Filthy Beautiful Forever(10)

By: Kendall Ryan

The silence between him and Tatianna seems different somehow. Not awkward exactly, but not comfortable either. It’s like they don’t have anything to say to each other, so they’ve just stopped talking. But surely there’s always something to talk about. In all the years Collins and I were friends, I don’t ever remember either one of us ever lacking in interesting things to say.

Collins stops at a doorway and motions for me to enter. Having adjusted my expectations to assume everything is huge in this house, I am not disappointed by the size of the dining room. I follow Tatianna down to the far end of what might more aptly be called a dining hall.

“Take a seat.” Collins points at one of the places made up at the end of a table long enough to seat twenty. I sit down and try not to gawk too much as I take in the two amazing crystal chandeliers that hang from above, elegantly illuminating the room. Collins takes the seat next to me, at the head of the table, and Tatianna seats herself on the other side of him and across from me. She barely takes her eyes off her phone as she pours herself some water.

I turn to Collins, wondering if this is the way she usually is when they eat dinner, but he doesn’t seem to notice. I can’t help thinking that if I were dating someone as amazing as Collins, I wouldn’t be staring at my phone when he was around, I’d be gazing into his eyes.

The food is already served and on the table. Collins picks up a bottle of wine and fills my glass before filling his own. He doesn’t offer any to Tatianna. In fact, she doesn’t even have a wine glass.

Dinner is a baked chicken breast with grilled vegetables. Collins looks at it for a moment as if he’s psyching himself up for it, and then picks up his silverware and starts cutting the chicken into pieces.

“When did you start liking poultry?” I ask as I cut into my own. I’ll eat almost anything, but Collins had always been a bit of a picky eater, and disliked pretty much all fowl. He’s more a red meat kind of guy. As I take my first bite, I notice Tatianna looking at him coolly, but not saying anything. Crap. Maybe I offended her. “Not that I don’t love it, I just meant...I guess we change with age, right?”

Collins finishes chewing, and chases his bite down with wine, then says, “Tatianna doesn’t eat red meat, so we don’t really keep it in the house.” He looks as if he’s talking sadly about a battle he’s lost.

I guess it makes sense if they live together, they must eat a lot of their meals together. But as I glance at her plate I notice she’s not even eating the same thing. Her plate is smaller, and piled with baby spinach and a small cherry tomato that’s been quartered and spread around the edge to give it color. I have to hide my shock. If she’s not even eating it, why should she care? It angers me that she would force her food preferences on him. Especially if they don’t even eat the same thing. Why does she feel the need to change him? He was perfect to start with.

Collins eyes her plate, then looks up at her meaningfully, but doesn’t say anything.

I wonder if he’s realizing how stupid it is, too. I stab a piece of chicken a bit harder than I need to with my fork, and take a bite. Chewing it, I mentally talk myself out of glaring at her throughout dinner. This is her house too after all.

I take a deep breath and ask Collins more about his business as we eat. It’s a bit weird. I was always the numbers girl, and yet, here he is, the owner of an investment firm. Being a bit of a numbers geek, I prod him all evening with questions about the inner workings of it all.

“Collins,” Tatianna jumps in while he takes a bite. “As fascinating as this is, I’m about finished, and I have to call my agent. You don’t mind if I leave you two, do you?” At this point, I realize she’s tuned out virtually the entire conversation. If her phone hadn’t been there to distract her, I wonder if she might rather count the individual pieces of spinach in her salad than talk about his work.

“No, go ahead,” he says. He kisses her cheek as she kisses the air next to his. I look at his hard square jaw, and smooth tan skin. How could she not want to brush her lips against that jawline?

“Nice meeting you, Mia,” she says glancing at me briefly before turning back to her phone and wandering off. She probably figures this is the last time she’s going to see me, and hell, maybe it is. Collins has a good life, a serious girlfriend, I can’t just come barging in.

By dessert, I have a pretty good snapshot of how the money flows through an investment firm. Collins geeks out almost as much as me, and we lean over our chocolate lava cake as we talk about the inner-workings of his company. His eyes are vibrant as he talks about his business, and I can tell he really does love his work. The life in his eyes is something I haven’t seen in a long time, and it fills me with warm energy.

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