daddy issues.

Everyone was rushing around on Wednesday preparing for Scott’s arrival. It’d been over a week since he’d been in the office so everyone wanted to make sure everything was in the right place when he got back. I was sitting in my office color coding the apps on my phone. After the successful week I had, I dared him to come at me.

I could literally smell Scott the moment he walked in the office. Tom Ford Oud Wood. I used to love that fragrance, but now it’s just fine. I heard him making his rounds and deliberately didn’t move a muscle.

“Hey! How was your weekend?” I heard him ask someone right outside my office.

“She’s good. Finally starting to sprout some hair. It’s bright red!” He was loud.

Suddenly Scott poked his head in my open door.

“Good morning,” he greeted me, eyeing my booties propped on the desk.

“Hey,” I said back.

“We’ll touch base later, okay? I’m just going to catch up on a few things and then I’d like to meet with you.”

“Sure.”

He gave me a strange smile before leaving. Julie stopped by my office soon after wanting to go on a Starbucks run. Julie is that girl who knows everything about everyone and wants everyone to know how informed she is. It’s annoying, but she laughs at everything I say so she’s fine.

“Ugh,” she groaned as we got in the elevator down. “Caitlin is so annoying. She’s mad that she pushed off a project she didn’t want to do on me and I did it well and Scott loved it.”

Caitlin is a 22-year-old design associate with a bad attitude. She’s great at what she does, but her mood swings almost make it not worth it. And she’s always bragging about how other companies are trying to poach her for better/higher paying positions, but for some reason she never takes those offers.

“First of all, why are you letting her push extra work on you? You have enough going on as it is,” I said.

“I know,” Julie said. “She’s like, ‘That project was easy anyway. If I would’ve done it, it wouldn’t have taken me two weeks.’”

Totally something Caitlin would say. She is such a twat. And technically, Julie is in a higher position than Caitlin so homegirl needs to relax.

“She only does that shit because you let her. Shut it down once and for all and she’ll stop,” I said.

Caitlin tried it with me once before I got promoted. She said something like, “I would have never put that loveseat in that client’s home,” after I’d stepped in to help with some interiors.

Bitch, did I ask you? It’s not even a part of my job description, I was just helping out where I was needed. She’s been on her best behavior around me since.

Scott called me in his office around 1:00pm. I was excited to brag about everything I’d been working on for the past week. I had been super productive.

“It sounds like you had a terrific week,” Scott said after my presentation.

“Thanks.”

“And it seems like you are starting to care more.”

“Excuse me?”

“Well, sometimes it’s hard to tell with you.” Scott looked like he wished he hadn’t said that. “I guess I know you care, but sometimes I think you like to pretend you don’t.”

“That’s not true. I’m completely authentic,” I replied, appalled.

“I’m not saying you’re unauthentic. That’s not what I meant.”

“But that’s what you implied.”

So my beautiful presentation went downhill fast. A few minutes after I left, Scott texted me.

“I didn’t mean to offend you or doubt your work ethic so I’m sorry.”

I left him on read and then he texted me again.

“Would you like to grab a drink after work?”

And I figured, why not? Scott and I are in a good place right now and Brady would be working. We met in the lobby and walked to a little Irish dive bar near the office. The bar was full so we grabbed a high top table.

“So you had a good week last week?” Scott said.

“It was decent. Productive,” I said.

Scott told me about his trip, what he’d learned and what he wanted to implement in our office. He kept comparing people in our office to people he met which annoyed me. Where’s your loyalty, dude?

After a couple strong drinks, Scott said, “So, I want to tell you something that I’d like to keep between just the two of us.”

Now I was intrigued.

“Okay, sure. What’s going on?” I said in my most innocent, ‘I can keep a secret’ voice.

“There’s a strong possibility that my wife will be leaving. Soon,” he said.

“Leaving? What do you mean?” I asked.

“Moving out of the house.”

Whoa. Not what I was expecting.

“And where is she going to go? Is she taking the baby?” I wanted to know.

“She will move in with her parents. We haven’t figured out the logistics of it all, but it’s almost 100% happening.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

Scott gave me a look. “You know this is a long time coming. It was going to happen eventually. I can’t say I’m not slightly disappointed, but it is what it is.”

I nodded, trying to decide how I’d feel if I was either one of them. Yeah, they’re not happy in the relationship but I couldn’t imagine 1. Having a newborn and taking care of it alone/being alone or 2. Having a newborn and not being able to see it all the time. What an awful situation to be in.

“Why now? Did something happen?” I asked.

“Nothing that hasn’t been happening before. I guess things just came to a head.”

And I genuinely felt bad for the guy. I know he has always bitched about his wife, but who wants to be alone? Especially when you’re older and have a baby involved.

When I got home, Scott texted me, “Thank you for always listening to me. I’m not proud of what I’m going through, but I am happy I can talk to you.”

The next day, I found myself printing a ton of things at the same time Caitlin was. She immediately started complaining to me about how much work she had to do and schedules and how people aren’t helpful and how annoyed she was at her clients. I really wasn’t the person she should be complaining to, but people are still getting used to my promotion.

“Is that why you shared some of your workload with Julie?” I asked.

Caitlin didn’t say anything so I kept talking.

“She told me you kind of pushed a project on her and she didn’t appreciate how you handled the whole thing. Saying how you would have done better job and stuff like that.”

“Are you kidding me?” Caitlin exclaimed. “She didn’t have to do the project if she didn’t want to, it’s not like I forced her to do anything. I can’t believe she would tell you that and make it a big deal!”

I had to look behind me to make sure she was talking to me.

“Okay, you need to relax. She didn’t mean it like that and it’s not a big deal. Calm down.”

Later on, I got a text from Julie.

“Reese, omg. I can’t believe you told Caitlin what I said. Now she’s pissed at me and thinks I tattled on her to you.”

And I’ve had my share of petty drama with girls at work and I’m not interested in that again so I replied, “Caitlin who?” Julie got the hint and didn’t bring it up again.

On Friday, Brady made reservations for us at this romantic little Italian restaurant. Something felt weird about it, like he had a reason he wanted to go. We go on dinner dates all the time, of course, but normally he doesn’t just plan things for us and text me to let me know where to be and when.

I dressed nicely in a black off the shoulder top, high waist black pants and Free People booties. We grabbed a drink at the bar while we waited for our table to be ready and Brady was telling me about his week and being all nice like everything was fine and normal.

When we sat down though, Brady started talking.

“Do you remember when I went to Boston for work a few weeks ago?” he asked.

I nodded.

“I was actually interviewing to work at a hospital in Peru for two months,” he went on.

I just looked at him.

“I applied last year and had completely forgotten about it until now. But they offered it to me and I decided to go. It’s a good opportunity and it could lead to other things and-”

“So when do you go?” I interrupted him.

Brady hesitated for about ten seconds before saying, “The second week in May.”

I just started crying. I felt so betrayed. Brady looked down at the table, but did nothing to console to me.

“I can’t believe you didn’t talk about this with me before deciding to go,” I said.

“I’m sorry. I would have loved to talk to you about it before, but I didn’t have time to deliberate.”

I stopped crying just as abruptly as I started. I guess I was a little bit embarrassed about crying in the middle of the romantic restaurant.

“I’m happy for you. I’m just sad,” I explained.

“I’m sad too. I wish you could come with me,” Brady said.

Obviously I had no interest in going to Peru with him, but I guess I appreciated the thought. Of course I thought it was great for his career and stuff, but I’m selfish and I didn’t want him to go. I wanted him to stay in Chicago with me.

After that, I let him explain everything to me like what he’d be doing, where he’d be living, what would happen to his job here, etc. It was all very Brady and very not me.

“So I guess I have custody of Tucker for those two months,” I said.

“I figured you’d want it. You can stay at my place while I’m gone too. That way I don’t have to hire a house sitter,” Brady grinned. I was in no mood to smile.

I was super depressed after that. We met up with my friend, Ava and her boyfriend after dinner, but I was in no mood to socialize. So instead I just drank myself into oblivion and woke up with a violent hangover.

Brady woke up chipper and happy and suggested brunch before he went into work for a few hours. At brunch I ordered a plate of potatoes and a Bloody Mary. Just what I needed.

I started talking to the couple seated next to us. They were a little bit older and looked like Mobsters. Loved them so much. They told me they were going out for a smoke and I told them I’d tag along. As I was standing up, Brady grabbed my arm hard like a crazy person.

“Reese, I really need to get to work,” he said.

Oh, fine. I told my friends I’d have to take a rain check on the cig and stayed with Brady.

“You don’t need to be smoking cigarettes anyway,” Brady said as he signed the bill. He sounded exactly like my dad. And this is weird, but it kind of turned me on. Talk about daddy issues.

On Saturday night, we had dinner with Kendra, John and Mia. Mia is so fucking cute and wasn’t even being that rowdy at the restaurant. She was just looking around with her huge eyes, taking in the scene, the people, the sounds, the smells. And talking a lot and asking for everyone’s food. She started off eating Kendra’s noodles, but then she saw Brady’s broccoli and wanted that and then she wanted my salad. She was so polite about it though, it was so cute.

Then I started to think, maybe Brady and I should have a baby. Like why not? It’s not like we are teenagers or living with our parents or anything. We are responsible. Plus, if we had a baby Brady wouldn’t be able to leave me for months at a time. Selfish? Maybe. But I’m not sorry.

“So should we have a baby?” I asked Brady in the car home.

“Right now?” he said back.

“Yes.”

And he actually seemed to entertain the idea for a minute.

“I don’t think now is a good time to do that,” Brady said.

But the following week, I obsessed over having a baby. I was reading articles about what I should be eating/avoiding if I wanted to get pregnant, staring at pregnant women/women with babies out in public thinking, “That might be me soon,” taking note of what strollers they were using and what they were wearing. I asked this woman at work who has a two year old everything: did she breastfeed? Was she trying when she got pregnant? How many weeks was she when she found out? Who made the best baby clothes? How often does she have to buy them? I grilled Scott. How does he manage to go out and drink when he has a newborn at home? I studied the calendar to see when I might possibly give birth. Would I hatch an Aquarius or a Pisces?

On Friday though, I realized what a psycho I was being. Why on earth would I think now is a good time to have a baby? And wouldn’t it be a little bit cruel to ruin his plans by having a baby after he already told me it wasn’t a good time? Plus, he’d chosen to go to Peru – he’d rather be there than be with me. That was his choice.

That night, I went to Brady’s and we made dinner. He told me more about Peru and showed me pictures of the places he wanted to hike. All very vanilla. He seemed really, really excited about it though which I loved to see (Brady being excited is adorable), but I was still thinking about myself and wondering why he wasn’t more sad about leaving me for two whole months. I’m a selfish brat and I can’t help that.

I did my own independent research while Brady worked that evening and suddenly had a vision of Brady falling in love with some hot Peruvian woman with a small waist and huge ass, getting her pregnant and never coming back to me. So I spent the following week being depressed about that. In my head, I’d decided that was the most likely scenario and I probably needed to enjoy my time with Brady before he left because he wouldn’t be coming back.

On Thursday, he texted me, “I’m getting drinks with people from work. Do you want to come?”

And I did want to come after not seeing Brady all week. I changed into black distressed jeans, a pink faux silk top and a leather jacket. I took an Uber to the bar and immediately found Brady and his group taking up the back. Brady was standing up and Sydney was sitting in a chair right next to him. Alex was no where in sight. After exchanging niceties, I sat down across from Brady and Sydney.

“So how are you feeling about Brady going to Peru?” Sydney asked me.

I don’t think I’ve ever had an actual conversation with the girl so I was surprised she would ask me that.

“I hate it,” I said back. “But I’m happy for him.”

She scrunched her nose up. “I know, we are gonna miss him. But it’s such a good opportunity. And I can’t even say I’m surprised.”

I guess I wasn’t surprised either except for the fact that Brady didn’t talk to me about it at all until it was a done deal. Especially because later in the evening, Sydney said something like, “Wait, Brady, what did that woman say at your interview in Boston?” Obviously he’d talked to her all about it, she probably knew that he’d been interviewing and everything. And it hurt that he shared that with her and not with me.

Anyway, I’m still depressed and sad, but coming to terms with things. I figure I can take this time to pick up some new hobbies, work out and prepare my body for pregnancy. What’s new with y’all?

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my other love.

Late Friday night Brady texted me, “Hey! What are you up to?”

I replied, “Nothing.” I’d been mindlessly scrolling Instagram for an hour.

“You should come over.”

That’s what I’d been waiting for honestly, but it sounded like a booty call. It’s not like he had been talking to me all week and keeping up with me that much, but suddenly at midnight he wanted me to come over. But I still said, “Okay. I just need to get dressed.”

“Great. I can’t wait to see you.” I figured he meant “I can’t wait to see your ass and titties,” but whatever.

I got up and put on chic athleisure then took an Uber to Brady’s. I let myself in, but was not greeted at the door by Tucker as usual. I continued walking into the house and it was creepily quiet. So then I started panicking that it was all a set up – Brady invited me over so he could finally off me once and for all. I didn’t even blame him. I continued through the hallway and then almost jumped out of my pants when Brady, holding Tucker, jumped out from behind the wall.

“What the fuck!” I screamed at him.

“Did I scare you?” he grinned.

“Yes! I thought you set me up to have me killed, you crazy psycho,” I said, feeling my heart slow down.

Brady let out a little laugh and then leaned in to give me a peck on the lips. He was wearing his typical going out outfit which consisted of jeans and a white button up.

“Where have you been?” I asked, gesturing to his outfit.

He started walking into the kitchen and I followed. “I had some drinks with coworkers.” There were two rocks glasses sitting on the counter filled with clear liquid and ice. He handed one to me. “For you, princess.”

I wanted to ask about drinks with coworkers – was Sydney there? – but decided not to go there. Not yet anyway.

“How’s your week been?” I asked instead.

“Fine. Exhausting. We should think about taking a vacation soon,” Brady answered.

So now he was back to planning things for us again. Cool.

“I completely agree. You pick the time and place and I’m there,” I said.

We stood in the kitchen drinking our drinks and talking before deciding to put on a movie and order something unhealthy on UberEATS. Brady wasn’t on his phone at all the whole night. The past few months Brady’s phone usually blows up in the evening and I didn’t even see it once. It actually felt really nice to just hang out with him and relax and be ourselves – not worrying about who he was texting or thinking about.

The next morning, I woke up and reached for Brady so we could hook up. We hadn’t the night before because we were busy talking and pigging out. He wasn’t in the bed when I reached for him and I quickly looked around the room and didn’t see him anywhere. I assumed he was out getting us breakfast so I pulled Tucker under the blanket with me and scrolled Instagram. Brady finally walked back in the room, shirtless and wearing his glasses.

“I thought you were bringing breakfast,” I greeted him.

“My mom just called. Um, my grandpa passed away,” Brady said.

My dumb ass was thinking, “Didn’t your grandpa already die and that’s why you got that tattoo?” and then I realized he meant his other grandpa, the one on his mom’s side.

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. That must be devastating. How’s your family?” I said. Honestly, I didn’t know what to say. If one of my grandparents died, I don’t know what I’d want someone to say to me. I don’t even know how I would feel because I’ve never experienced it before.

“They’re okay. He died in his sleep so this is very unexpected.”

Suddenly I got really sad picturing the sweet man sleeping and not waking up and then his wife waking up next him and trying to wake him. She must have been crushed. I felt my eyes filling up with tears.

“My mom is going to get back to me with more details about the services and everything.” Brady climbed into bed with me. “Are you okay?”

I felt like such a brat for crying about Brady’s grandfather who I had never even met. It was his time to cry and be sad, not mine.

I nodded. “I’m just sad. For you and your family. This must be really hard for everyone.”

“It is. But these things happen. It’s okay.” Brady nuzzled my neck and fell back asleep. But I stayed up a little longer, texting both of my parents and my one grandma who can text and let them know that I loved them. My grandma responded, “Who is this?” so that’s nice.

When we got out of bed later, we were starving so we made lunch. Brady made a very large cheese steak sandwich for himself while I had an avocado and kale salad with lemon. That was really the only thing Brady had that was in line with my no meat and no dairy diet which he felt bad about. I told him he needs to go grocery shopping soon.

That evening, we made plans to meet up with Alex and some other friends at the bar. I put an off the shoulder sweater, a suede skirt and white booties. I finished getting ready before Brady did so I went to kitchen and whipped up some pregame drinks. I was taste testing the jalapeño cilantro Moscow Mules when Brady walked in buttoning his shirt.

“I just spoke to my mom. They’re doing everything next weekend. Do you think you’ll be available?”

I was thinking, “Available for what? To babysit Tucker?”

Brady must have seen the puzzled look on my face and said, “I’d really like you there with me. Unless you don’t want to come.”

And then I felt bad for what I was thinking. The fact that he wanted me there with him was kind of flattering. I thought it was a bit too personal for him. “Of course I’ll go with you. Just give me the deets.”

“Thank you,” Brady said, pecking me on the lips. “I’ll be ready in five minutes.”

Alex was already at the bar when we got there. He was with two of his doctor friends and his female friend Emily with her best friend, Erin.

