Cat Lavoie lives in Montreal, Canada with her tempestuous cat, Abbie. Her debut novel, Breaking the Rules, was published in August 2012 by Marching Ink. If Cat isn't reading or writing, she's most likely watching too much TV or daydreaming about her next trip to London.
To find out more about Cat and her books, please visitwww.CatLavoie.com
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Dar doesn't talk to me for the entire drive home. Every time I try to say something or even start to apologize again, she turns up the radio or ignores me and talks to Dex.
I sit back and stare out the window as the unfamiliar buildings whizz by. What have I done? Dar and Dex are my best friends and I used them to get to Braden. This would never have happened if I had my own car. But I think that how I got to the restaurant is beside the point. The question is why. Why do I do this to myself?
"I still love him," I say, and my words seem to linger in the silent car. Dex looks at me through the rear-view mirror for a few seconds but Dar doesn't move.
"I wish you'd just let him go," she finally says, her voice slightly softer than it was in the restaurant. "I wish you'd stop holding on to something that died a long time ago."
I nod and close my eyes. Sometimes I wish that too—but part of me is convinced Braden will come back and we can start over. I'm sure Dar would say it's the crazy and delusional part. I'd prefer to think it's the hopeless romantic in me. But tonight the emphasis is on hopeless.
"Do you want to come up for a minute?" I ask when Dex parks the car in front of my building.
"No thanks," Dar says. "I just want to head home."
Watching her sitting there with her arms folded across her chest, I know Dar is really angry with me. One of the perks of inheriting a coffee shop from my parents is a pantry overflowing with different varieties of coffee. She never leaves my apartment without a week's worth of caffeine.
"Just promise me something," Dar says as I exit the car. "No more checking his voicemail. Please."
She nods and looks away, staring at the opposite side of the street.
"Dar will come around," Dex says, walking me to my door. "Just give her some time."
"I'm sorry about tonight."
I can read the awkwardness all over Dex's face. He used to be Braden's best friend but they've barely spoken since Dar decided they were going to be loyal to me. I hate the fact that he's stuck in the middle because of me.
"Don't worry about it," he says, slapping me on the shoulder and giving me a tight smile.
I walk up the stairs and unlock my door. "Hey, Mocha," I say, as my four-year old tabby leaps from the table and lands at my feet, purring and wrapping herself around my leg. I know she's only happy to see me because I'm going to fill up her bowl with food but still, it's nice to know that not everyone feels the need to run away from me.
There's a framed picture of me and Braden in the living room—it's the first thing you see when walk into the apartment. It was taken three years ago at a Christmas party. While Braden is flawless in his crisp white shirt, I look like a sea creature. My makeup is smudged and my hair is matted down. I'd dyed it jet black in a moment of temporary insanity a few months earlier and—by the time this picture was taken—my red roots were clearly showing. I can tell by the smug smirk on my face and by the way I'm clutching Braden's arm that I've had too many fruity pink cocktails. I look away in disgust. Why haven't I ripped this picture to shreds?
If Dar had her way, I'd throw away every single thing that reminds me of Braden. Burning this entire place to the ground would be the only way to erase everything. Because it isn't only pictures that remind me of Braden—it's the dent he made in the kitchen wall when we were moving the fridge and it's the coffee mug collection we started together that grew so large we had to put half of it in storage. We'd laugh every time one of us bought a new one—the tackier the better—because we only ever used the same one. I still drink from my London Calling mug even though it's chipped. His blue J'aime Paris one is on the counter and I swear Dar would send it smashing to the ground if I had my back turned long enough. But I never do.