past, Alex," said Josephine. "We're moving on. Right, Ras?"
Ras looked at his wife. Her eyebrows were raised. He nodded and grabbed her hand.
"We're working on it." Dessert and coffee were served, and the conversation turned to cheesecake and espresso and the beautiful sunset they could see from the porch of the open-air restaurant. But Ras's mind was still on Alex. He could not shake the feeling that Alex had ulterior mo tives for traveling with Birdie to Jamaica. And he just didn't like the idea of her spending too much time alone with his wife.
Ras took a deep breath and dismissed the feeling. The important thing was that he was doing the right thing now. It didn't matter what Alex said. It didn't matter if Cleo wrote ten more books. What mattered was that Ras had no secrets. He had been faithful to his wife for nearly a year and they were moving into a new chapter in their lives.
Ras felt his cell phone buzz in his pocket and tried desperately to ignore it. He'd promised his wife he would stop answering his phone and checking text messages during meals. The phone stopped ringing and then he heard a text message chirp. Alex and Josephine had their heads together, whispering about something. Ras took the opportunity to ease his cell phone out of his pocket and unlock it.
I like your hair like that. Did you cut it?
Ras's hand flew up to his head and then he whipped his neck around to see who else was in the restaurant.
"What's wrong?" Josephine asked.
Ras shook his head and kept looking around. Who would be texting him about his haircut? He looked down at the phone. The text message came from a number in Jamaica. Ras racked his brain to think of anyone in Jamaica who would text him and came up empty. It could have been a wrong number. Ras exhaled.
"I'll be right back," Ras said, excusing himself from the table.
He walked quickly to the back of the restaurant, typing out a message on the way.
"I'm pretty sure you have the wrong number."
He hit SEND and then pushed in the door to the bathroom. He ran water over his face, wiped his face and hands with a paper towel, and then checked his face in the mirror. His heart was still racing and he couldn't seem to calm himself. It was just a wrong number, he said out loud. And what if it wasn't? What if it was ... her?
The last time Ras saw Cleo, he didn't tell her it was over. He had no idea what she was capable of. So he went out of his way to make her think there was nothing unusual about the visit. For ninety minutes, he'd engaged in every twisted sexual fantasy he could possibly imagine and, as usual, Cleo didn't deny him anything. He kissed her on her forehead when he left, as always. She told him she loved him, as always.
And when he pulled up to his house, he jumped in the shower and was clean and dressed just as the movers arrived to pack up all of their belongings. He changed his cell number and instructed his bodyguards and drivers-anyone Cleo had access to-to do the same. Within forty-eight hours of their last sexual encounter, he was sitting on the front porch of the house on a former sugar plantation in Saint Catherine Parrish. Just as quickly, he'd put Cleo out of his mind. Or at least tried to.
Completely forgetting Cleo had been impossible. For the past year, as he repaired his relationship with his wife, he dreamt of his mistress nightly. He had orgasms in his dreams, waking up and quickly stripping the bed before Josephine could find out. One night several months ago, he broke down. He flew out to New Jersey and found out where Cleo lived. He was halfway to her house when he turned back around and headed to the air port. He Googled her often, tracking her whereabouts through the blogs that always posted items about her.
Lately, Ras had been wondering if he'd ever be completely free of her. Would she always cast a shadow over his life? And now, one year after he'd walked away from her and rededicated himself to his marriage, he felt like he might know the answer.
Ras left the bathroom and began walking back to the table. His breathing was controlled and he'd stopped sweating. Cleo had not won. He wasn't over her yet. But she had not-Ras's cell phone chirped again.
"I can't believe you would have dinner with Alex but not with me ..."
Ras clenched his teeth and marched through the dining room, his eyes trained on the table where his wife sat. If that bitch was anywhere near his