“Janet!” I stretched my arms out wide as I jogged up to her.
“How are you!?” she squeaked happily when we embraced. Her hair smelling of coconut.
“I’ve been great,” I said, “how are you?”
“Ecstatic of course,” her ring glimmering on her finger. “I’m so happy you’re here. But where’s Daniel?”
My heart thudded, but I blocked out the beat. “Oh, he couldn’t make it. He really wanted to but—”
“Figures,” Stanley mumbled disappointedly.
Janet slapped him on his chest. “No, it’s fine. I understand when other things take priority. It’s hard; I mean, I only just invited people, and I wasn’t expecting so many to show.”
It was a sunny day in California, and the small gathering was held outside in the garden of Janet’s parent’s grand house. Although they were away for the week, on some sort of cruise, Janet had the support of other friends and family. It was quite a big celebration that I hadn’t anticipated just how big the turnout was going to be. It embarrassed me a little to think that my own boyfriend couldn’t keep me company, nor show up for his friend’s party.
“He’ll definitely be here for the wedding,” I noted, defending Daniel’s absence.
Even from my miles away I was held within the crossfire. It was inescapable.
The outdoor event was like a young kid’s birthday party, except without the clown or dress up. Instead, most girls wore flowy dresses or light, thin clothes; while the men wore a hybrid of casual and chic cocktail party. It almost looked like the discount version of brunch for the Park Avenue man and woman: posh with a hint of personality.
Almost everyone I knew or have known of was here. Jodie was coming later, so for now it was just me, Chloe and Janet. Janet spent most of her time with Stanley, and Chloe was back and forth between her date and I. This guy’s name was Ben, and I didn’t know if it was serious or not, but for the moment it seemed right. They laughed together and held hands; when Ben left us alone to get a couple more drinks she told me it wasn’t completely serious.
“We’re just taking it slow and easy,” she explained. “No fuss, no muss. I love that we can just be relaxed with each other, but I don’t love him yet. But I see the potential, you know?”
I nodded and smiled in a way which I’m supposed to. “Yeah. Sounds good. He seems like a great guy.”
“He is, isn’t he?” she beamed. Chloe never needed my approval. “It’s a shame Daniel couldn’t meet him.”
I gulped, afraid the lie might unravel to reveal the hard-core truth. “There’ll be other moments. Don’t worry.” I said it as if she was being silly they’d never meet. Of course they will.
In the distance, something, or someone, caught Chloe’s attention and her eyes frantically flickered between me and the other. “Don’t look now,” she breathed, “but Adam just got here.”
I furrowed my brows and turned to glimpse at his unholy frame myself. Yup, there he was! All high and mighty. I rolled my eyes, completely spent and exhausted on all the drama. I didn’t want more, and I’m in the middle of figuring out what to do with mine and Daniel’s relationship. I think I figured it out already but haven’t admitted it to myself yet. That’s always the hardest part. When you think the best moments in your life are going to last forever.
“That’s the problem with life and people, you know,” Chloe said. “On TV, in pictures, even in movies, they never show you the reality. They can show you a version of reality, but not in its truest form. You will never see unhappy, sad or disappointing pictures because no one wants to capture those moments and remember them forever. All you see are the happy moments, and that’s what gets us down because it’s not true for the most part. And so we expect this sheer, unbridled happiness to overwhelm our whole existence and make us feel like we have a purpose, but really, it’s all the opposite. There’s no purpose, just moments.” Chloe cleared her throat and continued. “Don’t hate Janet over this. She wanted to tell you but was afraid you wouldn’t show because of him.”
As Adam walked with his hands in his pockets, colour to his face and that same strong, sharp jaw he seemed healthier than I’d ever seen him. He chatted alongside his own group of friends, and when he scanned the area, he glanced my way, and the smile from his friend’s words froze on his lips. I thought he’d regard me in the same way as we left off; retain his hate of me and I’d feel the burn through my Californian soul, but no such thing happened. He seemed in a better place now. Like nothing could faze him. Happier. Happier without me.
I tore my eyes off of his calm and serene face and turned to Chloe. “I’m fine.” I smiled. “Tell Janet it’s fine. I don’t hate her,” I shrugged, “he’s her friend, too.” ‘Too’? As if he were still my friend.
