With the mood to workout thoroughly killed, he left and migrated over to Fighting Spirit since it was near closing time and Jodie was bound to still be there. He approached the bar and was about to ask the server where Jodie was, but vigorous waving from a nearby table caught his eye before he opened his mouth.
“Hey, what brings you in?” Jodie asked with a bright smile while Mitch took the seat from across her. On the table were ever-present numerous documents, which she pushed to the side.
“Was in the neighborhood,” he answered.
“You want some water? We got kombucha, too.”
“Alright, did you just wanna chat or…” She raised an eyebrow.
“Actually, yes.” He let go of a breath that he wasn’t aware he’d been holding onto.
“Cool. Let me just see if anyone needs help with closing stuff.” After she left the table, Mitch watched her with suspicion and wondered why she seemed to expect him. Minutes later, several employees walked out the front door and most of the lights were dimmed. Jodie returned with a glass of water, which she slid in front of Mitch.
“I said I was all set?” He glanced down at it and then back up at her.
“I assume you’ll want it, since you’re gonna be talking.” Her mouth formed a line, and everything hit him like a sack of bricks. She knew. Part of him wanted to play coy, but he didn’t have the energy for mental chess against Jodie.
“I’m seeing Toby,” he revealed.
“Yeah no shit.” She threw her head back. “Did you actually think that you were being sneaky? You’re covered in hickies and you smell like his deodorant. Also what the fuck was up with your neck a few weeks ago?”
“I don’t-” Mitch reached up and touched where the bruises finally faded, his pulse racing so much that it hurt. Softly, he said, “I don’t want to talk about that.”
“Mitch.” Pausing, she set down her reading glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose. “He’s going to hurt you. It’s what he does. He has it down to a science by now.”
“We’re not, y’know, together. It hasn’t been bad, I’m working on boundaries and he’s listening.” A restrained noise made its way from Jodie’s throat, and he glared. “Is it so difficult to believe?”
“Honestly? A little, yes.” She threw her hands up, then brought them down and rubbed her face. “Dude, I can’t tell you who you can or can’t sleep around with, OK? You’re an adult. But he sucks!”
“I’m sorry, did I miss something? Did he fuck your ex as well?” Folding his arms across his chest, he leaned back in his chair and continued to glare. The look he received in exchange was chilling. “Jodie, you have to let this shit go. This isn’t your battle.”
“Fine. OK. Go…” she grasped at the air and shook, then sharply inhaled and settled down. Leaning in, she continued with, “Go keep making disappointing decisions because you refuse to value yourself.” Then she stood up, and the feet of her chair sharply scraped against concrete floor. “And when you inevitably get torn apart, I’ll be here waiting with bandages and antiseptic and the world’s loudest ‘I told you so’, just like you said I could.”
Mitch blinked several times, his eyes stinging. Wordlessly, he got up and walked out the door, slamming it behind him as he left. He wasn’t positive, but he swore that he heard glass shattering from within the brewery.