn turned from the TV and rested his chin on the back of the couch. “What are you doing?” He looked concerned.

Overthinking. Worrying that I might be going insane. Wondering if I can handle the feelings I’m developing for you, you know, since you’re married and all. Feeling like a hypocrite for the things I’ve said about Lee. “Stretching my legs.”

I grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl. He watched me for another minute, unconvinced by my answer but he bit his tongue and turned back to the TV. I walked back to the living room and stood behind the couch that Tia and Lon were sharing.

“I better get going.”

“What? Already? It’s so early,” Tia frowned. I looked at the clock, it was one in the afternoon.

“I have to help my dad. I hope you guys feel better.”

I was feeling weird about how close we’d been on the couch so I skirted out without saying anything to Penn. I could feel him watching me but didn’t do more than wave as I left.

****

Dad was chopping and stacking firewood but stopped and waved when he saw me. I went straight to him. The gas powered wood splitter was so loud all I could do we gesture my hello before jumping in and helping him knock it out. He smiled every time he caught my eye.

When we got the pile done and he turned off the machine and gave me a hug. “Hey Smash.” He smelled like dirt and wood and the only thing I could think of was that it didn’t smell nearly as good on him as it did on Penn. “How are you?”

Never had that been such a loaded question. I skirted. “It’s good to see you dad. Is Tracy here?”

“Yeah, she’s in the house. What do you say we go to the kitchen? I could use a snack.”

“Do you have iced tea?”

He rolled his eyes, of course he had iced tea. He grew up in the south where ice tea was its own culture. They didn’t mess around.

My stepmom, Tracy, joined us at the table where we caught up. Even though I lived seven minutes from him, I didn’t see my dad as often as I should. Dad insisted that there was nothing new with him, which was probably true. The older he got the less he did outside of his routine. He was still a workhorse, though. He was few years from retirement and showing no signs of slowing.

“Where’s Lee?” He asked.

My face must’ve shown something because his whole demeanor changed. He called it his ‘daddy sense’. Growing up he’d say something stupid like ‘that made my ‘daddy-senses tingle’. He thought it was a hilarious play on Spiderman. When I was seventeen, I told him to stop. It was embarrassing and sexual, a terrible combo when it involves your father. I don’t think he ever connected the dots and I would never ruin his innocence by telling him he was a bit perverted.

“Well—” I’d officially entered a one-way road and the only exit was the truth. I wrung my hands in my lap as I tried to find the words. “I moved out a few weeks ago and I’m filing for divorce.”

You could have knocked him over with a feather. My parents loved Lee. They’d loved him when we first got together, they’d loved him when we got married, and they’d loved him every day since. They loved him so much it took me six weeks to find the courage to tell them we split up.

Dad kept opening his mouth but he couldn’t seem to find any words. I decided to help him along. “He was cheating on me, Dad.”

Dad looked away. I knew he wanted to defend Lee’s actions but he was torn between justifying his own past and protecting and supporting his son. Maybe because it had been a short-lived, non-emotional relationship, but Dad and Tracy had been able to work through his infidelity. Or it could've been because Tracy, for all her good, was too afraid to stand up for herself and what she deserved. I'll never know what the conversation was like between them because neither of them were overly emotional. For all I knew, Dad had cheated and they both swept it under the rug instead of actually dealing with it. That would explain why dad still carried so much guilt and why Tracy sat quietly, off to the side.

Before he could say anything, I cut him off. “Two years, dad. He cheated on me with the same person for two years.”

I thought about picking his chin up off the ground but I decided to let him process the news in his own way. It took him a minute or to collect himself before he started firing off questions. Mostly rhetorical questions I didn’t need to answer. Why did he do that? How could he do that? Who was it with? Why? Two years? And you never knew? How are you feeling? Is there anything I can do? I’m so sorry.

Dad was upset. He felt betrayed. He loved and trusted Lee just like I had. I’m sure he was also wrestling from the guilt of his own past. He was something he’d once done, being done to his son. Watching the heartbreak play across his face was like ripping the scab off my own wound. It made me angry at Lee all over again. How could he do this to my family? His family. Because that’s what my family was to him, they were his.

