Read the First Chapter of Girls Like Us Here!

HOW TO TREAT A LADY

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA

SUMMER 2015

 

A   young woman in a white tank top and cut-off jean shorts sat on the edge of the sidewalk as she waited for her best friend to pick her up. It was unbearably hot that day. The sun was shining relentlessly and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky to hide its rays for even a second. The blacktop that ran throughout the outdated neighborhood made the air feel ten degrees hotter than it actually was. Hailey leaned from one side to the other to keep the cement from burning her thighs.

She checked the time on her phone. Her friend was late, but this didn’t surprise Hailey. Wiping the sweat from her forehead, she made excuses for why Triss still hadn’t shown up. Maybe she got stuck in this horrible Virginia traffic, she thought, giving her friend the benefit of the doubt. Or maybe she picked up a cute hitchhiker and she’s in a trunk somewhere while he sharpens his machete and twirls his mustache. Hailey laughed. Triss always did like a man with facial hair. It wouldn’t be the first time Triss ditched her for a random guy. She’d always thought once Triss grew up she would grow out of her boy chasing phase. At twenty-eight-years-old Hailey was still waiting for that day.

Opposite to Triss, Hailey had always been more focused on her grades and getting into a good college, which she did. She spent four years studying Marketing at the University of Hawaii. She spent the last six years working for a very large, successful corporation in downtown Norfolk and was looking forward to moving on to an even better position at the company’s San Diego office…if Triss ever came to pick her up.

Hailey fanned herself with her hand as she thought about the new life waiting for her on the other side of the country. She looked left and then right, but the neighborhood was still and silent with no sign of Triss. Just when she thought she was going to pass out on the scorching sidewalk, she heard a rumbling growing louder around the corner. A black Mustang convertible came to a screeching halt in one of the parking spaces in front of what was formerly Hailey’s townhouse. With one hand on the leather wheel, Triss hung her other hand over the side of the door. Her vibrant red hair was pulled up loosely up into a clip.

“Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.”

Hailey groaned as she stood up and slung her large yellow tote bag over her shoulder. Her over-stuffed polka-dot suitcase made a scraping sound as she dragged it behind her to the trunk. She tossed it in with a careless thud.

“What do you got in there? Bricks?” Triss called from the front.

When Hailey walked to the passenger side she opened the door and stared at the black leather seats, not looking forward to the thigh waxing her legs would get when she eventually peeled herself off them to get out.

“You know, Beatrice, you’re really too old to be quoting Mean Girls,” Hailey said, ignoring Triss’s comment on her suitcase.

“Okay, first off, you know I hate being called Beatrice. It makes me sound like a ninety-year-old geriatric grandma. And second, you’re never too old to be quoting a masterpiece like Mean Girls.”

Hailey stared at Triss, but her friend’s blue eyes were hidden behind round black sunglasses. They were too large for her face and made her look like a bug. Hailey never understood this fashion trend, but she hoped it would be outdated soon.

Triss slid the glasses down her nose and looked up at the mess of a woman standing in front of her. Nose wrinkled, she took in the sight of her soggy friend.

“What happened to you? Please tell me you made a quick run to the beach and that’s salt water dripping off your face.”

“No, you asshole, I’ve been sitting in this hundred-and-ten degree weather waiting for you for over twenty minutes now,” Hailey snapped.

She wanted to be mad at Triss, but that was almost impossible for her to do. Triss was like a child trapped in an attractive adult woman’s body. Hailey would try to dig in her heels, but Triss always said something to make her laugh and all was forgotten. In over twenty years they’d never once gotten into a fight. There had been a few moments of bickering, but that was it.

“Why didn’t you wait inside if it’s so damn hot, then?”

Hailey had nothing to say to this. She just cocked her head to the side and stared. She did this when her friend wasted her time asking questions she already knew the answers to, which was often. Triss never listened. Hailey had told Triss just a few hours ago the reason why she would be sitting on the red hot curb instead of in her air conditioned, empty townhouse. She knew if she gave Triss long enough to think about it, she would eventually figure it out.

Triss’s eyes shifted between the winding road and Hailey’s stone-cold stare. It always made Triss feel uneasy when Hailey looked at her like that, the way a kid feels when they’re in trouble with their mom. She said the first thing that came to her mind to break the tension.

“You already turned your keys in?” she said with little confidence.

Triss was doing yoga when Hailey called earlier to confirm their itinerary for the hundredth time. She knew she probably missed the part about Hailey turning her keys in early due to boredom. She felt she shouldn’t be expected to remember anything anyone said when she was in the downward facing dog position, yoga associated or not.

“Yes, I turned my keys in because you said you’d be here at ten.”

