Ada looked at her phone and the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Before she could even click the “ignore” button, Jenny waved her hand over the phone and covered the screen. “Don’t answer it,” she said.
“You looked like you wanted to.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“You did. You should change your number.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Everyone I know has that number. It’s been my number since college.”
“You can always email everyone you want to have the number and let them know you changed it.”
“No.” Ada shook her head as if Jenny were her mom asking her to eat her least favorite vegetable. Ada looked wistful, and for a moment Jenny felt bad for chastising her best friend.
“Ada, I’m sorry. I just don’t want to see you get hurt again.” Jenny looked up at the scar on Ada’s forehead. It had healed after several weeks, but a subtle line reminded her of the violence her friend had experienced. “He’s crazy, and he’ll never change. You should have gone to the police.”
Ada shook her head fervently. “No. We were drunk and things just got out of control. It was my fault for antagonizing him…”
“It was never ‘your fault,’ Ada! Why would you even think that? Why are you apologizing for that asshole?” Jenny’s anger flushed her face. Her eyes darted at Ada as if she too wanted to strike her.
Ada moved her lips as if to say something, but no words came out. Her eyes wavered and she withdrew into the overwhelming emotion. Tears began to stream down her cheeks. “I don’t know…,” she choked on her tears and her voice cracked as she inhaled.
Jenny instantly felt bad for raising her voice with Ada. She sighed as if comforting a small child and stepped into to hug Ada as a few tears began to trickle down her cheeks. Jenny remained quiet letting her friend get it out.
It had been like this for the past two weeks since Ada had finally garnered the courage to move out of Shane’s house. She still had her townhome in the city, but she had moved in with Jenny for the time being. She feared being alone at the moment, but she mostly needed Jenny’s companionship and understanding. Despite all of the horrible things Shane had done to her, leaving him was difficult. His pleas and promises to change didn’t make it any easier. She really wanted to believe him.
“I don’t know,” Ada started, “I just feel like that he was my last chance at love. I know that sounds weird, but there were a lot of good things about him.”
“Why would this be your last chance? You’re thirty, not sixty. I guess I don’t see the good things. He treated you like shit. Yeah, he has money and you lived like a queen, but is it worth your dignity?”
“It was more than money, Jenny. He was passionate and he had a vulnerable side.”
“He was a drunk abuser and that trumps everything else.”
“You don’t understand.”
“You’re right. I don’t. This guy wanted to control you completely. When you didn’t do what he told you, he beat the shit out of you and almost killed you. I could never understand why you’d even consider taking him back no matter what he promised you.”
Ada became visibly frustrated with her friend. She flicked the screen on her phone and pulled up her voicemail. “Listen to the voicemail he left me a couple of days ago,” she said holding the phone out to Jenny.
“No, I don’t need to. I bet I can guess what he said.”
“No, you can’t. You don’t really know him.”
Jenny sighed. “I’ll bet the gist of his message is that he loves you, he’s sorry, and that he’ll never do it again. He probably threw in some sob story about his upbringing and how he can’t control his emotions about you.”
Ada looked defiant. “He had a good upbringing.”
Jenny smirked. She stared at her friend who still held the phone out to her. “I’m not listening to that damn message.”
“I think he’s learned his lesson.”
“Seriously? How many times has he hit you other than the incident at the hotel?”
“That was the only time things got out of control. Every other time we were both fighting very physically. I hit him, too.”
“He outweighs you by at least a hundred pounds. I don’t think he needs to hit you to defend himself.”
“That’s not the point. We’re both passionate people.”
Jenny’s frustration with her friend grew. She could feel the momentum shifting toward forgiveness, forgetting, and she wanted to scream at Ada with all her might to make her realize the error of her ways. She had comforted Ada every day since she had moved in with her and had actively worked to build her confidence to walk away from that monster, and now, she seemed to be sliding into old habits, old ways of thinking.
“Ada, please, listen to yourself. Think about what you’re saying.”
“I am thinking.”
“No, you’re not. You’re putting yourself in grave danger.”
“He really loves me. I’m all he thinks about. He said he’s not the same without me, and that he regrets the day he struck me. He’s very sorry. He says I’ve taught him a valuable lesson and that he’ll make it up to me.” Ada waved the phone before her as if to tease Jenny with the proof in her hand.
“You’ve talked to him?”
“No, that’s what he says in this message.” Ada gestured with the phone toward Jenny, but Jenny waved it off again.
“I don’t think you can believe what he says.”
“I should call him and give him the chance to talk to me.”
“No. You’ll regret it.”
“How do you know that? You haven’t heard how remorseful he sounds in this message. It sounds like he’s been crying.”
“Good! That asshole needs to cry a whole lot of tears to make amends to you. Even then I don’t think it’s enough.”
“I need to give him a chance.”
“No, you don’t,” Jenny retorted. Her frustration boiled over. “Why did you move in with me? Why did you drag me into this if all you’re going to do is go running back to him because he leaves you some weepy message on your phone? Why, Ada?”
Ada peered at Jenny with a sulky expression and absently set her phone on her thigh. She knotted her hands together. “I just thought we needed some time apart to make it clear how we felt about each other.” Her voice was shaky and fraught with emotion.
“So this was some kind of love experiment?” Jenny was on a roll and barely acknowledged her friend’s fragile state. “The guy almost kills you and you want some time apart to determine how you feel about each other. This makes absolutely no sense, Ada. None whatsoever.”
Jenny looked at her with disgust. She wore her annoyance on her face. Her voice seethed with it. She stood up from the table next to Ada.
“Ada, you know I love you. I will do anything to help you, but I’m not going to sit by and let you run back to Shane like some lost puppy. I’m afraid that if you go back to him, you wont make it out again. He’s going to kill you next time.”
“Don’t be melodramatic, Jenny. Shane doesn’t have it in him to kill someone. He’s not some mercenary or thug.”
Jenny started to say something but clamped her mouth shut. She leaned down and hugged Ada. “I’ve said my part, Ada. That’s all I can say.”
She pulled away from Ada and walked away down the hall toward her bedroom. Ada watched her leave, and after she disappeared behind the door of her bedroom, Ada grabbed the phone resting on her thigh and clutched it in her left hand. She stared at the screen for a moment and flicked it open with her thumb. The voicemail hung at the top of her screen. She flipped to the recent calls screen and stared at the list of numbers. All of them were from Shane.
Her finger hovered for a moment over his most recent call. She looked down the hall for any signs of Jenny. Then, she pressed the number. She held the phone to her ear and listened to the rings until Shane answered.