In episode #13, Carter set the stage for snagging Kenneth and putting him into compromising positions. Unlike her F.A.C.E. buddies, however, she was not trying to catch him in the act; she tried to be part of the sexy act with Kenneth.
In this episode, After a failed rendezvous with Kenneth, Carter goes to bed alone, only to be awakened with a phone call from her fighting parents. As if dealing with them isn’t enough, an angry Vince appears, ready to fight over Carter’s sexy moves with Kenneth.
Tuesday, April 12
Check it. I dreamt I was in a three-way. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a lie. I was actually having sex with Kenneth. It was great sex. It was Samantha from Sex and the City sex. I had just finished my second orgasm, and Kenneth was close to bringing me to my third, and then Vince showed up unannounced and was like, “What are you doing?” One might think that in a dream, I would reach out to Vince and say, “Come on over, and you could be doing it, too,” but no. I put my hands over my ears and went, “La la la la la” to drown him out and continued riding Kenneth to O-Land. Kenneth had his hands on my breasts and he was gone—eyes rolled upward, bottom lip sexily bitten; I don’t think he ever realized Vince was in the picture until Vince came from behind and began pulling me from atop him. “You’re coming with me,” Vince yelled, and just before I was to give my pithy comeback, “I’m coming just fine where I am,” my phone rang.
I looked at the clock. 4:15 a.m. Someone from the dead had better been calling me at that damn hour, I thought.
There was no time for niceties. “What?” I answered.
“Carter,” It was Mother, “come over here and talk some sense to your father.”
I sat up and rubbed my forehead. “What are you talking about?”
“He’s packing and saying he’s leaving me.”
What did you expect to happen, I shouted in my head, but I said, “Let me talk to him.”
“Honey,” I heard her call out. That was the first term of endearment my mother used for my dad in years. It sounded out of tune coming from her mouth.
“I’m not talking to Carter,” he bellowed. “You leave her out of this. Don’t you think you’ve done enough to scar her already?”
I got up out of my warm bed and threw on my jeans, a bra, and a t-shirt. I stumbled into my tennis shoes as I told Mother, “Look, I’m on my way. I’ll use the key. Don’t let him know I’m coming.”
“Thank you, baby.”
She hung up, and I stared at the phone. Honey. Baby. I didn’t know who this woman was on the phone, but I did know that Dad was pissed. It was a beyond her having affairs pissed. Mother had hurt me, according to him, and that, above all else, he would not stand for. Dad had never hurt a living soul in his life, but with my mother and how persistent and aggravating she could be, I didn’t know what my dad was capable of.
Marching up to my parents’ house, I thought it ironic how we lived in this happy family, Father Knows Best type of house—big and white with blue shutters, lush lawn and the fence, yet my family was nowhere near happy; we put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional.
At the door, I could hear them arguing.
“Celeste, leave me the hell alone and let me do what I gotta do.”
I entered the house and slammed the door.
“Celeste and William Devlin,” I yelled, “get your asses in the living room right now.”
I walked from the foyer to the living room. I could hear Mother and Dad racing down the stairs. My Dad was the first one in the living room.
“I know you did not just curse…” he began, but I cut him off with a hand to the face.
“It’s after five o’clock in the morning,” I said, “and y’all are causing me drama. I think I have the right for at least one cuss word up in here.”
Mother stood beside him; both were quiet.
“What is going on here?” I asked. “Mother?”
“Your father told me that he’s leaving me now,” she answered.
“Mother, you do know that Dad asked you for a divorce, right?”
“Don’t be a smart ass, Carter Syene,” Mother replied. “Of course I know that.”
“Then why am I here? It would seem that Dad would want to leave you if he wanted a divorce. Let him go. Why do you care?”
“Why do you care, Celeste?” Dad asked. “You didn’t care when you left out here gallivanting with every man that would buy you a drink of water.”
Damn, I thought. Kinda low, but kinda deserving.
Mother stood there, her jaw set, her back straight.
“Say something, woman,” Dad urged her.
Mother kept her mouth clamped until it looked like words were pushing on her lips, begging to be let out.
“I don’t want everybody to know that we’re splitting up,” she confessed. “What will people say?”
“They will probably say it’s about time,” I muttered. Both Mother and Dad looked at me. I shrugged.
