sober tears.

On Monday I had my phone interview and it went really well. So well in fact, that not even an hour after it was over Kate texted me saying, “I heard your interview went well!”

She said the execs in the office want to meet me and asked if I could come to New York City early next week. While I was excited that they wanted to meet me, I can’t just take off work and fly to New York City. I told her that I could go, but it would have to be a weekend. I didn’t hear from her for a few hours so I continued working and kind of forgot about it until Kate called me on my cell phone.

I shut my office door and answered it.

“Hey Reese. I know this is kind of last minute, but we were thinking – we could fly you in on a Friday night red eye, then have the interview Saturday morning and you could be on your way back home by Saturday afternoon,” Kate said.

I didn’t say anything right away. It all seemed kind of rushed. Why were they so thirsty to meet me? I mean, not that I’m complaining. It just seems really fast.

“I know this process is moving fast, but we are trying to get this position filled quickly as the holidays are approaching and this new shop opening,” she explained, as if reading my mind.

“Okay… Let me think about it,” I said. I hadn’t spent any time really, really thinking about if this was even a job I wanted. When Kate explained it to me, it did sound interesting, but I didn’t know if that was enough to make me want to travel all the way to New York City for an interview. I told her I would text her later and let her know.

After work, I went to the fitness class with Kendra and Carly. It was a lot less terrible than last time, but I still regretted going after the first ten minutes of being there. I’m never going back.

On Tuesday, Brady and I got dinner then went back to his place afterwards. I hadn’t told Brady about the potential new job at all aside from the initial conversation Kate and I had at his dad’s party and I wanted to get his take on it. I had tentatively told Kate that I would go to NYC, but I told her I would get back to her after I checked my weekend schedule. I obviously don’t have a weekend schedule except to drink.

I told Brady all about it during dinner and he said, “I don’t see anything wrong with exploring other options. As long as it isn’t affecting your current job. It was responsible of you to schedule your interview for a weekend so you won’t cut into your work.”

I didn’t mention to him that my phone interview was two and a half hours during the workday and I took it from my office. Oops.

He said that until I got an offer, I shouldn’t stress about it. Not that I was stressing or anything. I guess if nothing else, it’s a free trip to New York.

When we got to Brady’s house, he got in the shower while I laid on the bed texting Kate and Preston. Preston was telling me a story about how while he was out with Dillon the other night, Mr. Murphy called him and said he was in the neighborhood and wanted to pick Preston up from his apartment. Preston tried to lie and say he was at work and Murph was like, “Your store closes at 8. Why are you still there?”

So Preston made up this elaborate story about how there was a shoplifter and the police had to come and he had to stay and give a statement, etc. I laughed so hard. Couldn’t he just say there was a meeting or something? 

While I was laying there, I noticed Brady’s phone sitting on the nightstand charging. I tried to talk myself out of touching it, but that didn’t work. I don’t know what I was looking for, but I leaned over and took it off the charger. Before when I looked through his phone, all I had to do was slide to unlock it. But apparently he is actually using his touch ID and a passcode so I couldn’t get in. Okay, like I get it. I shouldn’t have been trying to look through his phone, but still. What’s he hiding?

I replaced the phone and minded my own business until he got out of the shower. I waited until he was almost all the way dressed before asking, “What’s your ex-girlfriend’s name?”

Brady’s entire body paused for two or three seconds then he continued pulling his shirt on.

“Anna,” came his muffled voice from under his shirt. Once he got his shirt on he turned his back to me and started touching stuff on his dresser.

“Anna?” I said, almost excitedly. “The same one I saw you talking to at your dad’s party?”

Brady turned around and faced me. “Yeah.” He sounded defensive. 

“Oookay. So it hasn’t been ‘a while’ since you’ve seen your ex then,” I said, trying really hard not to sound accusatory.

Brady shrugged.

“Why did you lie?”

“I don’t see why it even matters. I hardly ever talk to her or see her so you don’t have anything to worry about,” he said, gruffly.

“I’m not worried. I just think it’s weird that you didn’t introduce me to her and failed to mention that she was your ex and then lied about the last time you’ve seen her,” I said.

