By: Deana Farrady

She sniffed. "That's what you say. You say I'm beautiful, but Ash, that's just your opinion. I mean, if your Charis truly has nothing against me, why would she say it unless it was true? It has to be true! It is, oh, my God. I really am ugly! I'm so—fucking—disgusting, and I always have been, and inside you know it and everyone knows it and I can't trust anyone to tell me the truth!"

As she sobbed against me, one thought kept going through my head: They were right. They were all right. Aura's a bitch beyond all bitchhood. Why am I still with this woman?

Maybe you're thinking I was being harsh, cruel to take this attitude with an obviously troubled individual soaking my chest with her tears. Believe what you want. She was lying.

Sloane may not be Aura's biggest fangirl, but if there's one thing I know deep in my soul, it's that she doesn't hurt people like that.

Aura, though…

I wanted to shake her. Violence towards babes turns my stomach, but I was this close to making her shut up about Sloane.

Regarding Sloane: you don't know her, but you may have heard she says strange things from out in left field, so maybe you're on Aura's side. Maybe you think I should have felt sorry for the pain she was obviously suffering over this "insult."

I have five words for you.

Been there, fucking done that.

Not impressed.

All right, seven.

Aura's not the only one I know with weight issues. Just tally up the entire female half of my family. When are they not on diets? Back in high school, I bedded a couple of curvy girls. I made sure to admire them with all the words, since they acted like they needed a boost and I was all about giving it to them if they gave me their sweet, sexy pussies.

Women have a hard time with their bodies. I get it. That's what us guys are for. We show them how exquisitely fuckable they are.

Problem is, Aura cannot be convinced. She gets offended by dogs not licking her hand.

And now I was supposed to do my part in this routine. Protest that no other woman could ever compare with her. Then fuck her insensate and forget everything else, all the other reasons we didn't get along.

No matter how pointless it was.

No matter how harmful.

And that. That realization. This relationship is a fucking trainwreck. It destroys everything in its path.

That is when I basically snapped.

I was supposed to tell her she was perfect, over and over. And I almost did it, I almost fell into our pattern. But her smack talk about Charis was the last straw.

I let my hands fall away.

"Fine. Let's not fuck, then."

She gasped, then regrouped, getting a tear to spill from her eye. "See, I knew you didn't want to be with me, not really. If you really looked at me, you'd get it. Look at me, look at me, just look, Ash," she cried. "How can you want me?"

Well, I looked. Up and down, I looked at her. For once I did it objectively, without lust, without hope.

And what I saw was a person who was endlessly unhappy.

And I knew if I kept on with her, there was a 100% probability that I would be, too.

"I don't," I admitted. "I just want to fucking sleep."

"Oh, Ash," she breathed, "Do you realize what you just said? What that sounds like? How could you say you don't want me? How could you not be there for me now, exactly when I need you most?"

My jaw clenched. She needed me. Of course it didn't matter that I needed her.

You want the bare honest truth? She was absolutely right. I wanted to go to Charis, wanted it with an ache deep in my soul. My friend doesn't play games. She doesn't leverage sex. She doesn't leverage anything. Charis knows she's not a hottie and she doesn't give a shit.

What's more, Charis never doubts it when I tell her she's the best. She grins and says, back at ya.

And if I need something, she always comes through. Always. Just like I come through for her no matter what. We're a team that way.

I've known Sloane since I was a kid. We've always been friends.

We were friends when she was my babysitter. Oh, did I forget to mention she's four years older than me? Shocked? Well, she is.

We were friends when I got that crush on her at thirteen. She nipped it in the bud fast and we stayed friends.

We were friends when we met up again my first year in college.

And we've been besties almost as long as I've been dating Aura.

Our friendship may not be based on passion, on attraction, but it's special, dammit.

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