This new lifestyle hadn’t been so bad, had it? Clean living! Or mostly clean. Carter had started drinking a smoothie in the mornings—two raw eggs cracked into a blender with a frozen banana and a scoop of wheat germ. It would have been vastly improved by a float of dark rum, but there was no more alcohol in the house: Jennifer had emptied the place out after the intervention, dumping even the vanilla extract and the Listerine. 

Carter drank the smoothie in three lusty gulps.

Eight half-hearted pull-ups on the bar in his closet doorway. More like six, actually, but good enough. 

Twenty strokes of the boar-bristle hairbrush: he was a handsome man. He shot himself a toothpaste grin in the mirror. 

Ding, the grin said. Carter smiled wider.

Michelle had called the house the night before—Jennifer had been in the shower, which was a fucking blessing. Carter’s whole body had seized unpleasantly at the sound of Michelle’s voice. 

“Hello,” she said, confidently. She was always self-possessed, unsettlingly so, which is why her call was surprising, the melodrama of the gesture. 

“You know not to call here,” Carter said, the words strangled. 

Before Michelle could respond, he hung up the phone. 

And then unplugged it. Why not be safe?