I tried not to take Margot’s comment personally, but obviously that’s exactly what I did. If I didn’t have a child and so much baggage, Margot probably wouldn’t care about Brendan getting into another relationship. And why was it suddenly an issue? I’d celebrated holidays and birthdays with them and gone on family trips with them and they welcomed me with open arms and now suddenly it wasn’t a good time for Brendan to get into anything serious? A bit late for that, Margot!
Despite all that, I was still going to Maine with Brendan and his uncle. I felt uneasy about the whole thing — like maybe I shouldn’t go after what Margot said. But she wasn’t going so I guess it wouldn’t be an issue.
We took Brendan’s uncle’s small plane all the way to Maine and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that I’m not a fan of small planes. Especially now that I have a daughter to live for. It was so claustrophobic and loud and it didn’t help that Brendan’s uncle, who has been bourbon drunk on every occasion I’ve met him, was driving the plane.
“Is this…safe?” I asked as I peeked uneasily out the window.
“Yeah, why wouldn’t it be?” Brendan said.
“I don’t know…what if your uncle suddenly just dropped dead?”
He smirked. “You don’t think I could land this thing myself?”
No idea, but I totally trust whatever Brendan says. Anyway, I guess I don’t need to confirm that even though the plane and driver were a bit dicey, we were fine. Vacation time!
We didn’t really have any plans except Brendan and his uncle would be doing an early morning fishing session the next day, so we grabbed food and headed to the shabby beach cabin. This place was a lot more rustic and lived in than their other family vacation house. Like, Brendan’s bedroom actually had pictures up and memorabilia and personal belongings everywhere. It was so cute!
So we sat down in the kitchen and ate our sandwiches while Brendan’s uncle talked shit about his wife. I love hearing about other people’s relationship drama so I was invested and sat there hanging on to every last word. And then I couldn’t even help myself — I started asking questions and giving a ton of unsolicited advice even though I’m the last person who should be doing so. Oh well.
Later on, when it got dark, we sat outside on the back porch drinking wine while I told them graphically detailed true crime stories.
“…and they said she was practically decapitated and her brains and tissue were everywhere,” I was saying.
“Ugh, Reese, please. You can stop now,” Brendan said.
His uncle chuckled and I sat there, satisfied with my spooky story.
The next morning, Brendan woke me up just as the sun was coming up. He was leaving to go fishing.
“I’ll be back before you even wake up,” he said, kissing me. “Love you.” (🥺🥺🥺)
“Bye!” I said and rolled over to go back to sleep.
But then, after laying there for approximately three minutes trying to fall back asleep, I shot up in the bed. There was so much stuff in the bedroom and I had the sudden, insatiable urge to go through it all. Not Brendan’s little backpack with his work stuff (that would be an invasion of privacy) but everything else was fair game. I flicked on the bedside table lamp and started going through the drawers of the big, old school desk. They were filled with a bunch of bullshit like batteries and old phone cords and books. I was pleased to find a framed picture of Brendan and his ex-wife at the bottom of one of the drawers. Judging by their outfits and her eyebrows, I gathered that it was taken when they were at high school prom. Tragic. She’s honestly very cute, but with her blonde hair and blonde eyebrows, super far apart eyes and big black eyelashes, it was giving Sid from Ice Age. After dissecting the picture for ten minutes, I put everything back and headed to the closet. There I found a big, black safe (a gun safe which I don’t love), coats, sticks used for some sport, another framed wedding photo and a box of condoms shoved in the back. Such a safe king.
Later in the morning, Brendan and his uncle came back and they looked at me like I was supposed to entertain them. I couldn’t help them unless they were looking for another disturbing story.
Brendan suggested a hike after lunch because there were so many things he wanted to show me, but I was like, “No, this is sunbathing weather.” It’s like he doesn’t know me at all. So I changed into an olive green two-piece, grabbed a beach towel, and headed down to the little private dock. It all reminded me a bit of Ozark where everything has a blue/green tint to it. But slightly more chic. I spread my towel out and got comfortable.
A few minutes later, Brendan joined me. He didn’t bother changing into his bathing suit and his hair was pushed back with a headband — he’d grown his hair out a bit which he calls his “summer hair” and I hated it until I realized how much he loves it.
He whistled as he stood over me. “You’re smokin.”
“Thanks, now take off your shirt and join me,” I said.
Brendan peeled his shirt off and got on my towel with me and soon, we were making out. The dock was loosely surrounded by trees so it was fairly private and this was about as nature-y as I was going to get. Brendan hiked my triangle bikini top up so my boob flopped out (anyone with tits knows how unflattering this angle is) and it was very scandalous, laying there exposed while Brendan kissed me all over my body. Like I said, the dock was pretty secluded, but what if Drunk-Pilot-Uncle came out? Not my issue. So I laid there soaking up the sun while Brendan felt me up and kissed all over my body and I was thinking, “This is the life I deserve.” And I really thought we were gonna do the deed right there on the dock, but then Brendan pulled away from my squirming body and pulled the top back over my boob.
