Fool’s Paradise

Chapter 4

Gold or Diamonds. Mallory wasn’t one for much jewelry. She didn’t have time to fuss with clasps or posts. The daughter of an engineer and a pediatrician never had much time to play around. Academics was the most important thing in the Holt household followed closely by playing a sport and volunteering. She remained on the honor roll all twelve years of public school, played field hockey—leading her varsity team to win the state championship, and she helped out at the clinic her mom worked at—cleaning up scrapes, handing out lollipops and any other non-medical degree regarded tasks the doctors handed to her.

It all led to getting into the right school, the university her parents deemed to be best to become a doctor as they wished. After all those years she assumed that for once in her life, she’d get to have the one thing she wanted no matter what anyone else thought. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get her own self pregnant.

“I hope you invited Chris.” Jayla’s words called her from the drawback in her life.

She smirked, placing a dinner plate on the placemat her friend finished laying out and had moved on to the next task which had nothing to do with setting the table—opening a bottle of wine. “Yes, but he can’t come. He has a girlfriend to spend time with…a girlfriend.”

“Oh,” Jayla popped the cork from the dark, glass bottle with the finesse of someone that had significant practice. “Well, good for him.” She plucked a wine glass away from the collection in the middle of the table that had yet to be arranged in its proper place. “Do I know her?”

“No, but…” Mallory tipped her nose up in the air, catching the scent of the food lingering in the oven, staying warm for all the guest. Instantly, the image of her mom buzzing around the house joking with her dad as they cooked before their own dinner parties. A ping stung her chest as she heard Jesse’s heavy footsteps upstairs. She didn’t have the kind of marriage, her husband wasn’t fond of cooking, rolling up his sleeves and getting food under his nails.

Mallory ignored her want for him to be the one standing in the room with her, setting the table. “You need to keep your mind on Kazan.”

“Humph,” Jayla raised the glass to her lips, took a sip and leaned back against the credenza. “Hell no. You have a good man and you trying to give me trash.” She swirled the red elixir in the cup with ease. “I think the fuck, not.”

Mallory shook her head placing down the last plate in her him at the head of the table, “Ya’ll were good together in college.”

“Yeah, we were until he stole my source and article.” Jayla tsked, anger surging to her onyx eyes as if the incident happened just yesterday and not ten years ago. “Then I learned how deceitful he could be.”

“Maybe he changed, Jay. He’s been writing some think pieces this year, shedding some light on much-deserved issues that affect society.”

“Just because they get him more clout and prestige,” She pushed her butt off the credenza and grabbed the wine bottle off the table, refilling her glass. “Don’t fall for the scheme, Malee.”

“Don’t get drunk,” Mallory pulled the bottle up, stopping the scarlet liquid from sliding into the glass. “It’s late enough, yet.”

Jayla glanced over at the clock on the wall, “It’s past seven.” She rested the glass at her lips and took a long swallow.

Mallory watched her then with a twist of her mouth she slapped the half-empty bottle on the table, “You’re an alcoholic.”

Jayla tsked. “I just love grapes.” She shrugged. “And making poor decisions….like following for the wrong friend.”

“You know…Matthew’s single.” Mallory pushed up her eyebrows.

Jayla shook her head, “I’m not the type of woman. Being the wedge that breaks up two friends.”

“College was years ago.” The roar of an engine pulled Mallory’s gaze to the doorway the led to the front of the house, someone had pulled into the driveway. It was about to begin. She slid her hands down her dress, more to calm her nerves instead of smoothing out her outfit. “If you still like him go for it. Life is short and you deserve good things.”

Jayla held her cup out and studied the contents. “Maybe, I am drunk…cause you’re getting all philosophical and Iyanla Vanzant on me.”

“Joke all you want.” Mallory smiled widely moving towards the kitchen. “But you know I’m right.”

Jayla followed her, “Can we see how tonight goes before you start making a love connection.”

Mallory didn’t know if she could. She wanted her best friend to be happy and they’d both wasted too much time waiting for things to work out.

Do you think Jayla should pursue Matthew? Or could dating her ex’s best friend be too much drama?

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