Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thank You For Being A Friend

Of course, I had immediately screenshotted and printed a copy of the email Facebook had sent me logging the IP and time stamp of the password change.  It showed that it had been done through my personal email account, but that password hadn't been altered.  Did you guys know that Gmail logs the most recent access to your email account, showing the IP address of your most recent log-ins with the time and date?  I saved a screenshot of that, too, noting that the IP that had changed my Facebook password had also accessed my Gmail account.  I also printed a hard copy. I have to say I was surprised when I saw multiple logs in my Gmail with that same IP address.  Obviously whoever had done this had had access to my email for a little while, yet hadn't done anything until now.

I quickly changed my email and Facebook passwords, ending all other log-in sessions as I did so.  It may sound stupid, but I felt violated.  I have years worth of saved communications on both my Facebook and email accounts.  I'm like a pack rat when it comes to my messages, I never delete them, I just create archived folders to store them in.  Knowing that I was still on the clock and therefore needed to be working, I logged out of my personal accounts and pushed the worry aside for the rest of the day.

When I got home from work, I signed in to my email and Facebook account using my new passwords.  I scoured through everything, hoping to find what may be amiss.  Nothing appeared to be missing or noticeably changed in my email.  I found no record of any emails sent from my account, but if theperson were smart, they may have deleted anything they sent.  Still, the person who'd done this had full access to all of my contacts via Gmail, which I have synced with my phone (thank God, that had made it incredibly easy to import all of my contacts when Michael had destroyed my old phone).  This person could easily have saved that information, now knowing the phone numbers of those nearest and dearest to me.  I felt so frustrated and helpless, not knowing what they'd seen or saved or destroyed.

I turned my attention to my Facebook account.  Now that I was home and on my own time, I made it a point to go through and update all of my security settings.  I'd previously had a bit of information visible to Public and mutual friends (friend of a friend? I'm not sure how to describe it).  The friend-of-friend option had been what allowed Manda to see a few pictures I'd shared.  I updated all of my settings, making every single thing viewable to Friends Only with a select few items visible to Me Only.  I also enabled SMS notifications for log-ins and changed the settings so I'd be notified via text immediately if someone logged in to my account from an unfamiliar browser.  I double-checked that no other sessions were active and deleted all "approved" browsers, meaning even when I logged in at work, I'd have to manually accept that browser.

It was tiring, really, going through all of this.  I chastised myself for not being more aware of my social media and email accounts.  I hadn't taken the time to enable security measures to keep my accounts thoroughly protected.  I also updated my security questions and enabled text confirmation for log-ins to my email account. I was confident now that if anyone tried to access my accounts, unless they physically had my phone in hand, their attempts would be thwarted.  At the very least, I'd be notified immediately of any suspicious activity.

Friday, April 25, 2014


"Just what is that supposed to mean?" I fought to hide the exasperation in my voice. Eric had been the one to suggest meeting Rob in the first place.  I'd hoped that meeting Rob would put his mind at ease about our friendship.  Judging by the look on his face, this was not the case.

"Seriously?  What do you think it means?  I don't like how he looks at you.  He looks at you like you belong to him or something and he needs to protect you."

"He's protective of me, yeah, because he cares about my well being.  You weren't here when Michael tried pounding down the door.  You didn't witness how scary it was for me and how dangerous it could have been if Rob hadn't stepped in!" I nervously twisted the hem of my shirt.  I hate arguments and confrontation. I prefer rational, calm conversations over emotional outbursts.  Arguing stresses me out, I could feel my stomach start churning.

Eric pursed his lips, furrowing his brow.  He looked hurt and like he was struggling to find something to say.

"I get that.  I've kicked myself a hundred times over because I wasn't there for you.  It should be my job to keep you safe and lift you up, not his.  I should be the one swooping in to save the day.  I should be the one you cry on when you need to and the one you run to after a tough day." His voice broke a little as he spoke and he trailed off.  I was shocked to see the sheen of tears welling up in his eyes.

"You are that person for me, but so is Rob. So is Kate.  I have a strong support system, I'm very lucky in that respect. That doesn't mean you should feel inadequate!  If anything, you should be happy that I have people who care about me and look out for me!  You shouldn't be jealous of my friends, Eric.  It's not fair to me." I squeezed his hand, searching his face for an indication that what I said was getting through to him.

