Jade was in the kitchen of her townhouse that she shared on campus with three other girls. No one was home but her and she was happy for that.
She started to sniffle and pushed it back. There was more rage than anything at this point. Damn Dylan for what he’d said. For what he’d done. She’d bet if she hadn’t confronted him, he’d keep it up too.
“Are you cleaning the kitchen in a skirt and leather shoes?” Miranda asked when she walked in the door. Miranda had a room on the other side of the townhouse with Stephanie. Jade really didn’t care for Miranda much, but you don’t know everything about someone until you’ve lived with them.
“I am. If you guys were cleaner I wouldn’t have to do it all the time.”
Miranda laughed. “You don’t need to pick up after us. We aren’t that messy, but you can’t help being the control freak. So much so you can’t even change into old clothes to do it.”
She’d been too pissed off when she walked in the door and she knew the mindless task of scrubbing the kitchen and counters would help her a little. She didn’t want to lose control and break down in front of anyone, least of all her roommates who were like vultures on a carcass on the side of the road.
“So I heard Dylan ended things with you,” Miranda said in that voice of hers that gloated about everything.
“I think you heard wrong,” she said back completely in control now. Never let them see you sweat or being weak. That was how she felt.
It was probably the last straw when Dylan started flinging insults at her and she laughed in his face and told him to stop being so childish and act like a man and admit what he did. She was fully aware he was going to trash her now and it looked like he didn’t waste much time.
“Are you and Dylan done?” Miranda asked.
She had no idea how Miranda could know this soon when it only happened an hour ago. Guess snake venom spread fast. She could lie, but there was no point. “We are.”
“He dropped you because you’re too rigid,” Miranda said. “We’ve been telling you that for years.”
Years was an exaggeration since she’d only talked to Miranda for the last two and if she’d had her way they wouldn’t be sharing a townhouse together, but she didn’t.
She’d been dying to be on her own and go to a different college than the rest of her family. Than her twin. If she’d gone to Duke she could have been rooming with her cousin Ella all along. But nope, she’d thought she was ready to do it alone.
Little good that did when it seemed like she had more conflicts with girls here than she did with all her male brothers and cousins.
She’d thought it’d be better to get out from under them and the way they intimidated all the boys she’d dated, but she found that she would welcome their interference today.
No, that was wrong. She handled Dylan on her own even if he was spreading lies. And she was going to be the bigger person and pretend indifference even if she was heartbroken once again and feeling betrayed.
“He didn’t drop me,” she said, turning and crossing her arms.
“That’s not what he’s saying.”
Jade laughed. “Of course he isn’t going to admit I found out he was kissing someone else and confronted him. I don’t care to be with cheaters.”
“Cheaters,” Miranda said. “I didn’t know you guys were that serious. Dylan has been on a handful of dates in the last month with other women. I thought you knew. We all did.”
Miranda was trying to get a rise out of her like she did most girls on campus. She thrived on it. It wasn’t happening with Jade. “Well, I was exclusive when we started dating and he now knows what I will and won’t tolerate. If it makes him feel better that he is telling everyone he broke up with me, fine. But if what you are saying is true, then we had nothing to break up in his eyes.”
Miranda flushed and Jade knew she’d called the bluff. As always Miranda wanted to cause trouble. “Whatever. Doesn’t matter. You always have some excuse as to why relationships don’t last but the truth is you need to look in the mirror.”
“You heard me. It’s not your brothers since they aren’t here. It’s you. You’re rigid. You’re controlling. It’s your way or the highway.”
Jade snorted. “I’d hardly say that.”
“Really?” Miranda asked. “Your boyfriend that you’ve been gaga over for weeks is caught kissing another girl and you’re not even upset over it. Instead you’re in the kitchen cleaning the way you want it done and rearranging everything to what suits you.”
She wasn’t going to acknowledge any of what Miranda was saying. Not even that she did move the silverware into another drawer that she felt it should have been in all along.
“Why do you care so much?” she asked instead.
“I don’t,” Miranda said.
“I think you do,” she said coolly. “I think you like to see other people upset and hurting. That you thrive on it and it’s just driving you insane that I’m indifferent.”
“That’s a good word for you,” Miranda said. “Indifferent. Another reason why you’ll be alone for a long time to come.”
She turned her back and picked the sponge up, Miranda getting bored and leaving now that Jade wasn’t giving her what she wanted.
When Jade knew the coast was clear, she went into her room and grabbed her pillow, then sat down on the bed, burying her face and letting the tears fall. No one was around and if they returned they wouldn’t hear her.
Never let them see you vulnerable. People like Miranda just ate it up.
She should be used to this by now. Used to men not understanding her. Not liking her for who she was or the person she wanted to be.
They saw a pretty face and a name that carried some clout but then got bored.
When her tears were done falling, she glanced over at the clock and noticed it’d been almost thirty minutes. She picked up some clothes and went into the bathroom to shower and scrub her face clean, then put a cold washcloth over her eyes.
By the time her other two roommates returned ninety minutes later, she was cool and composed cooking dinner.
“Hey, Jade,” Kaylee said. Kaylee shared the same half of the townhouse with her. “How are you doing?”
“Fine,” she said. “Why do you ask?”
“Miranda delighted in texting me that Dylan broke up with you.”
Bitch, Jade wanted to say, but didn’t. “I see she still wants to say her own version of it.”
Kaylee grinned. “You know her. But you look fine to me. I guess I shouldn’t expect any differently. Nothing seems to bother you. I’d be all red-eyed and sitting on the couch in a blanket with a gallon of ice cream on my lap right now.”
Jade wouldn’t admit she’d had a bowl earlier. No one was around to see her. “I’m not like you.”
“You’re not like a lot of women,” Kaylee said. “You’re much stronger and you’ll be better off for it in the end.”
“Not per Miranda. She thinks strong women are alone most of their lives.”
“But if you’re strong then who cares? You don’t need anyone. That’s what I think.”
Jade just smiled. Why couldn’t she be strong and want someone by her side at the same time? That possibility had to exist, right?