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Happy New Year’s Eve!

It’s almost hard to believe that we finally made it through the year. No, it hasn’t been easy. We’ve taken our lumps and bruises and lost a few too.

Looking back on 2020, it hasn’t been all bad. I spent more time with my husband and daughter (although they’ll probably tell you differently). I got better with Photoshop and even acquired a drawing tablet! Wait till you see what I’ll do with it! I did a lot of writing. I did some reading. I watched a lot of TV. I published TWO books within months of each other.

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The Secrets We Keep

Part Twenty-Five



Morning took its dear sweet time coming. Instead of sleeping, I spent the night refereeing Paul and Tiago. Maybe my actions couldn’t be called officiating. It was more like saving lives.

Paul accused Tiago of being a contributor to the deaths of all those men at the Pit Stop. Tiago didn’t like the allegation and threatened to punch Paul in the nose. Back and forth. All damn night long.

Neither man trusted the other. Tiago thought Paul wanted in my pants. Probably not that farfetched of an idea. Paul implied Tiago wanted the same thing. I sure as hell hoped not.

Thank God, we weren’t witnesses to a crime with Paul representing us. The jury wouldn’t know whether to convict us or pardon us. Only thing that was obvious to me, was that both men loved me. Each man wanted to protect me. From what? Each other. So I did the unthinkable and capitalized on the sentiment.

I played on Tiago’s tendency to lean on my shoulder, telling him how much I loved helping him. I assured him that there wasn’t anyone else I could be myself with. Naturally, that caused issues with Paul. I had to convince him I missed our talks. He always guided me correctly. The entire process wore me out.

By daybreak, I was hungry and fatigued. When Tiago finally passed out on the sofa, Paul and I went to the kitchen. He set a steaming mug of black coffee in front of me.

“You still take it like that?”

“Yeah. Thanks.” Bleary-eyed, I blew on the liquid before taking a sip. “I apologize for Tiago. He’s not always so argumentative.” 


Tiago was fucking belligerent. He said Paul took advantage of me. 

 Not true.

When I learned he was married, I should have walked sooner. Instead, I stuck around and listened to the lies. Why? I desperately wanted to believe Paul when he said he’d leave his wife. Truth be told, Paul and I took advantage of each other.

“Casinda, there’s no need to do that.” Paul opened the fridge and removed a carton of eggs. “I don’t blame him for his actions. It’s obvious the man cares for you. I sympathize.”

Not what I wanted to hear.

“Well, I don’t. There are no excuses for Tiago’s behavior.” I lowered the cup and then pushed my hands through my hair. “Other than your marital situation, you’ve always played it straight with me. I’ve never doubted your words before.”

Paul frowned as he placed a skillet on the stove. “With how badly I screwed up, I didn’t imagine you defending me.”

“We both screwed up, Paul.”

“Are you saying we might—”

“No, Paul. Last time I checked; you’re still separated. Not divorced.”

Besides, I couldn’t let myself go there again. He crushed me and left me broken. It took me months to get over Paul. Trusting him with our dicey situation was one thing. Believing he wouldn’t wreck my heart was totally different.

My lips parted, but shuffling footsteps interrupted my thoughts.

“You two making cozy?” Tiago mumbled.

“Don’t start.” I rolled my eyes. “I’ve had enough of the bickering for a lifetime.”

Paul interjected, “Man, let me make you some breakfast. After we eat, I’ll make some phone calls. I promise you we’ll get some progress today.”

“Yeah, right.” My best friend twisted his neck to the right and left. “Let’s get something straight, shall we? I’m here because Cassie trusts you. I don’t.”

“Understood.” Paul opened an overhead cabinet, found a bowl, and then faced Tiago. “Since we’re getting things straight, understand this. You brought this shit down on Casinda. I will do everything in my power to protect her, which means protecting you too. Distrust runs both ways, amigo.”

Tiago scowled. “I’m not your friend.”

Not willing to listen—or watch—a display of machismo, I shoved to my feet. “Tiago, you’ll feel better with a shower. Let me show you where everything is.”

Paul smiled in my direction. “You still eat frittatas?”

“Yeah.” He thought he knew me so well.

Question was, how well did I know Paul or Tiago?

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 Here’s to a better year!

What are you looking forward to?





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