How strange that we can go from friends to inseparable to hateful then casual all in one lifetime.
“Hi,” I say.
“Hey.” He looks away.
“Hi, James.” I smile.
“Hi!” He waves, buoyant. He’s standing just next to Adam, eyes lit up, clearly thrilled to be back among us. “This place is so cool.”
“It is,” I agree. “Have you had a chance to take a shower yet? The water is warm here.”
“Oh, right,” he says, shyly now. “Kenji told me about that.”
“Why don’t you get washed up? Delalieu will be bringing lunch down soon. I’m sure Brendan can show you around the locker room—and where to put all your stuff. You can have your own locker,” I tell him, glancing at Brendan as I do. He nods, taking the hint and jumping to his feet right away.
“Really?” James is saying. “That’s so cool. So they just bring the food to you? And you get to shower whenever you want? Is there a curfew?”
“Yes, yes, and no,” Brendan answers him. He takes James’s hand. Grabs his little bag. “We can stay up as late as we like,” he tells him. “Maybe after dinner I’ll show you how to use the bicycles in here,” he says, his voice fading to an echo as he and James disappear into the locker room.
Once James is gone, everyone seems to exhale.
I steel myself. Step forward.
“I’m really sorry,” Adam says first, crossing the room to meet me. “You have no idea—”
“Adam.” I cut him off, anxious. Nervous. I have to say this and I have to say it now. “Kenji lied to you.”
Adam stops. Stills.
“I haven’t been crying over you,” I say, wondering if it’s even possible to deliver this kind of information without both humiliating him and breaking his heart. I feel like such a monster. “And I’m really, really happy you’re here, but I don’t think we should be together anymore.”
“Oh,” he says. Rocks back on his heels. Drops his eyes. Runs both hands through his hair. “Right.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Kenji looking at me. He’s waving his hand, trying to get my attention, but I’m still too mad at him right now. I don’t want to talk to him until I’ve fixed this.
“Adam,” I say. “I’m sorry—”
“No,” he says, holding up a hand to stop me. He looks dazed, sort of. Strange. “It’s okay. Really. I already knew you were going to say that to me.” He laughs a little, but awkwardly. “I guess I thought knowing in advance would make it feel a lot less like I was being punched in the gut.” He cringes. “But nope. Still hurts like hell.” He backs up against the wall. Slides down to the floor.
He’s not looking at me.
“How did you know?” I ask. “How did you know what I was going to say?”
“I told him before you got here,” Kenji says, stepping forward. He shoots me a sharp look. “I came clean. I told him what we talked about yesterday. All the things you said.”
“Then why is he still here?” I ask, stunned. I turn to face Adam. “I thought you said you never wanted to see me again.”
“I never should’ve said that.” Adam is still looking at the floor.
“So . . . you’re okay?” I ask him. “With Warner?”
Adam looks up in disgust, so different in an instant. “Are you out of your mind? I want to put his head through a goddamn wall.”
“Then why are you still here?” I ask again. “I don’t understand—”
“Because I don’t want to die,” he says to me. “Because I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how to feed my little brother and I’ve come up with exactly jack and shit in the way of solutions. Because it’s cold as hell outside, and he’s hungry, and because our electricity is going to get shut off soon.” Adam is breathing hard. “I didn’t know what else to do. So now I’m here, my pride in the toilet, hoping I can stay in my ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend’s bachelor pad, and I want to kill myself.” He swallows. “And I can suffer through that,” he says, “if it means James will be safe. But right now I’m still waiting for your shithead of a boyfriend to show up and try to kill me.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” I say quietly. “And he’s not going to kill you. He doesn’t even care that you’re here.”
Adam laughs out loud. “Bullshit,” he says.
Adam gets to his feet. Studies my eyes. “You’re telling me I can stay here, in his room, and eat his food, and he’s just going to let me?” Adam’s eyes are wide, incredulous. “You still don’t understand this guy. He doesn’t operate the way you think he does, Juliette. He doesn’t think like a normal human being. He’s a freaking sociopath. And you really are insane,” he says, “if you think it’s okay to be with someone like that.”
I flinch, stung. “Be very careful how you speak to me, Adam. I won’t tolerate your insults again.”
“I can’t even believe you,” he says. “I can’t believe you can stand there and treat me like this.” His face is twisted into something so intensely unattractive.
“I’m not trying to hurt you—”
“Maybe you should’ve remembered that before you ran into the arms of some psycho!”
“Calm your ass down, Kent.” I hear Kenji’s sharp warning from the corner of the room. “I thought you said you were going to be cool.”
“I am being cool,” he says, his voice rising, eyes on fire. “I’m a freaking saint. I don’t know anyone else who would be as generous as I am right now.” He looks back at me. “You were lying to me the whole time we were together. You were cheating on me—”
“No I wasn’t.”
“This kind of shit doesn’t just happen overnight,” he shouts. “You don’t just fall out of love with someone like that—”
“We’re done, Adam. I’m not doing this again. You’re welcome to stay here,” I tell him. “Especially for James’s sake. But you can’t stay here and insult me. You have no right.”