I didn't sleep that great, and was dragging ass to get ready for work the next afternoon. The truth was, I felt guilty and didn't feel like concentrating on anything except for my racing thoughts. Despite everything that happened, I couldn't help but feel like this was all my fault. I knew Katie and I weren’t good together and had no business continuing any type of contact after we broke up. Especially not a sexual arrangement, but here I was several months later. Doing just that. She’d made the last four 1/2 years of my life a living hell and I'd been more than happy to move out once it was all said and done. So what was I doing? Why couldn’t I just call her and end it, like Liza suggested multiple times? Was I afraid of confrontation?
No, it's because I’m a coward. No way around it.
I took a deep breath, smoothing out my bather’s smock as I began walking out of my room in a hurry. I wasn't trying to test Priscilla while my appointment slots were all booked up. The last thing I needed was her bitching about how I wasn't around to check my dogs in. Keys, check. Non slip shoes, yep! Out the door and on to work I go. While riding the bus, I shot Katie a quick text.
SMS: Hey. Dinner tonight? I'm working a full eight hours so feel free to meet me at PetSmart once I'm done.
Tucking my phone away, I hopped out a few stops later. Lord grant me the strength to get through today’s roster of bullshit. With it being a weekend, I'm pretty sure someone called out which means I'll be taking on double the clients. You’d think this wouldn’t be a huge concern of mine, but it is. I like making sure my dogs get an equal amount of pampering. I even sneak services some pet parents can’t afford behind Priscilla’s back, like toothbrushings or deep conditiononing treatments. Sometimes it’s the little things that go a long way.
Thankfully, I got to work with five minutes to spare. Putting my game face on, I apathetically clocked in and raced to the Salon just in time to check in my first appointment. Priscilla shouted out an order from the back, and I acknowledged her in between going over a few requested products and services with my client.
I swear, she has the worst possible timing. At least wait until I've finished! I know she can see I'm busy.
On the bright side of things, my shift flew by. Appointment after appointment with hardly any breaks. I like it that way. I don’t know about anyone else, but if you ask me, slow days bite. Extra cleaning with a zero percent chance of getting tipped.
Before I knew what hit me, I was pocketing the forty eight bucks I made in tips and shrugging out of my bather’s smock. I’d been in such a rush to get out of there I almost ran smack into Katie.
“Surprised?” She cooed with a mocking grin. I cursed under my breath and glowered at her arrogant expression.
“Damn it, you fucking scared me.” I clutched my chest probably a little dramatically. But seriously, I hate being snuck up on. My dad used to think it was the best thing ever to jump out from behind doors and shit. While my siblings shrieked and laughed, I almost always wound up crying, something I was teased endlessly for. One of the first things I tell people now is not to sneak up on me, but Katie doesn't give a shit. I don't know why I was surprised.
“You're fine dude. So why haven’t you been returning any of my calls? A text at least? You tell me to meet you here, but other than that I haven't heard shit from you in days. Did I do something? What happened to you?” Katie followed me out of the automatic doors, and I could feel at least a few of my co-worker’s eyes on us.
It's like people think I can't see them. You're not Casper, assholes. Stare at your fucking hands if you can't get it under control.
“I’ve been busy, Katie. Christ. My life doesn’t revolve around you anymore.” I hissed through my teeth. When I turned to face her, she was tight lipped and blushing profusely. I’m sure if we were in private, she’d have slapped me by now. She always made it a point to let me know my mouth was going to get me killed one day.
“I never said it had to, I just want to be part of it.” She snapped back, crossing her arms defensively. If I didn't know any better, I'd say she looked wounded but I knew it wasn't really about that. Katie was upset she couldn't control the situation anymore.
She had to notice I stopped coming around as often, and how hesitant I acted before we slept together this last time.
But you can’t be I thought to myself. My mind took me back to her choking me within an inch of my life, then fucking my brains out like I never knew what sex was before she bulldozed her way into my bedroom. Cheating on me, only to leave her mistresses and beg for my forgiveness. It was sick. I needed to stop leading her on. It’d never be “just sex” for Katie. She’d always want to pick up right where we left off, and that wasn't possible.
Even if insanely envious Vasilisa wasn't in my life, this had to be done.
I needed to end things tonight. Like I told Liza though, she deserved better than a text or phone call and my mind hadn't changed. So here we were. I scuffed my shoe against the concrete and mumbled an apology to my irate EX.
“I’m sorry, alright? Let’s go grab a bite to eat. We’ll talk more there.” I gestured for her to follow me to the local Denny’s right across the street. Katie stuffed her fists in her pockets and came along without a word.
Dinner was tense. I hadn’t been eating much lately, anyway. I picked at my salad, watching Katie wolf down her green chili cheeseburger. Maybe that was better. As long as she was eating, she couldn’t respond to what I was about to say.
I set my fork down and forced myself to look at her so she'd know I wasn't kidding around. “What we have...had. It’s over, Kat. I can’t do it anymore...” I blurted, afraid I'd lose my nerve if I didn't.
My EX kept eating with her eyes lowered onto her plate. I spread my clammy palms against my thighs nervously, wondering if she heard me.
I waited for her to say something back. Anything, but she just sat still. Quietly. I was about to say her name when she suddenly scowled at me.
“Good. Because I’m done with you anyway. My family TOLD ME I was better off without some bitch ass white girl in my life. Guess you proved them right.” She flipped a switch and went into full defensive mode as she fought with her words, in hopes that it'd hurt me as bad as ending our sex life hurt her.
I just shook my head pityingly. Before I opened my mouth, I remembered she probably couldn’t take the slew of insults I wanted to hurl at her. This was just a bad case of sour grapes. Katie was blaming the produce instead of the farmer’s efforts that made those grapes sour in the first place. She was just that type of person who couldn't accept fault for anything. Rather than engage any further, I scrapped my chair back.
“Dinners on me, lose my number.” I stood and casually tossed a twenty in the middle of the table. I was glad she felt angry, it made justifying my emptiness that much easier. I didn’t look back. I don’t remember the bus ride home, stumbling up to my door despite not having drank or running to my room. I faintly heard Liza’s quizzical voice calling out my name right before I buried my face in my pillow and screamed. I kept screaming until I couldn’t hear my own voice anymore, and I became lightheaded.
Then everything went black.
I heard beautiful laughter. It reminded me of a child’s giggle, but with more substance. I couldn’t see her face, but I knew it was Vasha. The sky above was clear and light blue. Warm wind blew around me as I searched the field of Sunflowers for my friend's laughter. She started to squeal with happiness, and I followed the sound. Within seconds I was rewarded with her thin arms looping around my neck. She felt delicate, but strong. Her lips whispered low, in an alluring way.