“I don’t know.” came a voice soaked in worry, “She’s never out this late except when she’s with you.”
Jacob furrowed his brow and looked at his phone. Jessica’s mom was on the other end of the line flustered and scared. “Well Mrs. Anastas,” he answered as politely as possible, “she’s not with me.” He gritted his teeth at the unintentional double meaning of his response. Clearly Jessica had neglected to tell her mom they had broken up three months ago. “She’s probably out with a friend.” he offered, the sentence filled with icy spite.
“A friend” he thought. “Probably another guy already.” He clenched his fists, took a big breath and pulled himself out of bed. He looked over at the clock radio on his bedside table as it shouted back at him with angry red numbers. “Two in the fucking morning.” he thought to himself, shaking his head. Jacob had not taken the break up well, which is not that surprising. Breakups are never easy. Neither for the one doing the breaking nor for the one getting broken. But with Jacob the situation was compounded. He was convinced that Jessica was the woman he would spend the rest of his life with but she didn’t feel the same. Her explanation was even more ludicrous. There was no way Jessica could be a lesbian. No way. Jacob would have noticed. He would have known. At least he had convinced himself of this.
“What friend?” Mrs. Anastas asked nervously. “Oh Jacob can you call her and tell her to come home already? It’s too late for any respectable woman to be out.” Mrs. Anastas wrung her hands together and looked over at a picture of Jessica and her late father.
“I don’t know if that would work.” Jacob answered candidly.
“Oh could you please?” Jessica’s mom pleaded, “I can’t….I can’t call her. If I call her she’s going to get upset that I’m being nosey.” She sighed, “We—had an argument the other night. I just—I don’t think she’d listen to me. I think she’s staying out to punish me.” She shut her eyes tight and begged god for that not to be true.
“Ok Mrs. Anastas,” Jacob relented, “I’ll call her. Don’t worry. She’ll be fine. Ok?”
“Ok.” she said thankfully,”I’m glad she has you in her life Jacob. You’re a great boyfriend. You remind me of my husband.” Jessica’s mom smiled and placed the photo back on the dresser where it rested. Her handsome husband and beautiful daughter smiling back at her.
Jacob cringed at the compliment but did not correct her. “Thanks Mrs. Anastas.” he replied. “I’ll call Jessica now. Talk to you later.”
“Ok Jacob. Thanks.” she placed the phone back on the receiver and sat back down on her bed, staring off into the distance.
Jacob pulled on a pair of jeans and swung a t-shirt over his head before retrieving his phone and sliding it into his pocket. He looked back at the clock once more and it clicked over to 2:16AM. “Fuck.” he muttered under his breath and walked out the door.
“Ok, so now that we’ve got that out of the way.” Iria said returning to the living room. “How was it?” she asked bluntly.
Sasha immediately blushed and turned away shyly. Iria and her had numerous sex talks, but this was different. She was asking about something devient. Something out of the normal. She wasn’t asking about a recent fling’s cock size, or how good he was with his tongue. Iria was asking her about how another woman was. Sasha cringed and looked back at Iria finally, still without uttering a word.
Jessica, for all her earlier aggressiveness was playing it just as coy. “What—What do you mean?” she asked, as if somehow asking questions about Iria’s question would make the line of inquiry die in it’s tracks.
Iria rolled her eyes. “Look you ‘tards. I don’t give a fuck who you fuck or what you do. It doesn’t matter to me in the least. If you want to go all lez right now and asked me to hold the camera, I’d be right as rain doing so. Hell I might even encourage it.” she raised an eyebrow at the two women before letting out a surprisingly girlish laugh. “I’m just curious.”
Jessica looked at Sasha, then back to Iria, before looking back at Sasha once more. Sasha shrugged so Jessica replied cautiously, “Well, I don’t really have that much experience to compare it to.”
Iria looked over with interest and plopped her petite frame down on the chair across from Jessica noticing for the first time the imprint of her hand on Jessica’s right cheek. “Oh? What about you, Sasha?” she turned to the redhead who instantly became the shade of a nicely ripened roma tomato.
“Uhh,” she muttered.
“Oh fuck off Sasha. Now you’re bashful?” Iria rolled her eyes. “After all we’ve talked about?” Iria shook her head in disgust and turned back to Jessica. “So what do you mean you don’t have that much experience.”
Sasha slumped her shoulders and looked down to the floor. As much as she didn’t want to answer Iria’s questions she honestly felt like she was letting her friend down. “How does she do this to me every time?” Sasha thought to herself, and looked over to Jessica waiting for her response.
“Well—Sasha. She was my first—” Jessica mumbled bashfully.
“Your first?” Iria exclaimed with surprise. “Shit girl. Congrats on popping your cherry then.” Iria raised her hand up and Jessica laughed nervously as she slapped the enthusiastic woman’s hand in an odd locker room style high five.
“S–she’s my first too.” Sasha finally piped up, hoping to gain some acceptance and enthusiasm from Iria.
“No shit.” she responded, “As if I didn’t know that already.” Iria chuckled. Sasha smiled bashfully and waited expectantly but received no high five. “You’re wanting a high five too aren’t you?”
“No.” Sasha protested, lying through her teeth quite obviously.
“Uh huh.” Iria responded sarcastically before continuing. “You’re not going to get a high five, and I’m going to tell you why.” She looked over at Jessica and then back towards the redhead. “You don’t deserve it.”
The two women looked at each other, then back at Iria, both curious as to her reasoning. “Why?” Sasha asked, surprisingly irritated.