“Okay.”

Okay?! Is there anything worse than when you’re having a discussion and/or argument with your boyfriend and he says, “Okay.” Like fuck you.

“That’s all you have to say?” I asked. “No explanation?”

“What do you want me to say, Reese? You were going to flip out on me no matter what!” Brady said, raising his voice.

“If you told me the truth from the beginning, why would I flip out on you? Do you really think I’m that ridiculous?”

Brady didn’t say anything so I took that as a yes.

“I couldn’t care any less about Anna. I have no reason to flip out over you just talking to her,” I said calmly.

“Well, you’re pretty unpredictable sometimes,” Brady muttered. I watched as he opened the door and left the room.

Before I could even stop myself, I just started crying. Ugh. Sober tears. I felt like I really approached him calmly and not accusingly, but obviously that didn’t work. I was so frustrated. For once, I felt like I actually wasn’t in the wrong. I didn’t want Brady to see me crying so I quickly locked myself in the bathroom to clean myself up. After ten minutes, I’d pulled myself together and emerged from the bathroom. Brady was sitting on the edge of the bed.

“I think I’m going to go,” I announced.

“I’m sorry,” Brady said.

“Okay…” I said quietly.

He reached out his hand and without even thinking, I took it. He pulled me on the bed next to him.

“I should have introduced you to Anna,” Brady said. “I’ll take full responsibility for that. I guess I just wanted to avoid any awkwardness.”

I nodded.

“You’ve known that she was my ex the whole time, haven’t you?” he asked.

I nodded again, smirking.

“How?”

Oh…shit. 

“Your mom told me,” I blurted out. I was not about to admit to stalking his Facebook.

“Wow, she did?” Brady looked confused.

“Mmhm,” I nodded.

So I’m glad I finally confronted him about Anna and I feel like I got some answers. I’m sure there was a more graceful way to bring the subject up, but I’m anything but graceful. lol. 

Anway, I guess I’m going to New York City for a few hours this weekend. Also, my parents are talking about visiting me for Thanksgiving next week. Maybe they can finally meet Brady! We will see. They claim they’re going to visit all the time and never do. Hmph.

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no more jessicas.

On Monday morning I woke up much earlier than usual, went for a run, got ready for work, and stopped and got donuts for the whole office. I ended up getting four dozen and couldn’t carry them all so I made one of the workers carry it to the office for me (before you call me a lazy brat, just know that I gave him a generous tip).

I immediately started working away until around 1:30 then decided to take a break and grab something to eat. I found my phone at the bottom of my bag where I’d left it that morning and was surprised to see a new text message from Brady. It said, “Do you want to talk?”

I let out a happy sigh. Finally. Of course I wanted to talk. I sat there drafting about a thousand different responses before ultimately deciding on, “Okay.”

I waited to see what Brady would say back for ten minutes then threw my phone in my bag and headed out to lunch. 

I continued working all afternoon and didn’t hear from Brady again until around 4:00. He said, “Do you want to meet for dinner?”

I said, “Okay,” again.

He responded back with the name of a place near my apartment and suggested we meet at 7:30. I typed, “Okay,” one last time. He gave no indication about what he wanted to talk about – whether he wanted to work our issues out or end things in person – which concerned me. In an ideal world, we would meet up, he would apologize profusely about not telling me about Jessica, he would beg for my forgiveness and then present me with a $12,000 designer bag.

I stayed at the office until 6:30 then went home and changed into a dress and booties. I didn’t plan well and ended up showing up to the place at 7:45. I pulled out my phone to text Brady that I had finally arrived, but I saw him sitting in a booth near the door. He stood up as I approached with an unreadable look on his face and kissed me lightly on the cheek. We both sat down.

“I already ordered. Do you want a beer or anything?” he asked, really properly.

I shook my head. Brady was acting like we didn’t even know each other which made me get defensive. He had no right to be mad. All I broke was his phone. He broke my heart.

“Okay,” he said.

We sat there for a minute not saying anything. Finally Brady said, “Reese, I’m sorry.”

I raised my eyebrows and nodded like “Go on.”