“So good to see you, Reese!” Alex greeted me with a hug. “What are you drinking? Let me guess, patron with lime!”

“You got it,” I said back.

I introduced myself to Alex and Brady’s two guy friends, who wouldn’t stop nerding out about work. I thought about how Brady used to be a lot like that and mentally racked my brain trying to think of which female friend I could match them with so they could enjoy life outside of work.

Alex slipped a drink in my hand and I winked at him before scanning the bar. It was quite packed, but I noticed that everyone was dressed super down, like they’d gone out earlier in the day but went home and napped before coming out again without changing out of napping clothes. Even Emily and Erin had on leggings and sweatshirts and Converse.

I noticed a familiar tall head near the door, walking to the other bar on the other side of the room. The head turned to talk to someone behind them and confirmed my suspicions. It was Nick. What the fuck was he doing on this side of town? He’s a strictly River North kinda guy – I never thought I’d see him in Lincoln Park. I stepped up on my tip toes so I could see who he was with and at the exact moment, Brady came up behind me and slipped his arms around my waist.

“Who are you looking for?” he asked into my hair.

“I thought I saw someone I know,” I said back.

I turned around and continued talking to the group, wondering if it would be a good idea to say hello to Nick. I genuinely just wanted to just say hi and see how he’s doing. Like I literally haven’t spoken to him since he dumped me and that’s kind of weird because I thought we were so close.

A little while later, I was happy and tipsy and making the group laugh like hyenas. Brady kept looking at me proudly like, “See what a great time you are when you’re not being psychotic?”

Alex glanced over my shoulder and his face lit up. “Hey! About time you made it!”

I spun around and saw Sydney approaching the group. She was dressed in workout clothes (we get it, you have a nice body, but enough with the compression pants) and had a friend trailing her wearing a similar outfit.

“Hey, you guys!” Sydney greeted us.

She went up and hugged Alex first and he kissed her on the cheek. She hugged everyone else, but no one else kissed her. I thought, “Wait, has she been into Alex and not Brady this whole time?” I turned to Brady with a manic smile, excited about my possible realization.

“Alex invited her, I didn’t,” he whispered to me.

I kissed him.

Sydney introduced us to her friend, Erica, who just moved to Chicago from LA.

“Oh, why’d you come here?” I had to know. I actually really hate LA, but I thought I was the only one.

“I hate LA,” she said and I reached out and grabbed her hand. My girl.

We all continued talking and drinking. I didn’t even say anything when I noticed Brady and Sydney standing next to each other and whispering. I figured she was asking him how to take Alex home that night and he was being a good wingman.

With Brady occupied and six drinks in me, I decided it was a good time to go see if I could find Nick. I guess I just wanted to stir up a little bit of trouble. I knew the bathroom was on the other side where I’d seen Nick going earlier so I announced to the group that I was going to the ladies room.

“I’ll come with you,” Erica said. I guess with Sydney occupied, she had no one to talk to.

“Let’s go.”

I led the way to the other bar, trying to scope out Nick on the way to the bathroom. I spotted him standing at the end of the bar with who I assumed was his girlfriend and another girl who was third wheeling. The bathroom was on the opposite end of the bar so my game plan was to go to the bathroom then on our way back out to our friends, I’d pretend I suddenly spotted Nick and then I’d go over and say hi.

“So what is there to do here in Chicago?” Erica asked as we washed our hands.

I looked at her in the mirror like, “Uh, you’re doing it.”

But I wanted to seem more cultured than that so I said, “Brady and I are big foodies so we go out to eat a lot.”

“Oh, I’m vegan so I eat at home usually,” Erica said.

I had to refrain from rolling my eyes at her.

“Just wait for the summer. There will be so much to do that you won’t even have time to sleep,” I told her and we walked out.

I crossed the bar and glanced at Nick when we got closer to him. Just my luck, he looked over at me at the exact same time and we made eye contact. His eyebrows shot up and he waved. I did my best surprised/happy face and waved at him with two hands. I should’ve been an actress.

“Heyyyy!” I said as I approached their little group. “Long time no see!”

“I know!” he said back, matching my enthusiasm.

I feel like he didn’t plan on hugging me, but it felt awkward not to after the big scene I’d caused on my way over. So I hugged him and he stiffly hugged me back.

“This is Liz, my girlfriend,” he said, gesturing to the petite brunette next to him.

“I’m Reese,” I introduced myself. She was very cute with her long brown hair and middle part, big eye lashes and eyebrows and long sleeved Nike workout top. Very cute.

At the sound of my name her eyes cut to Nick briefly, but she stuck out her hand and shook mine. Oh, so they had discussed me! I was dying to know what Nick said to her about me.

“So how have you been?” I asked, my attention back on Nick.

“I’ve been good. I really can’t complain. Liz and I just booked a trip to Costa Rica,” he said back.

And because I couldn’t think of anything to say to that, I said, “Cool! Don’t get Zika!”

Nick smirked. “Neither of us is pregnant so I don’t think we need to worry about that.”

Liz giggled and it got really awkward. I needed to get out of there.

“Well, it was nice running into you. So good to meet you, Liz,” I said and then practically ran away.

“Who was that? He’s really cute,” Erica said, running after me.

“I used to date him for like a day. But as you can see, he’s taken,” I replied.

Back in our group, Sydney and Brady were still talking to just each other.

“Hey!” I said, rudely interrupting them. “Should we go to the next bar?”

Sydney scrunched her nose up like she didn’t like that idea.

“We can do whatever you’d like to do,” Brady said. I turned to the bar to close out.

Our group ended up getting split up – Brady, Alex, and me headed to another bar while everyone else stayed back where their workout clothes were acceptable.

On Sunday morning, I woke up in Brady’s bed alone again. I checked my phone and saw that it was almost 10am and hoped he really was out getting breakfast this time. I felt like shit. I can’t drink like I used to anymore. I opened my messages and was horrified to see that the most recent thread was with Nick.

I’d written, “Very cute, Nick,” at 2:00am. And he hadn’t responded. With no explanation, he had to have been totally confused about what I was talking about and most likely assumed I was hitting on him or calling him cute or something. I was just vocalizing what I thought about his girlfriend. Frantically, I went in and blocked his number – so I don’t have to see a response if there ever is one and so I don’t make that mistake again.

Brady came back a little while later wearing his workout clothes with two green smoothies. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that Brady is a total gym rat these days. And that’s why I stalked Sydney outside of her workout class because she’s a gym rat (but mostly just a rat) too. He used to just run a lot, but now he’s full on lifting. He doesn’t overdo it though and looks great, honestly. Just very toned.

“I brought you a smoothie from the gym,” he said. I couldn’t help looking around behind him to see if the smoothie was a joke and he actually had pancakes and an omelet hiding. But he didn’t.

The following week, Scott was traveling so I felt like I could actually breathe and do my job. I was excited to finally get to run meetings on my own. and not have to worry about what Scott would think. Even Julie came up to me after our first meeting of the week and said, “You’re so good at your job. I don’t understand why Scott is always nagging you.” And she is right.

Brady was busy with work during the week and had no time to hang out with me. That was fine though because it gave me time to hang out with my other love and I didn’t have to choose between the two of them.

A few months ago, Kendra and John started looking to adopt a dog. Now that Mia is older and can walk and stuff they thought it was a good time. They went to like fifteen different shelters and looked at hundreds of dogs. Kendra would always call me on the drive home like, “Why is it so hard to find the perfect dog? I thought we’d have trouble choosing just one and I don’t like any of them.” I thought she and John were just being picky.

But finally, they found who they were looking for: an eight year old Lab mix named Ryder. Kendra posted this ridiculously sappy status on Facebook with a picture of Ryder and Mia. I rolled my eyes thinking, “Oh, how dramatic.”

But when I met Ryder, I could totally see why they fell in love. He is the sweetest dog I’ve ever met and that’s including Tucker. When I first came over to meet him, he greeted me at the door and was so excited to meet me, he jumped up on me to say hi.

“Ryder, get down!” Kendra said.

And the pup immediately got down and sulked over to Kendra with his tail between his legs.

“Don’t yell at him!” I exclaimed, feeling bad.

Later on, I sat on the couch playing with Mia in my lap and Ryder came over carrying Mia’s doll in his mouth. And then he dropped it in Mia’s lap and it was literally the cutest thing I have ever seen. He’s so gentle and good with the baby and always tries to snuggle with her while she’s on the floor playing. But when Mia’s not around, he’s obsessed with me and is constantly walking between my legs and sitting as close to me as physically possible. I’ve never even heard him bark. I love him so much and I totally feel like I’m cheating on Tucker when I’m with him.

The funeral and memorial service for Brady’s grandfather were in New York so we planned on flying in on Saturday morning and coming back to Chicago on Sunday evening. Brady texted me letting me know he’d handled all of our arrangements and I felt so bad about the whole thing that I went over on Friday night to make him dinner. When I walked in, Tucker sniffed my boots thoroughly, letting me know that he smelled Ryder on me.

I whipped up a kale and chickpea salad and a steak for Brady. We polished off a bottle of wine with dinner and then decided to sleep after that so we’d be ready to go in the morning.

When we arrived in New York, the first thing we did was get breakfast. We didn’t even bother dropping off our luggage. Afterwards, we trekked to the Lower East Side where we were staying. We put all of our stuff down and unpacked and hung our funeral clothes so they didn’t get wrinkled. Brady was sitting on the bed as I continued unpacking my toiletries, but then he grabbed my hand and pulled me on his lap.

“We have plenty of time to do all that. Relax with me,” he said. Brady started kissing my neck and unbuttoning my jeans.

After two much, much needed sessions of relaxation (it had been so long), we set an alarm and napped then got up to get ready for dinner with Brady’s parents. I put on a black off the shoulder dress, tights, booties and a cape with red lipstick. We got in a cab to meet his parents at the restaurant not far from our hotel. They were already there waiting for us in a little booth.

Their whole vibe was obviously pretty somber, but Brady’s mom actually smiled really big when she saw him and they hugged for a long time. I felt out of place being there. When they pulled away, Brady’s mom hugged me and then held on to my arm for an extra few seconds. “So good to see you, dear. Thank you for coming.”

And then I realized that this poor woman does have feelings, she just lost her father and needed love and support. And that thought made me start tearing up. I reached into my bag and pulled out the silly little card I’d gotten for her just to have something to do. We all sat down and they busied themselves talking about the grandfather and what legacy he’d leave behind. I was sitting there nodding – moved by the stories about this man I’d never met. He was a cancer doctor and spent his life working diligently to keep cancer patients alive to have more time with their families.

And then abruptly, Brady’s mom started talking about money. To me it felt so inappropriate and awkward.

“Katherine wants more money for her boys. She thinks you and Hunter don’t need anything because you’re older now. But we all know Papa loves all of his grandchildren,” his mom was saying.

I just looked on with wide eyes like, “Don’t you maybe want to save this conversation for another time, lady?”

Brady’s dad must have been thinking what I was thinking because he changed the subject. After dinner, Brady’s parents needed to go home and get some rest (“It has been a hectic past week as you can probably imagine”) and Brady and I stayed at the restaurant’s bar for a few drinks.

“I’m really sorry about your grandpa,” I said, realizing I probably hadn’t said it since we first found out.

“Me too,” Brady agreed and then he ordered us two tequila shots with salt and lime.

“Is Hunter coming?” I asked.

“No. He didn’t want to fly all the way here for just one day,” Brady answered and that seemed really weird to me. I get that it’s all the way across the country, but it’s your grandfather.

We got back to our room, slightly drunk from bar hopping, changed into pajamas and then got in bed.

“Mmm, I love you,” I said happily, snuggling up to Brady.

“I love you,” he said back. “I miss us.”

“Hm?” I looked up at him, not quite understanding what he meant.

“I miss how we were before. The past few months have not been fun for either of us, has it?” Before I could even agree, he kept going. “I liked when you lived with me and we came home excited to see each other and we spent so much amazing time together.”

So much amazing time together. Those words stuck with me. Maybe my memory is just a little clouded because I remember Brady hating me living with him. He even told Chris how annoying I was to live with.

“And now we don’t see each other as much and when we do we are mad at each other,” I said.

“Yeah,” Brady agreed.

“I hate being mad at you,” I said and he nodded like he agreed.

We were quiet for a few minutes and I said, “So what do you want?”

Brady’s brow furrowed. “You?”

“You made it clear that you don’t even want to talk about marriage and now you spend all of your time at work. And then there’s all these other girls…”

“There are no other girls. There is work and work will always be there. For both of us.”

I couldn’t argue with that.

“It’d be easier if you were there every night. And if you were there when I woke up,” Brady said. It was weird because he was kind of making it seem like it was my fault that we don’t see each other as much. And then I thought about the circumstances around me moving out at the end of 2016, how Brady seemed upset when I first suggested the idea. Maybe he didn’t actually want me to move out, but was too stubborn to say it.

We woke up early for breakfast with the fam before the funeral. Everyone was super chipper and happy and laughing and just happy to be together. I hope people are like that at my funeral. I was mostly excited about 1. The amazing food. So many croissants and danishes and little egg muffins and green tea. I was super disappointed when I got full and my clutch was too small to smuggle any leftovers out. And 2. Hearing all the haughty UES first world drama. I find it so amusing how they all talk about each other and the ridiculous things they complain about. It’s almost like watching an episode of Vanderpump Rules.

I was a little bit nervous that the funeral was going to have a coffin and a dead body out in the open, but I was relieved when we filed into the church and I saw nothing but flowers everywhere and a huge framed picture of the adorable grandpa in his younger days. Thank God, they must have cremated him. I actually can’t remember any other time I’ve been to a funeral and I didn’t know if I could handle it.

I was quite surprised at how unemotional everyone was during the whole thing. Even I was moved to tears after all of the emotional speeches and reading through the obituary. Brady’s mom even went up and spoke about her memories with her father, but was so cold and stoic about it. I felt silly for crying and Brady grabbed my hand to let me know it was fine. Why was I the only one crying? I’d never even met him.

After the ceremony, I got to meet Brady’s grandmother. She was not at all what I was expecting. She was wearing a white pantsuit with neon pink heels and neon pink lipstick. She had layers and layers of gold Chanel necklaces and big gold Chanel logo studs in her ears. She looked more like she should be my grandmother more than Brady’s. She was definitely more like Aunt Kat than Brady’s mom.

“You’re Reese!” she said pointing at me, but looking at Brady and his mom like she needed confirmation. “I’ve been dying to meet you.”

I thought it was a little soon for that punny little phrase, but just smiled and said, “Me too!” She had a slight southern accent that made me love her. And I also wanted to raid her closet. We are probably around the same size.

Outside the church everyone was happy and hugging and leaving in their chauffeured black cars. It all seemed so abrupt and weird. I thought they’d want to linger and spend a little more time together, but it seemed like they said their final goodbyes to Grandpa and were ready to move on with their lives.

Brady’s mom came over to hug us and I was surprised when she held onto me after we’d pulled away.

“I really want to thank you for being here for my family. I know Brady appreciates having you.”

I was really taken aback that she thought my presence meant anything. I was just tagging along to show my support, I didn’t think it actually mattered to anyone.

“Of course. I’m happy to be here,” I said.

She gave me a grateful looking smile and the parents left in a black SUV. Brady and I walked a few blocks to have drinks. The proper way to end a funeral.

Scott’s not due back until Wednesday so I have about sixteen hours left of freedom. Let’s drink to that!

Standard

call me when you’re ready.

Scott is mean. He’s being unnecessarily harsh and hard on me, kind of like how my old boss, Andrew, used to be. And I guess since it’s Scott I’m taking it personally. I can take criticism, in fact I like it, but I feel like he’s just picking on me. And I don’t know why he would do that.

The other day I sent out a sales email to everyone that was super uplifting and motivational which I’ve never done before and it was totally out of my comfort zone. Scott replied all and said, “Reese, why did you forget to highlight these two performers? They should be recognized.”

And to me, his tone sounded harsh and it felt like he was trying to embarrass me by calling me out like that. But when I complained about it to Julie, she said, “Ohh. I don’t think he meant to be rude.”

So I figured I was overreacting. Another day, I sent him an email asking a question about one of the reporting systems we use. Scott always tells me that I need to ask him more questions and he’s a wiz at all of our computer systems so I figured he was the perfect person to ask for help. He replied, adding IT into the thread.

“I believe this message is intended for IT, not me as I don’t have time for these things. Will someone please help Reese?”

And again, I felt that was a little unnecessary. Scott always helps me with everything I need and actually gets offended when I don’t go to him. So I was confused.

On Monday, I decided to go see him in his office and confront him in person.

“Heyyy,” I sang, knocking on the door.

Scott glanced up at me and then back to his phone. “Hi, Reese.”

“What’s up? How was your weekend?” I asked.

He shrugged, but didn’t say anything.

“Nothing? I’m surprised you didn’t stay out until 4am!” I said. I leaned against the side of his desk.

He still didn’t say anything so I continued talking.

“I went over to Kendra’s to hang out with the baby. She loves me. We played dolls for like four hours straight. Would you be mad if I quit so I can be her full time nanny? She’s so cute.”