“What can we do?” he asked, full of concern. “We have a spare room if you want to stay with us. We’ll help pay for the lawyer. Whatever you want. Whatever I can do to alleviate this burden.”

I reached over and grabbed Dad’s hand. “I appreciate the offer but I have it covered, for now. The Lewis’ are in no rush to get rid of me and the lawyer is a friend of Chambers. He said he convinced her to work pro bono but I think he’s paying her. If something changes, you’ll be the first to know.”

After that, dad couldn’t stop looking at me like a wounded puppy. I stayed well into the evening and let dad fuss over me. Turned out I needed my dad to be there for me as much as he needed to be there for his son. It was a heavy day, emotionally. Coming clean to my dad was the hardest thing I’d done. He didn’t curse Lee out like everyone else did, he didn’t tell me how horrible Lee was like everyone else did. He was sad about losing a son, sad to see his beloved in pain. So, we were sad together. Because I was sad about losing Lee, too.

I sent Ryan a text letting him know I wouldn’t be at game night but it was Penn who responded.

‘Is everything okay?’

‘Yeah’

I think he knew I was telling my parents. I imagined him staring at his phone, annoyed by my lack of response. There wasn’t much I could do about it. I was in a weird, sad place.

When I got to the cottage, everyone was gone. That was good. I knew Penn would’ve stopped by and I wasn’t up for that. I wasn’t going to ghost him like I’d done before, I wasn’t willing to let go of our friendship. But for the sake of my emotional health, I needed to check my boundaries.

I just needed a minute to be sad for me and for my family. So that’s what I did. I walked through the dark cottage and went straight to my room. I laid awake for hours, being sad about everything.

Missing Lee even if I shouldn’t.
Frustrated that I had feelings for Penn.
Sad that I couldn’t catch a break.

****

I don’t know if Penn suspected something was up or not. I think I did a pretty good job at balancing our friendship with my newly erected personal boundaries. We still hung out every day but I stopped putting myself in situations that were reckless to my welfare; like snuggling on the couch or flirting over dinner. I just couldn’t set myself up like that.

I met with the lady lawyer, who was kind of terrifying. We finished the initial paperwork and talked a lot about what I wanted to walk away with. Most people would be out for blood but I wasn’t looking to screw him over, I just wanted my share from our marriage. I’d be more than happy to walk away with half and be done. If Lee wanted to fight it then both me and the lady lawyer were prepared to fight back. I really didn’t want it to come to that. I had already been through so much, more than I ever imagined. Having a knock-down drag-out divorce wasn’t what I wanted.

With my trip overseas was fast approaching. We decided to wait and serve Lee when I got back. I wasn’t sure how Lee would react but I knew I needed to be state side to deal with it. He had to know the end was coming but he also was a fucking idiot, so maybe he thought things were working out. He still hadn’t talked about Paul and for all I knew, he was still talking to him, maybe more than talking. I honestly didn’t care anymore. I had a feeling he’d be more upset about me filing first then he’d be about the actual dissolution of marriage.

I managed to reach out to Nathan and Kelsea. They were both shocked but not shocked when I told them about Lee. Lee had been tight-lipped but Kelsea knew something was up. She swore she never thought he was cheating. I had to talk her off a ledge. She wanted to murder him then burn his body. When they were done being angry at Lee, they turned on me for not coming to them earlier. They also offered up their spare room. I was happy at the Cottage but should I need to move, Nathan and Kelsea’s was far more tempting than living with my parents again.

Game night continued every Sunday. Serenade Charades had become the go-to game, which I loved. The performances got better and better as the weeks passed. They realized how much fun it was when you gave it your all. I, of course, went all in every time, except when I got Penn’s name. I always thought I’d really ham it up for him if given the chance but now all I could think about was keeping a clear line between us. Like I said, I didn’t need to set myself up for more hurt. I already got my money's worth at that all-you-can-eat buffet.

I also tied up the last of my loose ends with work. I had dozens of people who gave specifically toward my personal support, which had made up my salary. I owed them face to face conversations to let them know I was resigning. Personal support was a delicate relationship. Some of them gave because they loved Yevo and some only gave because they loved me. Regardless, they all needed to know I was stepping down so they could make the decision if they wanted to keep giving or not.

