I hitched my dance bag over my shoulder and descended the stairs of our loft studio with one last wave to Joey. The car keys on my Vera Bradley lanyard clinked together as I rounded the corner where my car was parked. I hadn't even passed the corner Panera Bread when I stopped dead in my tracks. A shiver shot up my spine: CJ's Honda barreled through the mountains of dirty slush and ice built up along the curb to parallel park into the spot where my Grandpa's old Ford was currently parked.
Through the front window of the Honda, I was zipping up my hot pink winter coat when CJ leaned over and kissed me. The kiss lingered for a moment before we smiled at each other and then got out of the car. I had the same dance bag over my shoulder, and CJ and I were talking about food as we passed where I was standing, frozen on the corner.
The memory caught me off guard, and it wasn't until I knew that CJ and Kaitlyn of February were safely inside the studio I had just left that I actually got into the old Ford. I hadn't realized it when I parked, but I had that parking spot was exactly where CJ had parked when we drove to practice after we had sex for the first time.
I hadn't heard a whisper from CJ since the day after his job interview the previous week. We had texted the day he left, but when he said he was waiting to pick up Sarah from the airport, I took that as my cue to say goodbye and I hadn't heard from him since. The next day, he deleted me off snapchat. Two days later, I spent most of Memorial Day crying because Whitney was making my life miserable. All I wanted to do was to call CJ, to have someone to talk to, other than my Mom, who understood everything. I was so close to just hitting the button, but something held me back: what if he didn't pick up, what if he did and then said that he couldn't talk to me, what if he really didn't want to be my friend? The thoughts only caused more tears to race each other down my cheeks, and I felt more alone than ever before.
CJ didn't know I wasn't living at 815 Lawrence anymore, he didn't know that the few days between when he left Ann Arbor and when I left Ann Arbor were absolutely miserable. He didn't know that I missed him more than ever. It was because Whitney was going crazy that I ended up at CJ's house one February night, which led to us having sex the next day, and brought me back to the parking spot I was currently sitting in.
I slammed the car into drive, and rocketed out of town, hitting the expressway at a far faster speed than necessary. The wind from my open windows lifted my hair from my still-sweaty-from-dance neck. CJ wasn't the first guy I'd had sex with, he wasn't the first guy I genuinely liked, but it wasn't until I drove farther and farther from Ann Arbor that it began to make sense why I was still hung up on him. At first, James was just a thing, but when he returned to Ann Arbor a year later and we started hooking up again, I did like him. It wasn't a massive crush, but we did have a natural chemistry that couldn't be denied. But then I looked him in the eye, told him we weren't hooking up anymore, and that was that. I really liked Philip, and when that started going south, I was quick to be the one to call it off. With both of those guys, I had gotten the last word. Things had ended on my terms. CJ was the only guy in my life so far who had had the upper hand, and what was worse, was that even when he was the one to call it off, it was only with words. His actions said otherwise, which left me only to wonder where his heart truly lied. I don't know if it hurt me more that there was a chance his heart didn't want me in his life, or that he was too afraid to actually listen to it.
But the thing that hurt me the most, was that I had lost a friend. I had just gone out for drinks with James twice in week, I had been texting Philip last week, but clearly CJ and I couldn't have any sort of contact or he would fall in love with me. CJ's challenge to my inner alpha was a blow in itself, but loosing him as a friend was the worst kind of treachery.
I had trusted CJ, only for him to betray me. It's a risk you take when you trust anyone. But, the ninth circle of hell is reserved for traitors, and that doesn't sound like a pleasant place.