Eric sighed, visibly relaxing.  He rubbed his temple with the hand I wasn't grasping, looking ashamed.

"Emma, I'm sorry.  You're right, you are so right.  I've been feeling jealous and like I'm not enough.  I shouldn't be lashing out at you when I'm the one with an issue.  I'm sorry, babe, I am." Eric leaned in, gently brushing his lips against mine.

I could totally understand how he was feeling, really.  Every man wants to feel like they can protect their girl better than anyone.  While I may not agree with how he went about expressing those feelings, I could understand them.  He felt threatened in the sense that he wasn't strong enough to support and protect me, which came out in the form of jealousy.

I led him to my room so we could both relax and talk it out.  We talked for hours until we fell asleep. I fell asleep thankful that he would try harder to express his feelings when they arose, instead of bottling things up.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Holly and I met up for a good, old fashioned girl date today filled with Panera, thrifting and a heart to heart.  I could eat Panera daily, really.  There is something so delicious and appealing about everything they have to offer.  Panera is also the one "fast" food place I've been to that has never messed up my order (ugh, don't get me started on my last McD's visit - I waited 14 minutes for my chicken wrap and when I received it finally, it was the wrong wrap.  Not gonna lie, I cried. Damn hormones!).  I crave Panera's hibiscus iced tea.  I don't know exactly how they make it, Google has failed me.  But damn, it's delicious.  I've gone to Panera on my short lunch break three times this week just to get a hibiscus iced tea.

Holly and I sat in a small booth, people watching while we chatted over our meals.  I had noticed a mid-twenties guy wearing headphones while he worked on his laptop.  I'd seen him there before, always sitting alone and working.  I wondered if he was a writer or a student.  I was watching him from the corner of my eye when I noticed a well-dressed blonde woman approach him, carrying a small baby in a carrier.  I smiled broadly, admiring the baby from afar.  I assumed it to be his wife or girlfriend.  Without a word, she set the baby carrier down on his table, effectively taking up half the space, which I found quite odd.

I returned my focus to Holly, letting her vent about how run down she had become while working two jobs.  Loud laughter caught my attention and I looked up to see the blonde sitting at a large table with similarly well-groomed women.  They were talking and laughing quite loudly amongst themselves.  The mom's back was turned to her infant baby still perched atop the young guy's table.  He had a look of horror and shock on his face.  I nudged Holly under the table and whispered to her to take a look.

In hushed tones, I repeated what I'd seen: the blonde woman had set her baby down on this guy's table and was then joined by her girlfriends.  She hadn't spared a second glance at her kid and it soon became obvious that the guy didn't even know her!

Holly and I watched to see if the lady would turn around for her kid and she never did.  Seeing that poor, tiny baby left on a stranger's table just infuriated me.  I felt sorry for the young guy who looked downright repulsed by the baby and the woman's behavior but he hadn't said a word.  I can't even imagine what was going through his mind.  I was furious at the woman for ditching her baby like that.  From the looks of it, the baby couldn't be more than 6 weeks old.  And here was the mother, setting her baby down like a burdensome shopping bag.  What if that guy had been some sort of deranged person or baby kidnapper?

I spoke in hushed tones to Holly, whispering fiercely that this woman had a lot of balls and a lack of brain activity.  Smoothing my clothes and plastering on a saccharine smile, I sauntered over to where they sat.

I made eye contact with the guy (who was actually quite adorable, now that I was seeing him up close) and smiled sweetly.

"What a lovely baby you have!  What's his name?" I cooed, wondering if the mother would notice

He stammered, "Uh, it's actually not mine." He gestured towards the lady who was still absorbed in catching up with friends.

"Not your baby?  Then why is he on your table?" I asked loudly.

Finally, I had the blonde's attention.  She turned sharply and looked me up and down, wrinkling her nose.

"Is there a problem?" she snapped.

"Actually, there is.  Just what the hell are you thinking setting your baby on a stranger's table?  Are you that self-absorbed?"

She gaped at me, mouth opening and closing without a word.  I heard snickers from her friends as they stared pointedly at the situation.

"That's none of your business."

"You're right, lady, it's not.  But you should seriously take better care of your kid.  What if someone just grabbed his carrier and walked out the door?  Would you even notice?" I crossed my arms, refusing to break eye contact.

