By: Kayti McGee

“Um… no?” I guessed. I had no idea what the right answer was.

“You are out of your mind.” This was a statement. A true one, at that, so I merely inclined my head.

“I should throw you out, and never speak to you again. Or that rat Ava, who clearly took your side in this one, proving she has zero loyalty to me or our family.” I tried not to quake visibly, but I was absolutely shaking in my Doc Martens.

“I know. You should.” My voice quavered, even as I clenched my hands to keep them from betraying me. Stupid voice.

“No one has ever made me feel as crummy as you did. Do you know that?” His arms were folded, and I still ogled the bunching of his muscles in that position, even though it was super inappropriate. I couldn’t help it. He was even hot when he was mad. And if my heart was about to get ripped out and stomped on, at least I could have a final piece of eye-candy.

“I do. I do know that.”

“Fictionalizing our sex thing wasn’t enough for you. You went and told—was it fifteen thousand?”

“Twenty-five,” I said. Even the quaver couldn’t hide the little hint of pride.

“Twenty-five thousand goddamned people about the story behind the story. With illustrations.” He took a step into the house. I didn’t know if I should back up or stand my ground, but the magnets in our hearts meant that I stepped towards him instead of either option.

“I think I gave myself carpal tunnel, if that helps?” Another step.

“It doesn’t help.” He stared at me, disbelief etched all over his face as I took another step his way. It felt like we’d done this dance a lot in our short time together.

“So…” I twisted my lips.

“No. You’ve spent enough time talking. It’s my turn now.” He closed the rest of the gap between us and I closed my eyes at the familiar scent of sandalwood and—was the new scent apple cinnamon? I’d tell Ava to tell her aunt it was a resounding success. Maybe she could even hook me up with a bottle to remember Marc by.

The promised talking-to wasn’t happening, so I opened my eyes. He was standing over me, staring at me. I swallowed hard.

And then he kissed me.

To say I was relieved seriously understates the situation. I was so relieved I let myself relax completely, only he wasn’t exactly holding on tight to me, so I started to actually fall down before he caught me and then we were both laughing except I was crying a little too, and—well, it was a classic Madison moment.

“Good lord, you can ruin almost anything, can’t you?” He led me over to the couch.

“Don’t sound so surprised about it.” I sat down and grinned hugely at him. “Should I pour us some wine, or…?”

“It seems fitting.” I used the time to gather myself, so by the time I brought our glasses over to the coffee table, I wasn’t even shaking at all anymore. The wine, by the way, came out of a box. I couldn’t face bottles and labels and tasting notes without Marc, and yet I also couldn’t stop remembering his taste when I sipped a glass or three of merlot, so boxes it was.

“I don’t even know where to start. You are the most infuriating woman I’ve met since my freshman comp professor, but I never wanted to have a sex thing with her.”

I was quiet. Was I supposed to talk? I sipped instead.

“And I’m still kind of mad, you know, because you really crossed a line. Several, even. And that’s really hurtful. You knew full well how I’d feel about being cartoonized. Is that a word?”

“I don’t think so. And actually, I had no idea how you’d feel about it. So I just glossed over that little detail.” Typical me, sketching around that section. “But I didn’t mean to hurt you. And if I’d had any idea how upset you’d be, I wouldn’t have done that.”

I really wouldn’t have, either. Speculating about my humiliation was a whole different thing compared to the betrayal on Marc’s face that morning in our kitchen. Oh thank Odin, it was still “our” kitchen. Anyway, I’d have done the sitcomic all differently if I’d known it would lead to this. I’d have used Crimson as my main character, and then fan-fictioned what I’d like to see happen in Scarlet’s sex life instead. Tastefully, of course.