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The two went to Home Depot and Giovanna had Cam’s name added to her charge card, a relatively safe way to give him autonomy in his projects. A few days went by and he got a solid idea of what he would need for each project, but given the quantity of materials he would need, he decided to purchase for one project at a time. He started out replacing the old, rotted-out wooden banisters with iron ones, not a terribly difficult job, but certainly a time-consuming one given his lack of aptitude with tools. Much to his relief, Giovanna never pressured him; he would come to see why soon enough, but she was seemingly in no rush to have him out of her house.

As time went by, Cameron found himself reverting back to his former self. Thoughts of revenge had all but left him, and in their place he found his natural charm and charisma again. He and Giovanna talked while he worked on his projects, which were starting to occupy less of his time each day. He worked during the daylight hours so as to save on electricity, but it was winter and daylight was a precious commodity. There would even be a couple of days here and there where the sky would be particularly bleak, and she would invite him to join her on the couch and just chill all day.

Thanksgiving was approaching, and Giovanna asked Cameron one day if he had any plans. “No, most of my people don’t even know I’m out of jail yet,” he responded with a forlorn tone.

“I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll be going to visit my family in Jersey… would you…” She hesitated before continuing. “Would you like to come with me?”


“Come with me, you know, as a friend.”

“Ohhh, so we’re friends now,” he retorted sarcastically. “I thought I was just your handyman?”

Giovanna looked at him for a moment, and then giggled. “What’s so funny?” he said with a chuckle of his own.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen you smile since you’ve been here.”

“Huh, you’re right… I can’t say life has given me a whole lot to smile about lately. But, given the nature of the occasion, it would only be right that I show my thanks for all the help you’ve given me. If you would like me to, I will go with you.”

“Thank you, I would really appreciate that.” She turned to go into the kitchen, but stopped short. “Can I ask you something first, though?”

He laughed. “You just did.”

“I know we’ve gotten to know a decent amount about each other since I’ve been here, but do you know how old I am?”

“Do I need to?”

“Need, perhaps no, but maybe I’m a little bit out of your comfort zone.”

“All right, humor me: how old are you?”

“I’m forty-four.”

“And I’m twenty-seven. Does that bother you?”

“Should it?”

“You asked the question. Besides, we are just friends, right?”

Giovanna shook her head. “Exactly, we’re just friends.” He might not have picked up on it, but she was trying to convince herself more than him. Somehow, some way, she had started having feelings for him, and his household chores had turned into more of an excuse to keep him around. She should have been pressuring him to find a job during all the free time they spent together, but she never did because she didn’t truly want him to leave.

Finally Thanksgiving Eve came, and the two drove into downtown Philadelphia to catch a train to Cherry Hill, where her relatives would pick them up. They got off the train and were greeted by ataşehir escort two women who Cameron guessed to be Giovanna’s sisters off a glance, which she confirmed when she introduced him to them. “Michelle, Carla, meet my friend Cameron. He’s helping me with some things around the house.”

“Ohhhhhh,” Carla cooed, “you went and got yourself a maintenance man, huh?”

“Shut up,” Giovanna hissed. “And you, you’re supposed to defend me!” she snapped at Cameron, who was laughing right along with Michelle and Carla.

“I couldn’t help it; come on, that *was* kind of funny.”

The four traded banters on the drive to Giovanna’s parents’ house in Cape May. Cameron immediately felt at ease; if the rest of the family was as easy-going as these two were, he had no doubts that he would be able to enjoy himself.

The drive was not very long, and they were at the house within an hour. Cameron was amazed; the house was huge and located on a decent expanse of land. There were some folks in a field playing football, but the majority of the family was inside. Cameron met Kevin, Giovanna’s brother, and her other sister Keisha, and all of the various spouses and children, many of whom were around his age. He learned that Giovanna was the youngest of seven, with Gloria due to arrive in town on Thanksgiving Day, and her oldest brother Jeffrey having died in Desert Storm.

Eventually Cameron came face to face with the patriarch of the family. Giovanna gave her father a hug and introduced the two of them. Very few people could keep their heads level and look Cameron in the eye, but Papa Lawson was one of them. He was 6’6″, perhaps 6’7″, and just plain big. Not ‘fat’ big, but ‘built’ big, like he made a living at manual labor over the years. They shook hands and Cameron felt his powerful grip, most likely a sign of who at least *he* felt the true man in his daughter’s life was.

Eventually everyone came inside and sat down to eat dinner. Everyone’s attention seemed to be keyed on Cameron, especially Carla. “So, maintenance man, what kind-“

“My name is Cameron,” he said with more than a slight sneer.

“I’m sorry, Cameron,” Carla continued, “what kind of work does my sister have you doing?”

“Just some general home repairs and upgrades… nothing too deep yet.”

“Really? Any pipe work?”

The innuendo was not lost on Cam, who shot back with “Why, are you hiring too?”

A collective gasp went up around the table as the two sparring partners glared at each other. Wit was certainly not one of Cameron’s weak points. “But, in order to clear everybody’s collective minds, we are not sleeping together. Giovanna and I are just friends, and plan to stay that way.” His last comment was made with a subtle hint of emphasis, which Giovanna quickly picked up and co-signed on.

“Well, let me ask you this, Vonni,” Keisha asked, “why bring a man home to meet the family if he’s ‘just a friend?'”

Giovanna opened her mouth to answer, but Cameron cut her off rather brusquely: “That leads into a story I would rather not tell at the moment.” Keisha insisted yet again, and Cameron was now becoming more than a little agitated. “Like I said, that is something I don’t feel like talking about.” With that he excused himself and went outside. Giovanna waited a few moments then followed after him, the snickers of her relatives ringing in her ears.

