Authors: Lauren K. McKellar
Crazy in Love Series
The Problem with Heartache
For anyone who has lost someone
Moving on doesn’t mean moving away
with heartache is that you can’t mourn forever. You can’t walk around the streets wearing black, carrying holy water on your person in the hope that you’ll stumble upon a miracle and be able to use it to bring that person back. One day, you’re gonna forget that tiny vial, and you’re not gonna realise until it’s too late.
“Are you done?” Mum enunciated each syllable as if it weighed a ton.
“Give me a second.” I threw my arms behind my back, fiddling with the straps on the bra.
A solution for heartache, however, appeared to be running. Or, it seemed to be for me. I’d been jogging in the early morning or late at night on the beach every day for six months now, and slowly but surely, I was getting better mentally, becoming able to function again.
Even if it meant that my boobs were getting smaller. Hence the new sports-bra shopping trip.
“Are you having fun?”
Really, Mum? Fun?
My fumbling finally resulted in success and I shook the bra off, quickly shrugging my normal one over my shoulders and throwing my T-shirt on top of that. It hung loosely over my hips, the grey speckled material suiting my mood to a tee.
Ha. See what I did there?
Making bad jokes to yourself: a potential symptom of heartache. Thankfully, not a symptom of Huntington’s disease.
I grabbed my purse from the little seat the staff at the lingerie store so kindly provided its change-room patrons, and walked to the front of the store to the checkout area, sports bra in hand, ready to make the purchase.
“I do wish you’d get something pretty.” Mum sighed, pulling at the strap of the black material. “It’s hardly like you play sport.”
“I just want to be comfortable.” I tucked the material up in my hand. She didn’t know about my nocturnal running habits. If she thought her little girl was roaming the streets late at night, she’d probably install a complex home-security system.
The guy in front of me at the counter was taking a really long time. He had six different sets of lingerie to put through. I couldn’t help but check around his arm to see what. Black lace, red silk, black pleather … and was that something with fur I could see?
“Stop stickybeaking.” Mum slapped my arm, and I snapped my head back to my chest.
“It’s a public place,” I whispered, even though glancing around revealed an empty shop. The only person there was a large guy at the door, dressed all in black, his posture alert. He looked a little like someone in security.
Strange for a lingerie shop …
The transaction in front of me continued. Hopefully, underwear-fetish guy hadn’t heard.
“People don’t like you to look at their knickers, Kate.” Mum tutted quietly, shaking her head.
shouldn’t buy quite so many pairs. And besides,” I hissed, raising my eyebrows at her, “we don’t know that he’s going to wear them all at once.”
Of course. You whisper two fairly innocent sentences, but the one about the guy in front of you being a cross-dressing lingerie wearer, he hears.
“Sorry.” I studied the ground.
The man turned around to face me. He had maroon leather shoes, scuffed, as if they’d seen better days. My gaze travelled up his black jeans, over his red-checked shirt with the triangular collar, the black scarf around his chin, covering his lips, his nose—but not his eyes.
Holy hell, did the man have eyes.
How did this guy know my name?
“Yes?” Mum replied, and I jabbed an elbow to her ribs.
“That’s me.” I smiled brightly. “Sorry about the panties-wearing comment.”
“To be fair, this does look a little weird,” the guy said.
You can say that again …
“We just have this film clip tomorrow, and the stupid wardrobe guy said the models won’t fit any of the … you know …” The man jerked his thumb toward the counter, indicating the underwear the checkout chick had now finished ringing up.
Cogs clicked in my head. This wasn’t—
“Lee?” I silently added
. If he was going to the trouble of wearing a bad scarf by way of disguise, I doubted he’d be keen on me screaming his full name in a crowded shopping centre.
“Kate’s just so happy to see you, is all,” Mum said. She took a step closer. “Hard to recognise behind that scarf there.”
“That’s kind of the point.” Lee gave her a wink. I swear my mother blushed.
“Well, we’d love to have you over for dinner sometime, since you’re in town,” Mum was saying, her hands clasped together. She opened her mouth to continue speaking.
“But being a really busy guy, we wouldn’t actually expect you to come,” I overlapped.
“Well, if we invited you formally, we would,” Mum said, giving me a strange look.
“I mean, I could.” Lee spoke the words softly, taking a step closer. “So long as you don’t tell anyone about my secret identity.”
Mum giggled like a schoolgirl.
Help me, God
I looked past her, past the stands of bras and the occasional naughty dress-up item and into the shopping centre and—
I dropped the sports bra and ran, shouldering Mum as I surged forward, out the doors of the shop.