They were hard conversations. I was all about transparency in my life and, since I was past protecting Lee’s feelings, I told the truth. I was tactful but honest in my approach. In the end, the support I received was more than I could’ve dreamed.

Sam was the hardest conversation of all. He had been supporting me in so many ways, starting when I was a teenager. He was going to ask me about Boston and I’d have to tell him the truth. With everything going on with Lee, I never got around to registering. Which meant another year and another let down.

I brought him his favorite coffee. When he was done taking his first savory sip, he smiled at me. “A little birdy told me you stepped down.”

I wasn’t surprised he already heard. He was a pillar of the community and always finding himself in the know. “What else did the birdy say?” I asked.

“Nothing worth repeating.”

I thought about it. The demise of my marriage could definitely be categorized in the not worth repeating category. I was thankful Sam didn’t feel the need to try and dig into all my drama. He knew I had already been grilled for details for the sake of their own curiosity. Sam didn’t care about any of it, it wasn’t his business. He had lived long enough to know what really mattered in life.

“I just want you to be happy. I’ll still give because I love the organization, but my support will always remain with you.”

“I never registered for Boston.”

“Neither did I,” he laughed.

“I feel like I let you down.”

Sam adjusted the blanket on his lap and motioned for me to move closer. I did. “For purely selfish reasons, I want to see you compete. But if I ever led you to believe that you could let me down, then I owe you an apology. Life is so much more than other people's expectations.”

“I have never felt the pressure of expectation from you. I just know how much Boston means to you and I know I can do it. I want to compete for me but also for you. I just wish something had gone right for me.”

“You know what? I’m glad you stepped down. Lee was a big part of your life—of your story. Now that it’s over, you’ve been given a second chance at life. There is literally nothing stopping you from doing anything in this world. The sky's the limit. I could not be more excited for what’s in store for you. I hope you do something crazy. Be irresponsible.”

“I’m not sure how irresponsible I can be. I still have responsibilities. I still need a job, a home, food.”

“Yeah, but you can do that anywhere in the world,” he smiled. “You were born and raised here. Maybe it’s time to go.”

“I don’t know about that,” I laughed. “Where would I even go?”

“You’re going to Thailand. That seems like a good start.”

“Sam, I think your mind is slipping,” I laughed. “It’s a great place for vacation but not a place to live.”

Sam flipped me off. His knuckles were knotty and he couldn’t stretch his finger out fully. It only added to his charm. “Wait here you damn Millennial.” He wheeled himself to another room. He was gone for a few minutes before he finally came back. There was a box on his lap, once he had his chair situated, he handed me the box.

“Take this with you but don’t open it unless you feel empowered to do something crazy and unexpected.”

I turned the box over in my hands and laughed. The thing looked just like white puzzle box in the DaVinci Code. “Is this a cryptex?”

“Yeah, I bought it on amazon. Kind of cool, huh?”

I nodded. It really was. It made the gift that much cooler. Should the time come that I need to open it, I must first figure out the six letter passcode. “Is there a clue to the code?”

“Just call my name.”

“Like, call you on the phone? And you’ll tell me the passcode?” I joked.

Sam laughed. “Or just use my name. Samuel.”

“How will I know if it’s the right time to open in? On a scale of one-to-ten, how crazy and unexpected does the thing I’m empowered to do have to be?”

“You’ll know when the moment comes. This will bring you luck and prosperity.”

“I could really use those two things in my life.”

“Oh, sweet Nash. You are the luckiest, most prosperous person I know.”

I stayed for several hours before he finally kicked me out, telling me that I had better things to do than hang out with an old man. He was wrong of course. So very wrong.

****

On the way home, I stopped at market for food. I didn’t want the food to go bad so I only bought what I knew I’d use between now and Thailand. I was walking to the truck with a full bag in one arm when I saw Shayla. We made eye contact and then she looked away, not sure what to do next. I nodded toward the small coffee shop that sat in the strip next to the market. She bit her lip but locked her car and walked toward the coffee shop anyway.

“You have time for a cup?” I asked as she neared.