“You okay?” Chloe eyed me.
I stared at her as if she were crazy and laughed a little. “Of course, why wouldn’t I be?”
Chloe shrugged and shook her head, still eyeing me. “No it’s just…I was just checking.”
I rolled my eyes and nudged her with my elbow. “I’m going to go to the bathroom. Want anything on my way back?”
Chloe dropped the conversation and shook her head. I stared at the ground before me and concentrated on my footing. I had something building up inside of me but I had no idea what. Not tears. At least, I didn’t think so. But something. It was becoming uncontrollable to the point where I just needed to be alone.
The bathroom was slick white with blue accents. It looked like something out of a summer catalogue of a home décor store. The bathroom had a feel of the beach to it, and I almost found myself lost in waves. I turned on the tap and braced myself over the sink, leaning forward, ready to feel hurt, sad, desire, whatever it was that was coming over me. Nothing happened. I felt something, a blockage of some sort in my heart and stomach, but that was about it. I didn’t feel sick or angry; perhaps it was just sadness but numbing sadness. I laughed to myself. Could I be any more in a rut?
The door opened and in walked Adam with his head down. “Oh,” he stopped in his tracks, staring at me surprised, “sorry. The door was unlocked, I didn’t know anyone was here.”
I shook my head once and closed my eyes. “It’s okay,” I breathed.
He regarded me with his head tilted. “Are you okay?”
I sighed exacerbated. “Yes.” I regretted it though, it wasn’t his fault I get annoyed when people continually ask me if I’m okay. It must be because I wonder about it myself. “Just shut the door will you?”
Adam did as I asked and locked it as well. I thought he was going to leave me alone. “You’re wasting water like that.”
I opened my eyes and switched off the tap. Why did I switch it on in the first place?
“You seem happy,” I noted aloud.
I glimpsed Adam’s reflection in the mirror and saw him smiling. “Yeah, I am.”
“It was a good choice then, to cut me off.”
His eyes fell to the floor. Then he peered up through his lashes. “It was your choice, too.”
I smiled lazily. “Yeah.”
Adam stepped forwards, closer to me. “I still think about you though.” I said nothing, just kept my head down. He went on. “I think about all the fun times we’ve had, the good times, and just find myself smiling or laughing.”
“Remember when we tricked Martin into thinking his business was foreclosed?”
Adam chuckled. “Yeah, he ripped us a new one after that.”
“Never let us forget it.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right,” Adam recalled. “He fake-fired me as payback. And you were in on it.”
I turned around and laughed at the accusatory tone, ready to defend myself. “He made me. He said I owed him. Not my fault.”
We chuckled together, slightly awkward; two ex-best friends who haven’t seen each other in a long time.
“Why can’t we be friends, Adam?” I wondered lowly.
Adam still kept his calm exterior. Soft and malleable; easy enough to be able to talk to. “Because I’ll hurt you. And I know you’ll think I won’t mean it but I do. I’ll want to hurt you. And for that I don’t trust myself around you.”
“It’s because of Daniel, isn’t it?” Adam just turned away and sighed. I looked down. “Well it doesn’t matter anymore.”
Adam’s head shot up, eyes unblinking and focused, understanding. “After all that, it’s back to square one.”
I felt my face heat up and turn red. I was ashamed that right in front of Adam I was telling him what he knew all along and tried to tell me. I never listened. I wouldn’t hear it. I always thought Daniel and I were meant to be together, but now it felt like a faraway idea.
Adam stepped closer and cupped my face, bowing his head a little. With sad, puppy eyes, I looked up, straight into his. “Adam,” I breathed with a little squeak at the end.
He pressed his lips against mine with full force, and I tugged at his blonde hair, pulling him closer into me. Adam kissed me hungrily, grinding his groin into me. I was too frazzled to feel if he was hard or not, a little out of touch with reality, but I knew while he was running his hands around my waist and down onto my butt, lifting me slightly and then running his hands back up.
I needed a breather so I turned my face away; he kept going, his lips pecking every goosebump lining my neck, getting dangerously low. “Adam, wait.”
“For what?” he mumbled, kissing my collar bone, squeezing me tighter. “You and Daniel are over.”
“He doesn’t know yet. I haven’t told him.”
“Yes he does. And it still applies,” he chuckled into my chest.
