Betting on Bailey

By: Tara Crescent

Things must be worse than I think at the restaurant if Piper needs cheering up. “Let’s do it. I’d get up and help you, but…”

“We don’t want to annoy Jasper.” She gazes fondly at her cat, before she goes into her kitchen and comes out with a bottle of red wine. I take the glass she hands me without displacing the purring bundle of fur on my lap.

“You know he had the nerve to imply I’d come crawling back?”

“He did what?” Piper’s voice rises in anger. “I don’t know why you put up with him for as long as you did. You deserve to be with someone who is kind to you, Bailey. Who thinks the sun rises because of you, and who sees stars when they look in your eyes.”

Piper has a poetic, romantic streak in her that even New York can't kill. I sip at my wine and think about her words. Why did I stay with Trevor once he revealed his true colors? “I guess part of me,” I answer slowly, “was hoping that he was just going through a rough patch. I thought it was because we’d just moved in together, and that can be stressful.”

“You made too many allowances for him.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Jasper purrs in satisfaction as I pet him, and his warm body is very therapeutic. Some company will make a fortune one day by packaging up kittens and wine as part of a gift basket for women that have just broken up with their boyfriends. “I think part of me was preparing for the break up. I mean, I applied to go work in Argentina for six months. Surely that was a sign.”

She shrugs. “Normal healthy relationships can survive a six month absence.”

I’m still thinking about why I stayed with Trevor. “Dating is hard in New York,” I muse. “It seems like there are two women to every guy. And I’m not skinny. Guys prefer women who look like models.”

Piper rolls her eyes. “Two failed relationships does not qualify you to talk about what guys prefer. If all guys wanted skinny blonde women, I wouldn’t be sitting here on Friday night with my cat and my best friend for company.”

We sit in the living room for a long time, listening to the street noise outside. People walk about, partying and celebrating, and I feel removed from it all. Finally, Piper yawns. “Bed?” she asks. “My mom always used to tell me that everything looks better after a good night’s sleep.”

“Bed,” I agree. Nothing has gone according to plan today but I’m too tired and too numb to figure out what to do. I dislodge Jasper from my lap, enduring his indignant yowl as punishment. I brush my teeth, using the dentist-issued toothbrush that resides in my travel bag, since my electric one is still at Trevor’s place. I’m asleep the instant my head hits the pillow, and though I don't expect it, I sleep deeply and without dreams.

* * *

Though we call ourselves the Thursday Night Drinking Pack, we’ve recently taken to hanging out on Monday nights, because Piper is too busy running a restaurant to drink on a Thursday with her girlfriends.

When I get back to Piper’s apartment after work Monday night, Katie, Gabby and Wendy are crammed together in the small living room, and Jasper’s purring happily on Katie’s lap. Traitor. “The time for an intervention has passed,” I quip. “I left him.”

A bottle of rum, several cans of Coke, and a tray heaped with sandwiches jostle for room on the coffee table. Gabby must have brought the food. She’s told me that her mother’s response to every crisis is a plate filled with egg salad sandwiches. It’s a habit that’s stuck.

“This isn’t an intervention,” Gabby retorts, handing me a rum and coke. “This is a celebration. Since you’ve ended things with him and I don’t have to bite my tongue anymore, can I tell you how much I hated Trevor?”

“Fuck yes,” Piper agrees from her spot on the floor. Her words are slightly slurred. “Patronizing asshole.” She holds up a FedEx envelope to me. “This came for you, by the way.”

I frown at it. I’m not expecting anything. “Was he really that bad?” I ask as I rip the package open.

“Yes,” they all answer in unison, but I’m not looking at them. I’m reading the letter that was in the envelope, and I’m starting to see red. Blood red.

Top Books