“Oh wow, she agreed?” Jasmine asks Joshua like I’m not even here. Or like I’m just some plaything, not an actual person. “Are we doing this? Right now?”
“No,” I say before Joshua can answer. “No, we’re not doing anything. I’m actually here to talk about something else. Or rather… someone else.”
Jasmine shakes her head and walks over to sit next to Joshua, putting a hand on his knee. “Look, I appreciate you trying to find us another girl, but Joshua made it clear that it’s you or no one at all.”
“I’m not here to talk about another girl,” I say, trying to keep my voice smooth. I want to just start yelling at Jasmine, but I know that wouldn’t do me any good. “I’m here to talk about a guy.”
“A guy?” she asks, laughing a little. “Look, that’s nice of you to offer, but we’re not doing that. Neither of us is comfortable with that.”
“I think you’d be very comfortable with him,” I say with a little smile. “I fact, you already know him.”
Jasmine frowns, finally sensing that she just walked into a trap. She looks at Joshua with worry in her eyes. “Babe, what’s going on? What is this bitch prattling on about?”
Oh now I’m a bitch, huh? Two minutes ago, she’s ready to get naked and fuck me, and now she thinks I’m a bitch? Fair enough. I’ll show her that she’s messing with the wrong girl.
“Jasmine, have you been cheating on Joshua?” I ask straightforward.
“No!” she exclaims immediately, her eyes wide. “Of course not!”
I pull my phone from my pocket and slide it over the coffee table. All the text messages she and Aston have been sending each other the past two weeks are on the screen, making it very clear that they’ve been hooking up. Jasmine grabs the phone and I can see that she’s starting to panic, but she manages to keep her voice cool and collected.
“This is obviously fake,” she sneers. “I get it now. You’re jealous. You want Joshua to yourself again. Well, you dirty slut, you had your chance. He’s mine now.”
Joshua reaches for my phone and takes it from Jasmine, shaking when he scrolls through the texts that leave nothing to the imagination. “Jasmine… is this…”
“Fake,” she insists. “It’s quite easy to make it look like someone is texting you. This is all fabricated.”
“So you’re saying you haven’t been sleeping with a guy named Aston these past two weeks?” I ask, motioning for Joshua to hand me back my phone.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Jasmine hisses.
“Then you won’t mind if I call him over right now.” I shoot Aston a text. We all agreed to start with him, because he’s the one she’s sleeping with right now. If we can break her and Joshua up for good without having to tell him that she was cheating on him a year ago as well, we don’t have to bring in Dshawn and Francesca. I don’t want to break Joshua and to know that his relationship may never have been as good as he believed it to be… I’d hate to hurt him even worse than I am now. If I can let him keep the memories of their previous relationship without tainting them, I will.
There’s a knock on the door and Joshua and Jasmine both look like they want to throw up. I get up to let Aston in, smiling wryly at my friend. This isn’t fun for either of us.
“Hi Jasmine,” he says when he walks in and towers over the two of them in all his tall, muscular glory. “I’d say good to see you, but we both know that’s a load of crap.”
“I have no idea who you are,” Jasmine says, her voice trembling.
“So you’re saying that we haven’t been hooking up every other day for the past two weeks?” Aston asks angrily. “You’re saying that you didn’t specifically tell me that you’re single?”
Jasmine looks up at him through her lashes, her jaw set. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. You’re probably just a friend of Shaughna’s, helping her to break up me and Joshua.”
“Look, Shaugha…” Joshua says so quietly that we all have to strain to hear him. “I don’t know what you’re trying to do here, but if Jasmine says that she didn’t do this, I believe her.”
Crap. Okay, on to the next then…
“Jasmine, you can fess up right now and I won’t have to do what I’m about to do next,” I tell her, praying she will take my offer. “Because I have three more people lined up to waltz in here with proof that you had sex with them. Please don’t make me do it.”
“You don’t have any proof, aside from your friends lying for you and some fake texts!” she screams, jumping up and lunging at me.
Aston grabs her around her middle and shoves her back onto the couch before she can reach me. “Don’t try that again,” he warns her calmly. He doesn’t need to raise his voice to look fucking scary. He’s normally very laid-back, but he’s tall and ripped, so when he wants to be, he can look like your biggest nightmare. “Shaughna, call them in.”
