Frayed Page 75

’’You too,’’ she answers, and quickly looks toward me. ’’Ben, I\ll wait for you downstairs.’’

’’Yeah, sure. Let me take a quick shower and I\ll be right down.’’

The door closes and the sound of her boots click on the tile floor.

’’She\s hot,’’ Kale says.

’’You\ e such an ass**le.’’

He raises his hands in the air. ’’What?’’

’’Forget it,’’ I say, and pull the door leading to the locker room. ’’You\ e just hopeless.’’

’’What did I do?’’ he calls back.

I just ignore him.

’’Hey, why do you call that Kaye chick Kimberly?’’

Again I ignore him and turn the water on, shower, and get dressed.

Curiosity has gotten the better of me. Dahlia couldn\ possibly be here to talk about S\elle, could she? I\m pretty sure that even if we\ve moved past our issues, that would still be one very uncomfortable conversation. We\ve only seen each other one time since she bailed me out of jail and helped me find my way to the path I\m on today. One where my life doesn\ center on booze and chicks, but rather on working hard and trying to make something of myself.

The elevator door dings and, glancing around the lobby, I see her outside sitting on a bench with her face lifted toward the sun. She looks the same as she always does. Her blond hair hangs long, her denim jeans are tucked in her boots, she has on a concert T-shirt and a leather jacket. There\s so much history between us, and when I see her like now, carefree and happy, it reminds me of all we shared. Sometimes I forget she was my best friend for so many years. It\s times like now that I miss that just being able to talk to her.

’’Hey, what\s going on?’’

She lowers her head and pulls her sunglasses onto her face. ’’I want to talk to you about Bell.’’

My stomach drops. So that is what she\s here to talk about. F*k me if this conversation isn\ going to make me squirm. Even though the romantic feelings are gone between us, the fact that I cheated on her has to sting. I know it makes me feel like a real ass**le.

I straighten my stance and fix my gaze anywhere but on her.

’’Ben, don\ be nervous. Come on, let me buy you a cup of coffee,’’ she says, standing up.

’’You mean let me buy you a cup?’’

’’Some things never change.’’

I grin at her. I don\ care if I have ten cents or ten dollars in my pocket, I\d never let a girl pay ever. Starbucks is only a few buildings over in the Commons and the line is fairly short. I grab our coffees and once she fixes hers with cream we sit outside.

I take a sip of mine. ’’Sucks that Jagger had to pull out of the movie. Had they started filming yet?’’

She holds her cup with both hands. ’’No, there was some kind of production delay. But I guess Aerie had a suggestion for a lead replacement and the director is meeting with him today.’’

’’Really? Who?’’

’’Do you know the guy that plays guitar for Ivy?’’


’’His name is Leif Morgan and Aerie and Jagger both think he is a shoo-in.’’

’’Hmm . . . sounds like a good plan.’’ I tap my fingers on the table. ’’So, what exactly do you want to talk to me about?’’

She blows on her coffee before slurping a small amount so it won\ spill. Her eyes lift toward me. ’’This isn\ really any of my business, but I\m pretty sure I know how you\ e feeling.’’

I take a deep breath. ’’About?’’

’’Bell. I talked to her this morning and she told me the two of you started seeing each other. And she also told me about what happened last week.’’

I stare at her for a moment. No need to beat around the bush. ’’So you already knew? About the baby, I mean.’’

Seconds of silence elapse. ’’Yes.’’ She removes the lid from her cup and then looks back up. ’’I found out the day she told me about the two of you.’’

My mouth forms a thin line as I try to control the anger rising up in my throat. ’’And what, you didn\ think I had a right to know either?’’

’’Ben, it wasn\ my place to tell you.’’

I narrow my eyes at her. ’’No, I guess not. It seems it wasn\ anyone\s place.’’ I stress the word anyone.

She ignores my tone, but then again she always was good at doing that. ’’Did you know Bell was in a really bad accident shortly after she found out she was pregnant?’’

I shake my head no.

’’She was. The girl, Stacy, who was driving was killed and Bell was in the hospital for six months. She actually didn\ leave until after she gave birth.’’

The words gave birth seize my attention, and any questions I might have had catch in my throat. I\ve been thinking of nothing but my child for the past week. She searches my face for any reaction, but I don\ have one. I\m trying to process what she just said and I get lost in her words while attempting to work through the events in my head.

Dahlia leans forward. ’’Ben?’’

I snap out of it. ’’When did she get in the accident?’’

’’It was Halloween night our senior year.’’

I swallow. ’’The night you went out with Aerie and came back to the frat house early.’’ It\s not a question.

She nods. She\s already figured it out. That was the night I was supposed to meet S\elle but couldn\ go because Dahlia ended up at the fraternity party instead of having a girls\ night.

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