After his dad died, Brady became a huge asshole. Like, even more so than usual. At first, I thought my mom had talked to him even though I begged her not to. I figured she talked to him, he knew about Brendan and he was punishing me for it. But she assured me that she hadn’t said a word because she trusted me to handle the situation on my own. So this was just how he wanted to be.
Basically he was going out of his way to ignore me/saying what he wanted to say to me Winnie in a passive aggressive tone (ex. “I wonder if your mother is ever going to learn where the corkscrew goes”), coming home from “work” clearly stoned and acting like I was crazy when I mentioned it, deliberately being secretive on the phone (and I’d eavesdrop only to find out he was talking to someone about work), bringing home food for just Winnie and himself, and other petty things like that.
And honestly, I didn’t even care. I guess I figured I deserved it, after making out with Brendan in the back of a restaurant. Plus, his dad had just died — and maybe this was the only way he knew how to grieve.
Meanwhile, I was focusing on myself; putting in more effort at work (while keeping things with Brendan strictly professional), taking pilates classes geared toward working moms (eye roll), and spending time catching up with my friends. It helped that Brady was working his usual insane schedule and when he came home with an attitude, I just rolled my eyes and ignored him.
One night though, Brady was in a better mood and chatted with me about a meeting he had at work and the three of us ate dinner together and played all evening. Finally! This is how things were supposed to be. I was apprehensive, but hopeful…maybe we could be a normal family and Winnie could actually have two parents who liked each other.
Later, after the baby was asleep and we were getting ready for bed, Brady came up behind me and grabbed my hip and tried to pull me to him. I immediately jumped away because it had been so long since he’d touched me.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
He looked at me curiously. “What? I can’t touch my girlfriend?”
“I mean, you haven’t in months so I’m not exactly used to it. It’s weird.” And then it occurred to me that he only spent time with me that evening because he wanted to get some. The fucking nerve!
“Yeah? Why do you think it’s weird?” he said.
I started to say something snide back, but then Brady kept going.
“Is it weird because you wish it was Brendan instead?”
I just stared at him. Brendan? Brendan and I weren’t even on that level and I wasn’t even thinking of him like that (that much) so where was Brady getting this from? Had my mom finally opened her big ass mouth?
“What are you talking about?” I finally asked.
“You left your notebook out,” he explained simply.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I keep a little pink Moleskin that I use to write my entire life down: lists, schedules, thoughts, ideas, etc. It’s sort of like a catch all journal and it’s super messy and personal and holds a ton of secrets (possibly even stuff about this blog) and who even fucking knows what I wrote down in there in regards to Brendan? And I almost always left it in or on my bedside table so it’s not like I “left it out.”
“You went through my notebook?” I exclaimed.
“I didn’t know it was secret,” Brady smirked.
“Of course you did!” I screamed. “You knew exactly what you were doing and it’s such an invasion of my privacy. I feel so violated.”
I actually started crying, thinking of Brady sitting there reading my darkest thoughts.
“I didn’t mean to violate you,” Brady said, sounding matter of fact and not at all sincere. “It was just sitting out. And it’s not like you’ve never gone through my things before.”
I guess at least he hadn’t gone through my phone and text messages because if he’d read through the things I was talking to some of my friends about (and Brendan, if he scrolled back far enough), this would have been a much bigger deal.
The next morning, I reluctantly went back through my notebook to see what exactly Brady had seen. And I wanted to punch myself for not only documenting the things I did, but also leaving it out for Brady to see. But he’d never gone through my things before and I didn’t even know it was an issue.
Anyway, we had that big fight and then went back to ignoring each other. I was sure to keep my notebook close at all times and even changed all of my passwords, just in case.
I started talking to Kendra and Carly a lot more. They were both so busy in happy relationships that I didn’t really hear much from them, but with me not talking to Brady or Brendan really, I had time to actually put in effort. One day, I was talking on the phone to Kendra before Brady came home and she mentioned something about Brady contacting a lawyer and had I done so? Did I need recommendations?
“What are you talking about?” I asked, confused. “What did Brady talk to a lawyer about?”
She explained that Brady had consulted his family’s attorney about Winnie and what he could and should do about our current situation and what rights he had. He’d told John everything.
“Kendra!” I exclaimed. “Why are you just now telling me about this?”
“Sorry, I completely forgot until right now,” she said.
“This is a huge deal!” I went on, realizing that Brady was going to use his family connections to try to take the baby away from me. “How can you forget?”
