It takes the sacrifice of two glasses and a planter before I finally get some solid thoughts into my head. They consist of just a few words, but that's enough for me to go do something. 
Outside. 
Fresh air. 
Walk. 
Jacket.
Keys.
Don't let cat escape.

Where the fuck is cat?

She took the fucking cat.

With that realisation, I don't walk but I drive. Piper lives thirty minutes outside the city, and I know for a fact that she is home today. I'm seething, the drive doing nothing to calm me. I push the speed limit, probably almost cause an accident or two but I don't care. 
Piper opens quickly, looking surprised to see me. Before she even gets a chance to greet me, I barge in.
"How dare she," I rage. "How fucking dare she! We're just friends! She's just projecting her jealousy onto me, as well as her insecurities, and then has the guts to put the blame on me!" 
Piper, who's followed me down the hall, gives me a confused and concerned look. "Luce, boo… What's going on?" The question is tentative, as if she's unsure what to expect. "Is this about Emma?" 
"Oh, you bet it is about Emma!" I pace the living room, far smaller than my own, and it makes for a very awkward circle that makes me dizzy, but there's no way I can sit still. "Because she thought it would be a good idea if you and I fucked! So I could get it out of my system, and so that her giving her approval would save the relationship!" I throw my hands up in desperation; Piper watches me from a corner of the room, looking more and more concerned. "Because no matter how often I tell her, apparently she's never going to get over the fact that in a past life I lived differently than I do now and my word isn't trustworthy enough." 
Piper's brows knit together, and her head tips to the side. She approaches me, slowly, like I'm a wild animal that might get spooked. "Just… sit down for a minute, boo." She says softly, both her hands brushing over my arm to guide me towards the couch. I yank away from the touch, shaking my head vigorously. 
"Don't call me that." 
She looks hurt, and I immediately regret it. "I'm sorry." 
"No, no. I'm sorry." I force my voice to be calm. "It's just Emma getting in my head. You calling me that… apparently for her that's flirting." 
"Sounds like it was a big fight." 
"Yeah, it was. We don't fight like that often." I think back to the few times that we have, and get stuck on the first ever fight we had. Emma insisted that something was wrong, and wouldn't take my word for it when I truthfully said there wasn't. She put words in my mouth and created a whole reality around it, refusing to listen to anything I said or just simply trusting me. Just like now. The realisation causes the anger to flare up high again. I let Piper coax me down on the couch, despite every cell of my body being absolutely restless. There’s still concern in her eyes, but now there’s also something else. Something softer and much deeper that I don’t have a name for, nor the mental capacity to figure it out. 
“Have you eaten?” She asks in a ginger tone. Like her eyes, there’s something to it that I can’t identify. I shrug. 
“Breakfast.”
“That was hours ago. I’ll make you something. Coffee? Tea?”
“Don’t suppose you’ve got some good whiskey since last night?” I reply bitterly. She laughs; a short-lived sound that gets abruptly cut off, like it’s inappropriate. She disappears to the tiny kitchen and I want to take out my phone for some much needed distraction, but discover that I have left it in the car. At first I think I’ll do fine without it, but my mind quickly starts spiralling. The magazines that Piper has scattered around don’t offer much either, and after a couple of minutes I figure I might as well go get it. Probably need to text Brie or Matt, prepare myself for a scathing call from Kenna, now that Emma’s gone to her to rant about me. I pop by the kitchen to let Piper know I’m outside for just a second. She’s on the phone, and my voice seems to startle her. She quickly recovers and nods at me with a smile, gesturing to the keys next to the door. 
The icy air outside is a welcome shock to my body, as if shaking me awake, but also a reminder to move quickly because I'm not wearing any protection against it. When I do return, I go to maybe help Piper make whatever she's decided on - especially now that she's on a call. It's not unknown for her to suddenly get calls she can't refuse, often to do with her severely dysfunctional family. Her back is turned to me when I step inside the kitchen, and she doesn't notice me right away. 
A wicked twist of faith, maybe, or I'm just plain unlucky. 
"Jesse," She breathes into the phone, clearly on the verge of tears. "I don't care how often you repeat it. I can't do it. I'm out." A pause. "Yes, I know what Call has offered me, but I can't do this to him!" Another pause. "You're not going to change my mind! Give me 'Mister Pritchard's' number and I'll…" She says the name mockingly, but it's enough.
"Call Pritchard?" The name is over my lips before I can stop it. Piper whips around, looking stricken, and I hear the metallic sounds of a voice on the other end of the line. I can't make out the words, but it's not hard to recognise the voice, since I've got a name attached to that as well.
"Hang up the phone." I say flatly. 
"Lucien, I can explain." She whispers, without hanging up. Jesse has gone silent. 
"Hang up the phone." I repeat. This time she does. Her hand trembles as she puts it down on the counter, and she does an expert job of avoiding my eye. I try to make sense of it, but I can't. Had it just been Jesse's name, there might not even be any alarm bells ringing in my head. He's a dick, but that's all. But with Callum's name connected to, I know there's much more to it.
"Well?" I prompt angrily when she stays quiet. Much like Emma, she has the audacity to look hurt. Like she didn't just take hold of my heart and might rip it out, depending on what's to follow. Her eyes fill with tears. 
"I'm sorry, Lucien. But you have to understand. He was so persuasive, and what he offered me... I didn't feel like I could say no..."

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