“Hey, babe. How did it go?” Rembrandt looks up as I enter the living room. He has some Swedish movie on the TV, but he’s actually dozing. Ginger is on his lap as usual, and Onyx and Jet are flanking his thighs. Onyx squeaks when she sees me and launches herself at me. I catch her and cradle her to my chest.
“How’s my baby?” I coo as I rock her back and forth. Jet hauls himself off the couch and pads over to me. He butts his head against my shin, and I scratch him between the ears. Ginger blinks at me from the couch, and I blink back at her. Once I’m done greeting the babies, I go over and kiss Rembrandt on the forehead. “It was interesting. Not nearly as painful as I feared it would be, but there were also a few questionable moments. Let me go change, then I’ll tell you all about it.” I set Onyx down on the couch before going upstairs to change into sweats. I go back downstairs, make a detour into the kitchen, grab a Diet Coke, then go into the living room. I sit next to Rembrandt with Onyx and Jet between us.
“So it wasn’t bad?”
“No, it wasn’t.” I pop open the Diet Coke and take a swig. “He’s not a bad guy, except he’s hiding something.” I relate as much of the conversation as I can remember. He listens avidly, giving me his full attention. He doesn’t interrupt except when he needs clarification. When I’m done, he heaves a big sigh.
“He’s not telling you everything, is he?” His voice is sorrowful, and I know it’s because he wanted so badly for this to be good for me. I had told him the conversation as unbiased as I possibly could so I could get his opinion on it. I’m glad he came to the same conclusion, but I’m sad because it means that I can’t just accept that man at face value. I’m going to have to dig beyond his façade, which means we’re going to have to go to some uncomfortable places.
“No, he’s not. It bugs me that I don’t know if he’s lying about trivial things or about something important.” I pause and add, “Do you know of anyone who can unscrub a history online?” I go through my mental rolodex, but I can’t think of anyone. Julianna would have known someone, but I push that thought from my mind.
“I may have a friend of a friend.” Rembrandt yawns and his eyelids droop. “I need a nap, I think.”
“Me, too.” I carefully move Onyx onto my lap and Jet to the other side of my so I can lean against Rembrandt. He puts his arm around me, and pulls me close. I should go home, but I don’t have the motivation to leave. Also, even though I won’t admit it out loud, I like snuggling with him. It makes me feel comfortable and safe. I press my head against his chest, and he strokes my hair slowly and methodically. I close my eyes and fall asleep. I dream of fairies trying to stab me in the back with their claws, and it’s not a peaceful sleep. I awake with a start, my heart pounding. Onyx, Jet, Ginger and Rembrandt are nowhere to be found, so I’m betting they’re in the kitchen. I haul myself off the couch, stretch my back, and go to the kitchen. Just as I thought, Rembrandt and the cats are in there. Rembrandt is heating up some leftovers on the stove, and the cats are on the counter, their noses quivering. Ginger and Onyx are near the sink at a safe distance, but Jet is uncomfortably close to the stove.