Chapter 6 - It's Just Bad Luck

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"I don't understand how you never knew. I thought you guys were solid."

Richard sat at his old school desk, spinning around the room in an old, wooden swivel chair. His legs were too long for the seat now, with the potential to lift himself off the floor in an instant. He stared at the ceiling, letting the overhead light blind his eyes.

"I mean, she usually tells you these things. Sometimes before they even happen, ya know. When she meets someone and senses a spark, she runs to you with all the details."

He leaned back, causing the chipped wood to creak. He buried his face in his hands, closing his eyes in an attempt to disappear.

"You off your trolley, Richard?"

A firm smack came into contact with his arm, waking him up. The voice appeared in front of him; a young woman sitting on the edge of his bed. Her expression was stern, her eyebrows raised in disappointment. She opened her mouth to speak again, but Richard stopped her.

"See? Mia used to say that all the time, that I'm off my trolley. Yeah! You know what? Maybe I am." He sighed, and began to tap his fingers on his knees. "I don't even know her anymore, Lauren."

His sister stared at him deeply, waiting to see if he had actually been joking instead. In the absence of movement, sound, and possibly life as they knew it, the room became bland. Black and white, and somehow, she knew, they were in the grey. They had to be, for she had never seen her brother manage to hold such a solemn face.

"Don't say that. You know her. You just didn't know this." She stood up and pulled him out of his chair. He groaned in resistance, but followed anyway, plopping down next to her on the bed. "And you," she pestered while flicking his forehead, "You didn't even bother to ask!"

"I really hate you right now," he said, shoving her away gently. "I thought you were here to comfort me."

"I am! But not before I point out the stupidity in this. What were you expecting, Richard? That she'd be single until you came around? Hell, I thought she'd be married by now."

Richard glared at her, and she knowingly smirked in response. She let out an uncomfortable laugh. "Okay, guess that didn't help. Well, what did she say about the guy? Maybe they're not serious."

—•—•—

"I love you, too. Bye." Mia ended the call and placed her phone on the coffee table. She leaned back against Richard's chest again, detecting his heartbeat increase in speed. She thought that, perhaps, he felt awkward holding her, but if that had been the case, he would have detached himself minutes ago.

Richard broke his silence. "Who was that?"

"Brett," she simply said, staring into the dimness of the lamps that reflected off the windows. "My boyfriend."

"Oh." The cold evening turned afire. Richard wasn't sure if it was his body or Mia's that had ignited into a pit of hot coal, but he could feel her body tense against him. "How long have you guys been together?"

"Um," she hummed for a bit, recounting the months that had passed. "Almost two years now."

"Oh, that's uh. That's cool."

"Yeah, he's in real estate."

"I never asked but, okay. Class," Richard forced himself to say.

Brett? he repeated in his mind. It sounded like a pretty boy name to him, a name that was too Hollywood. Too sugared and spiced. Too much, too much for him to soak up. Brett? It echoed again in his head. Brett, the real estate agent? Brett, who was seeing Mia?

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