“Oh Chloe,” I tried hushing her so that she’d stop crying. “Come with me.”
I lifted her up and let her lean on me with most, if not all, of her weight. After I tucked her into bed I ran out, grabbed a bowl full of snow peas (Chloe’s favourite nibble to snack on) and both our cups of water. Chloe didn’t like it when people laid on the top covers while she was underneath, it would make her hotter for some reason, so I lifted the blanket and tucked myself in. I only half-lay down while she was looking weary on the pillow. Chloe reached out and grabbed a single snow pea, started munching. In the silence we didn’t hear anything else besides the crunching sounds of Chloe eating. I took a sip of my water, brushed a bit of her hair away from her face, and got a tissue and wiped a bit of her tears away.
“Scotty bailed on me as soon as he found out,” Chloe declared in a monotone.
And there it was. I feared the worst and it happened. A nightmare come true. Her nightmare, my disappointment. All I wanted to do now was hunt down this bastard and make him feel the way Chloe was feeling right now. Nah, worse.
“I should have known,” Chloe said.
I shook my head. “How were you to know? You can’t blame yourself for this.”
“Well, I partly blame Scotty,” Chloe cracked her first whole-hearted smile and I thought the sun had risen. She turned to me. “You should give it a shot with Daniel. Sorry I didn’t say anything before, but now I’m saying, just go for it. Forget what each of us girls say about it and just do what you want for a change.”
I nodded. “Thanks.” I could hear in the change of her voice that she longed for a distraction. And for some reason, it felt like I was waiting for her to say something about it too. It made me comfortable. Confident. Secure. It urged me on and for the first time made it feel like not only the right thing to do, but what I wanted to do. I refused to feel guilty or hesitant any longer. I wanted to see how Daniel and I worked out too. Matters of the heart were no good without taking a few risks.
“Apparently I’m working for a sleazy boss,” I said in my effort to distract her again.
Chloe smile, a fraction wider this time. “Really? Is he hot?”
I rolled my eyes and nodded. “He’s up there.”
“I hear the plot of a porno approaching from the horizon.”
I laughed and seeing my reaction, Chloe tried laughing too. Her laughter sounded like a machine gun though, not usual, it was unnerving.
“What are you going to do?” I asked, hoping it was okay to ask.
She started crying again, leaning into me and stuffing her face into my torso. She scrunched my shirt up when she grabbed it and made a fist with her hand. “I can’t do it, Anna. I just can’t.”
I held her tighter. I didn’t know how to console her because I didn’t want to say the wrong things and make her even more upset. But I also wanted to know she had my full support in whatever decision she made, and that no matter what, it’s never because she’s incapable. So I tried choosing my words carefully. “No, you can do it, don’t ever think you can’t. Every woman can. It just may not be the right time for you right now. That’s all.”
She nodded and wiped her tears with my shirt. “Yeah, it’s the wrong time, that’s it. It’ll happen to me again, just not now.”
I and internally sighed with relief and nodded. “Exactly.”
“In better circumstances, with a better man.”
“Any man is better than Scotty,” I added.
“Jack the Ripper is better than Scotty.”
We laughed, resonating the silence with the sudden hit of volume.
“Don’t tell the girls okay? Especially Jodie.”
My eyebrows pulled together. “Wouldn’t you want all the support you could get?”
“I would. I do. But knowing Jodie especially, I just, I won’t be able to take the verbal-bashing from her just yet. The way she warned you about dating Daniel kind of stunned me into silence. I was thinking of telling you all then, but I was too scared. I chickened out.”
“My lips are sealed,” I nodded.
“I’m going to tell them, just when I’m a little stronger.”
“Okay.” Chloe yawned then, for a long time I might add, I couldn’t imagine the type of exhaustion she was feeling right now. “Now go to sleep.”
“Are you going to leave?” She asked.
“Nah-uh, I’m going to go all mamma on you and stay right here.”
Chloe smiled and moved in closer while I wiggled down into position; and for the rest of the night, I never let go of her.
By the time Friday rolled around I completely forgot about my little outing with Derek. The internship only required us to be at the office a minimum of one day out of the week, so we really didn’t get to see much of each other besides that one day. So colour me surprise when I received a text from Derek while I was on my way to tell Daniel that I would take a chance on him and give us a go. Because of this little mishap in my delay, Janet couldn’t come because she had other plans. Well, there goes saviour number one!
Derek told me that everyone was gathering at his place, his roommate was along for the ride as well. I texted back that I was in, and was internally grateful that I didn’t have to dress up for a fabulous outing, otherwise I’d have to wear some old thing I had collecting dust in the closet.
