“I haven’t been fucking her, as you so delicately put it. But Mia and I…” I pause and draw a breath, searching for the right words. “We need to talk, Tatianna.”
“Oh, hell no,” Tatianna roars. “How dare you choose this chubby, plain loser over me?” She spits the words like an accusation.
Mia shrinks back toward the wall, hugging her arms around herself and her eyes fill with tears. I step between the two women. “Stop,” I say, my voice cutting off Tatianna’s. I place my hand on Mia’s cheek and she leans into my touch. I want to tell her it will all be okay, but I let my hand fall away, then I face Tatianna. “No one speaks to Mia that way.” I can’t help but draw a parallel between this moment and the first day I met Mia. I stood up for her then too. It turns out, it’s instinctual for me. I won’t let anyone hurt her.
“It’s over, Tatianna. We’re done. I want you gone by tonight.”
“You’re a fucking asshole,” she says.
“That may be, but we both know this relationship isn’t going anywhere. It isn’t leading toward anything. It’s time for us to move on.”
“Sorry, but I’ll never be a soccer mom if that’s what you’re looking for. I thought we were on the same page,” she barks.
I shake my head, unwilling to answer. I don’t want to argue the finer points of our differences in front of Mia. It won’t accomplish anything, and I won’t change my mind. “I’ll have my assistant arrange for a moving company.”
“And where exactly am I supposed to go?” she asks.
Ah, there it is, the real reason she’s stayed with me all this time. I’ve provided her with a beautiful home, and extravagant lifestyle she could never afford on her own.
I want to tell her maybe the man she was with last Friday night will take care of her, but I know that tossing out that accusation won’t make any of this better. “I guess you have some things to figure out in the next few hours,” I say, instead.
She grabs her purse from the counter and storms past us, causing Mia to squeak in surprise.
My jetlagged brain struggles to comprehend what just happened.
I can’t seem to wrap my tired brain around it.
Tatianna’s words were sharp and hateful, her venom directed at me. Maybe I deserved it. Hadn’t I just stormed into their life and pulled them apart? But I don’t have that kind of power. I can’t make people do anything they don’t want to do.
Certainly no one can make Collins do anything he doesn’t want to do.
Still, I’m having a hard time understanding what just happened. Did he really just break up with Tatianna? Right in front of me?
Tatianna storms past me, her face filled with so much anger a small shriek escapes me¸ and I flinch.
Her heels click down the hall and rush up the steps. Somewhere above a door slams.
My eyes are fixed to the floor. I want to look at Collins. I want to know if he’s okay, but I’m scared to look up. I’m scared he’ll be mad at me for coming in here and ruining his perfect life with his supermodel girlfriend.
I’m such a jerk. Why did I come?
I expect Collins to storm out after her, or to curse me out, or something. Instead he remains a few feet away, leaning against the counter. When I finally find the courage to look up at his face he has his phone out. His features are relaxed and don’t give anything away. He taps out a message on his phone. He must be arranging for the movers or something.
I silently watch him, hoping I haven’t completely ruined our friendship by showing up here and messing with his life. Finally, he looks up and sees that I’m still huddled against the wall. Stuffing his phone into his pocket, Collins stalks over to me.
“I’m sorry you had to see that,” he grumbles. His low voice makes me feel even worse.
“It’s okay.” My own voice comes out shaky and quiet. “Are you all right?”
Dark eyes, deep with emotion latch onto mine, and he nods. “Yes.”
He sounds confident, but his eyes and the expression on his face leave me feeling unsure. He’s so guarded and serious. I hate it.
When have I ever felt so unsure around Collins?
He places his palm against my cheek. “I’m sorry you had to deal with that,” he says softly.
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t mind.” I didn’t like what Tatianna said, but to know that he’s finally free of that controlling woman who is all wrong for him? I’d go through that again in a heartbeat.
I have no idea what happens next, and I’m afraid to ask. I chew on my lip, listening to the sound of heels click around upstairs and doors slam. Collins drops his hand away, but he continues hovering over me, watching me like he’s waiting to see if I really am okay.
“Do you think it’s okay if I go upstairs and shower?” I ask. I’m jetlagged and grubby from the long flight. Plus I can’t help but think Collins must need to be alone right now to process what just went down.
“Of course.” He nods.
I head toward the stairs, feeling Collins’ eyes on me the entire time.
The shower is hot and the water soothing as I wash away the grime from the long flight. But it can’t wash away the guilt I have over coming here in the first place. Collins was always so good at saving me. It’s no wonder that, when I lost my job and had nowhere else to turn, I ran to him. Because if anyone could fix my failing life it was him. But is it fair of me to burden him with my issues? Is it fair of me to expect him to stop everything and rescue me from my pathetic fate? Is it fair of me to hope he’ll drop everything he’s been working for his whole life to build, just to save me?