She’s about to ask what he means. It’s right there on the tip of her tongue. But she stops short and says, “I don’t want to fight.”
This just pisses Warren off more. “Of course you don’t want to fight. You don’t want to do anything with me these days! You’re too busy to go anywhere—”
He ignores her. “You don’t want to argue, or talk; you don’t want to have sex . . .”
Kate’s cheeks flush pink, but I can’t tell if it’s because she’s embarrassed or mad.
“All you want to do is look over your f**king files and decide what suit you should wear to the office.”
“That’s not fair!”
“I know business is a man’s world, but I didn’t know you had to dress the part.”
Delores jumps in. “Don’t be a dick, Billy.”
“Stay out of it, Dee-Dee.”
With fire in her eyes, Kate gets in her financé’s face. “Screw you.”
He laughs in a bitter way. “Interesting choice of words. I’m not sure who you’ve been screwing lately, but it hasn’t been me.”
Kate stands up and rips her purse off the back of the chair. “I’m going home. Good night, Matthew. Dee, I’ll call you.”
As Kate walks out the door, Warren stands up to follow her, but Dee grabs his arm.
“Billy! Don’t . . . don’t say things you can’t take back . . . things you and I both know you don’t mean.”
All he does is nod. Then he’s out the door too.
Dee takes a long drink of her martini. “Well, that just happened.”
“Think they’ll be okay?” I ask.
“No. I’m sure they’ll make up, stay together—do the long-distance thing. But they haven’t been okay in a long time. Their relationship is like a morgue . . . lifeless. And Billy’s right. I can’t remember the last time they argued before tonight.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?” I wonder, finishing off my beer.
“Not for them. They don’t not argue because they’re happy—they don’t fight because, I think, deep down where neither of them wants to admit, there’s nothing worth fighting for.”
The most successful marriages and relationships are between best friends—who want to f**k each other. Trusted confidants who can’t keep their hands off each other. When you’ve been with the same person for years, it’s supposed to get comfortable. Broken in. Like a well-worn favorite pair of sweatpants.
But there has to be heat—desperate attraction. A craving need. Sometimes, like Steven and Alexandra, it comes in waves. They indulge it, when the demands of life let them. But if the passion is gone and you can’t be bothered to even try and rekindle the flame—all you have is friendship. Companionship.
At eighty years old, that may very well be enough. But at frigging twenty-five? You’re just settling for the status quo.
“You ready to head out?” Delores asks.
“Yep. Looks like it’s just you and me tonight.”
She pumps her fist. “Weekend warriors . . . on a Wednesday. Let’s do it.”
Delores and I spend the next few hours bar-hopping. We play darts and pool. She takes me for fifty bucks on our last game because I didn’t realize I was dealing with a practiced hustler.
I should have known.
Ultimately we end up at a club—pressing and grinding together on the crowded dance floor. But the whole time, Dee’s more subdued than usual. She seems weighed down. Disquieted. Not the unpredictable and jovial girl I’ve come to know the last few weeks.
I call it a night—much earlier than past years—and we go back to her place. Once there, we crash on the couch and talk about nothing . . . and everything. Eventually, the subject of pets comes up, and I tell her all about King, the massive black Great Dane I grew up with. I genuinely loved that big hairy bastard, so I’m kind of horrified when Delores tells me, “I never had a dog.”
“Really? Never? Not even like . . . a Chihuahua?”
She shakes her head. “I had a hamster—they’re pretty self-sufficient. My mother never wanted the responsibility of a dog. Plus, there was the drool phobia.”
I grin, ’cause I can already tell this is gonna be a good one.
“Drool phobia. I have a long-standing aversion to any man or animal with over-productive saliva glands.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“I can handle wet kisses—you already know that. They’re hot when I’m caught up in the moment. But too much saliva is nasty. And spitting, drooling—those are deal breakers. Makes me nauseous.”
Delores isn’t bothered by dirt or sweat or sloppiness. She’s not afraid of rodents—even the cat-size rats that scour the city and are pretty f**king frightening if you ask me. She’s in love with my motorcycle and actually likes snakes. So, I can’t help but find this quirk—this chink in her otherwise “doesn’t give a shit” armor—cute. Funny.
And I want to f**k with her about it.
The nine-year-old boy inside me—the one who was amused by dangling a long-legged spider in Alexandra’s face, despite the consequences that always followed—takes over my body. It’s the only explanation for what I do next.
“So . . . it would bother you if I did this?” I scrape my nasal passage loudly then hawk the thick ball of phlegm up to the back of my throat.