“Because she did all the work here.” Iria explained. “She put herself out there. She met you, she came home with you, and I’ll bet you two months rent that she’s the one that talked you into the bedroom.”
Sasha furrowed her brow but didn’t refute any of her roommate’s claims. “But why–”
“Why does that mean she gets a high five and you don’t?” Iria interrupted, “”Because she risked everything and you risked nothing. At any point she could have been shot down and have to endure the emotional punch to the cunt that would have been.” Iria finished, ever so eloquent.
“But–she. She lied!” Sasha retorted finally.
“Well–I don’t know. Doesn’t that count for something that I didn’t tell her to fuck off?” Sasha explained. Jessica remained silent, watching the two roommate’s exchange points like the monitor of a presidential debate.
“It’s in your nature.” Iria explained. “It’s easier for you to accept that she lied and continue to talk to her because that’s just what civil understanding perfectly normal people do. So if you want points for that you’re not going to get any. You don’t get credit for acting like a normal human being. It didn’t cost you anything, and you didn’t risk anything at all.”
Sasha opened her mouth and then shut it again. Iria’s argument was irritatingly valid.
She continued, “When she agreed to meet you, she knew immediately the moment you saw her that there was the chance that she would be humiliated. That takes big fucking balls. For that alone she should get a high five regardless of the lie.”
Sasha looked over at Jessica, who now had raised her hand up again, but this time to wipe a small tear from eye.
Iria kept going though. “You invited her back to our place, but you only did so because you thought I was staying with Anthony tonight.” Iria continued, finally revealing the proper name of Mr. Baritone. “You thought you’d be alone. Away from prying eyes. So once more you risked nothing.” Iria gestured over to Jessica, “She came anyway, knowing that she was going to throw herself at you before the end of the night.”
Jessica snorted a laugh and nodded. “Yep. That pretty much sums it up.” she chuckled.
Sasha turned to the brunette, “Seriously?” she wasn’t sure if she was upset or impressed.
“Oh hell ya.” Jessica blurted back, “I was staring at your ass all the way up the stairs. I was aching to see it—” she paused briefly considering editing her thoughts, but relented, “–to see it naked and bouncing on my tongue.” she laughed with a mixture of adrenaline and nerves again shaking her head at her own bluntness.
Iria chuckled and took the conversation over once more, “See what I mean?” she asked Sasha who reluctantly nodded. “She came over knowing she was likely going to get rejected, but she did so anyways. It’s so much easier to say ‘No’ than it is to offer yourself up as a lamb for the slaughter.”
Sasha nodded again, “Ok ok. I concede, I’m not worthy of a high five. You’ve made your point.”
Iria winked, “And that’s why I’m in Law.”
Sasha rolled her eyes but laughed with the two women all the same.
In the front hall, muffled by the purse it was contained within, Jessica’s phone vibrated.
Jacob looked at his phone as Jessica’s voice, sweet as ever answered robotically. “This is Jessica. I can’t get to the phone right now. Please leave a message at the beep.”
Jacob hung up and frowned. He was in that no-man’s land between anger and fear. The point at which you can’t be sure that the person you’re worrying about is safe or not. Jacob sighed and chose to be angered instead of afraid, it was the more useful of the two emotions anyways. He turned the key and started his car, a meticulously detailed 1976 Pontiac Firebird. Jacob’s father had given it to him when he went off to college. At that time it was old, in disrepair, and lacked the virile machismo that it had exuded earlier in it’s life as part of the mystique of the Smokey and the Bandit franchise. It was only in the last few months, after he and Jessica had broken up, that Jacob suddenly found himself with the time to take care of the beast. He gripped the wheel tightly and felt it’s engine rumbled around him reassuringly. There was something about it’s throaty guttural roar that was savagely male. It invigorated Jacob as a noble steed would a knight. He shifted into gear and tore off into the pitch black night.
A few minutes later Jacob realized he hadn’t even figured out where he needed to drive to. He pulled over to the side of the road and called Jessica’s phone once more. Again the call went to her voicemail. Jacob reluctantly thumbed through his phone to the “Find my Phone” app he had previously installed in both his and Jessica’s phone. It was Jessica’s idea. She wanted to be sure that if there was any emergency they could find each other. Jacob keyed in the password of “JessicaAndJacob4Eva” he cringed and waited for the phone to spit back the result. Thirty seconds later a blue blip appeared in the center of the screen with an underlay of a map below it. Jacob squinted, then adjusted the zoom on the screen until he could see where it was located. He could hear himself growl even over the rumble of the engine as it became apparent the phone was located near the college housing area. Noting the location he tossed the phone in disgust onto the passenger seat and hammered on the accelerator. The engine roared to life once more and Jacob peeled away, squealing the tires as he went.
Jacob felt himself gripping the wheel tightly while he gritted his teeth together. The apartment complex he was heading towards was full of college student renters. He had been there before visiting a friend. Despite himself he felt as if a great injustice was being committed upon him. He was certain regardless of any evidence to support it, that Jessica was obviously sleeping with someone in the building. She wasn’t in any danger. There was nothing scary about this at all. Jacob could have easily reported back to Jessica’s mom and told her what was going on, but he couldn’t let it go. He needed to look her in the eye. He needed to see the look on her face when he knocked on the door and caught her with the new man in her life. He hated this feeling. The weakness he felt was suffocating. Jacob felt the anger coursing through his body, a dull metallic taste in his mouth, and despite all of this a tear running down his cheek.