“I wasn’t completely open with you about Jessica. I should have been upfront and told you exactly what happened. That’s all I can say. I won’t make any excuses.”

I nodded in agreement.

“You have every right to be angry that I didn’t tell you and that you had to find out on your own. Seeing you that upset because of me was hard to watch. I apologize for that.”

“What’s the story with you and her?” I demanded.

Brady looked kind of surprised at my question. “Just everything I told you. We began working together a few months ago and she was quite persistent from the beginning. I’m very busy at work so I couldn’t pay attention to her and I think she took that as a challenge…”

“And she just randomly offered you a blow job and you accepted.”

He started to blush furiously. “I mean, yeah.”

“But y’all didn’t have sex?”

“No. I ended things before they could go that far.”

I glared at him for a few minutes.

“Um,” for the first time ever I saw Brady struggling with what to say. “I don’t want to throw everything away because of this. I would never do anything to intentionally hurt you.”

I uncrossed my arms as I started to soften.

“Yeah…” I began, unsure of what to say. Have I mentioned how much I hate talking about my feelings? “I don’t either.”

“You don’t what?”

“Want to throw everything away.”

He looked relieved. “I’m glad we are on the same page.”

I smiled and nodded.

“Those two days I gave you to cool off made me realize how much I really do like you.”

I waited a full minute before saying, “Me too,” really quietly.

“So I would like to make this work. If you want to.”

“What is ‘this?'” I asked.

“Us. Our relationship.” Brady looked confused.

“We never defined our relationship. Except the night when Jessica confronted you about it which doesn’t even really count,” I said in an accusatory voice.

Brady was unfazed by what I said. “I mean, I introduced you to my parents. I told them you were my girlfriend…”

My heart jumped. “Oh.”

“Is that not what you want?”

“It is,” I said. I decided that I was going to have to stop playing coy and hiding my feelings. If I wanted this to work with Brady I had to be open too.

“Okay…”

“I’m not good with relationships,” I blurted out.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m just not. I’m stubborn and needy and possessive and I suck at expressing my feelings.”

“You’re expressing your feelings now,” Brady said.

I let out a deep breath. He was right – I was expressing myself and I had yet to spontaneously combust so maybe it was fine. I kept going.

“I may have some mild trust issues from my previous relationships and you can see how this doesn’t help.”

“That’s completely understandable. I’ve done nothing to give you any reason to trust me.”

Brady owning up to what he did seemed to make everything okay. Whenever my ex did something he wasn’t supposed to, he would reverse it and make it seem like it was somehow my fault.

“My ex-boyfriend kind of ruined me. Not that I was perfect from the beginning. But he did some really awful things,” I went on.

“I’m sorry,” Brady said, although I’m not sure what he was apologizing for. He looked at me kind of cautiously before asking, “What did he do?”

I didn’t expect Brady to ask for details so I had to take a moment to gather my thoughts. Normally, I would have blown his question off, but we were being honest and open. Plus I appreciated that he had the balls to ask.

“What didn’t he do?” I answered. “He had sex with other girls, made out with them in front of me at parties, told everyone on campus that I was a psycho.”

Just talking about it was making me grind my teeth. Why did I ever even put up with that shit? I was such a pathetic, needy little girl. 

“Yikes,” Brady said. “Worse than I thought.”

I nodded. We were silent for a moment then Brady said, “I guess I’m not really the best with relationships either.”

“How come?” I wanted to know.

“I realized that my parents aren’t like normal parents. They’re very…cold and disconnected. I mean, you met them. They aren’t affectionate at all so I never got that growing up.”

I nodded. “I can see that…” So I’m the only one who thinks his mother is a cold, unwelcoming little woman.

“Yeah. They don’t talk to us about anything personal. We never got a sex talk or anything like that. They only wanted to know what colleges we got into and our GPAs and things of that nature. Even now, they rarely say ‘I love you.’ So I think that has affected the way I am in relationships.”

Wow. His parents rarely tell him they love him? I can’t imagine. My parents send me random text messages throughout the day telling me how much they love me. I felt for him.