The woman looked suddenly ashamed and alarmed.  Without so much as a mumbled sorry, she gathered up her kid and returned to her friends.

"Uh, thanks for that." The guy spoke meekly, running a hand through his hair.

I smiled, told him it was my pleasure and returned to Holly.  We cleaned up our table, I refilled my tea and we headed out the door.

"Oh my, god, I can't believe this is real life right now!" Holly choked out through laughter. "You're gonna be an awesome mama."

I smiled at her, thankful she didn't think I had acted like a crazy person.  I've always hated seeing bad parenting go on but I'd never butted in before.  I know it isn't my place to tell someone how to raise or care for their child, but that lady's behavior needed to be called out.

After our interesting lunch date, Holly and I visited a few thrift stores.  I'm proud to say I found a perfect vanity and nightstand for my room.  Hopefully on my next visit, I score a great coffee table and a tiny dresser for the baby's room.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Just Friends

I've spent the past few days unpacking and settling in at my new place.  I have the basics (couch, bed, dishes) but I basically started from scratch.  I plan on checking out a few thrift stores for fun items or small furniture.  As a kid, I always loved going to yard sales and rummage sales with my grandma.  I would sort through books, toys and random items.  It's safe to say that at least a third of my current wardrobe has been accrued through thrifting.  I just love finding unique items, especially for cheap.  I'm wary of buying bedding or upholstered furniture through second-hand stores, though, which is why I splurged on a brand new couch and mattress.  I'm hoping to find a coffee table, a nightstand, maybe a cool lamp or some decorative things.  I'm excited to make the place my own.

I found myself daydreaming about thrifting instead of focusing on my work.  I forced my mind to get back on track and busied myself with my daily reports.  Really, I just felt antsy for the work-day to end.  Don't get me wrong, I like my job and I have a strong work ethic, but I'm planning on making dinner for Eric tonight for the first time.  He's meeting me at my apartment around 9:30pm.  It's funny to think we are both so accustomed to eating dinner that late.  Just a few months ago, I would've balked at the idea of having dinner any later than 7.

The day ended up going by quicker than I thought it would.  My day had run smoothly and efficiently, and I soon found myself waving goodbye to a few coworkers as I clocked out and headed home.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Past And Present

Kate and I were stretched out on her couch, the tv playing in the background.  Neither of us were really paying attention to the show, we were too busy talking, laughing and reminiscing.  It would be my last night staying with Kate.  By this time the following night, I'd be curled up in my own bed in my own apartment.  I couldn't wait.  I finally felt like pieces of my life were falling into place.  Work was going surprisingly well, I hadn't heard a peep from Michael, Eric and I had decided to see each other exclusively and I'd be in my own place preparing for the baby to come.  I'd been adding quite a few things to my Amazon wish list to keep track of what I wanted and needed to prepare.  Holly had offered to host a baby shower at her place the following month.  She's quite the hostess, I'm really looking forward to it!

"Oh man, remember those disgusting cookies we made at Ashley's?  The boys tried so hard to be nice and pretend they liked them!" Kate laughed.

She was referring to a slumber party we'd had in high school.  For some reason, we had come up with the idea to make the most terrible cookies possible and deliver them to Ashley's boyfriend, David, and a few of our mutual guy friends.  We'd added soy sauce, Diet Coke, salt and a few other random ingredients.  The cookies looked totally fine (we threw in chocolate chips, too!) but the taste was just horrendous.  It was not uncommon for Ashley to bring baked goods to school or get-togethers so they boys were totally unsuspecting.  It was the funniest thing watching them try not to make faces, while feigning enthusiasm and enjoyment.  I can't remember who cracked first, me or Kate, but once the laughter started, we were all in hysterics.

The boys took our little prank in stride and got us back at a future date.  We were having yet another slumber party at Ashley's, and they'd snuck into the yard.  They did little things like tap lightly at the window and rustle about in the yard.  We never spotted them and the sounds died down.  Around 3am, though, one of them used a deer caller and it made the strangest, most terrifying sound while one of the boys pounded on the window with a mask on.  We all screamed and ran for Ashley's parents room, nearly sobbing and insisting there was a murderer trying to get us.  Her folks were in on it, though, and scared us some more!

