Different Sides of The Family Room (Niki talks to Simon)

Chapter 19

I fumed in the car while Simon loaded Maddie into his. He knows me well enough to realize how furious I am, but neither of us wants to have an argument in front of our daughter, or in the driveway where the neighbors will hear. So I smiled with gritted teeth while waving to Maddie as they drove off to school. In the kitchen, I ignored the dirty dishes in the sink and the piled up garbage in the wastebasket. Throwing my tote bag on the table, I grabbed my cell phone from it, texted SOS! and waited for Raquel to call.

***

“Oh no, he did not!” was the first thing out of Raquel’s mouth after telling her about the near collision with the trailer, truck, and jet skis.

“Oh yes he did,” I chimed.

“And Simon cancelled the Coronado trip? We made all kinds of plans anticipating having Maddie for the weekend. Our kids will be so disappointed that she’s not coming.  Niki, what are you going to do?”

“He must have put us nearly $40,000 in debt. I still can’t believe he’d spend that kind of money without talking to me first.  He can’t keep them. I think we have twenty-four hours to change our minds about the purchase contract.”

Silence.

What, Raquel?”

“Niki, I’m sorry, but there’s no grace period on new automobile contracts once you drive off the lot. I don’t know about the jet skis, but I’m pretty sure the truck is yours.”

I could feel panic coming on.

“Don’t panic Niki. I’ll talk to Grant. He’s a sharp lawyer. Maybe he knows a way out of this.”

***

At dinner, the only words Simon and I speak are in response to Maddie’s chattering. The tension frizzles through the air, dispersing the aroma of meatloaf and potatoes. After clearing the table, I put a brownie and a small scoop of ice cream in a bowl, handing it to Maddie to take to her room along with a DVD movie. I explained to her that Daddy and I have some grown up business to talk about.

***

Simon and I face each other from different sides of the family room. He starts.

“So, I get it. The jet skis were a bad idea. I’ll drive the rig back tomorrow and return it.”

“It’s a bigger problem than that, Simon. There’s no return policy for trucks or the jet skis. They belong to us. And so does the debt.”

“Niki, the dealer said …”

“Simon, I talked with Grant this afternoon. Once they left the lot, they became ours. That’s the law.”

Simon contemplated this news silently. “Well, I’ll drive them back tomorrow, and see what the dealer says.”

“Grant suggests asking the dealer to consider keeping them on the lot, and reselling them for us. We’d take a loss, but not the entire amount,” I instructed.

“You’re sure you don’t want to see if we like them first, Niki?”

“No, Simon. I don’t,” my voice was icy. I couldn’t bring myself to say the rest of the words.

Just then, Maddie came into the room. “Are you guys fighting?”

“No, honey, Mom and Dad are having a discussion. Go back to your room.”

“Can we keep the jet skis?”

“No honey, they’re going back.” You need to go back to your room and get ready for bed.”

“I hate it when you fight,” she grumbled, and rolled her eyes at me before trudging to her room.

Why am I the bad guy?

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