The Beginning (My Two Husbands | Chapter One)
’ll have a sausage. Make that two. My husband, Kyle thunks his heels against the hardwood as he jogs down the stairs into the kitchen. He slides across the floor in his argyle socks and plants a kiss on my cheek. “You make the best blueberry pancakes, you know that right?”
I serve him a hot breakfast plate. “Thanks, honey.” My skills in the kitchen are mediocre at best. But Kyle loves to tell me that I’m the best at everything I do.
“There’s plenty if you want to call Jake down,” I say.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Jake’s our son, right?
Kyle opens the back patio door. “Hey, Jake! Natalie made pancakes and sausage!”
Jake’s . . . my ex-husband. He’s been living in the 400-square-foot studio over our garage for almost six months. Now before you go thinking we’ve got some kind of polygamy thing going on, which most people do when I tell them about my living arrangement, we don’t.
But a girl can dream . . .
I’m joking. This is not that kind of story.
I’m sure by now you’re wondering why in the hell my husband, Kyle would even let my ex-husband move in. It’s simple, and yet complicated. Just like my situation. Kyle and Jake have been best friends since high school—at least that’s how they define it. Though, I think the more accurate definition would be frenemies.
Oh, you want to know how this ended up being the story of my life?
Don’t worry, I’ll get to it soon enough. But first, the most important meal of the day.
“Morning.” Jake lets himself in through the back door, and the damp humidity of West Palm Beach follows him into my air-conditioned house. “Aw, Lily,” he says in a sweet fatherly voice to our five-year-old chocolate lab. “Why are you all the way over there?” I glance over. Lily stands just outside of the kitchen, quivering with her tail tucked. He pats her head. “Is it because Mommy’s cooking?”
I roll my eyes, pouring another cup of my coconut coffee. “I turned on the fan!” Okay, I’ve been known to set off the smoke alarm in the kitchen. But in my defense, that detector is sensitive as hell. Poor Lily. She hates loud noises.
Jake walks over to the stove. “See, Mommy’s improving.” She never stayed out of the kitchen when Jake cooked.
“Besides, do you really want me to bring up the time you . . .” I catch myself reminiscing as Jake smirks. Sometimes it’s difficult to watch my mouth in front of Kyle. It’s not that I can’t talk about my marriage to Jake. I’ve just found that it causes less tension between the three of us if I don’t.
“Dogs shouldn’t be in the kitchen anyway,” Kyle says with a hint of irritation in his voice as he takes a seat at the breakfast table. See? That’s his way of lashing out. I know for a fact he doesn’t care what room Lily goes into. I also know he hates that Jake and I still co-parent Lily as if she were a human.
Jake grabs the tongs and places a few links on his plate. The smell of buttermilk hotcakes seems to fade into Jake’s signature scent. I can’t even remember the last time he wore cologne, but for a second it brings me back to the day we moved into our house on Canopy Street.
My husband already has a mouthful of my second-rate pancakes when Jake and I join him at the breakfast table. “Isn’t she the greatest?”
Jake barely looks up from his plate when he says flatly, “Yes. She is.”
“What’s the matter with you, Jakey-boy?” Kyle says with a slight southern accent—one that only comes out when he’s in a playful, teasing mood.
“I’ve got a meeting for a new job in a couple hours.”
I whip my head in his direction. “You do? That’s good news. Why didn’t you tell us earlier?”
He shrugs. “Eh, I don’t wanna get my hopes up. It’s a pretty big job.” Jake’s been rebuilding his contractor business that went under about the same time our marriage did.
“Oh, man.” Kyle slaps the table. “I was going to ask you to play golf with me today. I’ve got an eleven o’clock tee time.”
“Another time.” Jake pops the last bite of his sausage link into his mouth.
“Where’s the job?” I ask.
“It’s in Delray Beach—the old Cavalier building.”
“Then why are you worried? You’ve done bigger jobs than that with your eyes closed.” I add before sipping my coffee.
“Yeah, once upon a time. But we’ll see. If all goes well, I’ll be able to get my own place soon.”
“That’s great, man,” Kyle says, and I repeat some version of his words halfheartedly.
Yes, I want him out of the house, but I dunno, having him around is not so bad. Truth be told, acclimating to this living situation has been easier than expected. My passion for Jake has dissipated, but our friendship remains intact. I’ll never be able to explain how in the hell Kyle and Jake’s friendship hasn’t floundered.
I glance down at my half eaten pancake, knowing it won’t taste as good if I heat it up later. But I’m not really in the mood for breakfast anymore. “Well, I have to head to the office. I’ve got a showing with the Delures in an hour.” I drop my fork and scoot my chair back on the cool ceramic floor.
