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  • Writer's pictureJill Marie Denton

His Three Friends | May 9, 2020

Part Five

Once the prayers were said, the flowers were laid on the aloft casket and the onlookers left, I remained at the gravesite. Sam’s body rested inside the walnut lacquered box, ready to be lowered into the earth an hour later. I wasn’t sticking around for that. I’d be at the airport, ready to move on at long last.

“Miss, your paperwork is all set. If you’d follow me?”

An attendant approached my left and gestured toward the office building alongside the road. I nodded, making a valiant attempt to smile, as he walked on ahead to show me the way. I glanced over at my waiting car, knowing my carryon bag was tucked inside.

A few more minutes. I could make it a few more minutes.

“Hey, you got a second?”

Glancing back at the call, I watched Shawn rush toward me from grass to blacktop, dressed in black slacks and a slim button down. A smile ghosted his lips as he approached but it never reached his eyes.

I nodded at him. “I gotta handle this paperwork but I’ll be back in a few if you want to hang out. If not, I get it.”

“No, I’ll stick around,” he replied. “I’ll wait for you.”

I tried for a smile of my own and turned back to the attendant, who resumed his path back once I was in tow again.

Over my shoulder I heard a few more male voices, namely Mark and Rex, but I was too far gone to bother turning around again. I just wanted to get this whole thing done with.

I left the boys to chat in the parking lot as I disappeared into the office building.

Twenty exhausting minutes later, my lawyer and I signed on the bottom line. With the death certificate notarized, the settlement ironed out and the payments made, the weeks of waiting could finally be over. I lifted the pen and signed his life away, my heart well and truly broken in half.

On the walk back out, the lawyer handed me the burner phone I’d requested. It would only ring in dire emergencies, the ones I’d rush home for. And there weren’t many on that list. He deleted my phone number from his phone as we walked back to the lot.

Once his Audi disappeared from the lot, I released a deep breath. I could’ve looked over my shoulder at the casket again. I could’ve said goodbye to him again. But I’d grieved for so long already. I was empty. And I hoped he’d understand.

My path to the waiting car was interrupted by Shawn’s voice. “Hey. You all right?”

I turned to his voice, watching all three friends approach me with their shoulders nearly touching. Shawn eyed me sympathetically, Mark shifted awkwardly on his feet in his prim dress uniform and Rex folded his arms over a simple black suit’s lapels.

“Yeah, sure, whatever. My car’s waiting. There’s nothing left for me here.”

Shawn nodded as Mark exhaled, his lips tucked between his teeth.

“You sure you don’t need anything else?” Rex offered, his hands moving to his pants pockets.

I almost scoffed. I almost did. But I was so close. I’d come so far. I wasn’t wrecking this now. “No,” I murmured, stepping up to him and resting my palms on his biceps. “You did plenty. Thank you.”

When I placed a pert kiss on his lips, Mark and Shawn’s brows lifted.

Next was Mark. I stepped up close as his eyes widened, my palms moving to his padded shoulders. I kissed him too, a chaste but impactful one.

Shawn’s fists clenched as I rounded on him. Though shock tinted his cheeks, he accepted my kiss without qualm.

“I know you lads already compared notes,” I mused, stepping back. “Now, I really have to go. Take care of each other.”

I turned my back on them, beginning on the path to the car with a hidden grin.

Rex’s voice rung out behind me. “Hey, one question.”

I paused, frozen for a moment. I’d expected to be stopped but my curiosity couldn’t be quelled. I couldn’t ignore whatever he had to say. Turning slowly, I lifted a brow and crossed my arms, signaling him to continue.

“Who was the best?”

Shawn scoffed and Mark punched his arm, but neither friend argued the question. Clearly, they’d discussed this very subject. The thought of them touting their prowess, comparing styles, pitting themselves against each other made me snicker.

They waited in a semicircle for my reply, the three charming, handsome and successful lads I’d known for so long. The very same lads I’d passed over for someone else, someone who’d made my life worth living for the past decade.

“My husband,” I answered with the first genuine smile I’d shown in months, turning on my heel, releasing a breath and striding off.

{Chapter 1 of my next story coming May 16 - get ready for Garrett!} <3 JMD

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