The more I thought about it, the more annoyed I was that Brady was annoyed with me. I was less than 15 minutes late, for starters, and his first instinct was to be mad at me — but what if I was hurt or something was wrong? I could’ve been dead in my apartment for all he knew! And since I was back on good terms with Brendan, I had nothing but time and energy to fight with Brady.
That afternoon I texted him, “I hope you enjoyed yelling at me this morning. Since that’s the way you want to be, any and all contact needs to be made through my publicist.”
He read my message immediately, but waited until later that night to like my message but not reply. Brady didn’t reply at all and I knew things would be awkward on Saturday when I went to drop Winnie off. Like I mentioned before, Brady and I were on like, the best terms and would text all the time throughout the week. My suspicions were confirmed on Saturday when I dropped Winnie off and Brady wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. Leave it to Brady to be weird!
“So what are y’all getting into this weekend?” I asked nicely, trying to smooth things over.
Brady shrugged. “Not sure.”
“Okay, she’s been wanting to watch this new movie on YouTube so maybe you can watch that with her,” I suggested.
He nodded and said nothing.
“Also, we discovered she loves cantaloupe this week so definitely get some when you go to the grocery store. She’ll probably remind you,” I added.
Brady walked past me silently. So I rolled my eyes and followed him.
“Why are you being weird? I was joking when I texted you.”
“I’m not being weird,” he finally said.
“Okay, well are you mad about Brendan? Because—”
Brady made a face and said, rudely, “What? No, I’m not mad about Brendan. I don’t give a fuck what you do, you know that.”
“God, you’re an asshole,” l said.
I stormed the fuck out of there and added him back to the top of my shit list.
That night, Brendan and I went out for dinner and drinks at his favorite restaurant on the corner of his street that we always go to. We were there for hours just talking about everything and drinking glass after glass of wine. He mentioned that he hadn’t heard from his mom at all since she went home to Florida, but she and Danielle still talk regularly. Brendan mentioned that he thought she was overly critical for someone who has been out of his life for so long which I thought was a shady, but real thing for him to say. This got us talking about our relationship and our little hiatus, which we hadn’t discussed in depth yet (just “I missed you,” a ton). Brendan said he was afraid that maybe he truly wasn’t ready to move on and everyone was right — and that’s why he thought space was good too.
“What? Afraid?” I repeated. Why was I just hearing of this?
“Yeah. I was with my ex for most of my life so it would make sense that I’d need time before I was ready to move on to another relationship,” Brendan explained. “But it was so bad at the end that I was ready to move on a long time ago.”
I was glad to hear that at least. I asked him to clarify what he meant when he said “it was so bad at the end,” thinking he was going to shut me down. But to my surprise Brendan actually started telling me about it: fighting about any and every thing and then Reagan would tell her father every little detail and then the dad would confront Brendan about it (an example he gave was one night asked her not to leave the Nespresso or something out and she asked why and he said “because it annoys me.” The dad called him the next morning to lecture him about why that is the wrong thing to say to your wife. V petty). He said she’d go away without him a lot (no invite obvi) and he found himself feeling relieved that he would have a break from her and all the bickering. He said he had a feeling she was hooking up with someone else (because he heard stories 💀) but he could kind of understand since they hadn’t been “intimate” since the whole lying about birth control/trying to get pregnant scheme. I know Brendan is much more understanding than me, but huh?? He could understand getting cheated on after she lied? And then he went into what I thought was the juiciest part: she refused to give her engagement ring back after the divorce so Brendan was keeping a Rolex she got him as a gift one year.
“Obviously the ring is worth way more than the watch, but I guess it’s all I can do,” Brendan said.
Obviously? Wait, how much was this ring worth? It’s not like Rolexes are cheap or even affordable. This was the most interesting part of everything he revealed to me. She refused to give the ring back? You can just do that?
At this point we were the last customers in the restaurant and the staff was stacking the chairs on top of the tables. But Brendan is the kind of guy who goes out of his way to talk to all of the employees and chefs and stuff so they all know and love him there.
“She sounds, like really awful. Does it bother you that your sister is still good friends with her?” I said.
Brendan shrugged. “I don’t want anyone to have to pick sides. They’ve always gotten along really well.”
Again, way more understanding than me. What about loyalty? I don’t have siblings, but if I did and they insisted on still hanging out with my terrible ex, it would be war! Can you imagine?
The first thing I did when I had a chance was go straight to Instagram to try to find this ring that I couldn’t stop thinking about. Reagan had curated her Instagram feed like she’s Kim Kardashian or something, but I was able to scroll back and find a picture where she was sipping from a mug and the ring was on full display. It was really gorgeous — no surprise there — solitaire diamond (huge) with a skinny band. I wanted it for myself and resented her for holding it captive.
Winnie and I spent Thanksgiving in Houston with my family. She’d never been to my hometown and hadn’t met a good chunk of my extended family so I figured it was time. It was an overall pleasant trip — my mom was on her best behavior and only pried a few times — aside from Winnie being scared of one of my grandmothers because she was mean to her. There aren’t any other small children in the family so my grandmother isn’t used to being around a brat. She said something like, “Put that back,” to Winnie in an adult voice and Winnie burst into tears. It’s kind of funny when I think about it now. She’s just like me.
