Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Author's Note:  Hi ladies!  Sorry for yet again going MIA without a word, I've been unexpectedly busy.  My grandma went in for a PET scan recently to determine if her cancer had returned. The scan confirmed that the cancer in her throat and trachea returned but also confirmed it has now spread to her liver, pancreas, bones and brain.  She has been hospitalized twice in the past 3 weeks and hospice finally came in last Wednesday.  I am living with her for now to help her through the last days/weeks of her life.  Writing is my escape so I have been very eager to write a few new posts and fall into Emma's world for awhile.  Enjoy! :)

I took a small sip of coffee and toyed with my spoon.  Michael and I were sitting across from each other in an IHOP booth, neither of us really talking or making eye contact.  There was an unfamiliar tension in the air and I could tell he wanted to say something.

"So.  I wanna know what you're thinking about.  I can tell you have something you want to talk about, so feel free," I broke the silence and smiled at him reassuringly.  Michael was watching me carefully, no doubt mentally preparing what he was going to say and how he was going to say it.

"Well, Emma, I wanna know who that guy was yesterday.  I know, I know, we're not together anymore and it's none of my business, but I hardly slept last night.  All I could think about was how your face lit up when that guy got out of his car.  You used to look at me that way, like I was the only other person in the world.  And it killed me to see you looking at him like that..." Michael trailed off, averting his eyes and looking down at his hands.

Guilt and shame consumed me.  I had never meant to hurt Michael, hell, I hadn't expected him to be at my apartment when Eric showed up.  I hadn't planned for him to know I was interested in someone new until I, myself, knew where things were headed.  I reached across the table and grabbed Michael's hand.

"He's just a guy I'm talking to, nothing serious, and I don't know if it's even headed anywhere," I chose my words carefully, not wanting to hurt Michael anymore than I had already, and truly not knowing if anything else would happen with Eric.

Michael pulled his hand away and sat there in silence, seeming to search my face for an indication of whether I was being honest or not.  Finally, he spoke.

"This was a mistake, wanting to see you.  I'm not ready for this. I better take you home now."

"No, Michael, that's okay, I'll just walk.  I could use the fresh air."

I tossed money on the table to pay for my coffee and a tip and headed for the door.  I half expected Michael to follow me and try to stop me, but thankfully, he didn't.  It wasn't my intention to have him chase me down and cause a scene.  I really did want the fresh air and I needed more time to think and digest the emotional events of the day.  Despite the late hour, I wasn't afraid to be walking alone.  It was a busy, well-lit road in a very low crime area and I knew it wouldn't even take 30 minutes to walk home. 

Quickly, I made my way home, letting my mind wander and absorbing the fresh night air.  Quietly, I crept into the dark apartment and laid down on the couch, emotionally exhausted and wanting nothing more than to go to sleep and hope for a better tomorrow. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

There's No Beauty In Bleeding Mascara

"So, did you have a good night at the club?  Or was it a waste of time," I asked Kate as she entered the kitchen.  She usually worked two nights a week at a strip club nearly an hour away for extra income.  Some days she came home with a significant amount of money, but other nights it was slow and not worth the gas or time spent.  Kate had been trying to convince me to join her at the club those nights to make extra money myself, but I was still hesitant. 

"Hah, I did have a good night but I can see that yours was better," Kate teased, laughing and shaking her head.  She wagged a finger in my direction and tsk tsked, "You are SO bad.  It's written all over your face!"

I blushed, wondering how she could possibly know about the previous evening with Eric.  Kate was certainly no saint, and I had always played the good girl role perfectly while she lived up her bad girl image.  I was far from an innocent virgin, but I had only had two partners other than Michael before my rendezvous with Eric, and they had both been former boyfriends.

"Seriously, Kate, I know.  I can't believe I did this and I'm feeling even guiltier today now that I know that you know. He acted totally weird afterward though and practically pushed me out the door.  But then he asked if he could call me to get together again.  I don't even know what to think. And I didn't even tell you yet that Michael showed up here yesterday right before I left!" I was rambling nervously, spilling my thoughts to Kate.

"Well," Kate began, "if Eric calls you to hang out, do not have sex with him. That'll place you on booty call status and you're better than that. You already know how I feel about Michael, so if he calls or shows up again, don't even bother with him.  He needs to move on!"

I sighed, knowing Kate was right.  I wasn't entirely convinced I would ever hear from Eric again but there was no way I would degrade myself and allow him to use me for sex.  I also wasn't entirely sure how I felt about Michael, even though ending our relationship had been my choice.  I worried that spending time with him would evoke old emotions and make me second guess my decision to leave him.  On the other hand, he had been my best friend for years and I did miss his friendship and thought now would be a good time to start the baby steps towards being friends again.

I glanced at the clock and realized I needed to head to work shortly.  Sitting around and thinking about my now complicated love life was not an option.  However, I wanted to talk to Eric and figure out where we stood and I had promised Michael I'd be in touch.  I fought with myself mentally for a moment and caved.  I would shoot Eric what I hoped was a casual text message and then I would deal with Michael.

