Obviously I couldn’t tell anyone where I was going or who I was going with so I made up a fake bachelorette party for one of my friends from college. My mom understood when I told her that the plans were made months ago and agreed to stay in case Brady had plans or something. I felt bad about lying, obviously, but what else was I supposed to do?
On the night before I left, Brady and I were in the kitchen together. I didn’t plan on saying anything to him (nothing to say), but then he said, “Excited for your trip?”
“Yup,” I said back automatically.
“Well, don’t do anything stupid.”
Excuse me? “Like what?”
Brady shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Like get black out drunk and do drugs and fight with people like you do with Hunter?”
He shook his head, laughing as he walked out of the kitchen. The audacity of him to tell me not to do anything stupid. I don’t do stupid stuff on vacation, that’s him!
Anyway, when Brendan and I met up at the airport, he was so, so sweet and excited to see me. And I really needed that because I’d been anxious all morning thinking about leaving my child and what Brady said (what the fuck did he mean by that?). Plus, Brendan and I have never really been able to be affectionate in public (we’re always at the office or near the office) so it was nice to have him grab me and kiss me in front of the entire airport.
Spoiler: Brendan booked us first class tickets to the Bahamas and after boarding our flight and getting champagne, he was all over me and couldn’t stop touching me. So maybe he felt the same way about the whole PDA thing. I made him tell me about New Year’s Eve (since he stopped texting me around 8:30pm and I spent the rest of the night spiraling, thinking he was with his ex-wife. He has always been absolutely crazy about her so now I’m just waiting for him to ditch me because she wants him back). He told me about the party his parents hosted and how they played drinking games and played on a VR machine (?) with his sister. So wholesome.
And then he asked all innocently, “Did you end up doing anything fun?”
Fun? “Literally no. I drank a bottle of champagne by myself and passed out at ten.”
“Aww, that’s cute,” Brendan said, squeezing me. Imagine thinking my antics are cute.
I complained to him about my mom and how annoying she was being (taking up for Brady and taking his side about absolutely everything, making inappropriate comments that made me and Brady glare at each other, in general just being extra as fuck) and he said, “It must be nice having her support though.”
So naturally I felt bad about being ungrateful (my mom was the reason I was even able to go on the trip) especially since I know he does not speak to his mother. So I pivoted and started complaining about Brady instead which I’m sure Brendan wanted to hear about even less.
He asked, “Are you still thinking of getting your own place in the city?”
“Yes. The moment I get back,” I said.
“Okay. Let me know if I can help at all.”
“Oh, yeah. Any help would be appreciated.” One of the things holding me back from moving is how intimidating real estate in NYC is. Brady has always handled that kind of thing.
“I don’t know what your budget is, but one of our family friends is renting his place out. He just took it off the market, but they’re living in Florida at the moment. It’s like three or so bedrooms, I think. Midtown East area. So as long as you don’t mind being my neighbor…”
And I knew by what he described the place would be completely out of my little budget, but the thought was cute and I appreciated him. And okay, being his neighbor would be great too.
So anyway, we landed and headed in a car to the resort. It wasn’t until I stepped into the 80 degree sunshine and saw the bright blue beach that I realized how much I needed this vacation. So I was ready to turn the fuck up. Brendan checked us in and we headed up to our suite which overlooked the pool area and the ocean. He explained that we could get changed and go to the pool where we could get food if I wanted it and drinks (I’d been talking about needing a cocktail the whole plane ride).
And it all just seemed really familiar to him so I finally just asked, “Have you been here before?”
“A few years ago—”
And I pounced like the psychopath that I am. “With your ex?”
Brendan, who was already opening his little carryon to change (I brought my entire wardrobe in a checked bag) turned and looked at me.
“If so, it’s not a big deal…it’s just a little weird that you would bring me here if you came here with her,” I said.
“Yeah. We came for my parents’ anniversary. My whole family was here…hers too,” he explained.
“How interesting,” I said sarcastically.
Brendan flopped back on the bed (body!😍) and held out his arms. “Come here. Why are you trying to fight with me already?”
“I’m not. I’ve just been thinking about it and I feel like there are so many places in the world we could have gone to that you haven’t been with your ex-wife,” I said. I knew I was being slightly irrational, but I feel like I can be pretty honest with Brendan no matter how ridiculous it might be.
He grabbed my wrist and made me lay back on the bed next to him. “I’m sorry. That didn’t even cross my mind. The only thing I thought about was how much I knew you’d love it here. I hope you do.”
