*Meet Stella from Accidental Risk!*
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“Stella, why don’t you come up to Pelican Bay this summer and get away from the city?” My brother babbled on the phone asking me to visit him again for the third time this phone call.
“Dalton, I have a job. I can’t just take off and spent three months in Maine.”
He scoffs on his end of the phone. “Stella, you manage a running blog and an Instagram account.”
“No, I manage a successful running blog and Instagram account.” Yes, there was a difference. “One that pays for all my bills to live in New York.” It wasn’t the complete truth. New York was an expensive city so while I paid half of the bills, I counted on my fiancé, Ben, to pay his share. I couldn’t live in the city on my own, but not many people could.
“Stella, I’m sorry you misunderstood me. I meant you can run anywhere. Get a change of scenery and come run on the beach in Pelican Bay.”
The beach part of his comment piqued my interest. I’d get wonderful shots on the sandy shores, but Maine was a world away from New York City. I couldn’t leave my fiancé in the city by himself, only a few months away from our wedding. We opted for a simple affair, but they were still plenty of minor things to finish. “I can come up for a weekend visit.”
My favorite brother — because he is my only brother — sighed. “Okay fine, if you will be difficult.”
And now the truth would come out. I suspected there was more to what Dalton was asking, but he wasn’t a guy you could demand answers from and expect him to answer. He needed to come around on his own. “You’re leaving on another mission and you want me to take care of your house. Don’t you?”
“It’s only for like three months, Stella.”
I’d heard that line before. Who knew how long he’d really be gone?
Now it was my turn to sigh in irritation. “I told you buying a house was a crazy idea.” My brother didn’t have time to be taking care of a home when he spent half his life on crazy missions with the military.
“This is my last mission and then I’m six months out from retirement. It’s time for me to put down roots.”
When he put it that way, I had trouble saying no. “Let me talk with Ben and I’ll see what we can do.”
No way would he spend his summer in Maine, but possibly I could do one week on and one week off thing. Like a custody agreement involving my brother’s house.
“You’re the best, sis.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Anyway, I’m home so I’ll let you go. I’ll talk to Ben tonight and see what we decide.”
We say goodbye as I use my key to enter high-rise apartment building and take the elevator to the twelfth floor. Spring was hitting the city, but already it was hot and muggy. Right outside my apartment door I paused, hearing a weird noise. I tipped my ear to the side, trying to figure out what it sounded like when it happened again.
Something clenched in my stomach, reminding me I needed to grab lunch, but I could make a sandwich in the apartment or see about taking Hush, my dachshund, to our favorite café. The apartment door tipped open and I stepped in, finding the curtains still drawn from when I left this morning.
If Ben was still in bed, I was going to a give him a ton of crap. “Ben,” I called out into the still apartment as I made my way to the bedroom.
The thump sound happened two more times, making me question if the water in the building was acting up again. They’d had two burst pipes over the winter and it had left me water shy. I didn’t want to go another three days with no water. Trying to time my showers, cooking, and dishes with times the water was working had gotten old after the first day. I opened the bedroom door expecting to find Ben tucked under the covers sound to sleep, but instead a scream tore itself free from my throat.
I dropped my purse and grabbed at my bursting heart as I took in the disgusting scene laid out before me.
“Holy shit, Stella!” Ben threw the woman who had seconds before been riding him to oblivion off his cock and she hit the floor with a thud and a curse.
A curse I’d heard many times in my life.
From my best friend.
“Elizabeth?” I asked, allowing all the wind to release from my lungs.
Her head popped up from the other side of the bed and I tightened the grip on my chest, feeling my heart as it broke into pieces.
My eyes switched back and forth between them, my brain figuring out what I’d seen and realizing there was no other explanation. I just caught my fiancé fucking my best friend.
I blinked twice, my eyes full of tears, and to my horror the scene didn’t dissolve into a nightmare. Elizabeth stood up, wrapping a sheet around her naked body — a set I’d purchased with her last week at Marshalls on a great sale.
What a weird thing for my brain to think about as my life dissolved in front of me.
Ben, naked with his hard dick stretched out in front of him bobbing along, crossed the distance getting closer to where I was frozen in the middle of our small one-bedroom apartment. “Stella, let me explain.”
I took a step back, not speaking because there was nothing he could do to explain his actions. My breathing came in shallow gasps as I continued walking backward to the apartment door, taking in the scene ruining my life before my very eyes.
Elizabeth’s arm tugged on Ben’s elbow, causing another chunk of my heart to break. Which is worse, Ben cheating on me with a wedding planned in September or the person I caught him with being my best friend?
The two people in the world I was the closest to — besides my brother — betrayed me at the deepest level.
There’s no coming back from this moment in my life. Things would never be the same.