Thinking back on those times was fun.  High school wasn't that long ago, really, but life just seemed so much more carefree and innocent then.  Kate and I talked some more about the antics we'd gotten up to in our past.  I reminded her of the first New Year's Eve we had spent at our first apartment.  We were 18, then, and although I'm not much of a drinker in recent years, I did drink on occasion during that time.  Kate's older sister would buy us booze so we could have a little fun.

We had gotten tipsy in our apartment and came up with the brilliant idea to wander around our apartment complex in the dark, looking for a party to crash.  We came upon one apartment with loud music that sounded like a party, so we mustered up the courage to knock.  A gangsta looking guy opened the door looking menacing, but visibly relaxed when he saw it was just two young girls with a stupid idea.  Their apartment was full of people and we heard someone yell, "We thought you was the cops!"

One of the female party-goers dubbed us "those crazy white girls" and insisted we take pictures with them.  It was fun, but looking back it could've gone very poorly for us if we'd knocked on the wrong door.  On our trek back to our building, we ran into a few guys around our age that we'd seen around the complex before, and they invited us back to their place for some beers.  I dozed off on the couch while Kate hooked up with one of them and the other two guys had gone to bed.  I remember waking up, slightly drunk and disoriented and feeling the urge that I needed to rush home.  I stumbled outside, it was still dark and freezing but a weird fog had settled.  I sprinted home with thoughts of Jack the Ripper and werewolves plaguing my mind.  It was only when I got back inside that I remembered I'd left Kate behind!  I ran the whole way back, still fearful, and dragged Kate out of bed.  Together, we raced back to our place, screaming with laughter about the night's events.

Kate and I laughed some more about stupid things we've done, dumb fights we had and good times in our lives.  Eventually, the conversation turned to current times and she brought up her not-quite-date with Jack.

"It was kinda weird, actually.  He was really quiet and seemed like he was lost in his own head the whole time.  We did make plans to go out again, though, so maybe he was nervous?  We made out in his car, so I guess that's a good sign?" we dissected the date further and I agreed with Kate that he may have been nervous.  Now that it was out in the open that they 'liked' each other, he could be feeling vulnerable.  I reassured her that their next outing was actually labeled a date, so that was a good sign.

We talked some more about Eric.  Kate was hard to read when I announced that Eric had suggested we make things exclusive between us.  I've been seeing him exclusively for quite some time, but I'm unsure if he's gone on other dates with different women.  At least now the framework is in place.

"Sooo, he's your boyfriend now?" she raised her eyebrows.

"Well, no.  But I'm assuming that's the next step.  We've agreed that neither of us want to date anyone else.  It's not like a serious relationship or anything.  It's not Facebook official!" I laughed.  It seems like everyone these days treats Facebook as the word of god or something.  Like, a relationship isn't real until it has been confirmed on Facebook.  It's weird, but that's modern culture now, I guess.

"Does that mean you won't be seeing Rob anymore?" Kate inquired, tilting her head.

"Huh?  I've told you, Rob's my friend.  We were never dating."

"Yeah, but you like, cooked him breakfast and hung out at his house and you guys have gone out for food together.  That's basically dating to most people!"

"You and Dale do that stuff all the time!  You guys aren't dating!"

"Yeah, but we've known each other for a long time and used to hang out in groups before we started hanging out with just each other."

"What does length of time have to do with anything, though?  Rob isn't into me, I'm not into him.  There's no weird sexual tension or anything." I was feeling somewhat exasperated.  Kate and I have already talked about my friendship with Rob, so why was she bringing it up again?

"Emma, don't be like that," she soothed, "I know he's your friend, but how will Eric feel about it?  I mean, wouldn't you be a little weirded out if he had a female friend he hung out with all the time?"

I thought it over for a bit.  I hadn't considered that.  I guess I hadn't considered how Eric would feel at all.  I assured Kate that I'd discuss it with Eric when appropriate, but I wasn't cutting off my friendship with Rob.  Only controlling people make you end a healthy, normal friendship with someone.  It's one thing to convince someone not to hang out with a person who is destructive or toxic to them and entirely another thing to make someone stop hanging out with someone purely because of the genitalia they were born with.  I shook my head, indicating I was no longer interested in this path of conversation.