After our food came, things went back to normal for the most part. He told me about his weekend and he confirmed that he and John went on some sort of golf date on Saturday. He said that his phone was a complete goner so he ended up having to pay to get a new one. It almost made me feel bad, but not really because it taught him a valuable life lesson.

After Brady paid for dinner, we walked outside. Since the place was so close to my apartment, I’d walked, but Brady asked me to walk to his car with him. It didn’t seem weird at the time, but now that I’m thinking about it, it was kind of an odd request.

We got to his car and he opened the passenger door like he wanted me to get in, but the seat was filled with dozens of red, pink, white and yellow roses. There had to be a hundred there.

“I didn’t want to bring them in the restaurant, but I got you these,” Brady explained.

“Aww,” I cooed looking at him. “That’s so sweet.” It wasn’t the designer bag I was hoping for, but I was grateful for the gesture.

He shrugged sheepishly and I couldn’t help reaching over and hugging his adorable ass. Brady offered to carry the huge bouquet to my apartment and my doorman, Frank, said, “Someone must have been in the doghouse.”

I giggled at him calling Brady out. When we got up to my apartment, Brady put the flowers down and we stood there looking at each other. I invited him to sit down.

“So are we okay?” Brady asked me.

“I think so,” I said, nodding then I narrowed my eyes at him. “But don’t fucking hang out with her anymore.”

“I won’t. I didn’t plan on it.”

“Don’t even talk to her. Don’t go to lunch with her. Delete her number.”

“Of course,” Brady said.

I realized that I hadn’t apologized or fully owned up to my part of the fight yet and I needed to to make things right.

“I’m sorry I broke your phone,” I said and surprisingly saying the word “sorry” didn’t kill me.

“Don’t worry about it,” Brady said.

I swallowed, preparing myself to drop the Derrick bomb. “By the way, you remember my friend, Derrick, right? From my birthday?”

Brady nodded.

“Well, in college we like, kind of hooked up, but it wasn’t really a big deal. It only happened once, but he confessed that he still likes me on my birthday,” I babbled. 

Brady’s eyebrows shot up like he was surprised then he nodded slowly as if he was putting some puzzle pieces together and it was all making sense now.

“I guess I could have told you that a while ago,” I said.

“That would’ve been good to know.”

“Just like it would’ve been good to know about Jessie,” I said sweetly.

“Point taken.”

We sat in silence for a minute then Brady said, “So no more Derricks.”

And I said, “And no more Jessicas.”

We stayed up until almost 2:00 AM just talking and not having sex which I think we needed. 

So everything is settled, I think. 

Give me your thoughts.

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shady brady.

Since Kendra cancelled happy hour on Wednesday I made her get drinks with me on Thursday night. I hadn’t had a chance to tell her about my birthday or meeting Brady’s parents. She showed up late to the bar and I immediately demanded she take a shot. Then I rambled on and on about my birthday dinner and the rooftop afterwards. How I had fought with Derrick once again, how Jessica had showed up and rubbed Brady’s thigh, how Brady said he was falling for me.

“Why are you always fighting with Derrick? He’s like the most harmless person on the planet,” she said as if that was highlight of the story.

“Because he’s annoying,” I said, dismissively. “Anyways, what about Jessica? I went to see Brady at work yesterday and they were going to lunch together.”

“So? It’s lunch, not some scandalous rendezvous.”

“How do we know that?”

“Did you ask Brady about it?”

I looked at her like she suggested a threesome between the three of us. “I’m not asking him anything. I would sound like some jealous, mega-attached psycho.”

“He said he’s falling for you, Reese. He isn’t hooking up with Jessica. I’m sure she just has a huge crush on him and he probably likes the attention.”

What she said made sense, but then I realized that I give Brady enough attention so he shouldn’t have to seek any from Jessica. I took a sip of my martini then told Kendra about Brady’s parents. Her only conclusion was that I should’ve never mentioned Obama and that it was obvious (even just from hearing my story) that they were Republicans. She’s right. I definitely should’ve seen the clues.

Finally, I asked her to tell me about her vacation with John.

“It was a ton of fun. We love any chance we can get away from the city,” she said.

“Let me see your ring.”

