Page 22

 Kristen Ashley

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So I interrupted him.
“No, please, Jacob, hear me out.”
He said nothing.
I walked down the hall toward the light coming from my room trying to find the courage to say what I needed to say.
Walking into my room and seeing the pretty I’d wrought with my own two hands, some YouTube videos and a lot of elbow grease, I found the courage.
“This is weird,” I said softly, making my way to the bed. “I know things about you.”
“Girl talk,” he murmured, and I knew he knew what I was saying.
“Yeah,” I agreed, climbing into bed and sitting cross-legged on it.
“Bad shit?” he asked and I felt my head jerk.
“Bad shit?” I repeated.
“She bitch about me?”
She hadn’t. Ever. I didn’t even know if they ever fought.
God, she was so stupid.
“Was there bad shit?” I asked hesitantly.
“I didn’t think so until she dumped me,” he replied and I felt my lips smile.
“That came out of the blue for everybody, honey,” I told him. “Not just you.”
“Right,” he replied, that word clearly a prompt to get on with it.
So I did.
“Just us having this conversation is weird, Jacob.”
“You were once my best friend’s boyfriend.”
“So?” he asked.
“So, this isn’t a thing girls do.”
“You haven’t spoken to her in nine years, and, I’ll point out, Emme, it’s been f**kin’ nine years, which is a long time.”
“You hooked up with her this summer.”
I didn’t have an answer to that “so.”
When I said nothing, he asked, “What’d she say?”
“Elsbeth. Girl talk. What’d she say?”
I was not a psycho. I was an idiot.
I couldn’t tell him that.
Thus I should never have called him.
I didn’t even know why I did, except he was Jacob and I’d always been able to talk to him about anything. The problem with that was, back when, I’d never really had anything deep and personal to discuss.
Now I did but that deep and personal involved him.
I wasn’t an idiot. I was a psycho idiot.
This called to mind the fact that I’d left all my girlfriends in Denver and had not replaced them in Gnaw Bone. It also called to mind the fact that all my somewhat friends in Gnaw Bone were guys who worked at a lumberyard. And this called to mind the fact that not one of them was a candidate for a conversation about a potential new boyfriend I was getting before getting rid of my old one who happened to be one of their brethren, and all the things I needed to discuss.
Primarily, that I’d never had an orgasm during sex and I was worried that was on me, not my partners.
And I didn’t want to disappoint Jacob. Because if I did, that would be an end to him and me. Not the new good stuff we might have. The old great stuff we just got back.
I needed a girl posse.
I didn’t share this with Jacob either.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s just that this is…” I paused then finished, “I don’t want to lose what we have.”
He was losing patience at my evasiveness and I knew this with how he asked, “Emme. What. Did. She. Say?”
“Okay, honey,” he cut off my protest knowing that was what it would be. “I know I dropped a bomb on you tonight, you didn’t hide it. You also didn’t try to escape it. And what we got started from me meetin’ you through her. Neither of us can escape that. But I think, you dig deep, back then you know what was growin’ between us. I don’t know if you felt it. I just know I didn’t. I also know Elsbeth did and put a stop to it. Now I see it, I feel it and I’m gonna explore it. So I dig that this is a shift and you need to talk shit out, this change, how we started. And I’ll give you that, late at night, first thing in the morning, anytime. But to talk it out, just sayin’, baby, you actually gotta talk.”
“I know personal things about you,” I told him.
“Like what? That I snore?” he asked, and my heart plummeted because Dane snored and I hated it.
“Do you snore?” I asked.
“Not that I know of,” he answered.
“So why would you ask that?” I pushed.
There was laughter in his voice when he replied, “Because you aren’t givin’ me shit, babe, so I’m tryin’ to pull it out. Have no clue what she said to you, so I’m guessin’.”
“It wasn’t that you snore, and just so you know, I wouldn’t call late at night to talk to you about snoring. Though, also just so you know, I really hope you don’t.”
“I hope you don’t either,” he returned.
“I don’t snore!” I snapped.
More laughter with his, “Good we got that straight.”
“Talk to me, Emme.”
“I can’t—”
“Emme, I’m lying in bed lookin’ at your kaleidoscope sittin’ on my nightstand, knowin’ you’ve been with me every day for nine years. Which means I wanted you with me every day even when I didn’t realize it. Which means you mean something to me and not a little something. You think I’d make that play tonight if I thought makin’ it would f**k us up?”
“No,” I whispered because I didn’t. He wouldn’t do that. Ever.
And he was lying in bed and my kaleidoscope was there.
Have mercy.
“So, I made a decision and carried it out but I know what’s at stake here and I’m gonna bust my ass to lead this careful, gentle so it doesn’t get f**ked up. I know this is fast, but from here we don’t have to go fast. We just gotta go forward. And we gotta do it honest. So talk to me.”
“I know you’re a good lover,” I blurted.
Jacob said nothing.
So I called, “Jacob?”
“And you’re wound up about me bein’ intimate with Elsbeth,” he said.
“No,” I contradicted.
“No?” he asked.
“Well… no.”
More nothing from Jacob then, “So, fill me in here.”
“It’s just weird,” I shared.
“It’s weird,” he said.
“Don’t you think so?”
Again, nothing until a murmured, but it was a very intensely murmured, “Fuck me.”