Dakota 2

Stress could cause a number of side effects on one’s health, including but not limited to: crippling depression, incapacitating anxiety, and pregnancy symptoms. Apparently. According to the doctor at the CVS urgent care.

Sadly the depression and anxiety were perfectly normal for me, but I hadn’t told her that. She wasn’t my primary, so who cared anyway?

I’d fallen, as I usually did, into a relationship with someone I didn’t love and had no intention of continuing to see. Jay’s life drama made me want to choke on my own spit and die, or perhaps throw myself from a second story balcony. He had kids– or, at this point, one kid and one on the way, with his ex wife, who refused to let him live down that he was a single father working a barely-over-minimum wage job and living in a trailer park. To be honest, he took wonderful care of his daughter. That was something that had attracted me to him in the first place. And Melody was gorgeous, sassy, and all around too cute to not love.

Except I didnt love him, not in a romantic way. Which sucked, because he had already made it completely clear he intended to propose to me. After a month and a half. God, that made me uncomfortable.

I knew I had to leave him. He was toxic to my health, clingy and needy and overbearing and all around smothering me. My best friend, over skype, had basically told me to drop his ass as fast as possible and go have casual sex, but with my considerably less than straight sexuality and constant social ineptitude, that wasn’t likely to happen any time soon.

So, breakup. Which would probably happen tonite, since Jay would have waited for me. He worked at the theatre too, sort of. The owner of Chance, Steph, had a brother who decided to open a restaurant in the building directly next door to the theatre. They co owned the buildings, and from what I’d heard, did a damn good job keeping each other’s businesses running, sharing employees, sharing space, sharing everything. EJ would come work tech for Steph when he wasn’t running the restaurant, and Steph would run the restaurant when she wasn’t neck deep in the chaos of the theatre. If they weren’t related they’d have been Harper Cove’s most successful power couple.

Despite my shitty health and declining mental state, I was still enamored of my job, and with that in mind, I sailed out of the theatre toward the bus stop and climbed onto the evening bus back to my college campus and my dorms. I always sat in the back where there were forward facing seats, and where I could see everyone. I sat, dropping my purse between my feet and pulling out my phone to scroll through facebook and text my sister.

I heard a ruckus before I registered what was happening, but a moment later I found myself unceremoniously shoved into the corner by Dakota.

I looked up and glowered at him. “Hi?”

He grinned at me as one of his friends yelled “Don’t shove her in the corner, Dakota.”

“Nobody shoves Baby in a corner,” I quoted, before I could stop myself. Dakota’s grin widened.

“I just did.” He whipped out his phone as I gave him an arch look. “Wanna see a kitten?”

My attitude turned on a dime. I sat up, leaning closer to him to look at his phone. “Is that even a question? Of course I want to see a kitten.”

He flipped through pictures of a small gray tabby with a fluffy white belly, pictures of the kitten in varying twisted positions, pictures of him in a bowtie, pictures of Dakota cuddling the cat with them in matching Tigger onesies– and I shamelessly cooed at every picture, probably with hearts in my eyes. “What a sweetheart!”

“His name’s Wade.” The confusion apparently showed on my face since he continued, “Wade Wilson.”

“Deadpool cat?” I grinned. “Really?” Dakota shrugged. “You’re a nerd.” He made a face at me, but the bus was pulling up to my stop. I made to shoo him away, but he stood up. “Your stop, too?” Dakota nodded and stepped back for me to exit first. I took it as a gesture of chivalry and passed with a cheerful “Thank you,” only to have my stubby ponytail yanked lightly as I started to walk. As I stumbled out of the bus I turned back to glare at him. “Rude.”

He stuck his tongue out at me and started to walk off. “I’m out this way.”

I turned, having already started toward my own car, and smiled. “I’m that direction,” I told him, pointing in the general direction of my car.

“Mkay. See you tomorrow.” With that, he strolled away, as he always did at work, without a word.

“Bye.” I turned back toward my car and sighed, headed toward what I was sure was going to be a less than exciting encounter with Jay.

Wasn’t it always.

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