“The French couple?” Jake asks.
I nod with a sigh. Surely they’re the reason I don’t want to finish my breakfast.
“What French couple?” Kyle asks.
“Remember that couple I told you about? The husband resembles Danny DeVito while the wife is a Christie Brinkley type?”
Jake wrinkles his brow. “Haven’t you shown them like thirty properties so far?”
“Thirty-one and a half.”
With a stuffed mouth, Kyle asks, “What’s the half?”
“We left one of the houses, sorry, mansions, as soon as they saw the foyer.”
“Was it too small?”
“No, it was too big.” I snatch a granny smith apple from the basket on the table, wishing I could throw it at Mr. Delure’s head. “They’re the pickiest buyer’s I’ve ever worked with. They haven’t made a single offer.”
“I say fuck ‘em. Buy or buh-bye,” Jake flutters his fingers in a patronizing farewell.
“Believe me, I would love to fire them, but they’ve got ten mil to spend. Cash.”
“That’s a good commission. Don’t give up yet. They’ll make an offer soon.” Kyle’s optimistic sales attitude is in full swing. And I have to admit, all those zeros would be pretty great. Plus, with this commission, I’ll finally be able to open up my own real estate company—Natalie Quinn’s Luxury Real Estate. It’s a dream I might have realized years ago if I hadn’t poured all our money into Jake’s business. But now, his contractor company is no longer my liability.
I pat Jake on the shoulder. “Good luck today.”
Before I walk off, Kyle grabs my hand and pulls me down on his lap. “Have a good showing.”
I smile, looking into his sweet, blue eyes before tussling his dark blonde hair. “You too, honey.” I kiss his cheek. That’s the other thing. I’ve never gotten used to showing my husband too much affection while Jake is with us.
An hour and a half later, I’m at house number thirty-two with the Delures, and we’ve made it past the foyer. This million-dollar abode came on the market at midnight, and so far, no one has made an offer. Yet. I’ve decided to adopt my husband’s optimistic attitude and cross my fingers until I cut off the circulation. Plus I’m wearing my best white suit and Louboutins with a fresh ink cartridge in my pen.
“This house is an absolute dream,” I say gazing up at the vaulted ceilings.
“And it’s priced under value,” the listing agent, Brad, chimes in. “This little piece of heaven will not stay on the market for long.”
Mr. Delure grimaces. “I’m confused. If this house is so fantastic, then why are they not asking for more? Something must be wrong with this place. Probably has a mold problem.”
That’s his reason for everything—probably has a mold problem. If he hates mold so much, then he shouldn’t be living in a subtropical climate. I glance at Brad who doesn’t have a care in the world. Worst-case scenario, he’ll have this place under contract by the end of the week.
“Oh, there’s nothing wrong with the house,” Brad starts. “The owners are in the middle of a nasty divorce. They’d like to sell the property sooner than later.”
I swallow my frustration and plaster a smile on my face. “Besides, if something comes up on the inspection, we can back out of the deal. There’s nothing to lose.” Except my sanity.
“Nothing to lose except for time,” Mr. Delure says. He doesn’t seem to have any problems wasting my time.
I turn to Mrs. Delure. “What do you think, Renee?”
“I think since the owners are in such a desperate situation, we can talk them down another two-fifty.” No way the owners will accept that. But if it means they want to make an offer, I’ll take it.
Brad chuckles in a condescending-salesman kinda way. I hate that. “I never said they were desperate. And the price is firm. I’ve got five other prospects coming this afternoon.” If that’s true, the Delure’s definitely won’t get the house if they don’t put in an offer now.
Renee shrugs. “I think we’ll keep looking.”
I clench my fist and my jaw so tightly that my teeth might break. The words “buy or buh-bye!” bubble up inside of me. I raise my brow at Brad, as if pleading with him to work with me. “This would be a cash deal.”
“That’s nice.” His poker face is as firm as said listing price. “Put in an offer, and I’ll show it to my clients.”
I take out my tablet. “I’ve got a contract right here. What do you say we make a deal?”
Mr. and Mrs. Delure exchange uninterested looks.
Yep. They’re definitely here to screw with me.
I say nothing to my assistant, Marissa, when I storm back into my office. My desk phone rings the moment I drop my purse on my desk. I ignore it, but it rings again.
“Yes, Marissa,” I answer.
“Your husband’s here.” Marissa is a loyal assistant, been with me for three years. But there are some things she never seems to learn—the difference between heavy cream and non-dairy creamer, that the letter U comes before the letter V when filing, and the fact that Jake is now my ex-husband, not my husband.
I hate it, but I have to ask, “Which one?”
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