Rescuing His Heart(3)

By: Melanie Shawn

“I’m sorry…what, now?” she breathed.

Genevieve sighed. Well, the cat was out of the bag. Gen hadn’t intended to let it escape, but that wily little feline bitch had come clawing its way out anyway.

“Yeah. Me. And Gavin. Doing the horizontal tango. Yep.”

Ella’s jaw dropped. “When did this happen?”

Gen snorted. “When didn’t it happen?”

Ella shook her head, as if to clear it. “Wait. I’m lost. We’re talking about, like, a drunken one-night stand thing, right?”

Gen tilted her head to the side. “Um, sure. I guess. Except it wasn’t always drunken. And it’s been more like one thousand nights than one. But, other than that, pretty accurate.”

Ella screwed her face up. “This is the most confusing conversation I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve had my fair share. Please start at the beginning, and try to resist your natural urge to tell the entire story in sarcastic asides. I know that will kill you, but just give me the unadorned info, if you please.”

Gen grimaced. That was almost as painful a proposition as telling Ella about her secret trysts had been in the first place. “I’ll do my best,” she mumbled.

Ella smiled and patted her hand. “Hey, if grudging agreement is all I can get, I will certainly take it.”

“Gavin and I have been hooking up. Since high school.” She couldn’t bring herself to do more than mumble.

Ella’s eyes sparked. “You and Gavin hooked up in high school?”

Gen gave a tight smile. “No, hon. Since high school. One little word apart, but very different concepts.”

Ella collapsed against the booth and let out a long, low whistle. Gen had always been a little jealous of her ability to do that. It definitely conveyed a particular response that was difficult to get across in words.

“I can’t believe it. Genevieve Rollins and Gavin Valentine. Damn.” she breathed.

“Yeah. I kind of figured it would blow your mind.”

A storm cloud crossed Ella’s normally-sunny face then, and Gen knew the rough part of the conversation was about to start. She sat up straight and stiffened her shoulders. She was tough. She could do this.

Hurt threaded through Ella’s voice when she said, “More than that, I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.”

“Sorry, Ell.”

“Forget sorry! Why would you even want to keep something like that a secret?”

“I didn’t want everyone all up in our business.”

“I’m not everyone. I’m your best freaking friend.”

“Point taken. But are you telling me you would’ve never slipped and told Donovan?”

Ella dropped her jaw, the very picture of shocked offense. “I would never!”

Gen tilted her head to the side and gave her an “oh, really?” look. In response, Ella doubled down on her protest. “I wouldn’t! I swear!”

“Not even if you got drunk?” Ella opened her mouth to answer, but Gen cut her off. “Before you say anything, let me remind you that you married him while you were drunk and didn’t even remember doing it. So your reliability on the topic of what you would or wouldn’t have done with Donovan Valentine while drunk back in high school is…uh…suspect. To say the least.”

Ella held her position for a moment, looking like she might still try to push through and make her case, but then her cheeks flushed and her face collapsed into a self-deprecating smirk. She folded her arms across her chest and tilted her chin upward. “Fine. I’ll give you that one. But don’t think that makes us even. You still have a long way to go to make it up to me.”

“I know, girl. And I will.” Gen smiled. The corner had been turned, and she knew Ella was all but over it. One of the things she loved about her good-hearted friend was her almost pathological inability to hold a grudge. It was one of the purest expressions of her sweet heart.

Of course, Ella’s saintlihood sometimes had the effect of making Gen feel like a shitty human for all of her own faults, but right now it was working in her favor, so she was willing to overlook all of that.

Ella shook her head and pressed her fingers to her forehead. “Wow. I can’t believe this has been going on right under my nose all of this time, and I never had a clue! How is that even possible?”