“Aspen. What kind of name is that? It’s like his butt owns a writing utensil. Or is a writing utensil.”
Aspen's name is now synonymous with vomit.
I swear to all that's holy if Dahlia says Aspen one more time I'm going to projectile blow chunks all over her. It can't be helped. The physical reaction to--him--is involuntary and violent. She's across the room trying to console me and it's not working. Nothing works. Her precious shifting and running, swimming--none of it do a damn thing to get him out of my head. Eating certainly doesn't help--my stomach rejects it all.
"Cia, you have to get out of here. Tarrow says that As.."
I jump to my feet and point in her direction. "Dahlia, I can make it the five feet over to you and my aim has become extremely precise over the last few days. I could puke into a straw from a mile away. Go ahead. Say the name. But you've been warned."
She rolls her eyes. They are going to get stuck like that sooner than later the way she’s been pulling that move on me lately. She knows nothing about what I’m going through. None of them do.
She has this beautiful mate who is loving and caring and takes care of his shit.
I have Ass-Pen.
That’s the only way I will say his name.
Like he corrals donkeys for a living.
Because he’s the biggest jackass of them all.
“He wants to come see you.”
Well, guess what? I want a lot of things-like a punching bag with Aspen’s face on it. Do I get it? No…
This is the hard part. The part where my bear and I are having a Mexican stand-off. Because she’s fighting herself too. It’s like having a dream about a dream—except it’s a nightmare.
She wants at him—to rake his eyeballs with her claws but also to have him near her and tell her it’s going to be okay.
That one day she and I will be able to forgive him.
Mostly me—the human part of me holds grudges as long as the Mississippi river—maybe longer.
I, on the other hand, wasn’t even sure if I wanted it to be okay.
I wondered if this feeling would ever go away. Would I be sitting next to him while we were surrounded by grandchildren and still not be able to see anything except him with that tramp at the very moment when he was supposed to be only mine?
Because right now that was all I could see.
“I’m not surprised. He likes to see a lot of girls.” I turned to the window before wiping away the ever-present wetness from my cheeks.
“Don’t do that.” Her voice carried concern. All their voices were laden with worry.
“What? Lia? Don’t tell the truth? Don’t say that he is a two-timing, three-timing, maybe even a twenty-five-timing man—slut?
In the reflection of the window I saw her pull the collar of her shirt over her mouth to stop me from seeing her smile even though my back was turned,
My sister clears her throat and shakes her head. “A man slut. That’s a new one. I almost want to write that one down and tell Tarrow.”
“You should. It’s a new one.” One side of my mouth pulls up into an almost grin. Almost is the closest it gets lately.
The silence that followed choked me. I couldn’t help it. There I was on the verge of something great-something that I’d wanted my entire life and he ruins it.
He ruins the Precious.
Oh, Creator, I was starting to sound like Gollum. If my hair falls out and I start that hacking and gagging thing, Aspen’s ass is mine to beat.
It was time to move on. I’d known it for a while, but, to be honest, I’d run out of foul names for my beastly mate. That meant the holding out was over.
“I’ve decided some things, Dahlia.”
She got up and I could hear the squeak of clothes hangers as she filed through my outfits in the closet. Aspen had even ruined shopping for me. I went out a week ago and tried to buy a dress to console myself, but it didn’t work. “Oh yeah? Tell me.”
“Tomorrow I’m going to register for the Fall semester and get a job on campus—and if it’s not too late, try to get a dorm room.”
The last hanger stopped dead.
“Come on, Cia, you’re taking this too far. At least speak to him before you decide to run out like this.”
The vomit bubbled up in my throat again. “No, taking it too far would be moving to Chile and becoming a professional cliff diver. This is preserving my sanity—whatever is left of it. I know I’m going to catch hell from everyone else. Can’t you be the one that doesn’t give it to me? Please?”
She sighed, heavy and long. “So that’s it? You’re ending the mating?”
“There never was a mating.”
Thank the Creator my sister couldn’t sniff out a lie.