She found Cameron ataşehir escort outside on the porch, and she put an arm around him. “You OK?”

“I will be.” He let out a deep sigh. “I’m coming off a bad chapter in my life that I would rather close the book on. It doesn’t help when people keep asking about it.”

“Well, have you ever tried talking to anybody about it?”

“What the… I just said I don’t *want* to talk about it,” he snapped.

“I see… well, I’m never too far away if you change your mind.”

“I thought you knew the whole story.”

“Oh, I’m sure I don’t, but I don’t want to pry it out of you.” She sat on the step with him for a few minutes, just holding him. She started to get up, but Cameron held her down. “What is it?”

He let out a long sigh. “Lynette.”


“Her name was Lynette, and she was this married woman I was sleeping with. She was a year or so older than you, I think. We met the night of my twenty-fifth birthday. She bought me a drink, we chatted for a while, she talked about how lonely and unsatisfying her marriage was, and before the end of the night we were naked in the back seat of her car. We couldn’t get enough of each other after that: the sex was great, but it was so much more than that. We actually became really good friends, and although neither of us wanted to say it, the ‘l’ word was definitely in the air.”

“You loved her?”

“Actually, let me rephrase that. I wanted to say it, but I couldn’t for the sake of her situation. She didn’t show any signs of leaving her husband, and I wasn’t going to ask her to. I was content being her secret lover.”

“Why? Why not find a single girlfriend?”

“Because everything between Lynette and I revolved around sex, and that was the way I wanted it. She wanted it all the time, and I wanted to give it to her all the time. I even gave her a key to my apartment at one point.”

“That couldn’t have ended well.”

“I have no way to prove it, but I can safely assume that was what caused everything. He must have found it somehow.”

“Her husband?” Cameron nodded in the affirmative. “About a month before everything went down, I noticed people’s hours were getting cut at the store, which had to have been a sign of bad business. But one day I noticed your husband acting really weird. He was convinced that everything was going to be all right — not ‘might’ be all right, or ‘could’ be all right — he was certain that everything was going to be fine. I paid no attention to it until the trial.”

“What happened the night of the robbery?”

Cameron swallowed hard. “She had called me over to her house, saying her husband had to drive to work so she couldn’t come to my place. She liked to take pictures and video, so we took a bunch of pictures of us fucking in their bed. When I left, the cops were at my house waiting for me. The case against me was pretty weak, but I had no alibi. I couldn’t tell them I had been off having sex with a married woman because that would have destroyed her marriage. So, I was convicted, and at sentencing I saw her husband and your husband shaking hands. That’s when I knew that *he* knew.”

“Oh my goodness…”

“It was so easy to put together after that. He had obviously found my key, and trailed me to my house one day. Then he just left her alone at home, figuring she would call me over and my place would anadolu yakası escort be empty. He went in, stole my gun, and between him and your ex, they planted it at the store and made it look like a robbery.”

“But why Ronnie?” She fought back tears of her own as her voice broke.

“He had insurance on the store, and got a very nice payday from what I heard. In the end, he was just a pawn though. The real ‘bad guy’ here was Lynette’s husband. He wanted me away from his wife and out of her life *for good.*”

“But to go to those extremes…”

“Oh, it gets better. Cut now to how I got out. From what my attorney told me, she found out about his involvement in the whole thing. He admitted it, saying his only regret was not being able to get ride of his cheating whore of a wife. She didn’t take that too well, so she e-mailed the photos we had taken that night to my lawyer. Unfortunately, her husband didn’t take *that* too well. He killed her, and then himself.”

“Oh no… that is so sad…”

“I guess he must have thought she planned on leaving him for me and decided to kill her instead…”

“Was she?”

Cameron paused. “To tell you the truth, it wouldn’t surprise me. We were really, *really* deep into each other.” He exhaled deeply. “I don’t know how I would have taken that.”

“Would you have stayed with her?”

“Of course, I loved her. I was probably even in love with her, whether I realized it or not. In any event I went to jail because of her, and she’s gone, because of me.”

“That is not true!” she exclaimed, tears flowing freely now. “The only person responsible for her death is the man who killed her, and he’s dead.”

“Yeah, but he wouldn’t have killed her if not for her affair with me…” He was now weeping as well.

“You think so? You think if she hadn’t met you, she would still be alive?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what I think!”

“How can you be sure, Cameron? How do you know she wouldn’t have met someone else, fallen in love with someone else? The script would have been the same regardless; you just happen to have been in the cast.”

He took a few deep breaths as he let her words sink in. She was right; if she really was that unhappy, she would have found *someone* eventually. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and besides, how could either of them have predicted things would end up the way they did?

“I don’t know… I would love to believe you. I guess we never know where the path we’re on will end up, huh?”

“No, not never. I know what would have happened had you decided to keep hunting my ex: you would have ended up right back in jail, except this time there would have been nobody to get you off.”

“Yeah, I thought about that. Lynette loved me enough to want to see me out of jail. The least I can do is stay out, for her sake.”

Giovanni smiled and gave him a big kiss on the lips as she pulled him close to her. As he sat in her embrace, Cameron felt a feeling of calm wash over him. Baring his soul was certainly not on his agenda for this trip, but he was glad he had. He felt at peace, finally discarding the need for the vengeance that had consumed him while he was incarcerated. But there was one more skeleton he felt it necessary to let out of the closet. “Oh, and my family?”

“Uh huh?”

“They know I’m out, but they still believe I’m guilty. They didn’t even care enough to send someone to pick me up.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry…”

“Oh well, fuck ’em.”

“Language, mister…?”

“Ha! You haven’t heard anything yet, believe me.” With that they went back in the house to rejoin her relatives and socialize until bedtime.

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