Shocker: Brady and I didn’t talk about what he said until a couple days later. He wasn’t going to bring it up again obviously and I needed some time to cool off before confronting him about it.
One night I was giving Winnie a bath — which is our girl time where we gossip and talk about fashion and beauty. And suddenly, even though she was deliberately splashing me, I got really sad thinking that I wouldn’t be able to do it all the time once I move into my own place. She looked so cute with her white blonde hair stuck to her scalp, big innocent (ha) eyes and mischievous smirk. It didn’t even make any sense to be sad because Brady bathes her and puts her to bed sometimes anyway.
So I got her dressed and put her in the bed so I could read her one of the three books she likes before she sleeps. And then I got sad again as I sat there because I’d put so much time decorating and putting her room together (I went for a glam boho style that she’ll be able to grow into) and I wouldn’t even be around to see her enjoy. I know it sounds petty, but that’s where my head was at. So I read Winnie her book (the entire book because at this point she has all three of them memorized and if I don’t read them word for word, she will call me out), said goodnight and then went downstairs to talk to Brady. He’s been getting on my fucking nerves lately to say the least and it was making me crazy and physically ill.
“Hi,” I said once I found him in the kitchen. He looked up at me. “Someone rented that apartment.”
“Okay,” Brady said. “What are you going to do now?”
“I have a few more bookmarked that I want to go look at and I’m sure one of those will work out. It’ll probably just take a few more weeks,” I explained.
Brady looked unaffected. “Okay. Cool.”
And maybe this is weird, but a part of me wanted him to tell me again that he didn’t want me to move out again. I wanted to hear him say it and I wanted to know why he would say that to me. But obviously he’s too much of a pussy wussy to bring it up again so I guess I was going to have to.
“But you don’t want me to move out?”
“I’m not asking you to move out,” he clarified. “But if that’s what you want to do then…”
I rolled my eyes.
“I think it would be easier for everyone if you didn’t,” Brady continued. “Winnie is happy here with both of us. She’s used to it and she has plenty of space…she’s not used to living in the city, not even part time.”
“Part time? Is that what you and your lawyer decided on?” I said snarkily.
“No. We aren’t going to decide on anything without you.”
When he said that I wanted to kill him slightly less.
“I think it’d be weird if I didn’t move out. Winnie is going to pick up on the fact that we don’t ever speak and it’ll just be harder for both of us to like, move on,” I said.
And that’s when Brady seemed to catch my drift and he stared at me for a moment without saying anything. He was super still, so still that I saw his chest rising and falling under his shirt.
“Yeah. I guess you’re right,” he finally said. “Once you figure it out, I’ll let you explain it to her.”
Really? I had to explain it even though Brady was the one who was staying back and forth in the city with no explanation. Whatever.
But honestly, it was the most progress we’d made in a while and I was rather satisfied with our conversation. It’s not like I came right out and told him that I was seeing someone else, but clearly he got the message. And we didn’t yell or argue — I’d move out and there would be no drama.
I was feeling so good in fact that I got my ass up early and went to the office for work on Monday. I even had time to stop and get myself a dirty chai on the way. I was sitting in my office, drinking my tea, bookmarking apartments on StreetEasy and reading through the comments on Brendan’s old Instagram posts (this is one of those things I do make myself miserable because Brendan’s ex-wife always commented on every one of his pictures and it was usual overly sappy or super sexually suggestive in nature) when Mike called.
“Come to my office,” he demanded.
I rolled my eyes. “K. See you in a minute.”
I’m still covering for Paige, I guess, even though I’m pretty sure she’s never coming back. All of her job duties have been absorbed by other people (I knew she wasn’t useful in the first place) and Mike keeps changing her return date, but I’m convinced she’s not returning at all.
Mike wanted to go over the status of our current projects and talk about which ones were behind. He realized that there were construction hold ups on the majority of them and started ranting.
“Why are there so many construction delays? What the fuck is going on at [Brendan’s company]?” he shouted.
“I’m not sure. I know there are a ton of supply chain issues going so maybe that’s why,” I said. Since the pandemic started almost all of our projects have been off schedule so it was weird that Mike was just now getting upset by it.
“I don’t care what the issue is. That’s what they need to figure out. And fix. ASAP. I’m not going to risk my reputation because of their incompetence, I know that much.”
“Right,” I said.