Soon we were turning in for the night.  I had to be up super early (for me) to sign the remaining lease paperwork, pick up my keys and wait for the movers.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Date Night

Conversation flowed easily as we enjoyed our meals at a place specializing in tapas.  We started off with lightly breaded fried goat cheese with a honey-chili sauce for dipping. It melted in my mouth.  The sweet, slightly spicy honey sauce really brought out the rich flavor of the goat cheese.  I don't know if you've ever had goat cheese, but it reminds me of a slightly richer, more flavorful cream cheese.  Eric then ordered shrimp and scallop ceviche, calamari and spicy fried potatoes.  Everything was flavorful and beautifully presented.  I left the restaurant feeling fat and happy.  I don't know about you, but I'm generally my happiest after eating a delicious meal.

Eric and I strolled hand in hand through our beautiful downtown area.  The temperature had started dropping, yet I felt flushed with happiness.  We stopped at a local coffee shop, where he ordered an iced latte while I chose a hibiscus iced tea.  We sipped on our drinks while we walked, stopping to sit on a bench in front of one of our cities many beautiful fountains.

"I had a good time tonight," I whispered, leaning in to his shoulder.  Something about his natural scent combined with the cologne he wore practically had my head spinning.  He draped a protective arm around me, pulling me closer.  A gentle breeze had picked up, ruffling his hair.  I smiled, feeling content and completely at ease for the first time all day as I studied his beautiful profile.

We soon found ourselves back at Eric's apartment.  The two of us cozied up on the couch with the tv playing in the background.

"My roommate is out of town, ya know," Eric murmured against my ear.

I giggled and snuggled up closer to him, running a hand up his thigh.  He pulled me tighter, kissing my neck softly.  A shiver ran up my spine and I closed my eyes, enjoying the sensation.  Without warning, he pulled away.  Eric sauntered to the kitchen, beckoning me to follow.

I leaned back against the counter, wondering what he might have in store.  With a dramatic flourish, he presented a gorgeous cheesecake covered in raspberries and raspberry drizzle.  I giggled again, loving his over-the-top presentation.

"I know you love cheesecake, so I whipped this up for you."

I nearly melted at that.  I love a man who can cook and I absolutely love cheesecake.

I watched as Eric cut us each a hearty slice, my mouth watering in anticipation.  I'd been so sure I was full from dinner, but this cheesecake looked way too delicious to resist.  I can say without a doubt that this was the most flavorful, perfect cheesecake I've ever tasted.  I have eaten plenty of cheesecake in my lifetime, but nothing could compare to this heavenly dessert.

I praised Eric for his cheesecake prowess and planted a kiss on his lovely lips.  We soon found ourselves mostly naked in his big, comfy bed.  The sex was lazy, gentle and so comfortable.  I felt like we'd really connected sexually on a whole new level.

I nestled in to the crook of his arm afterwards, my head laying against his chest.  The sound of his heartbeat was incredibly comforting.  He had a hand gently cradling my belly, and the other tracing slow, lazy circles on my shoulder.

"I've been thinking." he murmured softly, his lips pressed against the top of my head.

"Hmm, what's that?" I asked, reaching up to trace my fingers along his jawline.

"I've been thinking that I'm ready to make this official.  If you're ready, of course..." his tone was soft and steady.  The deep bass of his voice rumbled in my own chest.

A huge smile spread across my face.  I hadn't realized until this very moment how much I'd wanted to hear those words.  I tilted my face towards him, looking into his eyes.

"Eric, I'd love that."

Without a word, he pulled me in for a kiss.  It felt like a movie kiss, where time stops and sparks fly.  I half expected to hear a cheesy love song start playing in the background.  We broke the kiss and grinned at each other.  Just then, I felt the baby kick.  By the somewhat shocked expression on his face, I knew Eric had felt it, too.

"I guess she approves!" I laughed, enjoying the look on his face.  He stared wide-eyed at his palm, feeling the baby kick again.  I loved the look of awe and wonder he had.  I could safely say this moment in time was one of the happiest moments I've ever experienced.

I placed my hand on top of his, relishing in the moment.  I wanted to remember this moment forever.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Apology Not Accepted

**Bonus Post!  See you all again on Friday!**

My mouth immediately went dry and I debated not answering the door at all.  I hate confrontation almost as much as I hate unexpected visitors.