“I’m sorry,” Triss whined as she turned out of Hailey’s neighborhood for the last time. “I had an appointment.”

“I can see that. What did you do to your hair?” Hailey asked, pulling out a spare pair of shades from the rental car’s glove compartment and putting them on.

Triss sold her car a week before the big road trip. She claimed it was because she wanted a fresh start in every aspect of her life, but really she needed the money to pay her half of the way.

“What do you mean my hair?” Triss asked.

“I mean, you went to bed a blonde and you showed up today a redhead. Why’d you dye it?”

Triss leaned over to look at herself in the rearview mirror as if she had to confirm she wasn’t a blonde anymore.

“Oh, right,” she said, the memory of her new locks rushing back to her. “I went to the salon early this morning. I just needed a change, I guess.” She tossed her hair around on her head, her clip holding on for dear life.

“As if that’s something you can forget,” Hailey said, smiling at her friend. “So that was your only appointment, then?”

A smile crept along Triss’s blushing face. “I’ll never tell,” she said with a wink.

“We all know what that means, Triss. It’s no secret,” Hailey said, rolling her eyes.

Triss didn’t say anything, but stuck her middle finger up at Hailey while sticking her tongue out. She didn’t feel bad about being late. She had to get one last fling in before she left Virginia forever…just to leave on a good note. She found the perfect guy for a one night stand at the bar around the corner from Hailey’s when she left after dinner. It’d been a perfect, passion-filled night to take the bad taste of Virginia out of her mouth. Dying her hair was just the icing on her brand new cake.

“I can’t believe you dyed it, though,” Hailey said, not able to let it go. “You loved your long, pretty, blonde hair. I was always so jealous of it.”

Triss shrugged her shoulders, not able to voice the real reason for wanting to make such a dramatic change. She felt a warmth inside, though, knowing that Hailey had been jealous of her for once. Usually it was the other way around, though she never told Hailey this.

They drove on in silence as Hailey watched the ocean pass by her on their way over the bridge towards the tunnel. The sun reflected off the blue water and sparkled in her eyes. Six years seemed to have gone by so fast looking back on it. It’d felt like forever before, time passing by at the pace of a snail.

Norfolk had never been Hailey’s first choice, or her second or her third. She was sent there for her first job out of college and ended up doing so well that she decided to stay, despite living on the east coast which served no appeal. Why someone would want to live on the beach and still have to deal with snow was beyond her. But as they drove away, leaving Norfolk behind them, she couldn’t deny that a part of her was going to miss it. It was the place where her life truly began. The foaming white waves followed each other one by one as a large Navy ship slowly made its way across the horizon.

“So you needed a change, huh?” Hailey asked Triss when she finally got bored of watching the scenery pass by. “Moving across the country wasn’t a big enough change for you?”

Triss threw her head back and laughed wildly at the open sky above her. She did this often and Hailey loved it. There was something about the amount of life that burst from Triss that always drew Hailey in. Jealousy is what most people would see it as, but it was love—the kind of love that is usually only found in the strong bonds of sisterhood.

“Yeah, moving’s good, too,” Triss laughed.

“What’s your favorite part about leaving?” Hailey asked, excited at the prospect of living somewhere warm again.

Hailey thought night and day in the weeks leading up to the move about her favorite part of it all. For her, she was happy to have a fresh start in a place where there was no freezing rain. The last winter she spent in Virginia had been the worst in almost a decade. Her entire childhood she battled snow in the Midwest and now that she was an adult she didn’t feel like she should have to deal with it anymore. Four years of living in Hawaii had spoiled her.

“My favorite part is getting away from all these dumbass sailors,” Triss said, not laughing anymore, but staring at the road ahead with unusual focus.

“You know there’s a very large Navy base in San Diego, too, right?” Hailey asked with a smirk, trying to lighten the mood.

“Getting away from one sailor, then,” Triss said quietly.

Hailey had sat through endless conversations about the break-up between Triss and her latest boyfriend. She was there for Triss through the tears, the anger, the hatred, the betrayal, and even the regrettable rebound just hours later, but her patience was wearing thin. There was absolutely nothing left for them to discuss on the subject. The guy was a jerk. End of story. Move on. As honest as that sounded in Hailey’s head she never said it aloud to her friend in fear of being mean-hearted. Some truths were better left unsaid, at least while the wounds were still fresh. Maybe one day they would be able to laugh about it, but it wasn’t that day yet. Hailey swallowed the part of her that wanted to scream at Triss to shut up about it and instead listened as a good friend should.

