Unfriended

By: Deana Farrady



"Nobody pulled any new shit," I hedged. "Things have been bad for a while."

"Oh. I didn't know that. Well, how is she? Is she upset?"

"She'll get over it."

"Really. You think?"

I held up one palm. "I hereby make a prediction. I predict Aura Renaldi's life will significantly improve starting now."

As the liquor began to hit my system, it occurred to me how true I spoke. When Aura irritated me, I pulled away, which made her bonkers, which made me pull away, which made her insecure, which made her bonkers, which irritated me….

Yeah, the whole situation had been majorly fucked up. They'd have loved tearing me down as an enabler on reality TV.

"Um, so, I guess, do you want to talk about what happened?"

I opened my eyes. "You really want a play by play, Sloane?"

She shrugged, her cheeks a little pink. "It's up to you. We both know your girlfriend and I never really hit it off, but if you need to talk about it, I'm here for you. You know that."

I hesitated. Historically, the topic of Aura has been do-not-enter for us. Sloane and I have some deep convos, but we avoid waxing eloquent on our love lives. She knew I was into Aura; I knew she dated the occasional loser, and we left it at that.

She gave me space probably because she felt uncomfortable about getting between Aura and me. Or so I gathered from the way she left the room whenever Aura got extra wiggly in my lap.

As for me…

Aura had always made it clear that my relationship with Sloane was a problem. A big one. I didn't want Sloane worrying about that.

But now that I think about it, with the perspective of hindsight, it does imply that Sloane has been between me and Aura from the beginning…





CHAPTER 5





Three Years Ago—The Hair



Charis: Something's wrong. What's wrong?

Asher: Nothing. Just girlfriend shit.

Charis: Oh. I'm sorry.

Asher: It'll blow over. So you up for some VelvetSky2?

Charis: Uh, sure. Okay, sure.

Asher: What about you, something wrong with you?

Charis: No. No, I'm fine. What are you doing?

Asher: Just calling Aura, give me a sec…hey, there. Are you? Yeah, I'm at Charis's. Want to come over, we're playing…great. She'll be here soon.

Charis: Cool. What does she like, chips, tacos…oh, I have some pistachios—tell me she likes pistachios. These are good, they're not the dyed ones. What? What's wrong now?

Asher: Shit. She might not want to play, she might just hang, that all right?

Charis: That'll be fine. I'd like to get to know her better. You guys have been dating for, what is it, four months already. I need to see if she's treating you right, young whippersnapper.

Asher: She's treating me fine, big sister.

Charis: Hmm. You know what? You're in a weird mood.

Asher: So are you. You don't usually wear your hair like that.

Charis: Like—oh, you mean up like this? It's getting long. I've got to cut it.

Asher: It looks good.

Charis: It looks messy. Stop changing the subject. What's with the weird mood?

Asher: I'm not in a weird mood, I'm just…anyway…Aura's great. She's amazing. She's what I need right now.

Charis: You're really happy being with her, aren't you?

Asher: Why do you say that?

Charis: You miss her when she's not with you. You're always checking your phone. She'll be here soon, you know.

Asher: Yeah, I know. You logged in? We'll play at least till she gets here.

Charis: Okay.



Asher



AURA HAD A COW THE MOMENT SHE first learned of Sloane's existence, about a week into our relationship.

At first her suspicions amused me. All I can say in my defense is, Charis just isn't the type of woman other females go into jealous fits about. She's everyone's friend, everyone's pal, and a bit oddball if you want the truth. Not that I give a fuck. As far as I'm concerned, she's just the way she should be.

But this wasn't my first girlfriend rodeo, oh, no. With the female of the species, you don't ignore early signs of problems, you face them head-on to avoid looking the fool when the apocalypse comes.

I insisted the two women meet ASAP. I even gave Charis a heads-up about the situation.

She came through like a champ. No sooner had I introduced them than she was laying it all out with her usual good humor.

"Obviously I'm a girl," she confided to Aura, "but you don't ever have to worry about fishy stuff between Asher and me. We're good buddies, that's all." She cuffed my scapula to prove it. "I mean look at the age gap. I'm way, way older than this guy."

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