I turned, tears pricking at the corners of my eyes, and left, my bag bumping against someone on the way, my eyes pinned to the floor. When I made it to the door, I paused, hoping to hear her call my name, or stand from the table. But there was only the loud jangle of the bell, and I swung the glass door out and stepped into the parking lot, hurrying toward the sanctity of my car.
Driving away, I realized that I’d stuck her with the bill.
Coming down the 195 bridge, my phone sang with Easton’s ringtone. I made it across and pulled into a gas station and dug frantically through my bag, finding the iPhone and answering it.
He said hello, and I tried to speak but hiccupped out a cry instead. Then, the sobs started and didn’t stop until he was beside me at the station, pulling my phone from my hand and wrapping me in his arms.
I pulled the blanket higher up to my chest, and Wayland pawed at the material. “No.” I pointed toward the back of the house. “Crate.”
His ears fell and he turned, his tail pinned in between his back legs. I felt a stab of guilt but said nothing, listening as his nails clicked along the hardwood floors toward the laundry room.
“Here.” Easton came into the room with a box of Thin Mints and a Dr Pepper. “Bringing out the big guns.”
My eyes widened at the non-diet soda. “Where’d you get that?”
“I have a few hidden in the back of a case of beer in the garage fridge.” He winked at me. “Don’t tell my wife.”
“I won’t,” I grumbled, pulling open the box and stealing one hand inside. “She’d tell everyone because she can’t keep a secret.”
“Don’t be like that.” He sat down on the couch next to me and leaned over, pushing my hair away from my forehead. “You were feeling guilty before because you were keeping it from her. Don’t feel guilty now because you told her.”
“I’m not guilty because I told her.” I pulled a couch pillow from underneath my shoulder and hugged it to my chest, studiously avoiding his gaze. “I’m guilty because I did it to begin with.”
“Screw that,” he said sharply. “You didn’t know how she felt. None of us knew how she felt.”
“I don’t know… now that I think back, there were some signs.” Her inappropriate comments about his looks—though, to be fair, she made inappropriate comments about everyone’s looks. Her offer to let him live with her, though she had done the same for me at multiple times in our friendship.
The problem was, Chelsea flirted with everyone. She was nice to everyone. She was crude to everyone. She helped out and fawned over everyone. I had dismissed any clues that had occurred, chalking it up as standard behavior. The only non-standard behavior was that she hadn’t tried to sleep with Aaron, and maybe that was the giant red flag I should have noticed.
“This wasn’t your fault,” Easton said again, his fingers working past mine to get a cookie out of the box.
I passed the entire thing to him. “She hasn’t called me yet. She always calls me by now.”
“Give her time and let her cool off.”
I lay down, putting my head in his lap, and stared at the dark television screen. Maybe I didn’t need to feel guilty about telling her, and maybe it wasn’t my fault that I had sex with Aaron, but all that aside, we were now in this situation and had to figure a way out of it.
From behind us, the front door slammed against its frame.
“Damn, you guys know how to fuck something up.” Aaron’s drawl echoed from the entry hall as his heavy steps moved closer.
“Did you talk to her?” I craned my neck up, trying to see over the back of the couch.
“Yeah.” He took off his baseball cap and smoothed his hair down. “She’s pissed off.” He looked at me. “Next time you plan on throwing me under the bus, give me a heads-up.”
“I didn’t plan on telling her. It just came out that I had done something, and then she figured out that it was you, and I couldn’t lie to her when she outright asked.” I watched as he leaned against the support column, wondering how much she had told him. The chances were high that she’d kept her feelings for him secret and only bitched and ranted about the threesome.
He gave E a hard look. “You fucked me by making me promise not to tell her. Now I look like a piece of shit for keeping it from her.”
“Is she mad at you?” I shifted to the edge of the couch.
“I don’t know. She was too mad at you to talk about anything else, and I probably didn’t help your case any.”