It wasn’t the first time Triss had been cheated on and unfortunately Hailey was sure it wasn’t going to be the last. She wished Triss would learn to choose better men, but that was an ongoing argument between them for years. Triss just didn’t get it. If she wanted a better relationship, then she needed a better man. Not someone who wanted Triss to follow them around like a lost puppy dog, going along with any idiotic idea they came up with to get her in trouble, but a real man who wanted to treat her right and be there for her no matter what.

“Then you could say that your favorite part about moving is having a new and wonderful beginning,” Hailey said before Triss had the chance to say anything more about it.

Triss smiled at her friend, grateful for her positive spin on the shit-storm that was her latest relationship. That was Hailey, though. She was always there for Triss and she had been since the day they met in the second grade. Triss knew that Hailey would always be there for her. Nothing could separate them. That was just the kind of friendship they had.

“Bastard stole my sweatshirt…” Triss added in a defeated whisper.

“What!” Hailey yelled, yanking the shades from her face and staring at Triss. “He stole your dad’s sweatshirt? Why would he do that?”

More of a security blanket than anything else for Triss, she clung to the old sweatshirt her dad gave her when she was little in her most desperate times. If she was wearing it, then it usually meant she’d had a rough day and needed some comfort. With it gone, Hailey wasn’t sure where Triss would turn for that warm feeling of content. Maybe she would fall back into the arms of another asshole boyfriend and start the cycle all over again. She shuddered at the thought.

Hailey knew that the sailor who stole her friend’s sweatshirt was fully aware of its importance, because she was there the night it was explained through shouts and slurs of a drunken Triss. It wasn’t pretty and a little hard to understand at times, but Hailey was certain he got the message. The fact that Hailey let him wear her sweatshirt at all proved what a heart of gold she had. His, on the other hand, was made of shit. He was even more despicable than Hailey originally thought. He was the lowest of the low and she thought he should have to pay for it.

“We could always drop by his place and get it on our way out,” Hailey suggested innocently, though there was a devilish gleam in her big, brown eyes.

A slow spreading grin swept across Triss’s face. She stepped on the gas pedal and got off at the next exit. “To the bastard’s house we go, then,” Triss sang out as the wind whipped through her straight, shining hair as it fell from the claws of her clip.

It was only a few minutes of driving before they were parked in front of an apartment complex overlooking the Atlantic. Though the view was amazing, catching the perfect image of an east coast summer day, the actual apartments were nothing to envy. The building was only two stories tall with paint peeling off the siding, giving the feeling that it used to be a cheap motel in its not so distant past. Triss saw why this appealed to her ex so much. He was a man-whore. She cursed herself for not seeing it before. He had slept with her on the first date, after all. She tried not to think about it too much, though, because she didn’t want to think of herself as a whore for doing the same.

The girls ran up the stairs to the second floor and stopped when they found his door. They heard laughter on the other side.

“You ready?” Hailey asked with her fist clenched, ready to knock when Triss gave her the green light.

Triss took a deep breath and squeezed her eyes shut for a brief moment. “Ready.”

Hailey gave the door a few good pounds before it swung open, her hand falling through the air.

“Oh, God, what do you want now?” the young man asked as he leaned on the door frame with his arm above his head. “Begging is so not an attractive quality, Triss.”

“I’m not here to beg for anything, Kieran,” Triss spit his name out like venom. “I’m taking back my sweatshirt you stole.”

Hailey eyed him up and down. She couldn’t see what Triss ever saw in the guy. He was short and scrawny, measuring only an inch or two taller than Triss and Hailey. His hair was cut in the typical military style with it buzzed short on the sides and left longer on the top—a haircut Hailey had come to despise through her many unfortunate military encounters. His armpit hair was dark, long, and matted with clumps of white deodorant stuck in it.

“Bitch, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but you’re not getting shit from me,” he said with a crooked smirk on his face. “So why don’t you beat it? I’m busy.”

His beady gray eyes avoided looking in either girls’ direction. He kept turning to look over his shoulder back into the apartment. Hailey knew he had a girl in there somewhere, possibly the same girl he cheated on Triss with just a few days ago, though there was always a good chance he’d moved on since then. She looked over at her friend and saw that Triss had come to the same conclusion as her eyes fell to the floor. Hailey saw the gleam of tears welling up. Seeing her best friend hurt was too much for Hailey to bear.

Before Kieran could close the door on them, Hailey stuck her hand out and pushed with all her strength. The door flew back and hit the wall with a loud crack, punching a small hole in the drywall.

“What did you just call her, asshole?” she yelled inches from Kieran’s face.

With her high heels Hailey towered over the small sailor who was barefoot. This didn’t stop him from glaring up at her, ready to throw out a slew of verbal assaults.

“What’s going on?” a small, soft voice asked from inside the apartment. “Who are these girls, Kieran?”