"Hey you!  Hope you're having a good day at work! I had fun yesterday, let me know when you're free if you wanna hang out again :D -Em"

My phone vibrated in response almost immediately.

"lol thanks, but I'm off today. and last night was great, I'd love to do it again ;)"

Off today? I read and reread the words. My heart dropped and I felt a knot beginning to form in my shoulders and my stomach as I tensed up.  If he was off today, why did he basically kick me out the door last night?  A painful lump formed in my throat as my eyes filled with tears.  I couldn't recall ever having felt so used and betrayed.  I set my phone down gingerly and talked myself out of picking it back up and giving Eric a piece of my mind.

Feeling vulnerable and suffering a major blow to my self esteem, I picked up my phone and texted Michael.

"Hey!  I know you're off tomorrow so I figured I'd see if you want to go to IHOP tonight when I get off work at 11:30.  Just let me know :)"

I put my phone back in my purse and headed out the door to go to work. I was almost positive Michael would accept and suddenly, I could hardly wait to see him again. As I reached the parking lot of my office building, I felt my phone vibrate.  I stopped to check my phone and couldn't help but smile despite the blow to my ego when I saw that Michael had indeed agreed to meet for coffee that night.

Now, I really wasn't sure what my intentions were in asking him to meet up and that thought excited me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Too fast?

I glanced shyly at Eric, wondering what it would feel like to kiss him.  Dinner had been wonderful and conversation had come easily between the two of us.  We'd laughed and chatted and flirted throughout the meal and the way he looked at me made me feel like I was the only woman in the world.  Now, we were sitting quietly side by side on his couch watching a movie and I was wondering whether or not he would kiss me that night.

I could barely focus on the movie; all I could focus on was him and the butterflies I felt when I looked at him.  Eric seemed to sense my gaze and turned towards me.  Our eyes met and neither of us could look away.

Slowly and with purpose, Eric leaned in close.  He cradled my face tenderly in his palm and tipped my chin back.  I could feel my heartbeat quicken as he leaned in closer and brushed his lips softly against my own.  I slid my hands up around his neck and pulled him closer to me, kissing him harder and sighing into his mouth as he ran a hand through my hair and tugged gently.  Eric grabbed my hair and pulled my head back, tracing a trail down my neck and across my collar bone with his mouth, nipping lightly at my skin.  A shiver rolled down my spine as I basked in the sensations of his lips on my skin and I could feel my desire for him building.  No man had ever invoked such passion in me so easily and I wanted nothing more than to devour him.  Quickly and clumsily, I reached for his belt and slid his jeans down over his hips.  Before I could even consider how things would change between us and stop myself from crossing a line I could never uncross, he was inside me.

Afterward, while he redressed, I smoothed out my dress and ran my fingers through my hair in an attempt to appear more presentable.  Eric glanced at me and motioned for the front door.

"So, are you ready to go?"

"Um, sure," I answered hesitantly.  I picked up my purse and followed him to the car.  The ride back to my apartment was filled mostly with a comfortable silence, yet the million thoughts in my mind were deafening.  Had he just used me for sex? How could I sleep with someone I hardly knew?  Would I ever hear from him again?  Had I done something wrong?

I felt my cheeks grow hot as I blushed with shame.  The sex had been hot and passionate and fun, but he was practically a stranger and I was definitely not the type of girl who had sex on the first date.  I wondered what he must think of me and whether or not this would change things between us.  Once you have sex, there is no going back.

We pulled up in front of my apartment building and I reached for the door handle.  I had the door halfway open when Eric grabbed my arm.  He was smiling and his eyes danced with good-natured amusement.

"Sorry again to rush you out the door like that, I just have to work an early shift tomorrow and hadn't intended to be up so late.  Can I call you so we can get together again?" He winked and ran a hand up my arm.

"It's fine, I understand.  And you better call me!" I joked, returning his smile. I felt all the tension in my shoulders melt away as I realized I'd been mentally freaking out for no reason. He leaned in to kiss me and his lips lingered on mine.  I reluctantly broke the kiss and exited the car.

I was relieved when I realized Kate wasn't home that night.  I needed a hot shower to unwind and cleanse myself of Eric's scent, and I wasn't in the mood to discuss the night's events just yet.  I needed more time with my thoughts to really decide how I felt and whether or not I had made a big mistake.

As I settled in to the couch, wrapping myself in a blanket, all I could think of was how out of character I had behaved with Eric and how worried I was that things were moving way too quickly between us.  I hoped my mind would be more clear in the morning.  Finally, I drifted off to sleep.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You...

My breath caught in my throat and I stood there in the doorway, wide-eyed and slackjawed.

"Em, you look fantastic.  I've missed you so much," Michael breathed, taking in my dolled up appearance.

I shifted uncomfortably on my feet, one hand against the doorframe and the other nervously twirling a section of hair.

"Thanks," I mumbled, "but what are you doing here?  I'm sorry if I sound rude, but I'm expecting someone any minute so please make it quick."

