Every time I climb into my truck to come here, I get back out and say I’ll make the drive tomorrow, instead. When I’m not so busy. When I’m free to shut down my phone and zone out.

So here I am. Standing here, my whole body experiencing a weird lethargy, trying to stare a hole in the door.

“What is wrong with you?” I mutter, sliding the key into the lock and jiggling. “Standing out here like a goon…”

I know the second I step inside the apartment and don’t feel the usual crackle of rightness. I know why I haven’t come here. Or why it just feels like four overly decorated walls and nothing like it used to.

Addison isn’t here.

Feeling like I’m in a daze, I close the door behind me and leave my briefcase sitting on the dining table. I go into the kitchen and flip on the master switch for all the decorations, hoping to revive that sense of calm I used to get. But everything sounds tinny and kind of terrifying, like a haunted carnival.

“Dammit.” I turn off the cacophony of sounds and the place goes silent. So silent, I can hear the television next door, a cat meowing behind the building. “I’m a jackass.”

Deep down, I know I’ve been coming to this place only because of my best friend, haven’t I? It’s why I let a week pass without making the short journey. She’s the only reason this goddamn two-bedroom in Eastside ever felt like home. Now it’s got that same cold, expectant air as the mansion. Before Addison moved in, anyway. Last week, nothing about it struck me the same way it did when Naomi and I met the realtor.

No, it was better. Brighter. I could see possibilities that weren’t there before.

Because of her.

I lean back against the kitchen cabinets and drag my hands down my face. When did I grow a beard? I have a vague recollection of my father telling me to shave, but it went in one ear and out the other, like everything else this week.

What the hell am I going to do? I miss my best friend. I can admit that much to myself. Now that I’ve stopped drowning myself in work, it’s finally becoming apparent how much. A slice was cut in my stomach when she walked out of the mansion last week and it yawns wider every time I breathe. Her mean remarks and grudging smile are what make me happy. Sitting beside her on the couch, making ornaments, cooking—activities we never did in my home growing up. Addison gave those to me and I don’t want to give them up. I don’t want to give them up with her, because I’d be fooling myself if I said cooking with Chris and Lydia would be just as satisfying.

Even best friends don’t see each other every single day.

Addison was right about that. Yet I can’t deny having somewhat of a…preoccupation with her. Questions that travel through my head on an hourly basis include: Which bedroom is she sleeping in? What if she twists her ankle while jogging? Is she still sitting on the third-floor balcony at night?

The answer to that last question is yes. She is. I gave in on the second night and drove past the house. Twice. That’s what a man does when he misses his friend, right?

Wrong.

I can’t keep pretending that there isn’t more to my relationship with Addison. There’s attraction. Jesus Christ, is there attraction. Ignoring it stopped being possible at some point before the election and now it’s what keeps me awake at night. The way her body arched on my desk, her eyes teasing me. Her frown. And goddamn. Her wet little pussy keeps me tossing and turning more than anything. How her body could welcome me so sweetly while barely fitting what I’ve got…I can’t stop thinking of how incredible every thrust felt. How she encouraged me to be rough, in a way I’ve never been with a woman.

The way I miss her is so much more than sex, though. It’s everything that came before we went there, right down to that thing she does with the glue gun, drawing it like a Wild West outlaw and quoting Dirty Harry.

Before I can think better of it, I’m on my feet and moving toward her bedroom. My hand pauses on the knob, though. “This is an invasion of privacy. You should not be doing this.” My hand drops, but immediately returns. “I’ll confess and apologize someday when she’s in a good mood.”

That’s if I get to see her again.

The abrasive thought is what pushes me into the room, the scent of her lighting me up like a thousand-watt bulb. There are no sheets on the bed, which I’m surprised to find disappoints me. What was I going to do? Sniff them? I wonder what the people of Charleston would think to know they elected a secret sheet fetishist.

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