After sending my project in at 6:45 on Friday morning, I didn’t hear anything back immediately. I was proud of what I’d come up with and expected Frank to reply instantaneously singing my praises.
Brady and I planned to leave for Philadelphia after work that evening and I busted my ass finishing up all the work I needed to in order to leave by 5:00pm. We still needed to pack and drop Tucker off. When I got home, I checked my phone to see that Brady had texted me.
“I got called into a meeting this evening and I still have some auditing to do. Not sure what time I’ll be home, but it’s going to be late,” he said.
Ugh. I’d worked hard to ensure I left work at a good time in order to stick to our plans and I was annoyed that he wasn’t doing to the same.
“Okay? What does this mean then?” I said back.
“What if we leave tomorrow morning instead? That way we aren’t rushing. We wouldn’t get there until way late tonight anyway.”
Of course. I didn’t respond and instead texted Lola to see what she was up to.
“Drinking with Kellen’s cousin. Come through,” she replied, including an address in Park Slope. I changed into jeans and booties and called an Uber.
When I arrived at the row house, Lola answered the door.
“Hey! You made it,” she greeted me. “Give me one second to grab my things and then we’ll go.”
I followed her inside through a tiny, but charming apartment with exposed brick walls and minimalistic black and white furniture. There was a tall guy standing at the kitchen island, one who I could tell was covered in hair all over his body. He was cute though and looked really Italian.
“Michael, Reese. Reese, Michael. I’ll probably see you next week at the birthday party. Have a good night,” Lola said as she picked up her Stella McCartney Falabella crossbody and maroon suede trench from one of the barstools.
Lola was acting so weird. And where was Kellen? I thought we were all supposed to be drinking together.
Michael took a sip of the glass in front of him and gave Lola a little wave. Outside on the sidewalk, she pulled out a pack of cigs from her bag and offered one to me.
“Ugh. I should’ve known that was a bad idea when Michael invited me over without Kellen. But I thought he just wanted to drink. I didn’t think he would get the wrong idea,” she said.
“What happened?” I wanted to know.
“He just kept making inappropriate comments. Acting like something was supposed to happen between us because I was there alone. When I told him you were coming, he said ‘three’s company’ all suggestively.”
“Did you really think it was a good idea to go over there by yourself?”
“I didn’t think anything of it. He’s my boyfriend’s cousin! I was counting on him to do the right thing.” She took a drag. “I hate that a guy and a girl can’t hang out without the expectation of something happening. Like why would it? You’re my boyfriend’s cousin! Men are so gross.”
I realized that she was absolutely right. Why would she think hanging out with the cousin would be anything more than hanging out? Why would she even think or know that the guy was going to be inappropriate?
We stopped at a quaint wine bar and ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir and some almonds to snack on. I told her about how frustrated I was with Brady and his latest antics.
“Working late?” Lola repeated. “The classic excuse. Are you buying that?”
“He’s always worked a lot of crazy hours. In fact, the first night I met him, he was working and it was a Friday night,” I said, feeling kind of defensive of Brady.
“Mmhm, I bet,” she repeated, popping an almond in her mouth. “And let me guess, he’s screwing the blonde bimbo assistant too?”
I told her about Sydney – how she weaseled her way into everything including moving to New York at the same time as us. I told her how I felt the first time I heard Brady talking to her, how affectionate and delighted he sounded.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I have a guy friend at work who I talk to and text all the time. He has a girlfriend and I have a boyfriend and there’s nothing there. I mean, nothing. It’s nice to have someone to complain to, you know? I’d never move across the country with him,” she said.
“I get that. It’s just the way he talks to her. And she’s always invited to everything. She’s just annoying,” I said.
“But if Brady wants to spend time with her, it’s more of an issue with him than her, right? Like, why does he want to hang out with her so much? Knowing you hate her. He’s willing to risk his relationship with you to hang out with her. That’s the issue.”
After we polished off the bottle of wine, Lola suggested a jazz bar a few blocks away. We had a couple of drinks then decided to head home.
When I got home, Brady was sitting on the couch with a beer in silence.