Kendra rolled her eyes. “He didn’t propose, Reese.” 

Thankfully. As much as I like to tease Kendra about getting engaged, the day it happens I’m going to be devastated. Because once she becomes a married woman, she won’t want to go out for drinks and happy hour and get belligerent on weekends. She will become this serious housewife and only want to spend time with her husband. And then she will start having children and we will no longer have anything in common. I would basically be losing my best friend.

After drinks, I texted Brady to see if he was off work yet and he said that he was exhausted and working late. This struck me as weird and all of my insecurities about Jessica came rushing back to the surface. First of all, he was always exhausted – we both were – so why was that an excuse not to hang out? We hang out every single night no matter what time he got off. I didn’t text him back and instead took a relaxing two hour shower and got ready for bed. 

I checked my phone and Brady had texted me again saying that he was off work and could come over if I was still up. Oh sure, now that he was done fucking Jessica he wanted to hang out with me.

I put my phone down with no intention of responding and got in bed. I started thinking about how hurt Brady looked when I admitted I didn’t open his gift. How he had bought me a plane ticket to Houston because he sensed that I missed my family. I never expressed to him how much I really did, but he picked up on those clues. Finally, I thought about how he said he was falling for me. As much as I hate to admit it, I think I’m falling for him too. 

I quickly picked up my phone and told him that I was sorry, but already in bed. I couldn’t possibly pretend to be mad at him even if I have some suspicions about Jessica.

On Friday, we had our weekly staff meeting and I was going to present some mockups for the watercolor artist collaboration to see if anyone thought it would be worth it. 

After I presented, Whitney insisted she share some ideas she’s working on. It really annoyed me because she is supposed to be assisting me with my ideas, not coming up with her own. We are a team, not in competition. She started with the “discount furniture bazaar” idea and talked about how we could be exposed to a ton of clients who had never heard of us. Duh. Because people who can afford our stuff don’t shop at flea markets.

I raised my hands and expressed my concerns about the message it would send if we were being associated “discount.”

Before Whitney could respond, Dave said, “You know, it might actually be good for us. We don’t want to come off as a snobby company. If we make our products available to people who are price conscious, it will show humility.”

I didn’t say anything. Did I mention that I’m a control freak? I am in charge of all marketing and promotion and I know what’s best for the company. I can’t let this flea market shit go down.

Brady called around 7:30 and invited me over. I stuffed some clothes and toiletries in my bag and headed over there.

“Welcome,” Brady said, letting me in. He was still in his clothes from work and I realized that I missed him on the one day we didn’t get to hang out.

“Hello,” I chirped, hugging him. He nuzzled his face in my neck and I felt a tingle rush down between my legs. I pulled away and kissed him. “How was your day?”

“It’s Friday so I can’t complain. Do you want a beer?”

I followed him into the kitchen and he grabbed two beers while I poured a glass of wine. We took our libations to his room and sat there talking about our days. I steered clear of complaining about Whitney because clearly he would take her side. Eventually he said he was going to take a quick shower and I changed into sleeping clothes and got in bed.

I noticed his phone sitting on the night table next to me and I casually picked it up. His background picture was of a German Shepherd dog which I couldn’t decide if I thought was cute or weird. It honestly should have been a picture of me. I was surprised that when I slid to unlock his phone that he didn’t have a passcode so I had full access to everything. I honestly didn’t expect to find anything though. 

I looked through the apps he had downloaded, all normal things like his bank, Google Maps, GroupMe, etc. I opened his messages: Me, Mom, Chris… Then I saw the thread with Jessica. I couldn’t even stop myself from opening it.

All the messages were very innocent – at first. Things like “Have a good weekend.” and “The fourth floor is crazy right now.” Mostly Jessica sending messages and Brady responding. Very one sided. I scrolled up more and saw conversations about sports that I didn’t even bother reading because they were so long and I don’t even care about sports. I kept scrolling up until I saw a picture. Jessica sent it – it was of her in a tight black dress taken in a full length mirror.

“Going out tonight. Do you like my outfit?” she’d captioned.

Brady responded, “Looks great.”

