To Catch a Cheat: Episode #16

In episode #15, Kenneth’s wife was in for a rude awakening when she visited F.A.C.E., and Carter found herself thinking about Vince, Kenneth, and a woman whose fidelity she must test.

In this episode, Carter, after drop-kicking a would-be assailant, finds herself face-to-face with someone she must apologize to. Her apology may lead to a new adventure with a sexy man…but is it Kenneth or Vince?

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Wednesday, April 13

 

At 5:30 a.m., I could not stay in the bed any longer. There was no use lying there and hoping for dreams to come. My mind was too full of Vince and Kenneth and Cynthia and Mom and Dad. One minute, I close my eyes and I’m on this bad version of The Bachelor where Mother and Dad are asking me if I’m ready to have Kenneth propose to me. Mother loves Kenneth. He is married after all. Dad thinks Kenneth doesn’t know how to make choices. He thinks I can do better. I get up from the bed, get a drink of water, and when I fall back to sleep, there’s Vince as a surprise twist on the show. He’s confessing his feelings for me. Instead of waiting through the commercial to see if Kenneth will leave Cynthia and pick me, I rolled out of bed and muttered a “Goddamnit.”

I washed my face and pulled my mangled curls into a ponytail. After dressing in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, I tugged on my tennis shoes and decided to go for a jog just as the sun began its day.

There were only two reasons to run in my opinion—if you were being chased and if you needed to erase your mind of tension. The latter was definitely my case.

Two blocks into my jog, I began taking in the smell of dew on the grass, the sights of the early people heading to work, and the sound of the heavy thud, thud, thud of my tennis shoes making contact with the sidewalk. I crossed the street and headed down the woody footpath that led to the park which was a good three or four miles away. On any given sunny afternoon, people sat on the benches along the path, feeding the birds.

Fifteen minutes into my run, my right tennis shoe became loose, and I looked down to see my laces untied. I stopped and knelt to tie my shoe. I heard a branch and turned my head to the left and the right of me. Nothing. I was about to stand and continue running when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I jumped up, pivoted on my left leg, and side-kicked the tapper. I found Kenneth, doubled over in pain.

“Oh my God, Kenneth,” I yelled. “Are you okay?”

He threw a hand up, then coughed.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, exasperated. “Just appearing out of nowhere.”

Kenneth stood and rubbed his side. “Why do you think I’m here, Carter Devlin?”

I looked down at my sneakers, then up at his face, a face full of anger and frustration.

“I guess she told you,” I said.

“Told me what?” he said. “There are so many things. My wife’s cheating on me. She hired you to investigate me. You’re Carter, not Cassie.” He closed his eyes, as if thinking, then said, “Yeah, I guess she told me.”

I took a step toward Kenneth. He didn’t move.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “About everything.”

He crossed his arms before saying, “Are you really?”

“I was just doing my job, Kenneth,” I tried to explain. “I didn’t know you when I was assigned to you.”

“So tell me, wait a minute. Should I address you as Dr. or Detective Devlin?”

I rolled my eyes. “Tell you what, Kenneth?”

“Was it all a lie?”

“All what?”

He motioned a hand between me and him. “This,” he answered. “I know I was fighting it, but I just felt that something was…”

Tentatively, I reached out and touched his arm. “It was.”

“So it all wasn’t a lie?”

I shook my head. “Not on my part.”

We stood there for a while, me touching his arm, him looking at me with eyes full of questions.

“Do you hate me?” I whispered.

I realized that I didn’t want him to. But there were a lot of things I didn’t want, like for him to find out about me from someone else.

“No,” he answered. “I don’t hate you.” He stepped gingerly to one of the benches and sat. “I do, however, hate my wife.” He rubbed his side again. “I left her.”

“What?”

“When she told me last night, I exploded, especially when she tried to turn everything on me, telling me to go ahead and find you, be with you if that’s what I truly wanted.”

“She didn’t say that.”

“Yeah,” Kenneth nodded, “she did. She gave me your address and everything. I told her I would have never known you if not for her. She yelled, and I quote, take the second rate me if you want.”

I bit my tongue and continued listening though I wanted to know how Cynthia knew my address. That was information that was never freely given.

“I didn’t trust myself around her,” Kenneth said, “so I packed a few things, kissed the kids and told them everything would be okay, and left.” I sat beside him and watched as he looked at clasped hands. “I’ve never lied to the kids before. Their mother and I are definitely not okay.”

“I’m so sorry,” I muttered.

“Don’t be.” I felt Kenneth place his hand on my back and make little circles. Inwardly, I sighed. “You didn’t do anything,” he added. “Hell, how solid was my marriage to begin with if Cynthia thought she needed to have me investigated for cheating? You had nothing to do with that.”

“Okay,” I said.

“You did do one thing though.”

I looked at him and asked, “What was that?”

