Killing James wasn’t my top-of-mind thought after we made
love that morning.
In fact, after four months of sharing sheets, I was
feeling good about my relationship with James.
Relationship. Okay, so we hadn’t actually said that we
were a couple. But I knew it was coming.
James got out of bed to make coffee and connect with his
head office. I stayed put to hold on to my post-sex buzz
just a bit longer. I imagined the conversation I’d have
later that day with Betsy.
“I think we’re getting serious,” I’d tell her.
She’d be skeptical and snarky, “Better you than me,”
“He bought me a toothbrush when he replaced his own.
Feels like a sign.”
“Yeah, a big, orange caution flag.”
I heard the coffeemaker sputter and James clinking mugs.
I got up. His laptop sat on the table open to an exchange
with his boss, Sandra. As I dropped to the couch, two
words jumped out at me as though they’d been typed in
large, bold, red letters—‘blow job.’
He must mean something about not blowing a job he has
to do for Sandra.
I picked up the laptop and started to read. Nope. The
only job that Sandra was worried about blowing was his.
From only six one-liners, back-and-forth between them, it
was obvious that James and Sandra were lovers. And by
‘lovers’ I mean it was obvious that James’s penis played
an integral role in his weekly job duties.
James called from the kitchen as I put his laptop down,
“Hey, Tara, you want your coffee in bed or are you
I couldn’t speak through the bile in my throat. James
walked around the corner and saw me sitting on the couch.
He smiled—He bloody smiled at me!—and put one cup of
coffee down on each side of his laptop.
“What’s wrong? You look pale. Are you feeling sick?” he
asked, touching my forehead like a concerned dad.
I pointed at his laptop, stood, walked to his bedroom,
and closed the door. Hard. I wanted to leave but didn’t
have the energy to get dressed. I sat on the edge of his
bed. I didn’t scream. I couldn’t cry. My only thought was
whether I should puke in the toilet or on his bedroom
floor. I decided to stay where I was.
Unfortunately, all I did was dry heave. If only I’d had
the coffee first, then I’d have something to bring up.
James sat down beside me and put his hand on my back. I
“I get that you’re upset. And I’m sorry you saw the
emails. But let’s not make this into something that it’s
not,” he said.
I glared at him and saw something in his eyes that made
me want to believe him. I started to soften and then
thought, No! You’ve been cheating on me. That’s not
okay. I turned away from him.
“Tara, look at me. Let me try to explain.” He crouched on
the floor directly in my sight line. I looked in the
“Fine. Do you want to be juvenile about this or do you
want to talk about it?”
Apparently that was the right question to break through
my stunned speechlessness. Oh, I gave it to him. I don’t
even remember what I said but I had a sore throat and
ringing ears at the end my tirade. And the whole time, he
stood there with a stupid little smile on his stupid
“Are you done? Do you feel better?” James asked when it
was clear that I was done and that I didn’t feel better.
“I really like you. I do. I’ve been thinking that we have
See Betsy, I was right. He was ready to go to the next
“—but this job is…well, it’s my life, Tara. You and I,
we’ve only been together, what, a few months? This thing
with Sandra, it’s just a thing, it’s not love, but it’s
been three years. I can’t simply stop, it’s complicated.
I want to be with this company for the rest of my career,
and she kind of has me over a barrel, if you know what I
He stopped talking and I wished my eyes could do to him
what my heart was feeling. He seemed to understand that
this approach was not doing the trick…ha! Doing the
“Tara? It’s not like you and I ever said we were
exclusive, right? I mean, I really love…the time we spend
together. I do. I’m happy that it looks like we might be
moving into a more…you know…serious kind of relationship.
But, that’s not where we are now. If anyone should be
mad, it’s Sandra,” he said with a frigging smile, “since
I’ve kind of been cheating on her with you. Look, I’m
sorry. Aren’t you going to say anything?” he asked.
I looked around James’s bedroom. I’m going to miss
waking up to your view of Kits beach … And I love the
colour of your walls. I wish I’d asked what it was…Too
bad you’re an asshole ‘cause I was getting comfortable
“I’m taking my new toothbrush.” I packed up my things,
dressed in silence and left without saying good-bye.