And…okay. Can’t argue with that. I guess I could get over it. So we changed into bathing suits — I overhauled my entire collection because I feel weird about having my ass and titties on full display these days — and headed downstairs where a pool party was apparently in full swing. There was a DJ and lots of hot people in fabulous clothing who were drinking colorful drinks and twerking. It was like college spring break. And I don’t usually participate in such activities at my ripe old age, but this was vacation. We found loungers and ordered fruity frozen cocktails immediately.
“Okay maybe you were right,” I said as I laid back and took my first sip of alcohol. “Maybe I do love it here.”
So we downed our first few drinks as the party started getting bigger around us. All the girls were like 21 and hot with tiny Kylie Jenner bikinis and posing with their legs wide open for Instagram (I cannot understand this). I kept watching Brendan in hopes of catching him checking one of them out (I will always be authentically me) and he laughed because I was being obvious.
“Stop,” he said.
“You stop,” I said back. “If you want to watch these little girls post pictures of their uterus then just do it.”
Brendan rolled over and pulled me and my lounger toward him so he could put his hands on my knees. “I don’t. You know I only want to watch you.”
“Well, the only thing you’re going to see is me laying on my fat ass getting drunk.” I took a big gulp of my drink.
“I’m definitely cool with that,” he said.
We ordered shrimp tacos for lunch along with a margarita pitcher because that seemed more economical (plus it would be easier for the staff to keep up). At this point we were both loosened up and in vacation mode and flirty and Brendan, in the midst of complimenting me, said something like, “I always thought your boobs were fake.”
“Ughhh,” I scoffed, rolling my eyes. I wasn’t actually offended, obviously, and secretly loved that Brendan had thoughts about my boobs.
“But I know they’re not now. At least I don’t think so. They don’t feel fake,” he continued and I just wanted to punch him because he’s so effing cute.
“Shut up, Brendan,” I said.
“Shutting the fuck up,” he laughed.
“Ugh, I love you,” I sighed playfully and immediately wanted to die. Yes, I was a little bit drunk but not that drunk.
Brendan smiled and opened his mouth to reply to that, but I cut him off.
“Okay, me and my fake boobs are gonna find us more to drink,” I said, standing up and luckily we’d finished the majority of our pitcher so it was a valid excuse. I definitely needed more liquor after telling him I fucking love him. Who does that?
So maybe that’s why I drank so much. It was vacation so of course I was going to drink more than usual, but I drank a lot. I kept going back to the swim-up pool bar (despite having a pitcher in our little cabana area) and ordering fruity drinks and offering motherly advice to the little twenty somethings in their bikinis. Eventually they talked me into dancing (oh God) and I have vague memories of grinding on some other girl in front of where the DJ was playing. Then after hanging out with my new friends, I’d retreat to where Brendan was still sitting and waiting.
“I’m glad you’re having fun,” he said and I sat there and gushed about how appreciative I was that he invited me. Then I dragged him over and made him dance with us. And then I’d whisper to my new friends, “Isn’t he so cute?” and they’d be like, “Oh my gawddd, yes girl, sooo cute!” They probably thought he was some random Tinder date!
The day turned into a bit of a blur. I remember the place thinning out and the sun setting and Brendan mentioning dinner plans. And then I vaguely remember throwing up in some hedges/flowers on the way back to our room and Brendan holding me upright and trying to keep my hair out of my face at the same time.
So that’s how the first day of our vacation went. I guess it’s one thing to drink and act a fool, but who pukes everywhere? Even the twenty year olds didn’t puke. Clearly I’m getting too old for this. And I got all mad at Brady for telling me not to do anything stupid, but what’s the first thing I did? Something stupid. I hate myself.
When I woke up, the room was spinning and I could feel Brendan spooning me which normally I wouldn’t mind, but I was sticky and smelly and gross from the festivities the day before. So I peeled myself off and Brendan grabbed onto me tighter.
“I need a shower or fifty,” I croaked.
“Okay. How you feeling?” he asked as he let me go.
I got out of bed (completely naked, of course) and headed to the bathroom, stepping over my clothes and toiletries and other bullshit everywhere. It appeared that someone (spoiler: me) had ordered room service and there was a barely touched plate of fries and a burger sitting on the nightstand.
“I feel exactly how this room looks,” I said and Brendan laughed.
It took two glasses of water and a forty minute shower to bring me back to life. I poked my head out and let Brendan know that he could shower while I finished getting ready. And then I watched him as he got up and walked toward me to gauge how he felt. Did he still think I was cute?
“Uhh, sorry about yesterday. I didn’t mean to ruin the day,” I said.
