I pulled my fingers through my hair, hating that my timing seemed to be off all night long. Still listening to him talking, I closed my eyes and stretched my arms over my head, then curled my fingers down the side of the mattress closest to the wall. And then I felt something.
When Jonathan finally hung up, checked himself in the mirror, and walked back into the bedroom, I was sitting there, cross-legged, with a pair of red satin bikini panties spread out on the bed in front of me. (I’d retrieved them using a Kleenex: like I’d touch them.) He came strolling in, all confident, and, seeing them, came to a dead, lurching stop.
“Ummpthz,” he said, or something like that, as he sucked in a breath, surprised, then quickly steadied himself. “Hey, um, what-”
“What the hell,” I said, my voice level, “are these?”
“They aren’t yours?”
I looked up at the ceiling, shaking my head. Like I’d wear cheap red, polyester panties. I mean, I had standards. Or did I? Look who I’d wasted the last six months on.
“How long,” I said.
“How long have you been sleeping with someone else?”
“How long,” I repeated, biting off the words.
“I just don’t-”
He swallowed, and for a second it was the only sound in the room. Then he said, “Just a couple of weeks.”
I sat back, pressing my fingers to my temples. God, this was just great. Now not only was I cheated on, but other people had to know it, which made me a victim, which I hated most of all. Poor, poor Remy. I wanted to kill him.
“You’re an asshole,” I said. He was all flushed, quaky, and I realized that he might have even been a whiner or weeper, had things gone differently. Amazing. You just never knew.
“Remy. Let me-” He reached forward, touching my arm, but for once, finally, I was able to do what I wanted and yank it back as if he’d burned me.
“Don’t touch me,” I snapped. I grabbed my jacket, knotting it around my waist, and headed for the door, feeling him stumbling behind me. I slammed door after door as I moved through the house, finally hitting the front walk with such momentum I was at the mailbox before I even realized it. I could feel him watching me from the front steps as I walked away, but he didn’t call out or say anything. Not that I wanted him to, or would have reconsidered. But most guys would have at least had the decency to try.
So now I was walking through this neighborhood, full-out pissed, with no car, in the middle of a Friday night. My first Friday night as a grown-up, out of high school, in the Real World. Welcome to it.
“Where the hell have you been?” Chloe asked me when I finally got back to Bendo, with the help of City Transit, about twenty minutes later.
“You are not going to believe-” I began.
“Not now.” She took my arm, pulling me through the crowd and back outside, where I saw Jess was in her car, the driver’s door open. “We have a situation.”
When I walked up to the car, I didn’t even see Lissa at first. She was balled up in the backseat, clutching a wad of those brown school-restaurant-public-bathroom kind of paper towels. Her face was red and tear streaked, and she was sobbing.
“What the hell happened?” I asked, yanking open the back door and sliding in beside her.
“Adam b-b-broke up with m-m-me,” she said, her voice gulping in air. “He just d-d-dumped me.”
“Oh, my God,” I said as Chloe climbed in the front seat, slamming the door behind her. Jess, already turned around facing us, looked at me and shook her head.
Lissa took in another breath, then burst into tears again. “I can’t,” she mumbled, wiping her face with a paper towel. “I can’t e-e-ven-”
“Tonight, when she picked him up from work,” Chloe said to me. “She took him back to his house so he could take a shower and he did it there. No warning. Nothing.”
“I had to walk p-p-past his p-p-parents, ” Lissa added, sniffling. “And they knew. They looked at me like I was a kicked d-d-dog.”
“What did he say?” I asked her.
“He told her,” Chloe said, clearly in her spokesperson role, “that he needed his freedom because it was summer and high school was over and he didn’t want either of them to miss any opportunities in college. He wanted to make sure that they-”
“M-m-made the most of our lives,” Lissa finished, wiping her eyes.
“Jerk,” Jess grumbled. “You’re better off.”
“I l-l-love him!” Lissa wailed, and I reached over, sliding my arm around her.
“It’s okay,” I said.
“And I had no idea,” she said, taking in a deep breath, which shuddered out, all bumpy, as she tossed aside the paper towel she was holding, letting it fall to the floor. “How could I not even have known?”
“Lissa, you’ll be okay,” Chloe told her, her voice soft.
“It’s like I’m Jonathan,” she sobbed, leaning into me. “We were just living our lives, picking up the dry cleaning-”
“What?” Jess said.
“… unaware,” Lissa finished, “that t-t-tonight we’d be d-d-dumped. ”
“Speaking of,” Chloe said to me, “how’d that go?”
“Don’t ask,” I said.
Lissa was full-out crying now, her face buried in my shoulder. Over Chloe’s head I could see Bendo was fully packed, with a line out the door. “Let’s get out of here,” I said to Jess, and she nodded. “This night has sucked anyway.”
Chloe dropped down into the front passenger seat, punching in the car lighter as Jess cranked the engine. Lissa blew her nose in the paper towel I handed her, then settled into small, quick sobs, curling against me. As we pulled out I patted her head, knowing how much it had to hurt. There is nothing so bad as the first time.
Of course we had to have another round of Zip Drinks. Then Chloe left, and Jess pulled back out into traffic to take me and Lissa to my house.
We were almost to the turnoff to my neighborhood when Jess suddenly slowed down and said, very quietly, to me, “There’s Adam.”
I cut my eyes to the left, and sure enough, Adam and his friends were standing around in the parking lot in front of the Coffee Shack. What really bugged me was that he was smiling. Jerk.
I glanced behind me, but Lissa had her eyes closed, stretched out across the backseat, listening to the radio.