“Ugh, keep doing that,” I groaned.
“Later,” he said with a grin.
In the meantime, Brady and I were on speaking terms again. After I went through his messages (hello, 2014) and confronted him about Anna, he ignored me for a week or so and then started being cordial again like nothing happened. And while I was in Maine, he sent me a message that said, “Are you with Brendan?”
Um, excuse me? I was, in fact, with Brendan! I figured he was being silly and cheeky (since I’d asked him questions about hanging out with Anna like it’s any of my business) so I ignored him and thought nothing of it.
But then I noticed every time we talked he brought up stuff that he shouldn’t know, like he’s been spying on me.
“Have you ever shopped at the store Mejuri?” he texted me.
Was it a coincidence that I was just looking at Mejuri.com the night before and the tab was probably still open on my phone? Maybe.
“Yeah. Why? Gonna buy something for aNnA?” I said.
“Nope. Just wondering. I saw an ad and it seems like something you’d like,” he said back.
Weird. Another day, I dropped Winnie off and was asking about what they had planned to do and eat. And Brady said, verbatim, the name of a recipe I’d pinned on Pinterest a few days earlier. Also weird. He brought up search terms I’d used on Zillow (sometimes I like to look up vacation homes and Brady said something like, “When you move into your cottage…”) and a restaurant I’d gone to for a client lunch. It freaked me out. Maybe it’s all just a coincidence or maybe he somehow found a way to track my phone activity. But not only does that seem farfetched, but if he saw some of the horrible, nasty things I text people about him, I doubt he’d ever speak to me again!
Anyway, Brendan and Miguel were going to a bachelor party in Mexico so Jasmine and I made plans to get dinner and drinks. After hanging out that one day, we’d been keeping in contact through Instagram — turns out, we’re interested in the same things: talking shit about the Kardashians and influencers, puppies and recipe reels.
We decided on sushi and Jasmine let me know she wanted us to meet up with her friends in the East Village afterwards. Jasmine is like the most beautiful person ever and was wearing denim shorts with a leather jacket (which she later took off and tied around her waist — chic) and throwback Givenchy shark lock boots. I hounded her with questions about Miguel and their wedding and honeymoon plans since we didn’t get a chance to talk about it before. She seemed super nonchalant about it all which I get because people are probably always questioning her like I was.
“Honestly, as long as I get to marry the love of my life, I don’t care what kind of wedding we have,” she said.
Barf, but I guess it was sort of cute. She mentioned that Miguel’s family was paying for everything so she’d basically relinquished control to Miguel’s mom and sister. She doesn’t mind though because they have great taste. Since we were already on the topic of weddings, I thought it was the appropriate time to do what I do best and try to fish for information about Brendan’s ex-wife.
“Well, I only met her once,” Jasmine said, “ And never saw her again so that should tell something.”
That made me feel better, like at least I’d won Jasmine over or something. And I know it’s not a competition or anything, but she did call me a slutty single mom.
After dinner, we took an Uber to the next place which was a packed Asian restaurant/lounge with a DJ. Jasmine’s friends were three dudes who looked like they probably sell drugs and regularly get high on their own supply. I wasn’t aware that it was going to be that kind of night so I turned around to the bar and ordered shots.
“You look like you’re gonna puke,” one of the guys, Ramsey, said after I took a tequila shot.
“Oh, shut up,” I said, rolling my eyes.
I had no intention of hanging out with a bunch of unsavory dudes so I didn’t pay any attention to them, but that was fine because they were all focused on Jasmine. They were all pawing all over her and fighting over who got the “next round for the girls.” Like I said before, Jasmine is super gorgeous so I was shocked and appalled that I turned around at one point and Ramsey had his arms wrapped around her and was kissing her neck. Huh? Wasn’t she just gushing about the hot love of her life, Miguel earlier? And Ramsey is ugly. All of these dudes were ugly. Ew.
Jasmine rolled her eyes at me playfully, pretending to be annoyed by him, but why didn’t she push him away from her? He had tattoos covering the back of his head, neck and ears and I was skeeved out by the whole thing.
Later on, we went to the bathroom and by then, I’d had enough to drink to let her know what I thought of her weird and not cute friends.
She pouted. “But they have the best coke.”
She was dead serious. And for some reason, I felt strangely protective of her after that, like girl, you are too cool and pretty to be desp for drugs from creeps. Absolutely hate that for her.