I turned my head up to the ceiling and then forced myself to drop down back to Earth. “Wait,” I shook my head, “I’m not a cheater. I can’t do this.”
“Anna,” he grumbled.
“No.” I really mean ‘yes’ but I couldn’t stand to tell him. To be this girl.
His lips remained immobile and locked on my jaw, right near my ear. I felt him then, hard and expectant. But I wasn’t wet. I was and wasn’t entirely enjoying this; it was a strange feeling I was experiencing this very second.
I thought long and hard about the best thing about mine and Daniel’s relationship. I wondered, what good is left? Perhaps we could still salvage it. Maybe if I found a sign or a great memory at least, a reason why I should still remain with Daniel. Something to let me know I wasn’t wasting my time, or Daniel’s. Maybe if I found it then it’d instigate hope for me. And yet, at the same time, I was so sick of feeling so fucking sorry and sad for myself. For something I brought and continue to bring on myself. At the snap of two fingertips, I could break it all off.
We were spending a long time in the bathroom that I figured people were wondering where we were, if not, we were missing out on all the celebrations. I mean, that’s what I came here for. So I repeatedly said the one thing that would make Adam back off.
“Daniel, Daniel, Daniel.”
Adam’s chest rose and deflated as he panted while staring at me. I thought he’d appear angry or agitated, frustrated in some kind of way, but he just remained cautious. He leaned back and to one side, his whole weight shifted to one leg as if he were afraid to break me.
“Anna,” he said. But there was nothing after.
I gulped and headed for the bathroom door, ready to step out. I was listening to speeches out there. I was missing out on something. A big thing. We both were. And if we exited this bathroom now, everyone would notice we were together. It’ll get back to Daniel somehow, inevitably, and it’ll crush him.
“Wait,” Adam said, his palm on the door of which the golden knob I was clutching. He started talking fast, his breath hitting my hair in low ebbing waves. “I know what you’re feeling now. You think this is wrong, that you’re doing a disservice to something that you think is real back home, but it’s not. None of it is real. You and Daniel are done, are you going to punish yourself because you want to be happy for once in your life? I’m here for you now when I shouldn’t even be, which is not to say that I’m doing you a favour, I just mean—” he brushed my hair away from my face, skimming my skin with his cool fingertip “—that I know you desire this company right now. I’m showing you what real affection is and it’s killing you inside because you’re missing out and you know it too. You now I’m right. What you have with Daniel isn’t real, and you’re going to live an unhappy, bitter life forcing yourself to be with him. It’s not fair on him and it’s not fair on you.”
I turned abruptly. “Since when do you care about what’s fair on Daniel?”
“Since—” his thumb gracing my bottom lip “—you seem to have a direct lifeline to him. You’re afraid to detach from him, I know.” He began lowering his head and as he did, he said, “I know because I was scared like hell detaching from you…”
His lips were soft and warm, and I couldn’t deny myself this comfort even though I knew it was all wrong. No matter what he said, Daniel was in New York right now, believing I was loyal. I shook my head and started pushing Adam away. “I can’t do this.” One kiss. “I can’t.” Two. “Please, stop,” I breathed. “Stop before I come to hate myself too just as much as you both do.”
Adam furrowed his brows, confusion set in his eyes yet the willingness to understand palpable. I’m not sure he could understand what I mean, but I was sure he was ready to say neither he nor Daniel hated me. I feel so lost.
A loud knock made me jump forward and push Adam backwards. The distance grew, and for the moment I realised how tall he was towering over me just a second before, yet now, he seemed faraway.
“Anna? Anna, you there? Janet’s wondering where you are. And Jodie’s here, come say hi.”
“I’ll be right out,” I called. I moved closer towards Adam. “Please don’t leave with me. Come a little while after me.”
“Please,” I implored. “I won’t be able to bear the consequence it will have. Please?”
He nodded silently. And for thirty whole minutes, Adam was absent.
***Hi all! Regarding the three blogs, Samson&Delilah ends at the end of this year, and if you think you’ve known all the plot twists based off of the last post, think again! More to come, and it’s going to be oh-so-sick and twisted! P.S. Sorry about Daniel and Anna, Amber (and to all) 😦 it’ll get better, I promise! Soul xo***