“Like death, divorce brings tears and regret, but also great memories and the promise of a new life.”
Windenburg Lake House
Falling into the soft cushions of the old-fashioned couch, which was so very much the opposite of the modern, sleek style Liam preferred, he sighed, took a sip of his drink when someone was at the door. He let out an annoyed groan.
If this turned out to be yet another concerned neighbor with more nasty fruitcake, Liam was gonna lose it. His trashcan was overflowing with that junk, and even the raccoons wanted nothing to do with everyone’s favorite family heirloom recipe. Liam didn’t either, he’d sooner eat cardboard, probably had more taste and was easier to chew.
Ever since his plane from Del Sol Valley had touched down 5 days ago, half of Windenburg had been by to welcome him back to his old hometown, first at his parents’ Cameron Estate on the Windenburg Isle where he stayed initially, but ever since he moved over to the vacant Lake House on the mainland yesterday, they had found him here too.
Liam suspected that the outburst of neighborly concern was really more get a close look at the almost-ex-husband of a famous celebrity while at the same time kissing the mayor’s ass by coddling his only son in a perceived time of need, when all Liam really wanted was to be left alone to lick his wounds.
With a sigh Liam put the drink down and went to answer.
“LANA!” he exclaimed.
“Hey. Care for some company? I come bearing gifts. The finest wine your local gas station convenience store had to offer. Set me back a whole 7 bucks so cherish it accordingly.” She smiled while raising a bottle of cheap wine, overpriced by gas station upmarking.
“I’ll treasure the fuck out of it. Come on inside.” Liam chuckled as he took the bottle from her and beckoned her inside.
“Oh, this is – ahem – VERY rustic. How Windenburg quaint. Not at all what I was expecting your bachelor pad to look like.” she said looking around.
“This was my late grandparents’ home, they were in their 80s when they passed. Not really my taste, but I haven’t had the heart to take anything down yet, too many memories everywhere, plus I literally just moved in and the moving company isn’t scheduled to get here until the weekend with the few personal things I have left. Been staying at my parents’ estate until yesterday. My sister Abby is an Interior Designer and said she’d draft a few ideas up for me, so there is some remodeling in my future, which I am gonna probably be doing myself with my brother-in-law Jay’s help, my dad hopefully won’t try to help, he has good intentions but two left hands. Well, saves me the gym membership to stay in shape. How did you find me here? We haven’t spoken since … well … you know.”
“Funniest coincidence really. I stopped at a gas station downtown Windenburg while passing through and overheard some women talk about the handsome son of the mayor who just moved back into his late grandparents’ home by the lake while his divorce from pop icon ViVa is going through. Gasp, he’s also a lawyer. You have quite the fan community already. For what it’s worth, the middle-aged female crowd of your hometown is 100% team Liam. I couldn’t help myself but drive out here to see for myself. You’re not very hard to find. You even still have the white BMW. I could see it all the way from across the bridge, by that park.”
“Yeah, I never took the car with me when we moved to Del Sol Valley, my dad kept it all this time, but rarely drove it so it’s good as new. Gotta love the small-town grapevine. Been here less than a week barely went outside and still I am apparently the talk of the town. Lovely.”
“Well, you’re a local celebrity in your own right now. Liam, this is gonna make me sound like a hussy, but Meaghan’s with some of her friends at camp for the weekend, just dropped her off … I could stay over, if you are in the mood for company. I know I would rather be with you than sit at my home staring at walls, wondering where my life went all awry.”
“Your company? Always welcome! Hope you brought a change of clothes.” Liam winked.
“I was hoping this could be the type of scenario where clothes are optional.” Lana winked back.
“I like the way you think! Let me get glasses and we’ll open that housewarming gift you brought before it turns to vinegar on us.”
Lana stayed all weekend, most of it spent in bed. On Sunday late morning she joined him by the coffeemaker after a shower, wearing only her underwear and one of his shirts, which made him feel odd, sending a sharp sting through Liam’s heart like a flash of lightning. Vivien used to do that in the beginning of their relationship. Back when everything was all right.