“Oh, you’re home,” I said, looking at the time. 11:30pm.
“I am. Where have you been?” he said.
“Out with Lola. We found a cute wine bar in Brooklyn.” I stepped into the kitchen to find food and saw that there was a white takeout bag in the fridge.
On cue, Brady followed me into the kitchen and said that he’d brought home dinner. Then I felt bad. Obviously, he’d come expecting me to be there so we could have dinner together. I felt like such a bitch for assuming he wasn’t trying and he was.
The next morning, Brady crawled out of bed at 7:30am. He wanted to hit the gym before leaving for Philadelphia.
“Do you want to come with me?” Brady asked, standing at the end of the bed, fully dressed.
“Not really,” I said, but knew I needed to. “But I’ll come. Give me five minutes.”
We walked a few blocks to Equinox and went our separate ways when we got inside. Brady prefers to lift, but I really just need cardio. I want legs that look like Kendall Jenner’s.
We finally hit the road at 11am and arrived at around 1:00pm. Carly answered the door of their cute, new townhouse with Baby Sloane in her arms. Sloane was super cute with her wispy hair and polka dot pajamas and pink glittery binky. I literally screamed when I saw them.
“Oh my gosh, hi!” Carly exclaimed, pulling me into a hug with the baby. They smelled like laundry. “We are so glad you’re here. Hi Brady!”
We all filed inside where Chris was making lunch for us. We sat around the dining table with its Pottery Barn-esque table setting. I demanded to hold Sloane and help her eat.
“Gladly,” Carly said, passing the baby over to me.
Carly and Chris told us all about what’s new with them – Chris recently got a promotion hence why Carly is able to stay home with Sloane. She’s joined a Mommy Meet-Up group to meet people and does yoga-lates every morning at 5:30am before Chris goes to work.
“You should try it, Reese,” she said. “It has helped with my energy level and mood.”
Whatever. I’m not about to wake up at 5:30am to do anything. After lunch, we bundled the baby up and put her in a stroller and then took a walk around their cute new development neighborhood where a bunch of other new couples were also walking around. We ended up at a little restaurant for drinks. Sloane sat on the table kicking her little boots out.
Carly saw how much fun I was having with Sloane and said, “Do you want one?”
“Of course. Not like, right now though. I can take Sloane on the weekends if you want,” I replied.
Carly grinned. “I’d love that actually. As much as I love being with her 24/7, it would be nice to have a break.”
“Do you think you’ll go back to work?” I asked.
She wrinkled her nose. “Eventually, I’m sure. I am happy with the way things are going now. Chris just started his new position and I want to wait until he’s settled into that before doing anything. We are still figuring out our routine.”
There was a pause and then I asked something I was genuinely wondering. “Are you happy?”
If y’all remember, Carly was second guessing things hard before she got married. She even got on Tinder.
“You know, I am. I feel like I settled down and into things really fast, but I’m not mad about it. It’s really fun actually.”
“How?” I had to know. Staying home and talking to a baby all day did not seem fun to me. And she even said it herself; Chris can be really boring.
“Well, it’s nice to know I have a partner for life. I definitely don’t miss wondering if I’m ever going to meet my person and being super insecure.” She looked at me apologetically like she hoped she wasn’t offending me.
“Do you think Chris is your person?” I asked, curious.
“Obviously I do. I wouldn’t have married him if I didn’t.” Carly paused. “Do you think this one is your person?”
I followed her head nod to Brady, who was sitting across the table taking a swig of beer.
“I don’t think I have a person,” I told her.
She looked surprised. “Really?”
“Yeah. Like, I’m my own person. I don’t feel like I need someone else to complete me.” I was actually surprising myself with what I was saying. Maybe it was my defense for what Carly had said previously. But I love myself.
“So you don’t want to get married?” Carly asked.
“I mean, I do of course. I want that. But I’m not like, insecure or anything. I love being with him, but I’m also okay with being alone. I don’t need another person to make me feel whole. I’m enough by myself. Is that bad?” I said.
