“No hand jobs? Got in pretty easy then. I must not be as important as I thought. Damn it, ego, you lied to me.” Sydney laughs, and I smile, but it doesn't last long. Poppet's face flashes in my brain, but not the new Poppet with the crazy eyes and the blonde hair, the old one with a snippy attitude and a head of rich brunette, like yours truly. Her hair was always prettier than mine though, like coffee without cream. Mine's the color of a stale Tim Tam, one that's been left under the sofa for weeks before you find it. Granted, I'd still gobble it up, but then that's just me.
“Well, if that's the case, then I'm shit on the bottom of your shoe. Nobody gives a flying fuck about me.” Sydney doesn't even sound upset when she says this, tucking some of her blonde hair behind an ear.
“Not even Dax?” I ask, liking the direction this conversation is going. I don't want to talk about the concert or my sister or Stephen or anything else for that matter. Sydney snorts and then sweeps both her hands over her hair, pushing back the pale strands as she sighs.
“I don't know. I mean, we just met. Sure, we had some chemistry, but what the hell does that really mean other than great sex.” She shrugs like she doesn't give a shit, but I'm an expert when it comes to smellin' crap. “Granted, we only got to do it once … ” Sydney taps her nails on the arm of her chair and then forces a smile. Her blue eyes meet mine and we share one of those looks, the kind chicks always get when they're talking about men. It's a look that says hey, we like your penis but your attitude could use some fuckin' work. “Anyway, why are we talking about Dax again?”
“Because I really don't want to talk about anything that matters.” My chest gets tight, and I imagine my sister, holding one of our lorikeets on her arm. The bird's bright colors clashed with the ugly tie-dye crap she was wearing, her teeth too white against her dry lips as she smiled at me and I threw a tube of lip balm at her face. It's not a memory that means much, has no real significance, no epic music playing in the background, but it's stuck there in my head on a continuous loop. I look away from Sydney and focus on the floor. “So. Sex once. That sucks.”
“Yep. Once. In the back of a strip club. He was a little buzzed, I guess.” Sydney growls under her breath, drawing my attention back to her with a smile. I like a woman who knows what she wants. I can tell Miss Charell here wants Dax and his ding-a-ling, even if she won't admit it. “And then we found his dead friend and Hayden killed herself, so … ” Sydney shrugs. “Let's just say budding romance hasn't exactly been in his vocabulary.” She looks up at me. “But you. You're in love with Ronnie.”
I wet my lips.
I haven't admitted it out loud, so I struggle with my response for a moment.
“Yeah?” Sydney asks and I give her a look and a raised eyebrow.
“What do you want me to say: yes, of course. Yeah, yeah, I think I love him.” Sydney rolls her eyes to the ceiling and starts rubbing her feet with her hands, giving herself a foot massage. I get it. Wear heels enough and you'll start doing it, too. It's something men never fuckin' understand. No, you can't park down the Goddamn block. No, it's not just a short, little walk to me, asshole. You like the way this butt looks in these shoes? Drop me off at the fucking door.
“You mean you know you do.” She leans over and I think about the hazy image I have of her, grabbing my gun, holding off … somebody from behind Ronnie and me. Without her, he might've been killed. I don't know what happened, but I owe her a thanks anyway, even if she's starting to piss me off. “I saw you choose him over you.”
“I chose to let myself get what I deserved.” I point at my stomach. “Which is ten times worse than this. I put on a mask, hopped Naomi's bus and helped beat a girl to death. Is there any making up for that crime? Don't think so.” I sigh and lay back into the pillows. I'm happy to be alive because that means I get to see Ronnie again, but I almost think it might've been easier if I had died. No matter what might've happened – heaven, hell, rebirth, the river fucking Styx, or even total blackness – it would've washed the guilt away. I could've started fresh. Even if I ended up shoveling coal in some magma pit in the center of the earth, getting the Devil's horns shoved up my ass day in and day out, at least there'd be the sense of atonement. I could know that the girl I wronged, she was getting her revenge.
“Okay, okay, fine. Your self-sacrifice had absolutely nothing to do with Ronnie McGuire.” Sydney sighs and shakes her head. We might not have known each other all that long, but I can see she already gets exactly where it is that I'm coming from. That bitch. “So do you want to keep talking about Dax or should I fill you in?” I groan and turn my face away, but I know have to hear this stuff sooner or later. Might as well be sooner. Maybe the drugs the nurses gave me will help disseminate the information through my brain?