I kept scrolling up and then I came upon another picture from Jessica. In this one she was in the same mirror, but she was completely naked. I could see everything – her huge tits (I thought my boobs were pretty big, but hers take the cake), faint bikini tan line, landing strip, and tiny hip tattoo. There was no caption and Brady responded, “Very nice.” I checked the date – May 24. Before Brady and I even met.

I continued refreshing older messages and finding more nude pictures. All from Jessica. She would change her pose up – one where she was touching her vagina, another showed a close up of her boobs and face with her finger in her mouth. Brady always responded with something like “Nice” or “Looks good.” I felt like I was suffocating. I know it all happened before we had even met, but obviously he and Jessica have sexual history and he didn’t bother telling me.

I heard the shower turn off and I quickly sent two of the naked pictures to myself then hopped out of bed. I was embarrassed and hurt, but mostly really fucking pissed off.

I was waiting outside the door when Brady emerged from the shower. He was just wearing a towel around his waist and had water dripping down his chest. I held up his phone with a shaky hand.

“What the fuck?” I said slowly because I couldn’t even think of anything else to say.

Brady looked confused. “What?”

I opened one of the naked pictures and showed it to him. He looked at it blankly.

“I can’t fucking believe this.”

He walked passed me and sat on the bed.

“How could you introduce me to Jessica and fail to mention that you guys have had some sort of sexual relationship in the past?”

Brady didn’t say anything.

“No wonder she’s been giving me condescending looks. Y’all are probably still hooking up,” I said.

“No,” Brady said calmly.

“Did you fucking have sex with her?” I demanded.

“No!” he exclaimed as if that was the most ridiculous conclusion I could’ve come to after seeing the pictures.

“Then what happened?”

When he didn’t answer, I said, “And don’t say ‘nothing’ because that’s a fucking lie.”

“Once,” he said, quietly. “We went in an empty patient room. And she…” He trailed off.

“She what?”

He started making gestures with his hands that told me he didn’t know what to say.

“She sucked your dick?” 

Brady sighed. “Yeah.”

“You’re fucking gross,” I glared at him.

I suddenly remembered back to the night of the charity event when I tried to have sex with him in the bathroom and he told me no. He couldn’t hook up with me at a work event, but he could hook up with Jessica at work? I don’t know if I overestimated him or underestimated him. I thought he was too mature and conservative to do such a thing in a public place, but clearly he was very capable of it.

“I owe you a huge apology. I withheld that information because I am not proud of it. I understand why you’re upset and you deserved to know.”

I crossed my arms across my chest.

“I’m terribly sorry. I’m really embarrassed,” Brady said.

“You’re embarrassed?” I seethed. “Imagine how I feel. You’re flaunting Jessica in my face knowing what happened between y’all. Do you understand how stupid it makes me look? Now the b-day comment and the thigh touching all makes perfect sense.”

Brady’s brow furrowed.

“Is there anything I can do to remedy this situation?” he asked very calmly.

“No!” I screeched. And then I became aware of the delicate iPhone in my hand. No protector case or passcode? Silly Brady. “Have a nice life!”

I threw the phone with all of my strength on the tile bathroom floor and heard a painful sounding crack. I grabbed my bag and stormed out of there while Brady watched me, but didn’t try to stop me.  

I got in my car and took a few deep breaths. It wasn’t until I started driving that I realized that yes, I was mad as fuck, but I was actually way more hurt. I like Brady. Way more than I ever planned to.

Even though my eyes felt hot with tears and I had a dry lump in my throat, I wasn’t going to let myself cry. Fuck that. 

I already know what y’all are going to say. Bring it on.

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the most thoughtful gift.

When I got to work on Tuesday, Diana called me into her office.

“How was your weekend? You had a ton of fun, I imagine,” she said when I sat down.

“I did,” I said, smiling. “It was also my birthday so I celebrated.”

“Well, you’re here in one piece so that’s a great sign.”

I’m glad that even after everything, Diana and I still have a great relationship.

“So, I know you have a lot on your plate right now. You’re taking on so much extra work lately and Dave and I really appreciate you.”

“Yeah. My plate is very full,” I admitted.