The following Tuesday, Brady stopped by to drop Winnie off. I was so excited to see my baby — I love my crazy girl so much! Brady and I made snarky small talk (it’s just the way we are now) and then he asked, “Hey, you didn’t take Winnie to eat sushi, did you?”
“No, why?” I said back, suspicious.
“I don’t know. She was talking about sushi and I’m not sure where she would’ve heard about it,” he explained innocently.
I glared at him.
“What?” Brady said.
Coincidence or was this motherfucker genuinely stalking me? I avoided my phone all together for about two hours before I forgot and carried on with my life.
A few months ago, Brendan invited me to go to a wedding with him for the same friend who had the bachelor party in Mexico. He mentioned it a few times in passing; a black tie wedding out on Long Island somewhere. I felt like it would be like my official debut to all of his friends so in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to get something new and fabulous to wear, etc. Truthfully, I was just excited to do something with Brendan that made us feel like a real couple and I was secretly hoping he’d get a haircut for the occasion.
One night we went to Brendan’s favorite neighborhood cafe for dinner and then walked back to his place for a nightcap. He poured us delicious red wine from his stash and we took it to the couch.
We were having such a great time and then Brendan was like, “Oh, I was talking to my stepmom and she thought maybe it’s not a good idea for you to come to the wedding.”
Oh? Why was Margot suddenly insistent on starting beef with me? And we’d just had a conversation a few days prior so what the fuck happened?
“Uh, okay. Why?” I asked.
“Just because it’s very likely that my ex will be there and she thought it might make drama or something. I don’t know.”
Me? Drama? Bullshit! Considering I didn’t even know these people who were getting married nor did I care about the wedding, I was shocked by how upset I felt myself getting about being uninvited. I hadn’t even bothered finding anything to wear!
“Okay…that’s fine. I don’t really care,” I said.
“Okay, good. I’m sorry. I really want you to come, but she’s probably right,” Brendan said.
“And you don’t have to tell me everything Margot says, you know,” I added.
“Oh.” He looked surprised. “Right, okay. Sorry.”
I got up, grabbed my wine and phone and locked myself in the bathroom. I didn’t want Brendan to see me crying about a wedding I didn’t care about for people I don’t know. But I felt so betrayed by Margot. We’d spoken for an hour earlier in the week (mostly about Winnie) so why wouldn’t she have brought it up to me then? Why was she putting ideas in Brendan’s head like a sneaky snake?
Thirty minutes later, Brendan sent me a text that said, “You okay?”
I swung the bathroom door open and walked back out. “Sorry, I fell asleep.”
“Wanna get in bed?” he said, oblivious to my meltdown. He’s so fucking clueless.
But then we got in bed and he climbed on top of me and patted below my eyes like he was trying to wipe my tears.
“I’d like to go to sleep, please,” I said, deadpan.
“Okay,” Brendan said, climbed off and then didn’t let go of me all night.
Turns out, being disinvited was completely fine because on the evening of the wedding, Kristina had reservations for two to a steakhouse I’ve been wanting to go to. Garrett had to “work” so she invited me to go instead and he even left his credit card on file so we could order whatever we wanted. I hadn’t even met him yet so thanks G!
I obviously kept a close eye on both Brendan and his ex-wife’s Instagram stories all night (he was the one who mentioned drama so I wanted to see it kick off) but he only posted one story the entire night (a group photo with no ex and no haircut) and she only posted two. Uh, hello?
“Where’s Brendan?” Kristina asked.
Thank God she asked because I wanted to talk about it. I told her about the wedding and Margot and “slutty single mom.” She stared at me with wide, surprised eyes.
“So are you mad about what his stepmom said?” she asked.
“No!” Did I seem mad? “I just think it’s annoying that Brendan always blames her when he clearly agrees. I would have more respect if he just said, ‘I don’t think you should come to the wedding and here’s why…’”
We somehow spent $530 at the restaurant and made plans to go to a rooftop for drinks. On the way there, I pulled out my phone and saw that Brendan had texted me. To add salt to the already gaping wound, he’d written, “Wish you were here.” And it’s like, no you don’t because if you did I would be there! He’s so irritating.
The next morning, Brendan called. He was still at the hotel in Long Island and said, “Ugh, I’m so hungover.”
Hungover? But he’s not a big drinker, remember? He was telling me all about the wedding and his friends and the food and oh, it’s a good thing I didn’t come because his ex-wife was there and she was “not in a good mood.” The fuck did that mean?
“I don’t even wanna get into it,” Brendan groaned when I asked.
Of course he didn’t. But do you know who would happily get into it? My bestie, Kendall. I made a mental note to get the scoop the next time I spoke to him.