Christina: Has anyone heard from Elli?
Taneesha: Actually, I haven’t, now that you’ve asked.
Christina: I’m worried
Taneesha: Oh, shit. An emotion penetrated?
Christina: My heart grew three sizes that day
Michelle: It all makes sense now. Of course you’re the Grinch.
Taneesha: Hey, Miche!
Michelle: Hey, Neesha.
Christina: What all makes sense?
Michelle: Remember that one Christmas when my Ken doll disappeared?
Christina: Oh yeah that was me
Taneesha: That’s too funny.
Christina: I wanted to see what he looked like without pants on
Taneesha: Oh. NOW IT ALL MAKES SENSE.
Christina: It also explains everything that happened with Diego.
Taneesha: LOL He’s not dickless, but let’s not even talk about him anyway.
Michelle: What happened?
Taneesha: Long story short: He’s a douche. We got into it about my doxing and he went not-all-men on me. I want all the moments I crushed on him back.
Christina: I still volunteer to hurt him. Can I? Pretty please?
Taneesha: No, I’m cutting my losses there. Miche, have you heard from Elli?
Michelle: She’s not working for Ruby but she didn’t tell me why. If I hear from her again, I’ll let you guys know. I doubt her quiet is intentional. You know how she is.
Michelle: Ha, and speaking of, work’s literally at my door. I can’t stay on much longer.
Christina: I’ll do the same if I hear from Elli
Taneesha: In case she reads this later and needs it: hugs, sweetheart.
Christina: I’ll punch anyone if you need it, Elli.
Taneesha: C, lmao
Michelle: Before I step out, Aditi, when you have a free moment, can you call me back?
Taneesha: Looks like she just left.
Christina: Mommy and Daddy are fighting?
Taneesha: You have zero chill. None.
Taneesha spent five minutes debating if she should answer Bobby’s text.
Game shopping? he’d asked.
At minute six, she sent back a simple “no” and hoped he’d leave her alone.
Except ten minutes later she received another text: Open your door.
“I should have known.” She kicked off the comforter, not bothering to fix her hair or put on something other than a wife-beater and cut-off sweats. She looked how she felt—like shit.
Bobby’s gaze went up, then down, detailing everything in a quick sweep. “I brought greens, cornbread, and fried pork chops.”
“I just made a big batch of red Kool-Aid.” Taneesha considered shutting the door anyway, because she knew he was there to meddle, but she hadn’t had collard greens since last Easter. “Ground rules.”
“Ground rules?” he asked, like she’d offered him a brown paper bag filled with dog shit.
“We can play a game. We can eat. We can laugh. We are not going to talk about work or anything that may or may not be going on in my personal life.”
“You’re treating this delicious meal like it’s a Trojan horse.”
“Because it is. Just not today, Bobby. Okay?”
He sighed, then nodded. “We’ll eat. I’ll talk you into walking me through Infamous 2, and we’ll pretend like Dorky and Smitten don’t exist.”
He could only be talking about Diego. To make her point clear, she closed the door on him, though she didn’t lock it.
Seconds later, Bobby opened the door and squeezed past her in the hallway to make his way to her kitchen. She sat down with a thud and let him prepare their plates. She let him because she knew what was coming next—him being nosy as hell.
When Bobby passed Taneesha her plate, he held her stare, then said, “Want to talk about Dorky and Smitten?”
“You can leave, you know that, right?”
“If we’re leaving, are we going shopping for games? If not, staying here at your place is fine.”
“So subtle. Not working.” She scooped up the greens first and could tell from the smell that Bobby had made them. He’d added cayenne pepper. She put her fork down. “Why do you ruin greens?”
“Crybaby. Do you want the regular kind?” he asked, using his fingers as quotation marks.
“In the bag. Get it yourself.”
She happily scraped the ones from her plate onto his. Didn’t take her long to get settled in at the table again. “Will I be allowed to finish my food before you start prying?”
“You’re the one who keeps bringing Dorky up.”
Taneesha refused to smile. “Just say Diego.”
“Diego did something and now he’s in no-woman’s-land with the rest of your exes?”
She stabbed her pork. “Yup. Now you know. End of conversation.”
To Taneesha’s surprise, her brother continued to eat in silence instead of butting in like he normally would.
She held out for three minutes. “Fine,” she said with exasperation. “What are you dying to know?”
Bobby looked his sister right in the eyes. “I want to start with the most serious thing going on with you right now. Who the fuck sent you dead animals?”
“Neesha, don’t make me call Mom on you. Tell me.”
She swallowed, hard, as the memories hit her....