“No, allow me,” Luke interjected. “I’ve still got my keys and all.”
“I got my keys, too,” Jamie protested.
“Simone and I need to catch up. You kids stay home.” Luke put his foot down. “Come, Simone.” Luke herded me to the door. “So, how long has it been? Twenty years?”
Behind us, Jamie called his brother a dickhead.
“I need my purse.”
“Nah. Who’s going to arrest you for leaving the house without carrying proper identification? Me?” Luke laughed. “C’mon. You need to tell me everything about yourself, Simone.”
Driving to Bellwood’s only grocery store, Luke grilled me about my failed marriage. I felt like I was being interrogated. Other than that, he was actually a good listener. His jaw tightened when he heard how Sam had brought his girlfriend to the divorce negotiations.
“What a prick!” he spat.
“Yeah, I lost it, too,” I admitted. I told him that my rash decision had led me into my financial trouble.
Luke looked royally pissed. “He didn’t try to amend your situation? He just cut you loose?”
“Well, it was kind of my fault.”
“I can understand why you reacted that way. But as a man, Sam should know better. Don’t you two have assets together?”
“The house is under both of our names. Our summer house in Newport too. Then there are some stocks and bonds.”
“And he didn’t try to offer you any of that?”
“Why would he? He got out of this divorce cheap.”
“Do you want me talk to Sam? Put some sense back into him?”
“No!” I was mortified. “It’s just money. I already put it behind me. I’m fine with the way I am now—really.”
Luke reached for my hand and squeezed it. His hand was large and calloused—a soldier’s hand. But strangely, it brought me warmth and comfort.
“How about you?” I tried to change the subject. “Nate said you were stationed in Iraq.”
“Yeah, I was an Army Ranger. Then I worked for an oil company as a private contractor for a while, but I’m getting too old for that shit.”
“What are you talking about? You’re only twenty-nine.”
“Iraq makes people old really, really fast.”
“Did you ever find a nice girl and settle down?” I was curious.
“I did. For a while.”
Huh? What was with the past tense? “And?”
“Same old song and dance like everybody else. In the end, we got divorced.”
“Why?” I wished I could take that one back. My question sounded so needy.
Luke made a gurgling sound in his throat. “I wanted a kid to complete our family. Sera didn’t. One day when I came home for R and R, she slapped me with divorce papers. Apparently, she’d been seeing a friend of mine behind my back, and what hurt the most, she got pregnant by him.” Luke drew a long breath. “That was a low blow, you know? She didn’t want to have a child with me, but it was okay with another guy.”
“Oh, Luke. I’m so sorry.”
“That’s all right. It’s all meant to be.”
“I guess we’re all unfortunate in the love department. Did Nate tell you he got divorced too?”
“Not exactly. Jamie kind of blurted it out.”
“Stacy dumped Nate for a billionaire. The SOB was three times her age! True love, huh?”
I sighed. “Money makes people do stupid things.”
“Fuckin’ A. Jamie’s the one who never got married.”
“And why’s that?”
“I thought it was obvious. He wanted someone like you. He moped a lot when you eloped with Sam. He kept talking about you all the time, even when we were growing up. ‘Til this day, I think he still has a photo of you in his wallet. I think he photoshopped your picture with his recent photo.”
“That’s just silly.”
“Creepy, if you ask me.”
Luke eased out the truck as we glided into the parking lot. Marty’s General Store had turned into a national chain grocery store.
“Wow! This is new,” I said.
“This has been here for, I don’t know, five years, maybe?”