“Don’t speak about something you don’t understand, all right? Whatever Katie has told you, that’s all it is…a piece of a much bigger pie. You don’t know me, and no matter what you think, you don’t know her either.”
Chad crossed his arms in front of his chest, not sure what to say next. From the corner of his eye, he could see Katie stomping through the tall grass towards them. The dust from Jay’s car had finally billowed into the garden where she’d been working.
“Are you warning me about her…Jay?” Chad locked eyes with him, his gaze never wavering even though Katie was getting closer with each step.
Jay slammed the car door, wearing a muted grin as he matched Chad’s pose, crossing his own arms and pulling himself up to his full height, at least three inches taller than Chad’s five feet and eleven inches. “She used to be different, that’s all. Calm yourself, will you? I’m just telling you, you don’t know the real Katie. To be honest, you probably never will. The real Katie we all knew and loved died along with her father. My Katie is gone, so like I said, don’t talk about things you only think you understand.”
Thankfully, Chad didn’t have to form a response, not that he knew what he would say to that, anyway. Katie’s feet hit the gravel just as Chad had opened his mouth to speak; however, the look on her face evoked enough uncertainty in him that he swiftly closed it again.
“You said you were picking Mason up at five thirty. It’s only a few minutes past five.” Katie consulted her watch as though to confirm it, lifting her head to glare at Jay again.
“I’m a few minutes early. I wanted to see how everything was going.”
“Everything is just fine, Jay. You can come back in twenty seven minutes.” Katie didn’t look at Chad as she brushed past the two men and headed for the house, where Chad knew Mason was currently packing up his clothes and Nintendo DS to take with him.
“Katie, wait…” Jay’s pleas went unanswered, the screen door banging closed abruptly behind her. Only a defeated sigh sounded in the thick silence between them, and Chad uneasily turned away from the other man, intent on cleaning up his mess near the barn wall and getting the hell out of dodge before this situation got any more heated. Jay, on the other hand, didn’t have the same intentions.
“See? What’d I tell you? She’s impossible.”
“No. She’s hurt. There’s a difference.” Chad didn’t look at him. Instead, he plucked the hammer and tin can full of nails from the ground and pretended to admire his handiwork on the barn wall.
“You seem to know a lot about my girlfriend and her—“
“She’s your ex-girlfriend.”
Jay stared at him, seeming to mull over how to react. Chad couldn’t be sure whether it was humiliation or anger that clouded the man’s clean shaven face, maybe a bit of both. Either way, Chad didn’t fear him, and he stared back, unblinking.
“Good to meet you, Chad.” Jay’s tone was condescending and gruff.
“See you in twenty four minutes,” Chad replied, and the hint of a smirk crossed his face the moment he broke eye contact and turned away.