Michael and I hadn’t spoken for a long time. We didn’t see each other, we didn’t talk, and we didn’t even text. I’d been swamped at work to even think about him but when I did, I missed him. I went over and over our fight in my head and wondered if we were both wrong, one of us, or none of us. How do parents spend their whole lives worrying about the kind of crowd their children mix with if friends aren’t a factor in who we are? Maybe when we get older, it becomes clearer. I can’t count the number of times I hear we’re not supposed to generalise an entire people based on just a few people, couldn’t it be the same for the people we know?
I honestly didn’t know, what I did know was that I wasn’t fair to him. I should know better. It’s not like me to just judge a man’s character based on his friends’, or anyone’s for that matter.
Colour me surprise (I know, totally clichéd phrase) when I saw Michael entering the office with Ahly’s ex and friends. As per usual they were having a great time and laughing their asses off. Ahly was smiling because obviously it was infectious, but I was immune.
“When are they going to higher security so they can be shot on site,” Toby sighed.
“Oh pipe down party pooper,” Ahly said.
“This is a place of our work!” He said.
“Uh huh, is that why you keep texting your new girlfriend?”
“What new girlfriend?” I asked.
Toby turned red and kept his warning eyes on Ahly. “No one.”
“I thought the only person you’ve been seeing is…” I stopped short when I thought of the only person I knew he could be calling a girlfriend by this point. But they just met!
“Who?” Toby asked.
I shrugged and acted like I didn’t know. If Chloe didn’t tell me then she didn’t want me to know, and that was a separate issue altogether. My best friend didn’t want me to know she was dating someone I was working with. Like, for real dating. Like, this wasn’t just a fling dating. Why though?
I slipped a glance Michael’s way and he caught it. He half-smiled and looked down then back up at his friends. It was so unbelievably awkward. I guess he wasn’t ready to talk to me either, which is convenient for me considering I wasn’t entirely ready to admit I was wrong.
He ended up leaving and I got back to work to what felt like a long time until I had my break. I asked if they wanted anything before I left, and all I thought about was food. I was mentally calculating what I should get that when I exited the building my name being called out repeatedly sounded like it was from the distance coming closer.
There was Michael, leaning up against the building, smoking a cigarette. “You sure do take forever to go for lunch.”
I fixed my bag over my shoulder and walked over to him. “I’ve been busy.”
He blew a puff of smoke. “Yeah, me too. I think this wall and I have become one with ourselves.”
I smiled at his ridiculousness, trying and failing to keep it composed. “Mm-hmm.”
“So, we haven’t spoken in a while,” he said, matter-of-fact.
I shrugged and gazed on into the distant traffic. “I’ve been busy.”
“Thought you’d say that.”
I sighed. “Yeah, well, I wouldn’t say I liked the freeze.”
He took a swig and then nodded. “Yeah, I’m more of a settle-this-here-and-now type. But can you blame me?”
I looked up through my lashes and smiled. He tilted his head and I shook mine, giving a little huffed laugh. “No, of course not.” I mumbled under my breath, “You can blame me though.”
“I fucking missed you.”
I shrugged. “I maybe, kind of missed you, too,” I joked.
“Especially when I saw some guy named Mark and you on Facebook having a good time,” he said, suggestively.
I rolled my eyes. “Just a friend.”
“Mm-hmm yourself.” He laughed and I cleared my throat. “I’m sorry about the fight. I was an asshole and should’ve known better.”
He lifted his brow impressed and brought the corners of his lips downwards. “Say what?”
“Come on, don’t make me say it again.”
He laughed and clutched my jaw to angle his lips down and press them on mine. “I missed that, too,” he said when he pulled away.
“Me too,” I breathed.
“Come on—” he grabbed my hand— “let’s get out of here.”
I shimmied back and out of his grasp. “I have work.”
I tilted my head. “What are we in high school?”
“I mean take a personal day, come on let’s go.”
“Why? Got something Valentine’s Day related planned?” I winked.
“Yeah, right, like I’d celebrate a bullshit holiday.”
“Oh. You don’t like it?”
He shrugged. “I just think it’s stupid.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah…” I nodded.
“But…I’m gathering you like it?”
“It’s whatever,” I said, waving my hand forwards.
I nodded. “Hey, I really do have to get back to work.”
“Thought you were going to lunch?”
“Right. Lunch then work.”
“How about we have lunch together then, since you won’t ditch?”
“Uhh, you know, it’s going to be a quick one for me. In and out, sort of thing. I’ll see you later.”
I was already on the curb about to set foot to cross the street. “Bye!”