Me: She just did something to her ankle.
Me: She's fine. She declared it.
Cut: I’m at a loss on how to respond again.
Me: That makes two of us
Cut: Hey. Can you do me a favor for later? Text me when u get home, no matter how late.
Me: No prob, Bob.
Cut. No dude, and no Bob.
I hit the house, and either unlucky or lucky for Chad, he was home.
My girl was at a strip club so my boy was going to hear some words from me. Going inside, Chad was in the kitchen and he froze, seeing me. “Hey.”
Then, he saw me, saw me and he unfroze. His back went to the counter, his hands beside him, and he nodded. “Okay. Let’s do this.”
“Your stepdad’s a piece of work.”
I dropped my bag, my keys, my wallet.
I was tired. I was grumpy. And I was still pissed about being pulled into Margo’s office.
Chad frowned. “Jon?”
I grunted. “Deek.”
“Deek? Deek’s not my stepdad anymore.”
“He was, and he’s a piece of shit.”
Chad’s frown just deepened. “I’m not following this conversation.”
He and I still hadn’t had it out from before, but this took priority.
So I told him. I told him everything.
Me throwing him under the bus, which he snorted/laughed at.
Me going to Cheyenne’s and not getting into it with her because I was getting into it. And I ended it with Cassie, and Melanie showing up at Cheyenne’s, and Chad was grinning by the end.
“So, you throw me under the bus—”
“—because you’re an asswipe and you deserve it.” And he’d show up at the party anyway, and Margo would be gone by the time he did.
He inclined his head slowly at that one, “—and my Not-Sister—”
I’d shared with him how the girls referred to him, the Not-Brother. I hadn’t shared about the Nut-Brother.
“—goes to Sasha’s job to cheer up her friend?” His smile just widened. “I’m thinking you’re right.”
I frowned. “What?”
“You’re right. My mom’s a piece of work, something I’ve always known and never took into account, and you’re right about Deek. That was shitty what he did, and like a fucking bitch. And you’re also right about Cheyenne. I’m seeing that I’m going to have to get to know her because of you, but also, she seems kinda cool.”
Knots I hadn’t known in my shoulders just unclenched. “She’s fucking amazing.”
“Yeah. I’m starting to get that.” He was nodding, and suddenly his eyes closed, and his head fell down. “I’ve been an asshole.”
This talk was turning out easier than I thought. Chad was doing most of the work.
He kept on, “And I know you’re about to lay down some rules, but you don’t have to. I mean it. I get it. It’s uncool that I drop your name at Bresko’s as much as I do. And at Robbins, and at Hank Hamburgers, and well, at a ton of other places that you don’t know about and we should probably not get into that.”
But I was now tired.
I was shaking my head. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’m a dick.”
“I’ll work at not being a dick.”
“That’d be good.”
He waited a little bit, assessing me. “Can we talk about Sasha, because I’m all sorts of fucked up about her. She’s got my head spinning, and man.” He let out a breath, giving me a rueful look. “I don’t know if it’s morning or night and I’ve no clue how to handle this shit.”
I was even more tired now. All the shit that’d been building up was gone after this one conversation. Chad would work at not being a dick, and I got my best friend back in one go. Took fucking long enough.
“We got a game tomorrow.”
“Right.” He straightened from the counter, his hands falling down and he was looking around the kitchen.
“So, just one beer for me.”
His head popped back up. A wide smile spread over his face, and he nodded slowly. “Right. Just one.”
We shared a grin.
It was good to have my boy back.
Melanie liked Juna, a lot. Or she liked Juna’s boobs.
She kept trying to talk to them, but she was talking about how much she loved Cassie. How sad she was about Cassie. How she already missed Cassie. How she hadn’t known how much she cared about Cassie until their ‘tiff’ that night.
I was saying ‘tiff.’ Melanie kept saying ‘tits.’
Juna’s boobs didn’t care either way.
And Juna sat on Melanie’s lap, commiserating with her, and it was more of a friend consoling another friend, except for the whole thing where Juna’s boobs were out.
Sasha was frowning at them, then just shook her head. We were in Sasha’s special booth, and Sash was doing paperwork while we both listened to Melanie. Our duties weren’t so needed tonight, since Juna was taking care of it for us, but we were here. We needed to be here. After closing, Melanie was drunk off her ass. She and Juna had moved to a different booth next to us.
Melanie’s eyes were closed, and her head was back.
She was talking all about Cassie while Juna was smoothing out her hair.
“Oh, that’s so sad.”
Three more dancers joined them. All sitting, listening to Melanie talking about Cassie, and a couple of the girls were brushing away tears.
Yeah. We were so not needed tonight.
Sasha was looking at them, too, and she snorted before closing up her paperwork. She reached for her brandy, then turned to me. “Tell me about your man.”
“I never asked you about Chad.”
She snorted. “Bullshit, you did. You called the other day and we had a three-hour conversation about your Nut-Brother.”
Right. I was deflecting here.
She’d returned to the one-word statements. So I had to talk.
“Three nights ago I decided to try with him.”
“Because… I do love him.” Crap, crap, crap.
I whispered, “It wasn’t just an idea back then.”
The music had cut out so she could hear me, and her eyes turned sad.
She grabbed her drink in one hand and took my hand in her other. She squeezed.
I felt it.
I clung to her hand with my other and we sat there like that for a second.
Gah. All these emotions. They were rising up and choking me.
“Girl.” A soft sigh from Sasha.
I felt that in my gut. “Right.”
One of the bouncers headed our way, and he stopped at our booth, taking us in. He saw the brandy in Sasha’s hand, her hand between both of mine, how we were both lounging back, and how neither of us were talking.
“Chicks.” He shook his head and headed out.
The girls said their goodbyes, and one by one, they all started heading out, too.