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!

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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!

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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.

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