He barely glances in my direction. “I’m sure it was real tough,” he says sarcastically.
I flinch at his words, anger suffusing me. He can be mad. I’ll allow that. I hid something from him and that wasn’t right. I hid something even bigger that I had no idea existed, and that part can’t be held against me. I refuse to take the blame for something I’m not responsible for. It isn’t fair.
But who’s the fool that said life is fair? Was it me? Because no one has ever told me life is fair. It’s not.
It never is.
“Take me home,” I demand quietly when Tristan still hasn’t said anything.
He starts the car, drives me back to my place, and drops me off, never once saying a word.
So neither did I.
“Your misery is breaking my heart and I’m over it. It’s Christmas time. Not let’s-be-sad-and-cry-in-bed-all-day time.” Pointy fingers nudge my shoulder and I roll it back, hoping to discourage my annoying friend from touching me again. “Come on, Alex. Get up. Let’s go for a walk or something. You need to get some fresh air.”
“It’s freezing outside,” I mutter into my pillow, not wanting to go outside, not wanting to go anywhere. “And suicide rates climb the highest during the holidays,” I add just to freak her out.
“Are you serious right now? Because if you’re even contemplating—“
I roll over, glaring at her. The stricken look on her face is almost comical. “I’m not serious. I’m just trying to get you to shut up.”
Kelli glares right back. When she’s determined to get her way, she’s damn near impossible. “You’re being ridiculous.”
“So are you.”
“A walk will do you good.” She makes like she’s going to pull the comforter off my body but I clutch it close.
“It’s too damn cold,” I remind her. God, can’t she just let this go?
“So? It’s winter, it’s supposed to be cold.” Kelli claps her hands together rapidly, the sound annoying in the otherwise quiet of the house. “Get up, sleepyhead. You can’t mope around in bed all day.”
I have been for the last couple of days and everyone’s left me alone. So why is Kelli so hell bent on getting me out of bed now? “Do you have something planned up your sleeve? Because if you do, I’m so over your trickery it’s not even funny. You can try that shit on someone else.”
“Oh yea of little faith. There’s no trickery or shady business linked to this request. I just want you to get out of bed and take a shower. Maybe do your hair. Get dressed and go out with me to Starbucks. I’m lonely and craving a gingerbread latte.” She pauses, her expression going solemn. “Besides, I miss you.”
I roll over on my side, talking to the wall. “Aren’t you supposed to be at home for the holidays?”
“I’m staying a few extra days just for you, grump.” She claps her hands again and I send her a murderous glare from over my shoulder. “Get in the shower and let’s go get coffee and a muffin.”
My stomach rebels against the coffee and muffin suggestion. “That sounds gross.”
“God, maybe you are sick,” she mutters under her breath as she bustles around my bedroom, examining all the clothes and various crap strewn about. With my luck she’ll rifle through my stuff and find the most incriminating thing possible, like my vibrator or my sexy underwear drawer.
“I’m not sick,” I mutter as I crawl out of bed. I did call in sick yesterday at work, which I still feel bad about but no way would I have been capable of dealing with customers when I was such an emotional wreck. I’m scheduled for tomorrow and I’m definitely going in. I can’t hide away from the world forever.
No matter how badly I want to.
I go join Kelli at my dresser, pulling out a few things to bring with me to the bathroom so I can take a shower as she suggested. She won’t let it go so I may as well give in. “Heartbroken, yes,” I tell her. “But sick? No.”
“Fuck that guy, I’m going to kill him the next time I see him, I swear to God,” Kelli says, sounding downright thirsty for blood. Just like Steven acts when he plays Call of Duty. “Who does he think he is, treating you like such shit, when what happened wasn’t even your fault?”
“He’s allowed to think what he wants.” I shrug. “He needed someone to take his rage out on and I was it.” And I did keep something from him. I can’t blame him for being angry over that.
“He’s a bastard,” Kelli says vehemently. She knew him first yet she’s rushing to defend me. I love her for that. “I want to break his ugly face for what he’s done to you.”
I sigh. “He’s not ugly.” Far from it. He’s the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen—both inside and out. He’s not perfect and he says stupid shit sometimes, but his heart is in the right place. At least, I thought it was.
Now I’m not so sure.
“He’s ugly to me. The asshole,” she mutters. “He hurts you, it’s like he’s hurt me, too.”
“I’ll get over it.” Her words touch me and I try not to fall apart and cry. She’s so sweet to take my side, even when I’m not one hundred percent in the right.
“There shouldn’t be anything you have to get over—you did. Nothing. Wrong.” Kelli slaps the top of my dresser, making the whole thing shake. Ikea may make decent furniture but it’s not that strong.
“See, that’s the thing. I did do something wrong. I didn’t tell him about my past, and to him, that was a lie,” I point out. “Plus, my dad had an affair with his mom.” I still can hardly wrap my head around it. Does Mom know? How many affairs did my father have? Was this the only one or were there others?
I’m guessing there were others but I don’t know. And I refuse to talk to him just to ask. Our communication has dropped off completely. It’s like they forgot all about me. What’s worse? I’m used to it.
Used to their shitty behavior.
So why does it hurt so much more when Tristan’s the one who’s being shitty?
It’s been three days since the Marc incident. I haven’t heard from Tristan since. No text, no call, no casual drop by the house, nothing. No one else has heard from him either. He went back home early for the holidays and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Guess that’s the end of us. Typical, that he can’t officially break up with me. But how do you break up a so-called relationship that wasn’t defined in the first place?
“That he would run away like a little boy and not even talk to you about everything is infuriating. And telling. He’s not ready for this kind of commitment.” Kelli makes a little growling noise and waves her hands at me in a shooing motion. “Get in the shower. Maybe we need to go find a bar. Soak our angry feelings in alcohol.”
I laugh and so does she but in an instant, my laughter turns to tears. And then she’s pulling me into her arms, whispering words of comfort as she holds me close. Repeating again and again that he’s not worth it—which just so happens to be Tristan’s favorite thing to say to me.
Just thinking of him saying those words only makes me cry harder.