My eyes scan the room. I breathe a small sigh of relief that he’s not here yet. It’s been a month, but I still doubt I could form any sort of a conversation if he’s here. I take a seat at one of the tables and sip slowly on my wine.
Ryan sits next to me and
starts some sort of a conversation. I’m not even listening to what he’s
saying, to be honest. I’m too damn worried.
I just nod, which he seems to be fine with seeing that he usually does most of the talking anyways.
After Ryan seems to be
done with his conversation with himself, I excuse myself to go up to the open bar. I
need something better than wine tonight. I order a shot of whiskey and cringe
as it burns going down. In all honesty, I hate whiskey, but I need it tonight.
Randy spots me and approaches
me, trying to make some light conversation, but, noticing that I’m really not all there, says something about going
to find Erica and leaves.
I make my way into the
bathroom. It’s not that I actually have to go, but I think if I stay in
this room any longer, I’m going to be sick. I look at myself in the mirror
in disgust. I’ve taken probably a hundred showers since it happened, but
I still feel so dirty. I lean my back against the wall as I feel a small tear
building in the corner of my eye.
This is all so stupid. He promised me that nothing would change. Looking
back, I don’t know why I trusted him.
But I did. At that point, if he promised to catch me, I probably would
have jumped off of a building. I think that would have turned out better. At least I’d be dead and wouldn’t have to remember it.
I think that’s what
kills me more than anything. That I remember every detail. Of him. Of that night.
Of our passionate screams. Somehow, I think if I had just been completely
drunk and had woken up in the morning hung over and in his arms, but with no recollection of the night before, this wouldn’t
be so awkward.
I force myself back out
of the bathroom and into the rather large ballroom where Nigel insisted on having this little ‘pre-season party.’ I glance up at the clock. 8:30. It’s too early to leave without seeming rude, so I decide to head back over
to the bar.
It’s then that I
see him. No. Not him. Them. Of course, Terri’s on his arm. I figured she would be. Suddenly, I don’t care what
time it is. I have to get out of here.
hear a rather raspy voice scream after me.
Too late. Terri saw me. I turn around as if I hadn’t even notice
they had arrived.
“Hi,” I manage
to force out.
I meet his gaze. We both have the same look in our eyes. Guilt. Guilt over something that should never have happened.
Much to my dismay, Terri
starts to make her way over to me, dragging Simon right along with her.
“How have you been?”
I manage, as I can finally feel some words coming to me now.
doing really well,” Terri replies with a smile. Is it just my imagination,
or is that a sad smile?
to go get a drink,” Simon says, obviously looking for an excuse to get away from the awkward situation. Not that I can blame him for it. I probably would have used
that excuse already if my brain was able to function that much.
says, once again gaining my attention. “I know I don’t know you too well, but you probably know Simon better than
most people. Do you think he’s being faithful? I just can’t help but notice that he looks guilty almost. He’s
been this way for about a month now, ever since he got back from the states. Do
you think he might have done something while he was over here?”
I feel a pang of guilt
worse than what I’ve been feeling all night. I knew I was hurting, and
I figured Simon was probably having some sort of reaction, but I hadn’t even considered how much Terri must be hurting. And now I hate myself even more. For
not thinking of her sooner.
I start, but I’m really at a loss for words this time. I can’t lie
to Terri about what happened, but how can I tell her? I can feel the tears welling
up in my eyes ready to fall at any moment. There’s no stopping them, so
I don’t even try. “I’m so sorry,” I manage to get out,
despite my lack of awareness right now.
I notice Simon returning,
a confused expression on his face.
“I have to go,”
I say before practically running out of the room. When I reach the elevators, I push the button probably ten times but none
of the doors can open soon enough. I feel his rough hand grab my wrist, and I
turn to meet his gaze.
“Paula, we need
I say, a sad smile gracing my lips. I wish so badly that I could just go back
to last year at this time and do everything differently.
He leads me to a bench
outside and sits down beside me.
He has his eyes closed
tightly, but I can see the moisture threatening to fall from them. He opens them,
and, as I suspected, they’re glossy from all the held in tears. He reaches
for my hand and is absentmindedly rubbing circles on my wrist.
“I feel awful,”
I say, words suddenly coming to me. “If for nothing else, for hurting Terri.”
We sat there in silence
for a long time. Neither of us really new what to say about the whole thing.
“Do you regret it?”
I ask him, and maybe I’m venturing into dangerous territory, but the question has been on my mind all night.
“I feel like I should,”
he says, purposely not really answering my question.
“But do you?”
I ask, and I might be pressing my luck a little, but I really want an answer.
“No,” he replies,
almost silently as he’s staring at the ground, his eyes unable to meet mine.
“I really think
you need to talk to Terri,” I say, somehow having a newfound confidence in my voice.
“Do you honestly
think I haven’t tried? It’s like she doesn’t want to hear it.”
“She asked me,”
I start. “She asked me earlier if you had been faithful. I couldn’t
lie to her.”
“You told her?”
“No, I broke down
crying, and told her I was sorry. She probably figured it out from that, but
then you walked back from the bar, and I left.”
The silence resumes once
again, and both of our eyes are on the figure walking out of the door towards us. Terri. We both feel so guilty that just talking to her hurts.
she starts, an amazing amount of confidence in her voice. “I want the truth. What happened?”
After an unbearably long
moment of silence, Simon answers her.
“We,” he said,
gesturing between me and himself. “Happened. It was just one night, but
we both feel terrible.”
I know I should say something
now, but I can’t even look at either one of them. As my eyes study the
lines on the pavement near my feet, I can practically feel their eyes boring into me.
Terri speaks up, no longer waiting for me to speak. “I can’t help but think that this would be somehow easier
for the two of you if I were out of the picture.” To my surprise, her voice
isn’t condescending or angry. Maybe it’s a bit sad, but, more than
anything, it’s understanding.
begin, “you really don’t have to…”
interrupts me. “I really feel this is what I need to do.”
Simon says with a sad smile. And I know it’s not because he loves her. He never did. It’s because he feels
like she didn’t deserve this. And she didn’t.
With that, Terri walks
away, leaving Simon and I sitting once again alone outside.
“Do you regret it?”
he asks me this time.
“Not for a second,”
I confess, as much to myself as to him.
It’s not until now
that we realize he’s still rubbing circles on my wrist. He takes my other
hand and moves his face dangerously close to mine. He doesn’t kiss me,
though. He leaves it up to me. On
one hand, I could kiss him, and in doing so silently tell him that I want to be with him.
On the other hand, I could back away, and we could try to go back to being friends.
Sitting there, staring
into his eyes, I see something I’ve never seen in him before. From his
body language, you would probably think he was pretty sure of himself. His firm
grasp on my hands. His coy smile playing on his lips. But, in his eyes, I see
something you’d never guess was there. Fear. Vulnerability. They’re almost pleading me to kiss him
before he goes crazy.
I’m faced with a
decision that I am by no means ready to make. But suddenly there’s really
only one option in my mind. If I pull away now, there’s still no way we
could go back to being friends. At this point, it is all or nothing. And nothing isn’t really an option for me.
Slowly, almost cautiously,
I lean in towards him. It starts to rain, and I have to stifle a giggle at how
clichéd this must look. As I turn my eyes back to his, though, suddenly it’s
not so funny. I press my lips against his, lightly at first, and then with more
passion. He changes the angle to deepen this kiss, and I sort of moan into his
We go up to my room, and
this is so unlike the last time. We’re not sneaking around. We don’t have to hide. And it makes it so much …
better. And I know this time, I’ll be glad to look back on the memories.