“Reese, I’m sorry, do you mind? I don’t have time for this mindless chatter with you today,” Scott said.

I was definitely taken aback by what he said, but surprisingly more hurt than mad. I got up and walked out without saying anything. Later in the day he texted me, “Did you respond to the email about the marketing photography?”

I told him that I did and he said, “The Reply All feature is there for a reason. Use it so I don’t have to chase you.”

Obviously Scott is not impressed with me in my new position thus far so I told myself that I just needed to try a little harder.

That night, my dad flew in town for a quick meeting Tuesday morning so we met for dinner. I totally expected him to ask about Brady and wonder where he was, but he didn’t. He wanted to know all about my new job.

“If you’re in over your head, you tell him, baby doll. He’s there to support you and make your transition easier, not embarrass you,” my dad said. I’d touched a little bit on how Scott has been talking to me lately.

“I’m not in over my head. I can handle it. I just think he’s mean,” I said.

“I don’t want anyone being mean to you. If I need to go talk some sense into him, you let me know,” my dad said.

I laughed. “There’s no need for that. You know I can handle myself. How’s Mom?”

So my parents are even more screwed up than me and Brady. My mom needed some financial help and my dad helped her out, but has been kind of holding it over her head for a while. But he would never directly ask her to pay him back and just complained to both sets of grandparents about it. It’s not like he even needs it that bad, he just likes to have something to hold over her I think. They still always have dinner together at either one of their houses or they’ll go out on the town for date night. And my dad will always pay plus he randomly buys her expensive jewelry and gifts. He even helped her get a new car. But then complains about Mom owing him money. It’s so dumb.

“Oh, she’s fine. More than fine. Now that she has a new toy to cruise around the city in,” my dad said. “She’s thinking she needs to head back to work. And that’s probably not a bad idea.”

“Really? Does she even know how to work anymore?” I asked.

My dad laughed. “She’d better figure it out. She still owes-”

I cut him off. “But she’s your wife so…”

He took a sip of his wine and then we changed the subject. We finished up dinner and I decided I’d walk my dad back to his hotel. And of course I cried when we had to say goodbye. I guess I’m just lonely because I haven’t seen my dad since last year and I don’t have much of a boyfriend anymore.

When I checked my phone, I had literally ten emails from Scott and two text messages.

“Can you respond to my emails?”

“Are you available? This is time sensitive.”

I replied, “Sorry, I just had dinner with my dad. He’s in town.”

“Not sure what that has to do with your work. You know it’s an important week for us and I do need your help. Thanks,” Scott said.

See how mean? On Tuesday, we had a bunch of meet and greets. Six of us went and Scott kept coming up to me to ask my opinion on things and just to talk to me and it’s like, don’t try to be my friend now after being mean to me. The six of us ended up going to dinner together and Scott made sure to sit right next to me.

“How do you think today went?” he asked.

And “today” was just like any other day and any other meetings. He just wanted to talk to me.

“Okay,” I replied.

“Are you feeling okay about everything? Your position and how things are going?” he continued.

Of course Scott would ask me a question like that when I wasn’t in a place I could be honest.

“Not entirely, but I’ll figure it out. Don’t worry,” I responded.

“Good. We can talk about it more at another time if you’d like. I do appreciate having you. I know I don’t tell you nearly enough.”

I just looked at him like, “Dude, are you serious?”

And he continued talking.

“Is your dad in town long?”

“No. Just one day,” I said.

“You’re quite lucky you got to have dinner with him then. I haven’t seen my parents in six years.”

I just looked at him. Six years is a long time not to see your family.

“But at least you have your wife,” I said.

Scott gave me a look. “You know how I feel about that.”

Later on, I checked my phone and saw that Brady had texted me. He sent me a picture of a work binder I’d left over that I use for some of my clients.

“Do you want me to do anything with this?” he asked.

It’s like he was kicking me out. I replied, “Can’t you just give it to me?”

He said, “Of course. I didn’t know if it was really important or you needed it now.”

To me, it kind of felt like he was putting the ball in my court to invite myself over. And I was willing to do that. So I said, “I’ll come get it tonight.”

After that I was ready for dinner to wrap up. But everyone kept talking and telling stories that didn’t need to be told. When it was finally time to go, Scott said, “Do you want to just share an Uber home?”

We live close enough to each other that Ubering together could make sense.

“I’m actually going to Brady’s house,” I told him.

His eyebrows shot up. “Oh really?”

I nodded. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

When I got to Brady’s, he was so excited to see me. During our little time apart, it’s not like we were mean to each other or mad at each other. We still texted and talked regularly, just made no attempt to see each other and like I said, it felt deliberate. So it seemed weird that he was so excited to see me as if he couldn’t see me if he just asked.

“I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever. It’s been like, what, two weeks?” he said.

“Two and a half weeks,” I corrected him. “Where have you been?”

“Where have you been?” he shot back at me.

“I’ve been around. You’re the one who hasn’t asked to hang out with me.”

Brady looked at me like he was so surprised at this conversation. “You haven’t asked to hang out with me either, Reese.” He almost like laughed. “You said you were swamped at work and needed to focus more. I thought that meant you’d let me know when you were available to see me.”

And it’s true – I did tell that to Brady, but what I meant was that I was swamped at work and needed to focus more – and nothing else.

“Why did you assume that meant anything other than what I said?” I couldn’t help asking.

“I don’t know.” He seemed at a loss for a words for a minute. And then, “I don’t understand why I’m getting blamed for doing the same thing you did.”

“I want you to like me as much as I like you. I just told you that,” I said. “You not trying to see me at all in two weeks tells me that you don’t want to see me. And that hurts.”

“Reese, I do want to see you. I can’t believe you’re even saying this.” Brady reached out to grab my waist, but I didn’t want to give in that easily.

“You’re terrible at showing it. It seems like you want to see Sydney more than me.”

He had the nerve to roll his eyes at me so I took that opportunity to walk away to the dining room to get my binder. I turned to leave and Brady was following me.

“Seriously?” he wanted to know. “Why are you doing this?”

“Admit it, you’re mad about the charity thing,” I said.

“I mean, yeah I was disappointed, but it’s fine. It isn’t a big deal.”

“And that’s why you avoided me,” I went on.

When Brady didn’t say anything for half a second, I said, “I thought so. Just call me when you’re ready.”

And I guess it’s a bit of a cop out, but I wanted to put the ball back in his court. I want him to flat out say, “I want to see you,” especially after what I told him.

But so far he hasn’t. Well, he did text me a picture of Tucker looking adorable on the couch with the caption, “Tucker misses mama.” But that’s not enough.

Anyway, I have to get going. Love y’all!

Standard

i may have fallen in love with someone else.

On Friday I visited my stylist for a seasonal highlight and trim session. I told him I wanted subtle ashy layers and about three inches chopped off for a more updated look. I’ll do something crazier in the summer. My phone started blowing up so much that I asked him to pause his work so I could see who was calling me. I figured someone died.

Scott had called me four times and sent me a text.

“Where are you?” he asked.

Scott wasn’t due back until the following week and I had just spoken to him the evening prior.

“A bit tied up at the moment. I’ll call you later,” I replied.

“I’m in the office. You don’t have any meetings or anything on your calendar at the moment so I’m a little confused as to where you are,” Scott said.

It’s like he knew I was standing there with foils in my head. I decided honestly was the best policy in this situation. No point in making up some elaborate story only to get caught later.

“I’m getting my hair done.”

“And you thought right now was a good time to do that?”

Before I could reply, “Yes,” Scott texted me again.

“When I need to get my hair cut, I go after work – not right in the middle of the day when people might potentially need me. I thought you’d make better decisions.”

I rolled my eyes. It was all so dramatic and unnecessary and typical Scott. I needed to apologize and grovel a little to make him happy.

“I’m sorry. I always get my hair done on a Friday in the middle of the day. I didn’t think it was a problem. If I would have known you were coming back today, I would’ve canceled my appointment. So sorry, Scott.”

I threw my phone back in bag and went back to the task at hand. I totally planned on going back to work after my hair appointment, but I didn’t get out of there until 6pm. So instead I texted Lexi to meet me at happy hour. We went to a bar in the Loop because she caught Chef Victor sending nudes to another girl and she wanted to meet new guys. My main concern is who wants to see Chef Victor’s nudes? He’s quite literally 80 pounds. His legs are probably the size of my arms.

The bar was packed and playing trap music. Lexi was salivating at all the suits over 6’0. Welcome back to the club. We got a little high top and ordered vegetarian tacos, sweet potato fries and a margarita pitcher. It didn’t take long for the boys to start flocking. Lexi hit off immediately with this startup guy who came over to our table with his startup friends all wearing button ups and khakis. You can always tell the people who work for startups. So business caj, emphasis on caj.

They talked us into going to the next bar with them. I hadn’t heard from Brady that he’d left work yet so I figured I could entertain these losers for a little while. All of them were trying to talk to me of course since I looked single. I just kept ordering food and drinks to keep myself busy. Finally I texted Brady the name of the bar and, “Come here now.”

He responded, “I didn’t plan on doing anything tonight since we have that thing tomorrow.”

What the fuck ever, dude. And I don’t know, I was a little irritated that he didn’t text me to ask to hang out or ask me to come over or anything. Sometimes it’s like if I don’t ask to hang out, then we won’t hang out.

So I threw my phone in my bag and decided not to text him again. By that point, I probably should’ve gone home, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could have fun without Brady. But I wasn’t having fun – the boys were boring and Lexi was being annoying.

Randomly she leaned over to me and said, “Reese, do you think Brady could get me Adderall?”

“Ugh, why?” I said, judging her.

“Hey, if you need Adderall, I’ve got you covered,” one of the guys said.

“That would be amazing! I really just need to be able to drive home later,” Lexi exclaimed excitedly.

The guy pulled a little baggie of pills out of his coat pocket and then proceeded to spill them all over the floor. He and Lexi scrambled to pick them up and I rolled my eyes and continued drinking. I remember Lexi and the guy talking A LOT like to the point where I got annoyed and walked away from them. They wouldn’t shut up and they were talking about literally nothing at all. I continued drinking like a fish, but really no more than usual.

I woke up at 9:00am in my bed in all my clothes. I felt like complete and utter ass. It took me a while to find my phone which was in my purse which was under my bathroom sink. I was supposed to go volunteering with Brady and he’d texted me a couple times.

“Are you up yet?”

“I can come and get you when you’re ready.”

And finally after I didn’t respond, he called me at 8:15. I texted back, “Sorry, I overslept. I’ll be there soon.”

I frantically jumped in the shower and got dressed. Brady had invited me to the volunteer event and I didn’t want to disappoint him by not showing up. And it was important to him and he wanted me there. I couldn’t miss it. I sat in front of toilet for a little while because I felt like I was going to vom and I had an awful headache. I chugged a bottle of water and sat my ass back in front of the toilet, but nothing would come up.

By the time I arrived, Brady hadn’t replied back to me. There was a lady checking the volunteers in and she seemed happy to see me and not upset that I was late. She was so nice.

“Just follow the hallway until you see the easel outside the double doors. Go on in,” she told me.

As I walked away, I saw a big table buffet set up filled with bagels, muffins, fresh fruit, etc that looked like it hadn’t been touched. In my mad dash to get out of the house, I hadn’t eaten anything and I realized that food would help my tummy.

“Can I have some food?” I asked the nice girl.

She must have seen the bags under my eyes or smelled the booze seeping out of my pores because she hesitated a moment before saying, “Um, sure. Help yourself.”

I scarfed down an everything bagel – dry, with nothing on it – then walked down there. The job was to pack food for needy families so we were working in a food bank warehouse full of food. I walked in and saw shelves and shelves of bread and canned goods. I started walking down the main aisle looking for Brady. There seemed to be a lot of volunteers there so I was surprised to find him alone in a smaller aisle with Sydney. It looked like they were pretending to be working, but were actually just talking.

“Hey, I’m sorry. I overslept,” I told Brady.

He looked over at me as I approached them. “Hey! I was wondering what happened to you.”

Sydney stepped from behind Brady wearing compression pants, sneakers, a super high ponytail and bright lip gloss. She smiled at me, but said nothing.

“Are you hungover?” Brady asked.

“I feel like I got drugged,” I replied and until I said it out loud, I didn’t realize it was true. I felt worse than my typical hangover and all of our drinks were just sitting out in the open. Who knows what could have happened.

Brady gave me a skeptical look. “Really?”

Sydney was still standing there looking at me and I stared at her blankly for about twenty seconds until she got the hint and turned around back to the food.

“I don’t know. I feel crappy and weird. I’m probably gonna go now,” I said to Brady.

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. I’ll talk to you later if I’m not dead.”

I turned and walked away then stood in the lobby area for a minute while I called an Uber to go back home. I fell asleep in the Uber and the driver had to wake me up when we got to my apartment.

A little while later, I woke up because someone was knocking on my door really hard. I was back asleep in my bed and I’d pulled the comforter all the way over my head so I could barely breathe. The knocking had become a part of my dream about being locked in one of the shopping malls back home.

I groaned as I walked to the door. My head was pounding and I felt even worse than before. Brady was standing there in running pants with shorts over them, workout shoes, a hoodie and a jacket. I couldn’t remember if it was the same thing he was wearing earlier, but it seemed like he had just gotten finished working out. Maybe with Sydney and her compression pants.

“Reese, what the hell? Are you okay? I’ve been calling you for an hour,” Brady said as a greeting.

“I told you I didn’t feel good,” I said back. “Where’s Sydney?”

“Home? I don’t know,” he said. “Are you sick? What’s wrong?”

I explained to Brady what happened, but then concluded with “I think I’m just hungover,” instead of telling him my theory. He already doesn’t like Lexi, I definitely didn’t need him thinking she was taking me somewhere where people might drug me. Brady suggested we go and grab food and even though I looked like I’d just climbed out of a sewer, I brushed my hair, put on a beanie and we went. I had my mind set on a big plate of pancakes with a side of bacon, but I found out that it was almost 5pm and breakfast wasn’t an option.

After a sandwich, greasy fries and a large Coke, I felt a little better, but went back to Brady’s house and watched movies on Netflix in bed all night.

After that day, I haven’t seen Brady at all. It’s been over two weeks. I have been crazy busy with work, but I’ve actually really been enjoying it. Scott and I had to go to LA last week for work. It was exciting because it was a brand new deal and it was nice to get out of Chicago and have an excuse to be in LA.

On our first night there, we decided to grab dinner. We went to this ramen and sushi place and ordered a lot of food and a bottle of wine. I was excited and happy about work, but not excited about Brady. It really felt like he was deliberately avoiding me and I couldn’t understand why. He went out of town one weekend then was back for a few days before having to travel three days for work. But during the days between his travel, he didn’t try to hang out with me at all. I obviously stopped asking him to hang out too and because we are both so stubborn, we haven’t seen each other. I told all of this to Scott.

“Well, I don’t think he’s met someone else. I don’t think that’s the problem. From what I know of Brady, if he didn’t want to be with you then he wouldn’t,” Scott said. “I think he’s punishing you for something.”

“Like what?” I exclaimed.

“That, I don’t know. But I do think you are correct that it is deliberate. People find the time for things they want. I don’t believe for one second that he’s too busy for you,” Scott said.

Preston found Sydney’s Instagram (which is so impressive because I’ve been looking for her for so long), but her page is obviously private. And I want to know what’s going on in her life and to see if it has anything to do with Brady, but I’m not about to follow her. So Preston created a fake profile and we are waiting for her to accept. He also found out what gym she goes to and what workout class she takes and it just so happens to be right across from one of our favorite bars so one night we staked out to see if we would see her and Brady. It was completely psychotic, I know, but when you are bored, lonely and stubborn that’s what you do.

We were on our third martini when Sydney finally emerged from the building. I squealed and pointed and leaned close to the window to see if Brady followed behind her. I figured they are workout buddies. She was wearing tight yoga pants and a sports bra with a jacket tied around her waist. I could see her abs. And a bunch of other girls followed behind her and no sign of Brady at all. I watched her as she walked to her VW Beetle and drove away. I was disappointed and relieved at the same time. If Brady isn’t spending all of his time with Sydney then who is he spending it with? My brain hurts at the thought of having to figure out who else he knows.

In the mean time, I may have fallen in love with someone else. I’ll tell y’all about that later.

Standard

up each other’s butts.

They wanted to send Monica off with goodbye drinks at a bar near the office on Friday. Initially I wasn’t going to go, but after everyone asked me five thousand times if I was going, I finally said yes. Fine. I’d grace them all with my presence. I even invited Brady.

He texted me on Friday morning asking what my plan for the evening was and I told him and then let him know that he could tag along with me. I haven’t showed Brady off to my current coworkers and I figured maybe it was time. However, as I stood at the bar with Scott and Monica drinking my dirty martini , I suddenly realized why Brady likes to keep his work life and personal life separate. I didn’t want anyone talking to him or asking him anything. I could just imagine Julie accidentally spilling the beans about me and Scott. Remember when Stacey met Brady and she told him that I don’t do any work and tried to make me look bad? I could see that happening again.

