Halfling Chapter Thirteen: Falling Out

Liana was waiting at the front door for me, and Faun was in her arms.  Neither of them looked all too happy with me.

“I can’t believe you got drunk without an escort to take you home!” she scolded, echoing Khit’s very words.  Faun barked too, not to be left out.

“Do you know how worried I was when I saw you puking into the prof’s toilet?  You’re lucky he was there, and not some pervert.”

She made me feel like a toddler who had just been caught stealing cookies before dinner.

“I’m sorry,” I muttered, although I didn’t know why I was apologizing when she’d been in the same state not too long ago.

But she was still too busy lecturing to hear me.  “No more drinking for you.  Ever.  You’re far too innocent to be corrupted by the sinful ambrosia of frat guys and sorority girls.”

Sinful ambrosia?  Liana really needed a break from writing her paper on Greek mythology.

“I’m not gonna become an alcoholic or anything,” I told her.

Liana glared at me to silence.  “Just promise not to do that again.”

I promised in a dramatic display that she did not find amusing, but it seemed she would forgive me anyway.  I took Faun from Liana’s arms and started petting my dear dog’s back.  She made a happy sound of contentment, and I agreed with her.  It was good to be home.

Then I looked around the apartment and saw that it was just the Liana, Faun, and me.

Liana answered the question on the tip of my tongue.  “Stacy and Nia went to the gym.”  Then her scolding frown turned into a tiny smirk of mischief.  “And now that my lecture is over, you can tell me the juicy details of your night with the professor.  I was only able to catch a snippet of it, after all.”  She sighed wistfully.  “Tell me all about how he heroically whisked you away from any danger that lurked on the streets.”

I rolled my eyes, thinking that Liana had read one too many romantic novels.  Khit had hardly “heroically whisked” me away.  More like dragged.

“Do I start with how I passed out into his arms as he was yelling at me for being an idiot?  Or should I tell you the delightful details of how I puked into the toilet bowl all night long?  But wait, you were there to witness the puking part.”

She slapped my shoulder.  Hard.  “I want to know how he found you in the first place.  It seems like such a coincidence that he happened to be there at the right time.  Are you sure he wasn’t following you?  Or maybe both of you were together already.”  She eyed me suspiciously.

Images of the infamous kiss came flooding to my head.  I couldn’t tell Liana about that…it was just too embarrassing.  “It was just a coincidence.  Don’t read into it.”

Her impish grin was starting to freak me out.  “I still think the professor likes you.  If I were you, I’d go for him instead of Darryl.  Darryl’s just a boy, but the professor is a man.”

That sounded so corny that I couldn’t control a snort, and then the snort progressed to insuppressible laughter.  The phrases Liana had been using today were hilarious, starting with that “sinful ambrosia” thing.

She placed her hands on her hips indignantly.  “I was being serious.”  And when my laughter refused to be abated, she stomped her feet.  “It’s not that funny.  I mean it…if I were you, I’d choose the Doc I.  He seems like a good man, and neither he nor Darryl deserves to be led on.”

I briefly thought that it was strange how Liana’s voice had grown slightly lower, as if she was trying to repress a sob, but I dismissed it, thinking she might just have had a frog in her throat.

“I know what I’m doing,” I told her.  I headed towards our room and started to push the door slightly open.  “But thanks for worrying and for giving me a good laugh.  I needed it.  You’re simply spewing out with weird phrases today.  It’s like you pulled them out of a romance nov—”

I stared in shock at the state of our room.  Books with covers of muscular men holding half dressed women lay strewn all over the floor and Liana’s bed.  There were at least ten.

Speechless, I turned around to face Liana again and pointed behind me.  “Did you just buy like ten romance novels and read them all in one night?”

I wasn’t one to criticize that behavior since I liked to read them too, but this was just ridiculous.  Her bed wasn’t made, and now that I thought about it, she was still in her PJs.

Liana brushed past me to collect her books in one pile.  She jutted out her chin defensively.  “So what if I did?”

I was surprised to hear the sudden antagonism in her tone of voice.  “I wasn’t going to lecture you.”

Her reply was scathing.  “Even if you did, you’d only be a hypocrite.  I wouldn’t listen to a two-timer.”

I knew she was no longer talking about reading tons of romance novels anymore, but I had no idea what was bothering her or what I had done to cause her sudden mood swing.

Before I could ask her what was wrong, she picked up her purse and car keys.

“I’m going out,” she said.  “When you become sensible and admit that you can’t like someone based on a silly dream, feel free to call me.”

Then she slammed the front door on her way out, leaving me to wonder how I had offended my best friend.  She had never talked to me like that before, and we’d only had two bad fights during our fifteen year friendship.  It hurt that she had voiced her opinion of me as silly and as a two-timer, but I knew there had to be a deeper reason for it.

It had to be personal.  I wondered if she had found out that Jared had cheated on her.  But that couldn’t be right.  She’d claimed everything was fine between the two of them.  And just the other day, she’d been gushing about him after she’d talked to him for two hours on the phone.

Whatever was wrong, I had been very oblivious and selfish, always focused on my problems and needs.  Liana was always there for me, always helping me with my problems, and meanwhile, I had ignored her problems.

One thing was clear: as soon as she came back, I hoped she would open up to me.

 

I didn’t see her for three days.  I knew she had come home though because I heard her silently close the door at 3 AM for two nights in a row and then creep into the covers.  I was always too groggy with sleep to confront her, and in the morning, she was gone before I woke, which was definitely a sign that she was avoiding me, since she usually woke at least three hours after me.

When I asked Stacy and Nia if they knew what Liana was doing, they told me she’d told them not to worry about her but didn’t tell them how she was spending her time.  I could only assume she was walking around the mall or along the beach, two of her favorite places.

On the third day that she did not return, I was going crazy.  She’d never stayed mad at me for this long, not even when we had that big fight in seventh grade when I accidently forgot to tell her my parents wouldn’t let me see a movie and she’d waited two hours in front of the theater for me to show up.

I decided to take things into my own hands.  I needed to find out what had made her so angry that she would stay away from me for three whole days.

So I snuck through her desk.

“I have a good reason,” I told Faun, who was eyeing me admonishingly.  She barked at me loudly. “Oh, stop that.  You’d do it too if you had a dog friend who was mad at you for three days.”

To put it bluntly, Liana was messy.  Her entire desk was a huge clutter of candy bar wrappers, pens (both new and dried-out), her computer, and papers galore.  I opened the top drawer, revealing a pair of scissors, more dried-out pens, and movie ticket stubs.

The drawer below that was filled with a stack of computer paper, notebook paper, and some cute Sanrio stationery paper with matching envelopes.  But nothing useful to me.  I sank into Liana’s chair, about to search the clutter that Liana called a desk.  Maybe one of the random pieces of paper contained evidence.

In the process of searching, my hand accidently brushed against Liana’s mouse, disrupting the screensaver on her computer.  I glanced at the computer screen and gaped, realizing that what I saw there was what I was looking for.  There, on the screen, was Jared’s Facebook profile, and the girl in his profile picture was not Liana.

My eyes scanned Jared’s information beside the picture.

Relationship Status:  Married to Amanda Jenkins.

“I guess you know now.”

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