I couldn’t remember ever feeling this uncomfortable with Dee. That old ‘cut the silence with a knife’ crap? I was feeling it. I’d managed to catch Suzi before she said anything to anyone and explained … sort of. I’d said I was just doing Roxie a favour, that these things had been organised before we broke up then I’d begged her not to tell our family. She’d made me pinkie swear that I wasn’t going to get back together with her before she’d agreed. I could count on Suze to keep my secret and the chances of her running into Roxie were pretty low too.

Dee on the other hand … I had to think of something else to tell her.

“So, want to talk about it?” She asked as we reached the half way point of the drive back to my place. She couldn’t have stayed quiet for another ten minutes?

“Sure. You want tips on how not to be so vanilla for Mark?” I shot her a quick grin.

She grinned right back at me and said, “No I want to hear about how Roxie is a psycho.”

I checked the traffic before I changed lanes for our exit. I had a hard time meeting my own gaze, I already felt like crap for lying to Dee and now I was going to have to downplay things and lie some more. The last thing I needed was Dee working out the relationship with Roxie wasn’t real because that could too easily lead to Roxie telling Dee my secrets.

“Suze is exaggerating. Roxie got a bit emotional when we broke up, that’s all,” I said with a shrug.

“Riiight.”

Okay, strike one. “Well, she might have made a couple of late night phone calls to Suzi looking for me.” I hadn’t answered her calls because I’d been passed out drunk. Might keep that to myself. “It was a bad break up Dee, I didn’t want to talk to her. I didn’t expect her to call Suzi. She was drunk and has since apologised but …” But what?  I had nothing, it was mostly true except the drunk calls had been to me. Along with the voice mails and texts.

“You were a mess Jay,” she said softly and patted my knee then left her hand there.

Look how sweet she was, letting me off the hook. And now I was going to be an asshole, because I’d heard her comment about being ‘too vanilla’ and I wanted details on that. Roxie had teased me with some vague details after they’d had a conversation in the bathroom the last time we’d all gone out together.

“So what about you baby?” I placed my hand over hers on my knee, holding it in place. “You and Mark okay? You need some … tips?” I gave her a quick glance and an eyebrow wiggle so she laughed.

“You’re not seriously asking about my sex life are you?”

“That’s what friends are for right? To talk about this stuff.”

She made a little humming sound as if she was thinking about it so I ploughed on.

“I could ah, help you with the being tied up, or if you need to tie him up. If you need the practise?” Another quick look showed her staring at me, her mouth gaping open. “What? I’ve heard you’ve heard about me.” I shrugged.

“Are you offering to let me tie you up?” She said with disbelief.

“Well if you need the practise …”

After a long silent minute she laughed again.

I waited for her laughter to fade then said, “I’m serious Dee.” I squeezed her hand. “If you need my help, for anything, I’m here for you babe. I know I haven’t been lately, I let Roxie … dictate things. But I’m here if you need me.”

“I’m just …” she shook her head. “That’s so sweet of you. I know.” She broke off to pull her hand away from mine and cover her face. “I can’t believe I’m saying this,” she muttered then dropped her hands. Another knee pat and she said, “I know you’re not into being tied up so I really appreciate the offer. And anyway, that’s not the problem with Mark.”

“So there is a problem with Mark?”

“A couple,” she said with a sigh. “Look, the sex stuff, I’d rather not go there okay?”

Damn! I really wanted to know if it was the spankings like Roxie had said or something else. “Sure babe, anything you want,” I said instead.

“It doesn’t matter anyway,” Dee said as I pulled into my parking spot. “Mark’s leaving,” she said into the silence as the engine died.

“Oh babe.” I slid out of the car and circled it to open her door and pull her into my arms. “That sucks,” I murmured against her hair.

“He’s getting a promotion at work so it’s good news really,” she said as she hugged me. I leaned against the side of the car and just held her.

“Good for him,” I agreed. “Not so great for you.”

“I’ll be fine,” she sighed and pulled away from me. “It’s for the best anyway. I’m not ready to settle down.” She shot me a grin as she reached into the car and grabbed the bag of left overs. “Not like you Mr Commitment. When can I expect an engagement announcement?”

I took the bag from her as we headed inside. I thought, how about the twelfth of never, but I just said, “Oh you never know. No promises but it is nearly the silly season after all.”

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