“You’re good. The day wasn’t ruined…just dinner,” Brendan said, laughing.
And I was relieved that he could at least laugh about it. Brendan is super laidback, but I just never know when I’ll take it too far.
“And thanks for holding my hair back while I threw up. There was still a ton of puke in it,” I said, trying to make a joke out of it.
“Yeah, I tried my best, but I was kinda grossed out,” he said and started like really laughing, so hard he could barely get the rest out. “There were big chunks of shrimp coming up.”
I groaned and tried to storm out, but he pinned me against the sink.
“It’s fine though, I don’t mind. I mean, the flowers probably aren’t fine…” He started laughing hard again.
“Ugh, I literally hate you,” I said as I tried to push him away.
“That’s not what you said yesterday,” Brendan teased. Of course, he wasn’t going to let me live that down either.
“Okay, well get ready so we can get food. I’m starving,” I said to change the subject.
Back in the room, I saw that Brendan had cleaned up most of my disaster, bless him. I got dressed in a bodysuit, jorts by Agolde and rose gold Birkenstocks that I bought to walk the dog (🥺). So then we headed down to one of the restaurants at the resort and had brunch (sadly no mimosas for me). We didn’t bring up anymore stories about the day before, thank God, because I didn’t need to relive that again. And I was glad that we’d be spending the day in town and on the beach and not going back to that cursed ass pool party.
So yeah, day two was far less problematic. I was coherent enough to check in with my mom and Winnie (I even admitted to my mom how I trashed I was the day before because what else do you do at a “bachelorette party”?). I didn’t even have my first drink until wine at dinner.
And by then I was feeling so good and comfortable with Brendan that I was starting to think we were actually in a relationship and I could see our future. It could really work out. We spent the day doing barely anything after my shitshow performance and it was still one of the best weekends literally ever. We could do this whenever Winnie was spending a weekend with Brady (we’d have a custody agreement figured out) and she’d love her new, fun stepdaddy. There wouldn’t be enough room for me and Winnie at his current apartment, but what about that three bedroom he was telling me about? Or maybe we could buy something together? I’m expecting a bonus this year so I could contribute.
But I needed to calm the fuck down. Was his divorce even final? And I still had so much to figure out with Brady and Winnie. Plus, there’s the whole fact that we work together. Mike couldn’t ever know we’re seeing each other, went on vacation together and definitely couldn’t know if we moved in together. So we’d have to figure that out too.
We headed back to the room hand in hand and I was excited to seal the deal with my man (we hadn’t had sex the whole trip!), but we ran into a group of the 21 year olds from the pool. They were all dressed in psychedelic printed mini dresses (ugly) and let us know that they were going to the rooftop nightclub to dance and we must come. I didn’t particularly want to, but they all looked at me expectantly — including Brendan — and it was the last night of vacation so why not? We’d just go have a drink or two then go back and have sex.
To no one’s surprise, we didn’t just stay for a drink or two. We were up on the roof drinking and dancing until three AM. My feet were about to fall off since I don’t wear heels often anymore, let alone dance in them plus we were drenched in sweat and drunk. We said goodbye to the girls and then Brendan gave me a ride back to the room on his back (did I mention how much I love him?). And by the time we got back to the room we were too tired to do anything except sleep.
And so the next morning, we slept in and stayed in bed and had sex until we needed to leave for the airport. Weirdly, Mike called Brendan while we were in bed (he didn’t pick up), but how awkward and who does Mike think he is bothering him on a Sunday? He probably thinks Brendan has nothing better to do than talk to him.
I was ready to go home and see Winnie, but I was so not ready to leave vacation with Brendan. I had such a good time and I was dreading going back to my awkward house and having to avoid Brendan and sneak to see him every two weeks. I wanted to spend every second with him.
When I got home, everyone was there and my mom whipped up dinner. I made a big deal about them telling me everything they did while being vague about my weekend. Brady offered to put Winnie to sleep and me and my mom cleaned up the kitchen. Then I poured us wine and we took them to the dining room where I planned on clearing my work emails.
Before I could even open my laptop, my mom said, “So tell me about Brendan.”
I tried to hide the visceral reaction his name caused me. “What about him?”
“I’m not sure. Is there anything to tell?” she said. “You said you were messaging with him a lot. Did anything come of that?”
It was obvious she was fishing — Brady probably told her about reading through my notebook and sent her to get more information. They were probably working together. I should have never left them alone for the weekend.
“No,” I lied. “Why?”
“Oh, I was just wondering,” she lied as well. “Is everything okay with you and Brady then?”
“You know it’s not. Why? What did he say?”