**Hey, everyone.  I just want to apologize for having the post up so late!  I've been at work all day and didn't realize I had somehow scheduled both posts for this week to appear on Friday.  I didn't realize my mistake until I got home and saw a few comments on my last post wondering where today's post is.  Again, I'm sorry!  I'll try to get a bonus post up by Sunday to make it up to you.  Thanks for reading!**

"What an idiot," Kate mumbled around a mouthful of grilled cheese.  I'd given her the rundown on my encounter with Michael at Holly's house.  She'd come home from work tired and starving, so I made her a grilled cheese while I talked.

I'm not going to be pushed around or treated poorly and I had called Officer Reilly to report the violation as soon as I had arrived back at Kate's.  Despite Rob offering to contact Rebecca on my behalf, this is my life and my responsibility.  I had emailed her myself and included the names and phone numbers of other game night attendees should witnesses ever be required.  I have desperately been hoping that as time went on, Michael would realize that he fucked up and he'd back down.  His snarky comments and unwillingness to leave Holly's house as soon as he saw I was there shows that he apparently doesn't understand that here willbe consequences.  Unfortunately for him, he's making things worse for himself and his chance at being in our child's life.

Kate and I chitchatted while she finished eating and I cleaned the kitchen.  I have devoted enough time already to thinking about Michael, worrying about Manda and talking about the both of them.  Instead, she filled me in on the latest strip club drama.

"Destiny is a hot mess, seriously." Kate was referring to a fellow dancer who I had briefly met.  Destiny is basically every negative stripper stereotype people envision.  She's kind of old for a dancer (35 maybe?  Most of the other girls are younger than 26).  She's past her prime due to living rough, yet she has no plans to retire from the biz.  Her hair is bleached platinum with perpetual dark roots, she tans way too much and she has ridiculous fake boobs.  Destiny has four kids with four different men and a nasty coke and alcohol problem.  It's sad, really.  She had been super sweet to me when I had met her, but it was obvious her life was a wreck.

"What'd she do this time?" I inquired.  The last time I'd heard a story about Destiny, she had punched a new girl in the face for "stealing" Destiny's regulars.  After that fiasco, Destiny is on thin ice.

"Well, she was giving a dance to some dude in the VIP room, right?  And she was obviously wasted - no joke, her stage routine was basically her stumbling around and hanging on to the pole, swaying to the beat of her own drum.  Well, this guy comes in quite a bit and always drops a lot of cash.  She tries to do some move and pukes red wine all over the guy!  The dude stormed out and swore he's never coming back."

I grimaced.  I couldn't image being either person in that scenario.

"That is really gross.  What did the manager do?"

"He fired her on the spot.  Told her to go clean up, called her a cab and had one of the bouncers walk her out.  She may have cost us one of our best customers."

I nodded, saying it made sense and I could agree with the decision.

We talked a bit more, the conversation turning to her friend Jack.  Kate has a huge thing for him (he's the one she locked herself in the bathroom crying about a few weeks back).  Apparently, they had a drunken heart-to-heart last week where he admitted he's into her, too.  They'll be going out on a not-quite-date this weekend.  Kate looked so animated and happy gushing about Jack.  She's known him since high school and I've known him for three years or so.  I'm hoping Kate doesn't get her hopes up, though.  She's never really had a boyfriend and I've never seen her look so happy talking about a guy.

Eventually, I realized I was too tired to focus on our conversation.  Kate and I said our good nights and she retired to her room while I made myself comfortable on the couch.  Only three more days until I had the keys to my new apartment!

Just as I was drifting off to sleep, my phone vibrated.  Knowing how late it was and worrying something could be wrong, I grabbed it to check my texts.  I had a text from Eric: "Hey, beautiful.  Can't wait to see you tomorrow <3 span="">

With a smile on my face, I drifted off to sleep.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


"You have got to be fucking kidding me..." I spoke so quietly that only Rob could hear me.  Recognition flashed in his eyes followed by anger.  I quickly reached out and grabbed his hand, squeezing firmly.  He looked down at my hand on his, then up to meet my gaze.  I simply shook my head once, indicating that no, it's not worth it.

