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Candy Girl

Lori De La Cruz | Monique Laffite

Silence. Except for the engine’s hum and splashes of slush as our tires swerve, he hasn’t said a damn thing. His fingers clench the steering wheel, squeezing. His body hunches as he glares out the windshield toward the white road ahead.

He knows.

I unbuckle my seat belt and yank a compact from my Prada bag. I search the mirror for those purple-red marks on my neck, lip stick smears, or a strand of hair out of place. Nothing. Even my hot pink gloss looks perfectly primed. I drop the compact between my thighs and pull a cuticle from my finger ‘til it bleeds.

My head swims. An ocean of guilt threatens to drown me. I should have stopped with the kisses. But they were sweet, like lemon drops, and his voice, so warm like melted chocolate. Candyman knows how to sugar me up.

Short, quick breaths come from the driver’s seat and my stomach churns. The taste of bile spoils the memory of my delicious jaunt to Candy Land. I turn my head and stare at the frosted window. Snow trapped hills zoom by and thick chunks of snow hit glass.

How does he know?

Was I too obvious? Gone too long? Did someone tell him? I glance at my wedding ring. It’s still there, haunting me, trapping me to a man who doesn’t see me anymore. I push the button and my window descends. A blast of cold, wet air slaps my face. I rip the ring off my finger and dangle it outside, ready to fling it into a mound of snow.

This charade is over.

“Mind if I put up your window? You’re letting all the warm air out.”

My body goes rigid.

That’s all he’s got to say? Seriously? “Glad to see you care about the important things.” I pull the ring inside with a huff.

“What are you talking about?” With his eyes locked on the road, he presses the driver’s side button, and my window buzzes up.

Typical. Guess that’s what happens after three years of marriage. Oh, I’m sorry. Didn’t you see me waving my wedding ring over the snow, or did you miss that, too? It’s what I want to say. Instead, I settle for, “You haven’t even noticed my new highlights.” Candyman noticed.

“They look good.”

“Funny. You’re not even looking.”

“I’m watchin’ the road Em. This storm’s pickin’ up. The sooner we’re home, the sooner we can cuddle by the fireplace, so stop playin’ games and buckle up.”

I don’t believe it.

My stomach flips. “You’re not upset?”

“I will be if you don’t fasten your seat belt.” He cocks his head, grins, and places his warm hand on my thigh. “P.S. your highlights are sexy.”

He doesn’t know.

I giggle and click my belt in place. “So why the road rage?”

“I’m just tryin’ to beat this storm, get us home safe. Are you not seein’ this weather? By tomorrow, we won’t be able to leave the house.”

“We won’t?”

“Nope. It’ll be just you and me and those bottles of champagne in our trunk.” He squeezes my thigh and I sigh. His hand sends tingles through my body. Another sugar rush.

He really doesn’t know.

In my mind, I scream, victorious. My head swirls lollipop colors. The weight of the ocean releases its grip. I recline in the seat and stretch my legs under the dash. The warmth of heated leather relaxes my muscles and soothes any remnant of guilt. Outside my window, snow-kissed hills whoosh by and white confetti falls.

He hasn’t got a clue.

“But, Em.” He lures me in with a smile and a voice smooth, like taffy. His black suit hugs his broad shoulders. For the first time in months, I want to take it off and explore his Candy Land.

My seat rattles as we hit the bump and pull into the driveway. “Yeah?” I purse my lips in anticipation of a round of kisses.

He stops the car, reaches into his suit pocket and hands me my cell phone. It feels ice cold on my palm and chills my fingers.

His smile wilts into a frown. “Care to explain all these texts?”

Oh my god. He knows.

About Lori De La Cruz

Lori De La Cruz writes young adult and new adult novels, as well as short stories. Her current project, Purged, is a science fiction novel for young adult readers. Besides reading and writing, Lori teaches middle school kids in sunny Southern California. 'Candy Girl' is Lori's first publication.

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