Main | Berjazel - by Deb Rebisz »

Wayward Son - by Dani Denatti

“There’s leftover ziti in the fridge,” Christina said.

Paul smiled. “Not for long.”

“And a lasagna in the freezer.”


Christina closed her suitcase and turned. “I could make some meatballs real quick …”

“If I didn’t know better,” Paul said, “I’d say you were stalling.”

“And if I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re trying to get rid of me.”

Her tone was light, but Paul wondered if there wasn’t some truth there. Had he been a little too eager when she’d decided to go to the Supernatural convention in Secaucus with her friends?

“Don’t be silly,” he said, pulling her bag from the bed. “You haven’t had a girl’s weekend in ages. Besides, I know how much you love that show.”

Paul didn’t get the appeal—all that flannel and brooding—but he was the last guy to judge people for the stuff they liked.

“You’re right.” Christina sighed and followed him to the door of their small apartment. “I don’t know why I’m acting so weird. I just have a bad feeling about leaving you.”

“Aww, come here.” Paul pulled her into his arms and buried his face in her curly hair. He was only an inch or two taller, so it was easy to brush his lips across the delicate skin of her neck. He loved the way it made her tremble. He loved everything about Christina: from her sharp mind and hot body, to her fierce devotion and fiery temper. He’d lived with the tiny, Italian tornado for five years, and not once had he been bored.

She was always surprising him.

Guilt nibbled at his conscience. She’s too good for you, said the voice in his head. What would she say if she knew

“It’ll be fine,” Paul blurted. He stepped back and smiled into Christina’s dark eyes. “I’ll be fine.”

“Okay.” She chewed the inside of her lower lip and studied him. “You sure you don’t want me to—”

“Go!” He laughed and opened the door. “Go fangirl over Sam and Dean. I promise I won’t starve to death while you’re gone.”

Christina left after a quick kiss, and Paul sat on the couch calculating how long he’d have until she returned.




“He’s cheating on you,” said Bethany.

“Totally cheating,” agreed Lynne. She drained her pinot and signaled the hotel bartender for another. “He’s probably with some gumad right now.”

Christina shook her head and wished she hadn’t brought it up. She loved her friends, but all it took was a bit of booze and suddenly they were The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

“Do yourself a favor,” Bethany said. “Get in the car, drive your ass back to Toms River, and catch the prick in the act.”

“Totally,” said Lynne.

Christina waved them off, but the more she thought about it, the more she couldn’t help wondering what she’d find if she went home early.

She was being paranoid. Paul loved her. And yet …

He had seemed awfully secretive lately. What if he was having an affair? What if he had a wife and family stashed away someplace? What if it was something even worse?

Something … dangerous?

But that was a crazy thought. Wasn’t it?




Paul stood in Christina’s closet, sliding aside hanger after hanger. There were cool silks, fluffy angoras, and cottons so thin he could see right through them.

Finally, he located his prey: a pink dress, long and flowing, with layers of gossamer chiffon floating over rose-colored satin. He slid the dress off the hanger. Cradling it as carefully as he might a newborn, Paul carried the dress to the bed and spread it out.

“Perfection,” he whispered.

When looking wasn’t enough, when he could no longer stand the wait, Paul lifted the dress from the bed and slid it over his naked body. The fabric was a forbidden caress, a kiss from a secret lover.

Did women realize how lucky they were, he wondered, to wear such things? To have so many options?

Other than a disturbing lack of pockets, womenswear was—


Paul spun at the sound of Christina’s voice, and even the wild shock on her face couldn’t keep him from noticing the way the dress felt twirling around his legs.

“I … can explain,” he stammered, hands outstretched like a beggar. But could he? How many years had he been battling these demons, struggling to reconcile these desires?

“Fuck.” Paul dropped his hands. “No, I can’t.”

He crossed his arms over his chest and braced for her rage, her hatred, her disgust. He suddenly wished he were back in his boring man-clothes.

If vulnerability was a dress, it would be pink chiffon.

“Say something,” he whispered.

Christina’s gaze darted about the room. “Are you … alone?”

He snorted. “I don’t exactly invite the guys over when I do this.”

“You don’t?”

“No!” He took a breath and told himself to dial back the indignation. “I’m not gay.”

“Oh.” She nodded, but confusion still clouded her eyes. “So … you want to be a girl?”

“No, I just like dressing as one sometimes.”

“Huh.” She glanced at her closet and frowned. “I thought you were cheating on me.”

“It … sorta felt like I was.”

“Why couldn’t you just tell me?”

“Because I love you! Jesus. I didn’t want to lose you.”


He thought her anger would be hard to take, but her silence was worse.

“Do you hate me?” he asked finally.

She took a deep breath. “I hate that you couldn’t trust me with this … that you felt like you had to hide it from me and lie to me.”

He nodded; he hated all that, too.

Christina closed her eyes. “You know what I hate most?” she asked.

Paul cringed, bracing for the worst. Here it comes. “What?”

“I hate that the dress looks better on you than on me.”

He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Once again she had surprised him.

She was always surprising him.

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