Dakota 16

“It was wonderful, Emma.” Laying on my back on the couch, wrapped up in my favorite blanket, I pressed the phone closer to my ear, practically cuddling it. “It didn’t hurt at all. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed invasive sex with someone since… ever. I’ve never enjoyed it. Until Dakota.” It was probably stupid to be so hung up over that, but I didn’t care. I was going to bask in this feeling until I overthought it to death.

“It sounds lovely,” Emma said. “You sound happy.”

“I am happy.” It was a soft murmur, but it filled my chest with warmth. It felt right to say. “Even if we are just friends with benefits, it’s nice to know I’m not completely broken.”

“You were never broken.” I could hear the sympathy in Emma’s voice, but it was a conversation we’d had before.

“Just damaged,” I muttered, unable to keep the bitterness from my tone. Closing my eyes, I put my hand on my heart and ran through the morning’s events in my head again. My heart still fluttered, my skin still tingled. I sighed. “It sure didn’t matter today. I just hope–” but my words were cut off by my phone buzzing angrily against my ear. I winced, pulling it back to see who was calling me, and then groaned. “I’m gonna have to call you back princess, it’s Jay.”

“Ew what a douche.”

I laughed. “My thoughts exactly. Love you, Emma.”

“Love you too, Honeybee.” I ended the call and called Jay back.

“Piper?” He sounded pissed.

“HI Jay,” I said, putting on a smile I didn’t actually feel. “Sorry, you caught me on the phone with Emma. What’s up?”

“I just wanted to call you.”

The urge to scream made it difficult to respond. “That’s sweet, Jay, but I–”

“Can I see you today?”

I rubbed my eyes with my free hand. “I actually had plans today.”

“It would just be for a little while. I just want to talk in person. Can we do that? Please?”

“About what, Jay?” I felt my temper flash, and jammed it down. “You and Joanne need to sort shit out for your kids. I’m not getting in the middle of that.”

“Not about that. About us.”

“Jay, there is no us. We broke up.”

“But we’re still friends. Don’t you still want to be friends?”

Actually, that desire was rapidly fading. “Yes, Jay, I do, but–”

“Please, I just want to sort this out. Last time you said you didn’t want anything, you came home with me, and–”

I choked at the memory as he kept talking. Melody had been with Joanne, his ex wife, for the weekend. All I’d wanted was to make sure he wouldn’t kill himself, and instead-

“And then we made love.”

I could throw up. I lurched off of the couch and started to pace, trying to walk off the sick crawling of my skin. Made love was not the term. No glamour, no romance, no love involved. But the argument died on my lips. “I– I know. I was worried. I thought it might help if I was there. I didn’t expect it to go so far.”

“Then let’s talk about that, Piper. Please. Let’s just figure out what’s going on between us and settle things.”

Fucking— “Fine, fine. Okay. You can come over here, but only for like an hour. Kimmy and I are meeting later for dinner.”

“I’ll be there soon, I just got off work.”

“Okay, bye.” If I had the money to replace my phone, I might have thrown it across the room. I hated when Jay did that, and he did it all the time. That whining, simpering, begging bullshit was a large part of why we’d broken up in the first place. And for some reason, I gave in every time. It was infuriating, my lack of willpower around him. The overwhelming guilt.

I realized I’d stopped pacing, just standing in the middle of the room, staring at the couch. I could almost see Dakota sitting there smirking at me. Somehow, I felt better at the image in my mind.

“I can do this,” I whispered to myself. “I’ll be okay.” We were going to be on my turf. Kimmy wasn’t actually coming home, but I could kick him out at any point and tell him I was going to go see her. I was in control here.

Even still, I needed to prepare myself. I wanted to give Jay more reason to leave than to stay. Stalking off to my room, I pulled my shirt off, then flung my bra and the shirt onto my bed. I refused to try for Jay. By the end of today, he would realize I was completely indifferent on a romantic level.

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