“He called her a f**king ‘project,’ Matthew! One that he was ‘done with.’ And I’m gonna make a project out of his face. Kate is the best person I know. She puts on a tough front, but inside she’s soft. Breakable. He doesn’t get to treat her like this.”
Underneath Dee’s anger, there’s pain. She’s hurting, because her friend is hurting. I move forward to touch her, to comfort and calm her, but she steps back.
I put my hands up in surrender and try to reason with her. “Drew’s not that kind of ass**le, Dee. He has a lot of respect for women . . . in his own way. He likes to have a good time, no hard feelings. He doesn’t get off on making girls feel bad about themselves. He wouldn’t go out of his way to hurt someone, especially . . . Jesus, especially not Kate.”
“Well he did!”
I shake my head. “Kate must’ve misunderstood him.”
For a moment she just stares. Her gaze rakes over me, up and down, like she’s seeing me for the first time. Then her expression changes from righteous fury to cold disbelief.
And her voice drops to a harsh whisper. “Are you defending him?”
“He’s my best friend. Of course I’m defending him!”
Her chin lifts sharply, almost like she’s absorbing an uppercut. She hisses, “Well then f**k you too!”
“If you think there’s nothing wrong with what he did then you’re not the person I thought you were. Not even close.”
And I shout, “Are you f**king serious right now?”
“Yes! A serious idiot is what I am. To think that I let myself believe . . . I should’ve never let things get this far. We’re done Matthew. Don’t come to my apartment; don’t call me! You and your ass**le friend can just stay the hell away from us!”
Her words hit me like a sledgehammer to the stomach. They’re wrenching. Bruising. And f**king maddening. Dee’s rant continues, but I’m not listening anymore. All I think about is how stupid I’ve been.
It’s almost funny, in a depressing, ironic kind of way. Dee told me—more than once—that she couldn’t do this. That her relationships never ended on a happy note. But I didn’t listen. I heard what I wanted to hear and believed I could change her mind. That if I was charming enough, smooth enough, she’d see—like I did—how great we could be together.
What a f**king moron.
It’s really no different than Rosaline. The red flags may not have been there for the same reasons—but they were there. And I missed them.
“Goddammit!” I kick the coffee table but it doesn’t break. So I kick it again—until it does. The leg collapses and the glass top cracks against the floor, bringing Delores’s rant to an immediate stop.
She takes two steps back, looking cautious—almost afraid that she’s pushed me too far. And I hate that I’ve made her look like that. But I’m too pissed, too disappointed in her to stop. So instead, I lash out.
“You say Kate puts on a tough front but she’s soft inside? How about you look in a f**king mirror, Dee? You’re terrified—nothing but a scared little girl. You’d rather be alone and tell yourself it’s what you choose than take a chance on something that might be better. Something that could’ve been amazing. I have bent over backwards for you! I’ve spent weeks walking on f**king eggshells trying not to scare you away! And where’s it gotten me? Nowhere! You think you’re done? I’m done! ’Cause it’s not worth it.”
Her arms cross over her waist, holding herself together. And she doesn’t look angry anymore. She looks . . . sad.
I take a breath and push a hand through my hair. And I laugh at myself—because I’m an idiot. Pathetic. “I had this whole thing planned. I was going to take you to the boardwalk and win you a bear. I was going to tell you that I think you’re the most incredible, beautiful, fantastic woman I’ve ever known. And I was going to tell you that I’m completely in love with you. And now . . . now I can’t say any of those things.” I shake my head. “Because you’re just waiting . . . . looking for a reason . . . because I can’t love someone who’s so f**king eager to run out the door.”
Her voice is quiet now. Softer. “I told you . . . I told you I wasn’t good at this.”
And mine is raw. “Yeah, well I guess I finally believe you.”
I look into Dee’s honey-brown eyes. Eyes that always said so much, even if she didn’t speak a word. And I turn my back on her. “Just go, Dee. Just leave—it’s what you’ve wanted to do from day one.”
I hear her breathing. Waiting. And then I hear her footsteps. They stop near the doorway, and for a wonderful, awful moment I think she’s changed her mind.
Until she whispers, “Good-bye, Matthew.”
I don’t answer, and I don’t turn around. Until I hear the door close behind her.
I spend the thirty minutes after Dee walks out cursing and pacing and kicking shit around my apartment—generally pissed off at the entire world.
I’m angry at myself for letting things get as far as they did—for losing my patience and my temper—and for even falling for Dee in the first place. My self-flagellation is hot and varied and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense—even to me.