“I don’t care who knows,” Dad said. “I know that I can’t be with you.”
“And I can’t be with you, either,” Mother came back with.
I stood between them, a hand on each of them. “Now, now,” I said. “There will be none of this, oh, I don’t want to be with you more than you don’t want to be with me shit.” Dad lifted his eyebrow. I had to smirk. He really did hate when I cussed. He thought it so unladylike.
“Mother, if you cared so much about what other people thought, perhaps you should have obeyed your wedding vows.”
“But I was unhappy,” she whined.
Dad huffed and walked over to the fireplace clear on the other side of the large room.
“You were unhappy,” Dad said. “So you decide to make everyone unhappy?”
“What was I supposed to do?” Mother asked. “I needed something that wasn’t in our marriage.”
“What did you need, Celeste? I mean we had sex practically every day, and…”
“Whoa.” I threw my hands up. “I do not need to hear this.”
“Sex is a natural act, baby,” Dad said. “How you think you got here?”
“Well, legend has it that I was created in a petri dish,” I answered. “No sex involved.”
Mother and Dad looked at me, then each other and laughed.
I shook my head and looked at my watch. It was going on 5:30.
“Look,” I began. “Mother, you were wrong. I don’t care how unhappy you were, you should have talked about your unhappiness instead of going outside your marriage. Dad wants to leave. At this point, after all you’ve done, let him go. It’s not like you want to be with him, is it?”
Mother didn’t answer; I’d like to think it was out of respect for Dad.
“You two are adults. I want you two to act your ages.” I walked to Dad and hugged him to me. “I love you, Dad.”
“Love you, too, baby.”
I stepped to Mother. I stared at her for a while. She was the mirror into my future self. At least in looks. I had a good-looking future ahead of me.
“I love you, too, Mother,” I said, “even though I want to throttle you into Saturn.”
She hugged me tight. “You know that I do love you, don’t you, Carter?”
I was still angry. She and I still had to talk. We were far from being traditional mother and daughter, but I had to admit that if someone stepped to her, wanting to bring her harm, I would be there in a heartbeat to rectify the situation.
“I know, Mother.”
As I stepped to the door, I called out, “Please, act like adults. Only call me once you’ve set up who gets me for Christmas, and who gets me for summer vacation.”
I was sure that if I cried, I would bleed tears. My eyes were swollen, and every time I blinked, I could hear my lids scraping over my eyeballs. All I wanted was my bed for a few more precious hours. I went to turn into my driveway and almost smashed into the back of Vince’s jeep.
I banged my fist against the steering wheel.
“Shit,” I whispered. I didn’t know why he was there, and right now, with my dry eyes and lack of sleep, my irritability quotient was sky high.
I parked alongside Vince’s jeep. He sat on my stoop, directly in front of me. I sat in the car, staring at him, watching him stare at me. He looked angry even from here.
Typically, I would win the stare downs. I could go minutes without blinking, but tonight, I was too tired to play anything. I got out the car and slowly walked to my door.
I looked down at him and asked, “What are you doing here, babe?”
His eyes were dark brown, almost black. I had only saw them this color a few times before, and every time, he hurt someone or came thisclose to doing so. I stepped back.
“What?” I repeated, this time with a quiver.
“Guess who called me?” he asked. Each word came out short and hard.
Shit, my mind said. I looked away. I had hoped Rico wouldn’t tell, but I didn’t hold out any real hope.
“He wasn’t going to tell me anything,” Vince said. “He was gonna cut the tape, or say it was destroyed or some shit, just to get you off the hook.”
“What hook?” I asked. Stupid, stupid, stupid me. I mean in my mind, Kenneth wasn’t a cheater, so in an almost technical way, I did nothing wrong. Now, in reality, Kenneth was still a suspect and his wife was still paying us to investigate him, so I probably should not have had my ass on his crotch, or my tongue in his mouth.
Vince’s eyes bugged. He lowered his gaze and counted down from ten.
“Carter,” he said, “what is wrong with you?”
I winced from the sting of his question. I didn’t think anything was wrong with me, and I told him, “What? What did I do that’s so wrong, Vince?”
He gestured toward my bus with his hands. “Where have you been tonight?”
“What?” I yelled. “Are you…”
“Where the hell were you, Carter? Were you with him?”
I folded my arms and shifted my weight to my right hip. “And who might him be, Vince?” I asked.