“Lana, I feel like I need to say this. I don’t want you to feel like I am using you or leading you on, because I am not … but until the divorce is final and I had a chance to recover afterwards, relationships are not …” Liam labored out.
She shushed him while gently placing her finger on his full lips, then kissed him.
“Liam, say no more. I know this is casual. I am in the middle of a divorce myself, we both are not in the right place to enter relationships right now, I am not gonna make this into something more than it is. What we need is something that feels good, something like this. Don’t worry, Liam, I didn’t come here hoping to see you down on one knee once our divorces are final. I think we both need breaks from relationships for a while, take a step back and find ourselves again first. We’re just having fun. No strings.”
“You have always been such a smart and composed woman. Always the lady, so classy, even when we were screwing in the storage closet back at the old Bagley’s law firm. I always admired that about you. Well, that and your big headlights.”
“You started out so strong, but then, straight into the gutter.” she chuckled.
“Sorry, you are an intelligent woman and fun to talk to, but after my wife froze me out for over half a year, I am hungry, girl. You know I was always the sensual type and that body of yours … hmm hmmm. Then again, even back then, we always had a hard time keeping our hands off one another. Remember that one evening, when everyone had already gone home for the day and we ended up screwing on the old Bagley’s desk, mostly because we were both pissed and him and felt like this was socking it to him without being openly confrontational? Neither one of us would have guessed then that he would eventually become your husband. What a waste. Makes me shudder to think about.”
“No just you. And you’re right about neither of us ever thinking I’d end up with that old sack, least of all me. Argh, don’t remind me. You think he was unbearable in a suit, imagine him without one trying to touch you. URGH! I couldn’t stand him, not before, but most definitely not after the wedding. A controlling, arrogant, self-absorbed prick, who knew very well that I had only agreed to that entire crazy mess because I was one paycheck away from destitute, about to be evicted and he had me because his company was paying for my law school which I could have never afforded. As bad as all that may have looked on me, it did get me out of poverty and I am a lawyer now. Unfortunately, am I also a fool, and my dud-husband number 2 has a gambling addiction I knew nothing about, cos he’s a con artist and a good liar and I was a workaholic. Most of the money is gone, save a college trust fund for Meaghan which she can access when she turns 18. I have to sell the law firm, the penthouse to pay out my soon-to-be ex. I definitely will have to find some way to generate income soon. Lucky for me, I am from a very humble background.”
“Yikes. You didn’t deserve any of that, Lana. But I like that about you, life knocks you down, you count your losses, get up, dust off and try again. By the way, you look great and so different with your hair down and all messy, so young and carefree, like a college girl, makes me feel like a cradle robber even though we’re basically the same age. I am so sick and tired of anything posh. My parents own the large estate on the Windenburg island, that’s where I grew up, and even that always felt homey and cozy, as kids and still today, because they are humble people. I should thank my ex for kicking me out. I needed to get back to reality. This shitshow has definitely helped ground me again. When they all collectively fired me from my job as their attorney, they gave me a pity severance package, so I am taking some time off to get back to my roots before I find work here. Gonna remodel this place and I can’t wait to get back to Granite Falls soon for some caveman-like camping and foraging.”
“Hmm, Granite Falls, huh? That’s where my daughter is right now, with an outdoor explorer camp for kids. She loves camping, as do I, so maybe one day down the road Meaghan and I could join you and you could get to know my daughter better, maybe bring Nick if he likes that stuff. Meaghan and I are quite the avid hikers ourselves and I build a mean tent faster than anyone else.”
“Hearing you talk about roughing it makes me build you a tent in my boxers. That’s sexy AF, girl. I never pegged you as the outdoorsy type. I like that a lot! That’s what I need and want, a girl with my interests, not a haute couture mannequin afraid to get dirty.”
“Oh, I put up a good facade of being the prim and proper lady, because that’s what gets you somewhere in life. Being real isn’t rewarded, if you haven’t figured that out yet and nobody ever really wants the truth. Beneath it all I am a small-town girl from a very simple and humble background. The quintessential basic bitch.”
“Lana, you are a lot of things, but you are far from basic and even further from a bitch. Trust me, I would know. And I always prefer the truth. Enough somber talk now. Come here you. I need more of you.”