She let out a breath so deep I swear she’d been holding it for weeks and nodded. The café was small and nearly empty. With chains like Starbucks and Dutch Brothers, they didn’t get the business they one did. We both ordered and made our way to the table. It was definitely awkward. Did we start talking now and then get interrupted when they brought us the coffee or did we wait until we had the coffee so we could talk in peace?

“How are you doing?” I asked. She didn’t look like she was doing well.

“I’m doing about as well as one could expect when they find out their husband has been cheating on them with another person. Not a woman like you’d expect, but a man.” Shayla almost looked like she found the whole thing hilarious. “Sorry, I shouldn’t be smiling. I’m actually fucking pissed but I don’t know what else to do. You can’t make this shit up. I guess, you of all people, understand me.”

“But I don’t,” I laughed. “Yes, I understand the cheating thing but not the preference thing. Lee cheated with a man. If he’d been sleeping with you instead, well that would be a different story.”

Shayla sat up straight just as the barista brought our drinks. When she was gone, Shayla looked at me.

“I’ve got to ask. Did you suspect?”

“That Lee was cheating? No, not at all.”

“Not even a little? Nothing?” She asked, confused that I might have actually been blindsided.

“Trust me, I’ve thought about it a lot. I scoured our history for every little sign. Sure, I see things now that could’ve been signs but only because I now know what to see. Even if I could go back, I don’t think I would’ve pieced it together. What about you?”

“Oh, I knew he was cheating. Our marriage has been rocky for a while and I suspected there was someone else for most of that time. I asked him a few times if there was another woman, he’d get angry and yell at me for questioning him. That’s when I knew for sure, he reacted like a guilty person.”

“And that it was with a man?”

Shayla rubbed her face. “I don’t know. I was shocked but also, I wasn’t. I’d always had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I ignored. I didn’t even know what I was ignoring until the truth came out. To be honest, I was more shocked about it being Lee. I mean, I knew my marriage was in the toilet but yours?”

“Turns out mine was too.”

“Yeah, well, when I got home, I was furious. I sent the kids to the parent’s house and waited for Paul. When he got home, I laid into him. It wasn’t so much about him and me, I’d been waiting years for our blow up, but how could he do this to someone else?”

I looked at her and smiled. Not because it was funny but because our reactions were so different. “You seem to be handling everything okay, given Paul is likely gay and all.”

“Paul’s a lot of things, adding gay to it doesn’t change one of them. Like I said, I’ve been expecting this, to some degree or another, for years. I’m glad it came to light because now I can move on. And now I have an excuse to take his ass to the cleaners. I’m fighting for anything I can get. No regrets,” she smiled. “And you?”

“I can’t say I’m quite as put together as you. I still feel a bit blindsided. I just signed all the paperwork to move forward with the divorce, though no one knows, so shhhh,” I pressed my finger to my lips. “But I’m not handling any of it well. I don’t want to be with Lee anymore but I’m still having a hard time letting go. He refuses to acknowledge anything about him and Paul. We were going nowhere in counseling when he slipped up and mentioned that they had talked. For all I know, they’re still…whatever they are or—” I couldn’t even find the words. “I don’t think I’m doing anything right, or that’s how everyone makes it seem. I’m not treating Lee like the asshole he is, I’m not trying to clean him out, I’m not dragging him through the mud. I just want this to be over. I don’t know,” I sighed. “Maybe I’ll be a new person when I come back home. Maybe I’ll have new perspective and I’ll do it the way everyone says I should.”

Shayla reached across the table and took my hand. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to come across crass or to somehow make you feel like you’re not handling things well. We’re living very different realities. No matter what anyone says, you’re the one who has to live with your decisions. I respect that you’re taking the road less traveled. No matter how Lee treats you, the fact you refuse stoop to his level speaks volumes of who you are. At the end of the day, you’re the one wiping the floors with us.”

I smiled, though it was hard. “Feels more like I’m being wiped.”

“Well, you are,” she grinned. “But not for long. Maybe that vacation will be everything you hope.”

“I don’t even know what I want from it.”

“I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

We talked for another ten minutes but then it was time for us to part. As we walked out of the café, toward the parking lot, I found the courage to ask her what I wasn’t even sure I wanted to know.

