I didn’t know if it was the fact that our break up was more like an impending inevitable, or it was because some time had passed since then; but for some reason, I was handling the whole break up well. At least that’s what I thought. The only moment it hit me hard, and I mean really hard, was when I was wrapping up the bracelet Daniel gave to me. I didn’t want to send it to him via post, but at the same time, I didn’t want to just drop by unexpectedly only to give him the bracelet back. I wouldn’t even know what to say if I was face to face with him.
There was really no way around telling my friends either. When we blurted out all of our confessions, and then talked about them the following morning, the last thing on my mind, was the aftermath of events. I didn’t realise that on top of going on a date with Derek, and breaking up with Daniel, that I’d be telling my friends about it. And I knew I didn’t have to, but they were smart enough to suspect something was up.
I took Friday night off from work just to hang out with the girls, and mostly to recover and reboot from the break up. More importantly, this was the night that I was going to tell them that Daniel and I broke up; over the phone, no less.
Chloe was making popcorn, Janet was preparing a fruit plate, and Jodie and I were responsible for drinks from alcohol, to carbonated, to plain water. We moved the coffee table aside and laid out on the floor like a bunch of high school girls ready for a sleep over. We even had sleeping bags.
Our feature movie presentation happened to be…Divergent. Don’t ask me how but Jodie happens to know someone who burns and sells DVDs of movies that hadn’t really come out on DVD yet. We never asked much about this random friend of hers and she never divulged much beyond what movies this friend has. Although the quality wasn’t that great, you can still make out most of what was going on. Besides, we never watched movies we really wanted to see in crappy quality. The fact that we were watching Divergent in crap quality, meant that we didn’t really care much about it. It’s not like it was Maleficent, which I’m beyond excited to see by the way!
“Daniel and I broke up,” I said five minutes into the movie. I was staring at the screen the entire time.
Someone then paused the movie. I turned my gaze and found Chloe with the remote in her hand, pointed at the television.
“Say again,” Jodie said.
I sat up and faced them. “Daniel and I are over.”
“Shit,” Chloe said.
Janet was avoiding my gaze.
I shrugged. “What can you do, you know? We could only do so much and things just didn’t work out.”
“But you guys were awesome together,” Chloe said. “I was really rooting for you guys.”
“I’m sorry,” Jodie said.
I shrugged. “Again, it’s fine. I’m fine.”
I looked at Janet and she was still avoiding my gaze. I was trying to figure out why she hadn’t said anything at this point. Her silence was just drawing my attention to her; if anything, I’m sure it was doing the exact opposite of what she had intended.
“On a brighter note,” I said, my voice cracking. I cleared my throat. “My date with Derek went well.” No need to tell them about the fact that we almost had sex. “He was such a gentleman.”
“That’s good,” Janet finally muttered, smiling a fraction.
“What’s up Janet?” I asked.
All eyes were on her. She looked at everyone’s gaze, misted with confusion and questions.
“I kind of knew,” Janet said.
“Knew what?” Jodie asked after a pause.
Janet sighed. “About…what Daniel did.”
It took me a second to process this. At first I thought I misheard what she said, but then I realised I was just denying it, or attempting to deny it.
“Why would you…why would…” I struggled to say, shaking my head vehemently with lines of incomprehension forming across my forehead. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, steadying myself. “Why would you keep something like that from me?”
Janet shrugged. “I couldn’t just outright and tell you. It was something Stanley told me, from what he spoke about with Daniel, and he just let it slip out in my presence. He told me not to say anything and I couldn’t.”
“You couldn’t?” I asked. “What do you mean you couldn’t? You’re supposed to have my back.”
Janet put a hand to her chest. “I do have your back. But I also have Stanley’s.”
I shook my head, still trying to shake the fog. Should I forgive her simply because she feared the worst? Because she was trying to keep her word with Stanley? Should I forgive her? Or should I not? There was no way to prevent this break up (maybe) but at least she could have told me so I knew what was coming. So I was prepared. I’m not saying I blame her for my failed relationship, but honestly, I would have told Janet something as big as Daniel almost having sex with Samantha.
Chloe and Jodie watched us in silence, not know what to say or do.
“I don’t even know what to do with this,” I said, finally.
“I’m sorry but—”
I put a hand up to stop her. “Just don’t. I’ve had enough. From everyone.”
I gathered my things because I knew that in a situation like this, when all the walls around me were tumbling down and I felt like I had no way of getting out, I had to take back control. Doing that meant removing myself from the eye of the storm, and going someplace where I was able to think things over.
I think people underestimate the depth of discovery about themselves or certain things when they just sit somewhere or walk or run or whatever, and just think. Think about everything. I always thought. Always wondered. Always wished I could have acted one way or another. For the moment though, I had to settle for a drive to wherever. As long as I had time to myself to just think.
Eventually, after driving for what felt like a considerable amount of time, I arrived at Derek’s place. I was stationed in my car on the curb, wondering if I should go in or not, of course it looked like I was a serial killer staking out though. There would be no luck for me if a cop car drove by and saw me lurking around.
Finally, I switched off the engine and climbed out of the car. I carried myself slow but with purpose; I had one thing and one thing only in mind, Derek.
I rang the doorbell and waited, wondering if he was even home. Then the door flung open.
Derek furrowed his brows in confusion for only a fraction of a second. “Hi,” he said.
“Hey,” I replied. I stood at the doorway awkwardly. “Are you going to invite me in?”
Derek smiled. “Right, yeah. Come on in.”
The place had a different feel than the other times I had been here. The space seemed a lot brighter and roomier. All the lights were on and I must have caught Derek at an interesting time.
