The full version of this short story is available as a PDF download on my Free Reads page.
I got up from the couch to find the TV remote and heard the familiar banging engine of Jules’s old Chevy pick-up out front. Just like that, my heart gave a little jump and I smiled.
I forced the smile away. This wasn’t a happy occasion.
I opened the front door while he was still walking up the steps. He had a huge grin on his face. The grin he always gave me. The one that made me feel special and cared about.
Today it pissed me off.
“Hey, Trinity.” His smile faltered a little, but he got to the door and gave me a hug. “Sorry I’m late. Marybeth’s parents invited me to go to church with them.”
“And you couldn’t have told me that?” I pulled away from him and went back into the living room. I didn’t bother watching to see if he followed me. I knew he would.
“Marybeth just asked me this morning.” The door closed and his shoes clunked across the floor to me. “I thought you’d understand.”
“You and I had plans.” My eyes watered, and I squeezed them shut for a second. No way was I going to waste any more crying on Jules. Not anymore. “You could have told her we had plans. You said she knows we’re friends.”
“Yeah, but she’s my girlfriend.” He put his hand on my shoulder, and for just a second, my heart melted at his touch.
I hardened it right back up again. He wasn’t getting away with anything this time.
“You could have texted or something,” I said. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have.” Now he sounded annoyed. “I said I’m sorry.”
I yanked away and whirled around, rage twisting my face. I wished I’d had lasers to shoot at him, but all I could do was glare. And yell. “You’re right. I shouldn’t have waited. I shouldn’t have been waiting all these months. You promised me!”
My voice broke, and I started to cry. He would see it as me trying to manipulate him or something, but I couldn’t hold it back now that I’d started. Even if I didn’t want to waste the tears on him, I had to let it out.
“I haven’t broken any promises.” He took a step back, looking confused. “Why are you being like this, Trinity? You’re the one person I thought wouldn’t flip out on me.”
“I’m not flipping out. I’m standing up for once in my frigging life.” I took a deep breath. I was going to get through what I had to say if it killed me. “You have broken your promise, Jules. You promised we would stay friends.”
“We are friends!” He gritted his teeth. “I’m here, aren’t I?”
“An hour late and hoping to get laid.” I took another breath so I wouldn’t scream, and wiped my eyes so I could stop crying enough to talk.
“I don’t care if we have sex,” he said slowly. “You know that. That’s never been why I hung out with you. We didn’t even fool around until what, six months after we met? You said you liked it. We have fun together.”
That much was true. The first time we’d crossed the line between hanging out and making out, it had just kind of happened because we’d been talking about couples we knew at school, and then he’d started tickling me to make me laugh because I’d been too close to crying about how I would never find anyone to love me after what had been done to me.
I hadn’t fooled myself into believing Jules loved me. I knew better. But I’d believed he cared, and that was why I’d let him touch me, kiss me, and after a couple months, have sex with me.
I couldn’t even wish I hadn’t done it, because that was what had given me the confidence to talk to him the way I was now. Sleeping with Jules had shown me I was desirable and still pretty even with the burn scars marring half my face. Even with the emotional scars that no amount of surgery could fix.
And he’d told me the attacks hadn’t changed me. That I was strong and beautiful where it counted, and that anyone who couldn’t see it was an idiot.
Apparently that made him an idiot.