Frayed Page 105

’’How long have you known you were going?’’

’’My mom asked us all last night at dinner. Jagger\s dad has taken a turn for the worse and Mom wants us all to go to be with Aunt Celeste and him.’’

’’Shit, S\elle, I\m sorry. Do you know how long you\ e going for?’’

’’A week, hopefully less.’’ Not that I don\ want to be there for Jagger, but I need to get back and finish getting everything ready for Xander and Ivy\s wedding.

’’Do you want me to come with you?’’

’’Do you want to?’’

’’I wouldn\ have asked if I didn\ . I\m getting a little tired of asking you to be honest.’’

’’Then I\m sorry to inconvenience you.’’

’’What\s with the attitude, S\elle?’’ He grabs my hand. ’’Talk to me.’’

I search his face. ’’What\s going on with us?’’

He pauses a moment as if trying to figure out where this outburst is coming from. ’’Do we have to define it now, here in the restaurant?’’

’’No. But the mixed signals and blank stares are getting to me.’’

’’My mixed signals? Are you f**king kidding me? This week you\ve been all over the place.’’

I motion between us. ’’What is this for you? Just se*?’’

He hesitates before saying, ’’No.’’

’’Is this about Dahlia, then? Are you not over her?’’ I can\ believe I\m asking him that, but the Romeo comment must have brought it to the surface.

He glares at me. ’’No, I mean yes, I am. You know I am. This has nothing to do with her.’’

The hurt and shock are evident on his face and I want to take it all back, but it\s too late. Maybe I\m not just ready for this. I can\ handle these kinds of feelings. That has become very clear. I stand up and toss my napkin on my plate because something that feels an awful lot like finality courses through my body.

’’Sit down and let\s talk about this,’’ he says, trying to keep his voice controlled.

’’I have to go. I don\ think I can do this anymore.’’

He stares at me in disbelief and even though I know I\m being irrational I lay it all on the table. ’’Look, Ben, I\m not looking for forever, but before I bring you home to my family I need to feel like there\s more than just tomorrow. And I\m not sure you can give me that.’’

And then I leave him sitting in the dining room at Pebbles two days before Christmas. He doesn\ come after me and I remind myself that I knew something like this would happen eventually.

What did I do? Why am I ruining this for no reason? I\m unable to answer any of my own questions. The valet pulls my car up and I get in. As I drive home I try to figure out why I didn\ just tell him the truth that I want him to come with me, to be with me, that all I need to know is that he wants the same. I think about my actions the whole way home maybe I\m just self-destructive. When I drive down Sunset I stop at a light and look around. A purple sign flashes MISTY\S WORLD. She\s a fortune-teller;I\ve passed the place many times but never gone in.

I find a place to park and walk down the street. When I get to Misty\s I take a deep breath and walk in. A bell rings and I look around the tiny room with green walls, fluorescent lights, and stars hanging from the ceiling. A smiling woman opens a beaded curtain and I nod to her.

’’Fortune,’’ she says in broken English.


She goes back behind the curtain and returns with a tiny cup of coffee in her hand. ’’Drink.’’

’’Cream?’’ I ask her.

She shakes her head no and I drink it quickly, not liking the taste at all and even more disgusted by the grinds at the bottom of the cup. She shakes her head at me, disappears, and comes back with another. ’’Drink it slower.’’

I sit down on the tattered chair and take sip after sip. Once I set it down she points at me and then turns and goes back into the room behind the beads. I follow with my cup in my hand. I question what I\m doing here, but the second thoughts are fleeting.

’’Your cup, please,’’ she says.

I hand it to her.

She stares into the cup, and without asking me a single question, she begins to talk. ’’You will find love, but it won\ make you happy. Be patient and let it come to you and you will find true happiness.’’

I roll my eyes because that\s a little generic.

’’Your job has changed in a big way. You have two bosses. Listen to them both.’’

How could she know that? She doesn\ know me from Adam.

’’You will find yourself in a situation you have been in before, and you will handle it much better this time.’’

Another generic statement, but the one about the job still makes me want to believe. She stands and leaves through a door, making it clear she is done with me. When I push the beads aside, a younger girl is waiting for me.

’’Forty dollars please,’’ she says.

I open my purse, a little dumbfounded, and hand her two twenties. ’’Can I ask her some questions?’’

The young girl shakes her head.

I leave there laughing that I just wasted not only my time but forty dollars. I pull out my phone and send Ben a text.

I\m sorry but I knew this wouldn\ work. Please give me time. I\ll contact you when I get back.

I press SEND and resolve to push him out of my head until I have to go back to work.


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