Mike glared at me like this was my fault. “Make sure the message gets back to them and everything gets back on target. There are a lot of contractors in this city so I’m not going to accept this below standard bullshit.”
“Okay, Mike,” I said, suddenly annoyed that I was going to have to relay his message. If Mike is so tough, why can’t he do it himself? And it’s like, duh: he and Brendan are best friends so of course he wants me to do his dirty work.
I had no plans of actually saying anything and didn’t bring it up during any of my conversations with Brendan the next few times I spoke to him. A few days later though, Mike asked for an update.
“We’re working on it,” I told him and later in the day, Sam told me that Mike had her researching different firms to reach out to.
Seriously, Mike? I was so irritated. Mike was the one with the issue so why was I having to deal with this. Eventually, I talked to Thomas about it though (he’s in charge of sales anyway) because I didn’t want to have that awkward conversation with Brendan.
Thomas was like, “Fuck. Do you think Mike would really can us?”
And I said, “Yes.”
Meanwhile, I found another apartment that I liked: a corner unit in a doorman building not far from Central Park. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,300 square feet and only slightly above my budget. It was perfect for me and Winnie. I applied, went and looked at it on my lunch break and signed the lease without telling anyone.
So I officially had an apartment and started ordering things to have delivered there. I had some things I wanted to do before officially moving in and so I was taking my time. After our polite conversation about me moving out, Brady and I started being more cordial and actually speaking to each other in the evenings. I guess we were both just over being mad at each other.
And then on Valentine’s Day, when I brought Winnie downstairs for breakfast there were two bouquets of roses on the island, one a mini version of the other. I was confused at first, wondering where they’d come from (Brendan??) and how they’d gotten in the house. But then I realized they were from Brady. Why? We were barely on speaking terms so why would he get me anything for Valentine’s Day? Winnie was so happy and screamed, “Pretty!” when she saw the flowers though so I told them they were all for her.
I got another bouquet of roses delivered to the office, but these ones were from Brendan. We had plans later (he would be cooking dinner for me at his place), but the flowers were a sweet gesture. In the afternoon though, as I was getting ready to go home to get ready, Brendan sent me a message that said, “We’re still way behind on [major project Mike’s been on our asses about]. Would you be super disappointed if I cancelled tonight?”
And it’s just like, really? On Valentine’s Day? Didn’t he have an entire team that should’ve been taking care of the project while he enjoyed life like a normal CEO? Or maybe the project was fine and he wanted to spend V-Day with someone else (his ex-wife).
“I’m not sure if I’d ever speak to you again,” I said back. I was kind of joking, but mostly serious because I’d already gotten someone to watch Winnie and hello? He should have wanted to spend Valentine’s Day with me.
“Okay. It might be a little later though. I will text you in a bit,” he said. That’s what I fucking thought.
I went home, hung out with my child and then got ready for Brendan to tell me to come over. And then I headed over, let myself in and found Brendan slaving away in the kitchen. He’s so cute.
“It literally smells like Italy in here,” I greeted him (I’ve obviously never been to Italy).
Brendan stopped momentarily to kiss me and point to a glass of wine and then went back to stirring pans and draining pasta noodles. I made him tell me about the project while he finished up dinner and I was relieved that it at least sounded like they were making significant progress. Good. I’d tell Mike.
We took our plates and wine to the table where there was an envelope with my name on it waiting.
“Thanks for making dinner. I didn’t realize you were such a chef,” I said because the plates looked like they could have come out of any five-star restaurant.
Brendan shrugged modestly. “I can whip up a few things. I actually learned this in France. My family took a cooking class.”
The food (and wine) turned out to be really delicious and he told me how much I’d love France (and Italy) and of course the only thing I could think about was how he probably went there with his ex-wife too. Was there any place in the world we could go that they hadn’t already experienced together? Then we talked about his birthday and the birthday dinner his stepmom was having for him over the weekend. I’d finally get to meet his sister (who he is really close with) and some of his friends he grew up with.
And maybe the dinner was going a little bit too well because I decided to blow it up by saying, “Brady got me roses today.”
I think I was still feeling a little bit insecure about him trying to cancel our plans and wanted to throw it in his face.
Brendan stopped chewing. “He did? Why?”
“I don’t know. They were in the kitchen when I woke up. There were some for Winnie too,” I said.