“Do you think Lee and Paul are still—”

“Together?” she asked, then she thought about it. “I don’t think so. I heard them fighting on the phone the night I made him pack up and move out. I didn’t catch all of it but it wasn’t good. I have a feeling they were better off a secret. I don’t know if Lee thought they’d work out in the light of day but I know Paul well enough to know that won’t be his path for a while, if ever. I did check our phone statements the other day, out of curiosity. Calls and texts between their numbers has dwindled a lot. Communication looks almost non-existent now. Does it really make a difference to you?”

“Of course it does. It might not change the outcome but it still matters to me, personally.”

Shayla nodded, “Yeah, I get that. I wish it was different for you. I really do.”

Two weeks before I left for Asia, I met with Lee. It was the last time we’d see each other until I got back from vacation. Then, I’d serve him papers. We decided to forgo counseling in lieu of a long lunch—per Lee’s request. He didn’t have to ask me twice. I hated going to counseling with him anyway. We actually had a decent time together. He offered to drive me to the airport and was genuinely upset when I declined. I already had plans to go to Portland the night before. I was staying with my friend, Joe, who worked for Yevo in the Portland area. We were going to catch up and then he was driving me to PDX the following morning.

We touched on money a little bit. It was something we talked about every week just to make sure we were on the same page. If sharing money during this weird time was going to work, communication was critical.

It got weird for me when I stopped working. I hated being dependent on Lee. But guilt, and the illusion we were trying to make things work, made him generous. Money didn’t seem to be an issue. He never made comments about my purchases and let me do as I pleased. I knew his generosity would stop when he got served divorce papers but until then, I’d take what I could get. After he was served, he’d be a fool to do something drastic like try and cut me off. He knew how bad that looked in a judge’s eye.

Lee had also respected my physical boundaries and hadn’t tried to touch me, not after the therapist explained how highly disrespectful it was of him and how he needed to earn that privilege. The fact it had to be explained to him spoke volume. That alone was worth all the money we paid her.

Which is why, when we were leaving lunch, it came as a shock when he ran his fingers through my hair. I think it was supposed to be an affectionate gesture but after everything that he’d done to me, it made my skin crawl and my stomach churn.

Lee looked at me, then the fingers in my hair, the way he had for so many years. “If I had known how sexy you look with long hair—”

Would he not have cheated on me?

I wanted to make a snarky comment but there was no point. I didn’t want to hear what he had to say anyway. I gently pulled away from his touch, which made me feel gross. Even on the drive home, I couldn’t stop feeling disgusted about it. There was no a particular reason why I hadn’t cut my hair. I just hadn’t. But I hated knowing he liked it.

****

Like every Wednesday, Penn was sitting on the sofa, waiting for me to return from my time with Lee. He was ready to comfort and support me depending on my mood. He had piled his jacket and a few blankets on the chair so we’d both have to sit on the sofa. I think it was his way of trying to close the gap I was putting between us. It didn’t work. I moved the pile and sat in the chair anyway.

“How’d it go?” He asked as I slumped back in the chair.

“Fine. I mean, it was good, I guess.”

Penn sat forward with his elbows on his knees, waiting for me to share my day but my mind was stuck on the way Lee had touched me, defiled me. It was so different from the way Penn touched me and how Penn made me feel. I thought of the way Lee looked at me with hunger and wished it had been Penn. The fact I was comparing the two made it all so much worse.

“I have to go.” I stood up quickly and walked outside.

Penn followed me to the truck. “You just got home. Where are you going?”

I paused at the truck door and looked at him. “I just, I just gotta go.”

He looked at me like I’d kicked him and tried to throw him in the river but he didn’t make me stay.

****

“Hey, Nash—”

“Cut it off. All of it.”

Kelsea was caught off guard but quickly recovered. As a hairstylist, she had gotten far crazier requests than a man asking to buzz it off. She knew why I was there and looked at me with sympathy. She was half right, I needed to cleanse myself of Lee. But I also needed to cleanse myself of the feelings I felt for Penn.

Kelsea held the cape out and waited for me to sit in the chair so she could work her magic. Soon, there wouldn’t be enough hair for anyone to touch. Not Lee. Not Penn.