I was so busy worrying about Brady meeting everyone, but then I heard Scott start complaining about his wife. And that was something my nosy ass wanted to hear about.

“Ever since the princess arrived, we’ve been fighting about everything. Whether it be who uses the car or how well the steak is done, everything ends up in an argument,” Scott said.

Scott calling his baby “princess” kind of touched my heart.

“Do you think it’s just stress from the baby or do you think it’s something else?” Monica asked.

He saw me tuning in so he said, “Things haven’t been good between us in quite some time. A child obviously hasn’t helped things.”

I could not even help myself. “If things weren’t good then why did you have a baby?”

“If I had an answer for you, Reese, I’d tell you along with everyone else asking,” Scott said.

I rolled my eyes at him.

“Marriage is harder than I could ever explain to you. It’s such a weird thing,” he continued.

“You see, I don’t get that. Like of course it’s hard. Did someone tell you it was going to be easy? Don’t get married and don’t lead a woman on and have a baby if you aren’t ready,” I said. I was thinking mostly about myself at this point.

“No one told me it would be easy. I’m sorry if I offended you,” Scott said.

“I’m not offended, I’m just calling you on your bullshit,” I said.

Scott nodded shamefully.

“I don’t understand why it’s hard,” Monica said. “If you’re both willing to compromise then it shouldn’t be that hard. I had a hard time with that when I first got with my boyfriend, but now we are good. We hardly ever fight.”

I could remember at least three times where Monica came in bitching about her boyfriend and them fighting because she’s too emotional and threatening to leave him if he doesn’t propose. He still hasn’t though.

When Brady arrived, I was getting my fourth martini after talking with Scott for an hour. We were mostly talking about work and my new position, but he would occasionally throw in comments about how he thinks we should hang out outside of the office. Brady strolled in wearing his coat and laptop bag and I literally squealed with excitement. It was actually kind of strange seeing him there with his work bag and stuff. He looked like a little businessman.

“You must be the infamous Brady!” Scott greeted him when he walked over.

I glared at him for making such a scene.

“And you’re the infamous Scott,” Brady deadpanned.

“Infamous, am I?” Scott said, wiggling his eyebrows at me.

“Relax. He was being sarcastic,” I said, rolling my eyes. Then I grabbed Brady so he could grab a drink at the bar.

“Is that how you always speak to your boss?” Brady asked.

“Yeah. He likes it,” I replied.

We got Brady a beer and then headed back to the group. I was pleasantly surprised when he and Scott started talking about baseball and went into a full in-depth conversation about different teams and players. So I felt like I didn’t need to mediate or anything.

Julie came over to me and said, “Isn’t it awkward having your boyfriend and Scott here?”

“No. Why would it be?” I shot back.

She gave me a knowing little smirk. “Don’t play stupid, Reese. Everyone knows everything! Why are you embarrassed?”

“I’m not, I just really wish you’d stop bringing that up.” I was practically pleading with her at this point – Brady was just a few feet away and I didn’t need him overhearing the girl teasing me about hooking up with Scott. Obviously he could probably make some assumptions on his own, but I didn’t need Julie confirming anything.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it bothered you,” she said innocently.

“It’s just inappropriate. You know that.”

“Right. I’m sorry, Reese.”

When I rejoined Brady and Scott, I discovered they were talking about me.

“Reese really wanted a dog for a long time, but I was hesitant due to our busy work schedules,” Brady was saying.

“That’s my main concern. I know I’d be the one primarily taking care of it and I do work long hours too. Reese will tell you,” Scott said.

“You aren’t thinking of getting a dog, are you?” I asked.

“Actually I am. I was researching French bulldogs,” Scott replied.

“Do you really think it’s a good time in your life to get a dog?” I had to ask. Then I turned to Brady. “Scott just had a baby with his estranged wife.”

Brady gave me a look that told me he was neither impressed nor amused by the info.

“But anywayyyy, who’s ready for another round?”

Scott pointed to his empty pint glass. I skipped over to the bar and ordered two beers and a martini on Scott’s tab. I got back to our area and Brady and Scott were still engrossed in conversation. I wondered why no one was paying attention to me. Like they were so into each other and talking about nothing like I wasn’t even there. Normally I would’ve said something off the wall just to refocus their attention, but now that I’ve been promoted, I have to be more professional and mature, right?

So I just stood there sipping my drink and watched them continue talking. And watched when Monica and her boyfriend came over to chat and ordered wings for the group. Scott finished his drink before the rest of us and left to go to the bar and Brady walked over to me.

“Hey, are you having a good time? You’re so quiet,” he said.

“I’m fine. I’m just bored. We can leave whenever you’re ready,” I said.

“Oh,” Brady looked surprised. “Okay. I’ll just close out my tab.”

Scott and Brady came back to the group together and I said something silly and snarky to Scott. I can’t even remember what I said, but on our way out, Brady said, “Scott is actually a very good guy. Do you think you should be a little nicer to him?”

Excuse me? They talked about sports for two hours and that was enough to determine that he was a “very good guy?” Brady had no idea what had happened there and if he wasn’t careful, I was going to enlighten him.

“Yeah, okay. He really deserves for me to be nicer,” I said, rolling my eyes.

We got an Uber back to Brady’s and he let me know that Alex was coming over. The three of us sat in the basement drinking and talking. At one point, Alex said something like, “Emily is having something for her birthday, probably gonna have people over.” And then he just kind of stopped abruptly. I realized that Brady was shaking his head slightly like he wanted Alex to stop talking.

“But yeah, anyway, we will see. Today was so exhausting,” Alex continued.

What the hell? Why would Brady want to hide that Emily (Alex’s friend) was having people over or whatever? Did he want to go and not invite me? Because that’s what it sounded like. I glared at him for a few minutes before getting up to make food in the kitchen. I checked my phone and saw that Scott had texted me.

He said, “Brady is a good guy for you. I’m glad you’re happy with him.”

The two of them must have had some crazy compelling conversation that made them both so obsessed with each other and up each other’s butts. I replied, “Thanks. I think so too,” even though I was ready to strangle Brady.

He came and found me in the dining room a little while later after Alex had left.

“Are you okay?” Brady asked as I chomped on my carrots and hummus.

“I don’t know,” I said truthfully. “What’s with you lately? You’re so weird and secretive and I can’t stand it.”

“What do you mean?” Brady said, sitting down.

I mean, you shook your head at Alex so he would stop talking about that get together. And you’re always going to dinners and having plans without me and I just think that’s weird because I literally include you in everything,” I explained.

“I’m sorry. I’ll invite you to more things if you want,” he said.

“No! I want you to want to invite me. I want you to like me as much as I like you.”

“I guess I just thought because you do things with Preston and Lexi that I’m not invited to, you wanted me to do things on my own also.”

“Uh, no! I only hang out with them when you ditch me. I know you have no interest in hanging out with those two. I don’t even know the last time I saw Preston!” I said back.

“Okay. I didn’t realize I was doing anything different than what you’re doing. I’m sorry,” Brady said.

“Yeah, well. If this is how you’re going to be then I have no interest. I’d rather be alone.”

He blinked a bit like he was surprised. I kind of was too. I hadn’t meant to be so harsh, but his little headshaking thing to Alex really pissed me off.

“I understand. I’ll be more considerate of you,” Brady said.

“Great. I will be too,” I replied.

The next morning, I felt like I needed a new wardrobe for my new job so I got online and ordered a boat load of stuff from Nordstrom, Barneys, Revolve, and Anthropologie. I got blazers, shells, pants, skirts, a couple pairs of heels and a big bag to carry all of my important work stuff in.

Brady woke up early and went to the gym with Lindsey and I got this crazy urge to snoop through his things. I haven’t snooped in so long and I just wanted to. Maybe I’d find something that would tell me why he’s so weird lately.

He has this huge cabinet in the dining room that has shelves of knick knacks on top, but locked drawers on bottom. I know he keeps important documents in the locked part, but I guess I didn’t realize that he doesn’t actually lock them.

So I sat my ass in front of the cabinet and started with the bottom drawer. I found paperwork about all of his bills, his mortgage statements (wow), work he’s had done on the house, various receipts, etc. It was all organized and labeled in file folders and it was so cute. I need to do that to all my paperwork at home too. The next drawer had stuff from work, health insurance and doctor visit stuff and all of his previous years’ tax documents. Now this was what I was excited to see. I pulled out all the folders and spread them out in front of me. Every folder was labeled with the year and I started with the most recent one first. I flipped through all of them to see how Brady’s income has changed over the years. I reached back in and grabbed the folder labeled “Doctor Visits 2010-2016.”

There was nothing exciting in that folder so I kept pulling out folders from the drawer. One of the folders way in the back had no label, but looked super full. I pulled it out and a card fell out of the side. The red envelope said, “My love.” My ears started getting hot because I was so excited.

I opened the card and the front had glittery white snowflakes on it and the inside had this long handwritten message. It was like, “I can’t believe fate brought us together. Our souls are meant for each other. I can’t imagine life without you,” blah blah blah. It was really sappy and poetic and even though it was signed, “Your one and only,” I knew exactly who it was from. It was gross.

There was also a small picture of Anna, black and white, wearing a silky slip with her hair up. It looked like one of those professional pictures that was supposed to look amateur. She had on glasses and I couldn’t really tell how old the picture was. She always looks exactly the same to me. There was another small notecard that said, “Good luck today. You are a hero. -Your biggest fan.” Same handwriting. There were a ton of handwritten cards like that signed silly things like that or with Anna’s initials. I’m super surprised that Brady kept them all.

I was so deeply engrossed in my findings that I didn’t notice when Tucker got up to greet Brady at the door from the garage and only heard when the two of them started up the stairs to the living area. I heard Brady say, “Did you miss me, buddy?” and it was closer than I needed it to be. I didn’t have time to neatly put the folders back in the drawer like I found them and had to shove them all under the cabinet before Brady caught me snooping. I shut the now empty drawer and rushed to the living room to greet him.

“Hey. How was your workout?” I asked as Brady jogged up the stairs.

“Fine. Lindsey always likes to go hard so she kind of kicked my ass. Felt good though,” he said. “What have you been up to? Have you eaten?”

I suddenly felt terrible about invading his privacy and reading all of his personal, disgusting love letters from Anna.

“I haven’t eaten. I was waiting for you because I knew you’d be hungry,” I said.

We made a quick lunch and ate in the dining room. I could barely even talk because I had so much anxiety about Brady noticing the folders under the cabinet or thinking something was out of place. After we finished eating, I told Brady that I’d clean up and he should go shower.

“Wow, do I smell that bad?” he asked jokingly.

I laughed, but shooed him off and then I put all of the folders back where I found them and closed that chapter of my life.

That evening, John wanted to take Kendra out for her birthday and I agreed to babysit their little angel, Mia, so they could have an adult night out. And Brady agreed to come with me. Their daughter is about a year old and she was is the sweetest ever. Whenever I come over, she’s excited to play with me and pull on my jewelry and giggle at everything I do. So I was excited for an evening with her.

The moment Kendra and John walked out the door and shut it, she started screaming at the top of her lungs. Like not crying, screaming.

“Mia,” I said calmly. “They’ll be back.”

She ran to the door in her little Zara sneakers and threw herself against it. I followed her and picked her up and she tried to wiggle out of my arms to get back to the door.

“Oh my God,” I mumbled. The little tyke was probably less than twenty pounds, but she was strong and kicking and loud.

Brady was standing nearby and reached out to grab her from me. “Here, let me see. You’re okay, aren’t you, Mia? You’re just not used to us.”

And when she realized that Brady was holding her, the little brat started straightening up and quieting down. She looked at Brady and back and me and stuck a finger in her mouth.

“You don’t even have any tears! You put on that whole show for nothing!” I exclaimed.

“I’m sure she learned that from her godmother,” Brady said.

I glared at him. He stood there and held her until she calmed down and started trying to climb down. Once she got down she started running around gathering toys.

“She’s fine,” Brady announced. She brought a doll to him and made a grunting noise that meant she wanted him to take it. I quickly snapped a picture of Brady, Mia and the doll because it was adorable.

The two of them sat on the floor and started playing and I felt left out so I joined the group and grabbed a toy. Mia watched me sit down and looked back and forth at me and the toy a few times. She gave me a look that said, “Fine. You can play with that one,” and went back over to play with her new boyfriend, Brady.

Kendra told me that Mia should be in bed by 8:00pm so that gave her about half an hour to play. She was in love with Brady and kept giving him toys and giggling and running to him and away from him. And he was sweet and patient and was playing with her back. I just watched and documented everything.

At 8:00, I announced that it was bed time. Mia ignored me and continued playing and running. I went to pick her up and she screamed and kicked Brady in retaliation. She squealed and kicked like a little pig for a minute before breaking into a full on cry. I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that every night.

“Mia, you’re gonna hurt yourself,” I told her.

“Maybe she can stay up a little longer tonight. It’s a special circumstance, right?” Brady suggested.

“I don’t know. Kendra made it seem like if she didn’t go to bed at 8, it would throw her off a routine,” I said.

Brady grabbed the little devil child from my arms and told her we could watch a movie. We all sat on the couch watching Zootopia and to my surprise, she fell asleep in Brady’s arms. The little runt knew exactly what she was doing. We carried her upstairs to her crib and she slept peacefully the whole way there.

“Do you want one of these little creatures?” I asked Brady as we watched her sleeping like a peaceful angel in her crib. After the emotional roller coaster she put me through all evening, I was second guessing everything.

“Yeah,” Brady said and then looked at me. “Don’t you?”

“Yeah.”

We went back to the living room and cleaned up all the toys she threw around and watched tv until Kendra and John came back. We had actually fallen asleep because they didn’t get home until 3:00am. But they deserved a night out so I didn’t mind. And I kind of miss Mia now. Maybe next time I won’t invite Brady so he can’t steal my shine.

This week, Scott was traveling for work and it was my first week on my own in my new role. On Wednesday, one of the VPs from New York just randomly popped in the office unannounced. I was sitting in the office replying to emails when Madeline from reception sent me a text that this bigwig had arrived. And I didn’t want this lady walking around seeing anything or talking to anyone so I hoped up to greet her and distract her.

Scott called me later when he got wind that the lady had stopped by. And he was not happy.

“Why didn’t I hear this from you, Reese? Everyone else has texted and called me telling me that Leslie came and I haven’t heard anything from you,” he said.

“I’ve been busy, like super busy. I meant to text you,” I said.

“You aren’t allowed to be too busy to keep in contact with me. It’s unacceptable. I told you that I want you to take this role seriously and I meant it,” he went on.

I’ve seen Scott get really stern and serious, but not with me. So I was a little taken aback, but determined to redeem myself. As much as Scott gets on my nerves, I don’t want to let him down or let him think that he made a mistake promoting me.

Brady made plans to volunteer tomorrow and actually invited me to come. I was so shocked to be invited that I said yes.

Standard

maybe i can finally save money.

I got a strange email the other day. Mike left kind of abruptly. He told us on a Monday that Thursday would be his last day. So there was no going away party or any goodbyes or exchanging information to stay in touch, he really just left.

And I was really surprised when Mike’s name popped up in my work inbox. The email said: “Reese, I just want to make sure we have each other’s contact information. I’d like to stay in touch. Here’s my number and email.”

We already had each other’s phone numbers and email so it was weird that he would say that. And also weird that he wanted to stay in contact. It’s not like we were super close when we worked together or anything (I didn’t even think he liked me).

I sent a picture of the email to Brady and said, “What do I say?”

“Just thank him for the information and move on. I’m sure it’s harmless,” Brady said back.

So I did exactly that.

Scott has really been prepping me for the new job – even doing mock interview questions with me. And surprisingly, all of his help has been making me want the job. I thought the opposite would happen. Apparently the New York people asked him a ton of questions about me before he even threw my name in the hat and wanted to know about my interest level. But I was under the impression that they still needed to interview me.

Lexi texted me telling me about this guy she met – a chef at a restaurant here in Chicago – and she wanted me to meet him. So the plan was to go with his restaurant and then he’d make an appearance at the bar and have a drink with us. We invited Alyssa to come with us and we met at Lexi’s apartment before Ubering to the restaurant. Alyssa had already met the chef, but wasn’t sure about him and was eager to hear my opinion. Honestly, anyone who wasn’t my boyfriend’s married brother I approved of.

After we finished our (phenomenal, superb, perfect, divine, etc) meal, a skinny little guy with a weird hipster mustache sauntered over to our table. He was probably 5’5” and 20 pounds lighter than me with a man bun and big round frame glasses.

“Victor!” Lexi moaned and jumped up to hug him.

I watched as they hugged and she pulled away and kissed him then turned to us.

“Reese, this is Chef Victor,” she said.

“Hi, Chef Victor,” I said. I stood up to greet him and he seemed bored with me already.

“Babe, I was telling Reese about your restaurant you want to open and she loves it. She’s so into that kind of stuff,” Lexi said.

Victor gave Lexi and me the most unamused smirk. “Cool.”

