“Dude, we want ice cream.” He shakes his head and frowns at me.
“Right.” I wink at him and begin rolling the soft, purple ice cream. “One scoop or two?”
“Two!” Seth crows at the same time Josh’s mom says, “One.”
“I tried,” Seth mutters, and grins.
I hand him his cone and smile at his grandma. “The same?”
“Please.” She nods happily. “How are you, Cara?”
“I’m great, thanks for asking.” The Kings have always been nothing but kind to me. “And you?”
“I’m staying busy and out of trouble.”
“Sounds boring.” I wink at her as she throws her head back and laughs, taking the cone from me.
“I like you, Cara. I’m glad Josh has found you.”
I feel my cheeks burn as I look down at the ice cream before I meet her gaze and offer her a small smile.
“Come on, Seth, Cara has work to do.” She leads Seth away and I watch them go, happy that Josh’s mom approves of me.
“She’s a nice woman,” Mrs. Baker remarks beside me.
“She is.” I nod and smile down at her just as she glares at the next customer in line.
“She, however, is not.”
I follow her gaze to find Misty next in line, take a deep breath, and mentally prepare myself for her nastiness.
“Cara, how nice to see you.” She throws me a sharp, fake smile from beneath her pink baseball cap. She’s wearing short denim cutoffs and a white sleeveless button-down top, tied above her navel to show off her flat stomach.
“What do you want?”
“Just one scoop. I have to watch the calories.” Her eyes move up and down my body, then she smirks at me. “You know how that is. How’s Josh?”
“Fine.” Do not react to her. She wants to piss you off.
“Well, that I know.” She chuckles and tosses her long ponytail over her shoulder. “Is he going to be here today? Maybe I’ll try to catch up with him.”
“Why?” I ask bluntly.
“Oh, honey.” She tilts her head to the side and gives me a sympathetic smile. “You still think he’s got a thing for you, don’t you?”
“No,” I respond calmly, proud of myself for not scratching her eyes out. “I don’t think he has a ‘thing’ for me.”
“Good.” She takes the cone from me and leans forward, as if she’s about to tell me a secret. “Because he’s been with me for over a year now. He was fucking me when your tree fell, and he’ll come back to me after he tosses your fat ass aside and moves on, just like he always does with the girls he fucks around with. You don’t scare me. You’re just a bump in the road.”
I have had it up to my eyeballs with Misty’s bitchiness. Before she can turn away, I lean back and smirk, announcing loud enough for everyone to hear, “Well, if that’s true, which I know for a fact it isn’t, you must be a horrific lay for Josh to jump from bed to bed, trying to find something better than you.”
Misty’s mouth drops and her cheeks redden in fury and embarrassment.
“You’ve got your ice cream. You can go now.” I glare at her as she turns and stomps away, marching toward her own booth.
“You don’t believe that bull, do you?” Mrs. Baker asks, her eyes narrowed and voice sharp as a blade.
“Of course not,” I sigh, and wipe my forehead with the back of my hand. “She’s just a hateful, horrible person.”
“Good. She’s the most evil thing I’ve ever seen.”
I silently agree and take a drink of water, enjoying the brief lull from people demanding ice cream.
The rest of the afternoon moves quickly as we serve many more customers, chat with locals, and explain just what, exactly, a huckleberry is to the tourists.
At around three, Josh walks around the counter, wraps his arms around me, and plants a big kiss on me, not giving a rat’s ass who’s watching.
“Hey there, handsome.”
“Hey, beautiful.” He kisses my cheek and grins happily. The circles are gone from beneath his eyes and he looks calmer today.
“You look good,” I tell him as I cup his face in my hand.
“You always look good.”
“I wish Misty had been here to see this,” Mrs. Baker comments, and hands a customer his change.
“What?” Josh’s body stills, and he narrows his eyes at me. “What happened?”
“Misty showed up earlier.” I wave him off as though it’s no big deal, but he grips my shoulders in his hands, keeping me in place.
“What did she say?”
“She just wanted to remind me that you’ll be tossing me aside anytime now and go back to sleeping with her, as you were doing when my tree fell—”
Before I can finish my story, he grips my hand in his, pivots, and pulls me through the crowded park, between tents and tables, through the crowd of people toward Misty’s booth, where she has her home-based cosmetics business on display.
Zack is standing nearby and sees us walk past. “What’s going on?”
“I need to rectify something,” Josh replies, his voice low and measured.
Zack falls into step behind us. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
As we approach Misty’s booth, Misty is applying makeup to Lauren, a potential customer, and startles when she sees Josh headed straight for her. Josh releases my hand and I hang back, watching my angry man stomp up to Misty, who is sitting behind her table with Lauren seated before her, holding samples of lip gloss.
I feel Zack step up beside me, but I don’t take my eyes off Josh’s back as he slaps his hands down on the table, toppling pink tubes and jars in his anger, and leans into Misty’s shocked face.
“Who the fuck do you think you are”—his voice is like steel, low and measured—“to tell my girlfriend that I was fucking you when the tree fell on her house?”
Misty swallows hard, her eyes widen, and she licks her lips nervously.
Before she can say a word, Josh continues, “I am sick to death of you trying to ruin the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I don’t know what your problem is, whether you’re jealous or just plain mean, but I do know one thing: you’re fucking pathetic.” He stands tall and looks down at her, and from behind him I can’t see his face, but I do see his hands fisting at his sides. “I never had sex with you.”