“Well I’m sorry, I guess it’s pregnancy brain,” she snapped back. “I’m pregnant, by the way.”
And this announcement would’ve been a lot more exciting if she hadn’t just dropped a bomb. So I said a quick congratulations before making her go back to everything she knew about Brady and the lawyer. She went over everything again: Brady contacted his family’s lawyer, told them our relationship was most likely ending and what did that mean for our baby? Oh fucking really? Our relationship was ending, but he hadn’t even bothered to talk to me about it. What a coward.
“I think you should talk to a lawyer too,” Kendra said. “If y’all do break up, you’ll hopefully settle something out of court, but I’d talk to someone just in case especially since Brady did.”
When Brady came home that night, I couldn’t even help myself. I screamed at him as soon as he walked through the door. I can’t even remember what I said, I was livid. And to my surprise, he actually stood up for himself and fought back.
“Of course I contacted my lawyer and this is exactly why!” he shouted. “We’re both miserable and if we keep this up, our kid will be too! Stop it! God!”
And even though he was totally right, it hurt to hear that being with me made him miserable.
“You’re so pathetic,” I said and then continued spewing the meanest things I could think of at him. And he just nodded his head like, “Yep, this is exactly what I’m talking about.”
The next morning, Saturday, I woke up with an emotional hangover. Brady was up and in the kitchen feeding Winnie. And lucky for him because I was ready to lay into him again.
We avoided each other as we navigated through breakfast and then Brady said, “I’m going to go into work.”
As if I gave a fuck.
“And then I’m going to stay at my parents’ in the city,” he went on, not making eye contact with me.
“Great,” I said.
“I’ll probably stay for a few days. I’m not exactly sure yet.”
“Of course,” I sneered. “Always running and hiding like a little bitch.”
You would’ve thought the threat of Brady’s family attorney would be enough to make me be a little more pleasant, but instead it made me more indignant.
Brady left and I was happy for space, but upset about everything that had transpired. I felt exactly what Brendan had described about the end of his marriage: things were said and done that cannot be taken back. There was no way Brady and I would come back from this. And as I began speaking to family attorneys, I couldn’t help feeling depressed that this was what my life had come to.
The next few weeks were rough with Brady on and off staying at her parents’ and I could tell Winnie was feeling it. And that made me even more pissed at him. And then one day he asked (super, super nicely) to take her overnight because his mom wanted to see her and wanted to take her shopping and etc. And this sent me into sort of a tailspin because I couldn’t say no — I couldn’t keep Winnie away from her daddy, she wanted to see him — and I felt guilty that we couldn’t get along and that the baby would be alone with Brady and his mother and I couldn’t protect her and who knows what Brady had told his mom and she was probably going to talk shit about me and my family and Brady for sure would not stop her. I could not believe this was happening.
So I agreed and Brady let me know they’d be back in two days. I tried not to read too much into it, thinking by “we’ll be back” he meant he was coming home and we’d be a family again, especially because I was so angry at him.
That same day, I went into the office because there was no way I could stay in the house alone. I needed to throw myself into work so I didn’t self-destruct. And since I hadn’t been in the office in a few weeks, everyone was all over me and wanting to chat, including Mike and Paige. And the distractions were welcome.
Toward the end of the day, Mike stopped by my office.
“We are going for drinks. Would you like to come?” he asked.
“Yes.” 100% I was going. I hadn’t been out for “drinks” in ages and Brendan would most likely be there — Mike always invites him out. Brendan would be the perfect distraction.
So Mike, Paige, Sam and I walked a few blocks to a small, dark cocktail bar and tapas place. And sure enough, Brendan, Thomas, and two of their associates, Aaron and Yesenia, were in a booth waiting for us. We all greeted each other and Brendan gave me a really nice, warm hug and I was suddenly so happy to be there. But as I said, things have been nothing but professional and platonic with Brendan so we all sat and chatted and drank wine. Paige, who is annoying, dominated the conversation and told stories about her husband and all the vacations she wishes they were taking. And me, I was uncharacteristically quiet, to the point where Brendan was asking me questions to try to get me involved in the conversation, sort of like he did when we first met.
Eventually though, I needed a break so I made Paige let me out of the booth so I could get up. I headed to the restroom and checked my phone, for some reason hoping to hear from Brady and Winnie. But nope, just Kendra.
