Chapter 33—The Dentist's Fiance Returns
I was greeted with Triple Ripple Chocolate Chunk ice cream, a jar of peanut butter, and the most beautiful can of whipped cream I'd seen in a long time. Anya and Anthony smiled at me from inside the doorway of their home.
I wiped at my eyes, checking for tears. "You guys are the greatest."
Anya quickly drowned me in one of her hugs while her tooth-fairy lover ushered us into the house, taking my one suitcase from me.
"Hey, this isn't all we've got! There's also…" he walked up to the coffee table in their living room, setting the suitcase by the couch, "Dark chocolate truffles, strawberries, raspberries, wine coolers, marshmallows, caramel popcorn, and… oh!" he whipped around, grinning, and fanned out three movies in one hand, "The ultimate horror flicks. Everything a woman might need when she's feeling down!"
"Girl's night!" Anya cheered.
I squeezed her tightly, reaching out one arm to beckon Anthony into the circle of emotional mush. "Okay, I was wrong. You two aren't just the greatest—you're freaking saints!"
Anthony laughed so hard that his knees gave out, dragging us all down into a giggling heap in the middle of the floor.
"A saint! Anya and me? With our fashion sense? Oh, if those old cronies at the church could hear that, ha!" He guffawed. Anya's giggles were muffled in his shoulder.
I pushed myself up into a sitting position, smiling with mirth. "Not one of my more clever lines, but knowing you've keeled over with laughter is definitely a good sign." My demeanor sobered. "Are you guys sure it's okay for me to stay here for a while? I really don't want to impose…"
Anya pressed one finger to my lips and clucked at me like a mother hen. "We already went over this, sweetie,"
"Yeah, Jee, you're like family to us," Anthony added.
Anya held both my hands in hers and shook them with emphasis. "You are not a burden. And if you decide you still want to stick around when next weekend rolls around then you stick around! We love you—to little bitty teeny tiny pieces—and you are always welcome here."
I smiled softly at them. "Thanks, you two. Now where did that ice cream go?"
I worked around a mouthful of peanut butter, following the sticky batter up with a shot of whipped cream.
I groaned in ecstasy, "Paradise,"
Anya hummed in agreement, pushing a truffle between her lips. "Chocolate is a girl's best friend, I don't care what they say about diamonds."
I plucked a strawberry from it's plate, snuggling deeper into my friend's side. Anthony had been surprisingly insistent on leaving—it wouldn't be a girls' night if a guy were around, he'd said—so it was simply Anya and me, a plethora of sugary treats, and a movie packed with action.
There was really no better cure to getting over a broken friendship.
Getting over a friendship isn't like getting over a romantic relationship. Romances come and go and sometimes never even start up but friendships are a different kind of trust—longer lasting and of a kind of trust that's built to endure like… flip flops versus hiking boots.
Anya jumped a bit when the movie had a dead-silence-followed-by-eardrum-destroying-screaming moment, sending caramel popcorn all over the couch.
I rolled my eyes at her. "Nice,"
She scowled. "It's the noise. The scene can be as scary as hell and I won't flinch, but that stupid silent-loud transition…"
"Agreed," I mumbled, plucking up several pieces of caramel corn, "I think it's a conspiracy to make everyone in the world go deaf."
She bit down on another truffle. "My ears are ringing."
"Your hearing is going already. Should we turn the volume down?"
She snorted. "Like hell. If we do end up going deaf we can just sue."
"Ooh, good point. I like that." I replied off-handedly, munching on my stray popcorn. The heart-racing music was reaching its peak now. "Don't take this the wrong way or anything, but I still think we'd be having more fun if Anthon were here. I mean, I know it wouldn't be a 'girl's night' but he's practically half-girl as it is and he's overdue for a manicure too."
Anya giggled eerily. "Yeah, I know, and I love him for it. Still, he's practically my hubby already—to be married couples need their personal time now and then, you know."
"Wouldn't know, never been that in love,"
She glanced at me then, "And whose fault is that?"
I didn't miss a beat, "Ailee."
I tried to pretend that I couldn't see her frown. "What happened between you two, Jee? Did you fight? Is it something to do with that Arashi guy? Or even the cat? Did—"
"I don't want to talk about it," I said, cutting her off.
She stared at me hard before sighing and turning her attention back to the movie and goodies. "Okay. I won't press you for answers, but an explanation would not go unappreciated—I'm giving you a week of free room and board." We settled into a comfortable silence, chocolates and goodies resuming their steady disappearance from the coffee table.
I was hesitant to talk about it, despite the fact that my insides felt like they were screaming in hysterics. Ailee had skeletons, too many, and I didn't know how to talk about her without dusting a few off. Anya didn't need to catch so much as a fleeting glimpse of those skeletons, because unlike normal people's secrets, these ones could pop up back into life and start dancing like something out of an old cartoon.
But I couldn't keep my emotions locked up for long—they were too numerous and too big and my brain was not a prison with infinite jail cells. Eventually, I would explode in a dramatic and messy manner not unlike an overheated jar of spaghetti sauce.
I played a mental game of solitare, sorting my thoughts out quietly until the credits began to roll.
"She left me," I whispered.
The remote, which was in Anya's hand, was lowered to the couch arm.
My eyes were watering. "She left me. Just up and said, 'I've got something more important to take care of, see you later' and was gone. I don't understand. I'm her best friend, she's my best friend, why aren't I important? We've known each other for so long, done so much together," I buried my face in my palms and sobbed.
Anya's arms descended upon my shoulders like the wings of an angel. "I love Ailee, I love her family; she is my blonde half, my adopted sister. Her mom was my second mother." My mouth ran on autopilot, my guts spilling inside out from between my lips.
"She disappeared once before, it killed her mother and, god, it nearly killed me too. Then she came back and the sun came out again, but it wasn't the same, she'd changed. And I, I was in denial for so long, was so stupid to think that things would go back to normal, but there was no way to gain back that lost time, no way to bring Dina back from the grave. She's so fucking selfish!" I shouted, suddenly angry. I slammed my hand against the table, barely feeling the hot sting plaguing my palm.
"I was a good friend, wasn't I? I did my best! I was there for her when she needed a ride or a shoulder or a bowl of chicken noodle! We had our fights, but we laughed a hell of a lot more! I tolerated Arashi, even grew to like him when I tried to hate him. So why aren't I good enough—?" My throat closed up, rendering my voice box useless for anything but the strangled cries bubbling out of my throat.
Anya squeezed my shaking form reassuringly, turning my shoulders so that I could bury my face in her shirt. "Oh, Bumble-Jee… she doesn't deserve you."I cried myself to sleep.