My mom, who is an expert at manipulating situations, pretended to backtrack. “He didn’t say anything. I just got the feeling that things weren’t okay. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“He called his family’s attorney and asked them how he could get custody of Winnie so if you could help me with that, that’d be great,” I said, deadpan.
My mom seemed to be genuinely shocked. “That’s terrible! Why would he do that?”
“Because he’s too afraid to tell me he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me anymore. In fact, I found that out because of the lawyer.”
“Oh, Reese,” my mom said sympathetically. “I’m going to talk to him about it.”
“I don’t want you to talk to him about it,” I told her. “I just want to get out of this situation and move on.”
“You don’t want me to talk to him?” she repeated like this was completely crazy.
“No. He does stuff like this and then it’s up to me to fix it. He made it clear how he feels so I just want to find my own place and move out of here.”
“Oh, Reese,” my mom said, looking skeptical. “I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do.”
“What do you think I should do then?” I asked.
“I think you need to see a counselor together,” she said, matter-of-factly. “These issues are capable of being fixed.”
“Yeah, well he refuses to talk to anyone and he has personal stuff he needs to work out on his own anyway,” I let her know. “And I can’t help him with that. So I’m gonna move out — probably to an apartment in the city — and we can each have Winnie every other week. It’s fine.”
My mom continued looking skeptical, but luckily dropped the subject. I should’ve known she was still going to talk to him despite my wishes and she brought it up as I was taking her to the airport the following evening. She told me how broken she thinks Brady is, how he doesn’t know how to express himself, but he has some feelings I should know about. She was being so cryptic.
“What are you trying to say, Mom?” I sighed. “He won’t open up to me and I’m not a professional like you. I tried to take him to therapy and it blew up in my face.”
“I’m saying be patient with him. He tries his best with his feelings, but it’s very hard for him. Very hard, Reese. I’m just starting to make some progress,” she said.
Be patient? How long has it been? Nearly eight fucking years of trying to get him to open up? I can’t possibly be more patient. My mom tried to give me some more words of encouragement and advice, but the moment I dropped her off, all I could think about was Brendan.
I was listening to the songs he played during our vacation (fun fact: I wouldn’t have had a clue who Rihanna was pregnant by, but Brendan listened to a lot of A$AP Rocky while we were getting ready) and trying to count my macros (Brendan is the kind of person who counts his macros and if I’m honest with myself, I have no idea what it even means). My mom kept checking in to see if there was any progress and I would send her apartment listings on Zillow.
I was sort of dragging my feet on the whole finding my own place thing, but when Brady came home everyday and completely ignored me (walk past me without even making eye contact) I knew I had to do something. There was a listing I loved; a gorgeous two bed/two bath high rise on the west side (not totally where I wanted to be, but would work). It was slightly out of my budget range (as was everything), but I’d already asked my dad for help so we filled out the rental application before I’d even seen it in person. I still had some places bookmarked and planned on seeing the place I applied for in person over the weekend.
Spoiler: I didn’t end up getting to see the place and was snowed in with Winnie and Brady all weekend. Brady mostly did work while I played with the baby, did laundry, and talked to Brendan. He ignored me literally all day until Saturday night after the baby was asleep.
“Hey,” he said.
Oh, so I wasn’t invisible? He could see me?
“Hi,” I said back.
He’d cornered me in the bedroom and there was nowhere to escape.
“Your dad said you found an apartment?” Brady said.
Really, Dad? I guess my meddling mother wasn’t enough. I made a mental note to yell at him about it later.
“Yeah, maybe,” I confirmed casually. “It’ll probably be a piece of shit though so I’m keeping my options open.”
Brady paused for a moment before saying, “I don’t want you to move out. I don’t think Winnie wants that either.”
What? That’s when I lost it and burst into tears, collapsing on the bed and full-on sobbing. Seriously? No, but honestly? Was he joking? He’s known for months and months that I’ve been looking to move out so why now, when I actually had somewhat of a plan in motion, did he think it was a good idea to tell me he didn’t want me to?
“Reese?” Brady said.
“You’re crazy,” I told him between sobs.
When I didn’t say anything and was sitting there practically hyperventilating, Brady grabbed my wrists to pull my hands off my face. “Reese.”
“Don’t touch me,” I said.
“Why are you upset? I said I don’t want you to move out,” he said because he is the most clueless person ever.
“Because you’re crazy and you’re making me crazy,” I told him and then I locked myself in the bathroom to cry some more, so much that I made myself throw up. I couldn’t fucking wait to talk to my mom about this. But she probably already knew because she probably put him up to it.