John towered over her by a full foot, and a coldness came off him. Terra and her boyfriend moved into the spare bedroom of the new Balboa Island rental for a few days. Did she realize that kids should be smacked for this?
This made it hard for Debra to maintain the illusion that John wasn’t really living there, though she tried. Terra screamed at her mother: “How could you let this guy talk to me like this?!
She went to bed thinking, “Jerk.” She thought, “Cross off another one.” The next day she was back at her office, a little sad, trying to lose herself in work.
Over the 30 years that she had built Ambrosia Interior Design, it had been her refuge amid many romantic disappointments.
She had been on three other recent dates, but the men were less handsome than their profile photos, and the talk was dull. He showed keen interest in the details of her life and business.
He didn’t want to talk just about himself, even though his stories were riveting.
She felt protective of her mom and wondered why a guy who sounded as good as John would still be single. Why had no one seen John’s houses in Newport Beach and Palm Springs?
Her skepticism only deepened when she and Jimmy drove out to Southern California and met him. As he helped Debra move into her new house, he huffed and strained and wrestled her queen mattress down the stairs single-handedly, a show of ludicrous machismo. She thought maybe they were picking up on her own unease. Why did he seem to spend all day playing “Call of Duty” on the 70-inch plasma TV her mom had bought?
He began spending the night regularly at her Irvine penthouse. She was convinced that her kids would understand how wonderful he was once they got to know him.
Sometimes they pretended to be sincere churchgoing Christians.