I suppressed a smile.
MAYA. “Do you want to explain to me what the hell that was all about?” I started as soon as we cleared the exit from the gym.
Eli sighed dramatically. “Here we go.”
“You completely sabotaged me in there!” I had to keep myself from screaming at him as we made our way back to the apartment.
“You ran into your ex. It’s not world news, okay? Get a grip.”
Rage pulsed through me. “And you basically pushed me into a private work out with him, and somehow I’m supposed to be totally fine with getting drinks with him and his brother tonight?”
“So what, Maya? You’ve been moping around all week since you found out Cameron was in New York. You obviously still have feelings for him. Why don’t you give it a chance?”
“Give what a chance? What we had is over. I’m attracted to him, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go running into another relationship with him. And who knows if that’s even something he wants?”
He rolled his eyes. “Right.”
“Right…what? What does that mean?”
He turned toward me. “Outside of my own personal experiences, I’ve never actually felt chemistry between two other people. Until today. The freaking air crackled when you two saw each other. Whatever is going on between you is so obviously more than you’re making it out to be. I just gave you a little shove in the right direction.” He swept his hair away from his eyes. “Maybe you’ll thank me one day.”
I stopped in front of the apartment, too irritated to take the next steps up to the entrance of the brownstone we shared with a handful of other tenants. “This is not a game for me. You’re supposed to be on my side, Eli.” My tone was low, my voice thick with emotion. This situation with Cameron was taking me on an emotional roller coaster, and somehow Eli was driving the ride.
“You’re not even on your side. Do you know how difficult it is to live with you and your self defeating attitude sometimes?”
“Well no one’s forcing you to stay here. It’s not like I’ll miss the rent that you never pay me,” I snapped.
His jaw dropped. The silence that fell between us was almost painful.
I was about to speak, somehow soften what I’d just said, when he beat me to it.
“I’m going to grab some groceries for dinner and try to forget you just said that. I’ll see you back here later.”
“Eli…” My shoulders slumped as he walked past me.
I cursed and made my way upstairs and out of the cold.
Despite feeling energized by my workout, I sulked most of the day. Eli and I barely spoke, though he made his movements around our small apartment known. I tried to ignore him every time he slammed a door a little too hard, made a clatter putting the dishes away, or sighed a little too loudly. If I was self-defeating, he was classically passive aggressive.
I tossed aside a book that wasn’t grabbing me and looked out the window. The streets were empty, the trees that lined them now barren. The dead of winter had come early this year, with the kind of cold that borders on painful the second you step outside, the kind of cold that made me wonder why I came here, of all places, after school. Though I had no way of knowing, I wanted to believe I was close enough for my mother to find me if she needed to.
I opened my laptop and a new tab in my browser. I typed Lynne Jacobs into the search bar and scanned the results. I checked all the usual places where I thought I might find her—police reports, regional news, and finally the obituaries. I had no way of knowing where she could be, if she were even alive.
No less than six months after things ended terribly with Cameron, I’d lost touch with my mom. We rarely saw each other after I’d left for college, but we always kept in touch somehow. Then the phone number I’d had for her was disconnected. At the time, I panicked, angry and scared that I’d never bothered getting contact info from her newest boyfriend, or even the address where she’d stayed last. She moved around so often, I’d stopped keeping track, figuring she’d always circle back and find me wherever she landed. I closed my eyes, seeing her face. I’d never forgive myself.
“Find anything?” Eli’s voice was soft when he settled beside me, glancing over my shoulder to the screen.
I shook my head.
“Truce?” he said.
I shut the laptop and shifted closer, pulling him into a tight hug. True enough, I’d taken on the brunt of our shared expenses, but my friendship with Eli had been my lifeline in so many ways—ways I could never put a price on. I’d lashed out at him in a moment of weakness, and he didn’t deserve it.