I wanted to smack him. Lexi had told me about his silly little restaurant idea where there wouldn’t be a menu just a series of questions about what mood you are in that the chef will use to decide what to serve you. It was basically a real life Buzzfeed quiz and he didn’t even appreciate my fake support.

He stayed and had a beer with us and then insisted he needed to go test recipes with another chef. They needed to come up with new and innovative ideas for the new restaurant he told us.

As we were walking out, Lexi asked, “So what did you think?”

Recently, I realized it doesn’t matter what I think of someone else’s boyfriend. I don’t have to date them. I remember I used to give so much unsolicited advice and opinions to my friends about their men and like, how annoying. Like Kendra’s husband John, after he cheated on her, I couldn’t stand him and would always talk shit about him and tell Kendra she deserved better. And now look at how happy she is. What do I know?

“If you’re happy then I’m happy for you,” I said.

“So you hate him too,” Alyssa said. “I knew you would.”

“Alyssa,” I said disapprovingly, sounding like a teacher.

“Lexi can do better!” she whined.

I really wanted to say, “Would you rather her be with a married man who actually has no real interest in her?” but I didn’t. That’s mean.

Scott and I had a meeting so I could go over the business strategy I created for the job. He asked me a ton of probing, hypothetical questions that I could possibly be asked – just to get me thinking. And it was stuff I’ve never even thought about so it was helpful. Afterward, Scott suggested we go grab lunch.

“So I just want to talk to you about something,” Scott said after we sat down with sandwiches and soup.

“Okay.”

“The job is yours if you want it. Everyone already knows you and the only approval we need is mine.”

I blinked.

“But before you say yes, I want to set some expectations.”

“I’d love to hear them,” I said, trying not to sound sarcastic.

“You’re probably one of the hardest working people in the Chicago office. I don’t want that to change. I want you to continue doing everything you’ve done to get where you are now.”

I nodded.

“And I want you to take this seriously. Everything you say, everything you do, every decision you make, it’ll have an impact on this business. I want you to understand that.”

Scott has a tendency to be a bit dramatic and I knew he probably didn’t have this same conversation with Monica when she was promoted. But I knew he was right.

“I know, Scott. But that’s what I want. I want to impact that business. That’s why I’m here!”

“This is a big job that I know you can do and be successful in. And I want that for you. If you want it.”

“Well, I’m going to have to think about it obviously,” I said.

Scott’s eyes lit up. “And here’s how much I’m offering you, if you take the job.” He pulled out his phone and typed something into his Notes then turned it around to show me. The amount was about $32,000 more than I’m currently making. It made me wonder if I’m even worth that much. I started having visions of all the things I could do with a new higher salary, like more vacations and actually saving enough money to buy a condo. “I’ll send you an offer letter today and I want you to take the night to think it over before you sign it.”

When I got back to the office, I texted Brady saying, “I was just offered a promotion I think.”

“Congratulations! Let’s celebrate this weekend,” Brady said.

Brady’s new thing is to only hang out with me on the weekends now. I won’t hear from him at all during the week (unless I reach out to him) and then come Friday night, he’s obsessed with me and is super sweet and attentive and makes plans for our future. It’s so weird and frustrating.

I called him after work though because I wanted advice. I explained to him everything Scott said.

“So I don’t know. This is what I want, I think, but what if I’m not ready? Like what if I’m not good?” I said.

“Why wouldn’t you be good? You’ve done this for years. You will be great,” Brady said back.

“You think so?” I loved that he thought I’d be good, even though I can be dumb and irresponsible.

“Of course. And Scott isn’t going to offer you a job he doesn’t think you’re capable of. I don’t know why you’re doubting yourself. You know you’re amazing at what you do.”

“You’re so right,” I realized.

“How much did they offer you?” Brady asked.

I told him and he said, “You should counter and ask for a little more. It wouldn’t hurt to ask.”

“Really?” I thought asking for more money seemed a little greedy.

“Yes. You’ll have a ton more responsibility and be doing so much more. If Scott really thinks you’re worth it, he will do it.”

So the next afternoon after lunch, I stopped by Scott’s office. I hadn’t heard from him or seen him since our lunch meeting and I was actually surprised that he hadn’t reached out at all.

“Heya, Reese! How’s your day?” he greeted me.

“Hey. Can we talk?” I said.

“Of course. Close the door.”

I closed the door and sat. “So I’ve been thinking. And I think I want to take the job.”

“That’s great news!” Scott exclaimed.

“But I think I’d like to negotiate the salary,” I continued.

Scott looked surprised. “Oh? How much do you want?”

I actually hadn’t even thought about an amount. I just followed Brady’s instructions to ask for more. I wished he was there to tell me how much was appropriate.

“Well, I’ll let you decide that. However much you think I’m worth. I’m coming upon my two year anniversary here and I’ve done a lot. I even helped out with Monica when she was chosen over me last time. Just keep that in mind,” I said.

“Let me sit down and look at some numbers and then I’ll get back to you this afternoon. You know I would give you a million dollars if I could, Reese. You’re worth so much more than I can ever offer you,” he said.

I rolled my eyes and got up to leave, but I’ll admit, I smiled a little too hard on my way out. Scott sent me a revised offer letter right before I left for the day, offering me $2,000 more than the first offer. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but it was still more. And I took it without consulting with Brady first.

So I’ve officially been promoted. I had a week of training with Scott, but I haven’t officially started in my new role yet. He keeps emphasizing that he wants me to take my role seriously and he wants me to continue working hard. Now I’m in charge of global sales, product development and vendor relationships. I’ll have four teams under me and I’ve already asked Scott for an assistant. Like it’s a lot of work and I want to be good at it, unlike Monica. Sure, she left because she found a new job, but she was looking for a new job because she couldn’t handle the pressure.

On Sunday night, I asked Brady what he wanted to do for Valentine’s Day.

“Oh, when is it?” he asked, looking confused.

“Wednesday. I can’t believe you haven’t planned anything for me yet,” I said.

“Wednesday. I completely forgot honestly. I don’t know if I’ll get off work in time to do anything. We can celebrate next weekend though, if you want?”

After him avoiding me during the week for two weeks, I was furious.

“Seriously? It’s one day out of the week and you know how important Valentine’s Day is to me. It’s not like I’m asking for a lot, it’s literally just one night I want to spend with you,” I said.

“Okay, okay. I don’t know if I can, but I’ll try to get off early that day,” Brady said, sounding frustrated with me. And then I was mad at him for being frustrated.

I assumed Brady wasn’t going to be able to get the night off or wouldn’t even try, so I had to look around for other plans. Literally all of my other friends are coupled off so that didn’t leave me many options. But Brady texted me on Tuesday night asking if I would more in the mood for Italian or steak. Steak obviously.

He ended up taking me to one of my favorite steakhouses in Chicago – I’m actually super surprised that he was able to get a reservation on Valentine’s Day. It made me wonder if he actually made the reservation months ago and the whole “I don’t know if I can get off work” was an act. But he also got me a gift card as a gift which seemed last minute to me. Brady usually takes pride in picking out gifts for me.

I don’t know about Brady. Like, I love him and I love when are together, but the way our relationship is not what I want. I want to do everything together and I feel like these days I never know if we are going to hang out or if he has other plans or if he will be working late. I don’t like having so much doubt. It’s getting to the point that I don’t even want to ask to see him because I don’t want to get rejected. I don’t like not knowing if he actually likes me or just likes me when it’s convenient (like on the weekends). Sometimes he makes me feel so amazing and special and sometimes he makes me feel like he doesn’t even think about me. It’s so strange and I don’t like feeling like this.

Kendra and John are going out on a date this weekend and asked me to babysit. I am honestly so excited about it, especially since I talked Brady into helping me. I can’t wait to see him with the baby.

Standard

why are you being so nice?

Brady and I wanted to take a vacation that wasn’t your typical lay on the beach and drink for five days straight vacation. We wanted to do something different. One of my coworkers just got back from a ski trip in Utah so I told Brady I wanted to go skiing.

We decided on Aspen – since we were gonna do it, we wanted to do it the bougie way. I remember going to Aspen once when I was in the fifth grade with my parents, but I got to the top of the ski hill and I was too afraid to go down and cried and had to be rescued. I thought now was a good time to redeem myself.

For the trip, I needed some new things so I went into Barney’s and let my favorite sales associate deck me out in the warmest, most stylish items she could find. I got a Moncler, a faux fur scarf, wool socks, ear muffs and the cutest booties I just couldn’t leave without. I’m glad Brady offered to pay for the trip himself because my total at Barney’s almost made me vomit.

The beginning of our journey to Colorado felt really weird – like we were two people traveling together who didn’t even know each other. Like it just felt really distant despite my efforts to be fun and get him to be fun with me. I blamed it on it being early. But after a couple of in flight naps, things seem to go back to normal. Brady just went skiing in Vermont recently and told me some stories about that. I was enjoying trying to imagine his mom skiing and falling.

We got a shuttle from the little airport to our bomb ass Airbnb. Like, I’d move to Aspen just to live in that house. It was situated in the middle of the woods with huge windows everywhere. Both of the bedrooms were lofted and the master led out to the balcony where there was a hot tub and a little wine cellar. The décor was really dark and modern and super woodsy. It made me want to put on a set of plaid flannel pajamas and warm socks with a glass of like scotch or something.

We put down our stuff and changed so we could go explore. I’d done my research and found out that there are tons of shopping options in Aspen so that’s what I wanted to do first. We ventured to one shopping area and went in and out of stores with our coffee and tea. I was obsessed with all the local shops and told Brady that I wanted to quit my job and move to Aspen to open a home store. He laughed, but I wasn’t really kidding.

We found a tiny little cabin restaurant to have dinner in and got salads, soup, wine and Moscow mules. Everyone was super, super nice and we met this good looking older couple, Lisa and Kevin. Loved them so much. They have a vacation house in Aspen, but live in San Diego full time. So they said they’d show us around the nightlife.

Our next stop was a cute little cocktail lounge. I was suddenly annoyed with myself for wearing just wearing jeans and riding boots because Lisa had on heeled booties with her fur bomber and she looked so cool. Kevin is a shot guy and encouraged three rounds of shots upon entering. I realized that I’m too old to be taking shots at the bar anymore. My poor tummy can’t take it.

Lisa told me all about their life in San Diego. Kevin works as a cardiologist and Lisa sells Lipsense. She describes herself as an entrepreneur which I think is a bit of a stretch, but that’s fine.

We went home around midnight because we were all tired. But we told Lisa and Kevin we’d meet up with them after breakfast the next day.

When we got back to the cabin, Brady made us drinks and we sat in the living room watching tv. It looked so cool with all the windows and trees and snow. He started being really sweet randomly like, “I always miss you when I’m not with you.” And I didn’t even know what to say so I just said, “Aww.” The both of us are so terrible at expressing any kind of emotion and since we never do, we don’t know even know how to. It’s kind of sad actually.

I even said, “Why are you being so nice?” and then he stopped.

The next morning, we walked and got breakfast and by then, Brady was itching to get out on the slopes. There was all this drama around getting all of our gear and then riding the lift to the top of the mountain. And then I told Brady that he and Kevin should warm up without us so Lisa and I could drink hot chocolate and Bailey’s.

I actually didn’t end up actually skiing until the second to last day of our trip. There was just so much else to do like get my nails done, drink my weight in all of the local and imported wine, eat twice my weight in cheese, ask Lisa for marriage advice, make Brady take pictures of me all over the cabin, etc. Brady was convinced I was afraid and wouldn’t go up there, but finally I put on all my gear and I skied. Well, I went down once, got embarrassed, dirty and scared and I didn’t try it again.

But I had a great time in Aspen and will go back. And it was nice to be with Brady for a week without any drama and when we got back to Chicago, we went back to his place to spend the weekend together. It still felt like the Jill thing was lingering even though we squashed it. The thought of Jill and Brady talking and flirting made me itch. Every time Brady’s phone vibrated it made me anxious. When we were in Aspen, I had a distraction, but back in Chicago, all those awful feelings suddenly came crashing back.

We got back to the city on Friday morning and of course, Brady wanted to rush to work to see what he’d missed. I was exhausted from all the skiing I didn’t do. So I took the longest shower of my life then got in bed with Tucker.

When I woke up, I had nine emails from Scott. Eight of them were about business, but the last one said:

“I wanted to be the first to talk to you about this. Monica just put in her notice. She accepted a position at another company that is more in line with her career path. Would you be interested in interviewing for her current job? Let me know.”

First of all, interview? Was I not a shoe in after training Monica and basically helping her do her job for months? And maybe I’m just a bitter, petty bitch with too much pride, but after all that I didn’t even want the job.

So I replied, “I’ll have to let you know about that.”

I went home and spent the day catching up on laundry and housework and then packed a weekend bag so I could go to Brady’s. In the Uber there, I found a new restaurant on Instagram that looked good so I texted Brady a screenshot and asked if he wanted to try it for dinner.

He said, “I already have dinner plans tonight. We could go tomorrow or Sunday.”

How could he already have dinner plans? What the fuck? With who? I went back and forth between demanding some answers and just not responding. It’s just so weird. I wasn’t upset that Brady had plans with someone other than me, but it was just strange that he didn’t mention them until I brought it up. But I’m so chill these days. A few years ago I would’ve blown up like a psychopath, but I kind of felt like if he had dinner plans then I needed my own plans too.

So I texted Lexi, “Where are we drinking tonight?”

She replied, “So glad you asked. Let’s do wine and dinner at the winery and then we go to the bar. Meet at my place at 7:30!”

By the time I called an Uber to go to Lexi’s, Brady still hadn’t come home from work. I texted him, “I’m going out with Lexi. See you later tonight.”

And he immediately read my message and didn’t say anything back. What the fuck ever, dude.

We started at the winery and immediately started with a bottle of rosé and a charc board. I’m vegetarian at the moment so I just nibbled on the crackers and cheese. Lexi was disappointed that there was no one good at the winery (aka no one came over to hit on her) so she texted some friends and found a bar we could go to.

In the Uber to the next place, I checked my phone to see if Brady texted me. He hadn’t so I got on Instagram. I was just mindlessly flipping though the stories when a video made me stop. It was Nick and he was spinning a girl around and then kissing her. The caption was, “The most beautiful girl in the world.” With all the spinning, I couldn’t tell if she actually was, but it was so cheesy, I could’ve puked. Who even took that video and what made him think we, his followers, wanted to see it? But cute. Good for him.

At the next place, Lexi introduced me to a bunch of guys she knew (obviously) and we sat down and had drinks with them. They were typical douchey business boys who used super generic lines and Lexi ate it all up. I kept rolling my eyes as I drank my Paloma. After a couple drinks with them, they said they were going to a different bar, but I told Lexi I wanted to stay. I was enjoying the vibe of the place and the drinks were good. Plus I was sick of those boys.

A little while later, a bald guy came over to us. He looked a few years older than us, but was pretty good looking and dressed well.

“My friend and I want to come over and have a drink with you, if that’s okay?” he said after our initial greeting. He gestured to the friend, who was still sitting at the bar.

Before I could say anything, Lexi said, “Sure. There’s room here.”

So we chatted with those guys for a bit. One of them owns a flooring company and the other works for him so I actually had a lot to talk about with them. We exchanged business cards.

Eventually one of them asked, “What are you girls doing after this?”

Lexi and I looked at each other and she shrugged.

The owner guy said, “I’m inviting some people back to my condo. It isn’t far from here.”

“We’ll come!” Lexi exclaimed.

They paid our tab and then we got in a cab to their place. I gave Lexi a look while we sat in the backseat.

“What?” she whispered.

“Why do you always do this?” I whispered back. She shrugged and smiled, obviously loving where the night was going.

When we got to the condo there were already a ton of people there. I got a weird feeling about the whole situation like it was a big orgy waiting to happen. But it actually ended up being weirdly super fun. There was a piano and someone played all night and we all danced and socialized. I met so many people. Someone placed a food order so we were all eating sliders, fries, and mac and cheese at 3 am.

Before I knew it, it was 5:40 am. My eyes were burning and I kept yawning and finally I said, “Lexi, it’s 6 am. Let’s go.”

I could tell she still wanted to stay and mingle more (the party was still raging), but she still obliged and went around saying goodbye to all her new friends.

At this point, I didn’t know if I should stumble into Brady’s house at 6 am or just go home and pretend I wasn’t out that late. Not that he would even be able to judge me for staying out late, but he already thinks Lexi is a bad influence. And I didn’t want him to have any reason to second guess what I was doing when the night was honestly so innocent.

But I really wanted to sleep with Brady and wake up next to him so I could ask who he had dinner with. So I had the cab drop me off at Brady’s house. Tucker blew my cover by barking at the top of his lungs when I let myself in. When he realized it was me, he calmed down and rolled over so I could pet him. I took of my heels and padded to Brady’s room barefoot with Tucker in my arms. I was surprised to see Brady’s phone illuminating the room. He was awake.

“Hey,” I whispered.

Brady glanced at me and then back at his phone. “Hey.”

“I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“Not directly, but don’t worry about it.”

I got undressed and climbed into bed, snuggling next to Brady. He was rigid for a moment and then he put his phone down and put his arm around me.

“So how was dinner?” I asked.

