“It’s not,” she snaps, turning back to her computer and typing again. “It’s fine. I just wouldn’t have slept with someone else’s boyfriend if I’d known.”
“And I wouldn’t have slept with you if Em and I weren’t on a break.” Billie cringes, so I know I must not be saying the right thing, again. I shove my hands in my pockets and add, “I like you a lot. You make it bearable to be here.”
“Wow, Calum.” Billie laughs bitterly. “Such a ringing endorsement of our relationship.”
“Look, things feel mixed up, and I’m not good with mixed up. I don’t really know what to say.”
“Well, I’ll let you off the hook. We were supposed to keep it professional, and we didn’t. You were my fake boyfriend for the span of, like, three hours. You played your part, and we can just forget about it now. Okay?”
Every muscle in my body is tense. I feel so uncomfortable.I hate this.I don’t know what to say or how to feel. All I do know is that this thing with Billie confuses me. It confuses me in a way I never felt with Emily.Is that good or bad?
“I don’t really know what to say to make this right,” I admit. “I like you. I find you attractive. I enjoy spending time with you. And Em and I haven’t been right since I moved here. She says she’s in love with someone else, but she seemed jealous when she saw the picture in the paper.”
“Wait, what picture in the paper?” Billie’s gaze snapping back up to meet mine.
“There was a grainy picture of us on the beach in a sleazy Montreal tabloid. No one would know it was you.”
“Picture of us doing what?” she asks slowly.
“Oh, holy hell, Cal! You didn’t think totellme?”
“I just found out about it a minute ago. That’s why Em called.”
“My mother will flip her lid,” Billie mutters, rubbing her eyes with the palms of her hands.
“It’s not a big deal. It’s only me that can really be identified, and I’m not worried about it.”
“Oh, good, well, if you’re not worried about it…” Billie rolls her eyes at me. “Cal, your priorities could be readjusted, you know that?”
I frown, not having any idea what she means.
She waves me off. “I’ve had enough of this. Go call your girlfriend and fix things.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means you’re obviously just getting your rocks off with me to piss off your girlfriend or make her jealous or whatever. I’m not interested in being your bait, and I’m not interested in getting in the middle of whatever routine thing it is that will make you feel normal.”
“That’s not—I’m not with her just because it makes me feel normal.”
“You’re not with her at all, is what you tried to tell me a minute ago. So, which is it? You either have a girlfriend or you don’t.”
“I don’t. She put us on a break. We were on a break.Areon a break.”
“You don’t seem so sure, Cal. And what do you want? Do you want to be on a break?”
“Yeah…I do now. I didn’t at first, but now I know it was for the best. It’s complicated, Billie. We were together for a couple of years. Em knows me.”
“She knows you.” Billie’s voice is flat.
“She put up with my quirks.”
“Well, that’s the picture of romance, now, isn’t it?”
“It’s not about romance.”
“Of course, it’s not. For you, it’s all about avoiding change. It’s about staying in your comfort zone.” Billie’s feeling hurt and annoyed with me, but she’s also one hundred percent correct. Idoavoid change at all costs.