‘It’s settled, see you then,’ Derek ended. I decided to tell Daniel tomorrow (come to think of it, I needed a little delay. You do not even realise how nervous I was. I was trembling!), and made haste towards home to shower and change from my work clothes.
First I went in to check on Chloe. She didn’t sleep much last night, and I didn’t know if that was because there was another person in the bed or not, but she seemed awfully rested now. She remained in a deep slumber once I left.
Derek didn’t do much to lay out all the goods needed for a gathering. It barely looked like there was a gathering happening. The place was so empty, not even his roommate was here. It was really weird.
“Am I early or something?” I asked.
“Nah, want a drink?” Derek asked, steering clear from explaining further.
“Sure, I’ll take water.”
I smiled. “I’m not much of a big drinker.” Though I’m sure Joshua and Daniel would beg to differ. Ah, (frightful) memories.
Derek shrugged and muttered, “Alright.”
I watched as he moved towards the kitchen and I noticed a couple of open bottles, presumably empty, on the counter top. Was he drinking before I got here? He came to sit by me on the most comfortable couch in the world and raised his right arm to rest on the top of the head rest, looking all relaxed.
“So when are the others coming?” I asked.
Derek took a sip of his beer and smiled.
“Maybe we should call them?” I suggested.
Derek took another swig.
I finally realised and went red with my stupidity. “They’re not coming are they?”
Derek grinned and shook his head.
“Did you even invite anyone?”
He shook his head again. I didn’t know if I should feel creeped out or flattered. Right now, I had mixed feelings, but all I could think about was the fact that I blew off Daniel for this guy. Derek was a nice guy, charming, confident, not to mention hot, but I think his attitude was bordering on arrogance, and I don’t respond well with arrogance.
“How else was I supposed to get you here?” he asked.
“You could’ve asked,” I said, “like any other normal person would do.”
“I did, but then you ended up inviting the whole cavalry. Either way, where’s the fun in that?”
I laughed. “Fun for you.”
He looked disappointed. “You don’t think this was clever of me?”
I shrugged. “Cunning is what I thought.”
He smiled, proud of himself. “Cunning is a good trait.”
“Not when I just met you,” I pointed out.
“Oh come on, I’m not some psycho killer. Relax, girl.”
I blinked. “Girl?”
“You know what I mean,” he said, taking another sip.
“Obviously I don’t,” I mumbled.
“So are we going to do this or what?”
“What?” I asked, confused.
He put the bottle on the coffee table, and scooted closer. “You’re one of Eddie’s girls,” he said, winking.
Ladies and gentleman, I’ve experienced a moment of clarity. That crap he said about me being a naturally hard worker and whatnot was just him spewing bullshit. I’m one of Eddie’s girls? Is this guy serious?
I stood. “I have to go.”
“Oh come on, it’ll be fun,” Derek said.
Granted, I haven’t known this guy for a long time, but I would not have guessed, that in a million years, he would be like this. I scoffed in his face and then bolted out of there, glad that he was too lazy or on his way to a drunken stupor to implore me to stay.
I decided to go to Martin’s then, just to grab a drink for myself and clear my head, or cloud it from the douchery of tonight. Martin was kind of enough to give me a drink on the house.
“And you didn’t see that coming?” he asked, leaning on the counter top.
I shrugged. “How was I supposed to know? He seemed alright. We even agreed to bring people. It wasn’t just going to be us.”
Martin nodded. “True. What are you going to do about work then?”
I sighed and slouched with tiresome shoulders weighing me down. “We don’t exactly work with each other, so I don’t think it would be much of a problem at work. What do you think?”
“I think you should talk to him when he’s sober.”
I narrowed my eyes onto Martin. I hated it when he was right. “What are you Mother Theresa? Go away.” I pouted, defeated.
Martin laughed. He was just about to turn and walk away but then a change of mind brought him back. “Oh, I forgot to tell you. Adam told me about the new club in the city, and thought that you might be good for it. I put in a good word for you, they’re supposed to call you soon, for an interview or something, I guess.”
Suddenly, I was no longer bummed out. “Are you serious? You really did that for me?”
Martin shrugged. “I don’t want to lose my best girl, but I also don’t want to hold you back. You got a lot of potential, you can really shake that place down. You’re moving up in life so, you deserve it.”
“Oh my God, Martin!” I pulled myself over the counter and gave Martin a kiss on the cheek. “You’re the best boss in the world, you know that?”
“I know,” he smiled.
Well, my personal life may not exactly be happenin’, but at least my work life was. I smiled, knowing that even from far away Adam still thought about me. He was sweet. When I was leaving Martin’s I texted Adam, ‘Thank you xo’.
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