I turned around. “Cooking, are we?”
Derek followed my eye-line to the kitchen, where a pot was on the stove and a cookbook was open.
“I have to eat don’t I?” he said, his cheeks turning a rosy red.
“Yeah,” I said.
“So,” Derek asked after a moment of silence and neither of us had sat down, “how are you?”
I nodded and grinned. “Fine, Derek, thanks.”
Derek narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Have you been drinking? You seem a lot…different.”
“Happier. Especially, after a break up,” Derek noted.
I shrugged and waved him off. “I don’t want to talk about that,” I moved closer towards him.
Derek began moving backwards until he was met with a wall. It didn’t even look like he was consciously doing it, and I barely noticed until the end with my dreary eyes. He was right, I did seem different. I felt different. A lot lighter but not in a good way; in a numb way. A part of me inside was aching but it was dormant, I knew it was trying to break the walls that I had created, especially the numbing sensation, but I wasn’t allowing it. Instead, I was here with Derek, trying to make that ache go away.
I lifted both my hands to his neck. “I can never make my mind up about you Derek.”
I moved my hands to his chest. “I must have thought a million things, and I still don’t know what to think. Especially after our little date. Which was amazing by the way.”
“Thank you,” he muttered. His breaths were becoming irregular. I could feel his heart beating a little harder under my palms.
“Even though I still haven’t figured you out,” I said, “for some reason, I always keep coming back to you.”
It was then that I planted a kiss on his neck, moving my way upwards.
“Anna, what are you doing?” Derek asked shakily.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” I gave a little lick on his jaw line, and then moved to bite his ear.
“Oh wow,” he breathed, then he cleared his throat. “I meant to ask, do you even know what you’re doing?”
“Mmhmm,” I said.
He was about to say something else, but my lips on his stopped him. At first I knew his hands were held up away from my body, but then he gave in and held me at the waist, pulling me in closer. He returned my kisses eagerly, slipping his tongue in to thrash with mine. He moved his hands down to my butt, and squeezed pretty hard.
“Oh!” I gasped, not expecting the sheer pleasure out of it.
I moved a hand downwards, grazing his hard on, and when I knew it was standing attention, I pulled away from his kisses and then held him by the hand.
“Which way is your bedroom,” I said, as I began leading him across the living room.
“It’s um,” he breathed, then he stopped in the middle of the room, letting go of my hand. “Wait, wait, wait; Anna, what brought this on?”
I shrugged. “Nothing, don’t you want this?”
“Yeah but, not like this.”
“Like,” he gestured his hand up and down in front of me, “you like this. I know you’re going to regret this moment with me, and I don’t want that. Yes, I want to be with you, believe me, I want to. But I’m using every fibre of my being to stop myself because I know the moment you wake up, you’re going to wish you hadn’t had sex with me.”
“Jeez, you had no problems coming on to me when I was with Daniel. Now you’ve grown a conscience? Look, I promise I won’t wish that, then. There, problem solved,” I forced a smile.
Derek sighed. “Listen, I know break ups are hard, but this isn’t going to solve anything.”
“I said I don’t want to talk about it,” I said with just a hint of irritation. I had already told him once.
I crossed my hands over my chest and avoided Derek’s gaze. After Derek gave a few glances this way and that, mostly between the kitchen and me, he stepped forward.
“Why don’t you join me for dinner?” he suggested.
Derek shrugged. “Yeah, just eat something and whenever you feel like it you can leave or stay as long as you want.”
How could he go from being such a douche to a nice guy? I wondered if it was because Daniel was no longer in the picture; there was no competition. It was all smooth sailing from here. Maybe it was just my cynicism talking.
Taking Derek’s suggestion, I sat down at the dinner table like a petulant child, and waited for him to finish making dinner. After a while though my mind started going blank, and the tension that held my muscles and tendons hostage finally let them go. I uncrossed my arms and offered to help out cooking, but Derek of course refused.
“It’s no picnic on the Riviera,” Derek said when he brought the plate of food, “but it’ll do.”
It smelled delicious. For some reason, and I didn’t know why, whenever I even followed instructions, my food never came out right. It was like someone had secretly slipped me a dud of a cookbook to make me burn the house down.
“It looks lovely,” I said. My voice was a lot more ‘me’ sounding.
“You’re coming back,” Derek smiled. I tried smiling back, though it must have looked limp. “Dig in,” he said when he sat down.
I hadn’t eaten much since my official break up with Daniel, so when I took that first bite in and swallowed, something in me snapped and I turned into a werewolf. Seriously, I was gulping down everything I could from the plate in front of me. I was even worried that I’d get a sore stomach after eating so quickly. Plus, I wondered what this looked like to Derek and whether he was just a little frightened by the way I was scoffing down his food. The deliciousness was just all up in my grill!
Afterwards, I thanked Derek and went home. Our goodbyes was awkward, mostly because of the way I acted; and I really didn’t know whether there’d be anything between Derek and me. I don’t know what it is, but I just always have this lingering feeling about him, as much as I want to be around him, for some reason, some other part of me was steering as clear as possible from having a relationship beyond friendship.
“I’m so sorry,” Janet said when I opened the door of my place.
I shook my head. “I’ve realised that I may have overreacted. In the end, there was nothing you could do anyway. Only Daniel and I could save our relationship.”
“Still,” Janet said.
I smiled and hugged her. “I know.” The girls had been there still. I sighed a huge breath out, feeling just a little more relaxed. “Let’s watch a movie shall we?”
“Where’d you go by the way?” Chloe asked, when I sat back down on the floor in front of the television.
I rolled my eyes and turned red as I revisited my poor decisions.