Copyright © 2020 Mrsgnomie; All Rights Reserved.
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Oh, this was such a sad chapter.☹️

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I have a couple problems with this chapter. The first is, why have Tracy be home if she doesn’t get to respond to the divorce news? We know she came and sat at the table and that’s it. It’s a waste of a character. Second, Penn was waiting for Nash after his time with Lee, but earlier we were told Wednesday was the one night of the week they *didn’t* get together, because Nash would be wiped out from dealing with Lee.

Looking forward to where you take this. I expected Penn to go to Thailand with Nash, but I guess that’s not gonna happen. But if Penn knows so much about  Nash’s marriage, why doesn’t Nash know about Penn’s? The friendship is one-sided in that regard.

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33 minutes ago, kbois said:

I think everything is finally catching up to Nash. I'm looking forward to him opening Sam's box. 

We all deal with out of control emotions in our own way and Nash's behavior isn't that unusual. He's got a long way to go to get over Lee's betrayal. 

Hope you enjoyed your little vacation!

It was great. 75 when I got there. 32 and snow-raining on the way out.

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84Mags

Posted (edited)

 It really struck me in this chapter just how well Nash handles what life throws at him. Shayla bided her time, angry and watchful, and is now taking Paul “to the cleaners.” Nash gently let her know that wouldn’t help him get over Lee’s betrayal. Nash waited weeks to tell his father about the divorce. Not seeing his son in the initial emotional wreck stages allowed his dad to grieve the loss of Lee, help his son, and not overly relive the guilt of his own affair. Nash’s self talk about his budding feelings for Penn and setting emotional barriers seems rational and well thought out.  This chapter is a lot about Nash taking care of himself, whether he is interacting with an attorney, friends, his dad, Lee, or Penn. Frankly I’m all for a buzz cut or whatever makes him feel best!  

And, I am dying to know what is in the box! 

 

 

Edited by 84Mags
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Being from New Zealand, I had to look up Crater Lake. You must of had an awesome time. It looks so beautiful there.

As soon as I saw the title of this chapter I thought, "No. No. No".

I must admit that if I was Nash, I would have really freaked out once I realised I had been playing with Penn's hair. I would have been mortified.

I feel really sorry for Nash's Parents, especially his Dad. It would have been just like losing/being betrayed by a Son.

Poor Penn. Feeling like a yoyo. Going up then down and at the same time spinning as well. Being pulled in then flicked away, pulled in then flicked away, etc.

Hopefully this Holiday will be 'cleansing' for Nash. If he uses the cryptex whilst in Thailand I hope the question he asks is about Penn and not whether he should move away.

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6 hours ago, Mrsgnomie said:

Since it doesn't spoil anything, I guess I can say that...Kelsea would never let Nash buzz his hair. 

Maybe she wouldn't, but he could snatch the razor and do it himself... I really hope not. I'm partial to men with long(ish) hair, sorry. 

Does he want a buzzcut tbecause he's going to some monastery in Thailand? 

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6 hours ago, Geemeedee said:


Looking forward to where you take this. I expected Penn to go to Thailand with Nash, but I guess that’s not gonna happen. But if Penn knows so much about  Nash’s marriage, why doesn’t Nash know about Penn’s? The friendship is one-sided in that regard.

The one sided friendship bugs me too. Maybe the problems Nash is dealing with at  the time, just took centere stage, but then other times Penn reacts very hurt if Nash doesn't confide in him, without telling him about HIS marriage.  I'm sure we will find out soon enough, what it is...

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9 hours ago, Mrsgnomie said:

Since it doesn't spoil anything, I guess I can say that...Kelsea would never let Nash buzz his hair. 

Pun intended .

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7 hours ago, FanLit said:

A progressive chapter of growth for Nash.  There will be steps forward and backward on his journey to bachelorhood but he’s very aware of the boundaries he needs to keep in his relationships with Penn and Lee.  
If/when anything jumps off between he and Penn, it’s important to him that it has to be after the official end of his marriage (not that he thinks anything could happen between them, lol).  Nash also wants nothing to do with being a side piece in Penn’s marriage either, no matter how irregular said marriage looks.

There is something narcissistic about Lee, a disconnect in acknowledging or feeling any empathy for anything he’s done to Nash and their relationship (did he REALLY need to have it explained to him that he had to earn the right to touch Nash again?!?!) I wonder if he genuinely loved Nash or if he loved how much Nash loved him?  Nash cutting his hair after Lee touched it and liked it was an act of empowerment that shows he’s definitely moving on.

