“Well, this looks comfy,” I tell her.
She curtsies, flops down onto the couch, and hits play on The Big Sick. We missed it in the theater and kept meaning to watch it, so there’s a sweet little ache that rises in my throat knowing that she waited to see it with me.
The lasagna is perfect, the movie is wonderful, and I almost forget that Dane lives here. But then an hour into the movie, the front door opens. Ami’s entire demeanor shifts. She sits up, hands on her thighs, and takes a deep breath.
“You okay?” I whisper. Am I here for moral support while she confronts her husband? I can’t decide whether that will be fantastic or excruciating or both.
I hear Dane drop his keys on the counter, shuffle through the mail, and then call out, “Hey, babe.”
“Hey, honey,” she calls back, brightly, falsely, and it is so incongruous with the bleak way she looks at me.
My stomach drops in a weird burst of anticipatory stress, and then Dane is there in the doorway. He sounds surprised and displeased. “Oh. Hey, Olive.”
I don’t bother turning around. “Go to hell, Dane.”
Ami chokes on her wine and then looks at me, eyes shining with amusement and tension. “Honey, there’s lasagna in the oven if you want some.”
I can feel him still looking at the back of my head—I know he is—but he just stands behind me for a few more seconds before saying quietly, “Okay, I’ll grab some and leave you two to it.”
“Thanks, hon!” Ami calls out.
She glances at her watch and then reaches for the remote, turning the volume down. “I’m so nervous, I’m nauseated.”
“Ami,” I say, leaning in, “what’s going on?”
“I texted them,” she says, and my jaw drops. “I’m screaming inside.” I see it, too—the tightness around her eyes, the way I can tell she’s holding back tears. “I had to do it this way.”
“Do what exactly, Ami?” I ask.
But before she can answer, the doorbell rings.
Ami’s attention shoots over my shoulder, toward the door leading to the kitchen, and we listen as Dane walks across the tile entryway to answer it. Slowly, so slowly I can see she’s shaking, Ami stands.
“Come on,” she says quietly to me, and then she calls out to Dane with a calm clarity I can’t believe, “Who’s at the door?”
I follow Ami out just as Dane is frantically trying to guide a woman back outside, and my blood pressure drops.
Did she text the women as Dane, and invite them here?
“Who is it, honey?” Ami repeats, innocently.
The woman pushes past Dane. “Who’s that?”
“I’m his wife, Ami.” Ami stretches out her hand. “Which one are you?”
“Which one am I?” the woman repeats, too thunderstruck to return Ami’s handshake. She glances at Dane, and her face pales, too. “I’m Cassie.”
Dane turns, ashen, and stares at my sister. “Babe.”
For once, I see Ami’s jaw twitch at the pet name, and I want to shoot a rocket of joy into the sky because I knew she hated it and just pretended to like it! Twin powers for the win!
“Excuse me, Dane,” Ami says sweetly, “I’m in the middle of introducing myself to one of your girlfriends.”
I can see the panic in his eyes. “Babe, this totally isn’t what you think.”
“What do I think it is, babe?” she asks, eyes wide with faux-curiosity.
Another car pulls into the driveway, and a woman slowly emerges, taking in the scene in front of her. She looks like she just got off work: she’s wearing nurse’s scrubs and her hair is in a bun. It occurs to me that this is not how you dress for someone you’re trying to impress; it’s how you dress for someone you’ve known for a long time and are comfortable around.
I can’t help but glare at Dane. What a complete dirtbag.
Ami looks at me over her shoulder and says to me, “That must be Trinity.”
Oh my God. My sister is currently blowing up Dane’s game, and she doesn’t even need a checklist to do it. This is nuclear-level madness.
Dane pulls Ami aside, leaning down to meet her eyes. “Hey. What are you doing, hon?”
“I thought I should meet them.” Her chin shakes, and it’s painful to watch. “I saw the messages on your phone.”
“I haven’t—” he starts.
“Yeah,” Cassie says quietly. “You have. Last week.” She looks at Ami, then at me. “I didn’t know he was married. I swear I had no idea.”
She turns and makes her way back to her car, passing the other woman, who’s stopped several yards away. I can tell from Trinity’s expression that she’s figured out what’s happening here.
“You’re married,” she says flatly, from a distance.
“He’s married,” Ami confirms.
Trinity looks back at Dane when he sits down on the doorstep and puts his face in his hands. “Dane,” she says. “This is so fucked up.”