“It was good,” he told me and I cut him off before he could elaborate.

“Who did you go with?”

“Just Alex and some people from work. It was someone’s birthday.”

“Was Sydney there?” I knew I shouldn’t have asked that, but I couldn’t help it. I really wanted to know.

“She was.”

“No wonder you didn’t invite me as your plus one!”

Brady didn’t say anything and we fell asleep. The rest of the weekend was uneventful. I bought some new furniture and rearranged/decorated my apartment. On Saturday night, Brady and I went to dinner and went back to his place to binge watch some tv. Lexi sent me videos on Snapchat from a bar, but I was not up for her shenanigans.

I’d forgotten about Scott’s email until I got to work on Monday and he stopped by my office.

“Hey there! Good morning!” he greeted me.

“Hi,” I replied back.

“Did you have a good weekend?” Scott asked, making himself comfortable.

“I did. Thanks for asking.”

“Glad to hear it.”

I gave him a look like, “Get to the point already.”

“I wanted to follow up on my email. About Monica’s position.”

“Okay…”

“I know you’ve interviewed before and I don’t want that to stop you from interviewing again. I think now is the right time for you to take on this role. I think you are the best and only candidate and I don’t want you to miss out on this opportunity because of what happened last time.”

It’s like he had read my mind and knew exactly how I was feeling.

“Why is now a better time than before?” I had to ask.

“Because I’ve been in my position longer. The two of us have always worked well together and now I can really mentor you into what you need to be to succeed. I think we can really make a huge impact, me and you.”

“I really just don’t want to do all this prepping and get my hopes up just to get told no again,” I said honestly.

“That won’t happen. Because I’m going to help you. Now is your time.”

So we spent the rest of the week coming up with a business strategy that I would present to the New York office once interviews started. I’m still not sure if I even want to interview, but I would kind of feel silly saying no and then just staying in my current job doing nothing. Monica officially put in her notice so interviews will start next week and Scott keeps emailing me to keep me in the loop even though I never actually said I wanted to do. So we will see what happens.

Standard

that shut me up.

Reading back over my last blog post infuriated me. Like, I thought I was so tough, but reading back over it, I felt so disrespected and I’d let it happen. That’s not okay.

Brady worked late Monday and was too tired to see me on Tuesday. I was itching to talk to him, but I wanted to do it in person so I needed to wait.

On Tuesday, Scott’s wife brought the baby in for everyone to see. I heard everyone screaming and cooing from my office and when I looked out the door, I saw the tiny blonde wife and the car seat. I obviously had no interest in meeting the baby so I shut my door and turned on Demi Lovato.

A little while later, Julie knocked on my door and let herself in before I could answer.

“Hey. Aren’t you going to come say hi to Scott’s wife and see the baby?” she said with a smirk.

“I’m busy otherwise I’d totally come mingle,” I said sarcastically.

I kind of felt weird about the whole thing. Obviously anything I ever had with Scott is completely over and I’m so over it, but I just couldn’t face his wife after what went down. I just knew my guilt would show and she would totally sense what was going on. I didn’t want to risk it.

After work, I’d made plans to go to a networking event with my former coworker, Leah. I feel like networking events are just an excuse to flirt and drink so I was down. You know what I can’t stand? Leah had invited me to this networking event weeks ago and I didn’t get back to her until the day of because I was waiting to see if I’d have plans with Brady. And when I found out he was too tired to hang out, that’s when I told her I would go with her. Like I make him a priority and choose him over literally everything, but he couldn’t even sacrifice a little bit of rest to see me.

The networking event was at a ritzy hotel downtown. Leah was already there by the time I got there and she greeted me with a hug.

“I’m so glad you could make it! It’s been forever!”

We caught up for a little while, talking mostly about work.

“Andrew still won’t stop talking about you,” she revealed. “He and his friend created this fitness app and once they get the money from the investors he’s going to quit and work on the app full time. I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to recruit you to come work for him.”

Weird because I worked there literally three years ago. And as if I would ever work for Andrew again. Also, what could I possibly add to something involving fitness? But maybe Leah talked to him or something because he texted me on Wednesday morning just to say hello. We aren’t really on texting terms so it was random. I continued texting him, waiting for him to mention the fitness app, but he never did.

Brady finally invited me over on Wednesday after work. He told me that he had been feeling kind of sick the past two days so I offered to bring over soup and tea even though Brady doesn’t like tea. He didn’t have any work to do like he normally does and instead, just wanted to lay on the couch and watch tv. It was the perfect time to have a little chat.

“So here’s the thing,” I began. “I’m not okay with the Sydney thing and I’m definitely not okay with the Jill thing.”

“What Sydney and Jill thing?” Brady wanted to know.

“You know what I’m talking about.” I’m so sick of Brady pretending to be clueless to buy time. “Sydney not knowing about me and Jill calling you handsome… and your reaction. That’s just not acceptable.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t talk about you or my personal life at work. The last time I told everyone about you and we broke up, it was awkward to have to tell everyone that,” Brady explained.

“Uh, hello? Same. It’s not like you’re the only one who had to deal with that. But I’m not going to let Scott for example think I’m single.”

“You’re right.”

“I know I am! It’s so weird, sometimes I think you’re really smart, but other times I think you are incredibly dumb.”

Brady gave me a look like he wasn’t quite offended, but wanted me to keep going.

“Like, you’ve been in relationships before. You know these things aren’t right. Imagine if I’d done the same thing to you,” I continued.

“You have,” Brady said.

“Excuse me?” I was so shocked I didn’t even know what to say.

“Your boss texted you and told you he’s in love with you.” Brady’s neck was turning red and I knew he didn’t like confronting me, but he was speaking confidently because he knew he was right. “If you ask me, that’s way worse than some lady calling me handsome.”

When I didn’t say anything he continued. “Does that make you dumb too?”

“How rude! That was so long ago, I can’t believe you’re even bringing it up.”

Brady shrugged. “No ruder than you are.”

And that shut me up for a minute.

“So are you purposely trying to hurt me?” I asked.

“Of course not.”

“Jill’s gotta go. Sydney does too, but not as urgently.”

“Okay,” Brady nodded.

“And don’t just say okay to shut me up.”

“Sydney is my friend and we work together. She relies on me a lot.”

“What about me? I rely on you too!” I exclaimed.

“This is work. This is my professional life. It has nothing to do with you and you have nothing to worry about.”

“It doesn’t feel that way. Not when she’s calling you all the time during non work hours and you’re hiding to talk to her and laughing and everything.”

“You can listen to our phone calls – I’m not hiding anything. The only thing we talk about is work and Tucker.”

“So you can mention Tucker, but not me. Wow.”

After going back and forth, I was over Sydney and mainly just wanted to get Jill out of the picture. Brady promised to stop talking to her and at first I was going to physically make him text her and tell her to beat it, but I decided it was a test. If he continues talking to her, I am so fucking done. He won’t even know what hit him.

The rest of the week was super busy for me so we didn’t talk much or hang out, but we are going on vacation this week! I still need to pack. I can’t wait to tell y’all about it!

Standard

we shouldn’t have to force it.

During my last interview for the job I was recruited for, the interviewer asked me what my salary requirements were and I told her.

“Oh my,” she said. “That’s significantly more than we wanted to pay for this position.”

To me, that was a dealbreaker – I wasn’t about to take a pay cut for a job I didn’t even ask for.

“But let me chat with my boss. We may be able to figure something out,” she said.

I assumed that meant they wouldn’t be able to pay me what I needed so I figured I wouldn’t hear from her again. A few days later, Scott called me in my office. Usually if Scott wants to see me or has something to say he will text or email me, so it was weird that he was calling.

“Hi Reese. Will you stop by my office when you get a chance?” he said.

“I’ll come after lunch,” I told him.

“Great! Looking forward to it!” he said back.

I rolled my eyes.

After lunch I waltzed into Scott’s office and the first thing I saw was the new picture he had framed of his baby. She was sleeping in the picture and looked like a typical pink newborn. Cute.

“What’s up?” I said, sitting down.

“Reese! Thank you for taking the time to see me today!” he said warmly.

“Cute baby,” I said.

There was an awkward silence and then he said, “HR called me this morning and let me know that a competitor called inquiring about your salary history. Obviously we won’t disclose anything without your permission, but… are you looking for a new job?”

I was so pissed. Like why would you think it’s okay to call my current employer before even offering me a job? Bitch.

I said, “Of course I am, Scott. I’ve been teased about a promotion twice now so I’m not sure what else I’m supposed to do.”

Scott looked taken aback like he wasn’t expecting a real answer. “Wow. It hasn’t been my intention to tease you. We just haven’t quite found the right fit for you yet.”

“And you expect me not to be looking for the right fit on my own?”

He kind of shrugged. “I guess I thought you’d be patient and trust me.”

“Trust you,” I repeated.

“I think you deserve to be promoted just as much as you do. I don’t want you to think I’m not looking out for you.”

I just stared at him.

“I’m asking that you trust me. I will put you at the top of my list of priorities.”

And maybe I’m just being a complete bitch, but how could he possibly even offer to make me his top priority? With all the other stuff going on at work, his wife and baby? There was no way I could be his top priority and I didn’t need to be.

I said, “Okay, Scott. I totally trust you.” I was being sarcastic, but I also just wanted to appease him so I could get out of there.

Work has been so boring lately. I literally sit on my phone all day and text people and read blogs. Nothing at all is going on. Which gives me more time to worry about Brady.

He’s different this time. When he’s mad at me, he’s distant and we won’t talk for at least a day. Obviously we still don’t communicate well, but now he waits at least an entire day before pretending that nothing is wrong.

Brady’s birthday is on Christmas Eve and I really wanted to do something for his Dirty Thirty. The weeks leading up to it, I kept pestering him to see what he wanted to do and he just couldn’t tell me. I suggested a fancy Michelin star dinner, a trip to New York City, a trip to South America, a wild bar hopping night, literally everything I could think of. But nothing seemed to excite him.

About a week before his birthday, Brady and I were standing in the kitchen eating Thai takeout and I asked, “So what do you want to do for your birthday? We need to decide like tonight.”

Brady dropped his plastic fork like he’d had enough. “I don’t fucking care, Reese! I literally do not give a shit. We can do whatever you want!”

I was taken aback. What the fuck? I dropped my fork too. “Uh, okay? We don’t have to do anything then. I just wanted to make your birthday special. I don’t give a shit now either.”

Like how ungrateful can you be? It’s not like I was begging for a gift or anything like that.

Brady said, “Good,” and we finished eating in silence.

I wanted to stay and hang out longer, but not if he was going to be a moody psycho. And I didn’t want him to think it was okay. So after we cleaned up, I said, “I guess I’m gonna go.”

Brady didn’t make eye contact as he said, “All right.”

This was on a Friday evening and I didn’t hear from Brady until Monday. I had a productive weekend drinking, doing laundry, stalking his and Tia’s Instagrams and deliberately not texting or calling him. Fuck that. He was the one who needed to reach out to me and apologize.

“Want to get dinner tonight?” he texted me on Monday afternoon.

Hi, how are you? My weekend was fine, thanks for asking.

“Fine,” I said back.

Brady sent me a screenshot from OpenTable – he’d gotten us reservations at Momotaro. I rolled my eyes, but I was excited because I love that place.

Since Brady would be getting off work late, we decided to meet there. I deliberately got there later than our planned meeting time and found Brady standing at the bar talking to a woman.

“Hey!” Brady greeted me excitedly as I approached. He hugged me with his free arm. “This is Jill.”

Jill looked like a typical Lincoln Park housewife with her ashy blonde hair and obviously designer jeans and sweater. She was probably in her early 40’s and I wondered how Brady knew her.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Reese,” I said, shaking her hand. She gave me one of those limp, princess handshakes (which I loathe) and it became obvious to me that she doesn’t work.

“Staying warm?” she asked, slipping her hand in her front pocket. She had a flute of champagne and she put it to her lips while still looking at me.

“Trying to. It’s supposed to get colder so I won’t complain yet,” I said.

“Mmhm,” she murmured as she finished her sip. And then she pointed to me. “Prada?”

I realized she was talking about my Prada down puffer and I was impressed because it isn’t even from this season.

“Actually yes,” I replied.

Jill smiled at me and then turned to Brady. “Listen, it was good seeing you. I’m going to go back to my table.” She touched his forearm while saying this and we both watched as she twitched her little yoga sculpted ass away.

“How do you even know her?” I asked Brady at the same time he said, “Let’s go see if our table is still ready.”

We sat down and talked about our days and then Brady said something I wasn’t expecting. He said, “Hunter is coming for my birthday and Christmas. So we can just have dinner with him and go to the bars and stuff.”

I wanted to explode. Like all of a sudden he gave a shit about his birthday? Because Hunter was coming? And how was Hunter going to get away from his wife and kids for Christmas? I answered my own question when I realized Dom probably doesn’t believe in Christmas.

“Oh,” I said. Brady smiled and I added, “That sounds fun.”

“Yeah. We don’t have to do anything too crazy, you know,” he said.

When the server brought our plates I squealed with excitement. I looked at Brady to see if he was just as excited as I was and he was adjusting his napkin in his lap and looking off to his right. I followed his gaze to Jill, who was sitting in a booth with a group of other Lincoln Park moms. She was looking in our direction and flipped her hair over her shoulder before looking down shyly.

I couldn’t even help myself.

“So now that you’re turning 30, you’re into older women?” I asked.

“What are you talking about?” Brady asked, with his eyes practically bulging out of his face.

“You and Jill are having eye sex and it’s gross,” I said dryly.

“No,” Brady said and kind of laughed. “No way.”

Dinner went on like normal and then we headed back to Brady’s in an Uber. I snuggled up close to him with one of my legs draped over him. I was thinking about how I hoped Hunter planned on leaving his drama in California because I didn’t want to deal. I felt Brady’s phone vibrate a couple times in his coat pocket. It was close to 11 PM – I was thinking it better be Hunter making some last minute arrangements.

We got inside and decided we wanted to watch tv on the couch with Tucker for a little while before going to bed. Brady got up to use the restroom and stupidly left his phone sitting on the coffee table. I willed myself not to touch it, but after about two minutes, it vibrated. A text message. I moved Tucker out of my lap so I could see who it was.

Jill.

Motherfucking Jill.

“Good,” she said.

As soon as the screen went black again, Brady walked back in.

“Jill is texting you,” I said, with this weird, manic smile on my face. It was either that or fly off the handle.

Brady’s brow furrowed as he walked back to the couch.

“Jill’s texting you,” I repeated. “Why?”

Brady sat down and picked up his phone, reading the message. “Oh my God, why does it matter? It doesn’t mean anything.”

“It matters because you spent all dinner staring at each other and now she’s texting you and I’d like to know why.” I was being so calm and cool, honestly.

“I wasn’t staring at her!” Brady yelled.

I actually wanted to strangle him.

“Don’t fucking yell at me because I caught you texting that milf,” I said.

Brady picked up his phone and stormed out. I waited about ten minutes before deciding to go find him. He was taking a shower. And I decided to leave him alone for the night so he could talk to Jill. I called an Uber to go home and I was quite surprised at what I did on the way home. I cried.

I didn’t hear from Brady again until Wednesday morning. He sent me a picture of Tucker sleeping under the comforter. It was obviously super fucking adorable and I texted back, “Aww, my baby ❤️”

But after that, he didn’t call me until Thursday evening. I’d gone back and forth between texting him again, but after the way he’d acted and Jill, there was no way.

“Hey,” I answered the phone on Thursday.

“Hey you,” Brady said back.

I rolled my eyes because I was seriously annoyed with him for pretending nothing was wrong.

He told me a coworker was having people over for drinks and snacks and asked if I wanted to come.

“Umm…” I wanted to see Brady, but I was still a little bit upset about everything. “Okay.”

He told me that he was going to shower and get ready, but I could meet him at his place whenever I was ready. I changed into a House of Harlow dress, tights and my Alexander Wang booties. When I got to Brady’s, he answered the door wearing jeans and a button down with a hoodie over it. He looked like a Harvard dropout.

Brady pulled me into a big hug, burying his face in my hair. Then he pulled away and kissed me. “I missed you.”

“I can tell,” I said sarcastically and then I walked past him inside.

I was a bit standoffish for a few more minutes until I was over it and just wanted to have fun with Brady. Especially because he suggested we take shots of tequila before we go and that’s the Brady I know and love. By the time we were walking out to the Uber, we were excitedly discussing the places we could go for his birthday, the bars we needed to show Hunter and who we was still in town to invite over for Christmas. And he slapped my ass as I climbed into the back of our Prius. I just knew it was going to be a great night.

We arrived at Brady’s coworkers house in West Loop where everyone was gathered in the open concept living room/kitchen. I saw some people I’ve already met and met some new people. I always love seeing Brady talk to people in his field because he’s so passionate about it and it’s so hot and like, nerdy. Alex was there too. I was chatting with him about some of his recent Bumble dates (I know I’m fucking crazy ((but kind of not even that crazy anymore)) but some of these broads are really crazy) when a flash of black caught the corner of my eye. I glanced over and saw a thin girl with the longest, shiniest black hair talking to Brady. Sydney!! I almost squealed with excitement.

