Daria’s Dating Dilemma, Part Four
When we left Daria on September 26th, her first worthwhile date had been interrupted by the arrival of her ex… But will it be a total loss?
Keith stared at me and I felt miserable. Frankly, I desired nothing more than to walk over to my ex-fiancé and stab him with a hundred of those cheese toothpicks. How dare Scott destroy me years after we “mutually” called it quits!
Well, the mutual part involved finding him pumping away at another girl and me blurting out the relationship was over. Since then, he’d taken every opportunity to cross my path and try to win me back. Even telling the jerk hell would freeze before I’d rescue him from a fire had no effect.
I took a deep breath to calm the rising anger. Losing control would only cause an explosion of my infamous temper. One flash inferno and Keith would definitely go running. I shook out my hands and gritted my teeth until calm, or a semblance of it, took over.
“I broke it off with him two years ago. After I found him in bed with another woman.” I explained for Keith and then turned. “Funny, Sam, wasn’t she a friend of yours?”
The other woman was Sam’s little sister, and she clearly remembered her part when she turned white and hightailed it for the kitchen. She was now blocking the only other means of escape unless I jumped out an open window. I rolled my shoulders and tried to breathe while the introductions of my ex continued around the room.
A hand grabbed mine and squeezed. “He still works you up?”
I frowned. “I have no feelings for Scott, except annoyance at him for not leaving me alone. Two years and he still can’t take a hint.”
“You must be special then.” He squeezed my hand again and I wanted to kiss him silly.
I don’t know why I said what I said next. I do know I’d come to regret my choice of words. “Just keep him away from me and everything will go splendid.”
Everything did go well, except for the occasional rumor or baited glance. I was used to those and shrugged them off as par for the course when hanging around this crowd. I counted down the moments until I could make my escape and something told me Keith knew it.
“Maybe we could skip out and get some coffee?” He offered from next to me, causing me to grin widely.
“I would love to. Say after this round?” He nodded and we went back to playing the game.
I was excited to leave. Playing the perfect guest while everyone talks about you was exhausting as hell. Didn’t help when every one of Maggie’s friends took Scott’s side in the equation. I remembered overhearing her tell Pat how I should have sucked it up and stuck it out since Scott was the best thing I’d ever find. I’d run crying to Pat, upset since—in a way—Scott had betrayed both of us. We’d known Scott for almost as long as each other.
Mental Rule Number 6: Do NOT date childhood friends.
Remembering her heated words brought my temper to a head and I bolted off the sofa uncontrollably. I looked down at Keith and pasted on a fake smile. “Coffee sounds great. What do you say we blow this popsicle stand?”
Lucky for me, he laughed and joined me in walking away from everyone. I didn’t bother telling them bye—it would have been a wasted effort. I did stop to thank Pat and that’s when it happened.
Apparently, Scott had snuck up on us while I was hugging Pat. When the tap touched my shoulder I thought it’d been Keith. Imagine my surprise when I turned to tuck my arm around him and my ex was standing there… with my purse and jacket no less!
Okay, I admit it wholeheartedly. I overreacted and my exaggerated response was the trigger on the atomic explosion that went down in the record books as Maggie’s Game Night. If I could go back in time, I would have shoved us out a window. And, in hindsight, I’m pretty sure Keith would have happily dove for it with me.
Scott standing close with my things lit my fuse and my temper exploded. I grabbed my belongings from him, slapped him, and called him every nasty word in the book. Not that I recall exactly what I said, but I’m guessing it was shocking by the remembered expressions on Pat and Keith’s faces.
When I went to storm out, of course the dumbass tried to follow. Then things got really ugly. In his defense, Keith was trying to help. He grabbed Scott and told him to leave me alone. After that, it was a barrage of fists in every direction. Even Pat took a hit, from Scott of all people.
I sat with Keith in a police station waiting to give my statement. Maggie had called the police and Scott wanted to press charges. I wasn’t sure exactly what to tell the police since it was all an angry blur, but I would do my best to get Keith out of trouble. I owed him.
“Well, it was a fun date,” I whispered, blushing fiercely. “I’m sorry you got dragged into this.”
“Just tell me his face looks worse than mine,” Keith answered.
I nodded, still feeling incredibly guilty. “You did a bang up job, that’s for sure. Listen, I’ll do my best to keep you out of trouble.”
“It’s nothing. I’m sure the cops see this kind of thing all the time.” He tried to smile and winced. “Look at the bright side. We won’t be invited to any more of Maggie’s game nights for awhile.”
My laughter earned me a few cold stares from the officers around us and I choked on it. “Still, I owe you one.”