“Don’t play games with me tonight, Carter,” he said between clenched teeth. “It’s not the night.”
I eyed him up and down. “Do you think I give two flying fucks about what night it might be for you?”
That got his attention. His back went straight.
“Do I even look like I was out entertaining somebody?” I waved my hands in the air. “For your information,” I began as I swiveled my neck, “I was at my parents’ house. Remember? Divorce? Crazy parents? Carter must play referee 24/7?”
Vince looked away.
“And really,” I continued, “it’s none of your goddamn business where I’ve been because you are not the boss of me.”
“Carter,” Vince warned, but I cut him off.
“No, don’t Carter me.” I jutted a finger out at him. “Okay, so I fooled around with Kenneth. I’ll admit that might have been wrong.”
I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. We’re about to end the case this morning, and Kenneth is not a cheater. He’s a nice guy, and he seems to like me, and why would you have a problem with that?”
When Vince didn’t answer, I stepped around him and unlocked my front door.
“I just don’t want you to get hurt,” he said. “You always go off half-cocked when you’re upset or frustrated about something.”
“Well you know what?”
Vince stood and faced me. “What?”
“I would find all of this very endearing if you weren’t part of my problem.”
He actually looked hurt, confused. Half of me thought, Good, that’s what his ass deserves. The other half wanted to reach out and hug him. The former half won out.
“I need some sleep,” I said, too riled up to get into this with him. I didn’t know what I might say. I didn’t know if I could take any of it back once it was said. I was pissed. He dissed me, and he stood here, staring at me, acting like he really cared about me when he was part of the reason I was sitting on sexy men’s laps and dropping the wall I like to put up between me and the opposite sex. A part of me never wanted to see Vince again. It was my “dealing” mechanism. I get hurt; I avoid the person who hurt me. I blocked him or her from my life and pretended like the person never existed. It’s what I did with my mother for the most part. If I truly opened my heart to her, like I might to men, then she, like all men, would have the chance to crush me. I was the crusher, not the crushee.
“Carter,” Vince said. He lifted a hand to me.
I looked at it, then him. “I’ll see you in a couple hours, Vince.”
I didn’t care that it looked like he was about to cry when I left him on the stoop. I did care, however, that he might use his spare key to get in. I leaned against the door, listening, half-hoping he would come in and apologize and hug me and maybe kiss me, and tell me he didn’t mean to diss me. Instead, what I did hear was the sound of Vince’s door slamming shut, him gunning his engine and peeling out of my driveway.
With a heavy heart, I went to bed and cried myself to sleep. At least my eyes would feel better from the lubrication.
When I called Cynthia Stevenson at 8 to ask if she could come in for a meeting, she informed me that under no circumstances would she arrive at F.A.C.E. before 10 a.m. She had to drop her kids off at school, and then she absolutely must get her facial, manicure, and pedicure from It’s All About You Salon. I suggested 11, and she said, “As long as we’re done by Noon; I have an important luncheon to show at.”
To show what, I almost asked. What, was she a freaking dog at a show? I shook my head, said 11 was fine, and went back to sleep for a few hours.
Needless to say, I did not show up to our daily meeting at F.A.C.E. One, I was still angry with Vince. Two, Rico and I would have fallen out. Three, there was really no reason for me to be there. I had my assignments. In fact, I was to begin a really interesting one later on in the evening.
A 20-something guy came to F.A.C.E., wanting us to check on his girlfriend, Francine, of three years. They were serious, according to him, and he was actually thinking about popping the question. What was the problem? Well, Francine had begun hanging out with people at the college she attended, and he didn’t think they were the right crowd. A few times, she had stayed out late. He found weed in her backpack one day, along with a phone number from a friend, Tiffani, who dotted her I’s with hearts and sparks shooting from the hearts. He got on her laptop a week ago and found chats between Francine and Tiffani, and Francine and other girls. Nothing incriminating. They wanted to hook up and have fun. What kind of fun, the boyfriend wanted to know. That was my job to find out. Francine spent most of her online time at BmoreFriends.com, and I would get online tonight, find his girlfriend in the chat, and initiate conversation…see if she would take the bait.
Best gig ever—chatting in my jammies and fuzzy slippers; besides, at least on the computer, I didn’t have to contend with flesh-and-blood people.