Brady was talking to her, explaining something, and smiling and Sydney was smiling back. She glanced at me and gave me a cordial nod, then turned her attention back to Brady.

“So I told her I’d call an Uber for her to get home and she refused because she didn’t want me to know where she lives! It’s not like I’m a stalker or anything! I’m just trying to be a gentleman!” Alex was saying.

I was busy watching Brady and Sydney’s encounter. It was not at all flirty or sexual, but it seemed like Brady had so much to tell her. He never talks to me that much. I’ve never even seen him talk to Chris or Alex or Anna or even Hunter like that. When he finally stopped to catch his breath, I interjected.

“Hi, I’m Reese,” I said to Sydney, sticking out my hand to shake hers.

“Oh, hi! I’m Sydney!” She shook my hand like an adult and continued smiling at me.

“So good to finally see the person Brady’s always on the phone with,” I said as innocently as I could.

Sydney’s eyes cut to Brady, but her smile didn’t falter. Brady looked like he was holding his breath.

“We aren’t on the phone that much, are we?” she said to Brady with her little nose all scrunched up.

Did she think this was some sort of joke?

“I’d say so,” I said. “Usually on Saturday nights or after 8:00 PM – the most inappropriate times for a work conversation.” I scrunched my nose to mimic her.

“The medical field can be demanding, Reese,” I heard Alex say. I’d forgotten all about him. “It’s not like Sydney is deliberately calling him on date night.”

Sydney made this really weird almost like gaping fish face then she said, “Sorry, I didn’t even know about you.” And she walked off.

“God, here we go again,” Brady said, rolling his eyes.

“What?” I said, feigning innocence.

He shoved his hands in his pockets and walked off – in the opposite direction Sydney had just gone.

“I’m gonna go grab a drink,” Alex said and then he was gone too.

I stood there alone thinking about how Sydney had said she didn’t even know about me. Meaning Brady didn’t mention me or talk about me. Was he letting people at work think he was still single? I couldn’t wait to confront him.

I walked around the party, stopping to chat with people I know and introducing myself to others. I finally found Brady with Alex and a group of people. He looked up at me, but didn’t say anything. So I just waited until they were finished talking and Brady walked over to me.

“So strange how Sydney has never heard of me,” I greeted him. “You must not talk about me.”

“I don’t. I don’t talk about my personal life at work. You should try it,” he snapped.

“I’m sure you love letting all the girls think you’re single. That way they can all flirt with you all day with no guilt,” I continued.

“Whatever. I’m ready to leave when you are,” Brady said.

“I’ve been ready since the moment I got here.”

The ride back to Brady’s was completely silent. I couldn’t believe Brady wouldn’t at least mention me to his work friends. It’s not like he has to talk about all the ins and outs of our relationship, but how could I have not come up in conversation once?

When we got inside, Brady went to his room while I plopped on the couch to get on Instagram. He emerged a few minutes later wearing just the white button down he had on before and the All Saints jacket I got him.

“I’m going out,” he announced.

“Okay? Where? I’ll come,” I said.

And Brady said, “No.”

I was so shocked I was speechless. No?

“You can stay here if you want though. I have chips and salsa and ice cream in the kitchen.”

“Why can’t I come?” I wanted to know.

Brady threw his hands up. “Because I just want to go out and have a few beers. I don’t want drama or to have to babysit. That’s why.”

Well, excuse me. I didn’t say anything and I heard Brady grabbing his keys to go. Obviously I wasn’t even in the mood to go out after that. After he’d left, I sat on the couch for about an hour thinking up all the evil things I could do like run his laptop through the dishwasher or cover the shower floor with body oil. Then I realized I didn’t have the energy to do any of that. I just called an Uber to go home.

The next afternoon, Brady texted me saying he was going to pick up Hunter from the airport and did I want to come?

I said, “No thanks,” and he didn’t respond.

I figured Brady would want to hang out with his brother without me on Friday night so I’d already made plans to hang out with Kendra and the baby. I ended up falling asleep on their couch and woke up on Saturday morning with a start. Kendra and I had polished off three bottles of wine and I remembered complaining to Kendra about what an asshole Brady had been and her telling me to text him. I grabbed my phone and saw 4 missed calls from Brady starting at midnight. I opened my messages to see what I’d said to him.

I poured my heart out. I told him how hurt I was about the way he had been speaking to me and the way he handled the Jill situation, was Hunter rubbing off on him? I mentioned how I was also hurt that he didn’t think I was important enough to talk about me to his coworkers. What did he tell them he did in his spare time if he didn’t talk about me? He said, “Call me,” and when I didn’t he started calling me.

I called him back and he picked up almost immediately.

“Hey,” I croaked into the phone. I guess I didn’t realize just how much I drank.

“Hey. I was just going to text you. Do you to grab brunch?” Brady said.

“Ugh, fine. I just need an hour,” I said.

We hung up and I laid on the couch for a little while checking my socials. One of the first things I saw was a picture of Lexi on her Snapchat story. And she was in bed with a shirtless guy with a ponytail who was conveniently covering his face.

“Lexi!” I texted her. “You’re with Hunter?”

She sent back a smiling emoji followed by, “I’m sorry. He is addictive.”

I rolled my eyes and got up. I met Brady an hour later at a restaurant near his place. I’d changed into Lululemon leggings, a hoodie, no bra, my puffer jacket, a beanie and sneakers. I put on my largest pair of sunglasses I own so I wouldn’t have to bother with makeup.

“What did you do last night?” Brady asked, sensing my hangover.

And this is wrong, but I kind of wanted to make Brady feel how he’d been making me feel. So I said, “I met up with some people from work and stayed out way too late. Lots of tequila.”

Brady raised his eyebrows, but continued eating without saying anything.

After brunch, we met up with Hunter at the grocery store.

“Well, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” he greeted me.

I sensed he was being sarcastic so I said, “Glad to see you crawled out of Lexi’s bed in time to meet us.”

I saw him flinch, but I rolled my eyes and walked off down the aisle.

Brady was super sweet and attentive all weekend. Saturday night was a drama free shitshow where I got so drunk I literally barfed in my mouth on the way to the bathroom. Great time though.

We ended up going to an Indian restaurant for Brady’s birthday which was fun and different. After dinner, we went home, invited a couple people over and poured drinks. Hunter and I had a bit of a heart to heart. It started because I brought up Lexi. I should probably mind my own business, but sometimes I can’t.

“Your friend is cool, but I’m not looking for anything. At the end of the day, my kids are what’s most important to me,” Hunter explained.

“Of course they are and they should be. You know if your wife finds out what you’re doing then she will do everything she can to make sure you can’t see them. You know that, right?” I said.

Hunter shrugged it off.

“How can you be so selfish?” I continued, getting irritated. “You literally told Lexi you love her and you send her dick pics weekly and now you’re saying you don’t want anything? What a fucked up thing to do.”

“It’s complicated. My relationship with my wife isn’t like it used to be even though I wish it was. We are at a crossroads, Reese.”

“Then figure it out!” I urged. “Don’t fucking get all these other people involved!”

“I know!” he shouted back. And then he settled down. “I know.”

“I just feel like even though Dom is awful, she doesn’t deserve what you’re doing to her.”

“How do you admit you made a mistake?”

I took a second before I answered. At first I thought he meant he made a mistake by cheating on his wife and then I realized he meant marrying Dom.

“You admit it and then you fix it and learn from it. No one will judge you for that, but they will judge you for cheating.”

He told me that Dom has changed so much that he feels like he doesn’t even know her.

“I know women want a lot of attention, but men need it too,” Hunter said.

It got me thinking that maybe I’m not giving Brady attention and that’s why he had been 1. seeking attention from other girls. And 2. lashing out at me. It made perfect sense. So the following morning, Christmas morning, I made a huge breakfast, which I planned on doing anyway, and asked Brady to tell me all about work while we ate.

“I’m just really curious and feel like I should know more about what’s going on in your life,” I explained.

And Brady just laughed at me. I realized he probably thought I was just fishing for information about the girls at work, but that’s not even what I was trying to do. So then he didn’t share anything.

Hunter left early in the morning the day after Christmas and I talked Brady into going shopping with me after we dropped him off at the airport. We did collective damage at Nordstrom and then sat down for lunch at Shake Shack. I was a needy mood so I sat right next to Brady at our table.

We went back to his place after lunch and had a nap on the couch with Tucker. I woke up before Brady did and laid on the couch watching tv while waiting for him to wake up. Brady’s phone was sitting on the coffee table face up and I saw it light up a few times. I was going to ignore it, but this is me and I couldn’t. I leaned over as far as I could without disturbing anyone and pushed the home key to wake his phone up. Jill was texting him.

She said, “???” and then, “Just call me later handsome.”

I gave Sleeping Brady the most disgusted look I could muster and then I did the only thing that I could think of: I stalked the hell out of this woman.

I found out that she’s 36, divorced and has a 4 year old daughter. And she works in real estate (you should see the head shot she uses on her business cards). By the time Brady woke up, I was balls deep in her wide open Facebook page, looking at a vacation she took in 2012.

“Hey,” Brady said, sleepily. “How long have you been up?”

“A while,” I said.

He got up and tried to snuggle me so I had to hurry and hide my phone because I did not want to be caught stalking Jill.

I spent the next week stalking Jill daily (checking her Instagram and Facebook multiple times a day to see if she made any mention of my boyfriend), but I didn’t bring it up again to Brady until New Year’s Eve.

“Where’s Jill celebrating New Year’s Eve, handsome?” I asked.

Brady and I went to a big house party in River North.

He gave me a weird look. “At home? I don’t know.”

“Have you met her daughter?” I asked.

“What?” Brady was looking at me like I’d just asked him to buy me a pet llama.

“She has a child, you know. And an ex husband.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Just warning you before you get involved in that situation. She’s obviously fertile and you’re afraid to even get married so…be careful with that one.”

“Oh my God,” Brady groaned, throwing his hands up.

“Just sayinggggg,” I sang.

“I’m literally not doing this tonight. If you want to argue, then you can argue with yourself.”

“Of course! That’s how I can tell you’re guilty!” I went on.

“Guilty of what, Reese?” Brady was raising his voice now. “I’m not fucking interested in Jill or anyone else. Why can’t you understand that?”

“Because actions speak louder than words.”

He shook his head. “I’m done. I’m so sick of this shit. I can’t do this everyday. You’re allowed to do whatever the fuck you want, but if I so much as know a girl then you declare war.”

“Oh, whatever,” I said, rolling my eyes.

We went back and forth for a while, just kind of belligerently accusing each other of stuff. Looking back, it’s embarrassing and so stupid, but at the time I really felt like we were accomplishing something.

The next morning, I woke up in Brady’s bed in just my tights from the night before. We were snuggling because it was freezing. I started to stir and Brady grabbed my hips to pull me closer to him. He started kissing my shoulders and back and it’s was weird because like, didn’t we decide to break up? How did I even up back there? But I let him fondle me and we hooked up and it was amazing even though we were both hungover and dehydrated. We both rolled over and fell back asleep.

We woke up a little while later and Brady grabbed me to snuggle me again. We got up and had breakfast and watched football and it was like a totally normal day like nothing happened. I went along with it until the evening when I just had to address the elephant in the room.

“Do you want to talk about our fight last night?” I finally asked.

Brady glanced away from the tv at me. “Sure.”

And then there was just silence.

And he said, “What do you want to talk about?”

“Well, we both said a lot of things and I just want to know which of them you really meant,” I said.

“I just don’t want to fight with you. We have essentially the same fight over and over and I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t understand why we can’t just go out and have a good time.”

“We can, but I’m not going to tolerate you texting and calling and flirting with dumb random girls,” I said.

Brady looked confused. “I’m not doing that.”

I’ll call you later, handsome,” I recited.

“She’s just lonely. It doesn’t mean anything,” he told me.

“I’d prefer she go and be lonely elsewhere.”

So I’ve been thinking lately that maybe Brady and I just aren’t compatible. I don’t know how to make him happy (obviously, if he’s seeking attention elsewhere) and if that’s what he’s doing then I’m not happy. Like it shouldn’t be this hard. We shouldn’t have to force it. And now I’m starting to have dreams about Brady and all these other girls and him ditching me or not coming home until 6 AM. I hate it. And I always wake up from those dreams feeling like complete shit. It’s almost like I’m starting to see some of Hunter’s traits in Brady and I don’t like that at all.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, y’all! How’s everyone been?

Standard

your brother is drama.

Brady invited me to his dad’s party with him and I said yes because it’s basically a tradition at this point. And when he told his mom he was bringing me, she suggested we get a hotel. Hunter and his wife and kids would be staying at the house and she didn’t want us to disturb them. I was honored.

We booked a suite in this beautiful Victorian/French inspired hotel in the Back Bay Area of Boston. When we landed on Friday evening, we were too tired to even go out and drink, let alone go mingle with Brady’s uptight parents. So we checked into our room, ordered Chinese food and watched Mission Impossible. Brady’s mom planned a big breakfast for us all on Saturday morning so obviously we couldn’t miss that. She let Brady know that a car would be picking us up 7:45am and we woke up at 7:30. Well, Brady woke up and then woke me up. I was fast asleep and having a dream about al pastor tacos.

We took turns taking three minute showers and made it out the door at 8:01am. The really dumb and annoying thing is that Brady’s parents live almost an hour and a half away from Boston, but that gave me time make myself look presentable so I brought my entire makeup collection in my purse.

As we were arriving at Brady’s parent’s house, I suddenly got weirded out about being there. Like obviously he’d told them all we broke up, but here I was prancing my ass back in.

“Your parents know I’m coming, right?” I blurted out, now with a full face of makeup on.

“Of course. My mom is excited that you are coming,” Brady said.

And to my surprise, his mom actually greeted me warmly.

“Oh, hello dear! Good to see you,” she said and it sounded like she really meant it. We hugged.

Hunter and Dom were already inside. Brady’s dad was holding the baby girl and the little boy was running around screaming at the top of his lungs with a toy in his hand. Hunter and Dom just let him.

“Hey you!” Hunter said to me. I gave him a sassy look because I hadn’t seen him since he hooked up with Lexi. He stood up and hugged me and I turned to Dom to say hi. Even though I had absolutely nothing to do with it, I did feel guilty that Hunter cheated on her with one of my close friends. Especially since it’s a full on affair – they text all the time and he told her he loves her.

She had the nerve to give me a sympathetic look. “How are you?”

“I’m fantastic. How are you? Looks like you have your hands full,” I said.

“I do and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve never had a family and I always wanted one,” she said.

And that made me feel super bad about everything. So I decided to play nice and be friends with her for the weekend.

“I’m glad to hear that. You and Hunter are very lucky to have each other.”

Dom looked up at Hunter lovingly, but he was talking to Brady and not paying any attention to what we were talking about. She looked back at me and I realized that Dom is actually really, really beautiful. Like the kind of girl who doesn’t need any makeup and can get away with not grooming her eyebrows for years on end. If I tried that, I’d look like a homeless pet. She made tiny undereye bags look kind of cute. They were the result of her finally having a family right? It was sweet.

Brady’s mom hired someone to make breakfast which is no surprise since she needed to spend all her time worried about everyone else.

We all sat around the table cooing over the children and talking about their accomplishments. I was frantically looking around for wine or alcohol. Brady’s mom was  suggesting all the different activities the little boy could get involved like karate, swimming and rugby. Like the kid is two years old, let’s not have him breaking limbs before his fifth birthday.

“And Reese, it’s been so long, hasn’t it? How have you been?” Brady’s mom asked.

Finally, some attention on me.

“Honestly, things have been fabulous. I can’t really complain,” I replied.

Dom said, “Are you still drinking Brady out of house and home?”

Hunter and Brady’s dad laughed and after a moment, Dom started laughing too. This bitch.

“Actually yes,” I replied and everyone, including Brady and his mother started laughing.

“I don’t think Brady boy would have it any other way,” Hunter said.

Brady smiled at me and nodded which I thought was so cute.

The mom quickly changed the subject to something else, something about volunteering, and I saw Dom tap Hunter on the shoulder and whisper something in his ear while staring at me. Then Hunter looked up at me too. And when she saw me looking at her, she gave me a sort of evil smile. So much for being friends for the weekend.

By the time I gave her a bitchy look back, she’d turned away because breakfast was being served. Bagels, smoked salmon, frittatas, potatoes, an arugula salad and grapefruit juice. It was all so fucking good. I literally cleaned my plate and then sat there waiting for the second course.

After breakfast we migrated to the great room so Brady’s mom could start throwing her opinion out again. It was mostly toward Dom though about the kids. The little boy was cute and after breakfast he gave me a hug and then was attached to my hip after that. He sat in my lap and smiled/laughed with me and touched my face. Like it was so cute.

We were in our own little world for a while and then he jumped down so he could get a running start to jump back on my lap.

“Oh!” Brady’s mom said laughing. “It looks like someone likes you!”

Dom laughed too, but then stood up and took the little angel out of my lap. Okay.