“To help take some weight off your shoulders, we have promoted Whitney into a brand new position that was created just for her.”

I was silent so Diana continued explaining.

“Brand strategy manager. She will continue overseeing social media, but in addition, she will work alongside you with branding.”

I blinked.

“I just wanted to run this by you since I know you and Whitney have not always seen eye to eye.”

How did Whitney weasel her way into a promotion? And yes, I was swamped with work, but that’s the way I liked it. I didn’t want help, especially from Whitney.

“Okay,” I said, sweetly.

“You’re okay with this?” Diana looked kind of surprised. 

What was the alternative? Refusing to work with Whitney and looking like an uncooperative brat?

“Don’t worry, Diana. We will make it work,” I enthused.

Immediately after the meeting, Whitney stopped by my office.

“I already have a ton of ideas for marketing pitches. We’ve been lacking in a few areas so I created a file outlining everything. I just emailed it to you,” she said.

I gave her the fakest, syrupiest smile I could muster. “Thanks. I’ll look at it.”

Keyword: look. Right before I moved it to the trash.

Later that evening, Brady and I met for dinner and drinks. I told him about Whitney’s promotion and how annoyed about it I was.

“Don’t be annoyed. At least you’ll be getting some relief from all the work you have to do,” he said.

“I don’t want relief,” I glared.

“It will allow you more time to invest elsewhere. Perhaps spend more time on each project instead of juggling multiple things at once…”

“I don’t want that,” I said sharply. “Everything is perfect as is. I don’t need help.”

Brady saw how irritated I was getting and took a bite of his food. I considered what he said and started thinking of all the upsides. I could treat Whitney like my own little personal assistant. I mean, I have been wanting one. I could keep her so busy with running my errands that she wouldn’t have any time to work on branding. Perfect.

Brady interrupted my thoughts.

“So did you free your schedule for the 19th through 21st?” he asked. 

I wrinkled my nose in confusion. “No. Why?”

He looked at me blankly. “Did you not open the gift I got you?”

I had spent so much time at work and Brady’s that I completely forgot about the little white box he gave me the night of my birthday. It was still tangled up in my sheets.

“No. I completely forgot about that,” I admitted.

A look of disappointment flashed over his face briefly. 

“What is it?”

“Why don’t you look at it when you get home?” he suggested, taking a drink from his beer.

I feel awful about completely disregarding his gift. I should’ve opened it that night.

Brady came home with me and I hurried to find my gift. It was exactly where I left it, tossed carelessly on the bed. I tore open the box and single piece of paper fell to the bed. When I picked it up, I saw that it was the flight information for a trip to Houston, TX. For me. I didn’t say anything for a moment and Brady spoke up.

“I know you don’t get to see your family often so I’m forcing you to go.”

My heart felt too big for my chest and I actually thought I was going to cry. It is probably the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever gotten from a guy. He didn’t book a romantic trip for the two of us, he booked a trip for me.

“That’s…very thoughtful,” I said, sitting down on the edge of my bed.

Brady sat next to me. “I know your family misses you. Go surprise your parents. They will be ecstatic.”

“They will be.” I threw my arms around him and hugged him, hoping he took it as a thank you. 

I know his gift isn’t extravagant or anything I’ve been asking for, but I would never go home if he hadn’t bought me that plane ticket. And I’m actually really excited. 

We hooked up and fell asleep after that. I was woken up in the morning by Brady who quickly got out of bed. I pulled the comforter over my head while I heard him getting ready. He shouted goodbye and I mumbled something back before he shut my door. 

I fell back asleep for little while longer, but my ringing phone woke me up. It was from an unknown Chicago number and even though I usually don’t pick up unknown numbers, I answered it.

“Hey, it’s me,” I recognized Brady’s voice on the other end.

“Hi,” I said sleepily.

“I was in such a hurry that I left my phone on your nightstand,” he said.

I glanced to my right and saw his black iPhone sitting there.

“Do you think if you have time today, you could bring it to me at work? It’s kind of important.”

“Sure,” I said, smiling. I loved the fact that he was asking me for a favor. And if his phone was with me, how did he get my number to call me? He must have it memorized. We’re practically engaged. 