“What did your lawyer say?” she asked. I’d talked to her earlier about Brady taking the baby for a few days and she told me that I should talk to the lawyer about it. Which, of course, I hadn’t because I hadn’t even hired a lawyer yet. So that completely shattered my mood and I thought maybe I should take my ass home and try to find a lawyer instead of being out drinking.
I walked out of the bathroom and Brendan was in the little, dark corridor, seemingly waiting for me.
“Hey,” he said. “You okay? You seem upset.”
I nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
I tried to push past him, but he put his hands on my shoulders to stop me. “You’re not. What’s going on? Talk to me.”
I was already on the verge of tears and I was dangerously close to breaking down with him in my face like that. And if it was anyone else, his persistence would have annoyed me, but it was Brendan and I knew he genuinely just wanted to be there for me.
“It’s fine. Just…drama. I don’t really want to get into it,” I said.
“Okay…” he let me go and stepped back a bit. “How have you been otherwise?”
“Not great,” I mumbled and that’s when I burst into tears. Ugh. I should have never agreed to drinks, knowing the state I was in.
Brendan laced his hand in mine and guided us to the leather bench against the wall. And so we just sat there sitting on the bench holding hands. I felt so ridiculous for crying, but once I started I couldn’t stop. Eventually I sniffled up enough snot to choke out what was going on. I didn’t go into detail, but let him know about the lawyer stuff.
“Damn,” Brendan said. He was still clutching my hand. “I’m sorry you’re going through this.”
“It’s okay, I just feel bad for Winnie. She’s going to be so confused and traumatized. She probably already is,” I said and the thought made a fresh wave of tears begin.
We sat there for a few minutes not saying anything and then Brendan spoke up.
“My parents split when I was really young. But before they did, they fought all the time and it was really, really bad. It’s hard for me to remember a night when my mom wasn’t screaming at my dad or threatening him with a kitchen knife. And she would drag us into it, telling me and my sister to come listen and take sides.” He reached up to scratch his face with our hands still conjoined. “The police had to come a few times and… I’ve always sort of resented her for it.”
And while I’ve never threatened Brady with a sharp object and I always try to make sure Winnie is not around when I yell at him, I wondered, is that me? Was I literally traumatizing my baby? She’s very perceptive and smart for her age. She probably knew exactly what was happening.
“So I think, even though it sucks now, if the two of you are fighting and don’t get along, this might be the best decision. I know it’s a tough position to be in.”
“I just never thought I’d be in this position. I always thought I’d find a husband and we would have babies and be married forever,” I admitted. “So I guess this is my own fault. I tried to force it and Brady has always been like this. It’s not like he changed. It was never going to work out the way I wanted.”
“That’s okay. You’re supposed to have faith in the person you love…” He went silent and I wondered if he was speaking from experience on this too — he had faith in the relationship with his wife too, knowing it was never going to work out.
“He went through my planner and saw all the stuff I wrote about you and wasn’t happy about that,” I blurted out.
Brendan hesitated and I knew he was wondering if he should ask me to elaborate. Then he asked, “What did you write about me?”
“Just…” I shouldn’t have brought it up. It was honestly really embarrassing. “I don’t know, just stuff. Getting way too excited to have lunch with you, I guess.”
From the corner of my eye, I saw Brendan smile and he squeezed my hand in his.
“You know, I’m still available for lunch anytime you want,” he said.
I smiled too. “Good because I’m going to need an old-fashioned lunch date soon.”
For some reason, after my pep talk with Brendan, I felt so much better — like the world wasn’t actually ending. Which is crazy because even my mom, a therapist, could never make me feel better. When Brady and Winnie came back, I was super happy to see them — both of them — and had them tell me about what they’d done. And my good mood put Brady in a better mood and we actually had a somewhat pleasant conversation. I wasn’t going to fight with him and coparenting didn’t need to be hard. We could handle it like adults.
So when he packed up his things the next day for another stint at his parents’ in the city, I let him know that it was unnecessary; our house is big enough for all of us and we wouldn’t get in each other’s way. And he got all squirrelly after that, mumbling something about being closer to work.
When I told Kendra about it, she said, “It might be something his attorney suggested. To try and separate himself if he’s going to try to get custody or something.”
And while this idea was frightening, I had another theory in mind. I figured he was seeing someone. It made sense — why would he willingly stay in the city, away from his baby, unless he had to? He had a girlfriend and she lived in the city. And maybe he wasn’t even staying at his parents and was staying with her. Maybe they’d been dating each other for a while and that’s why Brady was being an asshole. Maybe it was fucking Sydney. That was completely fine with me, to be honest. Brady could have a new girlfriend as long as she was nowhere near my child.