I sigh and text Fran. A minute later, she’s at the door with Thomas, the guy that she and Jasmine had the threesome with. He and Fran were friend-with-benefits before they decided to just go back to being friends, so it wasn’t hard to get him to agree to come.
“I’ve never seen them before,” Jasmine insists when they walk in. “You can keep bringing more and more of your friends in, but I did nothing wrong, so you might as well stop now.”
Fran crosses her arms over her chest and grits her teeth. “Look, Jasmine, I’m all for having all the sex you want with whoever you want, but not when you’re in a relationship.” Her eyes move to Joshua. “Hi, Joshua, nice to meet you,” she says nicely. “In case you’re wondering: I’m Francesca and me and my boy Thomas here had a threesome with your girlfriend six months ago. If you want proof… She’s got a pear shaped mole on her left butt cheek, her right side is ticklish, she doesn’t shave her pubic hair but trims it very neatly, and she doesn’t moan all that much, but she makes a really shrill high-pitched sound when she comes.”
Joshua’s eyes are so wide by now that I’m afraid they might pop out of their sockets. It’s obvious that his mind is reeling. “W-what? Jasmine?”
“I have no idea how she knows any of that,” Jasmine says, starting to run out of excuses. “I swear I never cheated on you, Joshua.”
“Do I need to call in the last one?” I ask her. “Because he actually has photos of the two of you on dates you went on a year ago.” Dshawn found those in his cloud or whatever, because he never deletes any pictures, just saves them online so his phone doesn’t get cluttered with them. He is, after all, an IT guy, even if he doesn’t want to be.
“Dates?” Joshua asks. “A year ago?” Finally, I see the realization hit him that we’re not just putting on some kind of weird show. That we’re serious and that Jasmine is full of shit. He gets up and moves over to where I’m standing. “Show me.”
I open the pictures of Dshawn and Jasmine playing miniature golf, having dinner at a restaurant and making silly faces in the line in front of the movie theatre. It’s so weird to think that they were actually dating for a short while, until they had godawful sex and called it a day.
“Look at the date stamps on those pictures,” I tell Joshua. “She’s been playing you for a year now. And I bet there are way more people and just these four. Aston, Francesca and Dshawn are my friends, Jasmine is right, but they’re not lying. And I never even met Thomas before today. If I can find four people that she slept with without even trying… just think of many there could be. How many there probably are. You deserve better than this, Joshua.”
He nods, his eyes filling with tears. “Fuck,” he mutters. “Fuck fuck fuck.” Joshua takes a deep, calming breathe, but then the anger and hurt take over anyway. “Get the hell out of my apartment!” he cries out. “All of you! Now! I don’t want to see any of your faces ever again!”
“Joshua!” Jasmine cries out. “Please, I swear-”
“Get out!” he repeats. “I swear I will call the cops if you don’t.”
Francesca grabs Jasmin’s wrist and pulls her to the door while Aston walks behind them, looking menacing. Thomas just shrugs and leaves as well. I stay behind for a moment, feeling like crap.
“Don’t,” he bites out, facing me with hatred in his eyes. “You’re such a bitch, Shaughna. Jasmine may be the one playing me all these years, but there was no need for you to march all those people in here. You broke me. Are you happy now?”
“No, of course not!” I exclaim, wanting to cry. “I care about you, Joshua. And I tried to do this without bringing them in, but you wouldn’t listen, and she wasn’t going to confess. And I had to do something before she made you do whatever she wanted you to. Because I’ve been there, Josh. I’ve been manipulated and hurt and used for selfish reasons. It fucks you up. And I know that this hurts, but at least she can’t do even more damage now.”
“And what about the damage you did?” he asks fiercely. “What about you, Shaughna? You just caused me and my girlfriend to break up, tainted every memory I’ve ever had with her the past four years, and you blew up the friendship you and I have as well. How can I ever trust anyone ever again after this?”
“I know how you feel,” I say, Melchior present in my mind. “I once felt like this too. I felt like I could never let myself be vulnerable ever again. And then… then I met Dshawn and suddenly, it doesn’t matter that I’m scared as fuck. He breaks through my walls anyway. And someone will do that for you too, Joshua. Just don’t… don’t let your walls get as tough and tall as mine, because trust me, it hurts to knock them down.”
With that, I turn around and walk out of his apartment, praying that he will be okay.