“Oh,” he paused.
“Yeah. I just told her they were all for her, but there was like a mommy and baby version,” I said, making it worse.
“Are you still gonna get your own place?” Brendan asked.
“Yes, of course. I actually signed a lease the other week,” I said.
“You did? But you haven’t moved out?”
“Not yet. I’ve been ordering furniture and stuff though. I just need to go set everything up.”
Brendan was silent for several moments and I could tell that I’d already said too much so I was silent too.
“So am I just wasting my time here?” he finally asked.
“What do you mean? No,” I said.
“I mean, I can’t really compete with that. You guys have history and a baby and live together. And it just sucks because I really, really like you and I’m trying hard…”
“It’s not even like that,” I backtracked. “I think he was just being nice because he’s been so awful to me the past few months.”
“To me it sounds like both of you still have one foot in the door.”
I couldn’t help thinking about the time I got dumped by Chicago Nick because of Brady.
“We don’t. The door is closed and locked. In fact there’s not even a door anymore,” I said, trying to be funny.
Brendan didn’t laugh and rubbed his temple. I was stressing him out, I guess. We cleaned up in silence and then he said, “You can stay over if you want, but I’m gonna head to bed.”
Wait, he was kicking me out? He didn’t wanna hook up? It was Valentine’s Day. Whatever.
“Okay, I’m going home,” I said, hoping he would try to stop me.
I collected all my things and called an Uber and Brendan grabbed my shoulders and kissed me before I left. But on the ride home, I couldn’t help thinking: that was my fault. Why did I even mention the roses? Was I looking for drama? I should’ve just let him stay at work; at least he would’ve been doing something productive.
When I got home, I relieved the sitter (Brady was still not home) and went to bed. I obviously couldn’t sleep as I was crying about Brendan and listening for Brady. This was *actually* all his fault after all, because he had no business getting me roses anyway.
I woke up at five thirty after getting approximately two and a half hours of sleep, cranky and in a terrible mood. Brady hadn’t come home so I decided to take it out on him.
“I’m glad you got laid last night but you could’ve told me you weren’t coming home. I had plans too,” I said.
Brady opened my message, read it and didn’t reply. I don’t blame him because I was obviously being irrational; he stays in the city all the time. I was just mad.
I got Winnie up and ready for the day and then during breakfast Brendan called. I definitely expected to hear from him at some point, but I thought it’d be in the form of a meme like nothing ever happened.
“Oh, hey,” I answered.
“Hey,” he said back.
I said, “What are you doing?”
Brendan said, “About to head downtown to meet Thomas. You?”
“Just having breakfast with Winnie.”
Next to me, Winnie screamed, “Daddy?? Daddy!”
Really? I turned away from her.
“I’m sorry about last night,” Brendan said. “I don’t know why I acted like such a jealous asshole.”
“You don’t have to apologize, Brendan,” I said, feeling like I might cry. He was apologizing to me?
“I feel like I should. I wanted the night to go a lot differently.”
“Same. I’m sorry too then. I don’t know know why I decided to ruin the night.”
And that was it. Is this what a normal functioning relationship is like? You apologize and talk through your issue and move on? And it’s like, I didn’t even want to continue fighting with him even though I was the one who started it. I secretly love(d) fighting with Brady (he makes it so easy), but anytime there’s any kind of friction with Brendan, I’m super upset. Am I getting boring or just maturing?
So anyway, the following Saturday was Brendan’s birthday dinner. We hadn’t seen much of each other during the week and I really fucking missed him. I let Brady know that I’d be gone for the night (bye!) and got dressed in a pink satiny top with my favorite jeans by Agolde and booties then I headed into the city.
Brendan’s stepmom planned the birthday dinner in the basement of a restaurant near Times Square and there were already a dozen people when I got there including Thomas. Oh, this wouldn’t be weird at all. As far as I knew, Thomas didn’t know about us so he was probably wondering what the fuck I was doing there. Oops. I met Brendan’s childhood best friend, Kendall (gorgeous and gives off Michael B. Jordan vibes), and some other guys from their group. Brendan talks about his friends so much that I feel like I know them all so it seemed weird that I was just now meeting them all.