“Any normal man would be pissed with you,” he said, “and I must be stupid and in need of more pain because I’m at the hotel and all night, all I could do was think of you.”

Inside, my heart sparkled, but I didn’t break a smile or raise an eyebrow.

“Really?” I asked.

“I barely thought of all the shit that brought you to me,” Kenneth answered. “Just kept thinking about kissing you the other night. On impulse, I drove to your house because I wanted to tell you that I knew the truth and that I still wanted to see you.”

I didn’t know grungy, sweaty girls could turn into liquid in a matter of seconds so early in the morning, but now I knew they could.

“So you still want to go out with me?”

His response was to lean in and kiss me squarely on the mouth. I moaned.

When our kiss ended, I asked, “So, what’s your response?”

We both grinned.

“I want to see you tonight,” Kenneth said. “We need to…talk.”

“Talk?” I repeated.

“For starters.”

He focused his eyes on my mouth. I shivered.

“I can’t,” I said. “I have to work.”

“On a case?”

I nodded.

“Tell me about it. It’s not me, is it?”

I threw my hands on his knee and proclaimed, “Kenneth, please forgive me. I know I hurt you. I swear I would not have done it if it…”

His kisses shut me up.

“I forgive you,” he whispered onto my lips. “I was kidding. Tell me about your case.”

“Can’t really. I’ll just say that I’m having coffee with a lesbian.”

Kenneth’s eyes grew large and dark. “Really?”

I laughed. “God, it’s a wonder I even like men. Y’all are so pitiful.” A leaf fell from the tree, and I raised a hand to brush it from Kenneth’s silky hair. “It’s not like the woman and I will be making out in public.”

“One could only hope.”

“Hey!” I slapped his leg.

“Tell me,” he said as he traced imaginary lines across my naked right thigh, “can I see you afterward?”

I smiled. “That could possibly be arranged.”

Kenneth stood and offered me his hands. He pulled me to him and kissed my mouth soundly.

“Well, unfortunately, I have to get ready for work,” he said. “I’ll call you.”

“You don’t have my real number.”

“I’ll call Cassie,” Kenneth said, smirking. “Maybe she’ll go out with me.”

I pushed him away from me and said, “We’re not even going there, Mister.”

He chuckled and threw his hands up. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It won’t happen again, Miss Carter Devlin.”

It felt good to hear him say my real name.

He waved, turned, and began a slow jog down the path. I stared, watching him until his great backside disappeared down the hill.

My day had started off with great strides toward “the” perfect day. Kenneth knew the truth, and he still wanted to continue seeing me. At least I had an idea of who Kenneth would pick on The Bachelor now. For those of y’all keeping score, it’s not Cynthia.

*****

“Hey, Lesbo.”

I had just arrived at F.A.C.E. and was talking with Suzie when Nate walked up to the desk and gave me my new name.

“Excuse you,” I said, ready to make his cute face a hot mess.

He laughed. “You are playing a lesbian tonight, right?”

I took a step back and crossed my arms. “Yeah?”

“Thought I would give you some practice now. Give you a new name. Have you practice your goodnight kiss with Suzie.”

“You are such an ass,” Suzie said, shaking her head.

“Girl,” I said, “you ain’t never lied. But I guess I’m pretty pitiful because we keep his ignorant ass here.”

“That’s because you know I do good work,” Nate responded.

“Yeah, well, only if they had you in a silent model,” I added. “Life would be great.”

Nate grinned. “I’m gonna go find my boy, Rico,” he said. “I need for him to make some extra copies of those up close and personal pictures.”

I tried to hit Nate, but he spun on his heels and took off running down the hall.

“You would think this is a frat house the way we act around here,” Suzie said.

“Yeah, I know.”

“So,” Suzie said as she leaned across the desk, “are you nervous about tonight?”

I shrugged. “Naw, not really. I think if I just show interest, I’ll be okay.”

“What if she wants to kiss you?” Suzie’s eyes widened. I laughed.

“Then I’ll kiss her, I guess.”

“You’ll have to tell me how that goes.”

“Why, you plan on kissing some chicks soon?”

“Shut up…Lesbo.”

I hopped up on the desk and smacked one of Suzie’s purple spikes.

My phone rang, and I answered, “Hello.”

“Hey, babygirl.”

I whispered to Suzie that I would see her later, and said into the phone, “Hey, Daddy.”

I walked down the hall and into my office as Dad asked if we could have breakfast together the next day.

“Sure,” I said. I dropped my briefcase on my desk. “Has something else happened? Is Mom getting me for Christmas?”

“Hush up, girl,” he said, laughing. “Your mother and I are trying to be civil. I decided to stay, for now. I’m on one end of the house. She’s on the other.”

“Great, War of the Roses.” I plopped down in my seat. “I’m not playing Danny Devito, okay?”

“What are you talking about?”