“Yes, you certainly do. You can repay me by going out to dinner when I get back.”
“Look, you’re not going to prison.”
He leaned forward and pressed the tissue into his nose again. “No, I have to go to London in two days. Arrange a consolidation of businesses.”
I leaned back, staring at the stained ceiling tiles and the glow of florescent lights. “So you’re a negotiator?”
“In a way. I make sure acquisitions for the company transition smoothly and help iron out the details.”
I reached over and patted his knee. “I’m sorry you’ll be bruised for it.”
“It’ll give me some macho man credit,” he chuckled and fell silent.
“Let me see if I can sweet talk someone into an ice bag for you.” I stood and marched over to a desk. The lady took one look at me and asked if I was hurt. I looked down and, sure enough, found blood on my clean skirt. “Damn. I’m fine, but my friend is hurt and needs an ice pack for his face.”
“He should have thought of that before the fight.”
Serve and protect my ass. “Look, he was defending me. The guy deserves an ice pack.”
She shrugged and went back to her computer. A random stranger whistled and I turned. He pointed at a vending machine. “The pop cans come out really cold.”
“Thank you,” I nodded and walked over, popping seventy five cents into the machine and getting a root beer. The guy was right, it was freezing.
I carried it back over to Keith and gingerly held it to his face. “I’m so, so sorry. Just so you know, I am the Queen of disaster dates…”
“Pat told me.”
“He what?” I would kill him next time I saw him.
“He told me you have awful luck with dates. I just forgot to wear my suit of armor.” Keith mumbled.
I eyed him carefully. “Are you okay? Concussion? You hit the wall pretty hard.”
“Maybe, but I’ll be fine.”
An officer called my name and I let Keith take over holding the can. I rose, and walked over to the room. Scott was marching out to a desk at the same time. He started to say something, but I ignored him. The officer told him it was in his best interests to leave me alone—smart officer.
I sat at the lone metal table and gave my statement as honestly as I could, all while trying not to think about the police shows I watched. I calmly detailed the rough time I’d had with Scott, the history we had, and how Keith had only been trying to protect me.
“Let me get this straight. You told that man to keep Scott away from you.” The officer jotted something down.
“Well, yes, but I wasn’t suggesting violence…” my voice dropped off as the officer stood. Was he reaching for his cuffs? “Look, I just didn’t want to deal with my lying, cheating ex-fiancé. I did not ask for anyone to exchange fists.”
“That may be, but for now I’ll need to arrest you as an accessory to assault.”
“Don’t you dare! I want my phone call. If anything we should be pressing charges against Scott. I’ve told him how many times to leave me alone. And your office was no help…” I slammed my mouth shut, realizing the officer was taking notes and I was digging myself a deeper hole.
He slid the cuffs on and led me out. Keith was whistling some tune and looking awful. The bruising on his jaw was starting to swell and I really worried about an unseen injury. There was an officer checking over Scott’s injuries a few desks away. Why did he get the gold-star treatment? Because he’d cried victim first?
“Hey, hey! I think my friend here has a concussion. He needs medical treatment.”
“Sure, lady, we’ll get a paramedic over to look at him… eventually.” A round of laughter followed as I tried to get comfortable on my bench seat.
I kept an eye on Keith while pondering who to call first. I didn’t know any lawyers.
I mean, I talked to a few in the company on occasion, but those were business attorneys. Weren’t lawyers supposed to know other lawyers?
The tears started and I couldn’t help it. Everything had gone horribly wrong, and now I was stuck with cops who didn’t care. Police who couldn’t be bothered to see things from my point of view and a date that most likely had brain damage – it was all highly depressing.
I looked up at the sound of my name, mascara stinging my eyes. I blinked as a handkerchief was blotted against them. My blurry vision cleared and I gasped in shock.
“Marcus? Is that you?” I looked him over in his suit. It was a far cry from the baseball uniform he’d worn in college. “What are you doing here?”
“I'm a defense lawyer. What’s going on?”
I poured out the whole story while Keith whistled and chuckled at himself beside me. A few times more, Marcus had to blot my eyes. “And that’s all of it. They’re calling me an accessory.”
“Do you have representation yet?” I shook my head. “You do now. Let me find out about your case.”
“Thank you, oh thank you!” I would have hugged him if my hands hadn’t been cuffed behind my back. After he walked away, I leaned against Keith. “We’re going to be okay.”
I took Keith drooling on my shoulder as a sign of his shared relief.
Please return for the continuation of Daria’s journey on November 26th, only here on Digital Digest. If you'd like to catch up on Digital Digest stories, check out our ebooks available on Kindle and Nook!
Copyright © 2011 Jennifer Feuerstein
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.