An uneasy silence had fallen on our previously boisterous group.  Most of the people in attendance knew that Michael and I had gone through a somewhat messy breakup.  A select few knew about the TRO.  People looked from me to Michael and back again.

Holly cleared her throat and stood suddenly.

"Ah, hey, Michael.  Can I have a word with you outside?" she gestured towards the front door.

He looked smug, defiant.  He shrugged one shoulder and scoffed.

"What, is the bitch upset we're here?  She can take this weeks boyfriend and leave if it bugs her so much," he sneered in my direction.  Manda plastered on a venomous smile and laughed.  How such a beautiful girl could have such an ugly personality boggled my mind.  She fixed her icy blue eyes on me and smiled pointedly.

"We were invited, ya know," Manda offered, pulling up the Facebook invite on her phone.  Holly looked bewildered.

Finally, I spoke up.  It was unfair for Holly and all of our friends to be subjected to this situation.

"Michael, you know you can't be here," I began, not wanting to cause a scene or air our dirty laundry in such a public way.  Despite everything we've gone through since breaking up, Michael is still my daughter's father and I didn't want to humiliate him in front of everyone.  However, I wasn't about to sit there and let him bully me or Holly.

"Is that so?  What are you gonna do about it, have your boyfriend beat me up?  You gonna cry to the cops?  You're such a bitch, Emma," he snarled.  Twelve pairs of eyes were on us, then.  It felt like the air had been sucked out of the room.  Manda looked bored, Holly looked to be on the verge of tears, Rob looked furious.  Everyone else had a mixed look of confusion and curiosity.  Someone cleared their throat nervously.

"I'm serious, you need to leave.  We both know why you can't be here..." I trailed off, my voice soft and pleading.

For a split second, I saw a glimpse of the old Michael.  He looked hurt, rejected and so damn lost.  Just as quickly, his face changed into a hardened mask of hatred.  Neither of us ever wanted to reach this point.  If someone had told me a year ago that I'd one day find myself pregnant with a restraining order against Michael, I would have laughed and blew them off.  It seemed utterly preposterous.  Yet, here we stood.

"Michael, please just go," Holly's voice wavered.

"Why should I have to leave?  Huh?  Is everyone here gonna side with her?  What, I'm not part of the group anymore? This is bullshit!" he exploded, gesturing wildly.

"Michael, I swear to God, if you do not leave right now, I will call the police.  You'll be arrested for violating the restraining order.  Do everyone in this room a favor and just leave!" I no longer cared about what people would think.  I grew a backbone in that moment and I wasn't backing down.  I was done protecting Michael's reputation amongst our friend group.  I was ready for them to see the man he had become.

"You know what, you can all go to hell.  Fuck each and every one of you!" Michael stormed out, slamming the door behind him.  Finally, Manda had the sense to look ashamed and quietly followed, shooting another hateful glance in my direction as she did so.

Awkward silence filled the room.  Ice clinked in glasses as people looked around the room

Holly was the first to speak.

"Emma, everyone, I'm so sorry and embarrassed. I had no idea he was coming.  I specifically didn't invite him tonight but the Facebook event was public, he must've seen it." Holly's boyfriend, Peter, wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her in tight.

"Ah, Holly, this was my fault," a voice quavered.  All eyes turned toward Jessie, who was nervously fidgeting with the sleeves of her cardigan.  She was a petite, mousy little thing.  I'd seen her at past get-togethers but didn't know her personally.

"I got your invite and shared it with a few people, Michael being one of them.  I had no idea about..." she gestured towards me, pushing her black-rimmed glasses up and sniffling.  I felt bad for her, really.  How could she have known?

"Jessie, it's okay.  You didn't know," I offered, "I'm the one who should be apologizing to everyone.  I think I'm going to head out."

I stood, clutching my purse.  Rob nodded at me before standing.

I addressed Holly directly.

"Holly, I'm truly sorry to cause a scene and ruin the night.  If Michael comes back or says anything to you, please let me know.  Everyone, again, I'm sorry you all had to witness that.  Enjoy the rest of the night."

Holly walked me to the door.  Slowly, conversation had begun to return to the room.  I hugged Holly tightly, reassuring her that I was fine and simply worn out.  I waved goodbye to the group and made my way outside.

I leaned into Rob as we stood outside my car.