I felt my cheeks grow hot as Michael's eyes scanned my face and he looked at me with such honesty and hurt in his eyes.  Despite how firm I was in my decision to leave him, I hadn't realized that a part of me did miss the comfort and familiarity of being in his presence.

"You wouldn't take my calls and I just wanted to talk to you and make sure you're okay.  I was worried about you...but obviously you're fine and in a rush, so I guess I better go," Michael answered quietly, taking another lingering glance at my face and taking in the dress I wore, as he stepped away from the doorway.

I sighed, feeling a seed of guilt and another feeling I couldn't quite identify growing in my stomach.  I stood there silently, watching him walk away.

"Michael, wait," I called after him,"maybe we can grab coffee or something later in the week and catch up.  I'll text you, okay?  Right now just isn't a good time."

"Yeah, sure, Em, that would be great!  I won't keep you any longer, I'm just glad to see you're okay," Michael replied, waving over his shoulder and breaking into a smile.  He turned towards me one more time as he opened his car door and got inside, and it broke my heart a little to see the look on his face.  It was a mixture of pain and hope, and I realized in that moment just how much I had hurt him by leaving the way I did.

I remained in the doorway, watching him buckle his seatbelt and start the car, all the while his eyes never leaving my face. The thought suddenly and startlingly crossed my mind that I needed to run after him and throw my arms around him and tell him how sorry I was and how much I hated myself for hurting him. I was so lost in these thoughts and busy watching Michael backing out of his parking spot that I scarcely noticed another car pulling into the lot and parking.

My heart skipped a beat when the driver got out and I realized it was Eric.  He was just as gorgeous as I remembered, perhaps even more so.  I couldn't help but stare at him as he ambled up the sidewalk.  He flashed me one of his dazzling grins and I could practically feel myself melt. In that instant, all thoughts of Michael completely left my mind.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

That's What Girls Dreams Are Made Of

During the next week and a half, I had settled in completely to my new evening shift at work and my living situation with Kate.  I arrived home at 11:30pm and spent a few hours with Kate, usually sipping on a drink while she guzzled hers.  I enjoyed her company, but she was such a wild child and I was a very laid back homebody.  Her outgoing demeanor was starting to rub off on me and I was finding myself becoming less shy and uptight.  Michael was the furthest thing from my mind as I continued to settle in to my new schedule, my new home and my new life.  I continued to ignore his phone calls and messages, and hoped eventually he would get the hint that I was gone for good and there was no winning me back.

As for work, I loved not having to be there until 3pm.  I no longer had to wake up to a blaring alarm every morning.  Instead, I could wake up at my leisure and still have hours to spare before I had to head to work.  To be honest, I wasn't sure why our call center had requested more employees to switch to the evening shift.  I was one of 6 employees transferred to the evening shift and we were left with a lot of down time in between calls, and some evenings, no phone calls came in for the last hour of my shift.  Most evenings, I spent my spare time doodling in a notebook, chatting with nearby coworkers or exchanging increasingly flirty texts with Eric.

We hadn't yet made plans to get together, but we texted each other daily.   I learned that not only was he gorgeous, he was charming and funny.  I had been out of the dating loop for four years and had forgotten how fun it could be getting to know someone new.  Texting seemed like an easy way to break the ice between us before we officially had a date.  What started out as simple getting-to-know you messages had soon turned to flirtatious messages, almost bordering on racy.  Every time my phone vibrated in my purse, I couldn't help but grin, knowing it would be Eric and anticipating what he would say.

One evening, two weeks after we exchanged our first text message, Eric and I finally had plans to get together.  I woke up early, feeling nervous and excited.  I made my way to the kitchen where Kate was preparing a cup of coffee to take to work with her.

"So, today's the big date, huh?  You nervous?" Kate teased, raising an eyebrow.

"Um, yeah," I laughed, reaching for a clean mug, "of course I'm nervous!  We're going to dinner, then going to watch movies at his apartment and we'll see how it goes from there."

"Well, have fun.  If you wanna borrow anything from my closet, feel free.  I gotta go, I won't be home until late."

With that, Kate was out the door and I found myself alone with nearly four hours to kill before Eric arrived.  I busied myself with some simple cleaning around the apartment while I waited until it was time to start getting ready.  I took my time showering, exfoliating and poring over an outfit to wear.  I wanted to wear something cute and flirty, yet completely casual.  I finally settled on a simple salmon colored sundress that hugged my curves without being tight or revealing and set off the slight tan I had developed.  I left my hair loose and wavy, letting it fall over my shoulders, while I kept my makeup light with just a hint of shimmer across my eyelids, lips and cheekbones.  I glanced at my phone and realized Eric should be arriving within the next fifteen minutes.

I turned and admired myself in front of Kate's full length mirror and smoothed my dress.  I thought I looked cute with just a hint of sexy, and hoped Eric would agree.  As I made one final appraisal of my hair and makeup, I heard a knock at the door.  I winked at myself in the mirror, and dissolved into nervous giggles as I headed for the living room.

With a deep breath and a brilliant smile, I pulled open the front door.  Imagine my surprise when I found myself face to face not with Eric, but with Michael...