Sunday, December 13, 2015

Guest Fiction Series: I Used To Love Her, Part 4

For a few months, will be taking four guest authors #fromblogtobook. Each week you'll be able to read a new installment from unique aspiring authors. This tale is from Angelica Bryant. Enjoy!
To catch up on all parts click here
I begged Amali to help me pick out what to wear even though she flat out shouted her protests to me going. I called her as I drove home from my moms and told her the whole story -- the story I’d been keeping from everyone in an attempt to keep it from myself.  The one that I’d seen play out on one too many romantic comedies and made for BET movies.  You know, the story that I knew ended badly, but like an addict, had to see through until the final chapter was complete.
I think we've all been there.
So you also know that I listened patiently while Amali got all of her good-friend-lemme-set-you-straight-because-you’ve-clearly-lost-it- rant out of the way.
“Chloe I can't. No. I can’t believe my ears are hearing the words you’re saying. First of all this is crazy. Like next level crazy.”
“OK I get it, you couldn’t control running into him.  But going to see him… did you forget where u saw him the last time?  A fitting for a tux that he is GOING TO GET MARRIED IN!! TO A WOMAN WHOSE NAME IS NOT CHLOE!!”
I hadn’t forgotten.  I hadn’t forgotten how his eyes lit up when he saw me.  How he brushed my arm and sent waves of electric heat from his body into mine.  How even though I tried to put his face out of my mind it continued to pop up in my inbox.
I remembered, no matter how hard I tried not to.  I just didn’t care.
"So you're into breaking up happy homes now?  Chloe, I love you, but no."
Leave it to Amali to pull no punches and hit right at the core of my internal debate.
“I thought you were over this Chlo.  What kind of closure do you need? You think you’re going to get that from him?”
I couldn’t disclose to her that I was less interested in closure than feeling the magnetism between us.  I knew I was hopeless; I’d had this same argument with myself every day since he messaged me.  It was downright pathetic when put plainly:  I was preparing to meet my now engaged ex, whose heart I probably had broken, to talk... about what exactly?  I couldn’t even make sense of it; so I didn’t try.  I focused on whether to wear my hair curly or stay up late giving myself a fresh blowout.  Those types of decisions I could handle. 
The am I prepared to ruin my life by chasing a man who is spoken for question would have to wait.
“Look Amali.  My mind is made up.  I’m going. Now can you PLEASE come over before work and help me pick out something that doesn’t scream ‘I tried my hardest to look good so you’ll leave her for me’?  I want to go for more of an ‘I’ve been great without you and yes I’m more beautiful than you remember’ type of look.” 
I swear I could hear her eyes rolling.
When she showed up at my front door, the next morning I knew I’d have to semi-explain my rationale... again.  She wasn’t letting me off that easily.
“It’s not that big of a deal.  It’s just breakfast.  Breakfast and catching up with an old acquaintance.  It has been a while, I’ve changed a lot, I’m sure he has too—“
“Oh you’re right he has changed.  He’s in love and getting married.  But you didn’t need breakfast to figure that out. You already knew that.”
I took a break from applying mascara to glare.
“—and that’s all it is.  Thanks for bringing the top. And stop acting like you aren’t the least bit curious as to why he wants to meet.  You know you’ll be texting me asking for updates before I sit down.”
She laughed.  “So!  The point is, Chloe, I just want to go on record saying I think this is a BAD idea. But I’m here for you, I really am. And I'm here for all of the tea you'll have to spill afterwards, even if i think you're insane for playing into this little trap he's laid out oh so nicely.”
I looked at myself in the mirror.  I pulled it off; I think.  Crisp white ankle length slacks and nude strappy sandals that made my legs look miles long.  Amali’s blush colored chiffon blouse that clung and flowed in all the places that it should.   Light makeup; natural curls.  Skin smooth, sun-kissed and accented with subtle gold jewelry. The look had come together just as I’d hoped:  effortless.
Amali and I grabbed quick lattes around the corner from my house, and I assured her that I would be smart.
There was that commandment again, this time from my best friend.
Be smart.
I strolled into my job and happily secluded myself in my office.  I was supposed to be writing up the minutes for our production meeting later on, but it came as no surprise that I was finding it hard to focus. 
Checking my phone for a cancellation from Chase. 
Checking my lip-stain to make sure I didn’t need a touch up.
Checking Amali and Leslie for trying to gang up on me in a group text.
Before I knew it the clock read 10:22am and it was time for me to leave the safety of my desk for the inquisition awaiting me at brunch.  I was, to say the least, a bundle of nerves. 
I pulled up and parked.  I was early; only 10:45.  I decided to wait inside.  Getting here early will give me the upper hand.  He’s walking into my presence, I wagered.  It was fairly quiet in the quaint restaurant; a welcome change of pace from the usual 45 min wait times and cramped dining space.  I grabbed a table and ordered herbal tea with honey and lemon.
I sipped my tea and day dreamed.  What could he have to say after all this time?  Was this really just a friendly catch up?  Would we give each other church hugs and make promises to stay in touch that we had no intent on keeping?  My thoughts were interrupted by the weird feeling that someone was watching me.  I diverted my attention from the traffic whizzing by outside and looked to the direction of the stare, preparing to have to face Chase, alone for the first time since I left him halfway empty in a driveway.
I was freaking out for no reason.
I was met by a pair of warm hazel eyes peering, smiling even, over a cup of coffee.  He held a newspaper in one hand but clearly had his attention set on me.  He cracked a smile. 
“Dreaming while awake?” he asked.
I blushed. “I’m just waiting.  I’m meeting someone.”
Mystery man nodded. 