"Jesus, what a mess!" I moaned, rubbing my temples.

"Even though he left somewhat willingly, you still need to report the violation.  I can call Rebecca for you in the morning, if you'd like.  As your lawyer, she should know, too.  You still have that cop's card, right?  You need to document everything," Rob spoke calmly, yet angrily.  I knew he wasn't angry at me, rather the situation.  I stretched up and hugged him, speaking into his shirt.

"I'm glad you were here."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Playing Games

I slipped my key into the lock and attempted to push the door open.  It wouldn't budge.  My first panicked thought was that I'd somehow gone to the wrong apartment.  I glanced around furtively, confirming that yes, this is Kate's apartment.  My brow furrowed in confusion as I tried the door again.  Ah.  The deadbolt.  Kate must have locked it before bed and she's still asleep.  The deadbolt doesn't have an external lock that can be opened.

I knocked on the door, lightly at first.  Nothing.  I knocked harder. Still nothing.  Sighing, I pulled out my phone to call Kate.  I could hear it ringing through the door and realized sadly that her phone was in the living room.  I really, really had to pee and mentally begged Kate to wake up and open the door.  I half stepped side to side, praying nobody was watching my "pee dance".  If Kate didn't open the door within the next thirty seconds, I was definitely going to pee myself.  This time I pounded on the door so hard it shook a little.  I waited ten seconds, twenty, thirty.  Not a sound from inside.

I was furious, really.  It's unbelievably rude to lock someone out.  There was a reason we only used the deadbolt when both of us were home!  Cursing under my breath, I stomped my way over to Rob's door.  If he didn't answer, I'd probably cry.  I knocked a little harder than I intended to, feeling sheepish when he answered the door with a bewildered look on his face.

"I'm so sorry to pound on your door, but can I please use your bathroom? It's an emergency!" the words came out in a jumbled rush.

Rob raised his eyebrows without a word, moving aside to let me in.  I practically ran to his bathroom, slamming the door behind me and just barely got my leggings pulled down in time.  Aaand the seat was up, resulting in a soaking wet bottom.  I pulled myself up out of the water to relieve myself.  It was pretty much the best pee of my life.  I've heard guys talk about "pee shivers" before, and now I understood.  I dried the toilet water off carefully, before thoroughly washing my hands and exiting the bathroom.

Rob was lounging on his couch with an amused smirk on his face.

"What's so funny?" I asked. "Seriously, it was an emergency.  Kate left the deadbolt locked and wouldn't wake up to open the damn door!"

"Oh, it's not that.  I heard you cursing in there and remembered I left the seat up.  I can only assume that's what the cursing was for," he laughed, "but then I thought maybe the sight of my face made you sick again!  I have that effect on women sometimes."

With that comment, I burst into laughter.  I had been so embarrassed the previous night when I'd had to rush from the dinner table, yet here Rob was putting me at ease.

"Yeah, I'm a mess sometimes.  And we both know it wasn't your face, it was your blue cheese!" I'd basically pretended the event had never happened while Rob drove us back to our apartment complex.  He'd avoided the topic as well, like a gentleman.  I guess it was fair game to joke and laugh about now.

"I can't help but notice," he smirked again, "but you're wearing the same clothes you wore to dinner.  You have a good night?"

My face flushed.  I had absolutely not intended to spend the night with Eric and hadn't packed a change of clothes.  Luckily, I kept a small makeup bag and travel toothbrush in the car so I could freshen up.  And Rob was calling me out on it.

"I'll take your red face as a yes!"

I blushed harder, somehow, and attempted to shrug non-chalantly.

"Yeah, I had fun.  No big deal.  Thanks, by the way, for letting me in to use your bathroom.  I'm sure you're getting sick of me barging in on you all the time for one reason or another." I attempted to change the subject.

Rob draped an arm around my shoulder and ruffled my hair, much like he'd done to his sister the night before.

"It's no problem, kid.  I kinda like having you around.  You can hang out here for a bit until Kate answers her phone to let you in.  Want a snack or a drink or anything?"

"I am hungry," I admitted. "Have you eaten?  Can I make you breakfast?  I still have two and a half hours before work, I'm sure Kate will be up by then so I can shower and change."

"Hey, I'll never turn down breakfast!"

With that, I made my way to Rob's kitchen to get started.