The rest of the afternoon was really boring besides the expensive bottle of wine Brady’s mom opened. I was super relieved when it was time to go back to the city so we could get ready for the party. Dom had been deliberately making me feel stupid and like silly about things.

“He’s just a baby, Reese,” she’d said. But I’m not the one trying to get him signed up for rugby!

In the car on the way back to our hotel, I said to Brady, “Is it me or was Dom an even more uptight bitch than she normally is?”

“Whoa, do you think that’s a bit harsh?” he replied.

“No! She’s evil,” I said back.

Brady rolled his eyes at me and I realized that I  was being mean and probably annoying which I’m trying to grow out of. So I dropped it.

The best thing about our trip was that I got a new outfit out of it. The moment I found out we were going, I ordered a little black dress and statement earrings and then splurged on new shoes because I’ve been so good about not shopping lately.

We all arrived and said our hellos then Brady and I hit up the open bar. Hunter and Dom stuck with the parents because Brady’s mom still needed to introduce the happy couple to people. Because I know y’all are dying to know: Dom wore a tea length emerald dress that made her look pregnant (is she? Can you image?) and gold heels. She had her dreadlocks pulled into an adorable little braid.

“Is Anna here?” I asked Brady, raising my eyebrows suggestively.

I don’t think I told y’all, but Anna wrote Brady a poem. In 2017, y’all! I didn’t tell Brady that I knew about it because I found it when his emailed was pulled up on his laptop. There was no explanation or words or anything, just the poem in the body of the email, so I’m not even sure if it was to him or if she just needed a proofreader. The subject did say, “for Brady,” though.

“No. She’s in Malaysia,” Brady answered.

“In Malaysia writing poetry,” I said.

Brady gave me a blank stare, but then Hunter appeared.

“T minus one hour and forty minutes,” he said and then he saw me watching so he explained, “Until it’s time to ditch this place and go to the bar.”

“Is your little wife coming?” I asked sweetly.

“Fuck no,” Hunter said.

I was thinking, “Oh, thank God,” but I wasn’t about to say that.

The party went on for a little while longer – boring, not enough wine – and then Hunter came and found us again. Brady and I had been holding up the bar planning the big Thanksgiving rager we wanted to have.

“Let’s go,” Hunter said and nodded toward the door. Brady followed him without hesitation and so I followed too.

I was thinking, “Okay..? I guess we don’t have to say goodbye to anyone.”

But we were only down one flight of stairs when the door swung open and tiny little Dom stormed out in her tiny gold heels.

“Are you seriously leaving?” she asked.

“Relax, honey,” Hunter said, not even turning to acknowledge her. “I won’t be out long.”

“Hunter, if you walk out of here, don’t bother coming back tonight,” Dom threatened.

And Hunter just waved her off and kept stomping down the stairs. Can you imagine? If I were Dom I would’ve chased him down the stairs and ripped his fucking ponytail out. How disrespectful. But not my issue.

We got outside and Hunter suggested a bar we could walk to.

“I just need a break,” he explained.

And I just needed a drink. Have I ever mentioned that Boston people are rude? Like so rude. After a couple drinks I was obviously feeling friendly and started chatting up this guy who was standing on the other side of me at the bar. I was telling him all about my life and career goals and baby names. And then his friend leaned over and said, “Dude, stop talking to her. She’s just trying to get you to buy her a drink.”

And I thought he would laugh at his lame joke, but he didn’t and he was serious.

“Ew. I don’t even let my own boyfriend buy me drinks, what makes you think I need one from some random loser in Boston?” I said.

They walked away.

And at another bar, the place was busy and the bartender man was serving a ton of people at once. He sat a drink down that kind of looked like it could be mine, but I wasn’t sure.

“Patron with lime?” I asked him as he flew past me.

“That’s what you ordered, isn’t it?” he hollered over his shoulder.

Excuse me? There goes your tip dude. But I still ended up leaving a couple of dollars out of habit.

In the final bar, I was completely over it and ready to go back to the chateau with Brady. He and Hunter had had about a dozen beers each and probably needed to go home anyway. I was drunk and standing there glaring at everyone. All of a sudden I heard Hunter say, “Man, fuck off or we can take this outside.”

There was a guy in a Virginia Tech hoodie standing there looking like a drunk mess and like he was taunting Hunter. The kid walked away and I thought nothing of it. We tabbed out and headed outside. While we were waiting for our Uber though, the dude in the hoodie came outside.

“All right, Macho Man, what you got?” Hoodie Boy slurred. He was small, like Brady’s size.

It all happened really fast – Hoodie pushed Hunter, Hunter turned and grabbed the kid by his hoodie, almost lifting him off his feet. The guy literally spit in Hunter’s face (EW!) and Hunter started shaking him and Brady got in his face also. I was standing there with my mouth wide open. Like what? Who spits?

The door guy ran over and shouted, “Get out of here or I’m calling the cops!”

The guys didn’t seem to hear him and Hunter just kept shaking him and threatening to kill him.

“Do y’all want to go to jail over this loser?” I finally shouted.

They both ignored me and finally, I grabbed Brady’s shoulder and jerked him away. One second later two of the bouncer guys ran over and pulled the little guy away from Hunter.

“What the fuck, Brady? Are you crazy?” I demanded.

He seemed to realize how ridiculous it all was and started pacing. The bouncers were trying to calm Hunter down – he still looked like he was ready to eat the other guy.

After we calmed Hunter down and booked a room for him in our hotel, I came to a conclusion.

“Your brother is drama,” I told Brady.

“He’s not normally like this. He has a lot going on at home,” Brady explained.

“And the way he treated Dom earlier…so disrespectful,” I continued.

“Yeah, but we don’t know what goes on day to day with them, you know?”

And I don’t really care what goes on in their day to day life – Hunter has some serious issues he should work on.

I had dinner with Lexi when we got back and told her what happened.

“Oh my gosh, poor guy,” she said. “I wish I was there with my man.”

I rolled my eyes. Really, Lexi? She started off dinner telling me about a guy she’d met on Bumble and gave head to on their first date. And now Hunter was her man. K.

Brady and I decided not to have the Thanksgiving rager, but we did have people over. I encouraged him to invite all of his friends from work. Sydney has made a habit of calling Brady at the most inconvenient times like Saturday nights when we are getting ready to go out and during dinner times. And Brady made it a habit of going in the bedroom or bathroom to talk to her and making sure the door was shut and locked. She called the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and Brady hopped up from where were sitting on the couch to speak to her.

“Really?” I said, rolling my eyes.

He gestured that he would be right back, but I got up and followed him so I could eavesdrop. He was using words like “fluid levels” and “dosage” so it did sound like they were probably talking about work, but why did he always have to do hide to talk to her? And he kept laughing.

When I’d finally had enough, I banged on the door and said, “Should I start on the steak?”

Brady actually groaned out loud and said, “Hang on a second,” to Sydney. Then to me he shouted, “Yeah, if you want!”

I stormed off.

So I was hoping Brady would invite Sydney over for Thanksgiving. I told him to invite all of his work friends. I put a huge emphasis on all. I’d invited Lexi, Ava and her boyfriend because everyone else was out of town. Brady made most of the food and I made what people really wanted: queso, egg rolls, and crostinis with dates, bacon and goat cheese.

The first person to arrive was Brady’s friend, Alex. And he brought a girl with him! She was cute and tall and blonde with fabulous knee high boots. When I saw them walk in together, I made a, “Wow, good work,” face at Alex.

He introduced her as Emily and the three of us chatted for a few minutes. Alex went to find Brady and say hello and I said I’d show Emily where to find a drink.

“Soo, how do you know Alex?” I asked her as I poured her a glass of my special Thanksgiving sangria.

“We met at the gym,” she said excitedly.

Well, how fucking cute. Like, I work out and I met a cute guy at the gym. We chatted for a little while and I liked her because she was sweet and humble. Such a good catch for Alex! When we met back up with the group, I nudged Alex and gave him a knowing look. He shrugged like he didn’t know what I meant.

“I must say, I’m proud. She’s a good catch,” I said so no one could hear us.

“Oh, no! It’s not like that. She’s just a friend, that’s it,” Alex responded.

“Are you in any position to friendzone someone?” I asked.

“Just because I’m single doesn’t mean I have to settle with someone I don’t want,” Alex said and that made me feel bad for assuming his being single wasn’t a choice.

So I just shut my ass up after that.

Carly and Chris came over a little later. She’s still tiny and just barely showing and it was so adorable.

“I just want to eat everything,” she told me. “I had half a pound of mac and cheese at Chris’s parents’ house.”

I’d eaten half a pound of mac and cheese too and I’m not even pregnant. We caught up and she excitedly told me about the names they were thinking of (she is really hoping for a girl so she can name her Sloane) and her ideas for the nursery.

“Are you ready for your life to change that much?” I asked her, thinking I’d help her think of bigger picture things.

“I don’t have a choice, do I?” she snapped. “If Kendra can do it, so can I.”

Whatever.

And Sydney never showed up.

That weekend my mom and I went to Mexico for a mini vacation. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but it seemed like Brady was super excited for me to be gone. He kept asking me what day I was leaving and what time and then eagerly offered offered to take me to the airport on that Friday morning. Like aren’t you going to miss me?

My mom and I had an amazing time at our resort and she even met this hot business man from Dallas. She and my dad are talking a lot more and usually have dinner together every night, but she said she wants to keep her options open because she doesn’t want to be hurt again and honestly, I don’t blame her. So I encouraged her to flirt with him and they had dinner and drinks together one night and obviously exchanged numbers/emails.

I got back on Tuesday morning and since I didn’t have to be back at work until Tuesday, I dropped my things off at home then rushed to Brady’s to snoop. Since he didn’t know I’d stop by, he wouldn’t have had a chance to clean up any evidence. I thought maybe I’d find some strands of blonde hair or an earring back or thong, but everything was spotless and perfect as usual. So that annoyed me.

I’m sorry about being MIA. About a month ago, one of my LinkedIn connections messaged me about this really cool job. I had to prepare a lot for my interviews, analyzing numbers and coming up with campaigns. I even had to reach out to one of my former classmates for help. I’m on my sixth interview though so I guess it’s going well.

Around the same time the lady messaged me, Scott cornered me in the office.

“Hey you!” he greeted me.

“Hi. How are you?” I replied.

“Will you stop by my office after lunch? I just want to touch base and know what you want in your career,” he said.

The fuck? He knows what I want in my career. We’d talked about it several times. But still, I stopped by after lunch.

“So, why don’t you just tell me what you feel your next should be and where you want to be in the next few years?” Scott said, sounding really formal.

I wanted to give a sarcastic, bitchy answer back, but decided not to waste time doing that. I told him how I wanted to get more on the creative marketing side and away from sales. I feel like I can help elevate the company in other ways and Scott nodded excitedly the whole time I was speaking.

“A role just opened up that I’d like to consider you for. I don’t know if you heard, but our director of marketing is moving to France and her position is open,” he explained.

I had heard about the marketing director leaving, but the position was based in New York so I didn’t really think it was an option for me.

“Do you think I’m ready for that?” I asked.

“I do. I think you’re a highly viable and qualified candidate. We are considering both internal and externals candidates here in Chicago and also New York, but when I heard of the position being open, I immediately thought of you.”

“Oh, well thank you for thinking of me,” I said.

“Of course. Are you interested in interviewing?” Scott asked.

“I mean, sure. You can consider me.”

So I needed to prepare for that too. I interviewed with Scott and then some bigwigs and ended up not even getting the job.

Scott texted me after my rejection call and said, “Other opportunities will come and I want to help make sure you are ready. The team in New York had nothing but amazing things to say about you and we will find the perfect position for you. I know you are capable of doing much, much more.”

And I wasn’t exactly disappointed about not getting the job since I hadn’t even asked for it, but it kind of motivated me to try a little harder in my current role since apparently the New York people love me.

Brady and I had a really, really good drama free couple of weeks. We got invited to an ugly sweater party one of his friends was throwing and I bought matching sweaters for me, him and Tucker. Tucker obviously wasn’t going to the party, but I thought we could take super cute pictures in them.

The party was in Wicker Park and do you know who had the nerve to be there? Fucking Tia. It’s like she knew we were coming because she was one of the first people we saw. Like, did Brady text her and tell her we were on our way?

“Heyyy, you!” she said to Brady and reached out to hug him. Something about the way she was hugged him seemed sexual. Like she leaned into him with her hips and threw her arms around his neck. It was definitely not a normal, friendly hug.

When they pulled away, she turned to me and said, “Hi, Reese.”

Before I could eve say anything back, she turned to Brady and put her arm around him. “How have you been? I have so much to tell you.”

The fuck did she have to tell him? And more importantly, why was he even talking to this broad? Brady glanced at me and bit his top lip guiltily and all of a sudden it hit me: he totally fucked her. It was so obvious. Sometimes you can look at two people and you can tell by their chemistry that they’d seen each other naked. Ew.

She stayed and told Brady about work and her stupid dramatic life while I stood there glaring at him with my arms crossed.

“Anyway, I have to go find my friend. Catch up with me later though?” Tia finally said. “Good to see you, Reese.”

Once she walked away, I laid into him.

“I seriously cannot fucking believe you,” I said.

Brady looked bewildered. “What?”

“You had sex with her! It’s so obvious!” I said kind of loudly.

“Oh my God, don’t do this right now,” he said, rolling his eyes.

“I’m honestly so disgusted. She is trash, Brady. Sometimes I really think you have no standards,” I went on.

“I told you I didn’t have sex with her. I’m not going to argue you with you about this right now,” he said through clenched teeth.

“Okay, I guess I’ll leave then,” I said.

I thought Brady would stop me and tell me I’m being ridiculous, but he didn’t. He said, “All right. Have a good night,” and then he walked away.

I got out my phone to call an Uber. While I waited for five minutes for my driver to show up, I thought Brady would come find me and apologize and convince me to stay at the party with him. But he didn’t. So I went home and drank a bottle of wine and cried and downloaded Bumble.

When I woke up on Sunday morning, I had a missed call from my mom and several notifications from Bumble. Nothing from Brady. I deleted Bumble before calling my mom back. She wanted to tell me about her dilemma – she’d been talking on the phone to the man from Dallas almost every single night, but also seeing my dad and did she have to choose one?

I didn’t hear from Brady all day on Sunday and naturally I was thinking he’d spent all night with Tia and they were still together having sex all day. Gross. And I was so upset about it that I couldn’t get out of bed all day except to retrieve my food from UberEATS.

Brady finally texted me on Monday morning.

“Hey. You want to meet for lunch today?” he said.

And Brady never wants to meet for lunch – usually he doesn’t even take a lunch – so I figured he was breaking up with me. I thought about declining, but I was curious to see what would happen so I said yes. We decided on a place near my office – Brady said he’d come to me which was also a red flag. I stopped in the bathroom to put on red lipstick on my way out because no man can resist red lipstick.

Brady was waiting outside the restaurant wearing the All Saints jacket I bought him and he looked so fucking hot. And he reached out for a hug when he saw me.

“I’m shocked you could sneak out of the hospital to meet me,” I greeted him.

“I probably shouldn’t be away long, but I wanted to see you,” he said.

We got inside and sat down and started talking like nothing ever happened. We were talking about Hunter and Dom, my mom, work, Christmas, etc. We were having such a good time that I didn’t want to know what happened Saturday night and Sunday. I didn’t want to talk about it at all. As we were standing up from the table, Brady said, “I love you.” Like it was so random and cute. I kissed him and we walked out.

The restaurant has a narrow little host area that isn’t really that well lit and as we were leaving, I saw Zach standing there with a few people who looked like his coworkers. Y’all remember Zach? I honestly thought I’d vomit. I’ve done an amazing job not thinking of him at all and not ever having to see him or see any of his social media helped. I’m actually surprised I hadn’t run into more because our office are quite close to each other. He was wearing his thick wedding band.

“You ready?” Brady asked because I’d apparently stopped right in the middle of the walk way.

Zach had not seen me yet so I continued on walking making sure not to look at him. But then he saw me, out of the corner of my eye I saw his face light up.

“Hey you!” he said excitedly.

I ignored him and he touched my elbow and then grabbed it when I didn’t stop walking. “Reese?”

I snatched my elbow away from him dramatically. “Don’t fucking touch me.”

Zach stepped back like I’d slapped him and I continued walking. Even though my office was in walking distance, Brady offered to give me a ride back.

“I’m not even going to ask what that was all about,” he said as we buckled in.

“Thanks,” I replied.

I could tell he was still kind of curious (I know I would be), but didn’t mention it again.

When I got back to the office, Zach had texted me. I was surprised because I thought I blocked him.

“That was very childish and unnecessary. I wish you’d talk to me like an adult,” he said.

The nerve of him to even try to criticize me.

“You know what else is childish and unnecessary? Cheating on your wife and lying about leaving her. And for that reason I don’t need to talk to you at all,” I replied.

He didn’t say anything back.

Anyway, I’m still waiting to hear back from the job from LinkedIn. Obviously I hope I get it since I put in so much work and it pays more, but we will see. I’m mostly excited because Brady and I have a really cool trip planned next month. Can’t wait to tell y’all about it!

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