Trouble Rising(2)

By: Emme Rollins

Well, that wasn’t entirely true. I’d known it was a possibility, some day. That Tyler was tired, that his hands, his poor hands, were just going to get worse due to the rheumatoid arthritis he’d been diagnosed with when he was just a teen—a disease he refused to tell anyone about. Except me.

Granted, a new medication, plus a radical change in his diet, seemed to have stemmed the decline, but age would only make it worse. Eventually, he just wouldn’t be able to play guitar anymore, no matter how much pain medication he took. Besides, HBO had renewed Album—it had surpassed Game of Thrones in ratings during its second season—and Tyler was the star.

The phone buzzed in my hand and I looked at Sabrina’s name, debating whether or not I wanted to take the call. What was I supposed to tell her? Well, I knew he was kind of thinking about it, but I had no idea he’d made a decision…

I couldn’t believe he’d decided without me.

I tossed the phone back on the table, finishing my coffee in two big gulps. It was still too hot and I burned my tongue, but I didn’t care. I folded the paper so the headline was prominent, putting it on the kitchen table next to my empty cup. Then I turned the ringer off on my phone and waited for Tyler get back from his morning swim.

The ocean was right outside our back door, and he swam in it every chance he got. Rob and Sabrina had a giant pool, but we preferred the thunder of the ocean. Swimming in it was an experience. There was always a slight hint of danger in it, unlike the placid experience of a pool.

I suppose it was a pretty apt metaphor for our lives, the four of us. Rob and Sabrina were pool people. Calm, clean, warm water. No waves. Nothing to disrupt the placid surface. Me and Tyler? We were definitely ocean sorts. Jagged rocks, jellyfish, even sharks. Bring it on.

I got up to raid the fridge while I waited for my husband to return from his morning swim. Rob and Sabrina had a cook, a driver, a housekeeper, but we’d never gotten around to employing any of those, in spite of the giant size of the house. We liked our privacy—mostly the ability to be able to have sex in every room in the house whenever we wanted.

We did have a couple housekeepers—but no one live-in. They came a few times a week, cleaning all the rooms on a rotation. I couldn’t have cleaned this whole house by myself, no way.

And we did subscribe to a food service that delivered fresh, organic food to our fridge for the weekdays. We cooked together as much as we possibly could, depending on Tyler’s schedule. Given Tyler’s condition, I was determined to keep him on the diet that had proven effective in decreasing general inflammation and easing his pain.

But oh God, did I miss junk food. So I kept a stash, hidden away where Tyler couldn’t find it and ate it when he wasn’t around. And right now, I needed a goddamned York Peppermint Patty. I hid them in a freezer-burned bag of Okra at the back of the freezer. The slit in the middle had been opened and resealed with Scotch tape. Tyler would never in a million years think to look there.

Frozen Peppermint Patties were one of my favorites—like little mouth orgasms. I let the chocolate melt on my tongue, wishing the sweet, brightness of it could wash away the bitterness I was feeling.

Here I thought we were doing so well, me and Tyler. We’d only been married a few years, but that was like twenty-something in Hollywood years. The tabloids and TMZ constantly photographed us as a couple, speculating on how long it would last, and Tyler and I would read the articles and laugh.

Because we were invincible. We were going to be like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, or Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Before they broke up, anyway. But you know, one of those couples who last and last, for twenty or thirty years—which worked out to just about forever in Hollywood years.

And we were going to last forever, because we were just that much in love. I told Tyler everything, good or bad, and he did the same with me. No more secrets had been our mantra since we’d decided to get married. There had been plenty of them before that, but none since.

Except now, there was.

I took another Peppermint Patty out, resealing the bag and shoving it to the back of the freezer behind the frozen steaks and pork roast—all grass-fed and hormone free, of course—where I knew Tyler would never look. Besides, he hated Peppermint Patties. If they’d been Snickers or Kit-Kats, he would have devoured them, but even if he found my secret stash, he’d probably turn his nose up at it.

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