He officially had 1 minute to show up.  Granted I arrived a little early but come on.  No response to my “I’m here” message. 
1 minute left.
Maybe he changed his mind. Maybe he came to his senses and realized that he was an almost married man and going out with one of your exes shortly before your wedding wasn’t the best idea.
Or he realized he had made a mistake and that he should have left me, us, in the past.
Maybe he remembered I was the cold-hearted woman who left him alone & confused with little explanation as to why.
I picked up my tea cup and raised it to my lips only to realize it was empty. Mr. Mystery laughed under his breath.
Was he laughing at me?
“Something funny?” I asked.  I was in no mood for some stranger’s flirtatious antics.  Yeah, he was cute, but I had no patience to entertain him, considering the current situation.  Where was Chase?
“I was thinking cute.  You are.  Extremely so.”
Just as I readied myself to unleash a clever comeback steeped in annoyance, I heard him.
“CoCo!! Sorry, I’m late.”
He called me by my nickname; partially a take on my name, more so a reference to my skin that he said “looks exactly as it tastes. Like hot cocoa”.  It had been my favorite thing in the world to be called.  He walked over, and I stood to greet him.
He looked like decadence; like he caused an incomparable sweet tooth that could never quite be satisfied.  He moved like water; like once he touched you, he’d flow over every inch of your being caressing places most failed to reach.  He sounded like seduction; every inflection of his voice is coaxing you to want and need more.
I stepped into his embrace and breathed relief -- like my lungs took their first breath after aching from the strain of holding it all in.  My brain stopped asking, and my heart started feeling, and my stomach flipped like it used to when I sped down hills on my bike as a kid.
I opened my eyes to see Mr. Mystery walking out the doors and past the floor length windows of the bistro.  He smiled shaking his head softly; like he knew exactly the path I was headed down and exactly how complicated it all was.
I put his face out of my mind.  For the next few seconds, I got to live in this moment with Chase, wrapped, in arms, I’d tried to erase from my memory;  and even if it was a farce, I needed this fairy-tale, if not for forever, at least for right now.

 Angelica is a creator/writer living & loving in Atlanta, GA 

No comments: