I cut this from the final chapter of Counterpoint. Rather than relegate it to recycle bin oblivion, I thought I'd post it for those of you who'd like to read it.
Chapter 51 Outtake
"You know, if you wanted to meet Bella so badly, you could have just asked. You didn't have to accost her in the bathroom."
Kate looked up from her lunch just long enough to roll her eyes at me. "Maybe I wanted to talk to her alone."
"That's kind of an exercise in futility, isn't it? I mean, she tells me everything."
"Just keep telling yourself that."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"No one tells anyone everything." She used the same tone of voice one employs when addressing a child; it infuriated me.
"Drop the condescension, Kate. To hear you just now, you'd think you were a teacher at my high school."
"You need to get over yourself, and since I seem to be the only person in your life with the balls to tell it like it is–"
I could no longer contain my anger. "Excuse me?"
"Your righteous indignation would be cute if you were actually entitled to it, but since you aren't, you need to not interrupt me. I promised you we'd always be friends, right? Well, friends don't let each other fuck up if they can help it—that's why I need to say this to you."
I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms. "Continue."
"If you look hard enough for something, eventually, you're going to find it. Why are we even having this conversation?" She looked up as if in thought. "Oh, right. Because you asked Bella what she and I discussed, and she told you. Yet for whatever reason, that wasn't sufficient." She dropped her voice an octave in imitation of mine. "'Bella tells me everything.'"
"Exactly whom are you trying to convince of this? I'd take your word for it; that's not the problem. The problem is that you won't take hers, and this is a far greater issue in your relationship than whether or not Bella inadvertently omits insignificant details upon your cross-examination of her."
"What are you talking about?"
"I trust Bella."
"So you say, but let's be real here. If that were the case, you wouldn't be grilling me on what transpired in the ladies' room."
"There's only thing I wanted to know..."
"Fine, but in the future, I'm not going to enable your insecurity."
"Was she upset?"
"Did you ask her if she was upset?"
"What did she say?"
"She claims she wasn't."
Kate's eyes narrowed slightly. "Am I understanding this correctly? You trust her to be honest about what happened, but not how she felt about it?"
"There's a context, and I don't want to get into it. Please?"
She sighed. "I don't know her well enough to be sure, but she didn't seem upset. I mean, we were both a bit emotional, but it wasn't like that."
Maybe Bella told me the truth after all—that she would have told me I was hurting her if I'd lasted any longer.
"Yesterday she finally told her father about us. She made the phone call while I was sitting beside her."
"Then why are we even having this conversation? I mean, what more do you want?"
I knew the answer—I wanted to believe that Bella loved herself as much as I loved her. Bella's self-esteem issues were none of Kate's business, even if I knew she meant well by asking.
"You're right," I conceded. I took a sip of my water, and realized what a douche I was for asking Kate for advice about Bella.