I didn’t have anywhere to go. I couldn’t go back to the hospital because I knew Mason would be waiting for me in the parking lot, looking for a fight. I couldn’t stay at Michael’s because I knew he and Melissa were about to get into the fight of the century. So, I went to the one place I knew I’d be somewhat safe.
When I parked in front of the townhouse, I had stopped crying, but my eyes were bloodshot, my whole body hurt, and I just wanted someone to make me smile. The light turned on in her front window, and she peeked her head out from behind the curtain to see me.
Her eyes widened, and a few moments later she appeared at Michael’s passenger side door. “Why do you have his--what’s wrong?” she asked, brows immediately furrowing. I slammed the car door shut and pulled her into a tight hug, resting my head on her shoulder. I didn’t know what to say, but Serena was the only person who seemed to accept this thing going on between Michael and I.
She cradled me for a moment, then pulled away and tugged me toward the ice cream shop around the corner. “Tell me what happened over ice cream. That always makes things better.”
We walked to the corner of her street to a family-owned ice cream shop called Sprinkling which was known for the sheer number of sprinkles that they smothered on all their ice cream cones.
I slumped onto one of the wooden benches and licked some of the rainbow sprinkles off my vanilla cone. “Melissa knows about me and Michael,” I said to break the silence. I didn’t know if that was a good starting place to talk about the shit I had just witnessed, but that’s the only thing I could get myself to say.
Serena’s eyes widened. “She does? How’d she find out? What’d she say?”
My lips quivered, and I bit the damn ice cream so I’d get brain freeze instead of crying again. My two front teeth stung, and I leaned forward. “She was at the house when Michael and I came home. And she--”
Serena’s eyes widened, a big smile on her face. “Did she see you and him fucking?”
“No,” I said. “I actually caught her with Mason.”
Serena’s face went totally blank, and her cone almost slipped out of her hand. She choked on her ice cream, shook her head, and gave me the most confused expression of the damn century. “What’d you just say? She was with Mason?”
“Turns out that she’s been sleeping with him for months.”
She balled her hand into a fist, and her cone broke to pieces in her hand--the ice cream going everywhere. “Are you fucking serious?! She was fucking Mason, out of all fucking people.” She shook her head, a solemn expression crossing her face. “I… I… I’m sorry, Mia.”
But she had nothing to apologize for. It wasn’t her fault that our best friend was a no-good, betraying bitch who fucked people’s boyfriends and didn’t seem to have a problem with it. I bit my ice cream again, but this time I was angry. I couldn’t believe she’d do this to me. Why would she hurt me like that? Did all our years of friendship mean absolutely nothing to her?
“I don’t know what to say,” Serena said, scooting closer to me and pulling me into a tight hug. “I’m so sorry she did this to you. You don’t deserve that. I’m so disappointed in her.”
I rested my head on her shoulder and stared at the wooden bench. At this point, I felt numb to all this pain. It was heartbreak after heartbreak and I just wanted to spend some quality time with Michael. We didn’t even have to fuck. We could just have some wine and stay up late and make waffles at three in the morning. I didn’t care.
“When I see her, I’m going to--”
“It’s fine,” I said to Serena. “Michael is taking care of her…” I hoped.
After we finished our ice cream, we walked back to the apartment, Damian’s sister was walking out of the house with her newborn, cradling her in her arms. “Hey girls,” she said to us, gaze flickering to me. “You want to see Anna?”
Damien’s sister handed Anna to Serena. Serena smiled at the baby, giving her a kiss on her nose. My lips curled into a soft smile, and I gazed lovingly at it. Her skin was so soft, and she was dressed in a pink onesie. Something so pure in this fucked up world. Serena handed her to me, despite my death stare telling her not to, and I cradled Anna’s head in the crook of my arm.
“Does Daddy Bryne want another kid?” Serena asked.
I almost choked on the air. I handed the baby back to her mother and narrowed my eyes at Serena. “Quiet down,” I said, glancing up at her open apartment window. “Just because Mason and Melissa know doesn’t mean I need the entire world knowing yet.”
Serena said goodbye to Damien’s sister and rocked back on her heels. “That didn’t answer my question.”
“Serena, I have so much going on right now. I haven’t even told him that I love--” My eyes widened, and I stopped mid-sentence. I hadn’t said it out loud yet and I really hadn’t admitted it to anyone else yet.
“You love him,” she said softly. She pulled me into a hug and rested her head on my shoulder. Her vanilla scent was oddly comforting. “Mia, I am so happy for you. After everything you’ve been through, you’ve finally found someone that really makes you happy and treats you right.”