Brady and I slowly got back on good terms. I don’t mind the occasional disagreement, but not speaking for weeks and months on end is just uncomfortable for everyone. Once I decided I was done fighting with him, I started buttering him up until he finally started laughing at my jokes again and texting me back. We didn’t get back to the way we were before (which is probably good considering the whole kitchen makeout and all), but we were both being super flexible and accommodating about our unofficial schedule — he had plans one weekend and I happily kept Winnie, stuff like that. How it should be! When we agreed on our schedule months ago, we said we wouldn’t change the schedule for holidays, but we’d reevaluate that as needed. So at the beginning of December I started asking Brady how he wanted to handle the holidays. To me it made sense for Brady to celebrate with Winnie during the week (+her birthday) and I should get to spend Christmas weekend with her. The only family he really has is his mother and he doesn’t even like her so… Is that mean?
Brady kept being like, “Yeah sure, holidays, we can figure it out once it gets closer.”
This should’ve been a red flag — Brady is not a “figure it out as it gets closer” kind of person. But I thought nothing of it. And I guess worst case scenario, we could just celebrate all together like we did last year.
I got a text message from Anna. I don’t remember ever exchanging numbers with her or saving hers, but the message popped up with her full name.
It read, “Hi Reese! Hope you’re well. I’m reaching out because I’m hosting a surprise birthday party for Brady later this month and wanted to make sure I extend the invite to everyone important to him. Can you think of anyone to be sure to invite? Of course you’re more than welcome to come and bring along anyone you’d like. Here are the details…”
What? First of all, I’d forgotten all about Anna, as I always do (What? She’s forgettable), because it’s not like Brady ever talks about her. So were they officially together? Why would she ask me to help with the guest list? It’s like, I don’t fucking know who to invite, we aren’t friends! I was sitting at happy hour with Brendan and Miguel when the message came in and Brendan said, “You look upset. You okay?”
“I’m fine!” I said brightly and put my phone away. I hadn’t spent any time with Brendan in a few weeks because he was so busy and this was not about to ruin my night.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it though. Anna was throwing Brady a surprise birthday party. Would he even like something like that? I couldn’t picture it. Maybe he would and that’s why he loves Anna so much more than me. And why did she have the audacity to invite me to the surprise party like I wanted any fucking part of that?
I wasn’t even going to reply, but later on I couldn’t help myself. Brendan and I were laying in bed after I’d bossed him around during sex and then he got a phone call that he needed to take from his computer. As soon as he left the room, I pulled out my phone to text Anna back.
“What made you think it was a good idea to ask me who to invite? Brady and I are barely friends and I don’t know anything about his life since we broke up. Invite whoever you want, it has nothing to do with me,” I said.
She didn’t reply. Obviously. There was nothing she could say back to that. It was silly to ask me!
The following week, Brady casually let me know that he and Winnie had Christmas plans with his family and it would require travel so he wouldn’t be able to make any changes to our schedule.
“Uh, okay? Were these last minute plans because I’ve been trying to get you to make plans with me for weeks?” I said.
“Nope, they aren’t last minute plans,” Brady said defiantly.
“Why are you just now telling me then? Because of Anna? Are you mad about that?”
“Mad about what? What does Anna have to do with anything?”
Oh. It made sense that Anna hadn’t told Brady about our conversation since it was all about his surprise. And I wasn’t cruel enough to ruin it for him so I pivoted.
“Where are you going anyway?” I asked.
He said that they were going to Massachusetts to meet Hunter and his family — and they were leaving early on Christmas Eve morning so please be on time.
“Oh, fuck off. I’m always on time,” I said. The nerve of that guy.
It took until the next morning for the realization to set in that I wouldn’t be spending Christmas with my daughter. And there was really nothing I could do about it. Of course this was always going to be a dilemma since Brady and I share custody, but I hadn’t prepared myself. We’d decked out the apartment, had a fully dressed pink and white tree, gifts galore and we weren’t even going to enjoy it together. Brendan was already on his way over since we were going to a class together and as soon as I started telling him what happened, I started crying. Like, full meltdown sob-crying. Y’all know me. Brendan was saying the only things he could say, the only thing that made sense like, “At least you get to spend her birthday with her,” “You can celebrate with her on another day,” “What about next year?” “You can spend Christmas with me and my family.”
And it’s just like, that’s not the point. Of course, I started whining about how unfair it is considering Brady didn’t even want Winnie and he doesn’t care about holidays or family and he was only doing it to be hurtful.
Brendan said something like, “I know you’re upset, but I don’t think that’s the case. Just know she’s going to have a good holiday whether she’s with you or not and I think that’s all you should be concerned about.”
I rolled my eyes. I didn’t ask him to come through with facts and level-headedness.
“You’re right,” I sniffled. “I’m still sad though so I think I need to skip rowing today.”
What? I fucking hate that stupid class!