A young woman at least five years younger than Hailey and Triss stepped out from inside to stand next to Kieran. She was so short she bordered on hobbit size. With her arms folded, she hugged herself in a gray sweatshirt with the letters MSU across the chest, her bare, smooth legs exposed.

“That’s my sweatshirt!” Triss said, pointing at the girl with rage spilling from her eyes.

“What?” the girl asked, whipping her head around so her black hair fell behind her shoulders and down her back. “Kieran, I thought this was yours.”

“It is mine, baby, that’s why it’s in my apartment. This crazy bitch is just trying to cause trouble because I dumped her sorry ass and she’s bitter.”

“Okay, that’s it,” Hailey said through gritted teeth.

Before Kieran could move away, Hailey kicked her leg up as hard as she could right between his legs. He crumbled to the floor in a fit of groans while holding his groin.

“Don’t ever call her a bitch again!” she screamed over the pathetic lump on the floor. “That’s the least you deserve for cheating on her. You’re lucky I don’t cut your balls off, you piece of shit!”

The girl in the apartment looked down at Kieran and wrinkled her nose in disgust. She wasn’t sure what kind of man would cheat on a girl and then give her sweatshirt to another girl, but she knew it wasn’t any kind of man she wanted to be with. Positive that she was the other woman to a broken-hearted Triss, she tore off the sweatshirt to reveal a white wife beater and a pair of pink panties.

“Here,” she said in a soft, empathetic voice as she handed the sweatshirt over to Triss, who took it in her hands and held it tight to her. “I’m sorry. I had no idea.”

Triss wasn’t mad at the girl. It wasn’t her fault. There was no way she could have known she was being lied to, just as Triss hadn’t know either. At least she did the right thing and gave Triss back what was rightfully hers. She looked at the girl in silence, but her misty eyes thanked her tremendously.

“And, you,” the girl said, turning on Kieran as he attempted to get up from the ground, still holding himself. “Don’t ever call me again!”

She knocked him back down and strode into the apartment to grab her jeans off the living room floor before turning and heading back to leave. On her way out she gave Kieran a swift kick in his ass, laying him out on the cold, tile floor again.

Triss and Hailey couldn’t help crying out in laughter as tears streamed from their eyes. Kieran wriggling and moaning on the floor was the funniest thing either of them had seen in a long time.

“Man, I wish I got that on video,” Triss said as she pulled out her phone and turned it towards Kieran’s pained face. “Say cheese, bitch!”

She took a picture and yanked her phone back just as his hand reached out for it.

“I don’t think so. And you can bet that come this time tomorrow everyone across the country, and possibly some in other countries, will know that you, a trained military man, were beat up by three tiny, little girls.”

Kieran didn’t say anything. He simply kicked the door shut with his foot while remaining on the ground in the fetal position. He could hear Triss and Hailey dying with laughter on the other side, rubbing in the fact that he had lost his masculinity and everyone would know it in just a few short minutes. Triss was friends with thousands of people in the social networking world, and those people were friends with thousands upon thousands. The picture she took would have a chain reaction. It might even end up on Chive or as a meme on the internet for all to see. Triss was capable of anything when she was determined, like she was right then at ruining Kieran’s social life.

“Later, asshole!” Kieran heard Triss howl as the tires on her car screeched out of the apartment’s parking lot.

Triss stole sidelong glances at Hailey as she drove down the highway at top speed.

Hailey shifted her eyes back and forth between the road and her best friend. “Why are you looking at me like that? Watch the road!”

“You’re the best friend a girl could ever have, you know that?”

Hailey smiled. She didn’t give a single thought to what she did to Kieran. He was a jerk. He always had been, since the day Triss met him, which was only two months ago. He deserved what he got and then some. Hailey was just glad she could deliver some of it in the form of a groin kick. Maybe I kicked him so hard he’ll be sterile, she thought with internal laughter. The last thing this world needs is another Kieran.

“You would have done the same for me,” Hailey said, sinking lower into her seat and leaning her head back against the headrest, attempting to control her flyaway hair.

“You bet I would have.” Triss took the clip out of her hair and let it whirl all around her tanned face. “It reminds me of the day we met,” she said with a sly grin.

Hailey laughed as she placed the sunglasses back on her face. Neither of them could forget the day they met. It was the beginning to the rest of their lives as far as either was concerned. They couldn’t even conceive what their lives would have been like if they never met that snowy day in the second grade.

Triss tried to talk through her laughter, but no one could have understood her except Hailey. “You got those boys good!”

Hailey would always be there to show the boys in Triss’s life how to behave. After all, someone had to. Sometimes they just needed a good kick to learn a lesson on how to treat a lady.

More to come from Girls Like Us soon!

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