And then he introduced me to his sister, Danielle, who lives in Pennsylvania for school. She’s a tiny, cute, almost rodent-like sorority girl with long brown hair that is in desperate need of layers. For some reason, I had in my mind that me and Brendan’s sister would immediately hit it off and become besties. I don’t know why I assumed that, but when he introduced us, she gave me an icy, “Hello,” and then turned back to the friend she was speaking to. Oookay. Brendan didn’t mention it though and I figured that must just be how she is. Some people are just naturally bitchy and that’s fine.
We sat down for dinner and I was seated across from Kendall who I actually was hitting it off with. He’s super funny and quick-witted and basically said out loud everything I was thinking. Every time my wine glass was getting close to empty, he would yell down the table, “We’re gonna need a refill for Reese.” We were getting along great and Brendan smiled at me from down the table where he was.
Without even meaning to, I noticed that Kendall and Danielle were also paying special attention to each other. It was super subtle, but they were sitting next to each other and across from me and every so often they’d hit each other playfully or make faces at each other. It seemed mostly innocent, almost like siblings, but there was something about the way she looked at him. Fascinating! Did Brendan know? I’d have keep an eye on that. And maybe that’s why I caught her giving me a weird look when I was telling Kendall my life story and then she turned to her friend next to her to whisper something in a really obvious way. And it’s like, you should be nice to me because I can be a good wingwoman.
After dinner, they moved the tables and the DJ started playing so we could dance. And we’d had so much wine and bourbon at dinner that Brendan grabbed my hand and started dancing with me. I was trying to keep it friendly knowing that his family and Thomas were all there. At one point, I headed to the bar and Kendall and Danielle were there waiting for drinks. He had his arm around her (playfully), but removed it when I joined them. 👀
Kendall said something like, “Here comes the dancing queen.”
“Ha. I’m gonna need a stronger drink if I’m gonna keep dancing,” I said and then ordered myself a vodka Red Bull.
Kendall lifted his glass to us before walking away and then Danielle said, “So how do you know Brendan?”
I was surprised that she asked this because I figured he would’ve given her the lowdown on who I was since they’re so close.
“We work together,” I said. “Well, our companies work together.”
“Oh.” She took a sip of her drink and kept standing there. “How long have you worked together?”
Umm, why did that matter? “A few years at this point, I guess.”
“Oh, nice,” she said. “What do you do?”
Since she asked, I gave her a thorough description of my job and company. And then I made her tell me what she does. She mentioned school (I think medical school?) and an internship and her sorority. Since it’s me, I asked a ton of follow up questions and made her tell me literally everything.
And then Danielle said, “So are you and Brendan like, dating?”
Had Brendan told her nothing? Why was she asking me this and not her brother? But maybe there was a reason Brendan hadn’t told her anything.
“Um,” I wasn’t sure if I should tell her everything and blow up his spot or deny it and let him tell her if he wanted to. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, we’re really good friends,” I said.
“Oh. Cool,” she said. “How long have you been ‘really good friends’?”
She was fishing for information obviously, asking about timelines and stuff and then it occurred to me that she’s probably friends with Brendan’s ex-wife. Obviously! He always talks about how close their families are so she and the ex are probably BFFs. They probably share their little tiny outfits with each other. Everything I just told her was clearly going to get back to Brendan’s ex-wife.
“We’ve always been really good friends. So…you and Kendall?” I raised my eyebrows suggestively.
“What? No. Bye,” she said and then finally walked away. They’re definitely gonna bone, if they haven’t already.
Later on, after several more drinks and dancing to remixed versions of every hit from 2008-2012, Brendan pulled me into a corner so we could make out. I pretended to push him away, but he just leaned into me harder.
“I’m obsessed with you,” he said and I giggled.
We were partially hidden by the bar, but I was still aware that everyone was still around us. I saw Thomas approaching the bar and tried to push Brendan away again with my elbows.
“Thomas is going to see us,” I said.
“That’s okay, he already knows,” he said.
“Oh.” I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. What exactly did Thomas know and how long had he known? Who else knew? We hadn’t really discussed it, but shouldn’t we keep our relationship away from people at work? It seems messy to be telling everyone our business. But at least Thomas hadn’t let on that he knew anything so maybe he’ll keep his mouth shut.
“Wanna stay over?” Brendan asked.
And so I did. The next day, I took him to see my new apartment (and get his help taking all my packages in). He’s the only person who even knew about my apartment at that point and promised to help me make it perfect for me and Winnie to move in.