He nods. “I’m sorry.”
To her credit, Trinity looks directly at Ami. “We haven’t been together in a while, if that helps.”
“What’s ‘a while’?” Ami asks.
Trinity lifts a shoulder, drops it. “Five months or so.”
Ami nods, breathing deep and fast, struggling to not cry.
“Ami,” I say, “go inside. Lie down. I’ll be in in a second.”
She turns and quickly dodges Dane’s outstretched hand as she passes. A car door slams down at the street and my heart lurches—how many more women are going to show up tonight?
But it isn’t another woman. It’s Ethan. He’s coming from work, wearing fitted gray pants and a blue dress shirt, looking good enough to climb.
I’m shell-shocked by what’s happening and trying to keep my shit together so I can be strong for Ami, but I still feel like I’ve been turned inside out at the sight of him.
“Oh,” Ami says from the door, loud enough for everyone to hear. “I invited Ethan, too, Ollie. I think he owes you an apology.” And then she quietly closes the front door behind her.
Trinity meets my eyes and gives me a dry smile. “Good luck with this.” Looking down at Dane, she says, “I thought it was weird that you texted me to come over after disappearing months ago.” She gnaws her lip, looking more disgusted than upset. “I hope she leaves you.” With that, she climbs into her car and pulls out of the driveway.
Ethan has stopped a few feet away to watch this interaction, his brows furrowed in recognition. He turns his attention to me. “Olive? What’s going on here?”
“I think you know what’s going on here.”
Dane looks up, eyes red and swollen. Apparently he’d been crying behind that hand. “Ami invited them here, I guess.” He lifts his hands, defeated. “Holy shit, I can’t believe what just happened.”
Ethan looks at me again and then back to his brother. “But you weren’t still . . . ? ”
“Only a couple times with Cassie,” Dane says.
“And Trinity about five months ago,” I add helpfully. This moment is in no way about me and Ethan, but I can’t help giving him my best I told you so face.
Dane groans. “I’m such an idiot.”
I can see when Ethan realizes what he’s hearing. It’s like an invisible fist punches him in the chest, and he takes a step back before looking up at me with the clarity he should have had two weeks ago.
God, it should be satisfying, but it isn’t. Nothing about this feels good.
“Olive,” he says quietly, voice thick with apology.
“Don’t,” I say. I have a sister inside who needs me and have zero time for him or his worthless brother. “Take Dane with you when you go.”
Turning, I walk back into the house and don’t even look back at Ethan as I close the door behind me.
It’s a few hours before I get—and ignore—a call from Ethan. I can only assume he’s been busy dealing with Dane, but I am also dealing with Dane, just less directly: I am packing up all of his clothes. And I can feel the intensity of Ami’s desire to get him out of the house because for maybe the first time in her life, it doesn’t even occur to her to look for a coupon before she sends me off to buy a giant stack of boxes at Menards.
I didn’t want to leave her alone while I ran out, so I called Mom, who brought Natalia, Jules, Diego, and Stephanie, who apparently texted Tío Omar and his daughter Tina to bring more wine. Tina and Tío Omar also brought cookies—along with a whole carload of cousins—so, faster than you can say Good riddance, dirtbag, there are twenty-two of us working on packing up every personal trace of Dane Thomas and putting each box in the garage.
Exhausted but accomplished, we all land on whatever empty, flat surface we can find in the living room, and it already feels like we have jobs: mine is to cuddle Ami, Natalia’s is to keep her wineglass full, Mom’s is to rub her feet, Tío Omar’s is to refresh the plate of cookies every now and then, Jules and Diego are handling the music, Tina is pacing the room, detailing precisely how she’s going to castrate Dane, and everyone else is cooking enough food for the next month.
“Are you going to divorce him?” Steph asks, carefully, and everyone waits for Mom to gasp . . . but she doesn’t.
Ami nods, her face in her wineglass, and Mom pipes up, “Of course she’s going to divorce him.”
We all stare at her, stunned, and finally she sighs in exasperation. “Ya basta! You think my daughter is dumb enough to get tangled up in the same stupid game her parents have been playing for two decades?”
Ami and I look at each other, and then burst out laughing. After a heavy beat of incredulous silence, the entire room follows suit, and finally even Mom is laughing, too.
In my pocket, my phone rings again. I peek but don’t get it hidden again fast enough because Ami catches a peek at my contact photo for Ethan on the screen before I can decline the call.