Three Days In The Doghouse

Griffin

            Vanessa and I took turns putting the kids to bed at night, but I’d taken on the roll for the last few nights that my mother-in-law has stayed with us. I didn’t mind the extra load because Vanessa needed to be there for her mother. And Pearl watched the kids at dinnertime so Vanessa and I could have dinner in the city, so it evened out. It was later at night when the wine flowed out of the bottle and Vanessa had a heart-to-heart with her mother.

            I was on my phone in bed when Vanessa walked inside. I was dead tired and ready to sleep so I could start the day with a heavy workout before getting to work, but the nights were the only real time I had with my wife.

            She walked inside and helped herself to one of my shirts before she got into bed. She didn’t take off her make up, so she must have been so tired that she forgot. She got into bed beside me and immediately curled up into my side.

            “Did she say anything?”

            After a pause, she answered. “No.”

            I set my phone aside and turned her over onto her back.

            “Griffin, no.” She tried to move away from me. “My mother is down the hall—”

            “In my house.”

            “It’s just weird—”

            “We’re married.”

            “Even so—”

            “I don’t give a damn who’s in the house, I’m gonna fuck my wife like I do every night before I go to sleep.” I shoved the baggy shirt up to expose her tits and yanked her underwear off at the same time.

            She didn’t fight me this time. “We’ve got to be quiet…”

            I moved between her soft thighs and settled into her warmth. “Tell yourself that, baby.”

***

            Crow hadn’t come to the winery for the last two days. It was just me most of the time because Cane oversaw the other property and started a new cheese business that annoyed Crow to no end.

            I didn’t text or call. If he didn’t show up to work, that meant he wanted to be alone.

            Cane walked into the warehouse. “Where’s the distillery setting located?”

            I opened the panel and showed him the current settings.

            He looked at it before he checked something on his phone. “Did you change this?”

            “No.” I shut the panel and locked it. “Why?”

            “One of our distributors said the last shipment tasted like shit.”

            “Maybe they just have shit taste.”

            “We’ve been doing business with them for decades…they wouldn’t lie about something like that.” He slipped his phone into his back pocket before he stepped away. “I’ll figure it out.”

            “Cane?”

            “Yeah?” He turned back to me.

            “Have you talked to Crow?”

            “I always talk to Crow.”

            “How’s he doing?”

            “He hasn’t been at work in two days…so I think you know the answer to that.”

***

            I walked past the restaurant, which was full of people who’d come for the first day of spring. It was the first day we officially opened for business again and everyone seemed to put it on their calendar. Not only was the restaurant a great source of revenue, but it was a way great way to promote the wine.

            My boots had just hit the cobblestone when I spotted a man walking to the warehouse, dressed in all black with jet-black hair. Crow and Cane looked a great deal alike, but they each had their own distinct presence. Even looking at him from behind and from a distance, I knew it was Crow.

            He walked into the warehouse.

            A minute later, I stepped inside and found him at one of the table, flipping through binders as if searching for something.

            I slowly approached him, unsure what to say now that he was officially back.

            Even though he knew I was there, he continued to read the paperwork and ignore me.

            “Did Cane figure out what went wrong with the batch?”

            “No.” His eyes remained down. “So now I have to figure it out.”

            “I can work on it if you’d rather—”

            He looked up at me with a gaze more calloused than sandpaper.

            “Nevermind.” I stepped away before he could scream at me. I hadn’t seen this version of Crow in a long time, since before I married his daughter. Now he was back—and he was bleaker than ever.

***

            At the end of the workday, I stepped into his office. The door was cracked open so I tapped my knuckles against the wood.

            Crow continued to work on his laptop, typing out an email.

            When he didn’t scream at me to leave, I took that as an invitation. I approached the desk and took a seat in one of the armchairs.

            His fingers typed quickly until he was finished. “What?” He continued to work on his computer and move onto some other task.

            “Crow.”

            “What?” Now he turned to look at me, his eyes venomous.

            I missed the man that I knew just a few days ago, the one that loved me like a son. That man was dead. “I just want to know how you’re doing—”

            “My wife is sleeping at your house. How the fuck do you think I’m doing?” He raised his voice, loud enough that his assistant and everyone down the hallway could hear.

            I didn’t snap back or rise to his ire.

            He continued to stare me down like I was the enemy.

            “Pearl didn’t say what happened between you, but she did say everything was fine and she would go home in a couple days…”

            He continued to burn me with his eyes.

            “I just wanted you to know that—”

            “I’m not afraid to lose my wife because she knows what would happen if she tried to leave me. But that doesn’t mean that our separation is as painful as a fucking divorce. I haven’t called or text like she asked—and she hasn’t called or texted either. If the purpose of this is to punish me—then it’s been a grand fucking success.”

            “I don’t think that’s what she’s doing—”

            He slammed his hand down onto the desk. “Sure fucking feels like it.” He slammed the top of his laptop down then sunk into the chair, his elbow on the armrest, his fingers resting against his dark jawline.

            “Crow, can I ask what happened?”

            He stared past me.

            “I won’t tell Vanessa—”

            “Some women tried to fuck me and I didn’t tell her about it—so she crucified me.”

            “How did she find out—”

            “I told her. I told her because my dumbass brother said I should. Last time I ever listen to that moron…”

            “Nothing happened?”

            He turned his ice-cold gaze on me.

            “I assumed, but I—”

            “If you assumed, you wouldn’t have asked.”

            “I’m just trying to understand why Pearl is so upset—”

            “Because these women who tried to fuck me were women she knew as well—and I kept that from her. So apparently, that makes me the worst husband that’s ever lived. She leaves me like I fucked another woman when she knows damn well she’s the only woman I want to fuck…”

            I’d never heard him talk this way, and since I saw him and Pearl like parents now, it was a bit uncomfortable. “I’m sure she’ll be back soon.”

            “What’s she been doing over there?”

            “She hasn’t left the house since she came.” 

            “Yes, I saw that…”

            “She helps with the kids at night so we can go to dinner…stuff like that. Vanessa has asked her about the problem multiple times but Pearl continues to protect your privacy.”

            “Fucking hypocritical not to tell Vanessa…but whatever.”

            “Why is that hypocritical?”

            All he did was shake his head. “Forget I said anything…” He got to his feet. “I’m going to head home. I’ve got a bottle of scotch waiting for me and a nice dinner date with Lars…” He walked around the desk and grabbed his phone along the way.

            “You want me to say anything to Pearl?”

            “No.” He turned back to me. “She said she didn’t want to hear from me—and she’ll get her wish.”

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