We were silent and I wondered if I was being a hypocrite. But honestly, I haven’t thought about marriage in forever and I obviously haven’t brought it up to Brady either. I think I felt pressure before – everyone was getting married and I finally found someone who likes me as much as I like them – but now I think I just want to be happy.
That evening, Carly called the babysitter (Chris’s cousin) over to watch Sloane so we could have a night out. Carly and I got ready in her private powder room downstairs, the one Chris let her splurge to customize. It has a crystal chandelier, pastel floral wallpaper and apothecary jars everywhere. Very cute and very Carly.
I put on an olive green jumpsuit, a Sherpa coat and clear mules. Carly and I made festive drinks consisting of vodka, ginger ale and cranberry juice and had finished several of those before leaving for the bar.
When we got into the dark bar, Carly grabbed my hand. “This sounds bad, but it feels nice to get out of the house and I don’t have to worry about my crying baby.”
You know how some moms go out and check their phones constantly because they are worried about their child? Carly is not that mom. Mama was thirsty for a night out. Carly drank like a fish for an hour straight and I struggled to keep up. We’d lost the boys somewhere near the entrance and were loitering near a window. I was shooing guys away, but Carly seemed desperate for male attention. It was just like old times.
“I’m gonna come visit you in the city soon,” she promised. “This is soo fun.”
We talked about Kendra and Preston. Preston was engaged, set a wedding date, pushed the wedding back and is now seeing someone new I believe. I can’t keep up with him. Kendra never replies to my messages, but sends daily pictures of Mia which I love and appreciate.
The next morning, Carly and I woke up in the shabby chic guest bedroom together.
“I hate myself,” she declared.
We peeled ourselves out of bed and took turns showering before brunch. Brady had slept on the couch since Carly and I took over the guest bedroom.
“Why didn’t you just sleep in the bed with Chris?” I asked and they both gave me a look like that was not an option.
Brady still had work to do prior to work Monday so we left to come home right after brunch. I slept in the car the whole way home.
Frank emailed me first thing Monday morning.
“Hi Reese. We’d love to have you stop by the office and present what you came up with to our team. Are you available anytime on Wednesday?”
So I thought about my presentation all morning – what I’d say I was inspired by, how I would bring every element of my design back to the company’s core values. I created a note in my phone of all the bullet points I wanted to cover.
That afternoon, Heidi emailed me.
“Reese, we are thrilled to offer you the manager of product development position you applied for. Please review the attached job offer and let me know what questions you have. I can’t wait to hear from you!”
I felt a one thousand pound weight being lifted off me. Finally. A way out of this hell hole. I opened the attachment and saw the salary (which I was satisfied with) and sign on bonus (which wasn’t much, but was well, a bonus).
I replied letting her know that I was honored and I’d get back to her as soon as I could with a decision. I knew I wanted to probably take it, but I also still had the other interview and I was still very much interested in that job too. I wondered how long I could take “deciding.”
When I got home, Brady was not home as promised. I was so excited to tell him about my offer and the new potential job and I felt like he was the only person I wanted to talk about it with. Maybe he is my person.
When he got home an hour later, I bombarded him with all my news before he could even put his stuff down. He settled on the couch next to me with his laptop bag.
“If you had both job offers in front of you, do you know which one you would take?” he asked me.
“Well, no. I think I’d feel the same way. Both of the jobs excite me, but I feel like I don’t know enough about the second job or company. I definitely have more of a connection with the first company, but the second job is way more intriguing.”
Brady thought on it for a second. “Why don’t you ask them to give you until Friday to make your decision? That way you will have already gone through with the second interview and will have a better idea if you’re even going to like the other company and if they like you.”
Friday seemed like a long time to keep the job offer waiting. I told Brady this.
“If they don’t want to allow you that long to think, then if I were you, I’d accept.”
I waited for him to elaborate, but that was it. He got up and asked what I wanted for dinner.
So that’s where I’m at. I’m super excited for my interview tomorrow, but if I got both offers, I really have no idea what I’d do. The thing that is swaying me most is that I have a good connection with Heidi and working with people you get along with is so important.