I shook my head and replied, “Nothing, Dad. So what’s on the agenda for tomorrow?”

“Just got a couple things I want to talk about.”

“So you not going to give me a hint?”

He chuckled. “I’m gonna stay mysterious.”

“Well, you do that, crazy man. I will see you tomorrow. About 8 at IHOP?”

“See you then, baby.”

I hung up as Raven sauntered into the room in a pencil-thin, black pantsuit. A red, white, and black scarf was painstakingly, yet carelessly around her neck. She took the seat in front of my desk and crossed her slender legs.

“Well, good morning to you, Miss Runway,” I said.

Raven tossed her silky hair over her shoulder and laughed.

“Have you talked to Suzie?” she asked.

“I saw her this morning.”

“Did she ask you about Satisfaction?”

“No, she was too busy asking me about kissing girls.”

Raven grinned. “You know she runs bi, right?”

I smacked the desk. “Shut up,” I said. “You lying.”

“I swear I’m not. Not like it matters. I know she dated a chick once. Don’t know what she’s doing these days, but whatever. That’s not what I came to talk about.”

I tried to move Suzie’s sexuality to the back of my mind and refocus. Raven was right; it didn’t matter, but hot, new pieces of gossip were to be reveled in, not told and discarded like they were unimportant.

“Well, damn,” I said. “You, Miss Number One Gossiper won’t allow me a second to revel in newfound information?”

“Girl, hush,” Raven said. “If you want, we can talk about it later.”

I sighed. “Not the same, but okay.” We laughed. “So what did you come for?”

“We were wondering if we could do a Thursday girls’ night this week.”

“Sure, why the change?”

Raven smiled, showing all her pearly whites. “I gotta date,” she answered. “Went to one of those speed dating events the other night. Met some interesting guys. One called me yesterday, and so we’re going out Friday.”

I playfully smacked her hand. “Why didn’t you tell me? What, you think I don’t need to find someone?”

There was a rap on the door, then Vince walked in. He smiled and said, “Good morning, ladies.”

Raven stood and whispered, “I think you have enough men in your life as is, don’t you?”

“Screw you, girl.”

Raven giggled and offered Vince a ‘good morning’ before leaving my office.

“Hey,” Vince said.

“Hey right back,” I offered.

Vince looked happy, which was a good sign.

I came around the desk and gave him a hug.

“You are looking adorable today,” he said.

I spun around and gave him the full view of my khaki, wide leg capri pants, my pink t-shirt that read in brown, What, me? Cute?, and my brown and pink Chuck Taylors.

He pulled on my two long pig tails and asked, “Are you ready for tonight?”

I nodded, then giggled because he was swinging my head from side to side with my pig tails.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I said. “It’ll be interesting, to say the least.”

I propped my booty on my desk, and Vince took the seat left opened by Raven.

“I was wondering,” he said, “if the date runs short tonight, maybe you and I can catch a movie or something. The Stevenson case is over, and we just wrapped one up. It’s been awhile since we’ve had some free time.”

I scrunched my lips up into a frown.

He did the same. “You have a date tonight?” he asked. In the past, this question wasn’t full of disdain though I must admit that in the past, this question was not asked of me often.

“Yeah,” I responded. “I do. I’m sorry, babe.”

“Kenneth?”

I nodded.

Vince stood and forced a half-smile onto his face. I had to give him credit. He was really trying to let me do what I was going to do. I had to love him for that.

“That’s cool,” he said. “Maybe we can hang out some other time.”

I stood, too, and moved toward him. I was trying to get close enough to hold his hand or hug him, but he was quick to the door.

“Definitely some other time,” I said to Vince’s back.

At the door, he turned to me and said, “Be careful.”

I threw my hands up. “Why do you and Rico keep telling me to be careful? Aren’t I always careful?”

“That’s not it,” Vince said. “You don’t know him. We’re just worried, that’s all.” Vince looked away and added, “We’ve never seen you act like this before.”

“Like what?” I asked as I crept up to him.

He waited a moment before adding, “Like a girl whose mission is to just have fun. You actually seem happy.”

And though as my best friend, this should have made him happy, I could tell he wasn’t. And because of that, I wasn’t fully happy either.

I could never out and out tell Vince that I was bubbling with happiness right then. I knew it would hurt him though it boggled my mind as to why. He was the one who blew me off. Why would he care who I dated?

“You don’t even have to say it,” he said. He stroked my cheek. “I can see it in your eyes.” He smiled wanly. “I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay,” I said.

He left, and I leaned against the door, my happiness a bit diminished. I had, in a way, become this girl that just wanted to have fun. To not be so serious. It was by choice. I could have become more bitter and more cynical when Vince dissed me, or I could have decided to not care and to just be. I chose the latter because it provided me with less tears. It didn’t mean that sometimes, when I was in bed at night, I didn’t feel the former.

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