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Chapter 4 - Sticks and Stones

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"I made you breakfast."

I open my eyes to the well-lit room and wonder if it is the morning or afternoon. Aaron stands in the doorway already dressed in a suit for work. I'd usually compliment the way the light gray pops against his dark complexion, but I remember I'm mad at him. "I'm not hungry."

"Then don't eat. But you're late for your medication, too. Come on."

I crawl off the bed realizing I slept in my scrubs without anything on my hair. I'm not smelling too fresh either, but that will have to be remedied later.

I go down the stairs and see he has a spread laid out on the coffee table. Eggs Benedict with avocadomy favorite. A glass of orange juice and water sit next to my pill bottles. "This doesn't make up for you cheating on me," I tell him, "but I appreciate it."

He nods, leaning his elbows onto his knees and pressing his fingertips together in that come-to-Jesus pose I hate. "We need to talk."

I twist my mouth, wondering if the food is really worth it. The grumble in my stomach answers my question. I sit next to him on the couch and distract myself by readying my pills.

"You asked me to leave, but I don't think that's a good idea," he starts. I sit up straighter, waiting for him to grovel. "You may have gotten the boss bitch job you always wanted, but we both know you won't be getting a matching salary for some time. Not to mention the six figures of medical debt and student loans you'll have to pay."

That is not what I expected. "Thanks for the reminder."

"What I'm tryin' to say is, the lease isn't up for six months. Breaking it early will be another expense we can't swing, which will do nothing but hurt our credit." Such an accountant thing to say. "So . . ."

"Are you seriously suggesting we keep living together?" I ask incredulously. "After everything you've done?"

He sighs but remains calm. "I never slept with anyone else, Nay, but I can't say that wasn't the goal," he admits. "I didn't know how else to get you to admit that we've been over for a while."

I don't want to admit that because I don't think that's true. "We have sex, like, five times a week. How is it over?"

"We have sex all the time, yeah, but when we do, it's like I'm optional in the situation. You barely want to look at me. It's like you wish I were someone else. Anyone else." I glance his way, but my eyes fall when I see his expression. "I know you don't find me attractive anymore. I gained a lot of weight over the years and . . . you were out of my league before then anyway."

My brow tensed in confusion. "None of that is true, Aaron."

"Either way, what I'm saying is . . . I need intimacy. I need to feel wanted, needed," he adds. ". . . I don't think I can get that from you anymore." 

My heart hurts, a lump building in my chest. My sexual detachment had nothing to do with him or his appearance. It was upsetting to know he couldn't see that. "So, that's it?" I ask him. "Whatever works best for you is what's gonna happen?"

"I'm telling you what I need. You had years of being the selfish one, Nay."

His words hit me like a punch to the gut. "Because I had to be. You think I asked for this?"

"Don't turn me into some kind of villain," he says with another sigh. "You may have been the one who had to go through it, but I went through it with you. I was there for you the whole time. Supporting you, caring for you. That wasn't easy either."

The tears I fight back burn my eyes and nose. This hurts, but I'm not completely sure why.

"Admit this is over," he says. "Let us both be free."

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