Meanwhile, I was obsessed with Brendan again. He texted me a few times to check in after drinks (he’s so fucking nice) and I wanted to cash in on that lunch date, but I was still kinda embarrassed about opening up. So I didn’t push it. We just exchanged a few texts and memes here and there.
One day though, Brendan texted me. “I’m in your neck of the woods. Wanna grab lunch?”
And clearly, he’d done some research (Reese style) and it wasn’t a coincidence that he was in my “neck of the woods” on the one day I was in the office.
“Yes.” And I immediately closed down my computer so I could get ready to meet him.
We sat down and he was polite and friendly, but way too apprehensive and formal — I was ready for things to go back to the way it was before I retreated when Brady’s dad died.
So I blurted out, “I think Brady has a girlfriend.”
Brendan looked taken aback. “Really? Why do you think that?”
I explained the whole staying in the city situation and how awkward Brady had been about it.
“I didn’t realize you’d broken up,” Brendan said.
“I mean.” I shrugged, rolling my eyes. “I guess neither of us said it, but the relationship has been over for months. We both know it.”
“Wow,” he said, still looking shocked. “Well, how do you feel about that?”
“Fine, I suppose. I don’t really feel anything. I guess if I can’t make him happy, he should find someone who does.”
“I feel like this is maybe something you should actually talk to him about. You mentioned the two of you aren’t good at communicating, but the end of a relationship seems like a pretty important thing to discuss,” Brendan said.
I waved him off, knowing he was right and wishing I hadn’t brought it up. Actions speak louder than words. Clearly the relationship was over. “I know. We will…eventually.”
“Are you really okay with him possibly having a girlfriend?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Why? Would you not be okay with your ex seeing someone new?”
“I mean, I don’t know. I would be surprised that she would be ready to move on,” Brendan said.
“Just…because of things she’s said.”
Recently? I wanted to ask. Were they still speaking? If they were, why did that make me feel a certain way? I had no right to feel anything.
So I changed the subject. This was not the silly, lighthearted lunch I was looking for. We didn’t talk about Brady or his ex-wife the rest of the lunch and went back to our usual banter.
Later that night, he texted me to explain himself. Their divorce wasn’t quite final yet, and she would not move on yet — because it would look bad and she’s all about optics. And so I asked if he was ready to move on.
“For the right person, yes,” Brendan said back.
I didn’t reply because I didn’t want to think about the right person being anyone other than me.
The next few weeks, things ramped up. We’d talk and text all night, go to lunch and flirt incessantly, take our Peloton classes and exchange pictures afterward. We went to lunch so often that Paige, who is hardly even in the office, noticed and commented on it. And that should have been a sign to stop, but instead I worked harder to be discrete about it.
And Brady, he was still staying back and forth in the city during the week which was completely fine, and I even started helping him pack his little weekender bag. He’d spend the weekends with us and we were cordial and friendly and it was fine. We were mature coparents. We fell into a bit of a routine and occasionally he would take Winnie overnight so she could spend time with his mother. And I was okay with that — it’s not like his mom would be around forever and I wanted Winnie to get to spend at least a little bit of time with her grandmother. Grandparents are the best.
On one of those nights, I sat around alone, texting with Brendan, doing a little bit of work and sipping wine. Our conversations were always really flirty and like…hypothetical. Like we’d talk about things we wanted to do, knowing we would never actually do them. He’d just figured out how to light his fireplace so come over to snuggle and watch a movie? Definitely! Not today, but one day…
But then he texted me, “Do you wanna come over?”
And it was 10PM on a Thursday night so no, I should stay home and behave. But before I could stop myself, before even asking any questions, I said, “Yeah.”
He got my address and ordered an Uber for me and I hopped in the shower to freshen up and then slathered myself in Brazilian Bum Bum Cream by Sol de Janiero. Was this a booty call? I thought as I got dressed in baggy jeans inspired by Emily Ratajkowski and a tight tank top with no bra. Had I just made a “dick appointment?” It was clear what was going to go down. But at no point, not while getting ready or during the 38 minute Uber ride, did I stop and think, “Maybe I shouldn’t do this.” I was doing this.
**Hi, sorry to leave another cliff hanger. I know I said last time that I would only need one more post to catch you up, but I took a longer break than intended and I don’t want this post to get too long. This already took a lot out of me. I’ll try my hardest to get the finale up later this week. xo