It was good to see a mature conversation between Nash and Shayla, I think it helped the both of them.  I hope Nash has a great vacation and that he doesn’t come back to any crap pulled by the two Anuses.  (Interesting that their “relationship” seems to be over now that it’s out there....Or is it?)

At this moment ! In order to calm down the readers , i think a Penn's POV chapter would be in order, but at the same time it would spoil the cliffhanging we've been expiriencing. 

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Im glad that "the lady lawyer, who was kind of terrifying". She will fight Lee if he doesn't comply. I'm just not sure, Leeland will be prepared to let Nasah have his half. 

I just love the small things you describe to illustrate Nash's state of mind, the 40 $ bill, the inner fight he has at stroking Penns hair, stuff like that. It makes you characters more and more alive. Thank you so much for sharing your talent. 

And of course I googled Crater Lake, it's amazing,  I 'm sure you had a great time. But now the next chateer, preety please

 

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4 hours ago, Kapucinski said:

Maybe she wouldn't, but he could snatch the razor and do it himself... I really hope not. I'm partial to men with long(ish) hair, sorry. 

Does he want a buzzcut tbecause he's going to some monastery in Thailand? 

He wants a buzz cut because he never wants Lee, or Penn for that matter, to touch him. He’s all sorts of in a weird place.

Kelsea won’t let him buzz it and he lets her do as she pleases. I too like longish hair. Something to tug on.

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2 hours ago, Tonyr said:

At this moment ! In order to calm down the readers , i think a Penn's POV chapter would be in order, but at the same time it would spoil the cliffhanging we've been expiriencing. 

 

1 minute ago, Kapucinski said:

And of course I googled Crater Lake, it's amazing,  I 'm sure you had a great time. But now the next chateer, preety please

 

Okay, I’ll post The next chapter. 
 

I spent all evening reading ahead so I could remember exactly wtf happens and when. Chapter 12. It’s definitely chapter 12.

It’s sooooo chapter 12.

 

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2 hours ago, Mrsgnomie said:

 

Okay, I’ll post The next chapter. 
 

I spent all evening reading ahead so I could remember exactly wtf happens and when. Chapter 12. It’s definitely chapter 12.

It’s sooooo chapter 12.

 

When, when, when?

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Chapter 12? Like the one that follows the 11th? But we're at 9th yet!!!!😱🤐😡... So unfair; people shouldn't be allowed to go on vacation  when there's work pending. 'Unions' are the ones to take the blame...

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1 hour ago, Tonyr said:

Chapter 12? Like the one that follows the 11th? But we're at 9th yet!!!!😱🤐😡... So unfair; people shouldn't be allowed to go on vacation  when there's work pending. 'Unions' are the ones to take the blame...

But I’ll post 10 in just a minute and then boom 12 is right around the corner! 

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18 minutes ago, Mrsgnomie said:

But I’ll post 10 in just a minute and then boom 12 is right around the corner! 

Yae

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All said - this was a very good chapter. Raw emotions everywhere!  I too am very interested in the box that Sam gave Nash!  Glad you enjoyed your sojourn to Crater Lake.  I was there many years ago. It and Lake Tahoe are my two favorites!!

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On 6/28/2020 at 7:26 PM, CLJobe said:

A BUZZ CUT, really

I know.  I thought the same thing.  However,  it’s actually  a very common response to a major blow-up in a person’s life, especially a break-up.  I know when I broke off my engagement to my ex-fiancé, I unexpectedly got my hair cut from midway down my back, where I normally wore it, to just under my ears. We’re talking over 8” off!  My mom’s eyes almost popped out of her head when she saw me.  It wasn’t that it didn’t look good ( it did), it just wasn’t anything I had discussed doing.  It was totally spontaneous. I wore it like that for several years.  It’s now long again.  Nash’s will grow back quickly.  He just had to take some kind of action.  He had to do something to establish control in his life when he felt like everything was careening wildly out of control.  It will definitely settle his nerves.

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Bryson DeChambeau, oh boy is he cute 🔥😓

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