I told him that I would most likely take a break at around 12:30 and he told me to use the south entrance and let the receptionist know to page him.

His phone was dead so his alarm didn’t go off which explained why he woke up late. I put it in my bag to take to him later. 

When I got to work, Whitney was already working away at her desk.

“Reese!” she exclaimed. “I have a meeting set up for us today.”

“Okay. Who with?”

“I found this discount furniture bazaar that I think would be really good for us. It would be something a little different.”

“Discount furniture bazaar,” I repeated. While our stuff isn’t luxury by any means, I wouldn’t put it in the discount category. What kind of message would it send to our customers if we had stuff at some sort of flea market?

“Yes. I want to get some more information before presenting it to Dave and Diana. We’re meeting them at 2:00.”

“I’m busy at that time,” I lied. I actually wanted nothing to do with this foolishness she was trying.

“Oh darn,” Whitney said, not looking at all disappointed. “Well, I’ll let you know how it goes.”

Later that morning she came in my office.

“I was thinking since the last warehouse sale went so well we could do it twice a year. The next one could be around the holidays and we could turn it into sort of an event with other vendors and stuff,” Whitney said.

“I think the way we do the warehouse sale now is fine,” I replied.

“It is, but I thought it would be cool to spice it up a bit. I’m going to start planning it and send you what I come up with.” 

An hour later, she CC’d Diana and me in an email with a sample flyer for the holiday warehouse sale. Diana immediately emailed her back: “Interesting idea Whitney. Please send more info.”

I was so fucking irritated that Diana was even entertaining this. I grabbed my bag and headed off to meet Brady.

I got to the hospital and asked the receptionist to call him then I stood there talking to her because her eyebrows were awesome and I had to know who did them. She tried to tell me that they were natural which was an obvious lie. When I told her I didn’t believe her she pulled up a #TBT picture on Instagram. Same brows at thirteen. Whatever.

I sat down and waited for a few minutes until I spotted Brady walking down the hall toward me. And he was with Jessica. I can’t believe that after Saturday night he had the nerve to show up with her. I watched as they slowly walked down the wide white hallway, chatting and laughing. Brady was in dress clothes, a white coat and glasses, while Jessica wore bubblegum pink scrubs and a high ponytail. Bitch. 

“Hey. Thanks so much for coming,” Brady greeted me with a one armed hug.

“No problem,” I said sweetly and handed him his phone.

“You caught us just as we were heading to lunch,” Jessica said with that condescending ass smile on her face.

“Oh?” I looked at Brady.

“Yeah, we will probably just grab something quick from the cafeteria,” he said.

“Are you on lunch break too then?” Jessica asked.

“I don’t really have a set lunch break. I just come and go as I please,” I said.

“Nice,” Jessica smiled.

“Do you want to go down to the cafeteria with us?” Brady asked.

“No,” I said immediately and gave him a chilly look. “I actually have a lot to do and I put it all on hold to come here.”

“I do appreciate it,” Brady said.

“It’s not a problem. You can just repay me later.”

“How about I treat you to lunch?”

I glanced at Jessica who was watching the encounter with the smile still on her face. Ugh, she’s so weird.

“Okay. I could probably spare half an hour,” I said nonchalantly.

Brady smiled. “Great. You choose the place.”

He started toward the door without acknowledging Jessica so I waved at her before we walked out. We went across the street to a little Mexican place and got tacos because they were quick and we both really did need to get back to work. I asked him if he and Jessica frequently got lunch together. 

“No, it was a coincidence that we were both going to the cafeteria at the same time today,” he said. 

“Coincidence?” I repeated, hoping he would elaborate some more.

“Usually I work through lunch.”

“So do I,” I said.

Sometimes Brady is so oblivious that I think there is no way he could have anything going on with Jessica. It makes me feel like I’m crazy for even thinking it when Brady is so calm and cool about it. He is so casually unconcerned about her so I feel like their relationship is one sided. Not only that, but it took him forever to even have sex with me and we were dating. Even though Jessica seems like a thirsty skank, I just can’t see how anything could happen. Now I sound so naive. I don’t know what to think.

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