“You’re falling in love. You can’t hide it.”
Instantly, the barricade fortified Mindie’s hesitance. Matters of the heart didn’t fare easily into her admissions. Vulnerability squeezed her vocal cords, almost shutting off her words. “I don’t know.”
“Well, I do, I’ve seen love a million different ways. You’re not an exception. This glow doesn’t come from anything else.”
“You can see it?” Dear Lord, she didn’t want to be just another sap.
“What’s wrong with making it known? Shit, be truthful with yourself. You’re trying to hide from me, your self-proclaimed best friend who’s like family. Your act doesn’t work. Stop insulting my emotional intelligence. You’re really an idiot denying what’s going on inside your own soul.”
“It’s tough letting go.”
“You’re damn right it’s tough. Anything so powerful will be major, it’s horrifying. You’re allowing someone a total access backstage pass to your central command center…your heart. You don’t want your emotions raped, I get it. But, it won’t kill you.”
“Geez, you make it sound so incredibly desirable. Why doesn’t everyone fall in love when confronted with the analogy of rape?”
“Rape isn’t what I meant. I’m stooping to your level of peculiar. You’ve got a part of your heart beating out of rhythm, it needs in tune with another heart just as deprived.”
“Now I’m deprived?”
“Yes, you are.”
“How are things with you and what’s his name?” Changing the subject just might give her breathing room. She needed a bell for in between rounds, can I go back to my corner for a drink and pep talk?
“He’s wonderful, as a matter of fact. I’m falling in love with Brent.”
The openness of Nixie’s revelation soothed Mindie’s apprehension by a small margin. Yet, something about Nixie’s candor shocked Mindie in larger fashion. “Love, are you sure?”
“Absolutely yes ma’am.”
“When did this happen?”
“While you were off licking your wounds and falling in love with the asshole’s brother. Can’t we do this together? It’s so much more fun when we can compare love notes.”
Rational thought combined with years of love for her best friend converged into reason. Mindie was being ridiculous. “I’ve really put up some stupid walls, haven’t I?”
“Yeah, you have. I love you too much to kick you to the curb, but, your secret paranoia is getting old. You aren’t the first human to fall in love and experience fear.”
Time to throw her some kind of detail. “Well, he is a good kisser.”
“That’s all you’ve done?” Nixie’s voice raised an octave, nuances of disappointment charred every syllable.
“We didn’t have a condom.”
“You’ve always had a self-control I admired and loathed at the same time. How the hell do you stop after your nipples harden?”
I don’t know how I stopped myself, the question amazed me. “I imagined my mother watching and the mood kinda went kaput for me. I can’t have children with a semi stranger who won’t stay in Braden.” He’s gonna leave and I won’t go with him. How will this even begin to work? Thankfully, Nixie began eating, obviously shelving our conversation for later. My appetite dropped, but, I couldn’t let her see. Every bite went down behind a dry swallow, hitting my stomach like lead. I couldn’t even enjoy the deliciousness I’d worked so hard on.
“You’d never be a flavor of the month.” Nixie brushed away the steadfast notion as if it were breadcrumbs.
He’s gonna leave. The earworm stuck in my brain like a bad commercial jingle.
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