“She’s driving me crazy.”
Sandra didn’t even bother to supress the laughter. No even when AJ shot her his nastiest look.
“Some friend you are,” he grumbled.
“AJ, please,” she laughed. “Try to look at this from my perspective. You’ll find it pretty damn hilarious.”
“Enlighten me, San,” he said. “Tell me how you see things.”
She looked skeptical after her laughter died down, but soon nodded and began her explanation, leaving AJ dumbfounded in the process. She knew that, across town, Nick and Amanda were having this exact same conversation. Granted, Nick had it harder, for her had to convince Amanda of her obvious feelings, while all she had to do was let AJ in on her knowledge.
“I am not.”
“You are too.”
“Who’s side are you on, anyway?”
Nick grinned. “Manda. If I’ve learned one thing from being with San, it’s never to take sides. I’m impartial here, which is why I’m here. You would think seeing AJ almost every day was bad enough.”
“It IS,” she protested. “It’s awful, and I want out.”
“You do not,” Nick smiled calmly.
Amanda groaned. “Are we back at that again?”
“We’re always gonna come back to this,” he reminded her. “You just can’t deny it. Admit it, Manda. Say it aloud, and see hwo good it feels.”
Amanda pouted, corssing her arms defiantly over her chest and glaring at Nick.
It had been a month. A long, arduous month of having to be married to the nutjob they all called AJ. Throught it all, especially the times she’d wanted to strangle him, Nick had stuck around. Well, it helped a little that he was around to begin with, and had no other choice but to stay if he wanted his friend alive. But he’d gone out of his way to befriend her, no predetirmined plan, no hidden agenda, nothing. He hadn’t been set out to make sure AJ got his way. It was that fact alone that made Amanda like Nick from the beginning. Well, that and seeing how happy he made her best friend.
This afternoon, however, was proving to be Nick’s darkest moment.
She looked ready to kill him, he mused, and it was all because of her own inability to see things for what they were.
“I’m serious Amanda,” Nick told her. “I see it. Sandra sees it. Why can’t you see it?”
“’Cause it’s not there,” she said simply. “Now drop it.”
“I’m not dropping anything,” he began. “You are-”
“Don’t say it,” she warned, glaring at him again.
“You are,” he began again, his voice a bit more forceful, “Totally-”
“Nick!” she warned. “DON’T.”
“In love with AJ,” he finished, a triumphant smile on his face.
Amanda buried her face in her hands. Who the hell was she trying to fool, anyway? What good would it bring, to only be able to fool herself, and not the rest of the world? She’d be perfectly fine if it were the other way around, but no. She’d fallen in love with AJ, and now she didn’t know what to do to make it go away.
Despite everything, she still wanted to get away.
“So what if I do?” she said finally, much to Nick’s delight. “That doesn’t change anything.”
“That’s not true. It changes everything.”
“It does NOT,” she repeated. “And I don’t want to fight, Nick. Trust me when I tell you that nothing’s changed. I still want this divorce, and I want it now.”
“I don’t understand you,” Nick shook his head. “Why?”
“You wouldn’t understand,” she sighed.
“Try me,” he pressed. “I’m not stupid, contrary to popular belief.”
Amanda returned the bright smile Nick had given her with a somber one of her own. “I suppose it’s time I talked,” she said softly.
The time to talk, maybe. The time to let go and move on, however, was about half past never.
Taking a deep breath, she began, ignoring the tears that began to fall almost immediately. She just talked, feeling the enormous weight being lifted off her shoulders as the words spilled out. The lighter the load felt, the more she talked. Memories she’d kept to herself for so long reached Nick’s ears, and she was grateful for his serene expression. When she was finished, she crumpled against the sofa, emotionally drained, and cried some more, surprised she still had tears to shed.
Quietly, Nick crossed the living room and joined her on the couch, pulling her into his embrace.
“I’m so sorry, Manda,” he whispered as she cried softly. “So sorry.”
[chapter list | chapter fifteen]